A delightful and tasty recipe I discovered shortly after I arrived here was a lovely dish called Toad in the Hole. I had often heard about this British delicacy but had never had any idea of what it was let alone ever had the chance to try it. I soon learned that it had nothing to do with holes, dirt, or even toads for that matter!
The origin of the name 'Toad-in-the-Hole' is quite vague. Most suggestions are that the dish's resemblance to a toad sticking its little head out of a hole provide the dish with its somewhat unusual name.
From wilkepedia I learned that Toad in the hole originated in the town of Alnmouth in Northumberland. Alnmouth has a links golf course which can at certain times of the year be overrun with Natterjack toads. It was at just such a time, that a golf tournament was being played and the leader made his put only to have the ball promply ejected by a rather vexed toad that had been quietly asleep in the bottom of the cup. On hearing of the players misfortune, the chef at the towns hotel where the players were staying devised the dish, thinking it would resemble a toad rising from the eighteenth, and served it that night.
Now that is what you call a dish with an interesting history to go along with it. But then again, I am discovering that this is true of most of the food over here. It all has a lovely history to go along with it, which is truly delightful!
I found a recipe in a Delia cookbook, her "How to Cook" series and I tried it out. (You can always rely on Delia) This was the cadillac of Toad in the Hole recipes and included a lovely version of an onion gravy as well. I was hooked!!! It quickly became a family favourite, although I have since found a much easier way of doing it.
To be sure, it is quite simply sausages baked in the oven with a delicious Yorkshire pudding batter baked around them, but there is an art to making a good one. I made this for my boys the first time they came over for a visit and they fell in love with it. I always serve it with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots . . . and a good gravy is a must!!!
*Toad In The Hole*
Serves 2 to 3
2 large Eggs
4 oz (125g) Plain Flour
1/4 Pint (150ml) Milk
1/4 Pint (150ml) Cold Water
Salt & Pepper
6 Good Quality Herby Sausages of your choosing (I like Cumberland myself)
2 tbsp Lard or Dripping or Cooking Oil*
On a low heat cook the Sausages in a frying pan on all sides until nicely browned and sticky. Do not prick the skins! Allow to cool.
Crack open the eggs into a large measuring jug and beat well. Add the milk and water together, mixing it all together really well. Set aside.
Sift the the flour into a large bowl and season with a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Make a well in the centre. Gradually whisk in the liquid mixture, whisking until you have a stiff but smooth batter with no lumps. Allow to rest for half an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*F. Slip the lard or oil into a deep sided baking tin and place just this in the oven. Once it is quite hot and the fat is sizzling, quickly, but carefully, take it out and rest on the top of the hob. Pour in the Batter mixture. Then add the Sausages, parallel to each other, the length of the tin.
Place back into the oven and bake for around half an hour until the batter is puffed up, golden brown and crispy. Serve cut into squares with fluffy mashed potatoes and a delicious gravy of your own choosing.