Super speedy sausage roll bites

If you are looking for a yummy little snack to go with a lunch or just for a way to use up some left over puff pastry, then look no further! This is a super quick recipe, using a few shortcuts, but hey we don’t all have time to spend hours making puff pastry. These are best served warm a few minutes after they have been cooked but can be kept for a few days (if you can find a way to stop yourself eating them all at once…please let me know if you find a way to avoid them, mine don’t normally last more than a few hours!).

Here’s the recipe:

  • 100g Good quality sausage meat
  • 2 tbsp Apple sauce
  • 30g Dried cranberries
  • 300g Ready to roll puff pastry – or homemade if you prefer
  • 1 Egg

Makes 25

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 6

  1. Start by removing the pastry from the fridge in advance and bring it to room temperature as this will make it easier to roll.
  2. If you are using sausages then they will need the skin removing, the meat should then be combined with the apple sauce and cranberries. In a separate bowl the egg needs to be whisked together briefly. The pastry then needs rolling out thinly into a rectangle on a floured surface.
  3. Strips of sausage meat then need laying along the pastry around 1.5cm apart and starting around 0.5 cm from the edge of the pastry. The sausage meat strips should be far thinner than the width of a sausage, maybe half or even a quater as thick as a standard sausage. Although this does depend on how meaty you want them, I cannot imagine the meat being very wide would taste great as it would become overbearing.
  4. Once you have done this egg wash the pastry strips between the sausage, take the pastry edge you started on and fold it over the meat, cut the pastry where the edge meets the rest of the pastry. Seal the pastry edges together and then pinch and roll the edges to give a crimped effect.
  5. Cut the rolls into the size you want, I tend to cut them around 2 inches long. The diagonally cut into the top of each of the sausage rolls before egg washing them and placing them slightly spaced out on a baking tray.
  6. Bake for around 20-25minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden.
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Bacon and egg breakfast muffins

For me a Sunday breakfast has to be more interesting than the standard bowl of cereal I have every other morning. It often involves croissants, scrambled egg on toast or smoked salmon bagels. However, last weekend I decided to go for something a little bit different, a bacon and egg breakfast muffin. The idea came from watching Rachel Khoo on The little Paris kitchen a couple of weeks ago, I noticed her making Croque Madame muffins which I wasn’t entirely keen on but the idea of making something like that into a muffin looked great. So I took what I remembered of what she did and changed it to suit breakfast; the main and most important change, I think, was taking out the bechamel sauce! Something I definately couldn’t eat so early in the morning.

I think variations of these will start to appear more regularly for breakfast on a Sunday now! You could probably get nearly an entire fryed breakfast in one of these…well a very small fried breakfast anyway. Or they would be great served with beans, mushrooms, sausages etc.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Slices of white bread
  • 100g Butter (melted)
  • 4 Slices of bacon
  • 4 Small eggs
  • 100g Cheese (any cheese that you enjoy melted will be fine, I used mature cheddar but you could use a gruyère or maybe mozzarella)

Makes 4 muffins

Preheat the oven to 180C

  1. Slice the crusts off your bread and roll them out until they are around half as thick as they were to begin with.
  2. Liberally brush both sides of the bread with meted butter and cut each slice in half.
  3. Cross the two halves over each other and place into a muffin tray. There seem to be many ways to put the bread in the muffin tin but I found this way to be the easiest as the bread didn’t seem to split so easily.
  4. Fry the bacon as you like it and then place one rasher into each bread case
  5. Crack the eggs over a bowl and allow around half of the egg white to run out of the shell, place the yolk and the rest of the white on top of the bacon. If it looks like there is space for more egg white then add more, but ensure you don’t overfill them as this makes them more likely to leak and get stuck to the tray.
  6. Cover the egg and bacon in cheese and brush the top of the bread with more butter.
  7. Place in the oven for 13-15 minutes if you want a runny egg, and 20 minutes if you want a set yolk.
  8. Take the out of the tray and serve immediately.20120909-210255.jpg

Mini madelines

Well as much as I am enjoying getting back into baking, I am struggling to get creative. I find it too easy to slip in to a routine of baking certain tried and tested recipes that I know everyone likes. When actually I want to learn new baking skills and try new things.

So, on a quest to try new things I went to Lakeland to see if anything there could inspire me. I left with a mini madeline tray, okay so it’s not exactly learning new skills but at least they aren’t something I have made before.

When I looked for recipes I found there were actually large variations in the recipes and methods used to make Madelines. So, this is a bit of an amalgamation of different advice and recipes, but I mainly used the Joy of Baking and Waitrose websites.

