Vegetarian Christmas lunch – I need your help!

What are you having for your Christmas lunch?

I’ve been collecting a few ideas on Pinterest, but nothing we have tried so far has really hit the spot so would love to hear your suggestions!

Bessie x

Christmas Pies

This is what we had for our xmas lunch this year.

Christmas Pies

The original recipe says to make them in ramekins, but I made these in my muffin tin so we could have smaller ones (I did double the mixture to make 12) – it was a bit fiddly getting the pastry into them, but it was worth it as they were very tasty & went down very well with our guests.Christmas Pies

It’s worth reading all the comments on the original recipe – this is why I used two pieces of baking parchment.

This recipe will make 4 pies in ramekins or 6 in a muffin tin.

Christmas Pies

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print


  • 200g leeks, thinly sliced
  • 25g butter, plus a knob
  • 100g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 4 good pinches ground mace
  • 4 good pinches thyme leaves, plus a few extra small sprigs to decorate
  • 100g potatoes, grated
  • 100g Puy or green lentils, from a can, rinsed and drained
  • 100g cooked chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp double cream
  • 4 tbsp fresh cranberries, plus about 20 to decorate
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze
  • 2 tsp redcurrant jelly

For the Pastry

  • 200g plain flour , plus a little extra
  • 100g light vegetarian suet
  • 8 tbsp milk


  1. Gently fry the leeks in the butter until softened. Add the mushrooms, mace and thyme, and turn up the heat a bit to soften the mushrooms and drive off any liquid that comes out of them. Stir in the potato for 2 mins, followed by the lentils, chestnuts and cream. Cook for 2 mins more, then take off the heat and stir in the 4 tbsp cranberries.
  2. To make the pastry, put the flour and suet in a food processor with 1 tsp salt. Whizz together until you can’t see any big suet lumps, then keep pulsing while you add the milk, a spoon at a time, until the pastry comes together.
  3. Roll out a quarter of the pastry on a lightly floured surface, then use a biscuit cutter to cut out an appropriate size lid. Use a small star cutter to cut out a star from each lid (I didn’t have one, so had to use a knife) then keep stars and lids covered with cling film.
  4. Cut 2 strips of baking parchment for each pie and use a little butter to stick one in each pie dish, so the ends of the strips stick out each side to help you remove the pies when baked.
  5. Gather lid scraps with the remaining pastry and divide into equal pieces for each pie. Roll out each to £1 coin thickness and use to line each pie dish with an overhang.
  6. Divide the filling between the dishes. Top each with a lid, and roll down the overhang to meet the lid. Use a fork’s prongs to press and seal edges. The pies can now be covered and chilled for up to 24 hrs before baking.
  7. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7.
  8. Brush each pie with beaten egg and bake for 30 mins.
  9. Lift pies from dishes and sit directly onto a baking sheet. Mix 20 cranberries with the redcurrant jelly and divide between the star holes on top. Brush pastry stars with beaten egg, add a small thyme sprig to each, then add to the pie baking sheet and put back in the oven for 5-10 mins, until pies and stars are golden and crisp.
  10. Top each pie with a star and serve.

Like this?  How about:

Parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loaf

parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loafI can’t take any of the credit for making this, as DH did all the hard work & unfortunately it wasn’t appreciated by the girls (1.5 & 4).  Both DH & I thought it tasted nice, but it fell apart when you cut it, so it won’t be making it onto our Christmas Menu.




  • 4 tbsp butter , plus a little extra for greasing
  • 3 onions , chopped
  • 15g pack sage , 6 leaves reserved, rest shredded
  • 200g pack cooked chestnuts
  • 100g walnuts
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp mace
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 500g cranberries
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 550g parsnips , choose long, thin ones if you can, peeled then halved lengthways
  • 1 tbsp honey


