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Archive for September, 2011

Easy-peasy bread pudding

Current desire: Something sweet and crunchy
Current personal state: Lazy
Current status of pantry: Rather empty
Minutes to complete meltdown if not given something sweet: 30

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Cure: Bread pudding :)

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If you’re having one of days where you need a hug, or some comfort…
Or maybe you’re just missing your Mum- make this.

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The smells that fill your kitchen will hold you in their arms.
And that taste of crunchy, yet custardy bread will take you home.

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Easy-peasy bread pudding

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Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Serves: 1

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Ingredients:

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4 slices white bread, cut into cubes
(I keep the crust on, but feel free to remove them)
250ml milk
2 eggs, beaten
50g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon, plus a bit more for sprinkling
2 tbsp coarse sugar granules for sprinkling

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Method:

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1. Preheat the oven to 160º C. Heat the milk gently and keep aside to cool a little. In a bowl mix the eggs, caster sugar, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.
2. Gradually mix the warm milk into this egg-sugar mixture, a spoonful at a time, stirring constantly.
3. Put the bread cubes into a buttered oven-proof bowl, and pour the custard mix over the bread slowly.
4. Top with the sugar granules and a dash of cinnamon. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, and eat warm!

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I had a moment recently when I realized just how much I am interested in food.

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My parents were going off on a holiday all over Germany with their friends.

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While usually I would give them a list that looks like this:

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This time I gave them a list that looked like this:

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And as usual, my Mum and Dad did not disappoint.

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Will you take a look at this stash!?

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It makes me crazy happy thinking of all the new recipes I’m going to try and all the new tastes to experiment with.

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Let’s take a closer look at some of the stuff, shall we?

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Pretty, pretty cupcake decorations. I make about 24 cupcakes every week, (yes, I know. It’s a bit scary) so it won’t take me too long to get through this ;)

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Floral cupcake wrappers.

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An assortment of German sausages.

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Sausages have been on my mind recently, since I’m editing a book on them. To actually get to taste some of them? Pretty awesome.

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Vanilla sugar. A match made in heaven and blessed by angels.

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Sea salt

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I’ve never used anything except regular salt before. Can’t wait to get all fancy with this baby :)

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German mustard

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And one in a tube! Love it.

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Golden syrup

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There is an amazing Dulce-de-leche recipe that uses this. It was on Masterchef Australia recently. Will be trying that.

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Cheese. Yum.

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Balsamic vinegar.

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Geez, I feel so fancy :P anyone got any recipe ideas for this one?

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Also, my best friend went to Leh on a holiday, and look what I got from there.

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Sea buckthorn jam- with no preservatives. This will be delish on fresh toast.

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And (I’m so excited about this)…

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Sun-dried tomatoes! And look how pretty :) A few in a dish of pasta will brighten it up and add so much flavour.

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I’m off to spend some quality time with my loot. Have a good weekend you guys :)

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You know when you’re having one of those days.

Your grumpy pants are snugly on.

You find it hard to smile, even at the nicest people.
(Don’t get me started on the others.)

You’re almost tempted to eat instant noodles (again), while watching the gazillionth episode of Supernatural, and you almost do.

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But not today.

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I was determined to lift my spirits- the only way I knew how.

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On my way home from work, all I did was pick up some chicken and spring onions.

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Say hello to General Tso and his famous chicken :)

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Delicious, dark, and dreamy, this dish does not disappoint.

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The chicken is tender, with a slightly crisp coating.

The sauce is just gorgeously rich and aromatic.

It goes perfectly well with plain rice, but egg rice is even better.

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It made me happy.

