Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ahh Bisto makes midweek family meals special

Bisto are on a mission to free the gravy from the boat on the table at Sunday lunchtime, and are encouraging us to embrace it's versatility by using it to pep up midweek family meals.

Now to be honest, Bisto is not a product I generally use.  It's funny isn't it, how you get into your own little habits making food a certain way.  I guess most of us cook the way our parents cooked for us, I know I do.  To make gravy for a roast, I use the meat juices from the roasting pan, add a splosh of wine and a bit of water from the veg and Bob's your uncle.  My mother-in-law however, swears by Bisto gravy powder.

The trouble with making gravy the way I usually do, is that it's tricky to make it for any dish other than roast meat.  So if I wanted to make a sauce for a pie or gravy for a Shepherd's Pie for example, this is exactly where I can now see the advantages of Bisto's granules.

They recently enlisted Home Economist Sue Ashworth (she worked on all the recipes for the Change 4 Life Campaign) to produce some new recipes for tasty, homely family meals, focusing on traditional dishes, with a bit of a Bisto twist.

She came up with the delicious 'Marvelous Monday Pie' pictured above, which makes great use of leftover meat/chicken and veg from the Sunday dinner.  I love to make pies for dinner and kids love to be given a bit of leftover pastry to roll and cut out for decorating the top.

We got to sample these tasty treats, including Midweek Chicken Roast with Roasted Vegetables; Cottage Pie with Butternut Thatch; Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy and Shepherd's Lost His Sheep Pie (a Quorn based veggie version of the old favourite).

Toad in the Hole is one of my all-time favourites.  I'm definitely going to give this version a try, and I know my daughter will love the fact that it's made in individual dishes, so she gets her own mini portion.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
8 pork sausages
110g (4oz) plain flour
1 large egg
300ml (1/2 pint) milk
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
4 heaped teaspoons Bisto Favourite Gravy Granules
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220°C / fan oven 200°C / Gas Mark 7.

Put a teaspoonful of vegetable oil into each of 4 individual baking dishes (metal ones are best for batter). Put 2 sausages into each one, then bake for 6-7 minutes while you make the batter.

Put the flour, egg and milk into a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Beat with a whisk to make a smooth batter, then add the spring onions and rosemary or thyme. (You could make the batter in a blender or food processor if you prefer).

Pour or ladle the batter into the piping-hot baking tins, returning them to the oven as quickly as possible for best results. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the batter is puffed-up and golden brown.

Just before serving, make the gravy. Sprinkle the Bisto Gravy Granules into a jug and add 280ml (1/2 pint) boiling water, stirring until thickened and smooth. Serve with the “toads”.

Cook’s tips:

Try not to open the oven door while the toads are cooking – or else the batter may not rise.

For a vegetarian version use meat-free sausages, though bake for just 3-4 minutes before adding the batter. Make the gravy with Bisto Vegetable Gravy Granules. Remember, to make thicker gravy just use extra granules.

While the toads are in the oven, cook some vegetables to accompany them – such as cauliflower, sweet corn, mixed frozen vegetables. 

How do you add a bit of 'ahh' to your meals?

Disclosure: I attended this cookery demonstration at my own expense.  I received a goody bag of products, but no financial reward.  All opinions are my own.


  1. Love Bisto.

    My kids like their gravy really thick, almost so it coats the back of a spoon.

    And then they dip sliced bread into it and eat it. That is a treat in their eyes

    Gravy also hides my rubbish carving skills if I pour it over teh Sunday roast before putting the plates on the table!

  2. Ha! Thanks Mummy Barrow - sounds like the modern day equivalent of bread and dripping!

    I like thick gravy too, can't be doing with wishy-washy stuff. x

  3. I was abotu to say ' I can't make Toad in the Hole' as I haven't got an oven but now I've a combi-microwave doobie I can ! Yay! Looks yummy!

    1. Hooray for your new toy! I adore toad in the hole - I often stir some wholegrain mustard into the batter too for extra yumminess. x

  4. I put the onion gravy granules into a chilli last night - that was yummy. And I'm with Mummy Barrow - bread in gravy is just fab

  5. For a roast we make gravy from the juices thickened, but sausage and mash on a Friday night has Bisto gravy. I'm loving the idea of toad in the hole, but my husband doesn't like it so I haven't made it in years :(