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Archive for the ‘picnic’ Category

This stuffed bread makes wonderful picnic food as the filling holds itself in place allowing you to eat it with just hands – and a napkin for the fastidious. We took it for a packed lunch while decorating our new apartment and it was much more sustaining than the bag of Doritos (T’s choice, not mine) we’d munched on the day before: it didn’t stain everything orange either, which is a bit of a bonus when you’re trying to paint everything in shades of white.

butternut squash and stilton sandwich roulade

It’s a handy vegetarian addition to my picnic / packed lunch recipe repertoire.

slices of sage, squash and stilton calzoneButternut squash and blue cheese bread

  • 100g crumbled Stilton*
  • 100g diced cooked butternut squash
  • a sprig of fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 TBS chopped pecans (optional)
  • a handful of olive oil dough
  • olive oil
  • *Any creamy blue cheese such as dolcelatte, gorgonzola etc. will do just as well; here I happened to have some Stilton left over from Christmas haunting the freezer.

    Gently stretch out the ball of dough on an oiled swiss roll tin – or toaster oven tray – coaxing it towards the edges.  It will relax and stretch further so don’t be anxious about this.

    Strew the cheese and squash over the surface of the dough, padding the filling towards the edges.  Scatter with the shredded sage, then make a papoose by bringing the long edges of the dough to meet over the top and press them together to seal so the cheese doesn’t leak out when it melts in the oven. At this point it will not look at all promising, but have no fear.  Sprinkle chopped nuts, if using, across the seam and press them lightly into the dough so they stick.

    Bake in a hot oven (450F, 200C, Gas 7) for about 30 minutes, basting halfway through with a little olive (or hazelnut/walnut if you have it) oil for a delicately crunchy crust: cover the nuts with a strip of foil if they’re browning too fast (or blackening in my case, one hazard of using a toaster oven).

    Cool, loosen the bottom with a palette knife, then cut into slices or wrap the whole in foil to slice later.

    The sage makes a delicous ménage à trois with the blue cheese and squash, which the richly nutty pecans turn into a veritable orgy of flavours, or for an enjoyable alternative you could try swinging with rosemary and walnuts instead: a bit of gustatory promiscuity can produce some pretty interesting offspring.

    For a punchy packed lunch just add a handful of rocket leaves and for a picnic add whatever you like, but the way this British summer’s been shaping up you’ll be needing a blanket, windbreak, hot water bottle – and your head examined: it’s blowing a gale as I type this.

    A note to British readers: some branches of Waitrose sell frozen butternut squash, which is pretty darn handy for this recipe as it’ll cook in the microwave in 4 minutes – and there’s no skin to deal with!

    This post is my first-ever entry for the WTSIM… summer picnic blogging event.

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    I mean this most sincerely, it’s not some cheap trick to lure porn-surfers to my food blog; why would I want to do that?  It’s wordplay on Pigs in Blankets but to satisfy those at the back, here’s an uncut image (for illustration purposes only, please) from the mind-boggling immeatchu blog.

    Not sorry to disappoint, I’m referring to the sexiest pasta sauce of all, Puttanesca; a store-cupboard classic from Naples.   Puttana being Italian for whore, puttanesca means whore-style: naturally there is some debate about how it acquired this intriguingly salty name.  It’s all true no doubt, but as importantly it’s a delicious dish to give hunger a good seeing-to and a pushover to pull a few ingredients from fridge and cupboard for the laziest gal – or guy – in town.
    raw puttanesca on olive oil dough

    Or on a languorous afternoon, do as I did: put a bit of lead in the pencil of some elderly olive oil dough and wrap it around puttanesca’s uncooked ingredients for a putta nuda al forno: salaciously delicious – or deliciously salacious…just try twisting your tongue around that.

