Perk up your seasonal celebrations

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Christmas festivities are at the planning stages and these days it’s essential to include a magnificent meat free main course as part of your cracking Christmas cuisine – after all, at Christmas, you never know who will be visiting, writes Su Taylor.

Alex Connell, principal tutor at the Cordon Vert cookery school in Altrincham, creates a lot of recipes throughout the year but Christmas food has to have a special zing all of its own “Christmas has many culinary traditions and flavours, some old some new, our recipe collection is full of rich, rounded flavours with a sprinkling of seasonal surprises too. They’re all online so have a browse and I hope you will enjoy making these recipes as much as we did developing them.”

Alex Connell – Cordon Vert principal tutor

Perk up your party celebrations with shots of ‘Icy limed winter welcome’ and ‘Seasonal sushi’ – great flavours and talking points to start your party.

Impress your guests with mouth-watering starters ‘Festive figs with Feta’, ‘Caribbean red bean & cashew savouries’ or ‘Christmas crostini’. There are even moreish meals made from any leftovers, create a ‘Boxing Day frittata’ or a ‘Second day strudel’.

The sweet toothed amongst us will love the delicate ‘Christmas baskets’, ‘Jewelled sponge puddings’ and the very indulgent ‘Snow angel cake.

Alex has come up with some tips for anyone having a veggie guest over for dinner.

Have a chat in advance to find out if they’re vegetarian or vegan. Like anybody else they may also have food allergies or things they just don’t like.

Read the labels – there are a few things to look out for if you’re not used to shopping for veggies. Supermarkets and food companies are now very good at labelling foods that are vegetarian, but look out for the Vegetarian Society Approved symbol for added confidence.

Make plenty. Food that is suitable for vegetarians isn’t just for vegetarians and the meat-eaters will definitely want a taste when they see the delicious food you’ve prepared.

Keep the roast potatoes, veg and gravy separate from the meat and juices and don’t cook them in goose fat so everyone can share them. Cook potatoes in a vegetable oil and look out for veggie-friendly instant gravy and stuffing, which are readily available.

Buy a ready-made option such as nut roast or a meat substitute ‘roast’ or ‘fillet’ if you don’t want to prepare a separate dish for your veggie guest.

Watch out for non-veggie beer and wine as some are fined or clarified with animal products. As the animal products are not an ingredient they don’t need to be labelled. Look. The good news is thatChampagne is often vegetarian.

General food tips for Christmas

  • If you’re having olives as a nibble with drinks, check they’re not the variety stuffed with anchovies as veggies don’t eat fish.
  • Be aware that some fizzy orange flavoured drinks and cordials use gelatine as a carrier for added Beta Carotene. This won’t appear on the ingredients panel so look for the VegSoc approved logo or ask the manufacturer.
  • If you’re buying delicious dips go for hummus and avoid taramasalata as it has fish roe in it.
  • If you’re making a trifle use vegetarian or vegan jelly crystals and avoid some brands of cocktail cherries that contain cochineal E120, which is made from crushed insects.
  • Check the cheese you’re buying is suitable for vegetarians as a few cheeses still use non-vegetarian rennet.
  • Most crisp flavours are suitable for vegetarians but it’s always worth checking the packet when you’re buying them.
  • Visit www.veggiechristmas.orgfor a one stop shop for mouth-watering meat-free mains, seasonal starters and festive fancy puds.

    Second day strudel


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