There are some big saints coming up in the calender, and so, whilst I am not sure I will have time to do justice to them all with a tasty treat, I would like to get this post in before they come along. From the title you will have guessed it. I still have the sniffles. Now it has reached the stage where it couldn't possibly keep you from work, or interrupt your plans in anyway - too minor, but a late night here, a cold winter walk there and generally not taking enough care might send you back to square one. It is at this critical point the old adage 'feed a cold and starve a fever' needs to be quoted. And if during Advent you do not succumb to at least a little sneeze you must be super human.
Toad in the hole is comfort food of the highest order. It is a childhood memory, a winter dream. For anyone who comes home wet, tired and hungry as we used to do as kids, this is the only thing that will cure you. And, it can be made as a vegetarian dish too. Just get some high quality vegetarian sausages. Vegetarians of the world, you know what I mean!
High quality sausages
Fresh Rosemary (from the garden - window box - no excuses)
2 medium red onions
2 cloves of garlic
6 tablespoons of quality balsamic vinegar
High quality vegetarian stock powder
1/2 pint milk
whole grain mustard
salt and pepper
(I admit to not having measured anything this evening, therefore this is a guess for 3 - 4 people)
Make your batter:
Sieve the 4oz (4 heaped tablespoons) plain flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add the 3 eggs and the milk. Whisk until completely smooth, add a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard and leave to stand.
Preheat your oven to the maximum temperature - 250 - 280C
Into a baking tray pour about 1cm of oil and put it in the oven to heat. Once hot, add the sausages and cook - keeping an eye to turn them occasionally. When done, carefully remove the VERY HOT pan from the oven, pour on the batter. Add the sprigs of rosemary artistically and return to the oven. Do not open the door for at least 20 minutes; allow the batter to do its thing. After that you will need to check it to see when it is gold brown and cooked through.
Make the gravy:
Add some butter to a pan and add the finely chopped red onions and garlic. Cook gently until sweet. Add 6 tablespoons of balsamic, to taste stir in just a small amount (1 teaspoon) of vegetable stock powder, and reduce till half the sauce has evaporated.
Serve with whatever you please. Green vegetables are traditional. Potatoes are a carb feast. Salad means you are feeling guilty.