Sausage, cranberry and apple plait

Here is another entry for Action for Children’s Festive Food for a Fiver contest – my very easy sausage, cranberry and apple plait. Costing around £5.70 to make and feeding a family of six, this tasty dish works out at only 95p a head; even less if you were to make your own pastry from scratch.

The charity Action for Children is asking people to support their emergency appeal: No child should wish for food this Christmas.

As more families are finding it increasingly difficult to put regular meals on the table, they’d like people to put their creativity to work for a good cause and learn new cooking and money management skills from others, by sharing frugal recipes ideas (less than £1.25 a head) on Facebook and Twitter. The two best recipes will be rewarded with a lovely family cookbook, full of many useful tips, kindly provided by Giraffe Restaurant.

Visit the Action for Children website for more details on how you can get involved.

Sausage, cranberry and apple plait

Filled with sausage meat, this plait is essentially a big, posh sausage roll but much yummier. The cranberries and apple provide those lovely festive flavours. You can also do a sweet version by switching the sausage for marzipan or maybe mincemeat.

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
knob of butter
50g dried cranberries
320g ready rolled puff pastry
6 pork sausages
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 190°C / gas mark 5.

Put the apples in a saucepan with the knob of butter and cook gently until they begin to soften. Stir in the cranberries and cook for a few minutes. Then leave to cool.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and lay the puff pastry on top.

Slice open the sausage skins and squeeze out the sausage meat down the centre of the puff pastry. Top with the cooled apple and cranberry mixture. With a sharp knife, cut stripes almost from the filling out to the edge.

Brush some beaten egg onto the pastry and then carefully fold in alternate sides of the pastry to overlap on top of the filling.

Keep going until the filling is covered. Fold over the pastry at the top and the bottom. You may need to trim of some excess pastry if it looks a little too bulky.

Brush the pastry with more egg. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.

Carefully slice the sausage plait and serve with a simple salad. Delicious!

Bangers and mash bake for Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day in the UK this Sunday. Normally when I’m planning what to cook on Father’s Day, my thoughts turn to light, summery meals we can eat outside in the garden. Perhaps a barbecue? But the weather forecast for this weekend doesn’t look good. I heard on the radio that they’re expecting three months’ worth of rain to fall over the next three days. Splendid.

So my offering for a Father’s Day meal this Sunday might not be what you’d typically expect to be serving up in June, but it’s perfect comfort food guaranteed to put a smile on Dad’s face on a soggy, grey afternoon; followed perhaps by the chance to doze on the sofa in front of James Bond. Perfect.

This bangers and mash bake is simply a sausage casserole baked in the oven with buttery mashed potato on top, rather like a cottage pie. It’s very satisfying and, of course, very popular in our house. For this recipe, I’ve gone with peppers and green cabbage in the casserole but use whichever vegetables you fancy really; courgettes, carrots, swede and beans all work well.

It’s also a great dish to prepare in advance. Simply pop in the oven half an hour or so before you’re ready to eat. And the leftovers freeze really well too.

To cool dads the world over – Happy Father’s Day!

Bangers and mash bake

Serves 4 (two big, two small)

3 tbsp vegetable oil
6 good quality pork sausages
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp corn flour
750ml beef stock
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Good squeeze of tomato puree
Half green cabbage, shredded
Salt and pepper
1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
50g butter
Splash of milk
50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.

Heat one tablespoonful of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over a moderate heat and brown the sausages. Remove to a warm dish.

Add the rest of the oil to the same pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Throw in the red and green pepper and fry for a couple more minutes.

Return the sausages to the pan and stir in the corn flour. Cover with the beef stock, balsamic vinegar and a good dollop of puree and stir well.

Add the shredded cabbage and stir in. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes to let the casserole thicken. Season to taste.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes in a large pan of salted water until tender. Drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste, and mash well.

In a large oven-proof dish, firstly arrange the sausages to make sure everyone gets a fair share in their helping.

Then add the rest of the casserole. Spoon over the mashed potato (it does help if the casserole has had a little time to cool first), and tidy up with a fork. Go wild and create fancy patterns with your fork while you’re at it. Lastly sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the mashed potato and cheese are beginning to brown on top and go crispy. Serve and enjoy!

Sausage and cabbage bake

The poor old cabbage. It’s got itself a bit of a bad name, hasn’t it? Probably all those memories of terrible school dinners, when it was boiled for hours and hours before being inflicted on us poor suffering children.

It’s completely undeserved of course. Savoy cabbage in particular is a wonderful vegetable and is at its best during the cold winter months. It is quite different from the white or green cabbage and, in my opinion, is far tastier.

The beauty of savoy cabbage is that it doesn’t need dressing up in fancy recipes to make it interesting. For an easy side dish, steam some chopped savoy for a few minutes and then serve with a knob of butter, salt and pepper.

Or how about this simple sausage and cabbage bake? It might not sound at first like a culinary delight and, no it’s not the prettiest dish, but trust me. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll make it again and again.

It’s based on a recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis, who in turn got the recipe from Jane Grigson. They serve theirs with mashed potato but I’ve added sliced potato to my version to create a fantastic one-pot supper, perfect at the end of a hectic day of work and school.

Please buy the best quality sausages you can afford for this dish, ones with a good high meat content. Cheap sausages just aren’t worth bothering with.

Sausage and cabbage bake

Butter
1 large savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
8 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 fat pork sausages
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

Lightly butter a large overproof dish – one that has a lid.

Bring a large panful of salted water to the boil and cook the cabbage and potatoes quickly for five minutes until just tender. Drain and run under cold water to stop any further cooking.

Slit the sausage skins lengthways with a sharp knife and squeeze out the sausage meat. My youngest daughter likes to help me with this job.

Place a layer of cabbage and potatoes at the bottom of the ovenproof dish and season with salt and pepper. Cover this with a layer of sausagemeat. Repeat to use all the meat and vegetables, ending with a layer of cabbage and potato.

Fleck the top with butter. Cover with greaseproof paper and then the lid.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the top is browned and crispy.

A real winter warmer if ever there was one!

I am entering my sausage and cabbage bake into the In Season Challenge, set by Carol over at Make It, Bake It. Her challenge this month is to come up with a recipe featuring savoy cabbage, so of course this seemed to me the perfect dish.

If you’ve got a favourite savoy cabbage recipe, you should enter the challenge too. But there isn’t long – the deadline is 5 February 2012.