Christmas time a stress-free meal needs proper planning. There is no such thing as luck – you have to make it happen. That’s why I decided early what to make for my small family on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is a private, family holiday in Hungary, we don’t go to parties. The main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. The evening is called Holy Evening. Most families decorate the tree together on 24 December, but some families keep the older tradition that tree should be a surprise for children who even believe it was bought by Baby Jesus and angels. Children enter the room only when the small tree bells ring and music arises. Gifts lay around the tree with small labels saying the name of someone in the family. Family-members sing Christmas songs together, then open their gifts and spend the night together. The menu for Christmas Eve is usually fish soup from carp, fried fish with potato salad or French fries. The traditional Hungarian Christmas dessert is called beigli. It’s a pastry roll filled with poppyseed or walnut and it can be made a few days, even a week before Christmas.
I’m vegetarian so we don’t make the traditional menu on this evening. We had cranberry and pistachio nut roast – a rich and savoury vegetarian dish -, mashed pumpkin potatoes with rosemary and also this cheesy leeks (recipe from Jamie Oliver) and a vegan stuffing (I’ll share the recipe with you soon). It was the best vegetarian Christmas dinner we ever had.
Ingredients (serves 4)
– 2 large leeks, trimmed and washed
– 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
– 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
– 100 ml cream
– 100 g cheddar, grated
– 100 g brie, cut into small pieces
– sea salt
– black pepper
– olive oil
Slice the leeks on an angle, about 2 cm thick. Put a pan on a medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme and garlic. As things begin to bubble and fry (3-4 minutes), stir in the leeks. Leave to cook and check on it every few minutes to stir (make sure it doesn’t catch). After 10-15 minutes turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients (cream, brie, salt, pepper), stir and spoon it all into a baking dish, sprinkle over the cheddar. Pop in the oven and bake at 170-180C (350F) for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.
More vegetarian Christmas recipes:
Mashed Pumpkin Potatoes with Rosemary
Cranberry and Pistachio Nut Roast