Monday, June 27, 2011

No Toads Were Harmed in the Making of this Meal: My Adventures in English Cooking

After David ran the Boston Marathon for the second time back in the spring on 2007, he decided that he was going to be a vegetarian. At the time I was mad. I don't want to be a vegetarian!! He had decided that he wanted to continue on a healthy path, since he knew from experience that after he ran a race and stopped training so diligently, he was bound to put on a few pounds. It wasn't really that big of a stretch. We were not your typical meat and potatoes, midwestern-raised type of couple. If you looked in the freezer, I maybe had a few chicken breasts and some ground turkey. We rarely had red meat in the house.

So...he did it. We bought cookbooks, printed recipes from online, and tried lots of new meals. I basically became an at-home vegetarian, which means exactly what you think: at home I didn't eat meat, but when I needed some it was always a quick stop through the Wendy's drive thru.

After about six months, I was surprised he was still sticking to it. At a year, I was flabbergasted. Shouldn't this be a phase??? As we rang in 2011, I couldn't believe he was still going strong.

Then we got word that we were in fact going to be relocated to the UK. While in New Jersey, about two weeks before he would be heading over here, David called me one night to share some news.

D: "I know it's going to be hard on you when we get to England. I think I'll start eating meat again, to make it easier on you when you are preparing dinners and stuff."


Translation: "I am already drooling and dreaming about all the meat pies and sausages I can eat in the UK. MMMMMMMMM.....beef!"

So, here I am, cozy in my kitchen in Oxford, making something called Toad in the Hole. We make a menu every weekend for the upcoming week in order to be more efficient in our grocery shopping, and I agreed to try a new English meal for dinner once a week. I wasn't so sure about something named Toad in the Hole, but...

IT WAS DELICIOUS!! It's a good thing that I walk a LOT more around here, or all this bread and potatoes slathered in gravy would certainly impede my weight loss goals. Here is the recipe, for those of you adventurous enough to try! Enjoy!

1 lb sausages (you can use any kind of sausage you want, including vegetarian! We used Cumberland, which were delish)

100g (4 oz) self-raising flour
300ml (about half a pint) milk
2 eggs
salt to taste
powdered sage

Make the batter first by sifting together the flour, salt, and sage. I'd say that I used about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the same of the sage. Break in the eggs and then slowly stir in the milk, using a whisk to make it really creamy (I used my electric hand mixer). If the batter is lumpy it won't rise in the oven. Cover the batter and stick it in the refrigerator for an hour or two (or more) so that it is ready to go when you need it.

When you are ready to cook, brown the sausages in a flat bottomed pan in a preheated oven ((230*C or 450*F). Put enough oil in the pan to cover the bottom. (My first attempt at this, I put too much oil in, so be careful of this!!) When the sausages are lightly browned (I turned them to brown both sides), pour in the batter. The oil should be hot enough at this point that when you pour the batter in, it sizzles. Put the dish back in the oven for about half an hour, but be sure not to open the door and let the air out or the batter will fall.
Gravy Granules??
Serve immediately with gravy. Over here, the best selling gravy is this Ahhh! Bisto stuff. It's these granules that you just add boiling water to. I was a little skeptical the first time I made it, but it was delicious as well. (Don't tell my Grandmas I used powdered gravy!)

The meal was fantastic, even though the first time I made it I used too much oil in the pan and it overflowed a bit. At that point I still wasn't used to our fan-assisted oven, either, so the top got a little well done. Second time around? YUM! (The finished photo above is from my second attempt.)

Served with a cold beer (cider for me) and green peas! (Eating it all outside on the patio on a sunny evening, even better!!)

More of my daring cooking adventures to come...stay tuned!

1 comment:

AmericanSand said...

Looks fantastic and like your settling in quite nicely!