Sausage Meat Stuffing and Sausage Rolls

Did anyone whose mum isn’t British have sausage meat stuffing at their Christmas dinner?  This was a staple at all our Christmas meals throughout my childhood.  To be honest, I’m not clear about where this stuffing goes.  I cooked ours in a pan and it worked out just fine, but if it’s stuffing, shouldn’t it go in something?

Another food item that made a frequent appearance at Christmas time was the sausage roll.  Are you familiar with those little guys?  Puffed pastry surrounding sausage or sausage meat?  So tasty. Last year I made sausage rolls with Lauren, an old and good friend from camp (1997 I believe). A lot has changed since 1997.  Lauren has married a super cool guy (who also enjoys Top Gear!) and they’re expecting their first baby in 2011.  I’m really excited for them both and thought of Lauren as I made this recipe.

Sausage rolls:

Look at all those layers of puffed pastry goodness!

Sausage roll insides...kind of gross to look at...it gets better, I promise

Puffed pastry rolled out, sausage meat spread

 

 

Brushed with butter, sprinkled with cumin seeds

Ready for the oven

 

Ready for snacking

 

Ready for their close up

Sausage meat stuffing:

Ready for the oven

 

Ready for dishing up

Sausage rolls – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s 2010 Yearbook

3-4 hot peppers
500 g pork sausage meat
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or regular paprika if you don’t have smoked)
500 g puffed pastry
1 egg york, beaten with a splash of milk
1 tbsp cumin seeds
salt

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Remove the seeds and finely dice the peppers.  (If you want more heat, leave the seeds in).  Combine the peppers, sausage meat, and paprika.  Set aside.  Roll the puffed pastry out to 50cm x 30cm.  Cut in half to measure 50cm x 15cm (or roll it out into two 50 x 15 cm rectangles in the first place)  Shape the sausage meat into two sausage shapes and place along the middle of each pastry strip.  Coat the pastry with the egg mixture.  Fold one edge of the pastry over the sausage, then roll tightly.  Brush the tops of the pastry with the egg mixture and sprinkle with cumin seeds and salt (just a bit).  Cut into 5cm lengths and put on a baking tray lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Sausage Meat Stuffing – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Magazine Jamie, Issue 14

500 g sausage meat
2 onions, peeled and grated
2 apples, peeled and grated
handful of breadcrumbs
6 sage leaves
1 egg
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400F.  Combine the sausage meat, grated onion and apple.  Snip the sage leaves with scissors and add to the mixture with the breadcrumbs.  Add an egg and combine thoroughly.  Put the stuffing in an oven proof skillet, top with any remaining sage leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for 45 minutes until golden.

 

Brownie Heaven and Baking Scales

I have not posted in a while.  This is mostly because we went to France (see Mr416expat’s pictures), then Christmas happened and I cooked like a woman possessed, then I went back to work, and suddenly it’s nearly New Years eve.  The sad thing is, I’ve made lots of easy recipes, taken lots of pictures, and yet, none of them have made it to the blog.  That’s about to change.  And it’s starting with brownies.

Brownies are a big deal in Britain.  They’re often described as being “American style brownies“.  I think this is referring to their chewy, chocolately flavour.  I keep telling “them” that Canadians make good brownies too, but they’re rather USA focused.

This recipe came from Jamie Oliver‘s recipe yearbook.  It’s a collection of recipes previously published in his magazine over the last year.  As I was (A) looking for something to read on the train to France and (B) sad for having not read his back issues, I felt this was a responsible purchase.

I’m going to go out on a limb.  I’m guessing, in your kitchen (unless you’re the mum of a beautiful, red-headed baby girl who took courses at George Brown with me) that you don’t have a kitchen scale.  Baking with a scale is marvelous.  I purchased a scale as a requirement of said baking course at George Brown and I’ve not looked back.  I even convert my favourite recipes to grams.  It’s a more consistent way of measuring which can really make a difference when baking.  The funny thing is, the Brits do all their baking and cooking using scales.  All the Jamie Oliver books I’ve purchased in this country have all got the measurements in grams whereas the ones I’ve purchased in Canada have cups or milliliters.

The long and the short of it is, I have a kitchen scale, I use it a lot and I’m not going to convert this recipe to cups/milliliters.  You’re left with a few options, (A) convert it online, (B) take a brownie recipe you know and love and add pecans and cherries, or (C) buy a kitchen scale and transform your baking experience (or at least make these brownies).

