Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Cheats' Toad in the Hole, Pear Mash and Butternut Casserole with Homemade Gravy; Winter Trifle

Another oven Sunday dinner to post here.  We love a Cheat's Toad in the Hole here.  We roll out ready-made puff pastry instead of mixing up a risky batter.  The layers of pastry give the light crispness and softer squidge where the underside of the sausage has melded with the rich dough... everything you want from a traditional Toad in the Hole, but so much easier and quicker than letting batter stand and making sure it is lump-free and that the fat is preheated long enough.... bleugh. If it makes you feel better, you could call it Sausage Tart as it really does hold its own as a dish in its own right. A few slices of onion and thin wedges of apple or pear can be tossed over the tart before baking for a change. 

The unadulterated sausage tart, however, is really perked up with this pear mash and the lemon and black pepper spiked vegetable casserole.   Two of the kids chose the vegetables to go into the casserole with the butternut and the greens here worked very well indeed.  I find if the kids get involved, they are more likely to eat it and it encourages their confidence to see others enjoy the outcome of their input.  I am quite lucky and haven't had any weird suggestions like putting marmite in the custard or anything, so that helps!


The Dinner:
1 pack of puff pastry
8 sausages (we use LindaMacs from frozen, but your favourite cook-from-frozen or fresh ones should work just the same)
400g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
150g pears, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp. vegetable oil based spread (we like Pure for its nice neutral flavour)
50ml milk (we use naturally sweetened soya)
Half of a butternut squash, diced
300g frozen green bags
300g frozen peas
4 tbsp. lemon juice from a bottle
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt and black pepper for seasoning
Oven at 180C
Put the butternut, green beans and peas in a casserole dish with the lemon juice from a bottle and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Cover and bake for around 50 minutes.
Roll out the pastry to fill a baking sheet - it should be around 1cm thick.  Place the sausages on in rows and push down slightly into the dough.  Put in the oven for 40 minutes.
Steam or boil the potatoes and pears for around 15 minutes until they are tender (save the cooking water for making the gravy.)  Mash until smooth first, then add the spread and milk gradually mashing well each time; my grandmother passed this tip to me and she makes the smoothest and creamiest mashed potato ever. Season to taste.
Serve up with gravy.  You can make your own with 1 tbsp. flour and gravy salt blended with a little cold water to a smooth paste then gradually add 300ml of the cooking water or boiling water.  Simmer as you stir until the gravy has thickened.  If you have no gravy salt, then use a teaspoon of yeast extract for colour and flavour.
Winter Trifle
This used up the last of our Madeira cake loaf. I love Madeira cake far too much.  It used to be cheap to buy...  my mother used to buy it and serve it sliced with cold milk for a luxury Pobs-like dessert (Pobs being an ancient meal of diced bread covered with warm milk and sugar, usually eaten for breakfast or supper.)
I sliced our Madeira loaf up then scattered frozen raspberries and blackberries from the freezer over the top.  I dotted it all with spoonfuls of homemade lemony grape jelly. I covered  the dish to stop it all from drying out and popped it in the still-hot oven for 5 minutes.  With thick yellow custard over the top, this was a great end to the meal.  The eldest announced we should have it every day!

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