A Very Poco Christmas

December 9th, 2019

With more and more people opting to omit meat from their Christmas dinner this year (even the BBC referenced the decline in turkey sales in their seasonal promotions) Andy Tibbs from Cheltenham’s very own Poco Culina has whipped up a couple of meat and dairy-free recipes to add to your dinner table on the 25th, or whenever you fancy!

“Chocolate and leeks, although not together, are two Christmas menu essentials for me. When I was young my Nan used to make the most amazing creamed leeks, and I have strived to achieve the bold flavour depths that she achieved, in my vegan version. I am quite sure you won’t be disappointed, and, peeling chestnuts aside, this recipe is so straightforward too.

Using chocolate should also have something of a wow factor to me – I think my chocolate pannacotta recipe will live up to that billing. The deep sweet caramel flavour combined with the sharp cranberries and ever-so-slightly bitter chocolate will be a winner on any Christmas table. Again, I have tried to make the recipe a straightforward as possible, and if you make the chocolate pannacotta the day before it will be lovely and firm and very easy to finish and assemble on Christmas morning.

Enjoy the recipes and have a very Merry Christmas.”


Creamed leek and chestnut


Serves 4

1 cup of uncooked chestnuts

A knob of vegan butter (Flora for example)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 x tbs olive oil

2 x cloves garlic

40ml dry white wine

2 x leeks

1 x small grated carrot

1/4 cup of vegetable stock

1 x tbs of nutritional yeast

1/4 cup of organic soya milk

1 x teaspoon of cornflour

Pinch of thyme


Roast the unpeeled chestnuts for 15 minutes.

Cover with a tea towel for 15 minutes then peel.

Sauté in the vegan butter with salt and pepper to taste, for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

Sauté the garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes on a low heat, then add the white wine and cook for a further minute. Add the sliced leeks and grated carrot together with the stock and cook gently for 15 minutes until tender.

Whisk the cornflour and soya milk together, fold into the leeks and carrots and cook for 2 minutes to thicken. Fold in the chestnuts, season with salt, pepper and thyme. Push into a greased presentation or cake ring on the serving plate if desired and gently remove.



Chocolate Pannacotta with caramel sauce


Serves 4

1.5 cups of organic soy or oat milk

1/2 cup of coconut cream

3 x tbs of agave or maple syrup

40g of organic, dark chocolate

pinch of salt

2 x tsp of agar flakes or powder

2 tsp of hot water

For the caramel sauce

1/2 cup of raw cane sugar

30ml of water

1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1/4 cup of organic soya or oat milk

1 tbs of strong, black espresso

Chopped nuts Fresh or soaked, dried cranberries


For the Pannacotta

Add all the ingredients except the agar and hot water to a pan. Bring to a slow boil ensuring the coconut cream and chocolate are melted.

Mix the agar with the hot water until dissolved. Add to the pan and stir continuously for 5 minutes as the mixture thickens. It will still be pourable though.

Divide between ramekins, glasses or presentation rings and transfer to a fridge for at least 3 hours (or overnight) to set.

For the Caramel sauce

Add all the ingredients except nuts and cranberries to a pan and bring to a boil whisking continuously to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and leave to cool thoroughly (do not chill though).

Meanwhile, chop a handful of nuts of your choice – hazelnuts and walnuts are especially good – set aside. Soak a handful of dried cranberries in hot water for 15 minutes, drain and cool. Use fresh if you can get them! Top the chilled pannacotta with chopped nuts, drizzle with the caramel sauce and finish with cranberries.


Poco Culina will be serving brunch and lunch until 3pm at The Isbourne cafe on the 11th, 12th and 13th December.