Having never tried a madeline I expected it to just taste like plain sponge cake, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The cakes were lovely and light, and they tasted beautifully buttery and sweet. They disappeared very quickly after they had been baked, so I have no idea how well they would keep. But I imagine they would be fine for at least a couple of days if they were stored in an air tight container.

Ingredients:

  • 60g Melted unsalted butter
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 50g Plain white flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1tsp Vanilla sugar
  • Icing sugar to dust

Makes 25 mini madelines or 15 regular sized madelines.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg and caster sugar until the mixture is very thick, this takes around 10 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour and vanilla sugar into the egg and sugar mixture, and carefully fold it in.
  3. Then fold in 50g of the butter, set aside the remaining 10g.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes to allow it to become firm.
  5. While the mixture is being refrigerated brush the Madeline tray with the remaining 10g of melted butter and dust the tray with flour, tapping out any excess.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tray, do not spread the mixture out into the mould otherwise the cakes are likely to become flat, rather than having their expected ‘humped’ look. If using a mini madeline tray its around half a teaspoon of mixture needed per mould.
  7. Bake these for around 7 minutes or until they are golden brown and the cake springs back when you touch it.
  8. Leave the cakes to cool for around 5 minutes then turn the tray upside down and tap it against the worktop. They should all easily fall out.
  9. When they are completely cooled lightly dust them with icing sugar, before you tuck in.

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And she’s back! Whoopie!

I decided that I just couldn’t stay away from the wonderful world of baking any longer! I hadn’t realised how much I had missed baking, until I started again. It’s so nice to escape away into the kitchen and get really stuck into a recipe or dream up a new creation.

I will try and bake each weekend from now on, and might post some of the more adventurous midweek meals I hope to start making. I have been eating too many pre-packaged meals recently and want that to change, to save money if nothing else.

So my return to baking begins with manuka honey flavoured whoopie pies with a filling that I think is similar to a Swiss meringue buttercream.

The recipe is one I have been asked to review, and the Comvita manuka honey and bee pollen were sent to me with it. However, there has been no payment for this review and all opinions are my own.

The recipe I was given was for cupcakes but with some tweaking I adapted it to be a whoopie pie instead. I have previously made the cupcakes and thought they were very nice but a bit over sweet (I will include the original and adapted recipe below). Although, when I originally made the cupcakes I did think that the recipe would make a lovely fruit flan base, which I will endeavour to try out some time soon.

This is the first time I have made icing like this, normally it comes out of a box and water or lemon juice is added! So this was slightly daunting, especially when it felt like I should have been doing numerous things at once, but it seems it doesn’t matter if you do each step one a time. Which is lucky as multi tasking is a skill I was never blessed with.

Overall, I found the cakes tasted much better with slightly less sugar and the buttercream was delicious, and definitely improved over time. I always struggle to work out whether things like this should be kept in the fridge due to the butter, so I tried both. I still don’t know exactly which it is meant to be, but I preferred the ones kept in the fridge as i liked how firm the buttercream became, but I think this is totally down to personal preference.

Right now for the recipe:

Cupcake recipe from Comvita

Ingredients:

  • 250g Softened butter
  • 250g Golden caster sugar
  • 250g Self-raising flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1tbsp Comvita UMF10+ Manuka Honey
  • 1tsp baking powder

Makes 12 muffins or 18 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Method:

  1. Using an electric whisk cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy.
  2. Whisk in the eggs and a tablespoon of the flour, if it looks like it is curdling.
  3. Sieve in the remaining flour and baking powder, fold this in and add the Manuka honey. If the mixture looks to dry a little milk can be added.
  4. Do not over mix the batter as this will prevent the cakes from being light and fluffy.
  5. Spoon the mixture in to the cupcake or muffin cases.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden and spring back when you touch them.

Whoppie pie recipe using Comvita honey

This recipe was adapted from the recipe for Vanilla whoopie pies in a book called ‘Whoopie Pies’ by Love Food.

Ingredients:

  • 125g Plain flour
  • 0.5tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g Softened butter
  • 75g Golden caster sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 75ml Buttermilk or a milk and lemon juice mixture
  • 1 tsp Comvita Manuka honey

Makes 7 whoopie pies.

I made this recipe in a whoopie pie maker, so do not know how well they cook in the oven but the book advises they should cook in 20 minutes at 180°C.

Method:

  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together until they are pale and creamy and then mix in the egg and a tablespoon of flour.
  2. Sieve in half the remaining flour and add the buttermilk, thoroughly combine the ingrediants. The rest of the flour along with the bicarbonate of soda can now be folded in.
  3. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each ring in the whoopie pie maker and cook for 7.5 minutes.
  4. Leave them to cool before filling.

