Picnics in London part 1:
London’s burning. Okay maybe not literally but its been pretty damn hot this past week! It’s gorgeous really, seeing everyone in the city suddenly become so much more smiley and bright in themselves. Everywhere you look it’s shorts and t-shirts, summer dresses and sandals, what’s not to like? The flat has even been nice and cool for the last few days since Hana’s dad brought us a fan down from Hertfordshire, an absolute god-send in this weather; and now I’m not forced away in the afternoon and can sleep at night!
So what do you do in the big city when it’s as hot as London is now? You get outdoors and enjoy the weather, and like many other Londoners we have been enjoying a bit of alfresco dining too. Last Saturday we went to Hampstead Heath, one of London’s largest parks with gorgeous views out across the whole cityscape below. The heath is vast and slops up or down depending on how you look at it. There’s lots to do there with café’s, a lido and several outdoor dipping ponds where you can swim with the ducks. Its gets pretty busy on a sunny day at the weekend as most of London pours into the parks but there is ample space to find a quiet corner.
I think this was our first proper picnic of the year, it was certainly the first time we used the picnic basket I was given for my birthday a couple of years ago. I asked Hana what she would like for our picnic, quiche or a nice salad or something else?
“Just some nice sandwiches” she replied.
“Well”, I thought, “I think we can do a little better than that”. So I took to the internet and looked for some inspiration. I thought about a nice chicken salad, or a couscous or even some sort of rice? In the end I made a few really nice dishes which I think could work equally well as part of a picnic or a summery lunch at home in the garden. One of the recipes I actually got from the back of a pack of ready cooked Puy Lentils which is dead simple to make. The other I came up with, inspired by things like coronation chicken and those classically summery English dishes.
I’ll start with my own recipe, the amounts I give here are a bit of a guess, I made it up as I went along and I wasn’t paying too much attention to how much of everything I used; so play around with the quantities and find what works for you. I called this recipe Pork Slaw as it seemed the most appropriate name for it. The pork came from a gammon shank I got from the hot food counter in Morrisons. Anyway hope you like this one!
Russell’s Summer Pork Slaw recipe
Ingredients: serves two people(sih), shredded or sliced
300g slow cooked gammon/ pork
1 red onion thinly sliced in half rings
1/2 a red pepper, thinly sliced
a finger length of cucumber, halved length-ways then thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes. 1 sliced thinly. The other deseeded and sliced. (discard seeds or reserve for another recipe)
Lebanese spice mix (available at many local/ specialty shops)
Recipe: it’s dead easy!
Take all the ingredients and prepare as above. Mix together all the vegetables apart from the sliced tomatoes in a bowl then add the pork and give it all a good stir together.
Stir together the Lebanese spice mix, paprika and the yogurt.
Combine everything in a mixing bowl then decant into two or more individual boxes, I used left over take away containers. Finally top with the sliced tomato and enjoy in the park!