September's The Simple Things includes three recipes by Lia Leendertz in celebration of the ancient agricultural festival of Mabon.
Says Lia, 'I love a sausage roll, particularly to pack up and take on a picnic, and these contain all the nutty fruitiness of the season. Damson cheese is a sort of thick, sliceable jam, which I often make from my damson glut to eat with cheese and crackers, but it’s lovely here. If you can’t get hold of it, just use plum jam instead'.
Want to make Damson cheese? Scroll down for a recipe.
Walnut and damson cheese sausage rolls
Makes 6 large or 18 small
50g walnuts, plus a few extra
400g free-range sausage meat or 6 pork sausages
a few sage leaves, chopped
250g pack puff pastry
100g damson cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F. Tip the walnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 7-10 minutes, until slightly toasted. Set aside to cool, then chop roughly.
2 In a bowl, combine the sausage meat (if using sausages, squeeze them out of their skins), chopped toasted walnuts and sage. If using sausage meat, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper (sausages are already well seasoned). Use your hands to mix everything together thoroughly.
3 Lay out your rectangle of pastry and slice it into three across the shorter length to give three long strips. Cut the damson cheese into batons and lay it in a line down the middle of each strip. Divide the sausage mixture and arrange it evenly along the three lengths. Carefully roll the mixture up, brushing one edge with beaten egg to stick the edges of the pastry together. Turn the roll over so that the seam is on the bottom, then cut it into however many lengths you want. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
4 Brush the tops of the sausage rolls with beaten egg, then chop a few extra walnuts and sprinkle them over the top. Finish with flakes of sea salt. Bake in the preheated oven for at least 25 minutes. I often leave mine for longer, as I love the pastry really crisp and well done. Remove from the oven when yours are as you want them and leave to cool a little before eating (they’re delicious still slightly warm).
Recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the Guardian (visit the original page for more damson recipes).
This traditional fruit "cheese" is a very thick, sliceable preserve that is immensely good served with actual cheese. It keeps for ages. Makes 850-900g.
Around 750g granulated sugar
1. Put the damsons in a large preserving pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water and bring slowly to a simmer, stirring as the fruit begins to release its juices. Leave to simmer until completely soft. Tip the contents of the pan into a sieve and rub it through to remove the stones and skin, leaving you with a smooth damson purée.
2. Measure the purée by volume. For every 500ml, add 350g sugar, and combine in a large, heavy-based pan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then cook gently, stirring regularly so it doesn't catch, until reduced to a thick purée. It's ready when you drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan and the base stays clearly visible for a second or two. This can take up to an hour of gentle, popping simmering and stirring.
3. Pour the "cheese" into very lightly oiled shallow plastic containers and leave to cool and set. It will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge. Serve in slices with bread and cheese, or, if you fancy, cut into cubes, dust lightly with granulated sugar and serve as a petit four.