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.

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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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Chocoflan

I have a confession, I am addicted to Pinterest – seriously addicted.

This is one of those Pinterest recipes that you see, pin and just have to make. I have also pinned several other versions of this cake (also called Magic Cake) because that is the beauty (or waistline downfall) of Pinterest, it suggest similar pins and you just can’t stop pinning. I am surprised I have time to actually make anything.

We love flan (really, who doesn’t) and we love chocolate cake (again, who doesn’t) so a combined two-for-one sounded like a result. This recipe is from Food Network’s Marcela Valladolid and can be found here.

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This cake was a big hit despite two major errors in the making of it.

Firstly, I completely spaced out on the 12 cup bundt pan – who knew bundt pans came in different sizes? I had the foresight to check my pan and it was only 6 cups (a 12 cup bundt pan must be ginormous). Luckily, I have two of them 6 cuppers – great, two cakes to eat.

Secondly, I don’t know how, but I completely forgot to cover the bundt pans with foil as they went in the oven. The result is they overcooked and the cake was a little dry and the flan a little too set.

Amazingly, the cakes survived these bungles and were not only edible, but delicious. I can only imagine how fantastic this cake is when made following the recipe!

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Personally, we preferred this cake cold from the fridge as warm or room temperature flan is just odd tasting. We also omitted the nuts and extra caramel, it didn’t need it and I didn’t think the chopped nuts sounded appealing.

This was a big hit in our house and the magic part of it makes for a clever and delicious desert. I am now on the hunt for a 12 cup bundt pan…

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

After the very successful apple cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan, I didn’t expect to find another cake that was so easy to make yet produced such wonderful results. Yet here it is…

Fresh raspberries in Abu Dhabi are on a par with gold prices. So, when my local supermarket had a special offer I bought two punnets on the spot. After agonising over what to do with this precious ingredient (this is where EatYourBooks is a godsend), I decided to make this gorgeous Raspberry Buttermilk Cake from “The Epicurious Cookbook”.

It is one of those recipes where it almost looks too simple, that perhaps the quantities are incorrect – only 1 egg? I feared it was not going to produce enough cake to satisfy my hungry hoard but it does, and it does it beautifully. This is a fuss free cake that is light, has just the right subtle vanilla flavour along with the lovely raspberries to add tartness. The sugar sprinkled on top just before it goes in the oven leaves a lovely crunchy, shimmery top to counterbalance the glorious soft texture of the cake – ah, the wonders of buttermilk.

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My two year old helped make this cake by adding the raspberries to the batter in the tin. The idea is to randomly drop the raspberries not push and squish them – the latter action means the batter rises around the raspberries too much and you don’t see them in the finished cake. The taste is the same, it’s purely a looks thing. We also had some sugar sprinkling issues but we lived.

A note in the cookbook mentions that tart cherries and almond extract in place of raspberries and vanilla is delicious too – sounds divine. Cherries are on a par with oil prices so I am on specials standby for this version.

I can see why this is a “four forks” recipe – I have already made it twice this week.

Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie

Apple and cinnamon go so well together however this pie had cinnamon overload. My husband renamed it “Cinnamon Pie with Apples”. As I was making it I was thinking 2 teaspoons was a lot, not just in the apple filling but also another 1 and 1/2 teaspoons in the crumble topping. I think it’s good to try the original recipe as is first time around – there’s nothing worse than when people judge a recipe but then go on to say how they didn’t add this or they didn’t do that… hmmm, not quite the same recipe then is it? – so, I went ahead and made it as written.

The pastry came together well but when it came time to roll out it was hard work – it fell apart and stuck to the counter.  I managed to get it into the dish and it patched up well (thankfully).  My kitchen is quite warm so that could be the problem. The end result was a crumbly delicate pastry but too salty. I have good results using the Barefoot Contessa dough recipe so next time will use that one.

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The filling is simple, lots of apples (7 to 8 granny smiths) which seemed like a lot and I was worried wouldn’t fit in the pie dish but they did. The melted butter, sugar and cinnamon that goes with the apples helps to stop the apples turning brown so I went ahead and start adding the apples as I finished peeling and slicing each one. The crumble looked nothing like the recipe picture and turned out more like sand for me. I feel that it could maybe do with more butter to flour/sugar/cinnamon ratio to allow for more clumping.

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I also found I had to bake the pie for much longer to get the required “filling bubbling at edges” doneness. This meant that my apple filling had cooked down to a solid, not the individual pieces in the recipe photo. However, that wasn’t a bad thing as the smell as this pie is in the oven is glorious. If I was planning to sell a home, this pie would definitely be baking during buyer viewings. We enjoyed it cold (makes for a firmer pie and not so sweet) with cream. Delicious!

This pie is a keeper but I next time I will tweek it a little…

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Recipe is from The Epicurious Cookbook by Tanya Steel and can be found on the epicurious website here.

Yogurt Pot Cake

I have been meaning to try the recipe for Yogurt Pot Cake in Nigellisima for a while. Usually, these quaint recipes are the best and my quest for an arsenal of easy and delicious keepers had made me earmark this one.  With the whisked egg whites in this recipe it perhaps doesn’t quite fill the easy category but the use of the yogurt pot to measure is a fab idea. Nigella provides measurements with the recipe but the pot route seems less complicated.

The yogurt pots over here seem to come in 125ml sizes but the recipe calls for 150ml. I decide to stick to the yogurt pot size because through experience, a recipe using something like pureed pumpkin but only uses 3/4 of the can is a nightmare and always leaves me in the “I can’t throw away that last 1/4 of a can but I know that I am never going to be able to use it for anything” dilemma. The outcome is always the same, I decant the remaining portion into a container, pop it into the fridge only to leave it to fester and be thrown away in a few weeks time.

The cake is pretty easy to put together, the whisked egg whites notwithstanding, and takes only about 20 minutes. I don’t have the ring mould Nigella uses so decided to use a bundt pan. The flavour of this cake is really wonderful however, for me, it turned out quite dry. I took it out at 30 minutes but think I may need to invest in an oven thermometer. I will definitely be making this again but will lower the heat and check the cake after 25 minutes.

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This is a scrumptious homely cake delicious with a cup of fresh coffee. Unfortunately, because my cake was so dry the coffee accompaniment was essential.