Sausage Meat and Chutney Plait Recipe

It is December so I am now officially allowed to talk about one of my favourite times of the year… Christmas! One of the many things I love about Christmas is the range of flavours and aromas of all the beautiful food. Cinnamon, gingerbread, orange, cloves, cranberry, nutmeg, spices… the list goes on.

Boddington’s Berries is a wonderful company who produce delicious high fruit conserves and savoury chutneys from their farm base in Cornwall. They have recently launched 2 new products for the festive period, Christmas Conserve and Christmas Chutney, and they very kindly sent me some to use in recipes.

The Christmas Chutney is packed in a glass jar with a lovely Christmassy label. It put me in a festive mood as soon as I saw it! The label says

“Our tangy Christmas Chutney warms the soul. Made with cranberries, chilli, orange and spices that work together to ensure this chutney packs a punch. Best served with festive meats and cheeses.”

I tried a bit on a piece of extra mature Cheddar and it was wonderful. If you have a cheese board at Christmas, you definitely need to try this chutney! In fact, whatever you are having at Christmas, you need to try this chutney!!!

On Christmas Day in my house I only prepare 2 meals. My son is usually very excited to get on with opening presents when he wakes up, so we have a hot breakfast late. So late that we could call it brunch. Christmas dinner is ready for around 4pm. That means we don’t have a Christmas tea of turkey sandwiches, cold meats etc like many people do. We have that type of meal on Boxing Day instead. One of the things I love to make for that buffet-style feast is a sausage meat plait. It is so easy yet so satisfying. Like a giant sausage roll but prettier. When I say it is easy, that’s because I use ready-made puff pastry. You can of course make your own from scratch, but when I’ve heard enough top chefs and bakers say they often use ready made, then that’s good enough for me! Obviously though this only applies to puff pastry. I make other types from scratch.

I decided to make a trial one with a thin layer of Christmas Chutney inside. The speed at which it disappeared after we had tried a bit tells me that I’ll definitely be making this version again for Boxing day! The red onion, chilli and cranberries go so well with the sausage meat. You can add chopped fresh herbs to the sausage meat if you want but to be honest, you really don’t need to add anything with the amount of flavour that the chutney gives.

Make sure you take your pastry out of the fridge 10 minutes before you plan to start the recipe, as it will crack if you unroll it straight away. Stupidly I forgot to take photos of how to plait the pastry but if you Google it you’ll see plenty of videos and pictures showing you step by step. I’ll explain it as best as I can in the recipe. So here it is:

 

SAUSAGE MEAT AND CHUTNEY PLAIT

1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (around 320 g)

3 tablespoons Boddington’s Berries Christmas Chutney

450 g sausage meat

small handful of fresh herbs such as coriander, chopped (optional)

1 beaten egg, to glaze

black onion seeds, to decorate

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper.
  • Gently unroll the sheet of puff pastry so that a short end is near you. This just makes it easier to plait.
  • Spread the chutney evenly down the middle of the pastry sheet, leaving a gap at the top and bottom.

  • Place the sausage meat (mixed with herbs, if using) on top of the chutney. Fold the top and bottom edges over the sausage meat, then brush beaten egg on top of these folded edges.
  • Using a sharp knife for neatness, cut the pastry slightly diagonally downwards from the left edge of the filling to the left edge of the pastry. Repeat this all the way down the left side side, leaving about 2 cm between each strip. Repeat on the right hand side of the filling. (Google this stage if it doesn’t make sense).
  • Carefully pick up the first strip at the top and fold it across the filling. It should lie nicely over the top folded edge, at a slight angle downwards. Pick up the top strip on the other side and fold that across the filling, again angled slightly downwards.
  • Repeat, alternating left and right strips, all the way down to the bottom, so it looks like a plait. The bottom strips should lie across the bottom folded edge, sealing it all together.
  • Brush the plait generously with beaten egg, then sprinkle black onion seeds on top.

  • Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
  • Serve hot or cold.

You could of course use other chutneys in this plait, but I would strongly recommend the Christmas Chutney if you want to really get some festive flavours on your table! It truly is delicious.

