Cevapcici, Slow Carb ‘Toad in the Hole’


Names for things can be a problem. A little bit of a re brand never goes astray (written from a woman who once wore kitten heels and wool trousers to air conditioned communications departments and slogged through two of them).

But in this instance I’m not talking about corporate identities. I’m thinking about an appointment I have inserted into my calendar. It started in capitals, as a 2 pm slot last Wednesday.

PSYCHOLOGIST- AMANDA; was how I wrote it, in upright script. I wrote it in the same, grim font as I would to remind me to do my tax return,. It was not an hour I was looking forward to. Though if I’m honest, things were much brighter last week than on the dimmer days when I first made the appointment.

Yet I had been gently encouraged by a few in my close flock to still make time for it. ‘Go. You’ll feel better’, came the urging of one friend. ‘It’s great. I mean, the first session you’ll just cry your face off, but it’s worth it’.

They were so supportive, they even offered to take care of the sweet faced little bundle of thigh dimples and cheek-chub-  blueberry stain above his left eyebrow and all -while I went.

I have no idea why I felt so grave about it all going in. I pay someone to paint my toes, to scale my teeth. This was just someone to help do some maintenance for another bit of my body.  On the other side, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have someone who is completely uninvested, untethered, to help you floss your thoughts.

The inside of my head has now been given the first steps in a badly needed spruce up. Yes, there were a couple of wavering tears.  But mainly I just got to sit on a soft leather couch say all sorts of things which crouch in the corners of my head without worrying about how they might make the other person feel.

Which, for someone who has just been instructed by a lady with framed qualifications on the wall that  ‘you really need to stop trying to manage everyone else’s emotions all the time’, is quite refreshing.

It’s also lovely to be told ‘you’re not mad. You’re just exhausted. You have a baby who doesn’t sleep. And a few things on your plate. You should try to be kind to yourself’.

So I’m rebranding it.  For the moment I’m going to keep seeing her- once a fortnight or so for a while.  I’m writing it in as Spruce Up in my calendar.  I’m treating it as fluoride for my brain. A fortnightly facial for my headspace.  Some days when I go in  I might cry a little . Some days we might just talk about the weather.  But either way, I’m sure I’ll feel a lot sparklier when I walk out.

Nb, what follows is a dish that could also do with a bit of a rebranding. ‘Toad in the Hole’ is a terrible, terrible name for what is a very comforting midweek supper. It’s a very English concept, tracing back to Hannah Glasse- traditionally made with sausages enrobed in Yorkshire pudding batter. The secret is getting the baking dish with the sausages and a glossing of oil hot before pouring in the batter- that way it puffs and sighs into a downy surface of light, egg-laced-dough.

Here, I’ve given it a little bit of a slow carb twist by using chickpea flour (sometimes known as besan) in place of white flour. You won’t get quite the puff you might from white flour, but instead you get a lovely savoury flavour and a slower releasing source of energy. There are soft onion segments and roasted cherry tomatoes in there too, just for a bit of sweet pop. And lastly, I’ve gone for cevapci; skinless Balkan sausages. They’re often a combination of pork and beef mince and have a nice ratio of fat to meat- allowing just enough to keep them moist, without making you feel like you should schedule an appointment with a cardiologist after having three (though feel free to substitute with pork or beef sausages).

It may not sound terribly enticing to write that you’re making a Balkan, Slow Carbohydrate Toad in the Hole for dinner, but please trust me. This is an easy dream of a meal to whip up, no matter what else you’ve got on your plate. Dice an onion into eighths and throw it in the oven at 5.30  pm with whole cherry tomatoes and a little bit of olive oil while you feed a small person pureed sweet potato and then wipe orange goo off a plastic high chair while they yodel at a stuffed cow on their mat. At 6.30 pm, crank up the oven to 200 C/392 F and lob in the sausages and the remaining olive oil. Quickly whisk together a batter of egg, milk, chickpea flour and diced rosemary (if you can be bothered- though it does add a nice earthy note). Then once the sausages are brown and the oven is properly sitting at 200 C, pour in the batter and dash upstairs. Let the oven do the work for you. Bath a baby. Give him a bottle. Cross fingers he goes straight to sleep. At 7  pm, come downstairs.  Throw together a green salad (i.e. empty the leaves into a bowl and dress with apple cider vinegar and olive oil). Empty some ajvar (miraculous Balkan red pepper relish that you can buy at most supermarkets) into a ramekin. Sit down. Pour a glass of wine (or two) Eat. Drink. Exhale.

It doesn’t have to be known as Toad in the Hole. It can just be an easy-as sausage dinner. Whatever you decide to call these things,  they can still be the start of something good.

Cevapci, Slow Carb ‘Toad in the Hole’

Serves 2 very hungry ones, or 4 people with a large green salad




200 g cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8ths
3 tbsp olive oil
400 g cevapci (slim, skinless Balkan sausages, can substitute with pork, lamb or beef sausages)
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups/315 ml milk
1 stem of rosemary, finely diced
1/2 tsp salt

To serve, half a cup of ajvar (Balkan red pepper relish)

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 150 C/300F. Take a medium sized, oven proof baking dish (approximately dimensions of an A4 sheet of paper).  Place the cherry tomatoes and onions in and drizzle with two tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Roast for one hour, until the onions and tomatoes are soft and puckered.



2) To make the batter, whisk together the eggs and milk until smooth. Place the chickpea flour and diced rosemary in a larger bowl and create a well in the centre. Pour the egg and milk mix into the centre, whisking until you have a smooth batter.



4) Turn the oven up to 200C/392 F. Nestle the cevapci in and around your tomatoes and onions and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Place back into the oven for five minutes to allow the sausages to brown.


5) Pour the batter directly over the hot dish and its contents. Place back into the 200C/392F oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the batter is puffed and golden.


6) Serve immediately with ajvar (roasted pepper relish) and a sharply dressed green salad on the side.



  1. Your spruce up sounds good! Very positive. Your slow toad also sounds fab. I can’t make good yorkshire puddings so the loss of puff with besan doesn’t bother me.

  2. Ah yes, everyone needs some sprucing up now and then, especially when you are sleep deprived and have a baby and more on your plate!

Leave a comment


{ 2 Trackbacks }