How to make your own sausage rolls in Belgium

If you, like me, think that sausage rolls are a very mundane food that is readily available from every corner shop, then you, like me (and especially my children) will be very shocked when you come to Belgium.

Sausage rolls are essentially British and apart from England and other places, such as Malta which have been influenced by its cuisine they are quite hard to come by!

Finding a Pain Saucisse in a shop is like finding a pot of gold.

The exhilaration goes on for hours and the purchased items are guarded and finished right up to the very last crumb, even if this means ripping the bag and shaking the contents out on the plate or sometimes even the table.

This technique, according to my wee ones, is the best for getting the crumbs tucked away in the little crevices that every paper bag has.

So, if they are so hard to come by, there is no other solution but to do them at home!

There are 2 simple ingredients to making sausage rolls :

1) The puff pastry
2) The sausage meat

In this article I shall be giving the recipe to making your own puff pastry, which woulds hard but in truth is not. It just requires more resting time than your normal short crust.

You can of course, head down to any supermarket and get a packet of pâte feuilletée, that would be puff pastry for you and me!

For the sausage meat, I used the haché préparé which is a mixture of pork and veal minced meat.  

For the puff pastry, I followed the one in my Great British Bake Off Book (the first version)

For the sausage meat, I opted for the Belgian minced meat labelled as Porc et Veau which would be the closest to what we are used to.

To 500g of mince I have added 1 small and finely chopped onion and 4 fresh sage leaves, also finely chopped.

Now the best way to get all these ingredients thoroughly mixed in is by using your hands and sort of 'mash' the mixture together.

If you are a little squeamish and not too keen on mixing mince meat with you hands, then opt for a fork.

To assemble the sausage roll, roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Make sure that your pastry is not too thick. It should be about the thickness of two 50c coins placed on top of each other.

Next place the minced meat along the bottom most part of the width of your rolled out pastry.

Roll the pastry around it making sure to leave just a slight overlap which will seal your roll.

Cut off the excess pastry and stack it neatly one piece on top of the other so that you may use it again. 

If you roll up the un-used pastry in a ball then you will loose they layers the next time you bake it! Pity really.

So, once you are ready to seal the pastry, brush the end with a little egg-wash. Egg wash is simply 1 egg which has been beaten with a fork!

Place the sausage roll on a baking tray lined with baking paper. It is best to using the baking paper even in the case of a non-stick baking tray as the meat is quite fatty and some of that fat wi most certainly ooze out.

Can an obviously decide make smaller rolls for parties or as a packed lunch so feel free to cut your roll before place it on the baking sheet so as not to damage your equipment.

Once your sausage rolls are ready to bake, your make make little incisions on the top to make them pretty and to allow your pastry to puff up nicely.

Last step is to brush the top of the pastry with the egg-wash. 

Now bake your rolls in a preheated oven at 160C for a convection oven.

Before placing your tray in the oven however, make sure that the oven has actually reached the required temperature. 

You may use an oven thermometer which would sit in the oven and mark the exact temperature or you may use the gauge in your oven. 

If you have an electric oven, you should have a little red light that will go off once the desired temperature is reached.  Even though every oven is different, is should take around 15 - 20 minutes for your oven to reach this temperature.

Your sausage rolls are ready to take out of the oven once they are nice and golden!

These roll cans be frozen and re-heated in the oven from frozen.

If you intend to make a batch and freeze it, I suggest that you bake them till they are a pale gold colour.

Once you re-heat and hence re-bake them you will have a little bit more leeway on the baking time.

Savory Broccoli Cake

Broccoli might not be everyone's favourite veggie but here is an easy way you can add them to your diet. 
This recipe was passed on by a friend of mine and I must admit that it is truely yummy and super quick! Took me less than 1 hour from start to finish (as in baked!)
So here is what you will need:
250 gr self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
8-10 small broccoli florets or about half a large head
1 small spring onion
4 eggs
75 ml olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese such as Gruyere
Before you start the preparation, pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Place the flour, baking powder, spring onion and the raw broccoli florets in the blender and whizz for about 30 seconds until the broccoli is chopped into small pieces.

Now, measure the oil and crack the 4 eggs into the same container.
Add the liquid to the flour and whizz again.
Finally season with salt, pepper or some herbs such as thyme.

The mixture should resemble that of a stodgy cake mixture and should not be as flowing as cake batter would usually be. 
Place the batter into your prepared cake tin or loaf tin.
I used a 1.5L loaf tin.

Sprinkle the top with some grated Gruyere and bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

.....and there you have it!

You might also want to add about 100g of lardon or bacon bits to the mixture before baking.
If you do this, then I suggest you stir them in by hand as the blender would chop them too finely.


2014... here we come!

The new year always pushes me towards my blog and in a way I feel sad that I am not updating it as often as I used to.

In culinary terms, 2013 was a very good one for me. I have discovered or rediscovered old classics as well as new tastes.

One to be noted is the reintroduction of Brussels Sprouts into my kitchen! I was never keen on these sorry excuse for a Christmas day side dish.

BUT, due to the enthusiasm of my wee ones, I could not let this pass.

After all I am the one to tell them to try our new things, so I cannot shut them down what they wanted to give a shot at the dreaded Brussels Sprouts.

Albeit an old veggie, I gave it a new spin, NO overcooking and definitely NO boiling!

So I just quartered them and sautéed them, yes raw, with a little bit of walnut oil. Lastly, I sprinkled some chopped roasted hazelnuts before serving. Et voila !

Mr. E and I have also done our fair share of travelling last year, of course always trying to source and try and best local ingredients.

Whilst in Spain, we tried the real Jamon and I must admit I loved it! Not to mention the seasoned olives which were totally different to the way we are used to eat them.

We are quite accustomed to plain olives in olive oil, which of course are delicious too.

With less time on my hands to write, edit and take photos for my blog, I have started a little kitchen journal.

This is mainly so that I do not forget what ingredients went into my spare of the moment, or rather back of the cupboard "inventions".

The weather this year, 2014 has been extremely good and apart from a new windy nights, we have been enjoyed the warmth of a splendid winter sun of many days.

So as a final note, think about your gardens and what you can plant now that it's winter to reap over spring and summer.

Think about what new challenges you want to achieve this year. And by this I don't mean the bungee-jumping / sky-diving sort but more the 'I'd like to bake an St. Honore' or 'I'd much prefer having my own mincemeat in my mince pies next Christmas'.

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