Yesterday was Guy Fawkes, or Bonfire Night and, for us in the UK, we gather round bonfires, watching fireworks and eating sausages, commemorating the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and the resulting punishment given to Guy himself. It’s also a special day for us as it is our wedding anniversary. And yes, we’ve heard all the jokes about there being fireworks on our wedding night 😉
From our dining table we can look down onto the city below us and see all the fireworks – a fantastic sight and, as a plus point, it also saves us standing around outside. We don’t like to ignore tradition completely though, so we thought that we would at least have the sausages as part of our anniversary meal. Sausages and our favourite sparkling wine – the one we had at our wedding. Because it was cold we thought that red wine would be better than champagne – more warming, even though it was chilled. I’m sure you know what I mean. We’d wanted sparkling drinks to go with the fireworks going on outside and chose Hardy’s Crest Sparkling Shiraz
I had to do more, though, than cook sausages and serve some wine and I decided that one of my favourite wintery standby recipes would be perfect – roasted, spiced winter vegetables. I have a recipe that I must have copied down from somewhere – it is written in a very old diary from 1977… not that I first did it then, just that I used the diary…it was already old when I found it….Old and empty, which is why I decided to use it for scribbling down recipes.
Goodness knows when I wrote that, though, but it must have been at least 17 years ago.
I have no idea where I got it from, so I can’t give due credit. Anyway, it has evolved, almost beyond recognition since then and I think the tweaks I made have improved it. Well, it has improved it to MY taste, anyway. Still, in order to make it I needed vegetables, so set off to the greengrocer to see what I could get.
It’s great to be able to go to a traditional greengrocer
All the fruit and vegetables are piled up so you can see what you are buying and choose just what you want
I came back with lovely, knobbly Anya potatoes, sweet baby Chantenay carrots, sweet onions, broccoli, baby tomatoes, a sweet potato, a couple of parsnips, some baby corn, some garlic and some ginger. I also bought a packet of Merchant Gourmet roasted chestnuts, which must be one of the best things ever – the time that saves in roasting and peeling, well, I wouldn’t be so keen on chestnuts if I had to do it all myself… and as for the sausages? I chose Toulouse sausages – they are small French sausages made of coarsely diced pork and bacon flavored with wine, garlic and unlike other sausages tend to have more meat and less of the normal breadcrumb filler.
The aim is to have the perfect mix of roasted vegetables. I love the soft sweetness of the sweet potato, with a bursting little tomato, a tasty, slightly charred bite of broccoli with the gorgeous chestnut…. lovely little garlicy roasted potatoes and mushrooms…. it really is delicious. It can easily stand alone as a vegetarian meal but with the addition of sausages…..oh it is just perfect!
And best of all it is simple! Start by putting the oven on high – about 230 degrees (210 if it is a fan oven) so that when the vegetables are ready they go into a hot oven and get just a hint of charring. It really deepens the flavour.
Then, prepare your vegetables. Start with the root vegetables – peel and roughly cube the sweet potato. Chop the Anya potatoes (or any other potato) into roughly the same size pieces. Same for the parsnip. The onion needs to be cut into manageable pieces. Obviously they are going to take longer than the other vegetables.
Scatter them into a large roasting tin and drizzle oil over them to give them a good, but light and even coating
Then prepare your spice mix. You need ground coriander, ground cinnamon and some cardomom pods.
Crush the cardamom pods and take out the seeds inside (I hate it when you leave the pods in and then you chew on the inedible outer casing…it’s a sort of medicinal taste. Not good when you are aiming for a comforting supper) Give them a grinding in the mortar with your pestle
The cases split open and inside are the aromatic black seeds.
You need to separate them from the husks.. either through your fingers
Or in a large draining spoon so the seeds fall down.
Then crush the seeds to a powder. You’ll need a teaspoon or so
Scatter the spices and ground seeds lightly over the vegetables (maybe a large teaspoon of each) and add some grated ginger and chopped garlic. Sprinkle some salt over the top and drizzle with some more oil.
Into the hot oven for ten minutes or so till you can see it starting to brown….
Turn the oven down to about 175 degrees (less if it is a fan oven) and before you cover with foil, scatter in the softer vegetables, the baby tomatoes, broccoli florets, quartered mushrooms, the baby corn, and the packet of chestnuts.
That will take another hour or so. Just check how things go as it steams in its own juices under its tin foil cover.
Now, I suppose, you had better set the table
Once I did that, we really entered into the spirit of Bonfire Night… Fireworks? Hah! We had a sparkler each. No expense spared for our anniversary dinner……..
Back to the cooking. Is everything softening well?
Take the foil off and stir things round….. dot the top with small nuggets of butter and then let it cook, uncovered for the last half hour or so.
That is, I can assure you, the most lovely aromatic mix of roast vegetables you’ll have had in a long time.
The only other thing to do is cook the sausages
Make sure they are beautifully browned
Pour some wine… the bubbles are just so right for Bonfire Night. A glass or two of lovely rich sparkling shiraz is just the thing for sausages and veg…. and just the thing to celebrate with!
The roasted vegetables are beautifully soft with just the right hint of charring. The spices are perfect and smell is just gorgeous. Look at how beautiful it all looks.
But Bonfire Night isn’t Bonfire Night without some fireworks… and we needed to celebrate…..
And the result?
Clean plates. Always a marker of how successful a meal has been.
And I did, in the end, manage to get a photograph of the fireworks going off below us
So… a simple meal of roasted vegetables and sausages – perfect for Bonfire Night and even more perfect to celebrate an anniversary…