A nut roast and a state of mind
December 20, 2012
Posted in View from the table
I’m feeling the Christmas love, the house is looking festive, the tree is up in all its glory and the cheese stock pile is building up nicely. It’s time to do the same to my blog, metaphorically deck it in boughs of holly and itchy tinsel. Am I alone in being transported back to school nativity plays wearing silver tinsel garlands or wobbly halos at the mere nylon whiff of tinsel?
|A bit of yule love for the stag|
So, my mind is stretching to Christmas dinner, I’ll be pretty much the only vegetarian at the table. My mum partly, she does eat meat occasionally but feels guilt ridden which mars the experience, but nonetheless I’m giving it more thought that anything else. So what to have for the meat alternative? If I saw nut roast on a menu in a restaurant I wouldn’t order it but for Christmas it’s unbeatable. I love leftover Christmas dinner maybe slightly more even than the big event, the forays into the cold fridge pickings, bubble and squeak and anything with cheese and pickles and chutney on the side. A cold nut roast fits the bill for me here just as much as a cold, plucked bird does for most.
I’ve never made my own nut roast, I’ve always bought one in, feeling too busy and stressed by the whole season to make one. Let me tell you that getting married a week or so before Christmas puts everything into a new perspective, a calm has descended that I’m going with. What is Christmas really? It’s a big meal with your friends and family – something to find much joy in (hopefully..) it’s your children’s excitement building in waves as the sleeps go by, it’s a holiday from work and it’s permissible, actually it’s mandatory, to drink Bailey’s for breakfast – what’s not to love?
So I’m stripping it back to those simple things – happy children, good food, a cup of cheer and friends and family. I’m not getting stressed about presents, there’ll be lovely gifts, there always are and I’m not getting stressed about large scale entertaining – I’ll be asking family to contribute food for the dinner table. It’s a state of mind and I’m going in with a calm one that’s up for a bit of a party. Are you with me?
I used veggie haggis as the base of my nut roast. I only discovered the delights of this Scottish gem when living in Edinburgh and writing about Burn’s Night for a magazine. Haggis is on the shopping list regularly now, and my carnivore Adam prefers the veggie version too. We eat haggis for weekend breakfast sometimes on potato cakes topped with a poached egg. My preference is for MacSween’s but Hall’s do a fine one too, you can find them in the chilled section of most supermarkets. They’re made with beans, lentils, oatmeal, herbs and nuts and I thought it would make a simple and speedy base for my nut roast.
Makes 1 loaf
2 veggie haggis
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 small bulb of fennel
punnet of chestnut mushrooms
Handful each of salted peanuts, cashews and brazil nuts
Olive oil for softening veggies
- Preheat the oven to 160C Fan / 180C / Gas 4 and line a loaf tin with foil or greaseproof paper
- Finely chop the onion and mushroom and slice the pepper and fennel into little thin strips
- Heat the olive oil and soften all the veggies
- Cook the haggis as per manufacturer’s instructions
- Chop the nuts and beat the eggs
- Mix everything altogether carefully making sure the eggs are mixed in well
- Press into the loaf tin
- Bake for about an hour, leave to cool in the tin
- I’ll be freezing this when it’s totally cool, defrosting it on Christmas eve and then wrapping it up in foil and warming through again on Christmas day
- Right, where’s the Bailey’s?
Getting in the Christmas spirit HAS to involve National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I love, love, love it.