OK…for the last few weeks the weather drove me insane. On a recent visit to Malta one of my friends said that there is always a grey cloud over the UK. There has been some windy and rainy weather around this Spring, and let me tell you, it can get to you after a pretty dismal winter. J loves stormy weather because it makes photos look good. He’s right of course. But that doesn’t make you want to go out for a picnic, does it? Mmm?
Today though, the Sun’s finally out once more. Great for all those lucky tennis fans in Wimbledon, and also good for the rest of us mere mortals, watching the action on the internet! For a taste of the grass, out with the boots and in with the flip flops, good food, an ice-cream or two, a picnic basket and off we go.
For an outing such as this it’s always good to opt for food which is very easy to make and very portable. I find that simplicity and portability always work well together and the following recipe was just that. While waiting for Rachel Khoo’s next book I made her cured sausage, pistachio and prune cake, from her charming third publication The Little Paris Kitchen, changing absolutely nothing from the original recipe. Removing the pistachio shells was the biggest faff and to be honest their taste got kind of lost in the end. I thought the smoked sausages were quite chewy, but the saltiness was what the cake needed. Mademoiselle Khoo said that salami would work well here and I know for a fact that friends who have tried it with cured chorizo, loved it.
I tried it again with dates and walnuts, two ingredients found perpetually found in my pantry, and I bet it would also work well with whole toasted almonds. That would certainly give it a more Mediterranean feel.
- 250g plain flour
- 15g baking powder
- 150g cured French sausage (or whatever you can find – chorizo or cured Maltese sausages are good options), chopped in little cubes
- 80g pistachios (or toasted walnuts or almonds), shelled and roughly chopped
- 100g prunes (or dates), roughly chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 100ml milk
- 150ml olive oil
- 50g plain runny yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch of pepper
Grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Measure out all the the flour, baking powder, cubed sausage, pistachios and prunes, and give them a good mix in a large bowl.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until they turn pale. Add the milk, olive oil, yoghurt, salt and pepper and whisk again.
Now, making sure not to overbeat, slowly add and fold the dry flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Remember: some lumps in the batter is a good thing.
Pour this lovely cake mixture into your diligently prepared loaf tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
I like this best when served with a fresh salad. Picnic anyone? What’s your favourite picnic food?
(Recipe adapted from Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen, Michael Joseph, 2012.)