Boddington’s Berries can often be found at food fayres but the easiest way to buy their beautiful products is through their website.

Their Christmas Chutney can be found HERE so stock up ready for your festive feast!

 

 

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Olive Oil and Grape Cake Recipe

I was recently lucky enough to be sent some delicious punnets of grapes to try from The Grape Artisan, who supplies artisan grapes to Marks and Spencer Food. As well as sending the grapes, they also included a couple of recipes to try (and a bag for when I go and buy more soon hehe).

The recipe card for this delicious cake said to use their Sable grapes, but I had already used those in my ROASTED GRAPES RECIPE.

I decided to use their Sapphire grapes for this cake. They do taste differently to the Sable but I figured any grapes would work, although red or black would look more appetising. The packaging for the Sapphire grapes states

“Exquisitely sweet and deliciously juicy, Sapphire grapes showcase our most outstanding red grapes.”

I can confirm they are both very sweet and very juicy! If I had to pick a favourite grape from the 4 varieties I was sent, this is marginally the one I would choose. The sweet sweet juice is the nectar of the gods.

Back to the recipe. I have to be honest, I was a little bit dubious about how good this would taste. I have seen other recipes in the past for various olive oil cakes, but had always been put off making them because of the oil. Olive oil has such a strong taste, I thought it would overpower any other flavour and be quite unpleasant. I decided to give it a go though, and I’m so glad I did! This recipe produces a beautifully light cake with a delicate lemon and grape taste. You really can’t taste the oil at all! The cake is very easy to make, and is a perfect teatime treat.

The Grape Artisan has very kindly let me share the recipe with you, so here it is for you to enjoy. A couple of tips from my experience of baking it… don’t worry if it looks like the middle is rising into a dome that looks like it might erupt; it does sink down to a normal level! And if it looks like all your grapes have disappeared to the edge of the cake, add a couple more to the centre for the last 5 minutes of baking. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I will definitely make this again and again. Happy baking!

 

OLIVE OIL AND GRAPE CAKE

125 g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

100 g caster sugar

2 large eggs

100 ml olive oil

3 tbsp milk

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

300 g seedless Sable grapes (or any variety of seedless black or red grapes)

icing sugar, to dust

creme fraiche, to serve

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs for 3 minutes, using an electric hand mixer at high speed. The mixture will go pale and increase in volume.
  • Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium, and add the olive oil, milk and lemon zest. Mix well.
  • Turn the mixer to it’s lowest speed setting and add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Do not over mix at this stage. Just mix until all of the ingredients are combined and the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin, and scatter half of the grapes over the top.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Scatter the rest of the grapes over the cake, and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack, sprinkle with a thin dusting of icing sugar and then serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

 

BakedIn Gin and Tonic Cupcake Kit – Sophisticated Cupcakes for Grown-Ups

The lovely people at BakedIn recently sent me their latest kit to try, as they knew how much I adored their Prosecco and Strawberry Cake kit ( CLICK HERE to read what I thought of that one).

As with all of their amazing kits, you receive all the dry ingredients you need to make the cakes, as well as extra items to help make the baking experience more convenient. With this new range of alcoholic recipes, you also receive the bottles of alcohol!

In this Gin and Tonic Cupcake kit you receive the dry ingredients conveniently weighed out for you to save you the hassle, a miniature bottle of gin, a bottle of tonic water, the cupcake cases, a huge really good quality disposable piping bag, a 1M piping nozzle which is the best tip to make beautiful buttercream swirls, a skewer to test when the cupcakes are baked, and a butter measuring guide. And of course the recipe, which as always is by the world class Michel Roux.

All you need to add to this kit is unsalted butter, 2 large eggs, and 2 limes.

I was so excited to make these and see if they were as delicious as the Prosecco and Strawberry cake. The recipe was extremely easy to follow, and the quantities of the ingredients gave enough mixture for exactly 12 good-sized cupcakes. They rose perfectly to the tops of the cupcake cases, turning a gorgeous golden colour in the process.

