Christmas is a time for great food! Photo: Toa Heftiba

Working on a veggie show stopper

Can you believe that we are two weeks away from the big day?

It is the perfect month for hygge – light a candle, dim the lights, play soft music and read a good book. Mid-November is when I start reading Nigel Slater’s ‘Christmas Chronicles’ and it sets the mood as I imagine myself walking along snow-covered country roads (he lives in London but I can paint apicture) and harvesting the first of the winter leeks before heading into the warm kitchen with a basket full of seasonal produce to prepare a meal for the army of friends that will visit in 30 minutes.

In my imagination, I am relaxed, made up and wearing heals and pearls and I welcome my guest with a perfectly chilled Christmas cocktail.

Now, if you have ever come to my house for dinner, you will have noticed a few things: dinner is ready, the table is decorated, welcome cocktail is ready but I will look as if I had just broken the world record in show jumping by myself.

This year, as last year, we won’t be throwing a Christmas party but in my head I have already created the perfect menu.

But talking about Christmas dinner – we will have a vegetarian staying with us – and I am trying to figure out how to make the dinner of all dinners spectacular without the bird in the centre of the table.

My Christmas feast since I was a child (I wasn’t able to eat meat as a child) is always Yorkshire pudding, roasties, gravy (my mum made the most amazing gravy), red cabbage, roasted parsnip, stuffing – and that’s it. I still have this every year as I don’t like poultry.

So, Mr T and I discussed what to do for dinner this year and we decided to keep it vegetarian (I can make gravy without the bird – and no Bisto involved) but knowing the man, two days before the big day, he will come home with some bird.

But now, how to create stunning centre piece for the Christmas table?

A nut roast is too obvious, so maybe a stuffed pumpkin – filled with rice, nuts, raisins and apricots? Or a layered vegetable terrine? Or a Veggie Wellington?

The late Gary Rhodes has a stunning pie with portobello mushrooms in one of his cookbooks and Jamie Oliver roasted a whole cauliflower recently on TV that looked rather impressive. I’ll keep you posted.

And speaking of Christmas, in case you are still looking for that special gift and didn’t have a chance to come to the Blarney Christmas Fair two weeks ago – I am running an online market with the traders who were at the market.

So you can still buy a gift from a local small creative business without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen – pop over to Facebook/Instagram and look for Bia Sásta.

So, I just saw a Merry Berry Vegetarian cookbook in my shelf (it’s from the late 1980s) – I might just find the perfect dinner centre piece in there - watch this space!