Chorizo Sausage Rolls

The sun is out, spring is here which can only mean one thing, summer is on its way and picnic season is upon us!

I love a picnic, it’s all about grazing, sitting in the sun and grazing as you watch the world go by. Hell, I like any meal that’s about grazing maybe that’s why I end up in the local Lebanese a little too often. I was inspired to make these fabulous chorizo sausage rolls after an afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, I had never had them before but combined some of my favorite things, sausage, chorizo and pastry! I immediately went home and started looking at recipes.

Depending on what equipment you have, you can blitz the chorizo up with the sausage meat or dice, depends whether you want a full on red roll or just chunks. Adding the chorizo just adds another layer to home made sausage rolls. If you get a good quality chorizo you will have those wonderful spices, the deep red running through the meat and of course that sweet paprika smell.

This is a fairly easy recipe and the best thing is you can freeze them so you have a supply ready at all times. See no excuse not to be whipping up a batch!
Ingredients

Filling

25g butter plus extra for greasing

dash of olive oil

150g peeled shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp granulated sugar

450g pork sausage meat

2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley

100g cured chorizo cut into small cubes

1 tbsp fresh soft breadcrumbs

black pepper

Pastry

375g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry

plain flour for dusting

1 large beaten egg to seal and glaze

1. For the filling heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Gently fry for about 5 minutes until they have softened. Sprinkle in the sugar and continue to cook over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes until they have caramalised. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool.  At this point pre heat the oven to 200 degrees/180 degrees fan. Lightly grease a baking sheet and line with baking paper.

cook the onions until they are sweet and caramalised

cook the onions until they are sweet and caramalised

2. Put the sausage meat in a large mixing bowl and add the parsley, chorizo and breadcrumbs and season with black pepper. Then mix it all together really well so the chorizo is well dispersed.

Your three main ingredients, sausage meat, chorizo and lots of parsley

Your three main ingredients, sausage meat, chorizo and lots of parsley

Mix everything together

Mix everything together

Until it is well combined

Until it is well combined

3. Lay out the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and cut in half lengthways. Divide the shallot mix in half and spoon one portion onto each piece of the pastry in a 5cm wide strip lengthways down the centre. Divide the sausage meat mixture in half and shape each into a sausage shape as long as the length of pastry. The lay it on top of the shallots. Brush the long edges of each pastry piece with beaten egg then take one long edge and roll around the meat and shallots to encase. Pinch the pastry together to join and cut away any excess. Turn each roll over so that the join is underneath.

spread the caramalised onions onto the pastry

spread the caramalised onions onto the pastry

then top with the sausage meat

then top with the sausage meat

and roll that bad boy, roll!

and roll that bad boy, roll!

4. Brush each roll with beaten egg and cut the long sausage into pieces. I got about 8 small sausage rolls out of each roll but you can make them as big or as small as you like. ( If you are going to freeze them then do not do the egg wash just cut them up and wrap them up and pop in the freezer, only egg wash when you are read to cook them)

Cut to your desired size

Cut to your desired size

5. Place the sausage rolls onto the pre prepared baking sheet and bake in an oven for 25-30 minutes. Make sure you give them space on the baking sheet as the pastry will puff up and you don’t want them sticking together.  Once cooked all the way through and golden brown remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

Golden brown gorgeous sausage rolls!

Golden brown gorgeous sausage rolls!

Yum!!

Yum!!

Serve these delicious sausage rolls as a snack or with a salad or accompaniment to a fabulous picnic.

Enjoy xx

First Time Quail

I love having people around for dinner, it’s a chance to show off and cook something you wouldn’t normally cook during the week. So there I was pondering what to make as I wandered aimlessly around the supermarket – this happens more times than you would think – and I happened upon the game section of the meat aisle. I love game, its something that I generally only have as a treat when I go out for dinner, I never seem to choose it as something to cook at home. I don’t know why because venison is my favourite meat and I love little birds like grouse and Poussin. Of course I have ventured into the world of game before with delicious rabbit ragu!

Now one thing I haven’t tried before is quail, not sure why, but I haven’t. There in the fridge of the supermarket were quail, on special offer and calling to me. I had to do it, why not, try a new meat and learn to cook something new as well. sold!

Now quail are a tiny bird, not that much meat but as long as you have some good sides then one is more than enough for a person, although if you are feeding a hungry person who eats a lot you may want to serve them two!

tiny quail, enough for one... unless you are hungry

tiny quail, enough for one… unless you are hungry

I decided to keep my first time quail cooking simple. I looked through my cook books and the internet for recipe recommendations, how to cook, what sauce to make with it and some got really complicated. Simple is what I wanted.