    Putta Nuda al fornoputtanesca calzone

    • 2 salt-cured anchovies, filleted
    • 4 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced
    • 10 Niçoise olives, stoned
    • 1 TBS capers, drained
    • dried oregano
    • a fistful of olive oil dough

    Shape, strew and scatter as in first pic, stretch the long edges of dough over the filling to meet in the middle and press to seal.  Bake in a hot oven about ½ an hour, basting beforehand and after 15 minutes with oil from the tomatoes.  Cool slightly, slice and serve.

    Although there are acceptable variations to the cooked sauce, never have I encountered as total a travesty as at a certain trattoria in Vieux Nice, to which I not-entirely-ironically refer as Casa della Disasta: according to our waitress, their pasta puttanesca contained no olive, neither anchovy nor caper!  Incidentally, on top of that surprise, the line at the till was not for takeaways but disgruntled diners queuing to question the errors on their bills – all in the management’s favour, natch.  Make of that what you will.

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    A spicy, meaty, totally convenient-y version of my stuffed olive oil bread.  Make a batch of pulled pork, freeze it on trays then bag for use later.  Pulled pork is a Southern U.S. barbecue classic, yet amenable to countless variations and interpretations by those unfettered by the shackles of tradition (did I say bigotry?).  Here’s the basic recipe:

    Pulled Pork

    Get hold of a 1 or 2 kg boneless pork shoulder joint and make a dry spice rub, for example:olive oil dough stuffed with pulled pork

    • 4 TBS cumin seeds
    • 2 TBS muscovado
    • 6 TBS pimentón
    • 1 TBS dried thyme
    • 2 TBS sea salt
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed

    Grind the cumin and mix it together with the other ingredients.  If your pork is tied up, untie it to expose maximum surface area and roll the meat around in the spice mix, rubbing in well so that the whole lot sticks.

    If you have a slow cooker it will really come into its own now: pack the pork within – no need to tie up again as you’ll be shredding not slicing – and cook at low for several hours or even overnight.  Sufficient moisture should emerge from the pork itself to make adding extra unnecessary.

    If you lack a slow cooker put the pork in an ovenproof dish and place in a hot oven (200C plus).  Turn the oven down immediately to 120C and cook for 3 or 4 hours or more, placing a lid on the dish after 2 hours if it looks like it might dry out.  If it dried out before you got to it, pour over a very little wine, stock or water just to keep everything moist – but not wet – and replace the lid.  Do make sure you’re cooking it long and slow or the meat fibres will toughen and make shredding impossible.

    Remove from oven, reserving and refrigerating any excess liquid in case you need it later (skim off fat before using); let rest and cool slightly for around 15 minutes.  Separate the joint into manageable pieces and shred the meat with two forks along its muscle fibres, discarding any large hunks of fat, although most will have melted away.

    If freezing, spread the shredded pork out on baking trays – covered with greaseproof or silicon paper so it doesn’t stick and place in the freezer overnight or until solid, then working quickly, break into chunks and throw them into a large resealable bag to dip into for use later.  It works brilliantly baked from frozen inside the olive oil dough; just make sure you freeze it in small enough clumps.

    If eating straight away, the traditional manner is to add a slurp of barbecue sauce and stuff it in a burger bun to eat with coleslaw but it also goes fantastically well over rice (loosened with any leftover liquid), on a baked potato or in a burrito, and, of course, baked inside olive oil dough to make a perfect picnic or packed lunch – in slices, even party food.

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    Gazpacho, Spanish summer soup
    Sorry folks – no new posts for a short while as I’m off to a (we hope) quiet corner of the Balearics.  Following a bit of research on its gustatory specialities this is what I’m hoping to plunder:

    • hierba for the lady
    • gin for the gent
    • a whole ham for slicing
    • queso Mahón for dicing
    • sobrasada for the larder
    • wild fennel for fish & products porky – ubiquitous on Ibiza but Mr T threw out my fagot, damnit

    and while I’m there I’m looking forward to eating ensaimadas, scoffing coca and tucking into tons of tasty tapas and if I have the time, finding a handsome leather belt (not for eating). 

