Saturday, 22 May 2010

Party food - traditional sausage rolls

I have another catering gig - my friend Oggy's wedding. I gave the bride and groom a list of potential dishes, from which they could choose a menu. They asked what the chances were of having every one of them, as they liked the sound of all of them so much! But the groom also had his own special request: sausage rolls.

I have posted up a sausage roll recipe previously: my chicken, basil and prosciutto sausage rolls. Various friends having made them have declared them to be a great success. That said, these are not going to fulfill the desire of the groom: I think he wants a good red meat sausage roll. So a bit of experimentation has produced this recipe, which I think will fit the bill perfectly. It makes 100 cocktail sized sausage rolls. I know that this sounds like a lot, but believe me, they disappear quickly during a party!

You do need a food processor for this recipe, and it is super quick and easy. Be warned though, there is no way to avoid getting your hands messy!

1.3kg beef mince
2 medium eggs
2 large onions
2 1/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs - use the food processor to process stale 'square' bread.
4tsp dried herbs - I used sage, oregano, basil and marjoram
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 kg pre-rolled puff pastry (5 rolls)
1 egg lightly beaten, for brushing on top of the rolls

Peel and roughly chop the onion. Pop it into the food processor and process until it is quite fine in texture (but not liquid!). Put into a large bowl with the breadcrumbs. Stir in the herbs, salt and pepper.

There is no need to rinse the bowl of the food processor. Just put in the mince (you might need to process in two lots) and process it down to make it a sort of paste. It doesn't need to be perfectly smooth, but it does need to be much finer than the original mince. This will help the filling to hold together. Put into the bowl, and break into the bowl, two of the eggs. With your hands, mix the whole lot together.

Cut the sheet of puff pastry in half lengthwise. Take a good handful of the filling and form into a fat sausage (I guess about 2.5 cm/1 inch in diameter) and lay along the long edge of one piece of the pastry. Brush the opposite edge with water and then fold the pastry over to make a roll. Place seam side down. Repeat with the other pieces of pastry.

Cut the rolls in 3cm lengths. Brush the tops with egg yolk, and chill for at least 15 minutes. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown in quite a hot oven - 240 degrees. Serve warm with tomato sauce, home made or otherwise. (These can happily be made the day before, or even made and frozen uncooked)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Medieval cookery - duck pies

This recipe for duck pie has few ingredients and may seem a little odd, using the juice but not flesh of onions as a seasoning. These were so good that back in the kitchens we spent quite a while trying to figure out an excuse not to send them out to be eaten at all... we wanted to keep them all for ourselves!

The hardest thing about the recipe is tracking down Verjuice. Verjuice is unfermented wine grape juice and is a common ingredient used in medieval and renaissance cooking. It has come back into modern cookery quite recently and adds a very special taste to dishes. In Australia, Maggie Beer produces verjuice commercially - sadly I have yet to find a supplier here in Europe.

At a total pinch you could use a very mild vinegar - I had a bottle of verjuice that a friend sent me and with experimentation, I made up a mixture of grape juice and wine vinegar and was able to get something that resembled verjuice for the feast, as my little bottle certainly didn't contain enough to feed 138 people!

Somewhat unusually for an ancient 'receipt', this recipe does have some guidance as to quantities of ingredients. My version used this as a guide but I made it with duck meat rather than a whole bird.

To bake a Mallard (The Good Housewife's Jewell 1596)

Take three or foure Onyons, and stampe them in a morter, then straine them with a saucer full of vergice, then take your mallard and put him into the iuyce of the sayde onyons, and season him with pepper, and salte, cloves and mace, then put your Mallard into the coffin with the saide juyce of the onyons, and a good quantity of Winter-savorye, a little tyme, and perselye chopped small, and sweete Butter, so close it up and bake it.

Take three onions and food process them. Pour 1/3 of a cup of verjuice into the food processor, then strain through muslin to extract the juices (I recommend setting aside the onions to make into onion soup). Take 1/2 a kilo of duck meat, chopped into pieces and marinate in the onion juice, with pepper, salt, 1/4 tsp ground mace and a pinch of ground cloves. I couldn't find fresh winter savory, so used dried - about 1/2 a tablespoon, then a teaspoon of thyme and a tablespoon of parsley.

Bake in a closed pie shell, or as little individual pies. Eat while piping hot.