To start with I decided to stuff my bird, I didn’t have time to make my own stuffing so good old store-bought would have to do, and also I was going to wrap it with streaky bacon to keep the meat moist and add a bit of flavour ( quail dries out quite quickly so if you are not using bacon make sure you baist it through cooking.

stuffed and wrapped quail ready for the oven

stuffed and wrapped quail ready for the oven

Ingredients (meal for 2)

Stuffing of choice – the size of your quail will depend on how much you make up, so make a little as per the packet to start and if you can fit more in then make some more.

2 Quail, no giblets (take out f the fridge one hour before cooking)

2 strips of streaky bacon

olive oil

mixed herbs to season ( I used thyme, rosemary and a little bit of tarragon)

150ml white wine

300ml chicken stock

1 teaspoon of flour

salt and pepper to season

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan oven). Make up your stuffing as per the packet instructions or if you are feeling super fancy make it from scratch! Once made put it to one side to cool as you do not want to be handling it hot.

2.  When the stuffing has cooled stuff the quail. Wrap one piece of bacon around the bird and secure it with a toothpick. You may want to secure the hole where you stuffed the bird with a tooth pick as well to stop the stuffing coming out. Then drizzle with olive oil and rub the herb mix in to it. Place the birds onto a roasting tin and put them into the oven.

3. Cook the birds for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. The juices should run clear. For the gravy, 15 minutes into cooking pour in 150ml of white wine  and place the tin back in the oven.

4. Once cooked remove from the oven and let the birds rest for 10 minutes. While resting make the gravy. Place the roasting tin over a medium heat and add the chicken stock, while stirring add the flour. Continue stirring ( with a whisk) until the sauce thickens and season to taste.

5. Remove the tooth picks and place the quail  on to plates. Serve with creamy mash potato and green beans. Serve with the gravy.

so yummy! stuffed quail with creamy mash and veg!

so yummy! stuffed quail with creamy mash and veg!

Enjoy! xx

Venetian Duck Ragu

“I cannot believe the price of duck legs, they are extortionate. How much are they in your supermarket?” That was the conversation that introduced me to this lovely recipe for Venetian Duck Ragu. My mother moaning about how expensive duck legs were in her supermarket, and I broke the news to her that they were on special offer in mine, so I promptly headed out to buy some so I could make this slow cooked dish of yumminess.

The recipe is from Good Food, and is so easy to make. I like a good slow cooked dish, it means I can just leave it and get on with other things, it’s a great Sunday cooking project. It’s also great because it freezes brilliantly. This recipe makes about 6/7 portions depending on how hungry you are.

Ingredients

1tsp olive oil

4 duck legs

2 onions, finely chopped

2 fat garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp plain flour

250ml red wine

800g  chopped tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube made up into 250ml stock

3 rosemary springs, leaves picked and chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tsp sugar

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the duck legs and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Then add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute and then stir in the cinnamon and flour and cook for a further minute. Return the duck to the pan, add the wine, tomatoes, stock, herbs sugar and seasoning.  Bring the pot to a simmer and then lower the heat and cover. Cook for 2 hours stirring every now and again.

Brown those duck legs on all sides

Brown those duck legs on all sides

Brown the onions until soft and add the spices and flour

Brown the onions until soft and add the spices and flour

One the onions are soft add the duck legs back in......

One the onions are soft add the duck legs back in……

..... then add some non descript red wine.... cooking wine had to do as there was not Chateaux Neuf du Pap left!

….. then add some non descript red wine…. cooking wine had to do as obviously there was no Chateauneuf du Pape left in the flat!

add the wine and stock and leave to simmer covered ... this is when the magic happens!

add the wine and stock and leave to simmer covered … this is when the magic happens!

2. Carefully lift the duck legs out after the 2 hours of cooking and place on a plate. Pull the fat off and discard. The meat should just fall off the bone at this point. Shred the meat and return it to the sauce. Simmer the sauce for a further 15 minutes. While it is simmering cook the pappardelle .

After their long simmer take the legs out and shred the meat off the bones

After their long simmer take the legs out and shred the meat off the bones

Then add the meat back to the pot and continue to simmer while the pasta cooks.... yum!

Then add the meat back to the pot and continue to simmer while the pasta cooks…. yum!

serve the ragu with fresh parpadella and lots of parmesan..... now that is a good home cooked meal!

serve the ragu with fresh pappardelle and lots of parmesan….. now that is a good home cooked meal!

Serve the sauce with pasta and topped with lots of parmesan cheese.

This is such a low effort dish to make, you just leave it and it does its own thing!

