A Very Vegan ‘LA’ Christmas

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Child

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A Very Vegan ‘LA’ Christmas

By Justin Howard @jthnomad

Here in Lalaland, we love our vegan dishes! Especially when it comes to the Holidays as it give us a chance to truly show off our culinary skills for all our friends and family. So in the tradition of a ‘Very Vegan LA Christmas’ here’s your chance to cook a festive vegan feast using our menu so everyone can enjoy a colorful Christmas dinner boasting meat-free mains and dairy-free desserts.

For a marvelous meat-free, dairy-free Christmas, we’ve got you covered. Here are all the recipes you will need to cook a vegan Christmas dinner so wondrous that everyone will be abandoning that traditional fare for your delicious bites. We truly believe in kicking off the season right with fabulous nibbles to get everyone in the spirits of the occasion, then indulging in a mouth-watering vegan centerpiece with lots of tasty side-dishes. Truly gone are the days of your grandparents nut roasts!

Starters / Soundtrack – “Love on a Plate” by Glass Candy


Cantaloupe – Vegan / Drinks – Makes A Gallon

2 ripe cantaloupe

20 leaves lemon verbena

3 quarts water

1/2 cup of honey


In a small saucepan, combine 1 quart of water with the lemon verbena and heat just until boiling. Turn off the heat and whisk in the honey. Cool it.

Skin and seed you melons, and then process in a juicer. Or trying chopping the fruit into cubes and blasting it in a blender. Use water from your remaining 2 quartz to blend.

combine the cantaloupe juice and the verbena tea. Taste for sweetness and ice it down.

Suggested Saucing – Vodka, Tequila and Mezcal

Served with a Mushroom Ceviche

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Mushroom Ceviche – Vegan

6 king oyster mushrooms

8 ounces oyster mushrooms

8 ounces white beech mushrooms

8 ounces brown beech mushrooms

8 ounces crimini mushrooms

1 bunch radishes

1 bunch cilantro

2 jalapeños

2 red fresno chiles

olive spray

Leche Del Tigre Marinade

1 1/2 cups lime juice (about 10 limes)

1 cup olive oil

3 teaspoons sea salt

2 red onions, diced


Pre-heat over to 350 / For 5 minutes

Juice all the limes and combine in a mixing bowl with olive oil and salt. Whisk it good. Add the diced onions and let sit.

Place your chiles on top of your stove top burner and turn the flames to high. Let them sit on the fire for 5 minutes and then turn them over with tings to expose each of their sides to the flame. You’re shooting for solid black all over, don’t be afraid to burn. When blackened, place the chiles in a paper bag, crimp it and let them sit.

Tear the oyster mushrooms. For the kings, trim their woody ends and then slice in half down the middle lengthwise, then turn and slice both pieces into a handful of thick half-moons. Place oysters on one side of a sheet pan and king oysters on the other, spray with canola oil, and lightly toss to coat. Shove it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the kings get some color and the oysters get crispy around the gills.

Trim the ends off the brown and white beech mushrooms and slice in half. Trim the ends of the criminis and slice thinly as your knife skills safely allow. Do the same with the radishes. Pick the leaves off the entire bunch of cilantro and combine with all the above in a large mixing bowl.

Remove the chills from their paper bag. Rub the charred skin off with your finger tips and discard. Depending on your heat tolerance, seed 1 or all the chiles by gently slicing the outside walls of the peppers, and cleaning out the connective membranes and seeds. Add to the mushroom bowl.

Dress with the citrus marinade, toss and check for seasoning adjustment. Then wrap it up and let rest in your fridge for at least 2 hours. Serve with chips, or fresh corn tortillas.

Main Course / Soundtrack – “Los Angeles” by Frank Black 

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Pea Pod Pesto / Vegan – Makes Enough for 3 Pies

1 cup almonds, raw

2 cups English peas, in pods

3 garlic cloves

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon kosher salt, for blanching

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste


Start by blanching the almonds. Heat a few cups of water in a tea kettle and place the nuts in a large bowl. Once boiling, dump water over the nuts and let sit for 2 minutes before draining and cover with cool water. Once cooled, simply grab a nut and pop off its skin by applying pressure to one end-point. Discard skins.

Shell and blanch the peas. Fill a pot with water, add kosher salt, and place it back on high heat. Make an ice bath. Prepare the pea pods by snapping the tip of each pod and pulling the stringy thread downward. Discard the string; reserve the peas for later use; use the pod only for making the pesto. Once water hits a boil, dump in the pea pods and cook for 30 seconds. Strain them and dunk in ice bath for several minutes.

Add two-thirds of the blanched pods to a food processor (save the rest for later) along with the peeled garlic cloves and two-thirds of the blanched almonds. Pulse for 1 minute while slowly adding all but a tablespoon of the olive oil, followed by all the vinegar. Stop once creamy and remove the pesto to a mixing bowl.

With a knife, finely chop the remaining pea pods and blanched almonds, as wells as the flat-leaf parsley. Combine and stir with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season to taste and serve at room temperature.

Desert / Soundtrack – “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths


Horchata – Vegan

4 cups white rice

5 cups raw almonds

1 gallon flittered water

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Toast the cinnamon sticks in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes

Soak the stuff overnight. Cover the rice and the almonds in 4 quarts of water in a container with a lid. Add toasted cinnamon sticks.

In your blender, pulverize the rice and almonds one cup at a time, with about 3 cups of the soaking water. If you run out of the water that they soaked in, just use extra filtered water. Strain this pureed “milk” into your serving vessel using a fine mesh strainer. Press the leftover solids with a spatula to get as much liquid out as you can. Return the leftover solids to whatever you used to soak them and cover with double their volume in water. Reblend and restrain, then discard the solids.

Season the milk with your nutmeg and the vanilla extract, then blend in the sugar. Taste for seasoning; you may want it sweeter or less so. Dilute liberally with water and ice accordingly, or grab some more sugar.

Suggested Saucing: Rum, Bourbon

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Booze Holes – Vegan / Bourbon – Makes About 30


2 cups vanilla wafer dust

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons raw cocoa

2 tablespoons molasses

1/4 cup bourbon, plus one shot

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1 cup pecans

2 tablespoons margarine

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon mace (nutmeg works)

1 teaspoon smoked salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Roast You Nuts : Crank your over 325 degrees. In a sauce pot, gently heat the margarine until melted. Add all spice for the nuts and stir until distributed.

In A Large Mixing Bowl : Toss the nuts with the spiced margarine until evenly coated. Slide the whole mess onto a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, shaking every 5 minutes to keep from burning. Remove once roasted and let cool for at least 10 minutes before using.

Prepare The Dough : In a mixing bowl, sift 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Just slowly pour the sugar over a fine mesh strainer and shake it over your bowl till it’s all pillowy.

Dump Your Cool Nuts : On a cutting board and go to town, roughly chopping them into bits. Add this to the mixing bowl.

In A Separate Bowl : Whisk the syrup (molasses or agave) and 1/4 cup of booze until evenly married. Take the extra shot for good measure! Now add this goo to the bowl of sugary nuts.

Put The Vanilla Wafers : Put store-bought cookies in a food processor ad pulse them to shit. You want a fine dust of cookie crumbs. Add the wafer crumbs to the mixture and use a spatula to miix it all together.

Place The Leftover : Take your powdered sugar on a plate with zest or coconuts for topping. Begin pinching the mixed dough into ball shapes, about the diameter of a quarter. Press together with enough pressure to make the dough stick, then roll into a ball using both palms. Form one at a time and roll them in extra sugar topping. Repeat until the bowl is empty. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before eating.


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