Sunday, June 19

Toad in the Hole, know what I mean?

Before you ask, no toads died in the making of my dinner (although a pig or two was not so lucky....).
Toad in the Hole is a traditional English dish of sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter, I also add bacon to the mix, for extra porky deliciousness.  I like it with loads of onion gravy, mash & something green, last night it was brussels sprouts. We had friends around for dinner, and my toad was a hit, I urge you to give it a go, particularly on a cold winters evening when a good solid dinner is required.

The Yorkshire batter also works perfectly on its own with a roast, either cooked as my Aunt always did I a large roasting pan with drippings from a tin under the sink, or as I do now in muffins tins (saves an undignified scramble at the table for a corner piece).
It is straight out of the wonderful Jane Grigson's "English Food", and works a treat everytime. It originally came from a Chinese gentleman, who won a competition back in the 60's to make the best Yorkshire Pudding. His secret ingredient was tai luk took Jane Grigson years to discover that this was a joke, tai luk meaning mainland China! Actually I think the secret is in the slightly back to front way of preparing the batter

Toad in the Hole

serves 6

12 good meaty pork sausages
12 rashers streaky bacon (optional, but good good good)
Splash oil
300 ml milk
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
Grind of pepper
250 gr plain flour

Preheat the oven to 220C
Wrap your sausages in a rasher of bacon, and place in a large metal roasting dish. Metal is essential here as the batter rises with the combination of eggs & searing heat, which wont conduct as well through glass or ceramic. Add a splash of oil, about 2 tablespoons.
Put the sausages in the oven for 15 mins, and make your batter. Beat together the milk, eggs & seasoning and let sit for 15 minutes. Sift in the flour, and whisk to a thinnish batter, about the consistency of cream.
Take the pan out of the oven & quickly pour the batter all around the sausages, it will sizzle a bit. Put the dish straight back in the oven & cook for 20-25 mins until golden & puffy. Serve with gravy, mash & greens....or whatever you like, it will taste fabulous.

Onion gravy

This is my go to gravy when, as in this case,  I don't have pan drippings to work with.
Peel and slice 3 onions into thin crescents, then cook very slowly over low heat in a frying pan with a good splash of oil, a knob of butter and a sprinkle of salt. It is the slow cooking (about 30 mins) that creates golden sweet onions, and gives your gravy flavour & colour.

Sprinkle with a tablespoon of plain flour, stirring to cook the flour for a minute or so, then pour in 1 1/2 cups of beef stock (from a carton is fine), turn the heat to medium & stirring, bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, and check the seasoning, a good grind of pepper is always good here. If it is to thick add a splash of water or stock to thin.

I am well aware Brussels sprouts are loathed by some ( I am married to a sprout hater) but steamed lightly, then fried for a couple of minutes in butter with lots of salt & pepper they are delicious. The after effects can be odourific, but worth it, I'm not kidding......

I have been very quiet of late, someone told me once " if you haven't got anything to say, don't say anything", and I suppose I have had that in mind. Winter seems especially grey this year, and I must say I feel like I lost my mojo for a while there. But a nice break in Sydney, a few new adventures (cheese making, you will be hearing plenty about that in the coming weeks) and a bit of navel gazing and hello world, the crockpot is on & I am slowly coming back to a simmer. Hoping to reach a boil by summer:)

PS Speaking of Crockpots, I have a beef stew I put on after breakfast simmering away and waiting for dumplings, is there anything so cheap & easy that can make a girl feel more competent, organized and generally beyond reproach ? The glare of my halo is giving me a headache......