The Best Sausage Rolls

Just about nothing can compete with the sausage roll and absolutely nothing can compete with a homemade version. This recipe uses a quick flaky puff that blows the store bought version out of the water. Apricots, shallots and sage embellish the sausage meat and a sweet sticky apple glaze brings everything together. Fit for a party or a pregnancy craving (not mine!)


Prep time – 1 hour + resting
Cook time – 40 minutes
Makes 6 large sausage rolls

For the pastry
150g salted butter, frozen
220g plain flour
A pinch of salt
5-6 tbsp cold water
For the sausage rolls
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp. of sage, chopped
500g free range sausage meat
15g dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 small cox apple, grated
For the glaze
100ml Cawston apple juice
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp. of fennel seeds, to garnish

1. Begin by making the flaky pastry. Empty the flour into a large bowl. Remove the frozen butter from the freezer (being careful not to touch it with your hands as this will melt it) and grate the butter on top of the flour, using the coarse side of a grater. Add a pinch of salt.  Using a palette knife distribute the butter amongst the flour. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. cold water into the bowl and begin to mix the pastry together using the palette knife, adding a little more water if needed. Bring the pastry together with your hands, avoiding handling it too much and shape into a flat disc.  Wrap  in cling film and place in the fridge for 45 minutes.
2. Now, make the filling for the sausage rolls. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pan, on a low heat and gently fry the shallots for 10 minutes. Stir through the sage and cook for a further 2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Empty the sausage meat into a large mixing bowl and add the shallots, apricots and grated apple. Season well and mix until well combined..
3. Prepare the glaze by simply placing the Cawston juice and light brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by half and allow to gently bubble for 4-5 minutes until the sauce has become syrupy.
4. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll, on a floured surface, to a large rectangle. Trim the sides to 23cm x 30cm and then divide the pastry into two long lengths, each 35cm x 15cm. Divide the sausage meat in two and shape into two long ‘sausages’. Place in the center of each pasty length and brush the edges of the pastry with apple syrup. Fold the pastry over the sausage meat to cover, trim with a sharp knife and cut each length of pasty into 3. There should be 6 sausage rolls in total. Gently press the join of the pastry with a fork to secure.
5. Place the sausage rolls on a waxed paper on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill completely. The pastry will cook best from frozen.
6. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas mark 6.

7. Remove the sausage rolls from the freezer and brush with the apple syrup. Sprinkle over with fennel seeds and cook for 20-25 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve.


Donuts (homemade)

It was our friend Annika that warned us of donuts on the pier, she said we hadn't 'done' the Brighton experience unless we'd paid more than necessary for more doughnuts than we actually needed. Generally I would think of myself as a healthy eater and actually happier with cous cous than creme caramel but, in this instance, Annika was right. Donuts did solve overcast Tuesday blues, for a moment or two. 

They have become something of a talking point. Should the doughy pillows be filled with jam? Or custard as St John's have suggested? Should they be baked or deep fried? I spent my Saturday perfecting a recipe which I think, outshone those dirty ones from the pier. 

Makes 6 Doughnuts 
(recipe adapted from Felicity Cloake)

225g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
½ tsp salt
20g caster sugar, plus extra to dust

20g unsalted butter, 
65ml whole milk, warmed
45ml warm water
1 egg, beaten
2 litres vegetable or sunflower oil, to cook

1 tsp cinnamon
1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Put the butter into a bowl with the warm milk and water, and stir to melt. Pour this into the mixing bowl, along with the egg, and stir until it comes together into a dough: it should be firm, but soft.

2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface, or into a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).

3. Shape into 6 balls of about 80g each, folding each side tightly into the centre in turn, turning as you go, then turn the ball over and put it on a lightly floured baking tray or board, spacing them well apart. Cover and leave to rise again for 45 minutes.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-fat fryer to 160C. Cook the doughnuts in 2 batches for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden, then blot with kitchen paper and sprinkle with caster sugar and ground cinnamon.


The best beetroot espresso brownie

Such is the brownie’s reputation; it can cope with an unorthodox intruder. Both the beetroot and the coffee make this particular version sing; it is bitter, but not too much, rich but not to it’s detriment and even gluten free to satisfy those guests. 







200g raw beetroot, peeled  (approximately 2 medium)

250g 70% dark chocolate

2 heaped tsp. instant coffee granules

200g unsalted butter

400g caster sugar

4 medium eggs, beaten

50g cocoa powder

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

You will also need a 20cm x 20cm x 4cm square tin

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Line a 20cm x 20cm x 4cm shallow brownie tin with parchment paper.