Buttercream recipe

Ingredients:

  • 75g Golden caster sugar
  • 50ml Water
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 125g Softened butter
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp Yellow food colouring
  • 1tsp Bee Pollen to sprinkle

Makes enough to fill 12 whoopie pies.

  1. Whisk the egg whites and gradually add 15g of the sugar, until the egg whites become stiff.
  2. Combine the water and the remaining 60g of the sugar in a saucepan and heat stirring until the sugar disolves, then stop stirring until the mixture boils and reaches 121°C.
  3. Sit the saucepan in a bowl of cold water for just a few seconds, to prevent the syrup from getting any hotter (if it’s left too long, it will be too thick to pour).
  4. Gradually pour the syrup in to the whisked eggs. Continue whisking the mixture for around 10 minutes until the bowl feels lukewarm. If the syrup starts to become too thick to pour, return the pan to the hob very briefly, for the heat to thin it slightly.
  5. Slowly whisk in the softened butter. Then add the vanilla extract and food colouring and keep whisking it until it forms a smooth fluffy buttercream.
  6. Spread the buttercream on to the flat side of one of the whoopie pies and sprinkle on some of the bee pollen, then put the two halves together. I am not entirely convinced that the bee pollen is necessary, as the flavour of it gets lost when combined with the buttercream and cake. However, on its own it has a very strong floral taste, so I am still trying to come up with something that it would work well with.
  7. These would also taste nice with some jam spread on the whoopie pie beneath the buttercream.

Meal Planning Monday

Blimey how fast did last week go?! Can’t believe it’s Monday again already and I’m late for another Meal Planning Monday….oops. Well I stuck to last weeks plan; this is definitely working for me as it ensures I don’t buy too much and I eat properly all week.

I found out today that I am likely to be lodging for at least 6 months! So, I need to get some baking equipment here, can’t go 6 months without any proper baking!!

So this weeks meal and baking plan:

  • Monday: Homemade chicken kiev with mashed potatoes and peas
  • Tuesday: Sweet chilli with salad and taco’s
  • Wednesday: Tortellini with a tomato and roast pepper sauce
  • Thursday: Pasta bolognase.
  • Friday: Jacket potato with baked beans and cheese
  • Saturday: Salmon, prawn and haddock fish pie with broccoli, carrots and peas.
  • Sunday: Chicken chasseur and crusty bread

I will also make sausage rolls and lemon and poppy seed muffins, I will blog the recipes for these at the weekend.

Does anyone have any suggestions of easy things to bake that don’t require lots of utensils, but that last well as a sweet snack for a weeks worth of packed lunches?

Meal Planning Monday

Well not quite Monday I know, didn’t have a chance to sit down yesterday and plan, but hey better late than never!

  • Monday: Pasta bolognase
  • Tuesday: Lamb stew
  • Wednesday: Sausage casserole
  • Thursday: Tuna, creme fraiche and peas with pasta

I am away from Friday to Monday this week so won’t need to plan any meal as i’ll probably eat out a lot.

Do you have any quick dinner suggestions for me for next week?

Meal Planning Monday

I found out about Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday’s through Nellys’ blog in January and have finally decided to give it a go as I have a new job and a very tight budget. Also as I am currently only cooking for one I really don’t want to slip into unhealthy food habits, like ready made pasta sauces and take-away’s. But, equally I don’t want to plan to make lovely exotic dishes because I know this is unrealistic as I am starting a new job and so likely to come home and be pretty tired each night.

I hope that doing this will prevent me getting into the habit of buying things randomly every week with no plan on what to make with them and then lots of fresh things going to waste.

Tuesday: Sausage casserole with boiled potatoes and vegetables

Wednesday: Tuna and peas with crème fraîche sauce and pasta

Thursday: Sweet chilli with rice

Friday: Pasta bolognase

Saturday: Chicken kiev with mash and green beans in white sauce

Sunday: Pork chop, roast potatoes, vegetables and stuffing.

This week I aim to also bake some kind of oat bar/biscuits. Do you have any oat based recipes that you would recommend?

Chicken and leek pie

I leave for Edinburgh on Thursday and from there I go straight to starting my new job, so I have been cramming in more baking before I go. I decided to bake something savoury today as I have eaten far too many sweet things recently, and since there was a lot of leftover chicken from a recent roast I needed to find something to use it up.

