gluten-free02If you are planning a gluten-free vegetarian Christmas it can be difficult to come up with something different that doesn’t require lots of preparation on the day. Even the most enthusiastic cook wants to sit back and enjoy Christmas day and not spend every minute slaving over the stove whilst missing all the festive fun.

Parnsip and Pear Gratin with Camembert and Marmalade
This gratin dish is a rather more indulgent version of the winter supper favourite. It is easy to prepare and can be made in advance and frozen. It is rich and oh so comforting and makes a welcome change from a nut roast. The marmalade in this recipe adds a bit of sweetness and offsets the strong taste of the camembert.

The Gluten Free Pastry Topping
225g gluten free plain flour
100g butter (chilled, cubed)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Ice cold water, to mix

Sift the flour into a bowl; rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the lemon juice and enough ice cold water to mix to pliable dough. Knead lightly. Wrap in polythene food wrap and put in the freeze for at least one hour, the longer the better. This can be done up to three months in advance.

The Gratin
4 people if served with accompaniments or 2 people if the only dish served
2 large carrots,
2 pears,
300g parsnips
1 shallot
250g camembert (cubed)
20g butter (plus additional knob for cooking veg)
Olive oil
1 tbsp. thick cut marmalade
50g cheddar
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Black pepper

Heat the oven to 200-220◦C , gas mark 7
Wash the carrots, parsnips and pears and top and tail before slicing all of them thinly, (a mandolin is ideal as long as you watch your fingers and there is no need to peel any of them). Chop the shallot finely and combine all fruit and vegetables with a knob of butter and a glug of olive oil in a heavy based saucepan set over a low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until just tender. In another pan warm the marmalade, 20g butter and seasoning. Pour over the parsnip mix and combine well. Turn the mixture into a gratin dish and evenly distribute the camembert over the dish. Remove the pastry from the freezer and grate the pastry over the top of the dish and top with grated cheddar and a sprinkling of fresh black pepper.
Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until piping hot, golden and bubbling.
To make in advance prepare the pastry and freeze. Prepare the gratin dish and either refrigerate overnight without the pastry topping or freeze for three months. When you’re ready to cook, simply grate on the pastry topping.

Quick Fix Spicy Tomato Gravy
This is a quick and easy gravy that adds a touch of luxury to Christmas dinner without fuss and faff. It goes well with the Pear and Parsnip Gratin and is delicious when lashed over roasted vegetables.
250ml tomato ketchup
250ml red wine
2 cloves of smoked garlic (crushed)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt

Place the ketchup and wine into a saucepan with the seasoning and crushed garlic, stir and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste.

Courgette Ratatouille
This is a nice addition to roasted vegetables and goes particularly well with crispy roast potatoes. It takes around 20 minutes to cook and 15 minutes to prep.

2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 large onions peeled and finely sliced
2 sweet red peppers, cored, de-seeded and sliced
1 orange pepper, cored, de-seeded and sliced
450g small courgettes, trimmed and sliced
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Fresh chopped parsley
Fresh ground black pepper

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic and fry over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or until soft and lightly coloured. Add the peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes , add the white wine vinegar and the courgettes cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently, check the texture, the courgettes should still be holding their form and slightly crisp, continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the right consistency. Taste and season with black pepper. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve.

gluten-free03Lunch in a Flash
Laverbread and Portabello Mushroom Vol-au-vents
If you fancy something completely different for Christmas lunch and you don’t want to spend long in the kitchen on the day, how about a mushroom and laverbread vol-au- vent ? You can make your own puff pastry in advance or simply use a good quality store bought one. Gluten free puff pastry works well in this dish, but you have to remember it won’t rise as much so double the thickness when rolling out the pastry for the vol-au-vent.

For 4 people
500g puff pastry
Beaten egg for glazing

Roll out a block of puff pastry to a thickness of 5mm
With a 10-12 cm pastry cutter, cut out the vol-au-vents being careful not to twist the cutter. Remove the excess pastry. This can be re-rolled to make more vol-au-vents. With a slightly smaller pastry cutter, press halfway down into the pastry circle, taking care not to cut through the bottom. This can take a little practice, but if it goes wrong first time simply re-roll the pastry and start again.
Glaze the tops of the vol-au-vents with egg wash, but be careful not to glaze the sides as this can cause an uneven rise.
Bake in the oven at 200C/ gas mark 6 for 10-12 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Remove the cases from the oven and check that the pastry is cooked through, returning to the oven for a further 4 minutes if the centres are not cooked through.
These can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for a week.

The Filling:
75g tinned laverbread (about half a tin)
1 shallot (finely chopped)
200g double cream
250g portabello mushrooms quartered
150g grated mature cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping the vol-au-vents
Freshly milled black pepper
Splash of port
Knob of butter

In a saucepan melt the butter with the shallot, over a low heat, the aim being to soften the shallot without colouring it. Add the mushrooms and the port and cook for 4 minutes before adding the tinned laver bread. Stir well and cook over a low heat until the mushrooms start to soften and reduce down. Season with black pepper and slowly add the cream, stirring continuously. Add the grated cheese and mix well. Soon the mixture into the pre-made vol-au-vent cases and top with a little extra grated cheese, pop in a moderate oven for 5-10 minutes or until piping hot. The filling can be made the day before and stored in the fridge until needed.
All that remains to do now is pour yourself a generous glass of wine and enjoy your gluten free, vegetarian Christmas dinner ,but if you fancy something a little more decadent to get you into the festive mood, then this quick and easy punch should do the trick.

Festive Cupgluten-free01

2 bottles full bodied red wine
1/4 bottle gin,
75g raisins,
100g caster sugar,
8 whole cloves,
2 cinnamon sticks,
pared rind 2 lemons
pared rind 1 orange.
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Serve warm with a curl of pared orange rind.

With a little advance planning there is no need to resort to nut roast or else miss out on the Christmas day festivities. Merry Christmas!

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