The time is just flying by now it’s 7th December already…
Have you finished shopping? Have you wrapped your presents yet?preparation done? Don’t know what to make? Well never fear Carol is here???
Today I am going to give you a few recipes and tips about what you can cook in advance to make life just that bit easier…
Sausage rolls and mince pies
We have made our sweet mincemeat...haven’t we???
This recipe is my mums she makes the best pastry ever and I try really hard to match hers but she once told me that no two batches of pastry are ever alike and that the only person who realises that is moi….and I think she is right..mums usually are 🙂
I use half fat to flour so for example 8 oz Flour and 4 oz fat.
Ice cold water added 1 tbsp at a time( the amount depends on flour used)
1 egg beaten for the glaze.
I know that fat varies depending on where you live, in the Uk ..well spoilt for choice because we invented pastry…well from as far back as the Romans when it was crude flour and water wrapped around meat and game before cooking and no way would you eat it…it was to retain meat juices.
Over time pastry was enriched with fat and milk and began to vaguely resemble today’s shortcrust.But living here in Thailand my choice is restricted…..I have a choice of pastry fat or Crispo…sometimes I mix the two when making meat pies but I digress.
For mince pies, I use the pastry fat. When making pastry it must be kept cool which here is never easy ..so fat from the fridge, iced water from the fridge and fan madly whirring to keep the air cool..and me folks…I touch the pastry mix as little as possible, I quickly rub the fat into flour to resemble breadcrumbs, add iced water gradually, draw together with your fingers to make a ball, if too dry add more water, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20 mins in the fridge.
When I roll I use the heel of my hand to start to flatten pastry and roll gently out to desired thickness…I handle as little as possible to keep cool.
Using a pastry cutter, cut circles and line patty tins, add filling and top with a pastry lid. Brush tops with beaten egg. Cook in the oven on 200c/gas7 for 15-20 mins until golden. Remove from oven, cool slightly and dust with icing sugar.
Note: Some of you may have noticed I don’t add sugar to my shortcrust pastry…With the sweetness of the filling and the icing dusting I /we all feel it is sugar overload but personal preference if you like to add 1 tbsp sugar to breadcrumbs before adding water.
I also use the same pastry for my sausage rolls…
Now….if you make them now omit the cooking stage and freeze uncooked in a sealed container separate the layers with greaseproof paper and just take out however many you want as needed and cook…Simples!
For sausage rolls, I use the same pastry. I add finely chopped onions, garlic and a little sage to my sausage meat or I did in the UK….i can’t get it here so I make my own very finely chop my pork making sure I add a little of the fat and then add the seasoning as above.
- 3 cups or 12oz of cranberries.
- The juice of 2 large Oranges.
- A cup of sugar.
- 1 stick of cinnamon.
Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to the boil and turn down so it is still a rolling boil and cook for 10 mins if ( using) frozen berries or 20 minutes if using fresh cranberries as they will take a bit longer to pop.
Allow mixture to cool and put in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Now stuffing mix is hard to get here and because it is imported also expensive. I have tried various stuffings in the past with limited success…we didn’t like them!
I found this recipe on a blog the other week and it sounded great…It had bacon in it…
Picture this…. I thought I had all the ingredients .. wrong!….no bacon and nearest shop was a way away so I put my thinking cap on and tweaked the recipe and it turned out brilliant…..Replaced the bacon with Minced Pork, The stuffing mix( which) I had not heard of became just breadcrumbs. Chestnuts I didn’t have but they were optional.
The celery became Thai celery which is much smaller more the size of coriander…
- 200 gm of Minced Pork
- 6 oz of breadcrumbs
- 3 oz finely chopped chestnuts( optional)
- 5 shallots finely sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- Bunch of Thai celery chopped finely. Which when chopped did take on more of a celery smell.
- Freshly made chicken stock.
- Salt, fresh ground pepper.
- Tbsp dried Sage
- Fresh rosemary.
- 2 tsp Dried Thyme.
Heat pan with a glug of olive oil and 1oz butter. Add shallots and garlic cook 2/3 mins until soft but not coloured add mince and celery and chestnuts if using cook for a further 4/5 mins. Add breadcrumbs gradually moistening mix with spoonfuls of stock as required.
The mix should be fairly thick but soft so you are able to form balls.
Add herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Allow to cool slightly and then form into balls.
If you want to freeze them then do it at this stage. Pack into a freezer box and all ready for Christmas day.
If not then cook in oven until lightly browned and crispy approx 20/30 mins on 180 degrees. I didn’t need to add any additional fat as the oil and butter already incorporated in the stuffing mix kept them moist and not too dry but if required add more oil.
I generally don’t like meat in stuffing mixes but the amount I added was small and gave a nice texture and flavour but wasn’t the overriding taste.
This is now going to be my Christmas stuffing.
Pigs in Blankets:
- 8 thin slices smoked bacon
- 16 chipolata sausages
- I tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp clear honey.
Mix honey, thyme and Worcestershire sauce in small bowl, add sausages and make sure they are coated in the mix. Cut bacon down the middle long ways. Wrap bacon around sausages.
To freeze now put in a container and separate the layers with greaseproof then remove from the freezer on Christmas morning and cook as below
Put sausages on a baking sheet well spaced apart.
Cook on 180 for about 30 minutes until nicely browned and bacon is crispy.
Freeze the breadcrumbs ready to use( I always) keep a bag of frozen breadcrumbs in the freezer. The sauce can be made the day before and reheated on the day… I have been surprised living here that many people have not heard of bread sauce my mum always made it at Christmas we couldn’t have turkey without bread sauce…
About half loaf of Stale white bread either broken into smallish pieces or can blitz into breadcrumbs if you like a smoother sauce.
- I brown Onion peeled and studded with cloves.
- 2 bay leaves.
- Salt & Pepper.
- About half pint milk.
Pour milk into a saucepan and add studded onion. Slowly bring to boil and turn down and let gently simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool remove Onion and bay leaves.This can be reheated to serve or made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. It is quite a thick consistency so if too thin add some more bread if too thick some more milk.
What do make in advance???
Yesterday I pickled some more onions and just hope I don’t have to pickle more before Christmas I made 4 jars so even the one who shall be nameless doesn’t eat a jar full a week.
- 2 lb Pickling Onions, peeled.
- 11/2 pints pickling vinegar…I use white vinegar or a mix of apple cider and white vinegar.
- 2tbsp Pickling spices or your mix…again I mix black, white peppercorns, coriander seeds.
Method…2 days before mix 2pts water with 4 oz salt pour over onions, cover and keep in cool place. I keep in the fridge due to the heat here.
Then drain onions and pat dry. Pack into sterilised jars layering pickling spices as you go then pour vinegar over the onions making sure they are completely covered. Store for 4-6 weeks and they ready…They are the crispest onions I have eaten, far better than shop bought and generally don’t get to 4 weeks let alone 6 weeks as they get dipped into …men!
That’s all for today…..
Take care and have fun x