Why is it that you can look forward to a visit from someone special; wait and anticipate for 3 months and then bam, they come and they’re gone, just like that. Where does the time go? How does it fly by so quickly? Continue reading
Grilling season is here and with it, a slew of delicious meats, and verdant and vibrant salads. There are skewers of luscious meats; chunks and velvety ground meat, charred and juicy from the high heat of a blazing fire. Pieces of golden, glistening tandoori chicken, cubes of marinated lamb and even meaty, satisfying mushrooms. Summer salads are bowls of individual creativity. Each one is different and never the same a second time. Throw in fresh salad leaves, springtime vegetables or seasonal fruit, top off with a handful of nuts or seeds, and a crumbling of cheese, if desired. There’s no recipe needed; just imagination. Continue reading
Toad in the Hole, the most popular and traditional of childhood English dishes, is nothing more than sausages cooked inside of a Yorkshire Pudding batter (batter similar to American popovers). Having not lived in England for a while now, I don’t know if its popularity has waned or not, but back in the day, it was a popular presence on many tables for evening tea.
The origin of the funny name is a matter of discussion, but traditionally refers to the sausages resembling toad or frogs peeking out (I personally don’t see that at all, but that’s me). Food history claims that it wasn’t always sausages that were cooked in the batter but any kind of leftover meat. I’m thinking that all the leftover meat started ending up in delicious shepherds pies and cottage pies and they started using bangers to add to Yorkshire pudding batter. The the best part of the Toad in the Hole is the Yorkshire pudding and I would find plenty of excuses to make it as often as possible.
To top it all off, I never ate this in England as a child. It wasn’t made at my home and it wasn’t a restaurant staple, and even if it was, I couldn’t eat it. Indian cuisine isn’t much for sausages and the like, though we do have dried kebabs and meats. So, growing up there wasn’t much in the terms of bangers and mash, or toad in the hole or even sausage rolls (not to mention most of these were pork based which we don’t eat).
Here’s the wonderful thing about growing up and having your own kitchen, you can cook what you want! All the things I couldn’t have as a child but was so curious about and yearned to try, I have remade with substitutions for my children and in the process, satisfied every one of my cravings.
The reason I chose to share this is because I didn’t post any Halloween recipes. As a child, Halloween wasn’t a common holiday in England and so I never participated. I was an adult when I moved to America so still, it wasn’t a holiday that interested me. As a mother, I just didn’t encourage the whole Halloween thing and my children have never taken part in anything Halloweeny. That’s a decision we made as parents, and I have my own ideas but I won’t get on my soap box today!
There was no Halloween in the UK back then but it seems to be thriving today. What we did have; Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night which commemorates the unsuccessful attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the buildings of the House of Commons on November 5th, 1605.
So, come November 5th, I would insist we go to the bonfires held in parks or open air fields filled with the smell of roasting chestnuts and smelly, grilled onions, hamburgers and sausages. We would watch the fireworks, warm our bodies by the bonfires and twirl sparklers. It was just a fun night for children and adults alike, although my father would probably beg to differ.
Every now and then, a friend would throw a party and then it was even more fun. One of my teachers used to have an annual bonfire party which was a most coveted invitation. Since his daughter was a friend, I had that most important of invites. The highlight of the party was always the fireworks which were made by my chemistry teacher; they were quite impressive. All in all, it was a great boost for the confidence of many, young teenage girls to be invited to this party thrown by a teacher and to hob nob with other teachers ( I’d like to add, this was a private school in England and not the norm!)
So, back to this Toad in the Hole, it’s perfect for a Bonfire Night party or even just an everyday dinner at home. I’ve always wanted to have a Bonfire Party for my children, but there is always something else going on and for years now I’ve been lamenting to my husband about having a bonfire and party with lots of appropriate party food. One day.
Until then, I just make this for dinner and we sit around our fire place.
- 8 sausages/hot dogs (I used uncured hot dogs)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or other herb of choice
- 3 tablespoons oil, use less if sausages are fatty
- 1½ cups milk, organic
- 6 eggs, organic
- 1½ cups/225g all purpose/plain flour
- 1 large onion, chopped or sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose/plain flour
- 4 cups/1L chicken or beef stock
- Place all the ingredients for the batter in the order listed into a blender.
- Whisk until completely blended and smooth.
- Can whisk by hand if needed.
- You can make the batter ahead and let it sit in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 425℉/220℃.
- In a 9x13 roasting tin, place the sausages and the oil, toss round to coat all the sausages.
- Place in the oven to brown.
- Once the sausages have browned, carefully pull out the tin from the oven.
- Pour the Yorkshire pudding batter all over the sausages.