  1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large non-stick pan, add the onions and gently cook for 10-15 mins until very soft. Stir in the sage for 1 min, then tip into a large mixing bowl. Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until chopped into small bits, then tip these into the bowl with the onions and repeat with the walnuts. Now add the breadcrumbs, mace, beaten egg, 1 tsp salt and some pepper and mix everything together well.
  2. Tip the cranberries and sugar into a pan and simmer for about 8-10 mins over a high heat. The sugar will melt and cranberries will pop and become saucy – keep bubbling until sticky. Set aside to cool. Grease a 900g loaf tin, line with a long strip of baking parchment that covers the bottom and two ends, then grease this as well.
  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the parsnips and boil for 3½ mins. Drain well. From the thinner ends, cut off lengths of parsnip that fit widthways across the bottom of your loaf tin. Keep going until you have enough to snugly line the base of the tin. Roughly chop all leftover parsnip and mix into the nut mixture.
  4. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Mix the parsnip lengths with 1 more tbsp butter and the honey to coat, then fit them into the tin. Top with ¹/³ of the nut mixture – pack it down well and smooth the surface. Spread ¹/³ of the cranberry sauce on top, leaving a small gap around the edges. Top with the remaining nut mixture and pack down as before. The loaf can be made up to 24 hrs ahead, then covered and chilled, before continuing. Cover with foil then bake for 1 hr.
  5. To serve, melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in a small pan and sizzle the reserved sage leaves for a minute. Splash water into the remaining cooked cranberries until saucy. Loosen around the sides of the loaf with a round-bladed knife if you need, then turn out. Drizzle with the sage butter and leaves. Serve in slices with extra cranberry sauce.

Xmas lunch ideas

I’m collecting ideas for my Xmas lunch. It will be me, DH, DD1(4), DD2(1.5), my parents & my grandparents. Although I am the only vegetarian, I think everyone will happily eat whatever I put in front of them as long as it is accompanied by roast potatoes, cranberry sauce & plenty of veg!

It has to be something DH & I can prep the day before, that will be easy to cook on the day as we want to be able to open presents with the DDs in the morning. I want to do something chestnutty, DD1(4) refuses to eat mushrooms, my dad has to have a low-fat diet. I’m thinking we will need to have a selection of dishes! Have you got any recipe ideas or know of any sites I should be looking at for ideas?

Best-ever brownies

Chocolate Brownie
Chocolate Brownie

This brownie recipe is fantastic & has never failed me yet – crispy on the outside & perfectly gooey on the inside.  Always a winner for pudding on Christmas day!


  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 185g best dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 3 large free-range organic eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar


  1. Position a shelf in the middle of the oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4
  2. Cut the butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl.  Cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
  3. Butter and base-line a shallow 20cm square tin
  4. With a large sharp knife, chop the white and milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares. 
  5. Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.   My old & knackered mixer couldn’t manage this, but luckily my husband stepped in with the manual whisk to save the day!
  6. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4. 
  7. Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and sift the cocoa and flour, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout. 
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. 
  9. When the dinger goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.
  10. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you’re using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you’re using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. 

Apparently these brownies will keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks or in the freezer for up to a month.  I have no idea if this is true as they have never lasted more than a few days in my house 🙂

Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington

Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington
Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington

I found this recipe on the veganvillage website & have had it for my Christmas lunch in both 2010 & 2013.   DD1 ate it the first time, but neither DD1(5) or DD2(2.5)  liked it in 2013…. although they were so excited by having so many people round for lunch, they hardly ate anything until it was time for dessert!  The important thing was that the only veggie at the table (me) liked it & the 5 adult carnivores all enjoyed it too.

The mix makes loads, so I wrapped half of it up in pastry & put the rest in the freezer for another day.


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 125g (4½ oz) chestnut mushrooms, sliced roughly
  • 110g (4oz) cashews, ground in a food processor
  • 110g (4oz) cooked chestnuts, chopped (we used tinned)
  • 110g (4oz) soft wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • ½ tsp yeast extract
  • 2 x 330g (12oz) puff pastry
  • milk for brushing


  1. Fry the onions in the olive oil, add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 mins. Whizz in a food processor with the chestnuts, lemon juice, soya sauce and yeast extract.
  2. Put the mixture into a mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs, cashews and herbs, season and mix well. (This should be quite stiff.)
  3. Line &/or lightly oil  a baking tray.
  4. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to make a rectangle about the size of a sheet of A4.  Transfer the pastry to the  baking tray and heap the mushroom mixture in the centre, forming it into a loaf shape.
  5. Make diagonal cuts in the pastry 1cm apart on each side of the mushroom mixture, then fold these up and over to give a plait effect. Tuck, trim and brush with milk.
  6. Bake at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 40 mins, or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.