2. Prepare the beetroot by peeling and grating on the fine side of a box grater.   

3. Melt the chocolate, butter and coffee granules very gently in a large, heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped beetroot, caster sugar sugar and beaten eggs. Combine thoroughly before adding cocoa powder, plain flour and a pinch of salt to the mixture. Stir well.

4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until just cooked, brownies are easy to over bake. The top should be dried to a paler brow, but the middle should still be dark and dense and gooey and only just firm. Allow to cool completely in tin before slicing, as it will continue to cook until cooled.


Foolproof Ultimate Pancakes

Every year for I’d say, 15 years I’ve made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Lent beginning was a major thing at home and sitting around the kitchen we’d each resolve to change habits or indeed, take up new challenges. Mum would always aim to eat fewer nuts, she could survive on salted peanuts if she had her way and dad would invariably deny himself double cream for forty days.  As I write, I’m thinking about what shall be my challenge for this year and I think my diet coke habit could be kicked into touch or that 4pm coffee…  

This recipe for pancakes is stolen from my days at Leith’s (I think) or given to me by somebody, I don’t remember who. They are the best I’ve had and should be wolfed down as soon as they touch the plate.


110g Plain Flour 
A pinch of salt 
A pinch of sugar 
1 egg 
1 egg yolk 
285ml Milk 
A little butter, to fry 

Put the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the egg yolk and milk until smooth. Rest for 30 minutes. Fry in batches in a buttered frying pan.


The Ultimate Tomato Sauce

If there’s ever a time for comfort food it's when the seasons shift from autumn to winter. This thick, scarlet red sauce is a useful addition to any fridge but particularly one that that needs to make meatballs, bolognaise, lasagne or ‘saucy pasta’ at any point during the week.
Double the quantities if you have a pan large enough, the sauce keeps well and I promise you’ll find it useful.

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 tbsp. tomato puree
2 x 400g tins good quality chopped tomatoes
200ml vegetable stock
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. soft brown sugar

1. Start by making the rich tomato sauce: heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and soften over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for a couple more minutes. Stir through the tomato puree then pour over the tinned tomatoes and stock, season with salt and add the sugar. Stir well and then simmer gently uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is lovely and thick.


Broad bean & Ham Hock & Wholegrain Mustard Pie

A thrifty ham hock is the back bone to this recipe and, partnered with cornichons and cream, it equates to pie heaven. The reasurringly creamy filling is encased in fudgy pastry, highly glazed and sprinkled with poppy seeds.


2 ham hocks
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
220g broad beans, podded weight
1½ tablespoons wholegrain mustard
150ml crème fraîche
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
4 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
1 tablespoon plain flour
½ small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
300ml cider
1 medium egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

175g plain flour
Tiny pinch of salt
150g butter, diced
90ml soured cream
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

You will need a 26cm pie dish

1 Place the ham hocks, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large pan. Cover generously with cold water and bring to a steamy simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 hours until tender and falling apart. Keep your eye on the water levels and top up every so often, as needed. Once the ham hocks are cooked, remove from the pan. Separate the meat from the bone – I find it easiest to use your hands. Pull away large chunks of the meat, roughly chop and set aside. You need about 500g of cooked ham hock.

2 Bring a second pan of salted water to the boil. Add the beans and simmer for 5–6 minutes, until just tender. Drain and set aside.

3 Make the pastry. Put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the butter is fully incorporated through the flour. Alternatively, put in a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Then add the soured cream and pulse for 2–3 seconds or stir by hand until just mixed. Shape into a flat disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

4 Select an enormous bowl and combine the cooked ham, broad beans, mustard, crème fraîche, coriander seeds, cornichons, flour and chopped parsley. Pour the cider into a small saucepan over a medium heat and allow to reduce by half. Cool slightly before adding to the ham hock mixture. Season to taste, remembering that the ham is salty.

5 Empty the filling into a pie dish and brush the edge of the dish with a little beaten egg. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and place over the filling. Crimp the edges of the pastry to secure it to the edge of the dish, brush the surface with more beaten egg and chill for a further 30 minutes.

6 Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4.

7 Remove the pie from the fridge, glaze again with egg and scatter with poppy seeds. Transfer to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30–35 minutes until the pastry is golden and you can just see the filling bubbling. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving in slices.

TIP You can also use 200g dried broad beans, soaked overnight. Simply, place the broad beans in a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 25–30 minutes or until the broad beans are al dente.


Baby Rosabella

Forgive my slight pause from blogging but I assure you it is for good reason. Baby Rosabella was born in late December and, naturally, has been needing a whole lot of love and milk ;)