- The batter will begin to puff up.
- Sprinkle the thyme leaves all over.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the batter is puffed up and golden.
- Make sure the batter is cooked all the way through in the middle also.
- Check by inserting a knife; should come out clean.
- To make the onion gravy, caramelise onions in the butter.
- When they are golden, add the flour and cook a little.
- Pour in the chicken or beef stock and whisk until smooth and thickened.
Enjoy this with its traditional accompaniments of mash potatoes, a green vegetable and onion gravy.
Are there any foods you weren’t allowed or couldn’t eat as a child that you have reinvented in your own kitchens today?
Hope your weekend is going great!!
Were there any foods that you didn’t like or refused to eat as a child? Any vegetables you didn’t care for or did you ever have a teenage stint at vegetarianism? As a child I pretty much ate and liked every kind of vegetable. I loved eggplants and cauliflower in particular, vegetables that many children refuse to eat.
One thing I had an issue with, and still do now, is the dark meat from the chicken and ground meat. I really detested drum sticks and for some reason, that is always the piece my mum gave me! My father preferred the white meat so he was automatically given most of it and the rest divided amongst the children. Since I was always stuck with the drumstick and I hated it, I just started declining the chicken altogether.
The whole dislike of the ground meat/mince is a texture thing. I just don’t like the texture of any thing that has ground meat. I was like this as a child, too and this one I didn’t grow out of. I particularly disliked a ground lamb and spinach curry my mother used to make. I found it quite awful and that dinner time seemed to me to last an eternity. It came to the point that it was being made every week, sometimes twice and I couldn’t tolerate it! Those were the evenings when the extra biscuits and crisps came out!
These days I’m not so picky about dark meat and can eat legs and thighs off the grill and roasted, I still have a hard time eating a curry with legs and thighs! As for the ground meat, that is very much still an aversion I can’t get around. I don’t like spaghetti with meat sauce; I always make meatballs. I don’t use ground beef for chilli; I use shredded beef. I make lasagne but rarely eat it. I make very few ground meat curries, they are very good and easy and my family likes them just fine, it’s just me.
The ground meat has to shaped before I can eat it like in kebabs, hamburgers and meatballs. It’s a strange thing for an adult I think but I must’ve had a bad experience as child for it to be such a recurring issue for me.
So apart from game, dark chicken, lamb, ground meat and sea food, I like most everything else 🙂
This Kheema Aloo curry (kheema is ground meat and aloo is potatoes in Urdu) is very good and even though I don’t cook it often, I do try a little bit when I cook it for the family. It’s easy to throw together, very versatile because you can use any ground meat; chicken, beef or lamb and you can add other vegetables.
Serve it with a side of basmati rice or some naan or pita bread. I prefer it with bread over rice.
- 2 Lbs/1kg ground meat, I used ground beef
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- ¼ cup oil, neutral flavoured, I use avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red cayenne powder (more if desired)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garam masala spice mix (optional)
- 4 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
- 1 green chilli
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 medium potatoes, medium dice, parboiled if desired
- handful of cilantro to garnish
- ½-1 cup water
- In a large skillet/fry pan, heat the oil on medium high heat and add the onions.
- Slowly brown the onions until golden and caramelised.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and the garam masala if using, and cook a minute until fragrant.
- Add the ground meat and break up with the back of the spoon.
- Add the red cayenne powder and mix.
- Allow the meat to cook, stirring occasionally,
- When the meat is no longer pink, add the potatoes.
- I use parboiled potatoes because at my altitude, they take forever to cook in a curry.
- If you are concerned about the potatoes not cooking through, parboil them while your onions are browning.
- I also like to parboil them so that way I don't have to add too much water to the meat.
- If you are using parboiled potatoes, add the ½ cup water to the pan and cover and allow the potatoes to cook all the way through.
- Uncover when they are almost soft to allow the curry to dry out a bit by evaporating some of the water.
- Add the green chilli and fenugreek leaves at this time, crushing them in your palms as you add them.
- If your potatoes are uncooked before you add them, add 1 cup of water and cook for about 10 minutes and check to see if the potatoes are softened
- You may need to add more water if the potatoes don't cook all the way through.
- Check the consistency of the curry, if you prefer slightly loose curry then don't dry out all the water.
- If you prefer a drier curry, then keep cooking until most of the water is gone.
- Garnish with cilantro, check for salt and pepper.
So, your turn! Do you guys have any funny food aversions or something you just can’t stomach?
Hope your week is off to a great start. I’ve had sick children and husband last week and the ones who weren’t sick last week are sick this week.
It’s cold and wet this week but we’ve had the fire going and everything is fine when the fire is roaring, crackling and popping. Have a great week!