Anna’s Kitchen Notes

Don’t forget those with dietary requirements this Christmas, says Anna Hansen. There are delicious festive treats to feed them…

I tend to reminisce about my childhood Christmases – spectacular feasts centred around a rolled loin of pork. It was slowly cooked to tender, unctuous perfection, with proper crackling and gravy made from the pan juices and cream. Then I think of the delicate baby potatoes dug from the garden by my morfar (Danish for grandfather; my grandparents emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950s), the braised red cabbage and the crisp leaves of iceberg lettuce doused in one of my grandmother’s signature dressings. The feast was finished off with Danish “fat” cakes, a deep-fried pastry served warm. I can feel my arteries hardening just thinking of it!

In those days one didn’t spend time considering alternative dietary choices and food intolerances, yet these are requirements of the modern-day cook at Christmas. One of the best discoveries I’ve made for a vegetarian substitute to goose fat is cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. It is super-healthy and easy to smother on your Christmas roasties. You can buy it at Antimony Balance in Farringdon, or at Waitrose.

For your vegan guests you can also buy protein in the form of tempeh, a fermented soybean cake which is delicious marinated in things like soy sauce, sesame oil and yuzu or lime juice for a day or so. Pat dry and dust in cornflour before pan-frying in, you guessed it, coconut oil.

I developed a gluten intolerance when I was pregnant and so now look for simple gluten-free solutions. I use quinoa as you would couscous, seasoned simply with olive oil and lemon zest. It’s a great side dish for Boxing Day parties. For those in search of gluten-free festive treats you can buy very tasty mince pies from Gail’s on Exmouth Market or The Modern Pantry. We even sell vegetarian, glutenfree mincemeat if you prefer to make your own. If you do, look out for recipes that use ground nuts in the pastry instead of wheat flour. Happy cooking.