Category Archives: Picnics

Chocolate and Avocado Muffins

chocolate-and-avocado-muffins-0740Last week went past so fast that I have realised only today that I was due to write a couple of posts on this blog. I have quite a few recipes to choose from, and I was about to start a new one. However during my visit to the veggie store this morning, my trusty greengrocer commented on the new cover photo on my Facebook page. It also follows nicely from the savoury ones I posted before this one. (Just for my lovely readers to know, you can now also find me on Instagram, where I also happened to post a similar snap almost four months ago to this date.)

They say that practice makes perfect, and I need a lot of practice when it comes to muffins. I cannot complain about the recipes I try, because I know they’re good and so easy to whip up. They are also life-savers when unexpected guests show up for a spot of tea and cake.

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Sun-dried Tomato and Pesto Muffins

sun-dried-tomato-pesto-muffins-0733Muffins are my weakness. I love them for various reasons, mostly because when I’m feeling lazy there’s nothing to cut: I just take one and stuff my face with it basically. Then a second one beckons. Usually. So the only thing that annoys me here is that they disappear very quickly. Somehow a cake lasts for a good couple of days. Oh well…

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Around Hever

Walking through the Woods (8136)

Today I decided to share with you some shots which I took during a walk around Hever and Hever Castle. You must forgive me when I say that this week I just feel like reminiscing about that green and pleasant land in which I have lived for quite a while. I consider this blog not only to be a sort of cooking diary, but also to me it’s a journal of what I am up to in life, consisting of one also out of the kitchen. It’s so good for my soul to look back through old photos and posts and learn from my past experiences.

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Ricotta and Spinach Pie

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8180)I would have liked to share with you loads of foodie and non-foodie photos I took over the past few months. However over the weekend I felt like baking a pie. I have written about my ricotta pie recipe quite a long time ago, and I felt quite torn about posting this recipe once more for fear of repeating myself too much. However I don’t think I made this for months, if not a year. My fondness for it has won hands down though, so I give it to you once more with some changes to the filling ingredients, and of course with a new set of pictures. I should add that the dishes of food that you see throughout this blog are eaten a few moments after those pictures are taken. The sweet things are generally shared, and what you see is what you get.

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8171)This weekend was quite full on, with a day trip to Kent and a visit to Chartwell on Saturday. I then decided that Sunday was going to be all about some R&R, with some baking thrown in, just for kicks. Weekdays are usually left for the no-fuss stuff, so it’s nice to be able to spend an afternoon baking things which take a little bit more energy to make. J has been lovely as always and helped to iron roll out the pastry. Shortcrust gives me a headache sometimes (give me that elastic pizza dough anytime) but it’s worth the faff.

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8172)Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8175)I can be a little OCD on this one but I prefer to use ounces for the pastry! I was taught that the basic rule of thumb for shortcrust is that the amount of flour should be twice as much (by weight) as the amount of fat.

  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 2 oz cold butter
  • 2 oz vegetable shortening
  • around 6 teaspoons cold water (the colder the better, especially if you have warm hands like me!)

Mix the flour, baking powder and butter in a bowl, using your thumbs and second and third fingers. Rub the butter into the flour for about 5 to 10 minutes, until it looks like breadcrumbs. The colder everything is the better. Add the water gradually as needed, remembering not to overwork the pastry. Wrap the finished product in cling film and set aside in the fridge until you need it. I like to keep it there for at least an hour, but I would say 30 minutes is enough.

For the ricotta filling:

  • 500g ricotta
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 300g baby spinach leaves, steamed in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg

To prepare the filling, mix the ricotta, frozen peas, spinach, salt and pepper in a bowl, and taste. When the seasoning is as you like it, add the egg and give the ingredients one last light mix. When you are ready to assemble to pie, preheat the oven to 180ºC.

To assemble the pie, divide the pastry into two and roll it out on a clean and floured surface, a few inches larger in size than your pie dish. With the help of your rolling pin, lift the pastry and place it on the bottom of the dish. Fill the pastry with the ricotta mixture, then roll out the second piece of pastry and place this on the top. Secure the edges with your fingers. Prong with a knife, brush the top with preferably a beaten egg. Place in a preheated oven for around an hour, till it turns golden. It’s comfort food at it’s best.

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8176)Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8177)Let it stand for a good 20 minutes before serving – it makes cutting it into slices easier and neater, especially for picnics, but don’t let this hold you back! Enjoy!

Rob x

Savoury cake variation

Picnic Cake with Dates 2 (7100)Happy Monday! This post will be a short one (I will be back later in the week) but I wanted to post a new pic I should really have published together with Ms. Khoo’s recipe. The picture may seem the same to you, and perhaps to me, however the savoury cake you see here was made with ground almonds (I simply added them to the flour but you could substitute say around 100g from the original flour quantity), walnuts and dates. These reminded me of home. You can read the post before this one for the ingredients. The cake turned out to be a little crumblier than the original one, which is noticable in the way the cubed sausages fall to the side, but tasted just as good, if not a little sweeter. R xx