Festive Family Secrets

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Yesterday was a very special day on the Family Calendar- the day my Grandmother starts the secret Family Recipe Christmas Pudding.

I’ve been very proud the last couple of years to have assisted my Grandmother with this, and be taught each loving step of this recipe. This is definitely one to be added to my lovely new recipe book, but if you think for one moment it’s something I’m going to blog about on the world wide web, think again! However, when our hard work was done and the puddings were steaming away, I seized the opportunity to badger another recipe out of my Grandma… Shortcrust Pastry.

You may recall, a few months ago, I made some “proper sausage rolls” and threatened there and then that I would have my Grandmother teach me to make Shortcrust Pastry so I could produce a Festive Sausage Roll idea I had when the Christmas season arrived? Well, here we are!

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For me, these taste just like Christmas as they’re based VERY much on an Apricot & Almond stuffing the family all enjoy once a year with our Christmas dinner! I’ve been very excited to make them and share them with the family, and now based on everyone’s reaction I think a few more batches will be on the way too!

So… Here’s what we did:

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 110g butter, cubed
  • 5-6 tbsp cold water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 400g of good quality sausage meat
  • A handful of dried apricot pieces
  • A scoop of flaked almonds
  • 100g of fresh cranberries
  • A little orange juice
  • White pepper
  • Demerara Brown sugar
  • Onion powder
  • One egg

What Grandma taught me…

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in a pinch of salt.

2. Add the butter to the bowl and rub into the flour until you have a texture resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Try to work quite quickly so the mixture does not become greasy

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3. Next, add the water and use a large butter knife to stir and bind everything together. Once the mixture is binding like a dough, use your hand to compress it (not TOO tightly mind) into a ball

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4. Wrap in cling film, and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to become cool. The perfect amount of time to prepare your festive filling!

Festive Sausage Rolls

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1. Pre-heat the oven to 180

2. Put your sausage meat in a bowl and squeeze a few time to make it soft and malleable.

3. Slice up your apricot pieces into long skinny strips and squish in with the sausage meat

4. Add the almonds to the bowl. Squish.

5. Season the meat with salt, white pepper and about a teaspoon of onion powder. Squish a little more, then set the bowl to one side.

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6. Half your cranberries and place them in a small microwavable bowl with a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and half and half orange juice and water- enough to cover them.

7. Microwave the cranberries for 1 minute. Stir, then microwave for 1 minute more. Your aim is not so much to cook them, but to let the sweet orangy flavour penetrate them. Alternatively, marinade them in this mix for 24 hours without using the microwave at all!

8. Now for the fun! Fetch your short-crust pastry and roll out to a piece aprroximately 15×30 cm. Use a knife to trim the edges and keep it neat. Remember you may need a little flour when you roll to stop it from sticking, but be careful not to use too much or your pastry will start to break.

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9. On a separate board, roll out your meat to form a long, thin sausage. Then place on the centre of your pastry.

10. Using your fingers, top with the cranberries you’ve left soaking. Leave as much of the liquid as possible in the bowl.

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11. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Then bring up the sides and seal.

12. Use the back of the knife to make nice decorative lines in the top (like you did with the Beef Wellington?) Then brush with beaten egg.

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13. Using a good sharp knife, cut portions from this. You should get 6 decent sausage rolls. Place on a well greased baking tray (I used grease proof paper, rubbed with butter)

14. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes.

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Mmmm-mm! One of my favourite parts of Christmas dinner wrapped in pastry… What could be better! Give me a bottle of Asti to wash it down and I’ll be thrilled to bits.

Hopefully, these will do the job to distract us all while we impatiently wait for the true taste of Christmas to arrive

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18 days to go…

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