spiced lamb sausage rolls

Lamb sausage rolls.
Lamb sausage rolls.

Oh Australia. Did you think I’d forgotten you?

One of the stranger quirks about being an expat is that you begin to hold national holidays even dearer to your heart than you would if you were actually living in the country. Where once you might have rolled your eyes at the prolific display of Southern Cross memorabilia and smirked at the plethora of green-and-gold boxing kangaroos, you instead find yourself looking at akubras with a certain fondness and tearfully googling the Australian flag.

It’s weird, yes. But it’s true.

Make these whenever you feel homesick.
Make these whenever you feel homesick.

I have trouble defining Australian cuisine, but there are generally a few things that come to mind: ANZAC biscuits, lamingtons, meat pies and sausage rolls. These stalwarts are often coloured by the irresistible compulsion to incorporate flavours from other cuisines – something fittingly characteristic of a nation inhabited by so many different cultures. And so we have chilli meat pies, barbecued curry prawns, pandan lamingtons and nutella pavlovas. I love it. If we are going to mend global fences, reach out to each other and live well together, I think it starts with food.

So in the spirit of Australia Day, I thought I’d make something quintessentially Aussie with a little twist. A while ago I found this wildly successful adana kebab recipe and to my delight it makes an excellent sausage roll, too. Lightly spicy, exotic yet familiar, these sausage rolls are my homage to the country I still call home.

Happy Australia Day, folks!

The familiar meets the exotic.
The familiar meets the exotic.

Spiced lamb sausage rolls
500g lamb mince
7.5g salt (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp sumac
1 tbsp Urfa pepper flakes
2 eggs
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 roll (375g) puff pastry

Place the mince in a large, sturdy bowl and add the salt, cumin, sumac and pepper flakes. Mix, using your hands to knead, until the mince goes tacky and starts sticking to the side of the bowl.

Add 1 egg and the breadcrumbs, then combine well. The final mixture should be springy and slightly sticky but not wet.

Chill the mince for at least an hour.

Take out the mince and divide it into 8 portions, then shape them into logs.

Wrap the logs in the puff pastry, overlapping the fold slightly. Score three times with a sharp knife, brush with beaten egg and bake in a 200C oven for 25-30 minutes.

party parcels

It's the party season, and we mean to do it well.
It’s the party season, and we mean to do it well.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, which means one thing: indulgence.

I love the way London does Christmas. It’s cool and crisp outside, cosy and warm inside, and people wander around town wrapped in scarves and beanies, noses pink from the cold and eyes sparkling with the twinkling lights of Oxford Circus and Regent Street.

The Grinchiest Grinch couldn’t fail to be caught up in the magic of this festive time of year.

The sadness at being away from those I love at home and abroad is somewhat tempered by the whirlwind of parties and irresponsible merriment. At any other time, drinking every day would basically render you a functioning alcoholic, but December is the exception: parties are simply the order of the month.

These party parcels are quick and easy to make and impressive to look at. Warm, filling and delightful, they’re perfect for a relaxed gathering – just add mulled wine, good friends and plenty of laughter.

Trio of Party Parcels: ‘Plant, Parma and Pumpkin
Eggplant parcel:
1 square of puff pastry, roughly 12.5-15cm in length
1 slice eggplant, about 7.5mm thick
Half a teaspoon of harissa paste
1 slice mozzarella cheese, about 5mm thick

If it isn’t already done, cut the puff pastry into a square. I used reduced fat ready-rolled puff pastry, but go with what you like.

Cut a square of pastry.
Cut a square of pastry.

Place the eggplant in the centre and top with the harissa paste.

Eggplant and harissa is an amazing combination.
Eggplant and harissa is an amazing combination.

Add the mozzarella.

Eggplant, harissa and mozzarella. It just works.
Eggplant, harissa and mozzarella. It just works.

To form the parcel, take two corners of the parcel and pinch together.

Wrapping the parcel.
Wrapping the parcel.

Crimp hard along the seam, folding over slightly to get a better seal.

Pinch along the seam.
Pinch along the seam.

Fold the other corners up in the same way, crimping as you go.

One party parcel.
One party parcel.

Truthfully, mine sort of popped open in the oven, so if you don’t want this to happen you can prick the pastry with a fork.

Parma parcel:
1 square of puff pastry, roughly 12.5-15cm in length
1 slice Parma ham
1 slice mozzarella cheese, about 5mm thick
1 slice pear, about 5mm thick
4 yellow pickled jalapeño slices

Take the square of pastry, and lay the Parma ham so the bulk sits in the middle and hangs off the side of the pastry square.

Isn't Parma ham delicious?
Isn’t Parma ham delicious?

Place the pear and jalapeños on top, followed by the mozzarella.

Parma, pear, pickles and cheese.
Parma, pear, pickles and cheese.

Wrap the other end of the Parma ham back over the top so it forms a neat package in the middle of your pastry.

Fold as per the eggplant parcel.

Parma party parcel
Parma party parcel

Pumpkin parcel:
1 square of puff pastry, roughly 12.5-15cm in length
1 slice pumpkin, about 5mm thick (I used butternut squash because that’s what I had lying around)
1 tablespoon chilli jam
1 square cheddar cheese (you can use mozzarella again here, but I think cheddar is nicer for the flavour)

Microwave your pumpkin slice for around 30 seconds and allow to cool.

Take the square of pastry, and lay the pumpkin in the middle and top with chilli jam.

Pumpkin and chilli jam.
Pumpkin and chilli jam.

Add the cheese and fold as per the eggplant parcel.

To cook, take a foil-lined tray and brush with a little oil. Place the parcels on top and brush with a beaten egg.

Brush with a beaten egg for a golden coating.
Brush with a beaten egg for a golden coating.

Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, until the cheese turns molten and the pastry is golden.

party parcels - fresh from the oven
Serve hot and fresh.

They explode into a shower of buttery pastry crumbs when you bite into them, so hand out the plates first. Merry Christmas, everyone!