Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas isn't really a thing for me or my immediate family. There was some observance when I was a child in the form of pagan decorations (tree, candles etc, largely influenced by my mother's formative years in Germany) but no interest in turkeys, bread sauce and brussels sprouts. 

Once I started cooking as an adolescent, I took some interest in making vast fruited cakes, lovingly fed with brandy for weeks and covered in homemade marzipan and royal icing; enormous loaves of stollen; fragrant fruity, boozy mince pies with orange-scented pastry. 

No longer doing a boring job, which forced me into cooking as a means of relaxation and a sense of feeling useful, complex cookery is somewhat less important to me. Hence my infrequent updates (though I have a small backlog of brunching).

Nonetheless, I felt I should do something a bit different this year, and so it was that I investigated the possibility of a vegan Christmas roast.

I thought of nut roasts, but I also wanted to have a go at doing a tofurkey. Unable to decide, I incorporated the bits I liked of the former into the stuffing for the latter.

And so we have this - salad, braised red cabbage with figs and raspberry vinegar, steamed snow peas and broccolini, roasted sweet potato, tofurkey with chestnut stuffing, gravy. 

Tofurkey as follows.

Put something heavy (I used a bottle of sparkling wine) on top of a 450g packet of firm tofu, or use whatever method you like to press it.

Put about 10g of dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water; leave for 20 minutes.

Saute 200g sliced chestnut mushrooms; season. 

Put a tin of unsweetened chestnut puree into a food processor with fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, a tablespoon of yeast extract (I use Mighty Mite, loathing Kraft), pepper. Blitz. Add the cooked mushrooms and porcini. Pulse so that it is partly amalgamated but there are still mushroom bits. Add a tablespoon or so of ground linseed and mix well, then stir in 50g dried cranberries. 

Line a small (450g) loaf tin with baking paper.

Drain off the liquid from the pressed tofu. Crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl. You want it very well crumbled, i.e. like breadcrumbs. Add 2 tbs nutritional yeast, a tonne of dried herbs, salt and pepper. If you have Massel chicken stock powder, use that (I didn't). 

Use about 2/3rds of the tofu to line the bottom and sides of the loaf tin. Press it down firmly. Fill with the stuffing mixture. Use the rest of the tofu to cover the top. Bake until cooked. My mother's awful oven has to be set at 200˚C and required about an hour and a half before it was done, but a normal oven will probably be more efficient. 

Give it a few minutes to cool, then slice with a sharp, preferably serrated, knife. 

Firms up well in the fridge later. I am looking forward to leftovers. 

Note that this probably isn't conventional stuffing. I can't remember eating stuffing but I get the impression it is usually quite dry - I didn't use breadcrumbs or similar, so mine is more moussey. It is probably misleading to call my mixture stuffing in that sense, but it works nonetheless.

As an emergency I used Orgran gluten-free vegan gravy mix, which I would NOT recommend in future. Make something less weird and salty! 


Cindy said...

Looks great to me! My family aren't too traditional about Christmas either - my vegan sausage rolls were the centrepiece this year.

The New Epicurean said...

Thanks! Vegan sausage rolls sound great, too. Your recipe for them has been sitting in my "to make" bookmarks list for way too long!