Slow cooked Cumberland Sausage Casserole

I was recently sent a fantastic hamper of goodies from the Unilever Kitchen with which to create or re-visit a tried and tested, well loved, recipe for a wonderful autumnal/winter dish.  I chose to alter my favourite sausage casserole to use some of the ingredients contained within the hamper.

When creating your casserole, remember it’s cooking not baking so it’s not a precise science; add or take away ingredients that you do or don’t like, even alter the proportions to suit your taste if you want.


500ml Boiling water
1 Knorr Chicken stock pot
1 HEAPED tbs (20ml) Plain flour
1 HEAPED tbs (20ml) Tomato puree
1 HEAPED tbs (20ml) Maille wholegrain mustard
2tsp mixed herbs
1 can 400g chopped tomatoes

1 pack Cumberland sausages
1 medium swede, diced.
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium parsnips, diced
1 red pepper, diced

This is the perfect recipe to make in your slow cooker so you can come home to the amazing smell of your hearty, warming dinner.

1. Make your stock using the Knorr Stock pot with the boiling water.
2. In the crock pot of your slow cooker, put your flour, tomato puree, mustard, herbs, chopped tomatoes and the stock then mix thoroughly.
3. Add the chopped vegetables and stir through.

4. Cut each sausage into 3 and add them to the crock pot (I don’t bother to brown mine as it’s a slow cooked recipe). You MAY need to add some more water at this stage. You want it to submerge the majority of your veg but not all.
5. Place the lid on and cook on medium for 6-8 hours.  The fantastic thing about a slow cooker is that it’s difficult to over-cook your food and you certainly don’t have to watch it cook either.

6. If you want to thicken your casserole up a bit more, remove the lid and turn the dial up to high for the final 30 minutes.

7.  Serve with boiled potatoes, mashed with some Flora Buttery and some lovely steamed Savoy cabbage.

 Perfect for a cold Autumn or Winter’s evening.

Now you’ve seen just how EASY it is to make your own casserole sauce, why not have a go for yourself the.Come back and tell me how you got on.


Rosie
x


Thank you to the Unilever Kitchen for sending me the hamper containing items I’ve used to make this recipe.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

A cake with a crunchy, zingy top; perfect with a cup of tea.

100g Butter
175g Caster sugar
175g Self Raising Flour
5ml Baking powder
5ml Vanilla extract
2 eggs
30ml Milk
1 Lemon rind & juice
Topping:
1 Lemon juice
100g Granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 160C.
2. Grease & line an 18cm/7″ deep round tin.
3. Beat all the ingredients for the cake together for 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer.
4. Pour into your prepared tin & level the top.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6. Whilst the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice and sugar for the topping.
7. As soon at the cake comes out of the oven, spread the topping mixture evenly over it whilst it’s still hot.
8. Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely.
9. Turn out on to a serving plate.

Stir up Sunday to make your Christmas Pudding

Stir Up Sunday is the traditional time to make your Christmas Pudding.  It’s an Anglican tradition which takes place annually on the last Sunday before advent; a time when families would gather round to make their Christmas Pudding and each take a turn at stirring the mixture whilst making a wish.  This year it’s today, 24th November.  Tradition also dictates that a ‘silver sixpence’ should be put into the mixture for one lucky recipient to find.  Finding the coin would bring them health, wealth & happiness.  In accordance with the Gospel, to represent Christ & the disciples, at least 13 ingredients would be used to make the pudding.
I was invited to take part in Tate & Lyle’s “Bake, Eat & be Mary” Christmas campaign to encourage people to make their own Christmas puddings and to spread the word of Stir Up Sunday, as statistics now tell us that over 70% of people now buy them rather than make their own.  I went to London for the photo shoot, which I can only say was pretty surreal; to hear the name Mary called out and 12 women who all have Mary as their name or in their name respond, was, to say the least, quite strange.  New friendships were made over bubbles & nibbles and everyone had such a fantastic time creating our own individual photographs as well as our table of Mischief you can see below.
If you pop over to the Tate & Lyle website you will find the links to 10 of the Mary Christmases’ recipes and stories (including mine). Just click on our pictures to open up the recipes.
 
