A taste of home: Sausage rolls

I’d been living in Germany about 5 years, buying sausage rolls every time I went home, before it finally occurred to me that I could make them myself! I’ve made them a few times since (Jan loves sausage rolls!) so when I was trying to think of something to bring to a party on Saturday, sausage rolls seemed like the obvious answer… easy, fairly quick and I knew nobody else would be making them! I thought other ex-pats who are craving sausage rolls might like to know how to make their own, too, so I decided to share mine. There are loads of recipes all over the Internet, of course, but mine comes with instructions on what to do if you live in Germany 😉

Vegetarians and others who are disturbed by the sight of raw meat might want to look away now…

You will need the following:

  • These are the sausages you need
    These are the sausages you need

    1 packet of pre-made puff pastry – Blätterteig in German (yes, I’m that lazy!)

  • 500g sausage meat or pork sausages that you can easily remove the filling from (in Germany, you need to buy the fresh “grobe Bratwurst” type… Nürnberger and things like that won’t work!)
  • About a teaspoon of dried parsley (or chopped fresh parsley if you have that stuff around. I never do, unless I buy it specially)
  • About a teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. If using sausages, remove their skins then place your skinned sausages or sausage meat in a large bowl. My bowl contains a lot of sausages because I tripled the above ingredients to make sure there would be enough…

Skinned sausages
Skinned sausages

2. Add the crushed garlic and mash/stir it into the sausage meat until it seems evenly spread.

3. Add parsley, thyme, a small dash of cayenne pepper (seriously… just a small dash, unless you want spicy sausage rolls, in which case feel free to add more) and as much freshly ground black pepper as you like and combine everything together well.

The sausage meat mixture
The sausage meat mixture

4. Unroll your pastry and place a thick line of sausage meat close-ish to the edge, leaving a gap slightly larger than the width of your sausage strip for rolling.

sausage meat and pastry
sausage meat and pastry

5. Fold the edge of the pastry over the sausage meat and cut the pastry just past where it comes to, then roll the pastry around the sausage meat. If the end doesn’t stick by itself, use a tiny bit of water. Repeat this step until you run out of pastry (hopefully you will also run out of sausage meat at the same time).

Rolled

6. Cut the rolled-up, sausage-filled pastry into whatever sized pieces you would like. I tend to make mine fairly small because I’m paranoid about poisoning people and think if they’re small they’re more likely to cook through properly.

All ready for the oven
All ready for the oven

8. Brush the top of the sausage rolls with a little milk, if you want (I didn’t because I knew at least one person attending the party is lactose intolerant) and bake them at the temperature shown on your pastry packaging for about 15-20 minutes.

The finished article...
The finished article…

9. Leave the sausage rolls to cool for a bit before enjoying. I’m serious… they may look tempting, but those things are hot when they come out of the oven!

My first ever Banoffee Pie!

Two food posts in a row seems like a bit of a cop out, but to be honest I haven’t been doing anything else worth blogging about… and I have been promising you this one for a while, so here you go.
There are more banoffee pie recipes on the Internet than you can shake a stick at (not sure why you would want to shake sticks at recipes?), but I actually ended up using a combination of three to get my amounts/ingredients/methods, so I thought I would add my recipe to the mix… including a pointer or two on how to find said ingredients in Germany.

Banoffee Pie

Ingredients
1 tin of condensed milk (you need sweetened condensed milk, gezuckerte Kondensmilch in German; Nestle do one under the brand name Milchmädchen.)
300g chcolate digestives (if you can’t find actual digestives, DeBeukelaer does some called Granola that work just as well)
75g butter
400 ml whipping cream (some recipes use double cream, but the closest equivalent here is expensive so I decided to go with plain old Schlagsahne. It works for the Germans…)
2-3 bananas

Method

The scary part... please don't explode!
The scary part… please don’t explode!

