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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Caramelized Apple, Shallot and Cheddar Tart

Apple, Shallot and Cheddar Tart

Apple, Shallot and Cheddar TartPuff pastry tarts with a creamy Cheddar spread, topped with sweet caramelized shallots and apples. Topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and a little spicy chili flakes. Sweet apples and tart Cheddar cheese? A marriage made on a local farm.

As this, the strangest of years, winds toward its close, we are especially grateful to the local farms that have been going above and beyond to keep everyone fed. Restaurants, usually a major destination for farm-grown food, are going through a major upheaval, and a direct relationship between farms and the people they feed is now more important than ever.

Here in the Northeast, our farms make maximum use of every single day in the relatively short growing season, and dairy farms play a huge role in local produce. Cabot Creamery is a co-operative of 800 farm families in the New England and New York area. They’re a certified B corporation, meaning that not only do they strive for the highest quality dairy produce, but responsible land stewardship, ethical production, and community giving are at the core of everything they do. We’re incredibly proud to partner with them for this recipe. 

And here in the Hudson Valley, you can’t miss the major harvest of late Fall. You’ll see apple orchards dotted across the whole region — this part of New York produces around one fifth of the entire apple output of the United States. A huge variety of apples is grown, from the pie favorites Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp, to eat-out-of-your-hand Gala, Jonagold, and Macoun. 

Apples_Still Life

So, armed with the apples of the Hudson Valley and the sharp cheddars from Cabot’s farms, we decided to make something to celebrate our local farms: a Caramelized Apple, Shallot and Cheddar Tart.

This post was created in partnership with Cabot Creamery.

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Roasted Beets and Whipped Feta Tart

Roasted Beet and Whipped Feta Tart

Roasted Beet and Whipped Feta Tart

This simple, elegant tart has a layer of creamy whipped feta cheese topped with lightly marinated roasted beets. A puff pastry shell makes it a breeze to prepare, while a scattering of fresh mint and crunchy pistachios adds crunch and freshness. 

We’ve been finishing up a few projects here at Nerds with Knives, which is why you might not have seen a new post from us for (checks watch) six to eight weeks. One of those projects is, we’re thrilled to announce, our new cookbook, Cork and Knife, which will be published in six days! You can follow the link to read all about it and pre-order. Please check it out!

In the meantime, our summer garden has been producing some delicious harvests, and this week we’d like to talk about our beets (that’s beetroots to you in the U.K.). There’s a reason why beet and goat cheese salads have been ubiquitous on menus for as long as we’ve had menus to peruse: it’s a fantastic combination. But like any classic pairing, the devil is in the details. I adore beets, but they often need a little coaxing to bring out their best flavor. They are referred to as having an “earthy” flavor by those who love them, and “like dirt” by those who don’t. That earthiness, which is found in many root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, is produced by a compound called geosmin.

(Nerd note: geosmin is also found in one of my favorite scents, and favorite words, petrichor – the smell of the earth when it just starts to rain.) Acids break down geosmin, which is why beets are often paired with a tart vinaigrette. Tart cheeses, like chèvre, feta and some blues are a tasty foil to that sweet earthiness. 

Beets_Chioggia
Chioggia beets minutes after being pulled from the garden.

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Caramelized Red Onion and Pear Tarts with Goat Cheese and Spicy Honey Drizzle

Pear & Caramelized Red Onion Tarts with Goat Cheese and Spicy Honey Drizzle

These are what you want for a holiday party: buttery puff pastry pear tarts topped with balsamic-caramelized red onions and goat cheese crumbles. A drizzle of spicy chili-honey puts it over the top. 

Here’s how we fell in love with pear tarts. While we love throwing parties around the holidays, we inevitably get so busy that what we envisioned as a relaxed morning of prepping nibbles ends up being a scramble to get food on the table before our famished guests start experimentally sprinkling salt and pepper on the cats. That’s when a time-saver like puff pastry sheets becomes our best friend in the kitchen. In fact, the day before a party, we often defrost a box just on the off chance that we’ll need to make more vittles. It’s a matter of minutes to throw a few ingredients onto a pastry square and bake it.

We recently found a combination that requires a little more prep time, but is so worth it: roasted pears, caramelized red onions, goat cheese and chili-infused honey. It’s so satisfying that these tarts, maybe with a simple cheese board, are all you need to wow and satisfy your guests. The toppings can be made in advance and even assembled the day before, so all you need to do the day of the party is pop them in the oven. Easy peasy.

Also, don’t forget to check out our tips for buying and cooking pears below. The variety you buy matters!

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Easy Baked Brie With Honey And Pistachios

Easy Baked Brie with Honey and Pistachios

Offering maximum impact with minimal effort, a baked Brie turns a mild-mannered cheese into the superhero of a gathering: a warm, gooey communal comfort food. This version keeps things easy and delicious—it’s baked simply, then topped with pistachios and honey.

Serve it with crackers, sliced apples or good bread.

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Baked Brie en Croûte With Apple and Pear Compote

Baked Brie en Croûte with Spiced Apple and Pear Compote

Offering maximum impact with minimal effort, a baked Brie turns a mild-mannered cheese into the superhero of a gathering: a warm, gooey communal comfort food. This version wraps the cheese in a shell of flaky puff pastry, along with two sweet-tart layers of apple-pear compote.

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