You might be wondering where the gin and tonic fit in to the recipe. Well, the tonic water is mixed in the sponge part, which results in lovely light and fluffy cakes. The gin is drizzled on to the baked cakes, and is also added to the buttercream for an extra boozy hit!

After the cakes have cooled, you just need to pipe a buttercream swirl on to each one, and then decorate with lime zest and a lime wedge.

They taste absolutely divine. Gin is quite a bitter drink, but that bitterness is counteracted by the sweetness in the buttercream. You can still taste that it is gin, but it is much nicer with the sweetness of the cake. To be honest, when I first tried one of these cupcakes I thought it could probably have done with a bit more alcohol, as the taste was very subtle. After I had finished eating the cupcake though there was a definite gin aftertaste, which was really pleasant. The next day I discovered the amount of gin was spot on, as somehow the flavour gets stronger over time. You could really taste the gin immediately on biting into the cake the next day, and it was wonderful! So my advice to you would be… if you want to really taste the gin, make these the day before you need them and store them in an airtight tin or box. If you prefer a delicate taste of gin, eat them on the day of baking. Either way, I know you will love them!

This recipe kit is £20, which is great value when you take into account all the things it includes. The piping nozzle can be washed and kept afterwards to use again and again.

These cupcakes would be perfect for any special occasion, or you could bake them as gifts. I’m sure that after putting up with a class of 30 children day after day, teachers would love one or two of these presented in a pretty box as a Christmas or thank you gift! Who wouldn’t!?

If you would like to buy this fantastic kit, CLICK HERE to go to the BakedIn Bake Shop page. Happy baking!!!

 

DISCLAIMER: I received this kit at no cost in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of it. I would never recommend a product I didn’t like myself. All opinions are my own honest views. 

 

Cinnamon Honey Roasted Grapes – A Perfect Dessert or Topping

I was recently sent some grapes to sample from The Grape Artisan, who supplies Marks and Spencer Food with the most delicious grapes I have ever tasted, with varieties including Candy Floss grapes. Candy Floss!!! I’ll talk about those beauties in another recipe post. I really had no idea grapes could taste so different! I had previously thought all black grapes tasted the same, all red tasted the same, and all green tasted the same. How wrong was I!?

One of the varieties I received was a punnet of seedless Sable grapes. The packaging says “Mouth wateringly sweet with hints of muscat and blackcurrant, Sable grapes reflect their exotic origins of blended white and Persian black grape varieties.”

These grapes are just beautiful. They are very sweet, but not quite as sweet as 2 of the other varieties I received. They have a hint of a delicate floral honey flavour which is just sublime.

We have recently bought a waffle maker and have been trying lots of different toppings to go on the waffles. I wanted to make a hot, fruity topping which would be nice and juicy. I wondered what grapes would be like if they were roasted, and imagined the juice bursting out making a lovely syrup. I decided to try it and am so glad I did! The result was so good!

Roasting grapes really brings out their sweetness and makes them extra juicy. As they get hotter, they plump up and then split a little, causing some juice to escape. I think it is best to use red or black grapes for this, as the syrup that is made in the process takes on the beautiful colour of the grape. At this time of year (well any time really but especially this time) I love cooking or baking with cinnamon, so I used some in this recipe. It goes so well with the grape flavour! I also added a spoon of honey to help the syrup caramelise slightly.

I have to admit this is now my new favourite topping. In fact I could easily eat a bowl of these on their own or with a dollop of cream. They make a wonderful topping for waffles, pancakes, or just ice cream. I even think these would be amazing as the fruity base of a crumble. I served mine on a Belgian waffle, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and the hot syrup poured over that. You can use any red or black grapes, but I would highly recommend the M&S Sable ones. Delicious!