1. Lie the tin of condensed milk on its side in a sauce pan of water – make sure the water is covering the whole tin! Apparantly if the tin becomes exposed, explosions will happen!
2. Bring the water to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer the tin in the hot water for 2-2.5 hours. After that time, remove the water from the heat and leave it to cool for about half an hour before removing the tin from it.
3. While the condensed milk is still heating, crush up your biscuits (use a blender if you have such a thing, or place them in a food bag and hit them with a hammer/rolling pin) and melt the butter in a sauce pan.
4. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter together, then use the mixture to line a 23 cm cake tin. The biscuit crumbs base should go across the bottom and part way up the sides. Tip: Use a metal spoon to press down the biscuit crums – they’ll only stick to a wooden spoon and refuse to spread out properly! Once the base is firmly pressed down, stick the cake tin in the fridge until the condensed milk is ready.
5. Open the tin of condensed milk. The contents should be a pale brownish colour (caramel colour!). Take your biscuit crumb base back out of the fridge and spread the caramel over it.

Wiaitng to be decorated
Wiaitng to be decorated

6. Slice 2 bananas and use them to make a layer of banana slices on top of the caramel. Save the rest of the banana.
7. Whip the cream until it stands up in soft peaks when you pull up your whisk, then gently stir in as many slices of banana as you think appropriate
8. Cover the sliced banana layer of the pie with this cream/banana mix and then place the pie back in the fridge.
9. Shortly before you want to serve the pie, remove it from the fridge again and decorate it with more banana slices and some chocolate flakes.

That’s it! Easy, peasy! And once you’ve made the caramel, it doesn’t even take that long.
I had never made this before, but it turned out delicious and the Germans I served it to loved it. Success!

The finished article, chilling in the fridge (sadly, I forgot to take a decent photo of it once we arrived at the party so this is all you're getting..)
The finished article, chilling in the fridge (sadly, I forgot to take a decent photo of it once we arrived at the party so this is all you’re getting..)

Now you see me, now you don’t!

I am very briefly back in Germany. Today, we shall be unpacking the suitcase then repacking it ready to fly to Madeira tomorrow. A flying visit home, you might say. Christmas with the family was full but fun. While in England, i managed to munch my way through a tonne of bacon, some chips and battered sausage (sadly no gravy because the chip shop had run out), a Sunday roast, Galaxy Minstrels, several packets of McCoy’s crisps, Christmas dinner, trifle, banoffee pie, some good old English sausages and mash inside a giant Yorkshire pudding, corned beef and potato pie and gallons and gallons of tea! A successful trip, I think.

As for Christmas gifts, my friends and family seem to have been conspiring this year. Much as I love owls, I don’t think I’ll be needing any more for a while!

A parliament of owls?
A parliament of owls?

None owl related gifts included a food package from a friend, the film Philadelphia on DVD, a poppy dress from Jan (which I had very unsubtley asked for), a gorgeous snood from my mum, a book and a bracelet. Jan and I also received a sheep doorstopper that I asked my dad to buy for us when M&S had them on sale. Basically I was spoiled rotten 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of tasty food, great gifts and festive cheer!

Friday letters (holidays are coming)

Today is my final day at work, then we’re closed for a whole two weeks. Hooray! I am certainly in need of a break after all the overtime I’ve been doing recently! Just a few more things to sort out tonight, then it’s off to England tomorrow to spend Christmas with the family…

Letter to Santa
Letter to Santa (Photo credit: katerha)

Dear flights. I’m counting on you to not be delayed or cancelled this time. I’ve had enough stress recently without dealing with that, too!

Dear boyfriend. Can’t wait to spend an entire two weeks with you without any work or other commitments! Please not getting ill this time though…

Dear suitcase. I know I have a lot of gifts to put in you, but I would appreciate it if you could stay within the weight limit anyway!

Dear British food. I am coming for you!! First up: a bacon sadwich with decent bacon!

Dear family, friends and godson. Can’t wait to see you. And I hope you like your gifts.

Dear readers. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to get on WordPress while I’m in England, so I’ll wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year now. “See” you in 2014!

Weihnachtsmarkt 2013

Buying British food abroad

Food stash

I am a firm believer that if you choose to live in another country you should also make an effort to adapt. People who spend all their time complaining about how different everything is to back home annoy me! And I love trying all the local foods and drinks. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your roots completely! There are plenty of things I miss from home, and most of them are edible! My local Irish pub is celebrating its 5th birthday tonight, so of course I will be going along – both for the live music and to indulge in some yummy food that reminds me of home. Arranging my night at the Irish pub got me thinking about the other methods I have for getting my British food fix… and so the idea for this post was born. Quite a few of the things below are specific to Germany, simply because that’s where I live, but there a few that will be useful to anyone looking for British foods.

