My feet quickly scurried over the icy-cold pavers towards the carport; our second fridge lives out there and I grasped whatever it was that I was heading outside to get firmly in my hands before rushing back up to our blue front door. It was when I took that first step inside that for a moment I was back in my Nanna Joy's home, her home in Box Hill.
It always felt so large and the driveway was so long, with the grass strip running right the way down the middle. The grass was thick and spongy and she always kept the odd fork or two in the garden beds, which stuck upright, the tines resting in the dark, rich soil. A hills hoist stood proudly in the centre of the back lawn which provided many a cheeky swing around by my brother and I, before being told "get down from there!" My imagination ran wild at the thought of all the creepy crawlies that lurked in the shadows of the old, un-used outback toilet that sat up on the left hand side of the garden, thank goodness there was another, more user friendly one closer to the house! And then there was the green, long-corded rotary dial telephone that sat next to the black teledex, I loved listening to the sound it made as I turned the dial....
It was in her kitchen however, that I have perhaps the fondest of memories. It had this certain smell of baking and cooking which intermingled and infused the air. My brother and I would sit at the high bench waiting patiently for the sausage rolls to be pulled from the oven. Their golden, flaky pastry shells shining under the light that filtered in through the kitchen windows. Her strong hands handled them delicately as she pulled one by one off the trays to cool. Soon after a plate would appear in front of us and a giant dollop of "Black Crow" tomato sauce would dive out of the glass bottle, I remember always having to "smack" the bottom of the bottle to will it on out. We would greedily scoop the sauce up with our almost too-hot-to-handle sausage rolls which would leave a trail of pastry flakes in the smear that was left behind.
More often than not, fluffy pikelets would follow, flipped with an expert ease and magically appear before our wide hungry eyes. Those days seem so long ago but then they also feel as though they happened only yesterday. It only takes a batch of sausage rolls to take me back to those days of sitting in Nanna Joy's kitchen. She lives on in many ways, but it is through her sausage rolls where much of the happiness and "joy" are shared. A party was never complete without a tray piled high and they were always the first to disappear.
They were well known amongst many of the customers at the café too and my Aunty became quite the expert maker/roller/baker, I wouldn't dare try to count how many she would have made over the years!
Perhaps its the addition of diced bacon or the dash of savoury/sweet Worcestershire sauce that gives it that little something special that makes myself and many others reach for "just one more". I think it has something to do with both, but I also think that its the memories that will be forever rolled into each one. That first bite when lips become covered in flaky pastry crumbs and the smear of rich red tomato sauce on the plate is all that remains. Yes, it is these and many more thoughts that will always put a smile on my face. More so now, knowing that these same memories will be created for Beau, for there will always be a plate piled high at every one of his parties and the occasional batch will be (allowed) to cool on the kitchen bench, lined up as straight as soldiers, ready to tempt any hungry tummies after time spent out in the crisp winter air. And each time I will give Nanna Joy a little nod and thank her for the moments and memories that she helped to create, that made our childhood as special as it was.
Nanna Joy's Sausage Rolls
Makes about 16 large or quite a few party sized
2kg Sausage meat
2 brown onions, finely diced
6 rashers of bacon, diced, fat trimmed
4 tbsp. tomato sauce
4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup breadcrumbs
about 8 sheets of puff pastry (I like to use Borgs)
1 egg & a dash of milk for brushing
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. line trays with baking paper so they are ready and waiting.
In a large bowl combine the sausage meat, onions, bacon, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, and breadcrumbs. season well. Your hands will be the best tools for this next part as it requires a bit of mixing and squishing together so that all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Lay out the pastry sheets and then using a sharp knife cut down the middle of each one so that you now have two long sheets. Take a good handful of the meat mix and first squish it into a ball and then using two hands start to form it into a sausage shape. lay it down towards the left hand side of one of the halved sheets and then stretch it out so that its an even shape and touches the top and bottom of the pastry sheet. You may need to add more mixture or take some away, just don't overfill them as they will burst their bottoms when they cook! Maybe try a practice one and see how it rolls up and then you will be able to judge better for the rest of them. Continue to do this until all the mixture has been used up.
In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk and mix together and then using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash down the centre of each sheet and then one by one roll them up so that the seam is on the bottom. Now you can either just cup them in half and have 2 large sausage rolls or you can cut them into 4 and have party sized ones. I will leave that up to you.
Place them onto the prepared trays, leaving a bit of space in between each one. Brush with egg wash and then pop them into your oven for about 40 minutes (swapping trays around half way through) or until they are golden, shiny and look good enough to eat!
Allow them to cool on the trays until they are cool enough to handle, or you could pluck a couple from the tray, minding your fingers, onto a plate, a good dollop of tomato sauce (or a lovely chutney) and enjoy them hot, straight from the oven. Pop the rest onto some cooling racks and allow to cool completely before storing them in airtight containers, with sheets of baking paper in between the layers. They will keep in the fridge, for at least 5 days ready for a quick re-heat in the oven for lunches in the days that follow. Or you can freeze them for up to 2 months.