This is my absolute favourite savoury Christmas dish. It can be served as a side dish for carnivores on a big Christmas buffet, sliced and plated along with turkey and veg (instead of stuffing) or as the main event for vegetarians.
This recipe originally came to me as a Chestnut & Cranberry Wreath from my gorgeous Cornish friend whose dad makes this for her every Christmas as her vegetarian meal. She raved and raved about it and posted me a photocopy of the recipe (from the BBC Vegetarian cooking magazine from many, many years ago). I have used this rumpled photocopy so much, it’s practically falling apart and is covered in cooking gunk! Because we don’t have fresh chestnuts in Australia at Christmas time, and because I couldn’t find frozen chestnuts the first time I made this dish, I substituted Macadamia nuts. I have since made this dish at Easter with freshly picked chestnuts and it is completely different, but absolutely delicious!
I found an online link to the original recipe, however it doesn’t have any photos. Check it out here if you’re a purist.
Otherwise, here is my version:
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp Olive oil + extra for greasing
- 1 large Leek Trimmed and Finely Chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves Crushed
- 450g coarsely processed unsalted macadamia nuts - see photo. Some you want to be tiny and crumby, but some rough little chunks are brilliant for texture.
- ½ -1 cup of cranberries (I usually use frozen, however they weren’t in any supermarket last week, so I used dried cranberries and I have to say I actually preferred them! Choose whichever you like! The quantity I will leave up to you also-I can’t use too many or my fruit resistant husband gets cranky!)
- 150g panko breadcrumbs (from the Asian section of your supermarket. Otherwise, use fresh breadcrumbs)
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped + extra to garnish
- 3 Medium Eggs Lightly Beaten plus 1 extra egg white
- 550g Granny Smith apples peeled, cored & coarsely grated (330g grated weight) – it’s about 4 large apples
- 200g marinated goats cheese, drained
- 1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
- 1 Medium Egg yolk Lightly beaten to glaze
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Line & grease a loaf tin
- Heat half the butter (25g) and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan until the butter is foaming.
- Gently fry the Leek, and Garlic for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened
- Add the coarsely processed macadamia nuts, season very well with salt and pepper and gently brown for 5 minutes until lightly browned
- Mix together the nut and leek mixture with the breadcrumbs, herbs, eggs, grated apples and cranberries.
- Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.
- Dot the cheese on top and then cover with the remaining mixture.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until the log is lightly browned and starting to come away from the sides of the tin. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Turn out onto oven tray lined with baking paper and allow to cool on bench and then in fridge. I usually do all of this the day before.
- Take puff pastry out of freezer to defrost and using a sharp knife cut out strips.
- Arrange the pastry strips over the log and then tuck the edges in with a blunt, butter knife.
- Optional: Cut leaf shapes and berries from the pastry and mark on veins with a knife.
- Brush the pastry strips with egg yolk (if doing the pastry leaves, attach now curling and overlapping them to form a number of flower shapes spaced evenly around the ring and the berry balls and dab these shapes with egg wash.)
- Chill for at least 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 200c
- Bake for 30-40minutes until the pastry is risen and golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and slide gently onto serving plate. Garnish the with the cranberries (if using fresh or frozen) and extra rosemary sprigs. Serve with roast turkey for meat eaters, and lots of roast veggies as well as gravy and loads of cranberry sauce.
I served this last week for my hopefully-soon-to-be-sister-in-law's birthday along with my first ever roast chicken!!!
Missing from this photo is the LOADS of gravy you must serve with this. Vegetarian gravy or proper gravy - depending on your meat eating preferences.
This makes the BEST ever Boxing day leftovers too! Cold or hot. YUM!
Here's another couple of photos of when I made it a few years ago, pre-kids so I had to time to faff about making leaves and berries out of pastry!!!
Anyway, I really, REALLY hope some of you try this dish! My brother in law last week said it was one of the best meals he's ever eaten in his life!!! And that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever told me! ; )
Love Amy xoxo