The Saturday Session – pack a picnic

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Always time for a picnic

 

We’ll be on our way through France when this is published, having already completed a fairly long drive down to Portsmouth to catch the ferry. Which means either running the gauntlet of British service stations, not to mention needing a second mortgage, or taking your own.

Guess which we went for for the first half of the trip?

So for today’s Saturday session, I’ve looked out for some great, interesting picnic food. After scanning quite a few, I came across an amazing selection on The British Larder. This is like foodie picnic heaven, but a lot is also very practical. Although possibly the frozen broad bean creme fraiche might not be!

If I had my choice, I would go for the Beetroot Tart Tatin, the Sesame Toasted Basmati Rice and Broad Bean Salad, Green Chilli Chicken Won Tons, and then following on with Chocolate Salami and the Gooseberry Polenta Slice. Heavenly!

So go on, make a picnic about so much more than picnic eggs and damp sandwiches!

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The Friday Five – great French cookbooks

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This week’s Friday Five has a particularly Gallic flavour, as by now our housesitters (aka Gran & Gramps) will have moved in to tend the house and garden, and we’ll be en route to France. Which of course means two weeks of over-indulging in great food and wine. Although given the exchange rate, we may be cooking a lot more of it ourselves!

 

french provincial cooking

 

1. French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David – a legendary cookery book, but with great recipes that have stood the test of time. Every home should have a copy.

2. Rick Stein’s French Odyssey – this is still one of my favourite Rick Stein’s series, if only out of pure jealousy at the trip he did on the two boats. And the cooking isn’t bad either!

3. Ripailles – a new book, but almost worth it for the photography alone, which is just stunning. Not just French cooking, but the whole way of life, and from simple everyday cooking through to grand dishes. Great stuff.

4. Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Jane Grigson – a little more niche, but definitely tastes of France. I once went to a restaurant in Paris that was all about pork. It was the most amazing meal, and I’ve never found the place again. I’ll have to content myself with cooking from this. But if anyone knows of a little restaurant in the 7eme then let me know!

5. Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie: Recipes from Thirteen Outstanding French Bakeries – seems only right to finish with a book dominated by sweet stuff! It’s one of the great joys of being in France to me. There’s also good bread recipes and things like savoury tarts, so you could make a whole meal out of this book.

So we’ll be enjoying our French escape, with more foodie tales and ideas to follow! Just the drive down the coast to contend with first!

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Bring back afternoon tea

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What Sunday afternoons are made for

 

Not all of us can afford, or want to go to, tea somewhere posh, but that doesn’t mean we should miss out. Afternoon tea is one of my favourite meals (it’s right up there with breakfast. And lunch), and we had a lovely one with friends today. Which is a great excuse for baking! This is my Victoria sponge from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Family Cookbook, the one where you have to weigh the eggs!

Odd instruction, but tasty results!

So to foodies everywhere, I say flex those baking muscles and treat everyone to tea! Bring back one of the things we do best, with fabulous regional variations, throughout the UK, which is why it’s mimicked around the world. Bake and be proud!

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The Saturday Session

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4th July, an excuse for some comfort cooking!
4th July, an excuse for some comfort cooking!

I love Saturdays, it’s when I get to cook properly, thinking about it, without just needing to feed everyone. And particularly I get to bake, which I love. So the Saturday session is just a chance to reflect on some great recipes, as the best gift you might be able to give your foodie, or yourself, is just the time to do something different in the kitchen.

And as today is July 4th, it seems appropriate to have some American themed recipes. I was looking for Nigella’s brownie recipe, but got waylaid by the recipe for pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. At least once on any trip to the US, this is my indulgent breakfast at choice. I wish I’d been organised enough to make it for this morning’s breakfast!

But for a taste of the US, and suitable for my cream tea tomorrow, then I’m going to go for Red Velvet Cake. I’m never sure of the history of this cake, but it definitely seems to be an American thing to me. I love this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and the observations about the cake. There are better tasting cakes, but nothing can beat people’s reaction when they see the colour. It would also make a perfect Halloween cake for kids!

So, start flipping those burgers, get The Boss on in the background, and bake up a storm. For once, it looks like we might have weather worthy of those Independence Day gatherings you always see on Martha Stewart!

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