Dumpling-Flavored Sausage Rolls

Dumpling-style Sausage Rolls
Dumpling-style Sausage Rolls

Here’s the story behind these dumpling-flavored sausage rolls. We had friends over at Christmas, and while serving up a plate of pigs-in-a-blanket, my friend pointed to them and said “Hey, what do you British call those? Isn’t there a crazy, funny name you have for those?” I was momentarily nonplussed as, a) we usually DO have a crazy, funny name for things, but b) I had no idea what else we might call them, having been out of the country, and therefore the loop, for about twenty years. (“Her Majesty’s Tiniest Corgis”? “Cheeky Blinders”? Answers on a postcard, please.)

A brief research session reminded me that Brits traditionally reserve the term “pigs in blankets” for small, un-cased sausages (which we call chipolatas) wrapped in bacon, not puff pastry, and that they’re a Christmas staple. (I then asked both my siblings to confirm this and they went straight for the sausage-in-pastry option instead, which, honestly, helps NOBODY.)

But while this post is about sausages in puff pastry, we’re not making pigs in blankets. We’re making sausage rolls. And we’re making them dumpling-flavored – seasoned with ginger, garlic, scallions and chili. Buckle up! 

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Everything-Seasoned Gougères with Scallion-Cream Cheese Filling

Everything-seasoned Gougeres

Just like in Seinfeld’s “The Muffin Tops” where Elaine sets out to prove that nobody really wants to eat a whole muffin, we’re largely in the camp that believes that nobody really wants to eat a whole bagel. And judging by the range of “bagel-light” hybrids (flagel, crogel, and the like), we’re not alone. Bagels are big. They’re doughy. And even though they’re inevitably filled with something delicious, you still have to bite through an inch of starch to get to the stuff inside. In our opinion, the crust flavor and the filling are the selling points of a bagel. If we can get those flavors in something more delicate, let’s do it. So we turned to the airy cheese puffs known as gougères to see if they could replace our morning favorite.

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Ultimate English Toffee

We couldn’t let Christmas come and go without reposting this. It’s one of our earliest posts, but one of our very favorite recipes and something we make every single year for family parties. It just may be the toffee of your (my) dreams and while I may be indulging in a tiny bit of hyperbole, once you try it, you’ll know that I might be dramatic, but I am not a liar. In the past, I proclaimed this Salted Caramel Sauce the best thing ever and I stand by that. It’s just that there’s room on the pedestal for that sauce’s cousin from across the pond, real English toffee.  

FACT: This toffee is so good, it caused this face from Loki, this one from Arya, and best of all, this one from Matt. Okay, nerd business done.

While other toffee types are available, this toffee is hard and brittle, and thin enough that you won’t need a tiny hammer to break it up.

Why This Toffee Works

I’ve made a lot of toffee recipes over the years and this one is by far the tastiest and the easiest. It not only has a really nice balance of sweet and salty but a clever secret. The addition of a very small amount of corn syrup pretty much eliminates the danger of the sugar crystallizing (this has happened to us a few times, and can be a real bummer). This problem is caused when the sugar crystals start a chain reaction of crystallization (the process of sugar particles clinging together) which makes the mixture grainy. Once it happens there’s not much you can do about it, but there are a few things that will help prevent it from starting.

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Herbed Potato Salad

Herbed Potato Salad

Everyone has a favorite summertime potato salad recipe, and here’s ours: infused with Dijon mustard, tart white wine vinegar, and plenty of chives, parsley and dill. It’s our go-to BBQ side.

Here’s a not-at-all hypothetical scenario for you. You email somebody an invite to a summer grill-out, and they get tremendously happy and excited and reply “Great! What potato salad church do you worship at?”. Because you have now encountered a Potato Salad Enthusiast and your previous plan of just buying a tub of the stuff at the grocery store is no longer going to fly.

Herbed Potato Salad

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Pretzel Pigs in a Blanket with Cheddar-Stout Dip

Pretzel Pig in a Blanket

If you’ve ever been to our house for a party, then you’ve probably eaten our standard Pigs in a Blanket recipe. We’ve never blogged them because they’re super dooper easy – though so much tastier and a boat-load more affordable than the frozen packaged kind. ($10 for a dozen, Costco? Really? Are we doing this now?). We simply cut good quality puff pastry into strips, wrap them around mini hot dogs, egg wash them, sprinkle them with whatever, and bake. Delicious, if somewhat pedestrian.

But this year, we wanted to up our party game, so we came up with these: Homemade Pretzel-wrapped Pigs in a Blanket with Warm Cheddar & Stout Beer Dip. Now if that’s not a home run straight through the net, then clearly I don’t know football.

Pretzel Pigs in a Blanket

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