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Too Early for a picnic?

We don’t think so, with a heatwave predicted this week here are our top tips for a stress free and stylish picnic:

Two things should be top of your list:

1. A colour-in picnic blanket is essential – practical and full of quirky quiches, cakes and the odd ant, it ensures to keep both the children (and adults) happy for hours.

Picnic-rug-with-bunting-high-res Picnic-rug-with-bunting-high-res

2. Pack a hamper full of home-made food.  Make some delicious but easy food to take with you:

Here’s a couple of fabulous recipes kindly donated by Claire Thomson from her gorgeous recipe book, The Five O’clock Apron – many thanks Claire.

TWO RIFFS ON FLAPJACKS

Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks

Makes 12 flapjacks

– 400g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped

– 200ml cold water

– 2 cinnamon sticks

– 200g rolled oats

– 60g soft light brown sugar (or as

you like, for sweetness) or honey

– 80g raisins

– 1 tsp baking powder

– sunflower oil for greasing

Apple and cinnamon

  1. Cook the apples to a pulp with the water and cinnamon over a moderate heat with a lid on the pan for about 8–10 minutes. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  3. Mix the oats, sugar, raisins and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. Add the apple pulp to the oats, removing the cinnamon sticks, and mix well.
  5. Spoon into a greased 20 x 28cm baking tin, 5cm deep, and smooth out even and flat. Try not to have too many raisins poking out from the surface of the flapjack, as these tend to catch in the oven – poke them down with your forefinger.
  6. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until nicely coloured and firm on top.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Cool on a wire rack.

WILD GARLIC FRITTATA

Wild Garlic Frittata

From late March to middling May, wild garlic is at its best and carpets many damp and shady woodland areas. With a broad, deep-green, triangular-stemmed leaf, wild garlic can also be identified by its mild garlic smell and dainty white flowers (young and tender wild garlic leaves are best, so pick them before the plant goes to seed and has too many white flowers). Pick only as many as you plan to use, stay clear of any areas frequented by dogs needing a wee, and if in any doubt as to what it is, don’t pick it. Richard Mabey’s Food for Free should put you on the right track for all things foraged.

Foraging with the children is fantastic. Nearer to the ground and with a competitive streak I find becoming in spirited kids, it never takes long before the required shopping bag is stuffed full. The flavour of wild garlic is something akin to garlic, spinach and also spring onion. Verdant green, washed well and cooked in seconds, it is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen.

Serves 4

– 250g chard or spinach leaves, washed and sliced into fat ribbons if the leaves are big, fine as they are if small

– 6 eggs

– 100g young wild garlic, washed and sliced into fat ribbons

– 75g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

– 2 slices of day-old bread, crusts removed, soaked in 2–3 tbsp milk, squeezed dry and crumbled into wet breadcrumbs

– salt and freshly ground black pepper

– 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. You will need a non-stick frying pan that is ovenproof and also small enough to fit in the oven.
  2. Blanch the chard or spinach in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute or until just wilted. Drain, then squeeze out any excess water when cool enough to handle. Set aside.
  3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the wild garlic, cooked and squeezed spinach or chard, Parmesan, soaked bread, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix together.
  4. Heat your ovenproof frying pan over a high heat until the pan begins to just quiver with smoke, then add the vegetable oil.
  5. Add the frittata mix to the pan and mix around for 10 or so seconds with a wooden spoon, then let the mixture settle and be brave enough to allow the frittata take on a nice colour underneath.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until the egg is set and the frittata is ready.
  7. Leave to cool in the pan for around 10 minutes, then turn out on to a plate. Best served warm and with a blob of mayonnaise alongside.

Delicious!  Just add a sunny spot and some sun cream and enjoy the perfect picnic!

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