The first picnic of the year! (with recipes)

At the weekend we were spoilt with fantastic weather; blue skies, steady sunshine and not a cloud in sight. To celebrate this rare occasion Laura and I (and the rest of London) made our way to Hampstead Heath to picnic.

Since it was the first picnic of the year I went a little crazy with the food, because I was positively dying to try some new recipes.

I made some breakfast rolls with spelt, after this recipe (but substituted half the wheat flour for spelt flour), and made two spreads to go with them. One I have made before and it consists of chopped fried aubergine, red onions, dill and caviar. But not being able to find any caviar, I used some finely grated parmesan for saltiness which worked well. The next spread is a simple egg salad flavoured with dijon mustard, but with the nice addition of avocado, that I found on a Swedish food blog (called Tre tjejer i köket [Three girls in the kitchen]). Really yummy!

On Miss Meister’s blog I found a recipe for white beans with a tarragon dijon dressing. Absolutely lovely!

We also had some Pimm’s and snacked on strawberries, grapes and marinated olives. For dessert I had made some Key lime melt aways, that I found on the Smitten Kitchen blog.

Egg salad with avocado

Translated from Elin’s recipe.

4 hardboiled eggs, cold and chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sourcream
1 tsp dijon mustard
season with salt and pepper
finely chopped salad onions (optional)

Butter beans with tarragon dijon dressing, serves 2-4
Translated and adapted from Åsa’s recipe.

1 tin butter beans
a few centimeters finely chopped leek (I used spring onions)
1-2 tskp fennel seeds
1 tsp tarragon dijon mustard (or 1 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon + 1 tsp ordinary dijon mustard)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
olive oil
black pepper (optional)
dried tarragon (optional)

Rinse the beans and drain. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry frying pan. Remove to a plate and leave to cool. Wash and chop the leek, then start with the dressing. Combine vinegar and dijon then add the oil in a fine trickle while whisking to form an emulsion. Once the dressing has thickened, season to taste. Add the beans and leek followed by the fennel seeds.

Key lime melt aways, 1 batch

After Smitten Kitchen’s/Martha Stewart’s recipe.

170 g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
Grated zest of 4 tiny or 2 large key limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp plain flour (a.k.a. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined. Roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 175C. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

A perfect day

This weekend my best friend and her fiancee came to visit and it was such a great one. We had a really busy day Saturday but in a relaxed way and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Here is the recipe for a perfect (for us) day in London:

8-10am: Wake up, have a shower and enjoy a good breakfast before braving the cold.

10.30am: Take the tube to Hampstead and walk towards the Heath. Walk towards Highgate and enjoy the sunshine. Stop on the top of Parliament Hill to admire the view and take some photos.

12ish: Walk to Highgate Cemetery and visit either the East (newer) Cemetary or the older West one.

12.45pm: Walk up the massive hill to Highgate village and stop at the first nice pub you see. Order lunch and drinks and just relax for a while.

2pm: Walk down hill (yay!) to Archway tube station and take the tube to Charing Cross. Buy some plasters and put them on your sore heels and walk towards St James’s Park. Walk around the park and up towards Buckingham Palace on your Way to Green Park and Piccadilly. Walk to the large Waterstones and the top floor bar, the 5th View. Order some cocktails (a minimum of two) and enjoy the afternoon with your lovely friends.

6.30pm: Settle the bill and pop into Fortnum’s to buy a nice bottle of wine. Go home and change into stretchy trousers.

7.30pm: Have a glass of champagne and snack on some lovely nibbles while preparing dinner.

8pm: Dig into pulled pork from the Crockpot and whatever you like to serve with it.

9pm: Move over to the sofa and stretch out and enjoy another glass of wine.

10pm: Realise that you have room for dessert after all and make a quick sundae with vanilla icecream, chocolate sauce and chocolate chip cookies. Agree that homemade icecream beats anything!