We’re blessed with fantastic weather in Brisbane. Sure, it’s sometimes a little too sticky in summer but winter is utterly fabulous. Blue skies, temperate climate and if we are very lucky, a chill in the evening air. When I was invited by Genie from Bunny Eats Design to join the monthly Our Growing Edge link up, it was very good timing. That same week we were heading to a picnic in the Benarkin State Forrest to catch up with family. When I told Genie I was off to a picnic, she wrote back in wonder that I’d be going on a picnic in June. Genie is in NZ and it made me realise that whilst there are many similarities between Australia and New Zealand, the weather in June is not one of them!
Meanwhile, at the other end of the globe Maddie from Supper Lovin’ who is hosting this month’s link up is heading into a UK summer. It may be hot. Or not. There may be rain. There will probably be rain. I wonder if the picnic Maddie attends will include sitting inside her car to eat, as we did when visiting out family in Devon a few years ago? A picnic in the car as the mist and rain rolled in.
The World According To Milly-Molly-Mandy
The very first thing that springs to mind when I hear the word ‘Picnic’ is a story from one of my all time favourite child hood heroines, Milly-Molly-Mandy. MMM, Billy Blunt and little-friend Susan go on a picnic with MMM’s family. They have a picnic packed by Mother with hard boiled eggs, brown bread and butter and buns, washing it all down with milk. After clearing the rubbish out of a little pond, they get to make a wish by dropping a pin in the water. After some initial panic that there is not a pin for each of them, Father is able to scare up an extra one from his under lapel and the three friends get to make their wish. All is well with the world. Good clean fun between the wars.
Times have moved on and somehow, I didn’t think brown bread and butter would be considered quite the luxury it once was. With that in mind, I put some thought into a bite sized treat that could be prepared in advance and would travel well but also please the crowds. I decided upon a modernised version of the trusty sausage roll. Yes, I could have laboured over homemade puff pastry but why would you bother when there is perfectly acceptable butter puff available at the supermarket? I chose instead to invest my energies into making an interesting filling. There’s a wealth of flavour combinations available that can transform a sausage roll from limp microwaved cardboard offering at the work morning tea to tempting picnic buffet treat that you’ll need to shoo stray hands away from.
Spice Up Your Life
If you’re going to think about using sausage mince, stop reading now. The additional cost to use some better quality mince is minimal and will make for a better tasting sausage roll that doesn’t leave a greasy residue in your mouth. To be flavoursome, your sausage rolls need two things. Fat and lots of seasoning. Sausage rolls are not the time to be using heart smart mince or low sodium substitutes. You need to choose meat with some fat content. The fat keeps the meat moist and conveys flavour. Whilst you may never add salt to other dishes, you need to have a generous hand when you add the seasoning otherwise the sausage rolls will be flavourless and dull. For these sausage rolls, I used pork and lamb as that’s what I had to hand. You can use any combination and if you only have one type, that’s fine too. Ingredients such as sumac, za’atar and nigella can be found at Middle Eastern grocers. That are not essential but add a flavour boost.
Middle Eastern Sausage Rolls
- 250g pork or turkey mince
- 250g lamb or beef mince
- 2 x red onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 x tbsp cumin, ground
- 1 x tbsp coriander, ground
- 1 x tbsp cinnamon, ground
- 1 x tspn black pepper
- 1 x tbp salt
- 1 – 2 x tspn harissa or chilli paste (to taste)
- 1 x tbsp sumac
- 2 x tbsp za’atar
- 3 x sheets butter puff pastry (frozen)
- 1 x egg, lightly beaten
- oil for frying
- nigella seeds to decorate (optional)
- Heat the oil in a medium frying pan on a medium heat and add chopped onion to sweat off and gently fry. Once the onion has been cooking for a minute, add the cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the onion is partially cooked and the raw spices are cooked out. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
- Place mince in a mixing bowl and add pepper, salt, harissa or chilli paste, sumac, za’atar and cooled onion mixture. Using your hands, mix well until all ingredients are well distributed and combined with the mince. Set aside.
- Lay out sheets of puff pastry to defrost. When defrosted but still chilled, cut each slice of pastry in half. You will have 6 equal rectangles of puff pastry.
- Divide mince into 6 portions and squeeze each into sausage shapes approximately the length of a pastry sheet.
- Place mince portion on a piece of pastry approximately 1/3 of the way across (not the middle). Pinch mince until the length is the same as the pastry.
- Fold pastry along length of mince, tucking it closely to mince. Continue to roll until the sausage roll shape forms. Make sure the seam or join is on the bottom.
- Repeat with other portions of mince and pastry.
- Line two flat baking sheets or trays with baking paper and place 3 uncut sausage roll lengths on each.
- Brush pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with Nigella seeds if you are using them, Place trays in fridge to chill for at lest 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 220c (fan forced if possible). Remove sausage rolls from fridge and cut with a sharp knife into bite sized portions. Approximately five or six per roll.
- Place trays in hot oven and reduce temperature to 200c. Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
- Serve warm with a tomato relish or sweet chilli sauce
Makes approx 30 – 36
This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Supper Lovin’