Enjoy! xx

Wild Rabbit Ragu

So as my frugal living continues, and yes I am still on track, I stuck to my budget last week and planned my meals, even sticking to it when nights out were planned and fuzzy heads ensued the next day. Its been quite a reminiscent week, mostly because I attended a party for my old company Exodus – they have been operating group tours for 40 years – crazy!! I worked there for nearly seven and I thought that was pretty epic, I cannot imagine where I will possibly be in 40 years, hopefully still turning out amazing cakes and feeling less guilty  about eating that last bit of cake frosting in the bowl….. mmm frosting! Yep that happened this week as well – frosting eating!

A fabulous party celebrating 40 years of a great company

A fabulous party celebrating 40 years of a great company

In an attempt not to go out and buy cake I made some from all the random bits in my baking cupboard- yes frugal planning!

In an attempt not to go out and buy cake I made some from all the random bits in my baking cupboard yes frugal planning!

But as my frugal living continues I need to keep planning ahead and thinking about whats in the fridge and what amazing meals I can make from it. For me this frugal month and planning is all about finding the best ingredients for the best price and making them into dishes that are full of flavour and if possible make multiple portions! With this in mind,  I set out to explore a local farmers market that is held in a local school. The market has been going on for years but some how I have never been there – shocking I know. I am always on the look out for new produce and somehow I have just had blinkers on and never visited, but alas I have finally ventured to the Chestnut Grove Farmers Market in Balham.

This is a great little farmers market, held in the car park of a local school it has a good selection of stalls, from bread, to meat and vegetables. There was also a couple of cake stands – always important, because who doesn’t love a piece of cake post shopping! There is always the worry with Farmers Markets that they are just full of ‘artisanal’ products with a big price tag, but I was wonderfully surprised to see that the Chestnut Grove Farmers market was full of great local producers and their products at great prices.

So as I filled my bag with fresh salad leaves and vegetables from Wild Country Organics, and picked a yummy piece of cake from Cakehole, I wondered past a stall selling meat, and guess what caught my eye, wild rabbit! I have been oddly obsessed with rabbit for a few weeks now, I don’t know why but I have felt the need to make a rich delicious Rabbit Ragu. My rabbit came from Grove Farm.   The wild rabbit was £7 or two for £10, a bargain!! As a first time rabbit buyer I decided to stick with just the one… however next time, I am getting the two!

Of course buying a whole rabbit does pose a small question of – how does one joint a rabbit? This called for one thing, a facetime chat to my dad the chef!  So after a somewhat comedy jointing lesson via the phone I had a rabbit ready to go in the pot. It’s definitely a life lesson learnt, but I feel a better person for it. Next time I get trapped in the woods and need to survive, as long as someone presents me with an already dead and skinned rabbit, I am good to go!!

Wild Rabbit Ragu

1 Rabbit Jointed

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 white onions, finely chopped

160g pancetta, cubed or chopped finely

4 gloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

300ml chicken stock

400ml chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1tsp oregano

1tsp thyme

salt and pepper

1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy based pot. Add the rabbit pieces to the pot and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Rabbit filtered

One jointed rabbit

One jointed rabbit

Brown the rabbit and then put aside

Brown the rabbit and then put aside

2. Add the pancetta and fry for a couple of minutes until cooked and starting to brown. Then add the celery, carrots, onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat or 10mins until soft. Add the tomato puree and stir it through the vegetables. Continue to cook for a further 2-3mins.

Getting my veggies ready

Getting my veggies ready

Sweating the veggies down

Sweating the veggies down

3. Return the rabbit to the pot and add the stock, chopped tomatoes, herbs and stir. Bring the pot to the boil and then add the lid and turn it down to a very low simmer for 1.5hrs, stirring occasionally. Taste half way through and season.

When ready add the rabbit back to the pot

When ready add the rabbit back to the pot

then add the stock.....

then add the stock…..

4. After the 1.5hrs remove the rabbit and strip the meat from the bones. Add the meat back into the pot and stir through, season to taste. ( You can discard of the bones!). Continue to simmer the ragu for a further 30mins.

.... and simmer on a very low heat, strip the meat from the bones of the rabbit and return to the pot!

…. and simmer on a very low heat, strip the meat from the bones of the rabbit and return to the pot!

5. Serve the Ragu with fresh pappardelle pasta and a touch of parmesan.

Server the ragu with pasta and top with some parmesan - delicious!

Server the ragu with pappardelle pasta ( or what ever is in the cupboard)  and top with some parmesan – delicious!

This makes a good sizeable amount, so you will get 5-6 portions, so its perfect for freezing! This is a great dish, rabbit is a lean meat, its full of flavour and it makes a massive amount, so perfect for planning ahead and filling the freezer. Its not always possible to get rabbits so when you see them get them as next time they may not be around!

Enjoy!

Frugal February and a tasty chicken soup!

Its so easy to spend too much money in the supermarket, the odd quick trip in to buy milk and you come out with 4 or 5 things you didnt even know you needed, and there you have it another £10 spent. I love to try new things and keep meals varied which means I get easily distracted when in the supermarket and trying out new recipes sometimes means buying new ingredients. My trips to the supermarket always end up with me buying things that are not on my list!

