6 homely recipes for a delicious Christmas Eve dinner

December 16, 2020

Tasty dishes to enjoy with loved ones before the day of celebrations begin.

Lobster Mac & Cheese with Crispy Kale Topping in an ovenproof dish

Image: Miele Der Kern

This year has been testing, so we might as well enjoy the festive season as much as we possibly can. These six recipes are perfect for bringing a little luxury to your Christmas Eve feast – so you can get in the spirit a little bit early.

Lobster Mac & Cheese With Crispy Kale Topping

A decadent take on a classic family favourite, this Lobster Mac & Cheese is sure to leave the whole family satisfied on the night before Christmas.

  • Serves 4


  • 1 lobster (about 800g)
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • ½ tsp English mustard
  • 140g grated cheese (cheddar and Gruyere)
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g kale
  • 75g grated parmesan cheese
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g macaroni


For the Lobster –
  1. If using a fresh lobster, put it in the freezer for 2 hours before cooking. Then, having made sure that the lobster is no longer moving, push the tip of a large, sharp knife through the centre of the cross on the head.
  2. Place the lobster in a perforated container and steam at 100°C for 12 minutes.
  3. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove all the meat and keep the shells.
  4. If there is any roe in the lobster, keep it together as it will add to the flavour.
  5. Place all of the lobster shells on a baking dish and roast using a fan setting in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes.
  6. Cover the roasted shells with cold water, bring to a boil on the hob and simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Strain the lobster stock and keep until needed.
For the Crispy Kale Topping –
  1. Mix the kale with 1 tbsp of olive oil, spread it over a baking tray and dry in a warming drawer for 3 hours at 85°C.
  2. Crumb the kale and add the rest of the ingredients. Set aside until needed.
For the Mac ‘n’ Cheese –
  1. Boil the macaroni in salted water for 3 minutes – this will be less than stated on the packet. Drain and set aside.
  2. To make the lobster sauce, heat the butter in a large frying pan and then add the flour.
  3. Cook the flour for 2 minutes and then gradually add the lobster stock (around 500ml), boil the sauce for 5 minutes until it coats the back of a spoon, making sure that it is smooth with no lumps.
  4. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  5. Mix together the pasta, lobster sauce, cheese and chopped lobster and place it in an ovenproof dish.
  6. Sprinkle with the crispy kale topping and then place the dish over the wire rack, slide the rack into position three of the oven and cook in an oven at 200° for 20 minutes.

Vegan Chestnut and Mushroom Tart

A whole Vegan Chestnut and Mushroom Tart served in a tart pan

Image: Merchant Gourmet

Festively infused with whole chestnuts, this vegan tart offers a light but still deliciously Christmassy way to kick off the celebrations.

  • Serves 4


For the crust:
  • 1.5 tbs ground flaxseed + 6 tablespoons of water
  • 3 cups/300g ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbs dried thyme
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • Some coconut oil to grease the tart form
For the filling:
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • A generous drizzle of olive oil
  • 75g mushrooms (you can use chanterelles, shiitake, button mushrooms or a combination of all 3), washed and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 200g vegan crème fraiche
  • 1 pack (180g) cooked Merchant Gourmet whole chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • A few chives, finely chopped (optional)


  1. Combine the ground flaxseed with the water in a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a loose based 24cm tart pan with non-stick parchment paper and grease the sides of the pan with coconut oil.
  3. In a bowl combine the almond meal, salt, thyme and olive oil. Mix with a spoon. Then add the flaxseed mixture. The dough should have a nice consistency and not be too wet.
  4. Using your fingers and/or a spoon spread the dough evenly into the prepared tart pan. Then make fork marks all over the tart crust, so that moisture can evaporate when the tart is in the oven.
  5. Place the tart crust in the oven and bake blind for 15-20 until the edges start to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  7. Whilst the tart crust is in the oven, prep the filling, by heating a non-stick pan over a medium heat, pouring in a generous amount of olive oil and pan frying the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms together with a pinch of salt and pepper and pan fry until the mushrooms soften and the onions start to brown.
  8. Remove from the heat, mix in the crème fraiche and chestnuts, and pour the mixture into the cooked tart crust.
  9. Spread the mixture evenly with the back of your spoon if need be and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
  10. Once done, remove from the oven and serve immediately with a sprinkle of chives and a fresh side salad.

Garlicky Chicken

Garlicky Chicken in a heavy-based pan

Image: Omar Allibhoy, The Spanish Chef. Recipes taken from Tapas Revolution, available to buy from Amazon

A brilliant addition to a tapas spread, this Spanish dish is deliciously saucy – perfect for dipping big hunks of bread into.

  • Serves 8 as part of a tapas selection


  • 1 organic or free-range chicken, about 1.5 kg, or 1 kg chicken thighs
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 large head of garlic, cloves crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked
  • 200 ml manzanilla sherry
  • salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper


  1. If using a whole chicken, joint it into 8 pieces and then cut any large joints in half to give you about 10–12 pieces. Leave the skin on. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan or casserole dish over a medium heat and add the chicken pieces. Fry the chicken on all sides until light golden; this should take about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs and continue to cook until the chicken has taken on a dark brown colour, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sherry and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced right down to almost nothing.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Jackfruit Hoisin Bao Buns

Jackfruit Hoisin Bao Buns in a take-away cardboard box

Image: Miele Der Kern

Great for laying out in a spread for guests to pick at, these bao buns are fluffy, sticky, and vegan-friendly.

