Advent: Recipes for the Countdown to Christmas

November 26, 2020

Here are some suggestions for a delicious vegetarian Christmas feast for you and your guests, taken from Kerstin Niehoff and Laura Fleiter’s Advent: Recipes and Crafts for the Countdown to Christmas



Mushroom Wellington with chestnut cream

Serves 4

A roast may be the traditional choice for a Christmas feast, but this crisp, light, puff pastry Wellington filled with fragrant mushrooms makes for a perfect alternative for those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan option. This pairs perfectly with a velvety chestnut cream.

For the Wellington:

2 French shallots
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) button mushrooms
2 tbsp canola oil
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp coconut sugar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
275 g (93/4 oz) frozen (vegan) puff pastry, thawed
1 small garlic clove

2 tbsp mustard
2–3 tbsp (vegan) cream cheese

For the chestnut cream:

1 large floury potato
400 g (14 oz) precooked chestnuts
150 ml (5 fl oz) almond milk
50 g (13/4 oz) butter (vegan)
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp coconut sugar


Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). For the Wellington, peel and finely dice the French shallots. Wash, trim and slice the mushrooms. Heat the canola oil in a frying pan. Add the diced shallots and sweat until translucent. Add the mushrooms and rosemary. Lightly fry, then sprinkle with the coconut sugar. Season with salt and pepper and remove the rosemary.

Roll out the puff pastry on a baking tray. Peel and crush the garlic. Combine with the mustard and cream cheese. Spread the pastry with the cream cheese mixture. Top half of the pastry with the mushrooms, leaving a border of about 1 cm (½ inch). Carefully fold in the edge and then fold the uncovered pastry over the mushrooms. Seal the sides. Bake for about 20 minutes.

For the chestnut cream, peel and dice the potato. Add the chestnuts and diced potato to a saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until everything mashes easily with a fork. Drain off the water. Add 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of the almond milk and the butter and gently heat over low heat. Once the butter has melted, mash the potatoes and chestnuts to make a smooth cream. Continue to stir the mixture over low heat, adding the remaining almond milk and the almond butter. Season with salt and coconut sugar. Divide the mushroom Wellington among plates and serve with the chestnut cream.


Baked red cabbage with pulled jackfruit

Serves 4

A traditional recipe with a modern twist. Why not try something new and roast jackfruit instead of meat?

250 g (9 oz) tinned green jackfruit
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
2 tsp mustard
2 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 red cabbage
90 ml (3 fl oz) olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 onion
2 tbsp canola oil
75 ml (21/4 fl oz) barbecue sauce
1 handful baby spinach leaves
4 large slices of sourdough bread


Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Drain the jackfruit in a colander, then trim off the hard ends and pull the soft flesh into shreds. Toss the pulled jackfruit with the paprika, thyme, oregano, mustard and tomato paste in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Trim the cabbage and cut it into eight wedges. Brush each cabbage wedge with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the wedges on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 40–45 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic and onion. Crush the garlic and finely dice the onion. Heat the canola oil in a frying pan. Add the diced onion and sweat until translucent. Stir in the garlic and shredded jackfruit and continue to fry briefly. Finally, stir in the barbecue sauce. Spread the mixture on another tray lined with baking paper. Once the cabbage has cooked for 30 minutes, slide the jackfruit tray into the oven above the cabbage and continue to roast both for another 10–15 minutes.

Pick through and wash the spinach. Arrange the cabbage and jackfruit on plates and garnish with the spinach. Serve with sourdough bread.

TIP: Jackfruit is also available precooked. Check the packaging for the suggested basic recipe and then season it as described in the recipe above.


Gingerbread Christmas tree

Makes 1



Gingerbread, that most traditional of baked Christmas goodies, invites us to get really creative. Sometimes it might even turn out almost too pretty to eat – but you should, as this recipe really tastes fabulous.


For the dough:

125 g (4½ oz) honey
50 g (13/4 oz) raw sugar
65 g (2¼ oz) butter
12/3 cups (250 g) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
15 g (½ oz) packet gingerbread spice (or home-made spice mix, see tip below)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg


For the glaze:

100 g (3½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar



To make the dough, add the honey, sugar and butter to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Combine the flour, baking powder, gingerbread spice and cocoa in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour mixture, honey mixture, egg and 2 tablespoons water to make a smooth dough. Add a little more water if the dough seems too dry. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick. Use a sharp knife to cut out a Christmas tree shape. Shape or cut the rest of the dough as you like. Put the tree and remaining cookie shapes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

For the glaze, whisk the icing sugar and 2–3 tablespoons water until smooth. Add a little more water if you can still see lumps of sugar. Glaze the cooled gingerbread tree and remaining cookies to your taste.


TIP: For home-made gingerbread spice, combine 35 g (11/4 oz) ground cinnamon, 9 g (1/4 oz) ground cloves and 2 g (1/16 oz) each of ground coriander, ground allspice, ground ginger, ground cardamom and ground nutmeg. Stored in a dry place away from light, the mixture will keep for at least 1 year.


Red velvet cranberry cake

Makes an 18 cm (7 inch) cake

This festive tiered cake is bound to leave an impression, both visually and flavour-wise. Its exquisite combination of cream and fruit hits all the right notes, plus it makes for an absolute eye-catcher during the Christmas season.

For the cake:

250 g (9 oz) butter, softened, plus a little extra for the tin
200 g (7 oz) raw sugar
1 pinch sea salt
6 eggs
1 tsp ground vanilla
1½ tbsp red food colouring
31/3 cups (500 g) spelt flour

4 tsp baking powder
150 ml (5 fl oz) milk
50 ml (1½ fl oz) cranberry juice (or milk)

For the frosting:

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) cream cheese
1 cup (120 g) icing (confectioners’) sugar
200 ml (7 fl oz) single (pure) cream
2/3 cup (100 g) dried cranberries
Cranberries and rosemary, for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Butter an 18 cm (7 inch) springform cake tin. Whisk the butter, raw sugar and salt until foamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue whisking until creamy, then stir in the food colouring. Combine the spelt flour and baking powder and
gradually fold into the butter and egg mixture, alternating with the milk and cranberry juice. Pour the batter into the tin. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 1 hour. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, put the cream cheese in a bowl. Sift the icing sugar on top and mix well. Whip the cream until stiff, then fold it into the mixture.

Carefully halve the cooled cake horizontally to make two layers. Spread the bottom half with half of the frosting. Arrange the dried cranberries on top, then replace the top cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Garnish with fresh cranberries and rosemary, if desired.

Find out more:

This feature has been extracted from Advent: Recipes and Crafts for the Countdown to Christmas by Kerstin Niehoff and Laura Fleiter (£12.99, Murdoch Books).
This feature was first published in the November/December 2020 issue of Kindred Spirit, available from 22 October, 2020. Click here to subscribe and have each new issue of Kindred Spirit delivered directly to your door. Alternatively, you can purchase individual magazines directly from our website.
Combining ancient wisdom with advice from modern teachers for over 25 years, Kindred Spirit is your go-to guide for spiritual living both online and in print.


Posted by: Leah Russell