Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas (a.k.a. Let's Have The Oven On All Day You Guys)

My family is not one of great traditions, but for me Christmas will always equal baked veg (and a good dose of bad TV to go with it). Despite the fact it was 31 degrees, I couldn't resist throwing together a baked dinner with Sanitarium's vegie roast and as many veggies as I could fit in this gigantic mother pot:
I followed Jamie Oliver's sound advice (does anyone else love his Christmas specials?) and tried his smashed potato recipe - what makes this one great is instead of smashing the spuds immediately after you parboil, you wait half an hour, then smush, then bake for another half an hour. The potatoes stay moist and crisp like mad on the bottom and are so, so good. Other than that, pretty typical roasties - pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrot, a whole onion cut into small wedges and separated (do this so all the little bits caramelise and get everywhere and go super soft - brilliant). Rosemary, thyme, onion powder. Simple. Brilliant. Not very dignified in the pan though:
You get some seriously good stuff out the other end! This is my personal veggie-pile and a few slices of veggie roast. Yum.
The spuds on the bottom are inspired by quinces and kale's recent roast spud post - couldn't resist trying it as well as regular roasties. I made almost a batter with the flour and oil and tossed the spuds - it was quite tasty! I have other ideas for using that concept and will post about them when I have time to experiment.

Anyway. A roast dinner is delicious but always, always make far more veg than you need so you can have bubble and squeak the next day! This is actually from another Jamie Oliver christmas special I watched.. no idea, maybe years ago now. Anyway, it's super simple and extremely delicious, so give it a go. Nothing like the traditional kind really, but so worth it.

You will need:
Leftover roast veg from the fridge (I've used potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot and onion. Keep your pumpkin to a minimum - 1-2 chunks - or things get a little gloopy. If you don't like to roast onion, dice and fry one up and add it to the mix, it's brilliant.)
A few slices of leftover roast "meat" (optional) - nut roast, lentil loaf, tofurky, whatever you like- I'm using Sanitarium's vegie roast. I love this stuff. If you want, facon would be pretty great too, but the point of this is leftovers really, so don't make a big effort.
A little oil, salt and pepper
A big flat nonstick frypan (use something heavy bottomed for best result)
A spatula or your favourite squishing implement

Take out your leftover veg and chop into roughly 1 cm pieces. You want to chop rather than tear to retain texture. As you can see below, the pumpkin is delicious but gets super mushy so you don't want a lot of it. Give it a good crack of salt and pepper and toss it all together so you end up with a decent mix of veggies - no clumps of one thing.
Chop up your roast "meat" into fine pieces (smallish dice will do) and add to your vegie mix. This is my leftover vegie roast - this one is great because the glaze is largely sugar, so it caramelizes and you get sticky burny crispy bits to add into your veg and it rocks. (That said, if you have a favourite pre-made veg 'roast' let me know about it! I haven't tried any of the other brands.)

Heat your frying pan to about medium and add a small splash of oil. Pour in your roast veg mix and press down in the pan. Let sit for around ~5 minutes - you want a nice brown crispy crust forming. When that's happened, give everything a big stir so new sides will brown. Nothing will stick together here and that's kind of the point, so roll with it. You're basically making a glorified hash here, but if you prefer a patty, then use a little more pumpkin, tear everything roughly /use a masher and shape with your hands. You'll get a very similar result, just with less texture.
 Let cook another five minutes until everything is hot and crispy, then turf out and serve with your leftover roast, or some greens, or whatever takes your fancy. For the non-vegans out there, Jamie suggests cracking an egg on top and letting it cook in the hash, so give that a go if it's your kind of thing. But on its own, this is divine and one of my favourite breakfasts ever.

As for other Christmas nibbles, I tried a few pre-made tasty bits this holiday. These are Moo Free's new chocolate pralines. Honestly, I'll finish them but they're overpriced and far too sugary - the inside texture is like sand (gritty and kind of sticky on your teeth), and it kinda feels like they used mostly sugar and not enough hazelnuts for the interior. (I make praline from time to time and it's incredible when done right, bad praline makes me sad.) My mother summed it up quite well when she said "the problem with vegan milk chocolates is they try to emulate creaminess with sugar.". And it's true. Still, very glad I got to try them but I'll stick to my own in future.
Coles has had an interesting range of "christmas balls", mostly vegan (says so on the label!). I picked up the choc-almond ones, $5. They're pretty good - nice cocoa hit, kind of remind me of a hedgehog slice. There's sultanas in them but very few - you forget until you bite into one, which is really confusing to eat. I'm excited to see more and more vegan treats appearing though, so awesome!
I also got these - Fino's Confections jellies. I love these. Great texture, great flavours - they are definitely a two-bite candy though, they're about an inch across. Terribly pricey but easy to get a hold of and very tasty! I actually picked up the citrus pack today and they're not half so nice as the berry ones, go figure:
We're also obsessed with this juice lately - I'm not really a juice person, or an anything-but-water person, but this stuff is brilliant. The label made me chuckle when I bought it, but damnit they're right - I could happily live on this stuff. You win this round, Freshafruit.
And.. that's it for Christmas for another year! Now back to skinning hazelnuts for praline and pretending it's not going to be hot tomorrow. Whoops.


  1. I never knew that veggie roast was vegan! And yay on the mashed spuds! I'm so going to try them the day after tomorrow when it's supposed to be 20C. And hey, maybe Coles will halve the prices of the chocolate balls now?

  2. Glad you gave the spuds a go, will be interested to see your other experiments with the technique.

  3. I've noticed this problem with vegan milk chocolate as well. How do you make your pralines?