Tag Archives: sausages

Toad in the hole with Pimped up Bisto gravy

Toad in the hole with Pimped up Bisto gravy

Seven months is a long time to not write anything on a blog, especially if you have only been writing yours for the same amount of time. I am not sure why I have not, I just haven’t. I will try to proffer an explanation…

It was about May last year I decided to quit my job, with a sense of romance I did this with no real grand plan or next step in mind. On a practical level this was a huge mistake…a bloody HUGE mistake. I left thinking that I wanted a career in food, after all I love cooking it, love eating it and even love writing about it. I was not sure what I wanted to achieve in food and looked at various callings. I considered food PR, food distribution, food production, running my own catering company and even got offered a scholarship to train as a chef  (a few weeks working in a professional kitchen helped me decide this was not my raison d’etre). With all avenues exhausted I embarked on a self-imposed exile to the Yorkshire, where I spent 7 glorious weeks working in the cellars and kitchen of Field and Fawcett Wine Merchant & Delicatessens and being gastronomically divulged by my mother. With time to contemplate I decided that whilst I loved food, I did not want to work in it. I am just happy to cook, eat and write about it, I was going to have to look elsewhere to achieve my career goals. With this in mind, Yorkshire air in my lungs and fully rested, I returned to London. 

Arriving into King’s Cross with a slight sense of trepidation I could not help but imagine this as some kind of triumphant return. But, pulling into the platform there was no bandstand, there was no homecoming committee, there was no prom queen! The closest thing I had to fanfare was Arcade Fire’s Wake Up on my I-pod and some growling from the highly strung miniature daschund on the seat next to me. This was probably late October, and a few things have happened to me since then; mainly work, rain, snow, Christmas and a little cooking. Invariably the answers to my questions have not been answered but, like many in my situation, I am plugging away and seeking the truth. 

There have been times when I have walked past the lap top and been tempted to pump out a post about how Coco Pops are the cereal version of hugs or about my campaign to get more brewery pubs and bikers bars to serve Appletinis. Instead I became slightly disenchanted with this blog and I let it gather dust. It was not until the kind people of WordPress sent me my annual blogging stats; to my absolute surprise over 12,000 people have read my blog (that is about 29 full Boeing 747s!). The only thing I can offer in return is an absolutely astonished and dumbfounded Thank You. With this in mind I have decided to carry on in the vein hope that more will read me and actually like what I write. Whilst I cannot promise regular posts, I can guarantee more of them (hopefully some content on cool food businesses and even an odd restaurant review or too). 

I have decided to feature toad in the whole for various reasons; 1) it is one of my favourites, 2) alongside turkey drummers it was the  only thing I would eat at Prep School, 3) the Yorkshire pudding and gravy is an ode to the glorious county and times spent with my supportive and wonderful family and 4) it’s been bloody cold recently and some comfort would not go amiss! 

Serves 4 

You will need: 

Sausages:

8 Sausages of choice (can’t remember what flavour I used but definitely involved rosemary)

Sunflower Oil

Batter:

285 ml of milk (blue top)

115g plain flour (sifted)

3 large eggs

A pinch of salt

Black pepper

Gravy:

2 Red onions (finely sliced)

2 Garlic cloves (finely sliced)

1 knob of butter

6 tbsps of balsamic vinegar

1 stock cube (chicken)

1/2 pint of pre made Bisto gravy (follow instructions on tub) 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 250 Degrees Celsius
  2. Mix the batter ingredients and put to one side
  3. Put just under 1 cm of sunflower oil into a large baking tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven, add the sausages once the oil is hot
  4. When lightly golden in colour take the baking tin and sausages out
  5. Pour over the batter, be careful of spitting oil, place back in oven for at least 20 mins (try not to open the door for this time too as the batter may not rise)
  6. For the gravy: on a low to medium heat fry off the onions and garlic in the butter for about ten mins until soft and sweet, add the balsamic vinegar and stock cube, reduce by half.
  7. Once reduced, add the pre-made Bisto, bring to a gentle boil, cover and put to one side.
  8. When the Yorkshire puddings and sausages are to your liking, remove from oven, pile onto a plate, smother in gravy and tuck in.
  9. You could also add some peas, not only are they good for you but also fun to throw at people too.

Presentation is always key.

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Pork Belly stuffed with Apples, Sage and Sausages

If you had to eat only one meat for the rest of your life, what would that be? This question is often put forward to me by housemate, the Brat. Obviously a debate ensues and every week I seem to have changed my mind and argue the case for something else. On the other hand the Brat is staunch in her believe that it would be pork, most notably pork belly.

I also wonder if gelatine, in particular gummy bears, can count as a meat. I doubt it. 

Anyway, listening to the Brat’s gesticulations I decided to cook some pork belly for a dinner party I held for some old school friends last month. 

There a multitude of recipes for pork belly but I find the simplest ones are always the best. I found this one amidst the mountain of newspaper cuttings that adorn my bedroom floor; I believe it was from last October’s Observer Food Monthly

Referring back to the question posed earlier, I like to think the following recipe puts forward the case for pork. You, as the jury, can make up your own minds. 

Pork Belly stuffed with Apples, Sage and Sausages 

Serves 6 

You will need

pork belly (1.5kg)

5 sausages (I procured some epic Lincolnshire bangers from my local Sainsbury’s)

1 large apple

6 small sage leaves

a small bottle of cider

a little bit of oil or if you are super keen, some pork dripping

salt and pepper 

  1. Set the oven to 220 degrees celcius/gas mark 8.
  2. Score the skin of the pork belly then lay it flat on the chopping board.
  3. Remove skin from the sausages and place filling in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add a little salt and pepper.
  5. Peel, core and chop the apple into small chunks.
  6. Mix apple chunks and sage leaves into sausage filling (you can remove the leaves once the belly is cooked and you are carving into it).
  7. Place the sausagemeat down the centre of the pork.
  8. Roll up the pork into a cylinder and tie with kitchen string (I used the string that came with pork). This will ensure the stuffing does not fall out whilst roasting.
  9. Lightly oil the base of a roasting tin and place in the rolled pork.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Roast the pork for 20 minutes then for 40-50mins on a lowered heat of 200 degrees celcius/gas mark 6.
  12. Once juices are running clear, remove the pork from the tin and keep warm.
  13. Remove as much of the fat as possible from the remaining juices in the tin.
  14. Place the tin over a moderate heat. Pour in cider. Stir until all pan stickings are dissolved.
  15. Carve meat and pour on the pan juices when plating up.  

I served this with some cabbage fried in butter and milk & mustard mash potatoes.

Pork-a-licious!

Before...

...and after

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Filed under food, Food Blog, london food blog, recipes