And if I see you tomorrow, I’ll smile :)

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General Tso’s chicken

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Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Eat this with: Egg fried rice

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Ingredients:

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400 g chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1tbsp dark soy sauce, plus 2tbsp more

1 egg

3-4 tbsp cornstarch, plus 1-2tsp more

1 cup of vegetable oil, for frying

1tbsp white vinegar

2tbsp white wine

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp brown sugar

a few spring onions, cleaned and chopped

3-4 dried red chillies, broken or split

2-3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

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Method:

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  1. Mix 1tbsp soy sauce, the egg, and 3-4 tbsp cornstarch in a bowl. Mix this well, and then add the chicken pieces in, and mix so that the pieces are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. In another bowl, mix together 2 tbsp soy sauce, vinegar, white wine, ginger paste, and 1-2tsp cornstarch. Mix well, add the brown sugar and stir well to dissolve the sugar slightly. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a non stick wok or pan, and fry off the chicken in small batches. Fry for about 4-5 minutes, until dark brown and crispy. Place them on absorbent tissues once they’re fried so the excess oiled is absorbed.
  4. Let the pan cool slightly, remove the oil (set aside), and wipe it clean. Put 3 tbsp oil back in the pan and add the spring onions (reserve a few for the end), dried red chillies, and garlic. Fry on medium heat, for about a minute and then return the chicken pieces to the pan. Stir well, and then add the sauce. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens a bit, and the chicken is beautifully coloured. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, and top with some reserved spring onion bits. Eat warm with egg rice.

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Eating in Thailand

I’m back :)

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After a relaxing, refreshing, exciting, and most importantly delicious holiday!

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Thailand is probably my most favourite food destination. The abundance of fresh seafood, seasonal veggies, tender meat, and gorgeous flavours makes it an unforgettable culinary haven.

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I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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A tiny eatery on the streets on Bangkok, with warm food, and warmer people.

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An interesting red drink called Rozelle, made from a fruit.

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Warm, gooey doughnuts in between frantic bouts of shopping.

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It was hard to pick a flavour, as you can imagine :)

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Plump pork sausages, grilled on a stick. Perfect for a rainy day.

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Grilled chicken wings on sticks. Beyond delicious.

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What we had to choose from. Obviously, we took three of everything :)

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Local beer- Singha.

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A dressed-up mixed berry breezer. I couldn’t decide if I like the drink better, or the jacket!

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My most favourite drink in Thailand: Fresh coconut water. So refreshing, and sweet.

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Assorted crepes with a million choices- fruit, chocolate, biscuits, cream.

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Up, close, and personal with Mr Crepe :)

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These are the ones we got. The cream was made by angels. I swear it.

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We felt quite adventurous trying these traditional desserts. How colourful, right?

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We picked out some colourful bits, and it was served with coconut milk, sugar syrup, and crushed ice.

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Blueberry ice-cream yogurt. Sweetness of ice-cream and the healthiness of yogurt!

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A local wine-cooler. Seems innocent enough, but rather deadly, especially when combined with other drinks.

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Batter-fried squid alters your life.

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Thai fried rice, wrapped in an omelet. Isn’t that ingenious?

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Basil beans and pork, with rice. Don’t miss the sweet, star shaped rice arrangement :)

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Cold Chrysanthemum tea. SO good.

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More fried rice, with fish sauce. I could eat this every, single day.

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Chicken noodle soup. Wholesome, warm, and wonderful.

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Little fried crabs. I died with happiness.

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Here’s a closer look at a little fella.

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Plump and crispy fried shrimp.

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Freshly prepared crab and shrimp, right on the beach.

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Take a look at the shrimp. Isn’t he magnificent?

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Show-stopping pork kebabs :)

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Fried squid with tartare sauce and salad greens. Delish!

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Assorted Satay.

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Dessert: Creme brulee, vanilla-bean ice-cream and mango in a fudgey sauce.

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Prawn spring rolls, in a bed of mini crisps, with sweet plum sauce = Happiness.

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Colourful cocktails to celebrate a perfect holiday.

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Are you jealous? You should be :)

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I’m off on a long-looked-forward to, and several-crazy-plans-included holiday with two of my closest friends.

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I’ve never left the country to go holidaying with just friends before, and I might die with excitement :)

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I’m really looking forward to lots of new and exciting food experiences, especially because this place is known for its astounding variety of good, delicious food!

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You can look forward to a TON of pictures and a post with all the news once I’m back :)

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In the meanwhile, I want to share with you, a fun (and crazily popular) list called The Omnivore’s Hundred. It is a list of a hundred food items everyone omnivore should have tried at least once (according to bloggers Jill and Andrew of Very Good Taste). Bloggers are meant to share this list on their blogs, indicating how many items they’ve eaten.

