Summer is finally with us or will be when it finally decides to stop raining. I have only managed to break out the barbeque a couple of times this year but there is something so refreshing about cooking and eating outdoors. It really is good for the soul.
Now as a certified carnivore I like nothing more than throwing a nice piece of aged beef over the coals or slowly cooking a lamb shoulder over some sliced potatoes I love the smoky taste you achieve by cooking over charcoal, wood or whatever your choice of fire is.
Eating outdoors is so much more than just a barbeque, when my family were much younger, we liked nothing more than making a pack up (as my girlfriend calls it) and setting off for a drive to the country or a day out to the beach laying down a blanket and tucking into some tasty food. Now for me a picnic must contain a few essential items. A Pork pie with Branston pickle, homemade scotch egg with some salad cream, strong cheddar such as Godminster, bread or crackers and pickled onions and if we were going to the seaside we would always buy some cockles, whelks and winkles, douse them in vinegar and white pepper then mop all the juice up with some white baguette, my idea of Heaven!
Nowadays you can order all sorts of fancy picnics online and all the large stores and some top end restaurants will make up expensive hampers for you to collect and take away. I know we are all really time precious and sometimes these things are all last minute or spur of the moment, but there is nothing better than making up a few nice bits yourself to enjoy while you lay in the sun.
The Perfect Picnic
I always start by making up a drink, in the hot weather I like to make either a homemade strawberry and vanilla lemonade or we make a lovely watermelon and lime cooler which is made by simply placing a watermelon in the freezer till frozen then blending seeds and all with some ice cubes and freshly squeezed lime juice and a squeeze of honey, if you like. Another simple picnic dish is hummus. Take a tin of cooked chick peas, some tahini, one clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and some extra virgin rapeseed oil and blend chunky or smooth whatever you like, if you want to pimp it up a bit you can use smoked oil or add some freshly grated turmeric or a bit of fresh chili and fresh coriander. I love to eat mine with a fresh breakfast radish (I love radishes), toasted flatbread or some falafel.
If you do have a bit more time you can always try and make a lovely Scotch egg, always use the best eggs you can afford, it really does make the difference. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can try adding some spicy Nduja sausage to your sausage meat, don’t use it on its own, it’s like dynamite! But it does add a nice bit of spice! Quiche is an all time classic, but again try a different filling, hot smoked salmon and roasted broccoli is delicious. Or maybe Beenleigh blue cheese, spinach and roasted red onion, all great combinations. If you are feeling really adventurous, you can try my courgette tart with truffle honey, caramelised onion and whipped feta, it is a stunner!
I cannot end without a pudding, but this time of year there can only be one thing we should be eating, that’s British soft fruit. We grow the best in the world, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries ,take your pick, but remember always serve at room temperature. I remember going strawberry picking and the fruit always tasted better when warmed by the sun. Serve simply with Cornish clotted cream banging.
Have a lovely summer