When the weather’s fine and the ground is miraculously dry from last night’s sudden downpour, you’ve got to be able to take advantage of the sunshine and what better way to do that than to have a picnic. I love picnics (and the occasional post-meal Frisbee tournament) and it’s always an excuse to bake fun treats that wouldn’t get a look in at a main meal. Two criteria: they’ve got to be tasty and able to be eaten with one hand while you hold a glass of wine (or Frisbee) in the other.
Two of my recent favourites are my chicken sausage rolls and oven-roasted chicken wings. The sausage rolls are a doodle to make and you could have them on the table in less than an hour. They are made interesting with the addition of fresh tarragon and stay moist with grated vegetables. I urge you to try them and if you’re a fan of aniseed flavours, then you’ll love this way to inject more tarragon into your cooking. If you are not so keen on tarragon, then this recipe may possibly convert you.
Chicken sausage rolls
500g minced chicken
1 small onion finely chopped
1 medium carrot grated
2 tbsp fresh tarragon
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
4 sheets defrosted puff pastry
1 beaten egg to seal and egg wash
3 tbsp sesame seeds
Makes 24 mini sausage rolls
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Place the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, using a clean hand to combine the mix thoroughly.
3. Cut the puff pastry sheets in half to form two large rectangles. Place 4 to 5 tablespoons of the mixture down the centre of the rectangles lengthways. Brush the top long edge of the pastry with the beaten egg. Rolling the pastry away from you, carefully bring the bottom edge over the sausage mix and then keep rolling to make a seal along the top long edge.
4. Using a sharp knife, cut the long roll into thirds for mini sausage rolls or in half for larger rolls. Make two slits in the pastry on top of each sausage roll. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheets.
5. Arrange rolls on tray and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.
These sausage rolls are also great to freeze once they are cooled. They can be reheated from frozen and no one will ever know that you were a domestic goddess last weekend.
Still hungry? Well, let me offer you my moreish oven-baked chicken wings. These are super easy to make and only require a little bit of effort turning the wings over once in a while. This dish was inspired by my Mum’s chicken wings that she would make not often enough as she hated the deep frying involved. I remember watching her make them and burning my fingers and tongue on the just-cooked wings. Ah – childhood food memories! I try to avoid deep frying whenever I can, not just for the health benefits but also because I don’t like me or my home smelling of hot oil (not to mention the spitting hot fat and cleaning involved). Anyway, this method makes the whole process a lot easier (and cleaner) and the result is exactly the same.
Mum’s chicken wings
1 kg chicken wings divided, wingets removed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Line large baking tray with foil.
2. Dab any extra moisture from the chicken wings with paper towel. Evenly coat the wings with the salt and five spice. I prefer to use my hands as I’ve yet to find a spoon as dexterous.
3. Arrange the wings on the tray and place in the hot oven. After 20 minutes turn the wings over. Continue to turn them until they are cooked to your liking. I cook my wings for about 1 hour in total. The relatively long cooking time also helps to render the fat which makes the skin really crispy.