Let me know how it goes!

Chocolate and Butter, together again

 

Toasting pecans...fyi # of pecans in pic does not equal amount called for in recipe

 

Cherries...fyi, number of cherries does not equal amount called for in recipe

 

Melted chocolate and butter with chopped cherries and pecans

 

To be baked brownies in a muffin tin

Cherry Brownies – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s 2010 Yearbook

130 g unsalted butter
150 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa please)
100 g cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
100 g roasted pecans, roughly chopped
225 g white sugar
55 g cocoa powder
75 g all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
50 g milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line an 8″ baking pan with parchment paper.  Melt the butter and chocolate over a pot of simmering water.  Once melted, remove from heat, stir in the chopped cherries and pecans.

In a separate bowl, sift together the sugar, cocoa, flour, and baking powder then stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  Add the eggs, and stir until combined.  If you’re including the optional chopped chocolate, add now.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.

I did not have an 8″ square baking pan.  I made my brownies in a muffin pan.  They turned out just fine.  Portions are a little big though.  I imagine them warmed, with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, or maybe cherry sauce.  Yum!

 

Brittany/Normandy/Paris – December 2010

Earlier this month we took a trip to northern France.  It started out as a trip to the Alps, then Marrakesh, then Prague, then finally Normandy.

The Eurostar tool us to Paris, where we picked up a sweet Citroen C3 from a heated car garage.  Only once underway did we learn the C3 had a broken heater…

We drove 400km due west from Paris through a fierce snowstorm to St. Malo, on the northern coast.  It didn’t look like much when we rolled in at 11:30pm, but a stroll around the town’s walls and on its beachfront the next day pretty much took our breath away.  Dramatic light, a mix of old and new (check out the 1930s seafront pool picture below!), accented by moss and the most photogenic seaweed known to man.  An of course going in December meant having the place to ourselves.  Fun fact: this is where Jacques Cartier sailed from, in his successful quest to find Canada, Lincolns, and fine watches.

From there it was more scenic drives to Juno beach (Canada’s D-Day beach, where we were visitors #9 and #10 at the centre that day), the port town of Honfleur (where Monet got his start, and the locals will give you French lessons; also where the founder of Quebec City, Samuel Champlain sailed from).  And then back to Paris, for some Rue de Cler action (as featured in Rick Steve’s Art of Parisian Living).

2 of the 3 hotels we stayed at were standouts:

L’Ascott Hotel in St Malo, a gorgeous old Mansion with 10-12 rooms and nice staff.  A steal at EUR66.

Hotel Muguet in Paris.  Just read the tripadvisor reviews – there’s nothing more we can add, this place is great.

When your guy is sick…

So Mr. 416expat is sick.  Not deathly ill by any stretch of the imagination, but sick enough to require a quiet weekend in the flat and not too much activity.  Some might blame it on the 24 hours of spouse-free work Christmas parties, others on the wide variety of bugs flying around London right now, but who am I to judge.

After getting a pot of soup on the stove and biscuits in the oven, I set my eyes on cookies, Christmas cookies.  I may have been a bit too ambitious.  This time around I made soft ginger cookies, Anna Olson’s icing sugar cookies with royal icing, and meringues.  The ginger cookies turned out great, soft, chewy, and spicy.  The icing sugar cookies were alright, the dough didn’t bake up as I’d like but the icing was pretty fun.  The big disappointment was the meringue.  It’s my fault really.  I got really into icing the sugar cookies, and forgot about them in the oven.  They’re brown. Really brown.  Burnt brown.  Meringues should be snowy white.  Clearly I need to work on my divided attention.  Regardless, I’ve got lots of ginger cookies and iced sugar cookies to take to work and to Christmas do’s this week.  Should be a tasty week.

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup for Mr 416expat

1 leek
butter
chicken stock
4 potatoes
2 heads of broccoli
salt and pepper
cheddar cheese – sharp – flavour counts

Put a knob of butter in a large pot and melt over medium-high heat.  Slice the leeks and add to the melted butter. Saute until soft. Slice the potatoes and thick broccoli stems into 1″ chunks and add with the chicken stock to the leeks.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chop the remaining broccoli into 2″ trees and add to the potatoes.  Cook until the broccoli is soft.  Using an immersion blender (or cuisinart or blender) blend the whole lot together until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.  Adjust the seasoning as you like and serve in warm bowls with more cheese on top.

