17 February 2012

A Game Changing Toad in the Hole with Roasted-Onion Gravy

Toad in the Hole with Roasted-Onion Gravy
The world of celebrity cooks in British mainstream include Jamie, Nigella, Gordon and Heston but there is one face that has remained constant through it all, one woman who has "stayed utterly true to her homey origins and doesn't so much bestride the culinary world as plough tenaciously through it like a tugboat with a jammed rudder." Yes, this week with our 50 Women Game Changers we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the queen of British "cookery" herself Delia Smith.

When eating in Britain still meant fish and chips Delia was teaching us how to boil an egg. Four decades later the Brits have had a national culinary renaissance and celebrity chefs have been born, yet through it all, Delia has remained utterly and completely unaffected.The most tried and trusted of British TV cooks Delia Smith has been teaching Brits how to make their favourite dishes for over 40 years.

"I have three passions in life: I am passionate about my religious belief,
about football - and about food."
Delia left school at 16 but it was the job she found at the tiny restaurant The Singing Chef in Paddington which sparked her passion for food. Determined to study every aspect of English cooking she worked through countless cookbooks.
Delia Smith is Britain's bestselling cookbook writer, whose books have sold over 21 million copies worldwide. In 1969 Delia became a writer for the Daily Mirror's new magazine (where she met her future husband Michael Wyn-Jones), and three years later began columns for the Evening Standard and the Radio Times.

So large a national icon is Delia Smith in the United Kingdom, that the wonder is that she remains virtually unknown across the pond in Canada or the United States. She focuses on British classics, while being open to new approaches and ingredients. Her focus has mostly been to raise the fundamental standards of everyday cooking by educating people about the basics, step by step.

Her TV career began in 1973 with BBC series Family Fare and was followed by Delia's Cookery Course with its back-to-basics recipes, also available in print. Delia Smith's Summer Collection and her Winter Collection followed and, in 1998, the How to Cook series was 
broadcasted, he accompanying book being her most successful yet.

One of our simple pleasures in life is navigating the blogging community and participating where the feeling takes us. Our group is now well past the halfway point on the list of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers. The past ninth months have flown by as we experimented with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list." Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it has been an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters and those we admire. There have even been a few successful bloggers on the list. We have checked out books from the library, borrowed cookbooks from friends, surfed the Internet and browsed our own cookbook collections seeking that one recipe that will highlight that weeks outstanding woman. This group is spearheaded by my favourite well-travelled blogger Mary of One Perfect Bite who back in June 2011 invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. It is still not too late to join in in 2012. 

What have we been up to with our next Game Changer......

Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits - Tofu with Lime, Coconut Milk and Green Onions

Being of British extraction I had heard of Toad in a Hole but had neither eaten it or had it grace my kitchen. On a recent trip to Britain my brother raved about a version he had in a pub in the Lake District, and mom remembers it fondly from school lunches. You can also rest assured that no toads were harmed in the making of this dish. I can't give this high enough accolades. It is a tastebud catching creation from humble British origins. 

From Wikepedia 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. 

This recipe comes from a Delia cookbook, her "How to Cook" series. Light crispy batter and plump, meaty sausages, all drenched in a generous amount of roasted onion will "tickle your fancy." I was hooked on this car laden meat and potatoes dish!!!  The quality of the sausage used makes a big difference. Serve it with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables . . . and a good gravy is a must!!! Cheerio. Pip. Pip!

**Toad in the Hole with Roasted-Onion Gravy**

6 good-quality pork sausages – about 14 oz (400 g)
1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil (if necessary)

For the batter:

3 oz (75 g) plain flour
1 large egg
3 fl oz (75 ml) semi-skimmed milk
salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 fl oz (55 ml) water

For the onion gravy:

8 oz (225 g) onions, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons groundnut or other flavourless oil
1 level teaspoon golden caster sugar
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 level teaspoon mustard powder
15 fl oz (425 ml) vegetable stock made from 1½ level teaspoons Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder dissolved in 15 fl oz (425 ml) boiling water
1 rounded dessertspoon plain flour
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C)

You will also need a solid-based, flameproof roasting tin with a base of 9 x 6 inches (23 x 15 cm), 2 inches (5 cm) deep, and a baking tray 14 x 10 inches (35 x 25.5 cm).

1. Begin by making the batter, and to do this sieve the flour into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Now, with the back of a spoon, make a well in the centre, break the egg into it and add some salt and pepper.

2. Now, measure the milk and 2 fl oz (55 ml) water in a measuring jug, then, using an electric hand whisk on a slow speed, begin to whisk the egg into the flour – as you whisk, the flour around the edges will slowly be incorporated. Then add the liquid gradually, stopping to scrape the flour into the mixture.

3. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Now the batter is ready for use, and although it's been rumoured that batter left to stand is better, I have never found this, so just make it whenever it's convenient. Now place the sliced onions in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of the oil and the sugar and toss the onions around to get the lightest coating, then spread them on the baking tray.

4. Next arrange the sausages in the roasting tin, then place the onions on a high shelf in the oven, with the sausages on a lower shelf, and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the sausages from the oven but leave the onions in for a further 4-5 minutes – they need to be nicely blackened round the edges. When they are ready, remove them and leave to one side.

5. Now place the roasting tin containing the sausages over direct heat turned to medium and, if the sausages haven't released much fat, add the tablespoon of oil. When the tin is really hot and the oil is beginning to shimmer – it must be searing hot – quickly pour the batter in all around the sausages. Immediately return the roasting tin to the oven, this time on the highest shelf, and cook the whole thing for 30 minutes.Now for the gravy.

