Nibbles

The Sensational Sausage Roll

This is about 10,000 times better than bought sausage rolls

Filling:

Mix:

500 gm pork and veal, or pork mince, or pork and chicken- or at a pinch beef.

2 finely grated carrots

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 finely chopped onion

1 tb fresh thyme leaves

4 chopped sage leaves

(or other herbs to taste)

3 crushed cloves garlic

Optional extras:

1 cup grated zuchinni with an egg

finely chopped dried tomatoes (good with a basil flavouring)

4 tb parsley

 

Pastry:

You can use filo, puff, or flaky. (I like filo, Bryan loves puff)

Roll up the filling in the pastry. Don't make it too thick, or the pastry will burn before the insides cook, but don't make it stingy either. About the thickness of two or three sausages is perfect.

 

You can make long or small rolls. I like to join up the pastry by slightly overlapping each sheet, and making one enormous sausage, then coiling it up like a mat...turns a sausage roll into something special enough for a dinner party, but call it something like sausage de campagne instead of sausage roll.

You can also chop each roll into small chunks for snacks.

 

Bake at 200C for15- 25 minutes, or till light brown- small rolls will take less time to cook.

 

The rolls are best straight from the oven but can be reheated. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 days or so. Not suitable to freeze.

Seed Balls

Bird tables can concentrate droppings and spread disease. Bird balls are better (no I am not making a rude joke here). The birds use bird balls as a snack, not as a major food source, so they don't depend on them, which can be dangerous if the supply is interrupted.

PS if you really want birds, provide clean cool cat-safe water. Good water is much scarcer than food!

Cooked Bird Seed Ball

This doesn't contain glue, so it really the best!

Whip 4-6 egg whites; mix in seed; press into an overproof dish, poke in a bit of coat hanger so you can tie string onto it later, and bake at a low heat (about 75C) till firm.

Glue and Seed ball

Take a mould like an old ice cream container; fill with bird seed; buy any of the glues at the newsagent that claim to be 'non toxic' and 'not soluble in water' on the label, and pour it in! Poke in a bit of coat hanger before it dries.

This is the simplest way to make a bird seed ball, but while a glue may be non toxic I'm not sure that means it's good for them!

Saucepan lid bird ball

 

Make the ball as above but make a glue of 1 cup white flour to 1 cup boiling water. Poke in coat hanger etc...but when you hang it up thread a roof on it, so it doesn't dissolve in the rain. The easiest roof is a saucepan lid without it's knob (leaves a convenient hole to thread string through). Just keep a lookout for convenient bits of metal or even plastic. If necessary, drill a hole yourself. Hub caps are also good!

ps Bryan places wire netting around our bird seed balls so that the large birds can't hog it all.

Lemon and Garlic Butter Corn Cobs

 

You'll need:

8 corn cobs (Don't buy corn wrapped in plastic. It tastes like plastic)

1/2 cup of butter

4 crushed cloves of garlic

A good grating of black pepper

 the juice of a lemon

 

Method:

Melt the butter and the garlic. 

Take off the heat and add

Add the pepper and lemon.

Soak the corn cobs, papery wrapping and all, in water for twenty minutes.

Then unwrap them carefully - don't tear the wrapping.

Pour a little of the slightly cooled and thickened melted butter mix onto each cob.  

Rub in well with your fingers or a pastry brush.

Grill until cooked through - at least twenty minutes or half an hour, turning several times.

You can also try this with alfoil instead of the natural corn packaging; but it's not nearly as good.

Spiced popcorn

(To kids: only try this if you love curry)

half a cup popcorn (from supermarket)

4 tbsps olive or other oil

4 tb butter or margarine (or more oil can be substituted - I prefer to use oil)

1 tsp tumeric

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

half tsp ground chilli OR a good grind of black pepper if you don't like fiery popcorn

salt - optional

 

Take a thick bottomed pan with a lid. Heat for 30 seconds. Add the oil, wait 10 seconds, then add the popcorn. Stir well so it's all covered in oil then put the lid on. Turn the heat down about half way. Keep shaking the pot till it's all popped - will take about three minutes. Take off the heat but leave the lid on.

Place butter or oil in another pan with the garlic and spices, but not the pepper. Heat for about three minutes, stirring all the time. Toss through the hot popcorn. Add pepper now if you are using it instead of chilli - adding the pepper too early can make it taste a bit bitter.

Taste the popcorn and add salt if you like, but you probably won't need to!

Serve with you favourite video.

The Perfect chip

 

1 very large spud per person

olive oil

optional chilli, garlic, thyme, salt, black pepper

Splash olive oil on a baking tray. Place it in a hot oven -325- while you cut the spuds.

Spuds can be peeled, or just scrubbed. Cut into slices about as thick as your little finger, unless you have very big fingers. Dry them on a clean tea towel.

Take tray out of the oven; rub cut sides of spuds in the hot oil. Don't crowd too many on the tray or they'll turn soft with too much humidity. Add crushed garlic, thyme leaves, powdered chilli as you prefer during the rubbing process.

Place back in the hot oven till the chips are brown and crisp and slightly puffy- about 15 minutes. Eat at once, with salt if you like, though with the chilli and garlic and thyme you won't need it.

PS these are actually good for you

Marinated Tofu

Place tofu in the following marinade for at least an hour.

3 tablespoons dry sherry, Chinese rice wine or sake

half a cup tamari or light soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons grated peeled raw ginger

2 tablespoons chopped chives or shallots or the white part of spring onions

optional: 1 chopped red chilli

half a teaspoon honey

Serve marinated tofu by itself, or topped with toasted sesame seeds. Carrot Gingerbread

125 gms butter

100 gms brown sugar

125 gms self raising flour

2 eggs

1 dessertspoon treacle

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 dessertspoons crystallised ginger, finely chopped

125 gms carrots, grated

2 tablespoons ground almonds

 

Melt the butter, add the treacle and sugar, stir well. Take off the heat, stir in the eggs, then add the other ingredients. Moisten with a little milk if necessary.

