Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

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Due to pork issues, I needed an alternative to the traditionally British sausage roll for a pot luck carol singing event. Delia raves about these but I have to confess to being a little sceptical. When I told my other half what I planned to make he couldn’t quite get his head round the fact that they were sausage rolls without the sausage.

These are amazing and even the most die-hard meat lover would be hard pushed to admit that they missed the meat. I served these with some Thai sweet chilli sauce for dipping  – easy and delicious!

These are simple to make using bought puff pastry (although Delia provides a recipe for quick flaky pastry which I am sure is excellent). The “sausage” element is more like a veggie stuffing mix with breadcrumbs, onion, herbs and cheese.

They will keep a couple of days but be warned the pastry will lose its crunch and flakiness if stored too long. They freeze beautifully (uncooked) so I would recommend having some in the freezer ready to bake when required as fresh from the oven is definitely best.

I am a convert and will be adding these to my Christmas baking repertoire from now on. Recipe can be found in Delia’s cookbook “Delia Smith’s Christmas” and on her website here.

Cottage Cooking Club – December 2014

Wow, oh wow there was a delight in this month’s offering. In the hectic December feast month I managed to squeeze in two recipes from the list, Skanakopita and Curried Sweet Potato Soup. Both were a hit with my family and both were easy to make.

1. Corner Shop Skanakopita (p.54)

I especially liked the store cupboard challenge that prompted Hugh to create this easy version using frozen spinach and ready-made puff pastry. I love the way he provides options in his recipes, in this instance I chose fennel seeds – I had all three in stock but fennel is a favourite. I also opted to increase the feta cheese. Firstly, I didn’t think I would use the small amount leftover from the carton and secondly, when I spread it over the spinach it didn’t seem like a lot. Definitely a make again recipe.

Spanakopita

2. Curried Sweet Potato Soup (p.166)

This was delicious and probably our favourite recipe in this book so far. The only change I made was to omit the fresh chiles so that my children would eat this, oh and I didn’t have any cilantro – I don’t think it was a big loss, it still tasted fantastic. Incredibly fragrant and a great combination of flavours with the ginger, coconut milk, curry spices, sweet potato and squeeze of lime at the end. I am definitely adding this to my favourite recipes.

Sweet Potato Soup

Check out what the rest of The Cottage Cooking Club made in December here.

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Smitten KitchenA new bookstore has opened up near the supermarket I frequent. Sadly, the book section is smaller than the stationery section and the English book section is even smaller still. But, it does have a row of cookbooks. The selection is bizarre and mainly those cookbook magazines or books that are mass produced by who knows who on world cuisines. But sometimes there’s treasure to be found.

Last time I popped in I was excited to find a copy of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and even more excited to see that it was 50% off (a good thing here where books are expensive). So, naturally I just had to buy it.

I love this book. Lots and lots of recipes I will cook (and eat) and a large baking and dessert section – disproportionately large which is fine by me. This book has been on my bedside table since I bought it and my husband is puzzled that a cookbook can make me laugh out loud. Anyone familiar with Deb Perelman’s blog and book will understand, she’s a great writer and a person who you wish would come over for dinner and hang out in your kitchen.

If it ain’t broke…

I recently made an apple cake with rum; a winning recipe from Dorie Greenspan which was consumed eagerly by my family with cries for more.  But, I had to try a different recipe… I couldn’t just rest that I had found the nirvana of simple rustic country apple cake recipes.

So, I tried this one pinned from the fabulous Leite’s Culinaria site. It was good, very good, but it didn’t turn out for me as I think it was supposed to. The recipe describes part of the cake as almost pudding like in texture, mine was dry, no hint of gooey pudding. The apple mixture looks plentiful in the recipe, layers upon layers of thin slices of moist apples. In fact, more apple than cake. But, the instructions said to cut the apples into eighths which left big sections of apple – I cut them in half again but I still didn’t get the layers of apples I expected, they seemed to mysteriously clump together in the middle.