 

CINNAMON HONEY ROASTED GRAPES – 2 generous servings

200g Sable grapes

25g unsalted butter

1 tbsp runny honey

Quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, or a touch more if preferred

 

  • Preheat the oven to 170C fan/190C Conventional.
  • Put the butter into a non-stick roasting pan, and place in the oven until the butter has melted.
  • When the butter has melted, add the honey and cinnamon to the pan. Mix well with a wooden spoon (so that you don’t damage the non-stick surface).
  • Add the grapes to the pan and toss them in the mixture until they are all coated.
  • Place in the centre of the oven and let them roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently toss the grapes in the delicious syrup that is now developing. Return them to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until the grapes have slightly burst and the skin is starting to go a little bit wrinkly.
  • Remove from the oven and serve straight away.

 

 

 

Prosecco and Strawberry Cake Kit – A Stunning New Recipe from BakedIn

As you will know by now I am a HUGE fan of BakedIn, a wonderful company who produce baking kits so that anyone can bake scrumptious cakes at home. All of their kits contain the dry ingredients you need for the recipe already weighed out for you for convenience. Many of them also contain equipment you will need so that you can bake, even if you don’t own a cake tin!

BakedIn are always coming up with new amazing recipes, and I was beyond excited when I saw they had introduced a new range of extra-indulgent cake kits with a bit of an alcohol theme. The first in the range is the sensational Prosecco and Strawberry Cake Kit.

I knew I had to try this so rushed to order it straight away. It certainly won’t be the last time I order it either!

The kit comes complete with all the dry ingredients needed, a 200ml bottle of Prosecco (real prosecco… not just flavouring!!!), 4 disposable cake tins with baking paper pre-cut for each tin, a skewer to test when the cakes are ready, a butter measure guide, a cake board to serve your cake on, and the recipe card telling you exactly how to make it, all wrapped up in pretty pink tissue paper. All you need to provide yourself is butter, eggs, a splash of milk, and fresh strawberries.

I’ve blurred out the recipe on the picture above in fairness to BakedIn.

BakedIn cake kits are nothing like packet mixes, even though the dry ingredients are in packets. Packet mix cakes are often packed with added ingredients and preservatives to give them a long shelf life, and can result in artificial aftertastes. BakedIn kits are purely the dry ingredients needed, such as flour or sugar. Sometimes if a stage of the recipe requires 3 dry ingredients to be added together, BakedIn weighs them and packs them together for convenience. Nothing extra is added though. They use only top quality ingredients, such as locally produced flour, and finest Belgian chocolate. Packet mixes often just tell you to stir in some oil or an egg and the mix is ready to bake. To me, that is nothing like proper baking. BakedIn kits have a recipe to follow and the methods are just like ones you would see in recipe books. This makes them great for anyone with a love of baking already, or who wants to learn how to bake.

Naked cakes (cakes which are left uncovered rather than iced) are very on-trend right now with their classy elegant appearance. Even more beautiful though, in my opinion, are the semi-naked cakes… cakes which have a very thin coating of buttercream which lets the sponge still show through.

The Prosecco and Strawberry Cake is a semi-naked cake, a stunning showstopper. This cake consists of 4 layers of delicious vanilla sponge, each drizzled with prosecco syrup, which you make using the ingredients provided. The layers are sandwiched together with fresh strawberries and prosecco buttercream, and the whole cake is topped with another layer of the buttercream and covered in white chocolate curls, with strawberries for decoration. It tastes absolutely heavenly. My Other Half even went so far as to say it was the nicest cake he had ever eaten, and he has eaten a lot of cakes! I have to agree though, it is pure indulgence. The sponge is soft and light, the buttercream is fluffy and creamy, and the prosecco taste takes it to another level. The combination of prosecco and strawberries is a winner!

This cake would make a perfect alternative to traditional Christmas cake. I am going to get another one for the Christmas period. It would be ideal for New Year’s Eve celebrations too. In fact it would be perfect for ANY celebration or occasion! It would also make a fantastic gift to give to someone, and they would be extremely lucky to receive it!!!

