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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Crispy Falafel with Homemade Pita and Lemon-Garlic Tahini Sauce

Falafel with Pita bread and Tahini Sauce

Falafel – crispy fried nuggets of ground chickpeas, flavored with herbs and spices – are an essential Middle Eastern dish. Serve them as a meze appetizer with Lemon-Garlic Tahini Sauce, or stuff them into warm, home-made Pita Bread with a veggie salad. 

All right, we’ll admit it: we’re unapologetically carnivorous. I mean, we’ll try anything, more or less, but when it comes down to “what to make for dinner”, at least a few times a week our protein of choice will be some kind of meat, hopefully raised and butchered responsibly, but still animal. And those of you who’ve been following us for a while know our shtick: we’re not adherents to any one particular diet or another, we don’t do paleo or Atkins or South Beach or whatever, we’re just home cooks who swear a lot and occasionally drop whole dishes of cauliflower cheese on the floor. But we do love vegetables, and the environment, and we also have friends who are vegan, or gluten free, or both, and who will squint and poke us in the ribs from time to time and say “What about me, bud? What about me?” These falafels, my friend, go out to you.

I don’t know why it took us so long to blog a falafel recipe. Emily grew up going to Mamoun’s (the best falafel joint in NYC), and her college years were spent bunked up with vegetarians, Moosewood cookbooks and, frankly, a severe lack of funds. This gave her a pretty good foundation in the dishes that could be put together with varieties of grains, beans and rice. And Matt rarely meets a bean he doesn’t like, but is frequently disappointed by boring veggie burgers. But these spicy deep fried delights? Yeah, these tick all our boxes. While the dried chickpeas require an overnight soak, and the mixture has to chill for a couple of hours, the rest is easy and actually a lot of fun to make. And the good thing is, you don’t even need a deep fryer.

Crispy Falafel

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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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Warm Cheddar and Stout Dip

Warm Cheddar & Stout Dip

Like you, probably, there’s almost nothing we enjoy better of a Sunday evening than kicking back and watching one of the many televisual spornts available. We like the foopball spornt, the basket-throw spornt, the shove-ha’penny and all the running-around-in-a-circle events, and we just love cheering on one of the teams we support, usually the ones with the most colorful socks. “Go team!” we shout with vigor at the screen. “Do it for the old home town!” And at the same time we are congratulating the MVP for scoring his or her final homegoal or throwing it all down the end zone at the bottom of the ninth, we congratulate ourselves, most of all, for making the perfect snack accompaniment.

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Japanese-style Chicken (or Turkey) Meatballs (Tsukune)

Japanese-style Chicken (or Turkey) Meatballs (Tsukune)

These Japanese-style chicken meatball skewers, called Tsukune, are grilled to a deep golden brown and brushed with a sweet soy glaze. Great for game day snacks or just when you feel like eating something on a stick (which is every day for us). 

Well, it’s finally that time of year. You know, when we can all go outside, hang out on the deck with friends, throw stuff on the grill, enjoy the warm summer’s evening because OF COURSE NOT, IT’S JANUARY, WE JUST GOT DONE WITH -10F TEMPS, ARE YOU CRAZY. And yet this weekend my inbox included an email from our favorite national home-improvement chain inviting me to shop all their grill options. Thank you, Home Depot, I’ll wait until I can defrost the patio furniture before I start thinking about firing up the grill.

But who are we to tell you when you can and can’t eat something? If you want to make a strawberry Pavlova in November, or roast a butternut squash in March, you do that, friend, and go with our blessing. If you feel like grilling meatballs on a stick in January, whether you brave the cold to man the grill, or use a grill pan on your stovetop, or forgo the grill entirely and opt for the broiler, is there any good reason you shouldn’t? There isn’t. There’s no good reason at all.

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