The other day, out of the blue, I heard from one of my loveliest, oldest friends. We met 20+ years ago at antenatal classes where we were taught, amongst other things, the importance of bringing sandwiches when you go into labour; the fact that the 'working day' has 24 hours in it as soon as you have a baby and the solid advice to NEVER eat yellow snow. Seriously, these were the only lessons that stuck with me! We both now have strapping 21 year old sons, so I assume we learned all the other important stuff as we went along.
Keeping in regular touch with friends from back home is hard when you're an expat - losing touch is much easier. Life is busy for everyone and maintaining a connection is tough when you no longer share the day-to-day. Friendships come and go, but those friendships which can survive the distance and the passing of time between contact (sometimes months, if not years), they are the ones to be cherished. And through my lovely, old friend I also rekindled with another old friend, whose life has followed some similar twists and turns to my own. 'Friends helping friends' - that really is at the core of everything.
So here's one of my current dreams - a park bench; some sunshine and a blue sky (I can accept fluffy cotton wool clouds, but ABSOLUTELY no threat of rain); a free afternoon with no schedule and just me and my two lovely, lost and found friends. I would bring a picnic to fuel us through hours of chatting and it would be -
- homemade sausage rolls
- a family pack of crisps (I'm relaxed about flavour - except for Cheese and Onion (ugh) or Prawn Cocktail (double ugh) ... so in fact, maybe I'm not that relaxed about crisp flavours after all!)
- a bottle of wine
It's a simple picnic but just like simple friendships, aren't they often the best? - the ones that are easy, cosy, can be taken anywhere, can survive travel and long distances and which don't allow fancy distractions to get in the way. They are the best, truly the best.
So what's so great about these sausage rolls?
I know that it's easy to find ready-made sausage rolls in the supermarket and I'm a great fan of a no-fuss life, but this is one of those occasions when the homemade equivalent is SO much better and the benefit more than outweighs the effort. And spoiler alert, I will NEVER EVER suggest that you make your own puff pastry. Really, life is too short for that kind of challenge.
Here's how I make Easy Homemade Sausage Rolls -
- Flour the worktop
- Unroll a packet of ready rolled puff pastry - my rolls of pastry were 23 cm x 30cm.
- Take the skins off a pack of your favourite sausages - I take the skins off for two reasons; firstly it makes it easier to stretch them out or squidge them into the size I need and secondly it's strangely satisfying! Oh and by the way, I just use a sharp knife and cut a shallow slit down the length of the sausage to release the skin - it's easy. Lay them out on the pastry (you'll probably get two rows) with enough space on each side to roll around the sausage and overlap. I used 2.5 sausages per row. Squidge the sausages up, or stretch them out, so that you have a long, unbroken stretch of sausage meat. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry down the middle of the sheet. Brush some beaten egg wash (or milk) along the long, right edges (it will act as the glue).
- Tightly roll the pastry around the first row of sausage so that the join finishes underneath.
- Roll the pastry tightly around the second row of sausage, again making sure that the join finishes underneath.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the sausage rolls into your chosen size. Use the point of the knife to pierce a couple of steam holes in the top of each one.
- Transfer to a greased baking tray and brush with beaten egg wash or milk.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown.
I think homemade sausage rolls have so much to give. Here's why ...
- There are only four ingredients - sausages, puff pastry, a dusting of flour and an egg or milk for glazing and sealing.
- You can choose your favourite sausage - spicy, traditional, exotic, vegetarian (I haven't tried a veggie option but I don't see why not). You choose.
- You can choose the size - I do love a big, hefty sausage roll (a full meal wrapped in puff pastry) but the more delicate sized specimens work too.
- They freeze like a dream - my preference is to freeze them uncooked, with the egg wash already on there. I can then defrost as many as I need in the fridge overnight and bake them the next day.
- They smell gorgeous when they're cooking
- They work both hot and cold - let's be clear, hot is the dream but a crafty cold sausage roll has its place too.
- They're easy to eat - no cutlery required. On-the-go gets a big tick. Perhaps just add a piece of kitchen roll or a napkin for greasy fingers.
- They bridge the generations - as popular with teenagers as with grandparents + everyone in between.
- They feel a bit wholesome - and a bit nostalgic. I like that.
- They bring a dull lunch or picnic to life - seems like a big statement, but I really mean that. The addition of crisps also feels important. And maybe some ketchup if that's your thing.
- They make people happy - and I speak from experience when I say that arriving at a gathering with (still warm) homemade sausage rolls, makes you the ultimate popular guest. FYI fish finger sandwiches are always a winner too ...
And if you have any annoying bits of leftovers of either pastry or sausages, they can easily be used up - the odd sausage is always a welcome addition to a packed lunch, a sandwich filling or thrown into a pasta dish; and even the smallest scrap of pastry can be used for a little tart, like I did here.
COVID has been grim for each and every one of us but it has shone a bright light on our friendships and the huge, positive part they play in our lives.
All friendships, new and old, are great. But there is something extra special about rekindling gorgeous old friendships - especially when it's combined with homemade sausage rolls, a bottle of wine and a family size packet of crisps. That, for me, is park bench heaven. Counting down the days …Print