 

If you would like to buy one of these wonderful kits, CLICK HERE to go to the BakedIn Bake Shop. It costs just £20 which is amazing value when you consider everything you get in the box! You wouldn’t be able to buy a cake like this ready made at that price. It really is brilliant value for money. Go on… treat yourself. You’re worth it 🙂

 

 

Raspberry and Coconut Squares – August BakedIn Baking Club Recipe

I’m beginning to feel like the legend that was Bruce Forsyth, when he used to tell every couple on Strictly Come Dancing that they were his favourite… because every month I say the same thing. THIS BakedIn Baking Club recipe is my favourite. Well, at least until September’s arrives anyway!

In case this is your first visit to my blog, let me tell you about this Baking Club. Every month they send you all the dry ingredients you need as well as extra bits and pieces such as baking paper and testing skewers, to make a scrumptious recipe created exclusively for BakedIn with Michel Roux’s approval. There is always a handy tip included on the recipe card which suggests a way to make the recipe extra special. The recipe card tells you exactly what is included in the box, what extra ingredients you will need, and has clear instructions and photographs for each step of the recipe. All of the dry ingredients are weighed out for you so you can get on with the fun part of baking without so much preparation. The card does tell you though how much of each dry ingredient there is so that you can make the recipe again in the future. I love that detail! I used to receive a subscription box that gave you a recipe and the spices needed to make amazing curries. The recipes were fantastic. The only problem was they didn’t tell you how much of all of the included ingredients there were, so it was impossible to make the recipe again without buying the whole kit again! I love that BakedIn aren’t like that. They WANT you to make their recipes time and time again and they want to get everyone baking! These recipes are perfect for baking with children too, so make brilliant quality family time. Plus of course you’ll have a wonderful time eating them.

The Raspberry and Coconut Squares recipe was absolutely scrumptious. It had a delicious almond base which had a gorgeous crispy crust. It reminded me a bit of suet pastry puddings, although much much nicer, and no suet. This base was topped with fresh raspberries, a coconut crumble-type layer, another layer of raspberries, and finally topped with white chocolate curls after it had cooled. It was supposed to be cut into 12 squares, but as I frequently get accused of being a “feeder” I decided to live up to the accusations and cut it into 9 larger squares 😀 We enjoyed it with ice cream one day and custard the next, and each time it was heavenly. Definitely one to make over and over again. It was comfort food at it’s best and we’ll be enjoying this one a lot during the Winter months, warmed up with custard.

If you are interested in joining the Baking Club, just click HERE to go to their website to find out more. It costs just £8 a month including delivery (even less if you pay for a few months in one go). Although at the moment when you first visit the link you will get a chance to sign up to their mailing list and receive your first box for just £3.99! That’s an offer you can’t refuse. Happy Baking!

 

 

Toby Carvery Quinton – Bringing Family Together with the New Family Platter

I was recently contacted by social media consultancy firm OneFifty who asked me if I would like to try a new menu option which has been introduced to Toby Carvery. How could anyone refuse that offer!?

I love roast dinners. I’d probably say that they are my favourite meals when cooked well.  Everyone knows Toby Carvery is the Home of the Roast. It even says it above their door. With this in mind, I was very excited to try their new Family Platter option. The Family Platter is currently only available in 3 Toby Carvery restaurants… Festival Park in Stoke-on-Trent, East Hunsbury in Northampton, and Quinton in Birmingham. As I live in Birmingham, I agreed to try it at the Quinton restaurant. I went there yesterday with my partner Del and son Luke.

All I knew before we went was that we would be trying the Family Platter. I had no idea what that entailed, but guessed by the name that it would be a sharing platter of some sort. We all decided to not have lunch so that we would be hungry for our meal at Toby Carvery. By the time we got there I was ravenous!

After a brief chat with the manager Hannah on our arrival, we were shown to our table. A lovely helpful member of staff (waitress/waiter/server/whatever the politically correct term is – I don’t want to offend anyone) whose name I sadly didn’t get came and explained how the platter works. In a nutshell, all the food for your family gets served on one gigantic (and I mean gigantic!) platter, which you then take back to your table. Each family member has a plate and serving utensils, and you help yourselves to whatever you want to eat while sitting at your table. Each member also has their own cup of gravy, and you can ask for more if you need extra. You pay the same price for the platter as you would pay for each of your carveries if you had them individually. Our platter would consist of 2 adult carveries (£6.99 each) and one child’s (£4.59), so £18.57 altogether.

