Sausage Rolls.

Local sausage meat wrapped up in light and flaky pastry. I am a big fan of supporting local independent shops and I discovered a great local butcher (www.armstrongbutchers.com). They were only a fraction more expensive than sausages from the supermarket and I knew where the meat came from and that the animals were well looked after. I encourage you to explore your local shops and see what gems you can find.

I researched different types of pastry for this recipe and whilst flaky pastry is quicker to make, and can give a crisper finish, the puff does give you better layers – especially when eaten warm from the oven.

This recipe involves making the pastry but feel free to replace this with ready made puff pastry.  

sausage rolls

Ingredients.

  • 6-7 large sausages.
  • 3 rashers of dry cure streaky bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • 8oz strong white bread flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 4oz lard
  • pinch of salt
  • some iced/cold water
  • 1 egg

Method.

To make the pastry: Mix the salt into the flour and cut the butter and lard into chunks (1cm cubes) and add them to the mix. Using your hands, mix in the butter and lard pieces until they are coated in the flour.

Add the water bit by bit, and using a knife or a spatula, mix the water into the flour/butter mix until the dough just comes together. The aim is to create a ‘dough’ with the flour, but to still have lots of large lumps of flour and lard.

As soon as the dough has come together, tip out onto a floured work surface and shape into a large ‘brick’ shape. With your rolling pin, roll out the dough into a long strip of pastry. Take one of the ends and fold it into the middle and repeat with the other end – folding the dough into thirds. Press together with your hands to seal the ends. Cover with a sheet of cling and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat the above by rolling out into a long strip, folding into 3 and sealing in. Cover and rest for 5 minutes.

Repeat this 3 more times.

Wrap the dough completely with cling and pop in the fridge for at least an hour but overnight is also good.

NB. This pastry recipe has been adapted from Delia Smith’s ‘rough puff’ pastry recipe.

To prepare the meat: In a food processor, add the onion and the bacon and whizz until fine pieces. Take the sausages out of their skins and add the bacon/onion mush to the sausage meat, squishing with your hands until it is all combined. You can add extra herbs (like sage or thyme) but if you have quality sausages you may not need any. I also wouldn’t add any extra seasoning as the bacon will add salt to the taste.

To make the sausage rolls: Preheat the oven to gas 6/200.

Roll out the pastry until it is 0.5cm thick and rectangular in shape. (do NOT scrunch or fold the pastry).

Shape the sausage meat in your hands into a ‘sausage’ shape and place in lines down the pastry, allowing about an inch either side of each strip of meat. Using a knife or a pastry cutter, slice the pastry into sections. Beat the egg in a bowl. Fold the pastry over the sausage meat use some beaten egg to ‘glue’ the pastry together (you will end up with a long strip with one rounded edge and an edge where the pastry is stuck together).

Cut the sausage rolls from the long strip and cut little marks in the pastry on the top. Brush the beaten egg on the top of the sausage rolls. Place on a greased/lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden on top.

This made about 6 chunky sausage rolls but would make more smaller rolls, depending on how large/small you shape the sausage meat.

Christmas Craft Fair.

A mini Winter Wonderland full of beautiful craft, delicious hot drinks and scrumptious Christmas bakes and the best bit… it will be raising money for charity too! Continue reading

Christmas Pudding.

Its now just 9 weeks to Christmas and its time to make the Christmas Pudding so that it has lots of time to mature ready for Christmas day. 

Shop-bought Christmas Puddings are often dense and full of all different kinds of exotic fruit and nuts and usually I am big advocate of fiddling with recipes to add different yummy things. This pudding is incredibly simple and soft in texture but so full of Christmassy flavour and definitely doesn’t need any tweeking. 

This recipe has been passed down from my Great-Nan and my lovely Mum is the Queen of making these each year – she has even provided me with these pictures! Thank you Mum! 

If you make any Christmas Pudding this year then I urge you to make this one – you really won’t regret it.

Ingredients.

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 3oz (vegetable) suet
  • 8oz sultanas
  • 8oz raisins
  • 8oz fruit
  • 1/4 pint milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp brandy
  • 3/4tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 lemon (juice and rind)

NB. if you wanted to make these gluten free then just replace the plain flour with gluten free plain flour.

Method.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then all of the wet ingredients together and then combine both wet and dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. Leave in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight for all the juices to be soaked up by the fruit.

P1030765[3]

Place the mixture in a 2lb basin and cover with baking parchment, with an extra fold in the top to allow for expansion and steam. Then top the baking parchment layer with a layer of foil (with a similar fold in the top).

P1030766[3]

Place an extra strip of foil around the basin to create a handle. Fill a saucepan with a couple of inches of water and place a plate in the bottom (so that the pudding is not in direct contact with the bottom of the pan). Put onto the heat and boil/steam for 8 hours.

Important: Check the water level frequently so that it does not boil dry.

P1030767[3]

Once the pudding has cooled, store in a cool, dry place until Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day.

Make a new hat for the pudding (with the baking parchment and foil) and steam just like before for 1-2 hours.

Pudding will easily feed 10 people with leftovers. 

Cheese Scones.

This is my favourite treat after a long day.

It might seem at first like too much work to make scones when you are tired but they are ridiculously easy, barely any washing up and just SO good straight from the oven with cold butter and nice cup of tea – 100% worth the effort. 

Cheese Scone

Ingredients.

  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5oz butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g mature cheddar cheese (or whatever you have)
  • 150ml milk

Method. Makes 4 large scones. 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/160 fan/gas 5. Line a tray.