This recipe I used is from my mother’s 1958 Household Encyclopaedia.  It makes 6 decent sized puddings, which, if kept properly, will not only see you through the festive period with a couple to wrap & give away as gifts, but will also provide a tasty pudding for a few months to come.
2lb Currants
2lb Raisins
1lb Sultanas
1lb Soft brown sugar
4oz Candied Peel
2 Lemons, juice & rind
4oz Brandy (dark alcohol, I use rum)
4oz Port
1 Nutmeg, grated
4oz Almonds, chopped
1/2oz Mixed spice
1/4tsp salt
10 Eggs, medium sized
1lb Plain flour
1lb Bread crumbs
2lb Suet
Milk to mix
Butter for greasing the bowls
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of your fruit, sugar, peel, lemon juice & rind and alcohol.
2. Cover with cling film and leave to infuse overnight.
3. Next day, add the grated nutmeg, chopped almonds, mixed spice, salt and eggs, along with the flour, bread crumbs and suet.
4. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.  Add some milk if the mixture is too stiff.  It shouldn’t be a wet batter but should hold its own shape.
5. Grease the inside of your pudding bowls well with butter & place a disc of parchment paper in the base to ease removal.
6. Pack the pudding mixture into the bowl, leaving about 1/2″ (1cm) space.
7. Pleat a circle of parchment paper into a double fold, as pictured, and place on top of the bowl. The pleat will allow the pudding to expand & rise a little during steaming.
8. Pleat a piece of foil and place over the top of the parchment.
9. Tie the parchment and foil in place firmly with string, using the string to make a looped handle to enable you to lift the pudding more easily into and out of the steamer.
10. Bring a pan of water to the boil.
11. Place the pudding basin into your steamer basket and put this on top of your pan of boiling water.
12. Place the lid on top and steam for 9 hours. Keep an eye on the water level and top up the saucepan as necessary with boiling water from the kettle. (Alternatively, to use a slow cooker, place your pudding basin in the crock pot, fill up to 2/3 of the way up the basin with boiling water, place the lid on and cook on HIGH for 10-12 hours or overnight.  Cooking this way has the advantage of having much less evaporation of the cooking water so you can go to bed/get on with your day whilst it cooks itself).
13. When cooked, remove from the steamer and leave until cold.
14. Remove the string, foil and parchment and pour over some more alcohol of your choice and cover with a fresh piece of parchment and then a foil covering.  I tie this on to keep out the air and therefore prevent the puddings drying out.
15. ‘Feed’ the pudding weekly with alcohol until Christmas Day, each time replacing the parchment with fresh.
16. On Christmas Day, you can steam the puddings as before for 2 hours.  Alternatively, you can fill the  slow cooker to 2/3 of the way up the side of the pudding basin and cook for 3 hours on HIGH.  If you really want a ‘quick fix’ you could always microwave it in 2 min bursts until heated through, then allow to rest for 1 min before serving.
Thanks to Mischief PR for inviting me to be one of Tate & Lyle’s Mary Christmases – I had a fun filled & wonderful day. Thanks to the staff at Mischief PR and also to our fab photographer, Nathan Pask for encouraging us to be silly in front of your camera lens and then showing the ‘world’ just how daft we were! Laura Sawyer created a beautiful, festive set for us and even found some properly cheesy Christmas jumpers for us to wear, whilst Sandra Bermingham primped and preened our hair and faces.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano was one of the first products to be awarded a PDO, or Protected Denomination of Origin product, which basically means it can only be produced from milk obtained from, and then manufactured, in it’s place of origin, namely the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emelia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and to Mantua to the east of the Po River.

The history of the cheese dates back over 800 years to 1200AD. So renowned in quality in fact, that during the Great Fire of London, Samuel Pepys mentioned it as one of the items to save! Today only around 430 Artisan dairies craft this amazing product for us to enjoy.
It’s a nutritious and easy cheese to digest, so can be enjoyed by young and old alike, whether it’s served simply on its own with a good quality balsamic vinegar or as in ingredient in a wide variety of dishes. 
Standard maturing times are from 18 months, to 24 months and finally through to 36 months. Each matured ‘wheel’ of cheese has its own distinct flavour and characteristics. The 18 month is perfect served in chunks with an aperitif or a dry white wine. The 24 month is mild but full flavoured and has a crumbly, grainy texture; good with red wines or fruit salads, figs or prunes.  The mature 36 month cheese is extra strong and is the most nutritious, whilst the texture is drier, more crumbly and grainy. Perfect with full bodies red wines, aged balsamic vinegar and honey.
Unlike cheaper alternatives that you can buy pre-grated in tubs (which can sometimes have a rather unpleasant odour when sprinkled over hot food) , Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has both an amazing aroma as well as taste and is best grated fresh from the block.  We’ve always been a lover of good quality food in this house and I must admit I do find it difficult to economise on good quality ingredients; Parmigiano Reggiano cheese being one of those that I buy most weeks.

I was recently lucky enough to receive two complimentary recipe books with some truly delicious sounding recipes (sweet and savoury) featuring Parmigiano Reggiano.  The recipe that has so far stood out and was thoroughly enjoyed by all the family was for Chicken Breasts with Pesto and Parmigiano Reggiano.  We used a sundried tomato pesto sauce as opposed to a green pesto and served it with olive oil drizzled  roasted vine tomatoes, peppers, courgettes & shallots which we sprinkled with rosemary and served up with some cous cous. I can’t wait to try some more of the recipes now.
I think I need to buy myself a wheel of cheese at this rate as the little packs just aren’t lasting!
Thanks to The Dialogue Agency PR for the books; I can see these are going to be well used & the food thoroughly enjoyed!