6. First add the Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder to the stock, then add the onions from the baking tray to a medium-sized pan. Now add the second teaspoon of oil, then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the plain flour. Stir all this together over a medium heat and then switch to a whisk, then gradually add the stock to the pan, whisking all the time, until it's all in.

7. Then bring it up to simmering point and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, then pour into a warmed serving jug. When the toad is ready, it should be puffed brown and crisp and the centre should look cooked and not too squidgy.

8. Serve it immediately with the gravy, and it's absolutely wonderful with mashed potato.

Serves 2 - 3

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. That is one of my favorite dishes! Your TIH is really tempting and the gravy looks very tasty.



  2. Looks luscious; I'm saving this one for when I'm off the diet!!

  3. This is supposedly one of her most famous dishes, Val. I make it often from a recipe of my mother's, but never have made the onion gravy. I know it's fattening, but oh so delicious!
    Great post!

  4. I love Delia Smith and her recipes Vall!
    ALso I begin to blogger with Delia site in England!!
    look nice!

  5. Great write-up, Val, and I love the recipe you chose, it's such a classic and yet I never quite knew what it was. Now that you've enlightened me I want to make it, if only for that gravy!

  6. Toad in the hole is something I've always wanted to make...or at least try. This might be the version I have to make...especially with that lovely gravy. Delicious choice and great write-up, BBFF =).

  7. Val, I am so glad no toads were harned in making your recipe. We dont want PITA after you. Your recipe and photos looks wonderful as usual. Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. Wow, Delia is not well-known in the US and Canada? I'm really shocked. She's our national institution. Whichever cookery books people have on their shelves in the UK, one of them is always 'Delia's Christmas.' Even people who don't like hey style still buy her books. :)

    Great to see a toad in the hole,too. One of our favourite dishes.

  9. Delia's Toad in the Hole is one of the first things I ever learnt how to cook and it is always golden!... I love Delia and grew up with her on TV and on my bookshelves... great post and divine looking T in the H!

  10. Such an interesting dish, have never seen this before. I always thought Toad in the Hole was an egg in a piece of bread where the center was cut out. Thanks for sharing about Delia Smith.

  11. This is a great version of the dish and you did a really nice job with it, Val. I loved your photo and the background story. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  12. I remember having Toad in the Hole for brunch at college once when they were trying to do some kind of ethnic food showcase. I love anything with sausages, so I was in to it.

    Many people refer to egg-in-a-hole as toad in the hole, which always confused me. I kept remembering the baked sausage dish from college and wondered if I remembered it wrong as toad in the hole. I wasn't wrong after all!

  13. I love hearing stories about how a particular dish originated. One special Sunday I'm going to make this dish for brunch. I always loved Yorkshire pudding and this sounds even better with the sausage and the gravy. Great post!

  14. Oh my Lord - this has me drooling. I so wish I had this for breakfast right now. YUM!

  15. I found the recipe directions to be amusing to read. So very British. I've had this dish so many years ago, in London, and loved it. Your shot is so mouth-watering, especially with the mashed potatoes. I'd say that this is comfort food at it's best.

  16. This dish looks and sounds delicious - makes me hungry! I love the story of how it came about!

  17. Delightful write-up! I have had toad-in-the-hole but have never made it. This hearty dish would please everyone here - perfect for winter. And perfect for sausage lovers (me!).

  18. What a fun synopsis of Delia! I'm actually back in London right now and your photo looks so much like what they serve here in so many local pubs - you're so right about a culinary resurgence here in the UK! When my daughter moved here several years ago we expected a dismal culinary scene and were so pleasantly surprised! The food here, particularly in London, is amazing and so varied - we almost never fail to find some place wonderful to eat - even many of the local pubs are fabulous - you'd fit right in!

  19. Wow! That is an interesting dish with the most fun story behind it! Sounds like a lovely, hearty dish! Great job, Val! :)

  20. That tugboat quote is one hell of a description!

  21. Excellent write-up! I knew folks would really have a field day writing up this classic Brit cook! The Toad-in-the-Hole recipe is worded so wonderfully ... if her cook books are worded this way, what a cozy conversational gal she must be!

  22. Beautiful dish. The onion gravy is fantastic.

  23. What a great post & what a great recipe! I'd heard of this dish, but not its story. That onion gravy sounds amazing.

  24. I was very intrigued with Delia...another on the list I never heard of but would love to know more about. Love the toad in a hole...would love to give this a try. Very nice post!

  25. We always get Delia 'marathons' at Christmas... Fun watching her from the very early shows through current!

  26. Roasted onion gravy?!?!? Uh, yeah. Game changing is definitely right!

  27. that's a fine and dandy gravy, val--what a tasty dish!

  28. Very strange, I could not get a pic of the dish until I downloaded a PDF, and there it was.

    Interesting dish, looks yummy, but like one of the other commenters, a Toad in the Hole here in the US is a piece of bread with an egg fried in a hole made in the bread. This looks like a much more substantial dish.

  29. Thanks for introducing me to a new chef and a great looking dish.

  30. I'd never heard the story of how toad in the hole got its name - hilarious! And very British ;) Delia is indeed a total icon here - and her recipes just WORK. I do marmalade bread and butter pudding of hers that's a hit every time. This looks fab and that gravy has me swooning!


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