Tuesday, 25 January 2011

9 courses, 8 days, 7 people, 6 veg, 5 hours, 4 ovens, 3 starters, 2 amateurs, 1 Jed.

Jed's Christmas Menu book

On Christmas Day 2010, we undertook the challenge of the awesome responsibility of cooking Christmas dinner for the family. That's seven people - not a huge gathering, you might argue, people do that all the time - but enough to get these two vegans to mentally sit up and take a sip of strong coffee.

The group consisted of omnivores, a vegetarian plus two vegans. The aim was a) to christen the new eating space built earlier that year, b) do a vegan Christmas dinner with slow panache, leaving stomachs full but not bloated, and c) to give Mum the day off. One Christmas day off in about 50 years is quite generous, we thought.

But we didn't want the usual. Traditional, yes; but grown-up and professional too. Time to call Jed Smith, friend, chef, Inkymole events food designer and wearer of unfeasably bright trousers. In Jed's words: 'No fake turkey; no fake sausages wrapped In fake bacon'.

Jed had just started working at Momofuko in New York, having moved from his London home, and had literally just arrived when he wrote this book for us full of ideas. It arrived by DHL in a charming envelope, and was full of 100% solid cooking gold. That he even had time to write it down, let alone conjure the recipes, is a source of wonderment. We spent two hours in Wholefoods in London (there for a Deadmau5 show) sourcing all the bits we needed.

Prep had to begin several days before and was hampered by a few Christmas Eve surprises - a leaky ceiling, a sawn-through cable and a busted clutch - and we didn't do everything on the menu (only because of shortness of time and the average size of a human stomach) but as it was, we got everyone here at 1pm, they had a mugful of soup, then the apple pastillos a bit later, then we rolled out the main dinner bit by bit. We ate for five hours.

Here we are then, the full menu:

Chestnut soup

Apple and tarragon pastillos

Radishes and sliced turnips with herb gremolata, and Dijon mustard and cider dressing

Salt-baked beetroots with cucumber in pickle liquor with dill oil (everyone LoVeD these)

Home-made nut roast
Roast tats and 'snips
Baked-whole-then-mashed celeriac
Carrots, sprouts and cabbage
Caramelised cauliflower cooked in juniper berry and tonic water
Home-made baked stuffing (vegan)
Vegan Yorkshire puds (Mum's recipe - to follow)
Onion and toasted mustard seed gravy

Christmas muffins with vegan cream

Christmas coffee (home-brewed decaf with star anise, cinnamon and cloves, with hazelnut, gingerbread, vanilla or cinnamon syrup

Lancashire and Leicestershire (Sparkenhoe) cheeses with vegan cranberry Cheshire, olives, home-made cashew nut cheese*, oatcakes and home-made chutney (sister and boyfriend live in Blackpool, hence the inclusion of a small-maker cheese from the Fylde)
*we made the quince cheese but have saved it for another day

Divine 'After-Eight' mints

Tea, red wine, beers, cider, and apple and beetroot juice, apple and rhubarb juice


The Rickard's Farm veg, ready for prep...

...spuds, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes*, snips, swede, sprouts
*which radish-hating sister ate raw, and having once begun, could not stop

Apple pastillos, with cider and mustard dressing being whizzed

Preparing the nut roast beginnings

Nuts being toasted for the nut roast

Nut roast done.

Whole-baked celeriac (took two hours)

Herb gremolata

Stuffing roll ready for the oven

Christmas muffins under construction

Close-up of the salt-baked beetroots with cucumber in pickle liquor with dill oil


Vegan Nut Roast (PDF) - this was a combination of a recipe from Wholefoods, and Jed's made-up version, with a bit of tinkering.

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