Ring the changes this Christmas with these tasty alternatives to traditional dishes


Orange and Cranberry Roast Wreath recipe

Orange makes this roast extra zesty, and its stunning wreath shape will look beautiful on your festive dinner table

Serves: 6 to 8


2 tbsp (28 g) vegan butter

160g finely diced red onion

2 tsp (10 g) crushed garlic

101g finely diced celery

128g finely diced carrots

130g cranberries

1 tsp orange zest

60 ml fresh orange juice (roughly ½ medium orange)

½ tsp sea salt

1 tbsp (14 g) light brown sugar

1 tsp fresh thyme

1 11g cube vegetable bouillon

¼ tsp ground black pepper

234 g chopped walnuts

2 tbsp (32 g) peanut butter

1 tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp (30 ml) water

2 tbsp (12 g) almond flour

2 tbsp (20 g) flaxseeds

4 tbsp (60 g) cranberry sauce

Orange shavings and nuts to decorate the wreath (optional)


Place the vegan butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened.

Add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the celery and carrots. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the carrots have slightly softened.

Add the cranberries to the pan and stir to incorporate them. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, or until the cranberries have softened. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the orange zest, fresh orange juice, salt and brown sugar. After 2 minutes, add the fresh thyme. Crumble in the bouillon cube and add the black pepper. Simmer over low heat while you're preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Meanwhile, transfer the walnuts to a food processor and pulse for 10 to 20 seconds to break them into chunks. Transfer them to the skillet, stir them in and remove the skillet from the heat.

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a small bowl, whisk the peanut butter, apple cider vinegar and water. Add it to the skillet and stir all the ingredients together, then stir in the almond flour and flaxseeds.

Grease a 10½-inch (27cm) ring cake pan and transfer the mixture to the cake pan. Firmly press it down into the ring with the back of a spoon or spatula to pack it densely. Carefully even out the top of the cake ring and transfer it to the preheated oven.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning the ring around halfway through to ensure it bakes evenly. Once the edges begin to brown, remove the cake ring from the oven.

Allow your wreath to cool on an even surface for 10 to 15 minutes before carefully turning it upside down on a serving dish and removing the cake ring.

Decorate the top of the wreath with cranberry sauce, along with orange savings and nuts (if using).

Reprinted with permission from The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Roasts by Romy London. Page Street Publishing Co.

Great British Life: Chocolate espresso pear meringues Photo: OpiesChocolate espresso pear meringues Photo: Opies

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe

Elevate your festive roasties with this tasty sweet potato version

Serves: 4 to 6


990 g cubed, peeled sweet potatoes

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil, divided

3.5 oz (100 g) smoked tofu, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp (15 ml) tamari

110 g pecan halves

60 ml maple syrup

2 tsp (12 g) sea salt flakes


Preheat your oven to 320°F (160°C).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the sweet potatoes and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil in a large bowl.

Toss to coat evenly, then spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the remainder of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick skillet.

Add the tofu cubes and crispy fry them for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing frequently, until all sides are evenly golden and lightly crispy.

Reduce the heat to low and deglaze the pan with the tamari. Stir to evenly coat the tofu and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the tofu is coated. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the pecans on the baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Check on them once a minute to ensure they don't burn, and give them a toss halfway through.

Once done, combine the roasted sweet potato, tofu cubes and pecans in a serving dish.

Drizzle with maple syrup and coat everything, then sprinkle salt flakes over the top. Serve right away.

Reprinted with permission from The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Roasts by Romy London. PageStreet Publishing Co.

Great British Life: Chocolate espresso pear meringuesChocolate espresso pear meringues (Image: Opies)

Chocolate Espresso Pear Meringues recipe

A showstopper of a Christmas pudding

Makes 10 – 12 meringues


1 tbsp instant espresso powder

100g dark chocolate (80% minimum cocoa solids ideally)

4 Egg whites

225g Caster Sugar

1 tbsp Cornflour

1 tsp White Wine Vinegar

250g mascarpone

1 jar Opies Baby Pears with Luxardo® Amaretto, drained and halved, syrup reserved

To decorate (optional)

Fresh Redcurrants

Rosemary sprigs

Fresh figs


Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140°C fan / Gas 3 and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

Mix the espresso powder with a teaspoon of hot water in a cup (it will be thick, but don’t worry). Set aside.

Break the chocolate into a small bowl and microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring until melted. Pour half of the chocolate onto another sheet of greaseproof paper in a thin layer, then roll up and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Set the remaining half aside to cool.

Beat the egg whites using an electric beater or mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar whilst continuing to mix followed by the cornflour, vinegar and espresso until a very stiff texture is achieved.

Spoon onto the baking sheets to form 8 circles around 8cm wide. Make a dip in the middle to form the ‘nest’.

Drizzle a small teaspoonful of chocolate over each nest and swirl it around to create a pattern. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes then turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool completely overnight with the door shut.

Remove the chocolate paper roll from the fridge, slowly unravel and break into shards.

To make the cream, beat the mascarpone with a little of the reserved amaretto syrup until sweet, loosened but still thick. Spoon onto the cooled meringues top with a couple of pear halves, chocolate shards and additional fresh fruit (if using).

Recipe courtesy of Opies foods bennettopie.com

Great British Life: Crackers for cheese. Photo: Francesca StoneCrackers for cheese. Photo: Francesca Stone

Crackers for cheese

Give your cheese course the homemade touch

Makes 12 crackers


200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp salt

1½ tsp sugar

3 tbsp olive oil or melted margarine

100ml water

1 egg

Herbs and seeds of your choice (optional)


In a blender blitz the flour, salt, sugar and oil or margarine until well combined.

Continue to mix as you slowly add the water.

Once the mixture is smooth, tip out onto a floured surface.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC fan/430ºF/gas 7.

Roll out the dough until it is about the thickness of a pound coin.

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough into your cracker shapes.

You can make any shape you like, but rectangles or squares are easiest and least wasteful of dough.

Brush the beaten egg onto the top of the dough and sprinkle with herbs and seeds, if you like, and place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes or until the crackers are golden.

Once cool store in an airtight container.

Extracted from Festive by Francesca Stone (Pop Press)