  • The most obvious place to look is an English shop. Many cities have them and some are better than others. My nearest one is The Piccadilly English Shop in Heidelberg, and it comes in useful when I make an English Christmas dinner for all my friends every year! I don’t go as much now it’s moved from opposite the train station (so convenient!), but whenever I’m in Heidelberg I’ll pop in for a look. It’s pretty small (the old premises were much bigger), but they usually have a reasonable selection of foods, and they will also order things in for you on request.People in Sweden… while on holidays in Stockholm I spotted an English shop in Södermalm. We had gone to the Söderhallarna to buy food for a picnic and I spotted the English shop upstairs. Sadly, the person I was with wouldn’t let me go in, but from what I could see it looked quite big!
  • 250 gram jar of Bovril
    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    If you’re in Germany, Karstadt’s food department is good for British (and other international) foods. Unlike America, Mexico and Asia, Britain doesn’t get its own special section, but with some searching you can find familiar foods. There’s mint sauce among the chutneys, Heinz baked beans with the tinned vegetables (but be warned… they’re not cheap), Cathedral City Cheddar with the other pre-packaged cheeses, Bovril and Marmite on a shelf of sauces and an entire shelf of Kettle Chips and Tyrell’s crisps! My Karstadt also sells various jams/marmelades from the UK and a few British ales, but I’ve yet to spot any malt vinegar.

  • Another Germany-specific one. If you’re looking for international foods and you have a Scheck-In Center near you, it’s definitely worth taking a look! Scheck-In is where I go for anything that I can’t find elsewhere – not just British foods, but things like vanilla extract and turkey mince! Some of the British foods available at my local Scheck-In include Cadbury’s chocolate, Heinz tomato soup, Cathedral City Cheddar, sliced Double Gloucester cheese and baked beans. Again, there is no “British” section, so you’ll have to go around the shop trying to spot things.
  • One for Austria. When I lived there, Billa sold both Heinz baked beans and a reasonably-priced own brand that was actualy quite good – not just a couple of beans in a lot of liquid like most cheap ones and the sauces tastes pretty authentic. They also sell (or did then) corned beef – although I may be the only person in the world who’s interested in that 😉
  • The English Shop, Cologne. I know I had English shops as my first item, but I’m including the Cologne one separately because they deliver! I’ve never even been to their actual shop (I’m just assuming they have one?) but have ordered from them a few times. Deliveries within Germany cost €4.99 and are usually fairly quick. They will also deliver internationally, but it will cost you! They have all the common brands – Walkers, McVities, Heinz, Baxters… but only tinned/dry foods – nothing that needs to be chilled. Click the name of the shop to go to their website.
  • British Corner Shop. Another online one. I’ve never ordered from there, but I’m seriously considering it despite the high delivery cost! The actual company is located in the UK, but they will deliver worldwide and they even do chilled foods. How, you ask? Here’s the text from their bacon page:  If you are an expat who is craving a spot of British bacon, then British Corner Shop has the answer to your prayers: we are able to ship chilled bacon direct to your door within 48-72 hours using our special chilled shipping boxes – problem solved! Also, they sell medicinesgain, click the shop name to go to their website.
  • Another Germany one… it might seem a bit odd, but Asia shops are a good place to find British foods. I buy PG Tips teabags from one, in huge boxes, and there’s another in Karlsruhe that sells Colman’s English mustard (only the powder though) and Bird’s custard!
  • *Update*: Now that I’m living in Switzerland, I would like to add a new place to my list, specifically for Basel. The bookshop Bider and Tanner has a whole range of British foods upstairs in the English book section – from chocolate bars and Walker’s crisps to breakfast cereals and jars of mamelade and even tins of Heinz cream of chicken soup!

Where do you go when you want food from home? And has anyone actually tried to order from the British Corner Shop website? Let me know in the comments!