Place the flour in a bowl and add the salt and sugar. Add the butter in smallish pieces and ‘rub together’ (this simply means to rub together the butter with the dry ingredients between your fingers and thumbs until the mix ends up looking like breadcrumbs).

Grate in the cheese and give a quick stir. Then pour in the milk bit by bit until the mix comes together to form a dough (you might not need all of the milk so go steady).

Sprinkle your work surface with a bit of flour and tip the dough. Gently pat out so its a bit less than 1 inch thick and cut with a round cutter, placing the scones onto the tray. I usually don’t bother with all that though – I simply break the dough into pieces and place on the tray.

Brush the top with a little milk (or dribble on if no brush/cant be bothered to wash brush!) and place into the oven. Bake for something like 15 minutes until golden on top (the bottom will sound ‘hollow’ when you tap it too).

Tips.

  • Don’t knead the mixture much at all (otherwise it can get tough and dry)
  • If your dough is too wet, just add a little more flour.
  • This is a very forgiving recipe so don’t worry all that much about being completely accurate – often my butter just gets chucked in and I rarely measure the cheese or milk out.
  • You can add any extras you fancy… like chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cooked bacon pieces…
  • Half of the above recipe is enough for one hungry person for dinner and makes two large scones.

Enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip Muffins.

This is one of my favourite recipes as it is both simple and quick but super delicious! My secret is simple – I just add lots and LOTS of chocolate chips! If you always sometimes have the need for chocolate cake, then this recipe is for you! 

choc muffins 1 (2)

Ingredients. 

  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 6oz butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 6oz self raising flour
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g chocolate chips

Method. 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/180 fan/gas 6. Place paper muffin cases into a 12 hole muffin tray.

Mix together the butter and sugar until the mixture turns pale – this can be done with a wooden spoon but a mixer will make this quicker (and easier on your arms!). Beat in the eggs and vanilla really well (the mixture may look ‘curdled’ at this point but the flour will sort this out). Mix in the flour until combined (go easy with the mixing at this point) and then stir in the chocolate.

Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown on top and middle cakes in the tray are ‘springy’ to the touch. Check the muffins after 15 minutes and rotate the tray if necessary so they brown evenly.

These are great eaten warm but if you don’t manage to eat the whole tray warm from the oven (!) then 10 seconds in the microwave is enough to just melt the chocolate chips to make this delicious snack even better!

Makes 12 muffins. 

Yorkshire puddings… with a twist.

I started to add food colouring to Yorkshire puddings in a bid to make them more exciting to my two boys (aged 6 and 8 years old) but I just loved how they came out! Often a generic brown on the outside it is only when you cut them open that they show off their colour inside. It makes a mundane Toad in the Hole much more fun and not only that – yorkshire puddings are super easy to make too!

20130815-110701.jpg20130815-112130.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

olive oil
3oz plain flour
1 egg
milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 200/gas 6. As the oven is warming, dribble into 6-hole muffin tin a very thin layer of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of each muffin hole). Put this in the oven to heat as you make the mixture.

In a mixing bowl, measure the flour and add the egg and the food colouring (a couple of drops of liquid colour or a pea size amount of the colouring paste). Mix together carefully and add milk a little at a time (this will help you avoid lumps). Once your flour is combined, add enough milk to make a batter that is similar to pancakes (somewhere between thick and runny) – you don’t have to be entirely accurate – with 2 hungry boys, I always seem to be making dinner in a rush and never have time to measure the milk properly and it always turns out fine.

You can use an electric mixer for this or just some elbow grease and a spoon and if you do get lumps, either whisk a bit more or use a sieve!

Take the muffin tray out of the oven (be careful the oil in the tray will be VERY hot) and pour into the muffin holes the mixture. It will look odd at this point as the oil will sit almost on top of the mixture. Pop the tray back into the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 6 individual Yorkshire puddings.

Tips
– DO NOT open the oven door until at least 15 minutes have passed! The puddings need the hot oven to rise up and will deflate into a soggy mess if the oven if opened too soon!
– If you want purple puddings use more colouring than you think – too little and it becomes a weird grey colour.
– A striking yellow is quite difficult to achieve as the puddings are a pale yellow to start with so for a first attempt, try a strong colour like blue or green to avoid disappointment.
– I prefer the food colouring pastes as they are easier to control and I like the gel colours the least (you need to use a lot for a strong colour and that makes them expensive).
– Keep food colouring away from your hands as it can stain for hours!
– If you are making them for the first time for your kids, don’t tell them first – their expression is priceless!

As an aside… this is the same recipe for simple crepes (just fry the batter in a well oiled frying pan)

… you can also colour these too.

20130815-112908.jpg

Crochet Roses.

 

I recently added flowers to my crochet repertoire and have had a fun few hours playing with how they can fit together until I found some designs that really work.

20130725-155739.jpg

After a couple of minutes more than half an hour perusing the many different kinds wool in the wool shop (weighing up different style and colour combinations), I proceded to spend a happy few hours crocheting many different roses and stitching them together to make lots of beautiful accessories, the most elaborate of which was a bridal bouquet.

Not only will it last forever but it would make a stunning addition to any wedding and the great thing is that it can be tailored to any colour scheme too! Alongside the bouquet, flowers can be used to adorn hairpieces, buttonholes or jewellery for a truly bespoke and original talking point for any wedding.

20130725-161146.jpg