Thursday, 5 November 2015

Remember, remember, the 5th of November! Guy Fawkes Night is actually a bit of a morbid holiday, but the 5th of November is just as much about the food as it is the fireworks for me. Mulled cider, toffee apples and sizzling sausages; I could go on and on. Taylors of Harrogates's Spiced Apple Infusion brings to life the warmth of Bonfire Night with big chunks of apple, star anise, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon and inspired me to create two recipes that are perfect for taking out with you to watch the fireworks, but just as enjoyable at home in front of the telly.

First up: miniature toad in the holes! Toad in the hole is a British classic, but making them with cocktail sausages and a muffin pan makes them easy to scoop up with your hands and dunk in thick, onion gravy. Fresh out of the oven they are hard to beat, but if you plan on piling them into a picnic basket to take out and eat while watching the fireworks, they're just as tasty with hot gravy (which you can keep hot in a thermos).

To make 12 miniature toad in the holes
12 uncooked cocktail sausages
1tsp marmalade (optional)

75g plain flour
190ml milk
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
Sunflower oil

Heat the oven to 200C and roast the sausages for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally. When they are good and brown, add the marmalade if using (it creates a lovely, sweet and sticky glaze) and shake the pan to coat the sausages. Take the sausages out and turn the oven up to 250C.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs and salt. Pour about a teaspoon of sunflower oil into each of the holes in a 12-hole muffin pan and then put a cocktail sausage into each. Place in the oven for 5 minutes so that the oil gets really hot. When the sausages are sizzling, you know it's hot enough. Pour a small amount of batter into each of the holes - if you overfill them, they will still be delicious but you might not be able to see the sausage anymore! If you find yourself with leftover batter, it will keep in the fridge for a few days. Pop the pan in the oven and cook for about 7 - 10 minutes. Try not to open the door to check on them or you'll let all the heat out. When they are just browned, they're ready to come out.

There are plenty of great recipes out there for gravy, especially if you're making a nice joint of meat, but if you're in a hurry, try this: Finely slice and fry three shallots in butter until translucent, add a tablespoon each of redcurrant jelly (or similar) and balsamic vinegar, crumble in a stock cube or a tablespoon of gravy granules and cover with boiling water. Allow to reduce for 5-10 minutes and add more water/granules until you get your desired consistency. 

A hearty supper calls for a warming drink and nothing is better than a big mug of hot mulled cider when it starts to get cold. Taylors' Spiced Apple Infusion uses all-natural ingredients - and great big chunks of if - so each bag is practically a treasure trove of mulling spices in itself. Darren actually had the idea for this one and I like to call it Mull-In-The-Bottle Cider...not the catchiest of names, but it does the trick!

I don't know if there are many (any?) Americans reading my blog, but in case you are wondering, in the UK, cider is an alcoholic drink made from apples. This recipe, however, work equally well with a lovely, freshly-pressed apple juice if you don't drink or if you want to make it with children. 

This would work best with Scrumpy or any still (preferably cloudy) apple cider. I used Henney's cider, which is actually rather dry, but it is still very tasty. If you are using a carbonated cider, remove the tops an hour or so beforehand to release some of the bubbles. Pop a teabag down the neck of each bottle using the end of spoon to push it through the narrow part if you need to. Fill a large pot about half full with boiling water and stand each bottle in the pan. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to warm through for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending how spiced you want it to be. Don't worry if the cider fizzes over a bit. Pour the hot cider into a glass and enjoy! The cider will stay warm in the bottle for a good half an hour, so it's easy to take outside with you and enjoy the fireworks, though you may want to remove the teabag so the flavour doesn't get too strong.

This post is sponsored by Taylors of Harrogate. Thank you for inspiring me with such a fun challenge and for sending over so much tea I don't quite know what to do with myself!

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