I first discovered really good coffee in Sydney. It was 1999 and I was in the prime of my youth. Having spent a number of years in the States drinking pre Chemex drip, some could argue that I just didn't know any better. But while soaking up winter rays I tried my first true flat white. And have never looked back.
There were a number of voyages across the planet to visit siblings before our numbers grew too daunting to travel that far en masse. And while we were Down Under, we spent considerably more time was spent checking out eateries than beaches.
Bourke St Bakery, which had recently opened on our last visit, produced some of the most memorable breads, pastries and coffee in Sydney. And they are equally renowned for their savoury pies and sausage rolls which they make in a gazillion flavour combinations.
Roll on a few years, and no real opportunity to travel across the globe, I brought Bourke St Bakery to my kitchen in the form of sausage rolls. They epitomise comfort food - a staple here on Sunday night, and are loved by all.
These rolls of (comfort) perfection are ideal either hot for dinner, cold for lunch, or in miniature size for a party. Over the years I have modified their recipe, exchanging a few of their ingredients for more tolerated varieties in this here abode. I hope you will think they are as undeniably delicious as we do. Or maybe we just believe that anything encased in pastry is hard to resist...........
Sausage Rolls (inspired by those beauties I first spotted at Bourke St Bakery all those years ago)
I most often fill these with beef and mushroom as below, but please feel free to play around. I have been known shake up the "sausage" bit with turkey and sage, or lamb and chickpea with a hint of cumin, or for the veggies a sweet potato, red onion and goats cheese filling.
This recipe makes 16 large sausage rolls (we eat 3 per person here and still fight over the last one). If you are not such gluttons, the filling freezes well so feel free to make the full amount and freeze the other half for another time. They also make fantastic leftovers or lunch the next day. And for retro party hors d'euvres, you can make mini rolls.
200g (1 large) onion
5 large cloves garlic
3 celery stalks
1 1/2 tbsp thyme leaves
1/2 tsp crushed chillies (red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp olive oil
150g (5.5oz) chestnut or shitake mushrooms
salt and pepper
1kg (2 1/4 lbs) minced beef
65g (2/3 cup) breadcrumbs*
2 x packages ready rolled puff pastry (approximately 300g/10.5 oz each)
2 tbsp sesame seeds, divided
Finely chop onion, garlic, celery and thyme (I do this in a food processor)
Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion mixture and red pepper flakes. Cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent. Do not let it brown.
Meanwhile finely chop the mushrooms.
When the onions are soft add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for another 5 minutes or so until the mixture is soft and fragrant and all the moisture has been released.
Transfer mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool.
Once cool add beef and breadcrumbs and mix well with your hands.
Whisk egg in a bowl with 1 tsp cold water for the wash and put aside.
Unpack first puff pastry sheet (or roll a block of puff pastry into a rectangle approx 35 x 23cm/9 x 14 inches). I usually leave it on the parchment that it is rolled on, or if you are rolling it out, make sure you lightly flour the worktop first.
Cut in half lengthways and fill each length with 1/4 of the filling (see photo above). I place the filling in one half of the oblong so that it is easier to fold over the pastry
Brush egg wash over exposed pastry and firmly fold pastry over pressing edges together to seal.
Turn over so that the seam side is down and slice each log into 4 rolls.
Brush egg wash over the top and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sesame seeds.
Transfer onto baking sheet lines with parchment paper.
Repeat with the remaining puff pastry and the other half of the filling.
Once all the sausages are on the baking sheets, chill for 30 minutes or until ready to use (they can be made a few hours in advance)
Preheat oven to 200C (400F) and place racks in upper and lower third of oven
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and juicy. (You may need to swap the trays around half way through)
*I always whizz up the ends of my bread in the food processor and keep them in the freezer for times like these