Archive for ‘Pastry’

February 16, 2011

Picnicing in Oxford: Sausage Rolls by the River Thames

On Saturday night we had a party to go to in Oxford and seeing the weather was unusually sunny we decided to make a bit more of an adventure out of it. So early Saturday morning we headed out of London for Oxford and for a 10 mile walk along the Thames Path. The Thames Path actually runs the whole length of the River Thames, 184 miles in total. If you fancy walking a bit of it yourself, details can be found here. We started in Oxford City Centre and headed north.

The Thames Path ... headed North from Oxford

The walk was beautiful. Though being that it was the first day of sunshine after a lot of rain we got very muddy! Luckily we had a picnic to make us forget our muddiness…

Time for a break

Delicious Sausage Rolls, but the quick and easy kind made with sausages rolled up in home-made salt and pepper shortcrust pastry. They were certainly very hearty and good fuel for the return mileage back to Oxford.

Past Sail Boats, Ruins and a rather old houseboat

The party that night was great fun and was actually the real reason I’d made the sausage rolls. We’d all been asked to bring some nibbles along so I’d cut a whole bunch of the sausage rolls up into much smaller bite size sausage rolls (before baking) … I forgot to take a photo of those though, oops!

On the Sunday, after a hearty breakfast in Oxford we headed back to London. Lucky me, I got a pre-Valentines surprise from M on the way home!


A surprise on the way home!

Recipe: Quick Sausage Rolls with Salt and Pepper Pastry Recipe


Salt and Pepper Shortcrust Pastry (see below for recipe or else you could always buy plain shortcrust ready made)


Egg, beaten

Sesame Seeds


– Roll out shortcrust pastry and trim to long rectangle shape.

– Lay sausages end to end along the middle of your pastry rectangle (lengthwise). Gently bring one side of pastry around and over the sausages so they are completely covered, and tuck under.

– Brush remaining pastry ‘flap’ with the egg. and then roll the sausage roll towards it.

– With the join sitting on the bottom, squeeze together to allow it to be closed.

– Using a sharp knife, slice into desired size.

– Place on greased tray and brush tops with egg. Sprinkly with sesame seeds.

– Bake 180 degrees Celsius, about 40minutes, though the time will depend on the size you’ve cut your sausage rolls to.

– Can be eaten cold or hot.

Note: You can use Puff Pastry for these if you like but I like using Shortcrust as it makes them a bit more sturdy and they also stay nice a bit longer without going soggy like puff.

Very simple to make

Perfect Salt and Pepper Shortcrust Pastry Recipe (1 kg)


500g Plain Flour (and some extra for rolling out)

200g butter cut into cubes

Sea Salt


2 Eggs

Dash of Milk

A couple of tablespoons of cheese, I used cream cheese but only because I didn’t have any cheddar.


– Before you start, remember that pastry works best when kept cold so all stages should be done with minimum amount of handling.

– In a food processor place flour, butter, salt and pepper. If you are using a hard cheese, grate it and add it now. Blitz on the pulse setting until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

– Add eggs and the soft cheese if that’s what you’re using. Add a small dash of milk and pulse for a few secconds until the mixture starts to form a dough.

– Check the consistency. If it’s too dry and crumbly add a little more milk, but you want to do this gradually as the worst thing is a claggy pastry. If you add too much, just add a little flour.

– When you’re happy with the texture bring it into two separate balls. Flatten them a little and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let them rest in fridge for at least an hour.When it comes to rolling it out just dust your surface lightly with flour, but if you’ve got the right texture it shouldn’t really stick. Remember it’s best to work with pastry while it’s cold, so if youre going to be a while you can always just take small amounts of pastry out of the fridge at a time. It’ll stick less when it’s cold too.

Note: You can make the pastry the day before if you like. It also freezes well. I often separate it into several smaller balls and wrap them all separately and freeze them. That way they are easily to hand when I need some pastry and you’re not making them from scratch each time.

October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Mustard Tart and the Quest for the Perfect Julienne

French Friday with Dorie has come around again quickly.  But this week setting aside the time to make Gerard’s Mustard Tart wasn’t easy. It’s not that the recipe was complicated but it involved a lot of waiting around for pastry to chill as well as cutting my vegetables julienne style. In a week of crazy work hours it would need a bit more time than the soups and salads I’ve been hurriedly preparing of late. Never the less the picture of Dorie’s Tart peering out at me from the pages of Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours proved too tempting.

So that’s how I found myself close to midnight all flour haired, pastry chilling in the fridge and bent over my chopping board cutting my carrots and leeks up julienne style. I have to admit I have never had the patience to cut my veg this way before but the tart looked so pretty in the book I thought I’d have to give it a go. It actually isn’t too hard, I just found I had to take my time with it. Being a bit of a perfectionist I found myself with two piles – the ones that were a tad messy that I figure I’ll use in a soup, and the ones that were pretty enough to make the Mustard Tart grade.


Pastry and Julienne by the stroke of midnight


My julienne veges steamed, a mighty mustard egg base whipped together and homemade pastry rolled into its case and popped in the freezer , I had all the elements ready for baking … sleep. Aah sleep ….

Come morning I put the tart together and popped it in the oven whilst I got ready for work. Filling and baking the pastry case from frozen isn’t something I’d tried before but it worked well. The house filled with that magic smell of pastry baking and M. came sniffing around the kitchen hunting for what treat he might be getting for lunch.


Mustard Tart ... heavy on the mustard


Sliced up it was perfect for our work lunchboxes today. And it was delicious. Having spent the time meticulously cutting the leek and carrots I think it was worthwhile as the light layers of leek and carrot worked well with the creaminess of the tart. The Mustard and egg combo worked surprisingly well too … if you’re trying this though be sure to give it a hefty whack of it … it really is all the better for it.

I will definitely be making this again … good for a summer picnic I think!


Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup …  Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

September 30, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gougères and a glass of Kriek … a perfect Autumn night in

Last time I checked in I was off to the cheese shop in preparation for my first Friday of French Fridays with Dorie. As I walked through the park across the damp grass the autumnal leaves and threat of rain overhead made the idea of the soon to be baking Gougères all the more appealing.

Off to buy cheese for Gougères ... Autumn seems to justify this comforting food

Gougères are a sort of mini cheese puff made with choux pastry and stuffed with cheese. I was a bit dubious about how hard they’d be to make as it involved a bit of stovetop work and lots of beating … but it actually turned out to be pretty quick and easy.

At the cheese shop I’d chosen a Gruyère and a Smoked Cheddar which I combined and added to the Gougère mixture. When it came to baking them I made two separate sizes – the ones suggested in the book by Dorie (1 tablespoon) and then also some mini / half-size  ones which actually turned out pretty cute. Only being the two of us I only baked a few and the rest I’ve frozen as dough ready pop in the oven next time we have guests … or rather next time we feel a bit peckish!

Mini Gougères ... I used about half the amount of mixture suggested in the book for these ones.

Gougères out of the oven and our tiny South London flat smelling like a French country cottage, M and I settled in for the night with a glass of Lindemans Kriek, brought back from a recent trip to Belgium and tucked in … man they were delicious! If this is a taste of whats to come as we work our way through the book I can’t wait!

Gougères and a glass of Lindemans Kriek ... a perfect early Autumn night in.

Now for one last Gougères before M eats it!


Coming Up next time on French Friday  is a Mustard Tart … looking forward to it! Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy to make Gougères, there are plenty of recipes around on the net.

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