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Seasonal tidbits to make you a domestic deity

Tasting

ROLL UP, ROLL UP Create some seasonal drama with delicious homemade sausage rolls

Tasting
Red Cabot

Is it titbit or tidbit? Either way it’s a small plate of delicious-tasting food, and during the festive season, they’re always appreciated. Instead of me using this space to tackle the big-ticket Christmas items, such as de turkey, de ham and de puddin’ (this knowledge is often best sought from traditions held by family and friends over the years), I’m going for the small but beautifully formed. Let me tickle your fancy with some seasonal snacks that won’t be painstaking to prepare and make, but will reflect the good and giving values of Yuletide.

Your own sausage rolls
(Nice big ones!)
The homely, feel-good factor from producing a plate of your own sausage rolls is unbeatable. You’ll feel like a domestic god or goddess! Why not make some in advance? You can store them in an airtight container for a day or two until you require them. It’s well worth it. The key is making your own sausage mix.

What you need
> 1kg finely minced pork from your local butcher
> 100g white breadcrumbs
> 1 handful chives finely chopped
> 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
> 1 tbsp fresh sage chopped
> 1 tsp garam masala
> Seasoning,
> Pinch of cayenne pepper

What you do
Mix your minced pork with all the herbs, the spices and the breadcrumbs, and season to taste. Do this with your hands – true handmade food! If you are particular, you can fry a small piece of this mix to test that the flavours and seasoning are to your liking.
You can make your own pastry with flour, butter, salt and touch of water, but I’m not a complete domestic deity, so I use the shop-brought puff pastry.
Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 4mm thickness, and an oblong shape of about 45cm x 12cm. Lay the sausage meat inside one long side. Fold the pastry over and join where you have brushed a touch of egg wash. Pinch or crimp the edges together.
Brush the top of the log with more egg wash, and sprinkle with fennel seed if you have some for a nice touch. Place log in fridge for ten mins to firm up. Using a serrated knife, cut the log  into about eight pieces, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°c until golden brown – about 35-45 minutes. Remove to cool and eat warm, or store for those guests!

Baked mushrooms and ricotta cheese
I love baked mushrooms. Cooked well they blend texture and umami flavours for a super starter. Easy to prepare too – the oven does the work. Serve on an attractive plate for a party gathering or as seasonal supper starter. I normally use garlic and butter, but here’s a cheesy version.

What you need
> 1 big handful of mushrooms with caps big enough to hold the cheese stuffing
> 75g ricotta cheese
> 1 x red chilli,
> zest of 1 lemon
> 75g parmesan cheese grated
> 2 tbsp fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
> Olive oil
> Seasoning
> Fresh herbs for dressing (any)

What you do
Place the ricotta cheese, finely chopped chili, lemon zest and seasoning in a bowl and mix using a wooden spoon. Then fold in some of the parmesan, and the chopped Oregano. Remove any bad stalks from mushrooms and place upside down on baking tray drizzled with oil. Fill them with the ricotta mix and finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan.
Place in reheated oven 220ºc and bake until golden; about 15 minutes. Serve on a nice plate, and dress with whatever fresh herbs you fancy.
Wishing peace and goodwill to all Mayo News readers.

> Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.

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