Picnics, Salads and Paella!
Under the Willow Tree with Salmon Spread and Russian Salad
National Picnic Week
17th to 23rd June 2013
Take about twenty friends, a weeping willow tree, a sunny June day, a lake or two, some plastic chairs as well as deck chairs, a significant birthday, assorted salads, cake, paella and the ubiquitous picnic rug, and you have a “Riparian Picnic Event”, as Hyacinth Bucket would say in Keeping up Appearances! Add that to the fact that this week is National Picnic Week, and that means I will be sharing several picnic recipe ideas over the week, starting off with my friend’s Lynnes’ 50th Birthday event, the aforementioned Riperian Picnic. And so it was that we all gathered down by the lake and riverside in SW France yesterday, in the charming town of Saujon, armed with chiller boxes, sandwich tins, bottles of fizz, pop and water, as well as portable gas bottles and sun cream, we all made our way down to the edge of the river and underneath the dappled shade of a large weeping willow – our temporary home for the afternoon, we enjoyed an “al fresco” feast. The weather was idyllic, the company was comfortable and the mosquitoes stayed away – thank goodness! I made the birthday cake, a chocolate and cherry creation (a recipe I will be sharing later – see a photo below), a smoked salmon and cucumber spread (courtesy of the great Nigel Slater) and my friend Barb’s Russian salad. (Recipe below)
Bob, Lynne’s husband, made a fabulous Paella, which was cooked right by the river in an authentic paella pan, and my lovely friend Ann, made a large salad platter with fire-roasted peppers, assorted mesclun leaves, olives, cherry tomatoes and a sun-dried tomato dressing……..
Yesterday was also Father’s Day, and although I was sad not to be with my dad, we spoked two or three times before we left to go on the birthday picnic, and knowing how much he (and my mum) love cherries, the chocolate cake I made for the day, was also for my dad too, and I WILL be making him one when I visit my parents in a week’s time, and I’m calling it “Dad’s Chocolate Cherry Cake”……..here’s a photo of the cake, the post and recipe to follow later.……
……we all sipped Lynne’s “killer sangria” and slowly got sloshed! The food was amazing – there were old-fashioned egg and tomato sandwiches, olives and caper berries, salads, greengage tarts, tiramisu, cake (of course), Charentais melon with Serrano ham and of course the star of the show, Bob’s Paella.
My two salad and spread offerings were not just for the picnic, but I somehow managed to make two picnic style recipes that fit very nicely into several blog challenges; namely Janice and Sue’s Dish of the Month, where you make a Nigel Slater recipe, Anneli and Louisa’s new Four Seasons Food event as well as my own Cooking with Herbs challenge.
The Nigel Slater recipe I made was from his Kitchen Diaries II book, and was a delectable smoked salmon and cucumber spread/dip, which we enjoyed at home on little rye bread rounds, as well as a sandwich filling betwixt ciabatta bread rolls at the picnic. The Russian Salad recipe is courtesy of my friend Barb, who always makes this amazingly tasty salad for special events and gatherings, and I have tweaked it a bit here and there to suit our tastes. I used extra eggs, as my hens are laying very well right now, grated carrot instead of carrot batons and less mayonnaise, as dictated by my low-fat diet! The salad was very much enjoyed at the picnic and I came home with an empty container.
I hope you have enjoyed visiting our “virtual” French Picnic – the recipe for Barb’s Russian Picnic Salad is posted below, and I will be back soon with more picnic recipe ideas, as well as that Chocolate Cherry Cake recipe, some new 5:2 diet and baking recipes too. Have a wonderful week, and don’t forget if the weather is kind, PACK up a PICNIC! Karen