 

Bake in a slow oven for an hour, or till a skewer comes out clean (this will depend on the size of the cake tin.)

 

Leave uniced, or spread thinly with lemon icing when cold. Lemon icing

Add a dash of lemon juice to icing sugar, with one tablespoon of butter for every cup of icing sugar. Don't add too much juice at once in case it gets too runny - just add more as necessary.

Spiced Baked Sweet Potatoes

 

You'll need:

2 kg yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks

1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp curry paste (or make your own, with spices adding up to 2 tbsp)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 – 3 tbsp brown sugar

 

Method:

Roll the sweet potato in the flour, curry spices and sugar, add olive oil and roll about to cover all the pieces before placing them on a baking sheet.

(Use baking paper if you want to avoid a sticky baked on mess afterwards) and put in a moderately hot oven (160-180 ºC) and cook until you start seeing charred edges on the sweet potato (around thirty to forty-five minutes depending on the size of your chunks).

Flying Saucers

 

Melt cooking chocolate; spread over two small- or large - bowls with a knife fork or even fingers. (lick well). When cool the chocolate will shrink away slightly from the bowls. Tip them out carefully; use more melted chocolate to glue them together, and to glue smarties around the middle for the windows.

A few jelly babies can be  left inside- sorry, jelly aliens. Or chocolate or other goodies as a gift from another galaxy.

Coloured eggs

Draw patterns on eggs with coloured crayon- birds flowers bunnies swirls etc. then add a few drops of food colouring to a bowl of water; dip the eggs in; leave for five minutes, let dry on newspaper; roll them over once or twice as they dry to stop drips drying on the eggs.

 

Pistacio Truffle eggs

Combine 373 gms melted white chocolate in quarter of a cup evaporated milk; stir till smooth; add 1 tb malibu liqueur or rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla and quarter of a  cup chopped pistacio nuts. Cool. Roll into egg shapes, then roll in melted chocolate. Cool in the fridge till firm.

 

Peanut Toffee Eggs

Mix half a cup crunchy peanut butter with 2 tb icing sugar and 1 heaped tb cocoa. Roll into egg shapes; roll in melted chocolate; refrigerate till firm.

 

Quince Cheese

8 quinces, washed and peeled

1 cup water

juice of 2 lemons

the same weight of sugar as the quinces

1 saucepan

Cut quince into chunks, with cores. Boil with the water and juice for 30 minutes with the lid on or till soft.

Only add water if it's going to burn!

Add the sugar.

keep over a low heat; stir every few minutes, till the paste is thick and deep red. This may take 3-4 hours so make sure there is a good programme on tv! Watch out for spitting mixture too!

When it's so thick your wrist is breaking, pour it out onto baking paper in a tray. let it dry for a couple of days, or in the over on low with the door open for a day.

Wrap slices in greaseproof paper and then in alfoil. Store in an airtight tin. keeps for months..or years? Or a few days as you guzzle it down.

 

Quince Jelly

7 quinces

juice of three lemons

sugar

water

 

Wash then chop quinces. JUST cover with water. Boil till soft and squishy- about half an hour.

Strain out the juice. Throw away the pulp. For every 600ml juice add 500g sugar. Boil  till a little sets jelly like on a saucer. Watch out for hot splashes! Pour into sterilised jars; cover and store in a cool dark place.

Great on toast; even better on crackers with cheese

 

Baked Quinces in Port

You need:

3 quinces

3 tb honey

6 tb port

juice of 1 lemon

half a cup of water

Rub any fuzz off the quinces. Cut them in half, scoop out the core. Place cut side up in a baking dish. Fill the hollows with honey; drizzle on lemon juice so the flesh doesn't turn brown; pour in water and port. Cover with alfoil. Bake One and a half hours; turn quinces over; bake another hour and a half.

Take out of the oven- the scent should fill the room- (At table outside)  and eat hot or cold with cream.

REAL Fairy Bread (as eaten at all the best fairy parties)

You'll need:

1 cup pink or red rose petals, free of pesticide, fungicide and beetles. (trim off white ends – they’re bitter)

1 cup white sugar

Thinly sliced buttered bread, crusts removed

 

Method:

Place petals and sugar in the blender.

Whizz till rose petals are finely chopped.  

Scatter at once, THINLY, over lightly buttered bread

Stuffed Eggs

 

You'll need:

1 dozen eggs

1/2 cup mayonnaise – home-made mayonnaise makes superb stuffed eggs, but you can get away with the bought stuff if everyone has had a few drinks beforehand

1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander seed, turmeric and cardamon fried for three minutes in 1 tbsp oil OR good curry paste or powder if you really must, to taste

Paprika to garnish

 

Method:

Simmer the eggs for 15 minutes, stirring now and then so the yolks set in the centre of the egg.  

Take off the stove, run cold water into the saucepan till the eggs feel cool. This helps stop the black ring around the yolks. 

Peel the eggs (if they won't peel easily they may be too fresh – not a problem with supermarket eggs, but if you have your own chooks try to use week old eggs).

Cut them in half long ways, remove the yolks and throw away a third of them.

Mash yolks, mayonnaise and curry. Replace in the eggs using a teaspoon; sprinkle with paprika.
 
These eggs will keep for a few hours covered in the fridge, but eggs and mayonnaise make a lovely breeding ground for bacteria, so while a few left over from pre-dinner nibbles may be okay for breakfast, by and large you should eat them the same day.

 

© Jackie French