Ah Christmas! My absolute favourite and most restful time of year…in my intentions at least. Childhood memories of the endless days before Christmas, listening to carols and making popcorn chains, the whole house decorated and countless pre-Christmas parties with food food everywhere now seem slightly skewed. Back then Mariah’s Christmas was totally acceptable day time listening in the last week of October. Its different when you're a grown up . The day sneaks up and the popcorn chains get missed, the parties don't happen and last minute internet orders don't turn up. I used to save money all year for Christmas and have gifts ordered and delivered well before November. This year beginning a new business and prepping for a big move my poor family will be lucky if they end up with a home-made packet of bikkies, a foraged bunch of flowers and some product samples. I’m bad. Every year i say ‘next year i’ll be more organised, next year i’ll have fake snow on the windows, next year I’ll be relaxed and present and zen and clean in the kitchen and party ready and have great conversation pieces prepared. Its December in one more sleep and Mariah hasn’t been pulled out once (actually though - to our credit we HAVE had the christmas lights up all year and N managed to re-wire our outdoor twinklies after they got chewed by the cat). Somehow this is always the busiest time and when we are all in such a mad rush, food can become the healing ointment that brings everyone together and, for one moment, just be.
So this year I’m determined to start Christmas early. So early in fact that in this last week of November the Christmas decorations are coming out, the Christmas tree is coming in and the Christmas craft table is going to be permanently set. From today Pomegranate is going to feature in every meal, kids shows are being replaced with cringey 80’s Christmas movies (check out Santa with Muscles…sheesh!) and Mariah … blessed Mariah will be played very loud and on repeat for all the merry days of Christmas.
Mushroom,Tofu + Cranberry Larb with Reishi Mushroom + Walnuts
This is so delicious and keeps in the fridge, well covered for at least 5 days. You won’t get any grief from your nearest and dearest for serving this completely vegan party snack. Deeply umami, this is best served room temperature and sprinkled on salads, on top of pizza, in sandwiches or wraps or try it this way as a festive finger food option. This recipe seems a little complicated but once you get the hang of it its easy to whip up and have waiting in the fridge over the holiday season.
Make two batches. Its pretty good.
50g dried mushroom mix
200g mushrooms, cut into small dice
200g tofu (or tempeh) cut into small dice
1 can black beans, drained and coarsely crushed (leave some whole)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp miso paste
1 tbsp soy tamari
couple of drops of liquid smoke (optional)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
1tbsp reishi mushroom powder*
1/3 C dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
salt + pepper to taste
coconut oil or other high-heat cooking oil
Iceberg or cos lettuce cups
In a blender or food processor blitz dried mushrooms till a course powder. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Give them a bit of a stir and let sit 30 minutes to re-hydrate. Check on it and top up with more boiling water if needed. .
Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a heavy bottom pan on a med/high heat and when hot add mushrooms cooking till browned and starting to get crisp around 10 minutes. Add tofu and cook another 5 minutes. don't worry if the tofu breaks down but some whole pieces are good in here for texture.
Add the re-hydrated mushrooms, miso, soy sauce, liquid smoke and garlic and cook till liquid reduced.
Add crushed beans, and rice vinegar and stir and cook another 5 or so minutes to reduce any liquid. You want this to be as dry as possible
Taste for seasoning. You want this to be salty. Add more tamari or salt if needed.
Turn off the heat add reishi powder, walnuts and cranberries and allow the mixture to cool.
Heat oven to 190C and put 2 tbsp coconut oil in a large oven dish back into the oven to heat up.
Once mushroom mix is cool stir through corn starch and add to the hot oil in oven tray.
Cook for 20-30 minutes checking and stirring every 5 minutes or so till brown and crispy. Remove from oven and sit 5 minutes to crisp up a little more.
This can be eaten straight away or left to cool and put in a jar in the fridge for around 5 days ready to sprinkle on anything and everything.
Wash and dry your lettuce cups and add a spoon of hummus, some sauerkraut, the crumbly larb, and decorate with radish, pomegranate seeds and flowers.
*Reishi powder will be available up on the BK shop soon soon soon
Penelope (BDes(hons), BCA, ND, Dip. Med Herb) is a trained chef, medical herbalist, naturopath and holistic nutritionist and has recently completed her design thesis which focused primarily on methods of incorporating plants, medicine and feelings of joy into culinary products and experiences.