The filling of this pie is delicious especially with the crème fraîche added as it added a lovely sharpness to the flavour rather than it just being over creamy. It was quite a runny filling which I enjoyed with mashed potatoes but if you want a thicker filling then I would recommend lowering the stock to around 200ml. The only problem with this dish that I found is my puff pastry failed to puff up like I expected it to, and I am not entirely sure why. It may have been because I ended up leaving it in the fridge for around 30 hours as it was eaten a day later than expected, or maybe too much egg wash….does anyone else have any ideas as to what could have caused it?

This recipe is adapted from one found here

Ingredients:

  • 1tbsp Olive oil
  • 1tsp Lazy garlic
  • 1 Chopped onion
  • 600g Leftover cooked chicken
  • 2 Large leeks
  • 80ml White wine
  • 142ml Double cream
  • 200ml Crème fraîche
  • 400ml Chicken stock
  • Tarragon
  • 200g Puff pastry
  • 1 Small egg

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 200C

Method:

  1. Sweat the onion and leeks in a frying pan with oil and garlic for around 4 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the chicken and wine to the pan and cook for a further 3-4 minutes to allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  3. Pour in the stock and leave this to cook for 10 minutes to allow a further reduction to occur, before adding the crème fraîche, double cream, tarragon and any other desired seasoning.
  4. This mixture now needs to be poured into the pie dish and left to cool for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Then roll the pastry out so it is large enough to cover the dish you are using, brush water around the edge of the dish and firmly apply the pastry. Trim the pastry edges and pierce a hole in the middle of the pastry to allow air to escape. The pie can then be left to chill until you are ready to cook it.
  6. Before baking, the pastry needs egg washing. Bake for 50 minutes or until the pastry is risen and golden.
  7. It is lovely served with creamy mash and fresh vegetables.

Jam and Buttercream Whoopie Pies

For Christmas I was bought a Sweet Treats Whoopie Pie Maker and for some reason have only just got round to using it. I have never even eaten a whoopie pie before let alone making one, so, I can’t really say if these taste as a whoopie pie should, as I have no idea. However, what I do know is that they are delicious and everyone that has tried them agrees! The machine is great, they were cooked in less than 7 minutes, and the non stick worked perfectly so it was very easy to clean.

The recipe I used came with the machine for a vanilla whoopie pie, they came out great but the quantities were a bit off. The recipe stated it made 14 but it actually made 24.

I have made them a couple of times now the first time I used their buttercream recipe, but found this far too sweet and instead I used 140g butter and 200g of icing sugar, this made enough for about 20-22 whoopie pies. This was just whisked using an electric hand whisk until it looked creamy. The pies were then put together by spooning jam on one half and buttercream on the other and sandwiching them together.

I also received a recipe book dedicated to whoopie pies for Christmas and so am planning on trying lots of different flavours, the next is likely to be carrot cake pies with a sweet cream cheese filling.

Fruity Scones

It’s been a while since I last baked anything and I fear this sporadic baking may continue for a while. I have recently been offered a job and so have been sorting everything out as this means moving to a new town and being a lodger for a while. But today I decided I have had enough of sorting things out for my move and instead I spent the morning baking. I have been meaning to try and bake scones for a long time, as I was told they were very simple but had never got round to it. For a first attempt at scones these were absolutely delicious, soft and light with a nice crisp crust, I didn’t even need any cream with them, the taste of the scone with some butter and jam was perfect.

This was adapted from a Mary Berry recipe out of her Baking Bible (Special Fruit Scones, page 322), which is an invaluable book for a fail safe recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 116g Plain flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 15g Sugar
  • 25g Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • Milk
  • 25g Currants (or any mixture of dried fruits that you have)

Makes 4 scones

Preheat the oven to 220C

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and butter in a bowl and rub this together using your fingertips until fine breadcrumbs are formed. Then add sugar and fruit to the mixture and combine.
  2. Place a bowl on to scales and crack in a small egg, add enough milk to make the mixture up to 75g – this can be done in a measuring jug as well, but mine doesn’t show measurements any lower than 100ml so using the scales was easier.
  3. Combine the dry and wet mixtures and lightly knead, but do not over handle or they will not be so light and fluffy.
  4. Place the dough onto a floured surface and pat down to around 1.5cm, don’t roll as this is also likely to result in over-handling. Place a 2.5inch circular  cutter into flour and then push straight down into the dough and pull straight up, do not twist the cutter at all or it will prevent rising
  5. Place the scones onto a lined or greased baking sheet and brush the tops with a little milk, where possible try not to allow the milk to run down the sides of the scones.
  6. Bake for around 15 minutes or until they look well risen and golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack before eating, they are best eaten on the day of baking but can be stored for a few days in an airtight container. To re-fresh them after a couple of days they can go back in the oven for 4-5minutes and then will taste as good as a fresh one, this also works well if you freeze them.