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The items in bold are the foods I’ve had the good fortune to try.

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The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

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1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

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Even though I only hit a measly 43, I’m open to trying everything on the list.

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And who knows? Maybe after this holiday, I’ll be able to bold a few more entries ;)

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For bloggers who want to have a go at this, here’s what you do:

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1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional extra: Post a comment here linking to your results.

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Non bloggers- why not leave your final number in the comments section below?

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I’ll be back in week. Have a good one guys! :)

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” Tita remembered that Nacha had always said that when people argue while preparing tamales, the tamales won’t get cooked. They can be heated day after day and still stay raw, because the tamales are angry. In a case like that, you have to sing to them, which makes them happy; then they’ll cook.”

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(Laura Esquivel in Like Water for Chocolate, pp 219)

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When I started reading Like water for chocolate, I was amazed at how seamlessly food flows through this novel. Food is a living thing in this story and it engages us in a passionate relationship. It is loving, violent, stubborn, and compassionate all at the same time.

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Each chapter starts with a recipe, but not all of it is divulged at once.
The recipe comes in bits and pieces, interspersed with the story.

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At first it seems a little strange- for instance, in the middle of a family fight, we suddenly read about what ingredient to stir into something, or how many pieces of another to cut.
But as the novel progresses, the recipes and story melt into each other with such ease and simplicity that it seems perfectly normal and beautiful.

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And isn’t it like that in life? How important food is in our lives – we use it infinitely, and everyday.

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To celebrate

To comfort

To love

To heal

To sustain

To savour

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This story celebrates not only the love we have for food and the integral space it occupies in our lives, but also the strength that it carries.

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The strength it has to alter our experiences, our lives, and us.

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The first recipe in the book- Christmas Rolls, was the one I found most intriguing.

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Maybe it was the unlikely combination of sardines and chorizo. Or maybe it was the excitement I always experience at the start of a new book :)

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I decided to make Sausage rolls. I’ve never made these before, and to be honest I should have made the puff pastry from scratch (particularly because this book celebrates the process of making everything at home!). However, I had some ready-made puff pastry sitting in my freezer, so I used it.

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The rolls didn’t get as golden as I wanted, but they tasted really good. The sausage mixture was herby and rich, and the puff pastry casing was crisp and yummy.

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Sausage and bacon rolls

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Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Makes: 10

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Ingredients:

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puff pastry, ready rolled, cut into 10 (6 inch) squares, and frozen

5 small pork sausages (chicken should work too, but pork is just yummier!) :)

1 onion, chopped

a handful of parsley, finely chopped

1 egg, plus 1 more for glazing

2-3 rashers bacon, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

flour, for dusting

2 tsp oil, for sealing

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Method:

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1. Preheat the oven to 225º C.
2. Remove the sausages from their skins and place the meat in a bowl. Add the onion, parsley, egg, bacon, and salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands to incorporate. (Really get in there!)
3. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, and place in the freezer to chill.
4. De-frost the puff pastry sheets a little, and place on a lightly floured surface. Work with one square at a time and place about one heaped tablespoon of the sausage mixture in the centre. Brush the sides with a dab of oil, roll each side over towards the middle, seal, and turn over (seam side down).
5. As you make each roll, place it on the baking sheet in the freezer. This will ensure the puff pastry holds its shape better.
6. When all ten are made, take out the baking sheet. Working quickly, use a sharp knife to make 2–3 slits on the top of every roll. Brush over with beaten egg, and pop in the oven for about 30 minutes. Eat warm :)

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This is my first post written as part of an online foodie-book club called This Book makes me cook.

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The members choose a book every month, read it, and come up a dish the book inspires them to create. How neat is that?!

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When I first read about it I couldn’t believe how beautifully my two loves (books and food) were brought together here.

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It’s a fun site, filled with some wonderful food bloggers, so drop by and join in the fun if you want :)

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I want to thank my friend Karan for telling me about this site, and Simran for being so wonderful in welcoming me into this fabulous club.

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Have a good weekend!

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