    I’m not lugging my laptop there and back – we’re on a charter flight for heaven’s sake – so comments will have to bide their time until my return.

    In the hope that the sun shines brightly enough to make a lycopene boost imperative, I bring you my easy yet delicious version of:

    Gazpacho
    modified from Paula Wolfert’s version in her Mediterranean Cooking
    (a terrific book now sadly out of print)Big Tom spiced tomato juice

    • 750 ml (1½ pints) tomato juice
    • 1 green pepper, chopped
    • ½ cucumber, peeled and chopped
    • 2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
    • ½ clove garlic, peeled & microplaned (or crushed)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • ice cubes, salt & pepper

    Pour 250 ml tomato juice into a blender; add the rest of the vegetables and buzz at high speed until smooth.  Pour into a wide shallow (preferably Spanish earthenware) serving bowl and use the rest of the tomato juice to thin down the gazpacho if necessary.  If it’s overpoweringly tomoto-ey add a few ice cubes instead.  Stir in vinegar and oil, season lightly and chill for a couple of hours. 

    Check and adjust seasoning and oil/vinegar balance.  Serve annointed with droplets of good olive oil and chopped green and/or chilli pepper, spring onion or chives or coriander, croûtons and/or fresh bread on the side.  If the weather’s really hot (fingers crossed!) extra ice cubes will be most welcome.

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    Yet another riff on my olive oil dough theme: I call it inside-out pissaladière as this one contains home-made onion confit, flaked tuna and a sprinkle of capers.  I ate it – just catching a last morsel for this snap – for lunch then made another variation for Mr T’s tomorrow but this time added a few anchovies and a scatter of Waitrose’s frozen Grilled Peppers for an antioxidant+fibre hit & run.  Made in a toaster oven it’s convenient and economical; two of my favourite things.  Oh, and very very tasty.
    Brush with olive oil halfway through (200C for 30 mins) for a deliciously friable crust .
    inside-out pissaladiere

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    So with the hot weather holding, the olive oil dough persisting and some slightly sinewy chorizo from Lidl haunting the ‘fridge, what better to make than chorizo and olive bread for a tasty lunch?

    Just grab a handful of dough from the big batch container (first having floured one’s hands), tidy it by folding under into a ball, press onto an oiled tin and gently stretch to flatten.  Take your slices of chorizo (wide and thin, not the chunky cooking sort) and overlap them in a line down the centre of your dough rectangle.  Sprinkle a few stoned olives down each side and then bring up the sides of dough to meet across and form a swaddling blanket for the filling.

    Not very pretty, is it? If your dough is as floppy as mine it will stretch and thin to reveal the odd olive but no matter.  The idea is a riff on the Provençal fougasse – the variations are limitless once you take that on board – so instead of herbes de Provence, strew the top with a little orange zest, crumbled chilli and roughly crushed fennel seed to go with the Spanish flavours of the chorizo (this delicious trio also aid digestibility as it’s a fairly oily affair).  Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes, cool slightly and serve in slices with a sharp salad if you have one (last night’s chicory in orange juice in this case!) or wrap and take to work or a picnic.

     Oh dear, it’s all gone now.  We liked it so much I made another but that’s gone too.  Watch this space for the next batch of olive oil dough!

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    Remember my original loaf?  Well, to match the summer weather of late I made a batch of olive oil dough and created this marvelous taleggio and grilled vegetable roulade for Mr T’s team meeting.  Good thing we nibbled some beforehand as there were no leftovers.
    olive oil dough, taleggio, grilled vegetables

    It’s a ball of dough rolled around some cubed taleggio and thawed grilled vegetable mix from Waitrose, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes.  Oh, and then it’s baked at high temperature for a half hour or so.  A big success – simple, quick, healthy and delicious sliced for picnics … and team meetings.

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