Coming out of Summer and into Autumn has to be one of the best times of year. Autumn signifies the start of colder nights, frosty mornings, comfy meals and of course that Halloween is nearly here and also it will soon be winter.
The leaves turn glories shades of colours ranging from orange and even into red. The conkers are ready and that smell that only comes with Autumn has to be one of the best parts.
Nature is really at its crowning glory during Autumn and it is a great time to put coats on and venture out into the great outdoors and go for a walk and make the most of the season. Finding leaves and collection conkers is a great thing to do, plus you may even find a acorn cup or some seed heads and you are sure to find a feather or two. There you have the basics for a great nature table at home or even turn them into a picture.
Or what about leaf rubbing? This is a lovely activity to do and is so simple. All you need is plain paper, wax crayons and any leaves found whilst on your walk. Then use just need to lay the paper over the leaf and then rub using the sides of the crayon (you can even use two different colour crayons to really give the picture an autumn feel) to create gorgeous & intricate pictures of nature. Or if you prefer you can get some really good photos of these things and the landscape, that really signify Autumn.
- 100g plain flour
- ½ tsp English mustard powder
- 1 egg
- 300ml milk
- 3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 8 plain pork sausages
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced
- 1 tsp soft brown sugar
- 500ml beef stock
- Make the batter: Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip flour into the large mixing bowl and stir in the mustard powder with a good pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg, then pour in a dribble of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating some of the flour, until you have a smooth batter in the well. Now add a bit more milk and continue stirring until all the milk and flour has been mixed together.
- The batter is ready: You should now have a smooth, lump-free batter that is the consistency of double cream. Tip it back into the jug you measured your milk in, for easier pouring later on, then stir in the thyme. Use scissors to snip the links between your sausages, then drop them into a 20 x 30cm roasting tin. Add 1 tbsp of the oil, tossing the sausages in it to thoroughly coat the base of the tin, then roast in the oven for 15 mins.
- Cook the batter: Take the hot tray from the oven, then quickly pour in the batter – it should sizzle and bubble a little when it first hits the hot fat. Put it back into the oven, then bake for 40 mins until the batter is cooked through, well risen and crisp. If you poke the tip of a knife into the batter in the middle of the tray it should be set, not sticky or runny.
- Make the gravy: Soften the onions with the remaining oil in a large nonstick frying pan for about 20 mins, stirring often, until they are golden brown. Sprinkle in the sugar for the final 5 mins. Add the spoonful of flour, then cook, constantly stirring, for 2 mins, so it coats the onions and there is no dry flour left. Gradually pour in the stock, stirring well to make a smooth sauce. Bubble for 4-5 mins to thicken, then season. Cut the toad in the hole into large wedges and serve with the gravy spooned over and any vegetables of choice.
Toad in the hole is such a versatile dish. You can make so many changes and add different ingredients and really make it your own. You can add herbs into the batter or wrap the sausages in bacon before cooking. There really is so many different ideas.
Check out these ideas on the delicious website http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/collections/toad-in-the-hole-recipes/
Or how about some dinky toads? Use cocktail sausages and bake the batter in muffin tins. To create some very cute baby toads!