Cooking Christmas in Bath
When I find a vegan cookery place I like, I have a tendency to go back. And back, and back.
I've been to the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath a few times to do different courses, but back in May, when I saw that they were going to put on a Christmas vegan cookery course, I had to sign up, even if it was seven months in advance.
I love Christmas. There, I've said it.
I love the sparkly lights, the slacking off at work, the weird impulse to socialise at warp speed ("we've got to meet up before Christmas!" "Why? I'm free in January too." "Before. Christmas.") and, needless to say, I love the food.
I love Christmas dinner - some centrepiece, roast potatoes, gravy, bread sauce, veggies and enough pudding to sink a frigate - and any new spin on cooking it makes me very happy indeed.
The Vegetarian Cookery School's Christmas course promised to give us not only recipes for Christmas dinner, with pudding and dinner rolls, but canapes, Christmas booze recipes, and the sort of light lunch you'd have on Boxing Day too.
Sounds good, right?
The light lunch was Asian dumplings with a brussels-sprouty filling. The veggies were chopped and dressed, and we got stuck in assembling the dumplings. The pan cooked results were a little rubbery - a side effect of the dumpling skins being too thick, and being left to sit while we messed around too long in the kitchen - but the filling was lovely.
There was a shedload of it left over after our dumpling stuffing marathon, so the filling was transformed into another dish by cooking with some noodles, and it turned out to be delicious too. (And there was a simple salad of greens and pomegranate to go alongside - how beautiful does this look?)
Here's some of the dinner rolls we made, each with a different filling - black olive, summer and winter pesto (one with pine nuts and basil, the other with watercress and walnuts) and a tomatoey one.
The bread dough we made for the dinner rolls got another lease of life wiht these little tartlets. I'll be honest, I thought on paper, this recipe looked grim - butternut squash leaves me cold, especially in the relatively undressed state in which it appeared here.
Well colour me yellow and call me Henry's cat - it turns out the cookery teachers at the Cookery School are not only lovely and friendly, they also know their stuff. The tartlets were subtle, but rather lovely nonetheless - just a load of garlic, a bit of lemon juice and some leek, and they're away.
The tartlets were topped with membrillo though, which was new to me. After my first taste, I was pretty much convinced it was so good it could probably make cats lie down with dogs and cause spontaneous outbreaks of world peace or something. Yes, the membrillo was honestly that good, and the tartlets too.
The centrepiece for the Chrimbo dinner itself was this porcini and pearl barley Wellington, served with slow cooked red cabbage and some roast spuds. The roasties and red cabbage were prepared as a demonstration, but the pastry and the Wellington were made by our own fair hands. It almost met with a sticky end when I tipped in a slick of soy sauce by accident, but it all worked out for the best, George's Marvellous Medicine style.
Here's our wellingtons before they went into the oven:
The pudding was a rich pistachio torte, full of chocolate, dried fruit and coconut cream, and it appeared on the table with hot custard. Yes, custard. Sauce anglaise to the French, manna from heaven to me.
I was so stuffed, I could barely get this down. But it was lovely, so I did nonetheless.
And that wasn't all. There were cute little Christmas tree biscuits, and my favourite bit of the class (seriously): gløgg.
Think gløgg is like mulled wine? Oh no, friend, think again. Gløgg is like mulled wine's smarter, better looking, more charming cousin - the sort of cousin that you invite along to your Christmas party and everyone's like 'who's that? They're pretty cool. Nice hair too.' I'll be inviting it back again and again.
In the meantime, I'll be checking out when the Vegetarian Cookery School is running its next vegan course - that's my kind of Christmas present.
The Vegetarian Cookery School
6 Terrace Walk