Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Toad in the Hole
Before Angela Lansbury found the role of her lifetime in JB Fletcher, another career highlight was her portrayal of war-time trainee witch Eglantine Price in the 1971 magical musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks, featuring music by The Sherman Brothers. Most of you know the story of how Charlie, Carrie and Paul escape the London Blitz and are sent to live with Ms Price. With the help of a magic bedknob and an old bed, the four of them end up going on an epic adventure to find a missing spell.
They meet Professor Emelius Browne who takes them to a wartime dance-off on Portobello Road, before long they find themselves bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea, playing in a football tournament on the isle of Namumbu and, finally, defeating the Nazis with some good old-fashioned magic.
Before all that, though, the children sit down for their first meal at Ms Price’s house. She asks them what they like to eat and Carrie says “sausage and mash, bubble and squeak, toad in the hole . . .”
Ms Price tells them that they won’t find any fried foods in her house and Paul replies “No fried foods? How do you keep your health?”
Instead, the children are served cabbage buds, rosehips, hyssop seed, elm bark, wattle yeast and stewed nettles by Ms Price. Yuk.
When I was a kid “Toad in the Hole” sounded about as magical as the words “traguna, macoides, tracorum, sadis dee”.
Turns out it’s the comfort dish to end all comfort dishes and it couldn’t be easier to make. This classic British winter warmer is made up of crispy sausages covered in a Yorkshire pudding batter puffed up in a hot oven and served with gravy and something green.
For the filling
8 good quality pork sausages
2 red onions, peeled and chopped into thick wedges
For the batter
100g plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 medium egg
2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Pre-heat oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in an oven-proof casserole or skillet over a medium heat. Fry the sausages for five minutes until they start to brown. Add the onion wedges and fry for three to four minutes more.
Transfer to the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until the sausages are golden and almost cooked through.
Meanwhile, make your batter. Sieve the plain flour into a large bowl and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Make a well in the flour and break in the egg. Add a splash of the milk and start to mix. Gradually add the milk into the batter – do it slowly to avoid any lumpy toads – until you have quite a thin, runny batter.
Carefully remove the sausages from the oven and pour in the batter. Put it straight back into the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the batter is golden and risen.
This is best served with a good gravy (try slicing two red onions and cooking them in six tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and some vegetable stock) and minty peas.