  • Serves 6-8


For the buns:
  • 270g plain flour
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 150ml lukewarm water
For the filling:
  • 1 can of jackfruit (400g)
  • 2 small spring onions, sliced diagonally
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped
  • 10g fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
Optional garnishes:
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ¼ red cabbage, shredded finely
  • 10g roasted peanuts, crushed or chopped
  • 1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
  • A bunch of fresh coriander


For the filling:
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the tamari, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and maple syrup to make the sauce.
  2. Drain the jackfruit and place in a large frying pan with vegetable oil and gently heat through for a minute. Add the spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and brown sugar, gently cook until caramelised.
  3. Add the contents of the frying pan to the sauce and combine well.
  4. Place the bowl into a warming drawer at 85⁰C and allow to cook through for four hours.
For the buns:
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the plain flour, dried yeast, sugar and salt. Add the lukewarm water and combine until a dough is formed. Once the dough is formed, knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. When smooth, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  2. While the dough is proving, prepare eight 5cm by 2cm squares of baking paper (this will prevent the two halves of the buns sticking together during the third prove/steaming).
  3. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and press the air out using your fingertips. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll into balls. Place the balls onto a tray, cover with a damp towel and leave to prove for 30 minutes.
  4. After the second prove, use a rolling pin to roll the balls out into ½ cm thick ovals. Fold each oval in half and insert the square of baking paper between the two halves.
  5. Place the buns on a shallow perforated steam tray lined with baking powder, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for another 30 minutes.
  6. Place the buns into a steam oven and steam for 10 minutes at 100⁰C.
To serve:
  1. Fill each bun with the pulled jackfruit and optional garnishes to suit your taste. Top with crushed peanuts to finish.

Huevos Estrellados

Huevos Estrellados in a large non-stick frying pan

Image: Omar Allibhoy, The Spanish Chef. Recipes taken from Tapas Revolution, available to buy from Amazon

Somewhere between a fried and a scrambled egg, these Huevos Estrellados are a classic lunch or dinner dish in Madrid. There are also endless ways to change up the flavour combinations, such as adding a handful of cooked peeled prawns or some chopped chorizo to the pan.

  • Serves 2


  • 200 ml olive oil
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat and add the onion and potatoes. Fry for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Drain the oil from the pan, leaving just enough to fry the garlic. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds before returning the potatoes and onions to the pan.
  3.  Break the eggs one by one into the pan. You need to do this from a distance – at least 30 cm – so that the eggs crash into the mix. Season with salt and pepper and let them cook for a minute or so without stirring. They should still be very runny.
  4. Use a wooden spoon to carefully mix them in – remember you are not trying to make scrambled eggs! Serve immediately.

Vegan roasted mushroom soup with lemon chilli butter

vegan mushroom soup recipe -

Image: Matilda Bourne. Styling: Laura Higgins

  • Serves 4

This hearty, warming soup is teamed with a light lemon chilli vegan butter created with Dr. Trouble chilli sauce to cut through the richness of the mushrooms for a dreamy winter starter.


For the butter
  • 100g vegan butter alternative, at room temperature
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp Dr Trouble Lemon Chilli Sauce
  • crusty bread, to serve
For the soup
  • 900g mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 smoked garlic cloves, grated
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 tsp Dr Trouble Lemon Chilli Sauce
  • splash olive oil
  • 3 tbsp vegan butter alternative
  • 1 onion
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml vegan white wine
  • 1L vegan vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100ml Vegan cream alternative such as oat cream or plant based cream


  1. To make the butter, in a small bowl combine the vegan butter alternative with the lemon zest and Dr Trouble Lemon Chilli Sauce. Tip out onto a piece of clingfilm then roll into a sausage shape, twisting the clingfilm at both ends. Place in the fridge too firm up.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place the mushrooms on the baking tray. Toss with the olive oil, 2 thyme springs, half the garlic and the Dr Trouble Lemon Chilli Sauce. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender, turning half way through the cooking time. Once cooled, remove the thyme sprigs and chop the mushrooms, reserving a few smaller ones to serve whole, then set aside.
  5. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy-based pan. Gently fry the onion for 10 minutes or until golden. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the flour to the pan, stir well and cook for 1 minute, before adding the wine to deglaze the pan.
  6. Stir in the vegetable stock, bay leaves and add another two sprigs of thyme. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and gently heat for a further 15 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat, remove the thyme sprigs and stir through the vegan cream alternative.
  7. Remove the butter from the fridge 10 minutes before the end of the soup’s cooking time and slice into rounds.
  8. Serve the soup, topped with the whole mushrooms, with warm toasted bread, smothered with slices of the lemon chilli butter.

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