Only one family member needs to go up to the carvery serving counter, or you can all go if you want to see what you fancy. You tell the server how many adults and children there are at your table and then choose the meats you all want. We chose to try the beef, turkey, and gammon, but we could have had pork, pork belly, and half a roast chicken as well. Luke also asked for a couple of sausages after he spotted a tray of them among the meats. One of my favourite parts of a roast dinner is the good old Yorkshire pudding. Well, Toby Carvery ones are huge!

The server gave us all one of those too, and then handed us our platter to help ourselves to as much of the vegetables as we wanted. We had a bit of everything… roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, peas, green beans, carrots, cauliflower cheese, spinach, and leeks. By now our platter was piled high so we went back to our table, where we helped ourselves to the things we wanted to eat.

This is the thing I most love about the platter option. I have to admit to having a bit of an issue with self-service meals in restaurants, and so as much as I love carveries, we rarely have them due to this silly issue I have. I’m told I’m not alone with this though. I think it stems from my childhood where at a family meal I was called greedy, but whatever started it, I feel extremely self-conscious putting food on my plate. I feel that people will think I’m greedy if I have x amount of this and amount of that. At home I eat normal sized meals. In restaurants where your meal is brought to your table, I’ll eat everything on my plate. But at self-service restaurants, the amount I feel comfortable putting on my plate wouldn’t even be enough for a toddler. This platter option changes everything. I didn’t put any food on the platter, the meat carver and Del did all that. At the comfort and privacy of our table, I felt happy putting as much food as I wanted on my plate, and I made the most of that!!! In fact I ate too much. Oh well 😉

The other thing that is good about the platter option is you can all eat together at the same time. Usually with a carvery, someone stays behind at the table keeping their eye on everyone’s belongings and drinks while they are getting their food. The person who waited goes up when the first other person gets back to the table. At this point there might be a queue and so they end up waiting for a while to get their meal. By the time they get back to the table, the ones who were served first will have almost finished their meals. This platter eliminates all that. Only one person needs to go up to get the food and then everyone gets to eat together. Much more sociable! It also means the queues won’t be as long. One person standing in line for a family is much better than 5 people all waiting to be served individually. I really do think it is a brilliant idea!

The food was delicious. Fluffy Yorkshire puddings, crispy golden roast potatoes, and vegetables that were cooked until al dente, just as they should be. The gammon and turkey were beautiful. They just melted in your mouth. The gravy was perfectly meaty. We only had two small criticisms. The beef had a lot of chewy sinew so we ended up leaving the majority of that, which was a shame, but luckily we had plenty of the other meats. And we wished there had been some roast parsnips. We love those on roast dinners! But these 2 minor things didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the meal.

Another member of staff, Jodie, came and cleared our plates and brought us the dessert menus. She was a credit to the restaurant. Very friendly and helpful, and knowledgeable about the menus. As wonderful as all the desserts looked and sounded, we were all too full to eat one. Luckily they have a new Cakeaway Service. You can take away slices of their giant cakes to eat at home. These all looked amazing so we decided to try those. We used the Cakeaway service and ordered a slice of Giant Cherry Bakewell cake, Giant Junk Yard cake (which was the most scrumptious chocolate cake ever), and Giant Unicorn cake. There’s just one word for these cakes…. heavenly!

We still have some in the fridge as the slices really are giant! Jodie brought the cakes to us in individual boxes, and she even gave us a box which had whipped cream inside, which was a lovely touch.

All in all, it was a wonderful meal, and Hannah and her team were perfect hosts. I hope they see this so I can say a big thank you to them for making us feel so welcome.

I’m hoping that Toby Carvery introduce the family platter to all of their restaurants in the near future. It works so well and makes the whole experience more enjoyable and sociable. Huge thumbs up from us!

 

 

DISCLAIMER: We received vouchers to cover the cost of our meals in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions. I believe in total honesty in all my posts.