So as a challenge to myself I am going to stick to a budget and plan my meals and use up all those random things that I have sitting in my cupboard and freezer. Starting on the first of February, conveniently a saturday I will become queen of the budget and with the money I save I will have spending money for my upcoming trips to Berlin and South Africa – hurrah! Ok something tells me I wont be saving that much money but its certainly a start and a start to me being a better shopper! 🙂

With the grand plan in mind I need to forward plan cheap meals that are flavoursome and freezewell. I am going to plan my weekly meals and stick to it, so no buying of random food half way through the week or going off piste. But it does mean I get to try out some new recipes, one pot wonders and lots of home baking!

So what is in the shopping basket this week – Gyoza dumplings, Chicken Soup and Wild Rabbit Ragu…. oh and some baked goods I am sure!

So to start my frugal month I am starting with a soup. Its a quick and easy chicken and vegetable soup, that is full of vegetables and flavour and will make 5-6 portions, so some for the fridge and some for the freezer!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 white onion, chopped into small pieces

3 carrots, chopped into small pieces

2 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces

2 garlic cloves

1 courgette, chopped into small pieces

100g button mushrooms, sliced

100g rice

1.5l chicken stock

2 tsp of mixed herbs ( or basil, thyme, and a bit of rosemary)

2 bay leaves

half a savoy cabbage, finely sliced.

1. Poach two chicken breasts in some stock. (To poach, place the chicken in a heavy bottom pan and pour in enough stock just to cover the chickn, add a couple of bay leaves and a couple of teaspoons of mixed herbs. Bring the stock to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10mins, turn off the heat and leave in the stock for a further 15mins. Once cooked, pour some of the cooking stock into a jug and save for later. Take the chicken out and shred. Put the chicken aside for later.

Poach the chicken so its tender and shreds easily

Poach the chicken so its tender and shreds easily

2. Sweat the onions down in the heavy bottom pan for 4-5mins until they go clear, then add the carrots, celery and garlic.

SO many yummy vegetables

SO many yummy vegetables

chop chop chop!

chop chop chop!

Sweat those veggies down

Sweat those veggies down

Continue to sweat for a further 4-5mins. Add the courgette and mushrooms, along with the rice and chicken.

more chopping!

more chopping!

Add the stock, and simmer until cooked

Add the stock, and simmer until cooked

Stir, so the rice covers the vegetables. Pour in the stock (use some of the left over poaching water) and season with the herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, and then turn down to simmer and cover. After 5minutes of cooking, give it a good stir and then stir in the cabbage. Cook for a further 10-15mins until all the vegetables are cooked through. Check for seasoning and then serve!

Yummy veggie packed soup, so full of goodness and flavour!

Yummy veggie packed soup, so full of goodness and flavour!

Wish me luck on my frugal planning and Enjoy!!

Roast Chorizo Hash

Staring back at me in the fridge is a chunk of left over Chorizo, its been there for a couple of days now, its baiting me, I can hear “eat me” every time I look at it. My problem with chorizo is once I open the packet I want to consume the whole thing straight away, the moment I smell the sweet smoked paprika I am lost, so having a piece of chorizo left in the fridge is torment. This particular chorizo was bought to make a spanish chicken casserole ( to appear on this blog shortly) but I didn’t need the whole thing so I am left debating what to make with the left overs. I could of course just fry it off and toss it on a salad, or make a tortilla, but no, I want something new,something exciting and then on a sunday morning it hits me – Chorizo Hash!

Chorizo

The Hash solves many a meal time dilemma, its quick and easy and you can pretty much make it with any meat. Of course my favourite to date is my Mum’s corned beef hash which I never seem to be able to make as well so fate has meant me to make my own signature hash!

Throwing the Chorizo in a roasting tray with some new potatoes and red onion, top with herbs and roast. 20 minutes later topped with a poached egg I had a perfect brunch!

Hash, its such a perfect meal! Normally I always make it with corned beef but when chorizo calls. This recipe makes about 2 meals, or 3/4 if you are just having it as a side dish to something else. The poached egg is optional but I would always recommend it as the runny yolk is just what you need on the side.

Roast Chorizo Hash

275g new potatoes chopped or cubed

100g chorizo sliced

1 red onion chopped ( fairly chunky)

a touch of oil

salt and pepper

Par boil the new potatoes for about 7/8 mins then drain and pop them into a roasting tin. Add the chorizo and onion and drizzle with olive oil and season.

Chorizo hash

Pop them in an oven ( 180 degrees) for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are crispy and golden.

Chorizo hash and poached egg

Serve your hash piled high and topped with a poached egg!