If I had a Christmas party this would be served

So every year since we’ve been married, we’ve thrown a Christmas party.  It’s gotten a bit bigger, a bit more organized, and a lot more fun with every passing year.  Last year, a personal highlight, saw us collecting canned food for the CBC food drive and our very own Tyrone Warner of Silver Speakers hosting a fab concert.  It was epic and I am really missing it this year!

If I was having a party, these little darlings would definitely make an appearance.  As it stands, I think they might make our Christmas day menu.  They’re really really tasty.  The recipe is based on this one from SmittenKitchen.  I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand to make the recipe as described and so went off in another direction.  If you get carried away, make both and let me know what you think!

A little too much oil, but well seasoned

Salsa goodness

The Final Product

Leftover salsa on spinach with pulled pork

Sweet Potatoes with Feta, Pecans, and Basil adapted from Smitten Kitchen

sweet potato – sliced into 3/4″ coins
olive oil
salt and pepper
basil
lime juice
shallot
feta
pecans – toasted

Preheat your oven to 450.  Generously coat a cookie sheet with olive oil and lay the sweet potato coins on the cookie sheet.  Be sure to leave space between the coins.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  Roast the coins for 15 minutes.  AFTER 15 minutes you can flip them over and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t bug them before 15 minutes has past.  We’re going for dark, puffy, and almost burnt but not quite.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, toast the pecans in a fry pan over medium heat until fragrant (not burnt). Chop up the shallot, pecans, feta, and basil and combine with the zest and juice from one lime.  When the sweet potatoes are done, put them on a plate and top with the awesome salsa you’ve just created and devour immediately. They’re that good.

Any extra salsa topping can be added to spinach (or other salad greens) and makes a pretty awesome salad.  Enjoy

Pulled Pork

This recipe is one of Mr416expat’s favourite.  I usually make it in a crock pot, but with ours in storage in a garage in Collingwood, I decided to test out a stove top method.  The result?  Success!

Pulled pork is one of those recipes that uses a really cheap cut of meat but through the cooking method, transforms a pretty fabulous meal.  This recipe is from Simply Recipes and it really is great.  I am consistently impressed with Elise’s recipes.  They’re straight forward and involve ingredients I often have around the house.

This is another recipe that you can fix and forget.  The ingredients come together really quickly, you combine it all into one pot, toss it on the stove and leave it be…for a long while!  Sounds great for someone studying for finals…who should probably be studying…instead of reading blogs…and checking out etsy 😉

Regardless, here’s the recipe…

When using an immersion blender...use a deeper bowl

one small bay leaf in a sea of pulled pork sauce

Pretty sure this isn't a shoulder butt roast, but it did the trick

Shredded pork

The finished product

Pulled Pork – based on Elise’s recipe from simplyrecipes.com
one onion roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves
1 hot pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder – I didn’t have any and used 1tsp of red chili flakes instead
1 tablespoon tomato paste – they have tomato paste in toothpaste style tubes here and it makes me happy
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3/4 cup white vinegar – this doesn’t exist in London so I used cider vinegar instead –>awesome substitution
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 bay leaf
salt
3 lbs pork shoulder butt roast

Combine all the ingredients except the bay leaf and the pork, into a blender and blitz until smooth (or use your immersion blender).  Put the bay leaf, pork, sauce and 4 cups of water in a large saucepan and put the lid on.  Bring the whole thing to the boil and then turn it down low for 2 hours.  Turn the meat every now and then (study break).

After 2 hours, or when the meat easily flakes away with a fork, remove the pot from the heat and allow it all to cool.  Remove the meat and put the sauce back on the stove and bring back to the boil, reducing by 2/3.  With the meat cool, shred the meat and then add it all back to the sauce.  Remove the bay leaf.  Once it’s all heated through, serve it up on some toasted bread – we had chiabatta bread from the market and it was amazing with the pulled pork.

Notes:

– I have it on good authority that this recipe adapts really well as a poutine topping.  I’m just saying.

– To make this in a slow cooker follow the recipe but instead of putting it on the stove, put it in your slow cooker.  It will take longer (hence the slow) but will work out just fine.  I think I used to put mine on low for 6 hours?  You’ll have to play around with it as I am not an expert in your slow cooker