Saturday, 10 July 2010

Summertime and the picnics are waiting

One of the many joys of summer are the numerous fun ways of dining. Recently I organised a picnic with some friends I love to go dancing with. The feast included homemade rosemary and onion seed focaccia, stuffed with homemade marinated grilled peppers with pesto, salad and mozzarella. Juicy fresh apricots, satsumas, apples and strawberries with cream added a fresh and healthier tone to the day balanced out with butterfly fairy cakes made with a yoghurt frosting and strawberries.

Part of our Picnic Feast

The day was wonderful filled with sun, laughter and dancing - a perfect day! I look forward to similar days whilst England continues its summery trend.
 
Sandwich Focaccia with Rosemary
(Serves 8-10)
 -adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison


Ingredients:
  • 2 Cups Warm water
  • 2.25tsp/7g/1 Sachet Dry yeast
  • 1tsp Sugar
  • 3Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
    -plus extra to glaze
  • 1.50tsp Salt
  • 1-2Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 Cup Wholemeal/Brown flour
  • 5 Cups Plain/Bread Flour
  • About 2Tbsp Cornmeal/Polenta to dust
  • 1Tbsp Black Onion Seeds
Method:
  1. Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water and leave until foamy - at least 10 minutes.
  2. Pound or chop the rosemary until finely minced and add to an oiled bowl along with the yeast mixture, wholemeal flour, salt and olive oil.
  3. Gradually add the remaining flour until a dough forms and turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.  Return the dough to an oiled bowl, coat in the oil by rolling then cover with a damp tea towel or cling film.  Leave the dough to rise until doubled in bulk - At least an hour.
  4. Oil a baking sheet/pan and dust with fine cornmeal/polenta, then roll out the dough to roughly fit the pan.
  5. Press the dough into the pan until about even, cover and let rise for another hour or so.  The dough should be tender to the touch.
  6. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/400F during the last 15 minutes.
  7. Dimple the dough with fingertips, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with onion seeds or more rosemary and bake for 30 minutes in the bottom third of your oven, or until lightly golden.
Marinated Grilled Peppers:

Ingredients:
  • 2 Large Red peppers
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • Vegetable oil to cover - About 100ml
  • 10 Sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
    -or reconstituted from dried
  • 1-2tsp Sundried tomato puree/paste 
  • 1-3tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 dried chillies, crushed
  • Mixed Herbs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Half and seed the peppers then lay skin-side up under a hot grill.  Grill for about 5-10 minutes or until the skin blisters and becomes charred in places.
  2. Remove to a bowl and cover with clingfilm until cool enough to handle - about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile make the marinade in a small pot (about 200ml) by mixing together the sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, tomato puree, herbs, chillies, salt and pepper.  Dilute with 1-2Tbsp vegetable oil.  Any cheap oil will do here as it only acts as a flavour carrier. 
  4. Peel the peppers and slice thinly.  Mix into the marinade well, coating all the slices and compact into the pot.  Add more oil until just covered and leave for a few hours, preferably over night in the fridge.  The smell and taste the next day is amazing.
Mediterranean Focaccia Sandwich:
(Makes 8-10)

Ingredients: 
  • Focaccia Bread, cut into sqaures (See above for recipe)
  • Marinated grilled peppers (See above for recipe)
  • Pesto (shop-bought or homemade)
  • Sundried tomato paste/puree
  • Mozzarella, sliced
  • Salad Leaves
  • Brown/Greaseproof paper and string to wrap

Method:
  1. Slice each focaccia square in half and spread with pesto on one side and sundried tomato paste on the other.
  2. Drain most of the oil off the peppers and layer with the marinated sundried tomatoes onto one side the focaccia. Layer some salad leaves on top then some sliced mozzarella and more salad, place the other half of the focaccia on top, wrap in brown paper and tie together with twine or kitchen string.
Although it sounds like a lot of effort, I got so many compliments on how wonderful they looked and they made transportation of the sandwiches easy as I didn't need to worry about them falling apart.

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