Well Christmas is nearly here and the Tofurkey is getting fat! Actually I’ve never had Tofurkey and I don’t intend to start this year I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with it and it tastes just fine and I shouldn’t be so prejudiced but… well… it’s just the name – Tofurkey. It sounds just exactly like what it is doesn’t it? Every time I hear the name, I imagine Dr Frankenstein deep in his lab, sewing bits of tofu to a dead turkey then shoving 10,000 volts of electricity up it’s backside to reanimate the poor devil thereby creating a creature so hideous its own mother would drown it. Couldn’t they come up with a better name than Tofurkey? Eeuugh – I have to stop typing the word Tofurkey – it’s making me nauseous.
Actually, I’m not too sure what I’m going to have with my Christmas dinner this year. I know a lot of people have a parcel or tart as their main but my wife and I aren’t big fans of pastry-based main courses with our roast potatoes and parsnips as it’s rather heavy. To be honest I think I’m to blame for that. It was some years ago and before I began cooking as a profession. I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner for my wife, my best friend and I and iIn order to start the day in style, I thought I would treat us all to American pancakes, veggie sausages, streaky ‘bacon’ with maple syrup and Buck Fizz for breakfast. The pancakes I made were the size of dinner plates, 2 inches thick and we each had three of them. They were so filling we only managed 1 and a half each and felt we couldn’t eat ever again. That didn’t stop me though and I immediately set to work on preparing the Christmas dinner. We had all the usual trimmings; roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts leeks, peas, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, white sauce, gravy and an individual smoked tofu wellington each; so big they each occupied over half a dinner plate. I must have been chopping, slicing, dicing and cooking like a demon because it was ready approximately 2 hours after we finished breakfast and our digestive systems were still doing battle with the mega pancake invasion they had just recently encountered. However, you know the true measure of friendship when you announce that dinner is now served and your beloved and your best friend clap their hands with joy and exclaim how much they are looking forward to eating this wonderful dinner, all the while secretly praying that there really isn’t enough food in front of them to feed the entire street and they’re actually in a maple syrup induced coma, imagining the whole thing. Alas it is real and we all plough on like troopers yet still only managing to eat a few mouthfuls before we all retire to the couch and do not move for the rest of the day except to open all the windows to deal with the Brussels Sprout fallout (if you know what I mean.) Not the most exciting way to spend a Christmas day I admit but lesson learned thereafter – no pastry for Christmas dinner and NO pancakes for breakfast!
One thing I do like about Christmas food though and has always been a tradition in my family is evening tea. Just the very thought of it takes me back to my Gran’s house where she would lay out lots of lovely salads , pickled onions, gherkins, scones, Christmas cake and my favourite – home made sausage rolls. In fact, I have found it difficult over the years to find good sausages that are tasty and dairy and egg free. There are lots of acceptable ones on the market if you have a good shop near you and there is of course Linda McCartney sausages available in most supermarkets but when I was Head Chef in a cafe in Brighton, I developed my own sausages because I couldn’t find any that I really liked. It took me a while and after a bit of tinkering here and there I had it perfected. It was met with great approvaland the customers loved it. The great thing about this mix is that you can change the herbs in it according to your personal taste and also with the seasons. For instance the recipe I’m going to give you is flavoured with deep flavoured herbs perfect for winter, but in the summer, I like to use fresh thyme, parsley and lemon to give them a fresh twist.
This sausage recipe is so versatile you can pretty much do what you want with it; they’re great with a full English breakfast, in a sandwich, with mash and gravy, with pancakes and maple syrup and, of course, in Sausage Rolls. I make these sausage rolls for events I cater for and they are always the thing to disappear the fastest and get the biggest compliments on, many people not knowing they aren’t actually made of meat. It just goes to show that no matter who you are – you can’t beat a good sausage!
Don’t be scared, it’s just food!
PS – this recipe is dedicated to my wonderful little nephew who, when visiting us this summer, inhaled as many of these sausage rolls as he possibly could on our picnic!
Herbs de Provence Sausage Rolls
You will need:
VERY clean hands!
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 20 -25 minutes
For the sausage mix:
240g Chickpeas (cooked and drained. Dry them as much as possible.)
1 Red onion (sliced)
3 tsp Herbs de Provence
Dark Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 tsp Olive Oil
Plain Flour or Gram Flour (preferred)
10-20ml Cold water
Pepper to taste
To make sausage rolls:
1 small block ready- made puff pastry
Preheat oven to 200oC
1 Place the onion in the food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Remove & place into a mixing bowl.
2 Place the chickpeas into the processor and blitz until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add them to the onions.
3 Add the herbs, oil, soy sauce or Tamari & pepper and mix well with your hands.
4 Add the flour and mix well.
5 Gradually add the water a little at a time until you have a mixture that you can roll into a sausage with your hands without it falling apart or being to mushy. If the mixture is too crumbly, add a bit more of the water. If it is too mushy, add a bit more flour. You may not need all the water so be very sparing with it unless you need it!
6 Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Make a small sausage patty and fry on both sides until golden brown. Once cooled, taste the sausage and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
7 Once you are happy with the seasoning, lay out your pastry and roll it out into a square approximately 3mm thick.
8 Take a knife and cut the bottom edge of the pastry off so you have a nice straight line to lay your sausages on.
9 Roll out your sausages approx. 1.5cm in diameter and lay them lengthways on the pastry from left to right. Make sure you leave a 2cm space from the bottom edge of the pastry as you will need this to roll up your sausages.
10 Once you have made a line of sausages, brush the bottom edge of the pastry with water. Carefully take the bottom edge of the pastry and wrap the sausages quite tightly in it. Make sure you fold the pastry right over.
11 Next, take a knife and cut the pastry lengthways 2cm from where your rolled sausages are. Brush the 2cm of pastry with water and carefully roll the sausages over the pastry. You should now have one long sausage roll with the pastry seam on the bottom.
12 Repeat with the remaining sausage mix and pastry.
13 Next, trim off the ends with a knife and then cut the sausage rolls into 3cm mini sausage rolls.
14 Place onto a lightly oiled baking tray with the seam side down and brush with water.
15 Cook for approx. 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
If you’re just making sausages, roll them out into sausage shapes and fry them off on a medium heat and serve with whatever you fancy. These sausages will also keep frozen for ages. Just place them in an airtight container and use as needed. They only take a few hours to defrost and then they’re ready for cooking.
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