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Many times I think that it is not so much the recipe as the interpretation. Which is why we all have our favourite cookbooks, where the writer/chef/cook seems to have a similar style of cooking and the recipes just work.

This wasn’t a keeper for me, I will stick with Dorie’s recipe – which was simpler to put together and had better texture and flavour. This one was good, it just wasn’t as great.

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One Pot Pasta

These one pot pasta miracles show up on Pinterest regularly. With a bare cupboard and limited time to cook dinner it seemed like the perfect time to try one.

This particular recipe is from Martha Stewart’s new cookbook “One Pot”. However, if like me you don’t have the book, the recipe is available on the website here.

One Pan Pasta

My other half was hugely sceptical, especially when all the ingredients were in the pan and there didn’t seem like there was going to be enough water to cook the pasta. But there was and the end result was surprisingly good. I have no idea if they cook pasta this way in Italy or if it is some sort of pasta travesty but it seemed to work.

The dish was delicious eaten immediately but I did notice that any leftovers had a slightly mushy texture. This could be down to the fact that I used regular spaghetti instead of the linguini called for in the recipe (quicker cooking time?).

Would definitely make this again – a fun recipe for rental vacations or even outdoor cooking where cooking utensils and kitchen space are limited.

Apple Puff Pancake

I have several of Sheila Lukins’ cookbooks and love them. In fact one of my very first cookbooks was a gift from a wonderful family I knew during my college days in the US – it was “The New Basics Cookbook” and inscribed inside was “all the cookbook you will ever need”.  Clearly it wasn’t, as I now have over a hundred cookbooks on my shelves and a wishlist that grows larger by the day, but I think that book started it all.

This recipe is from Sheila Lukins’ “U.S.A” cookbook (p.29) in the aptly named Pancakes, Waffles and Sides chapter. We love pancakes in this house but it always feels like your eating in turns as a pancake is cooked. This Apple Puff Pancake sorts out that problem as it is baked in the oven and served puffed and golden to share. The combination of apples and cinnamon is always a winner. I tweaked the recipe slightly by adding less butter to the apples and using only 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and cooking the apple mixture longer. The recipe serves four but it is so good that I might try doubling it so that there is some for seconds because everyone wanted more.

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This would be a good dish for a brunch so going to see if it works as a make ahead dish by making the apple mixture and pancake batter in advance and holding them in the fridge to throw together and bake later. . I know it has to cook and be eaten immediately but wondering if the prep can be done in advance…

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The dish I chose was too large and the batter spread too thin – resulting in less Puff. Next time, if I don’t double the recipe I will use a deep dish pie pan (which is what the recipe calls for).

The golden puff of the pancake is similar to a Yorkshire pudding but it deflates a little as it comes out of the oven so you definitely want to serve and eat immediately. My favourite part is the clafouti textured pancake you get in the middle with all the wonderful cinnamon-y apples.

The Cottage Cooking Club – November

This month wasn’t a great month for River Cottage Veg. Not that there was anything wrong with the selection or the book, but rather I didn’t get round to making the dishes I planned.  I have no excuse and can’t explain the reason but the only thing I whipped up was the Twice-Baked Potatoes (p. 226). The Stuffed Cabbage Leaves and Patatas Bravas were the things I most wanted to try but it just didn’t happen – they are definitely going to be on my catch-up list (which embarrassingly seems to be getting longer and longer).

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The potatoes scraped in probably because they were easy and a kid-friendly dish. Although, ironically I could have made life even easier for myself and skipped the twice baked part as both my children only ate the filling! My other half really enjoyed this although I thought it could do with  something more – paprika? Mustard? Or a leek and bacon and cheese combo? Hugh does provide alternate fillings and this is a recipe that could lend itself to all sorts of combinations and really could be whatever you have in your pantry.

My potatoes weren’t the best. I used local (from Lebanon) and the skins were very thin which made it difficult to scoop and they didn’t retain their shape well; I had to cram them together in the pan so they could stay upright and not collapse.

Will definitely make these again although I will tweak the filling and choose a different potato with a sturdier skin.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, check out the Cottage Cooking Club website.