Picnic Loaves

Picnic Loaves
Wotchers!

In my quest to find tasty recipes for you, I often find myself poking round some odd corners of the internet. Recently, this has taken me to some delightful Russian blogs, where I found this week’s deliciousness.

It is for a flavour-filled picnic loaf, or snack loaf, seen on the left above and is one of the speediest mixings I’ve ever found – you can mix and bake this in about an hour. Additionally, many of it’s components are regular storecupboard or fridge dwellers, making it a snip to bake at short notice. I’ve called it a Picnic Loaf because I suspect the Russian title (Snack Cupcake) lost something in the Google-Translation. I’ve also made it a little healthier by substituting the original sour cream for low fat creme fraiche.

The texture is unusual in that it is incredibly light and tender, even with all the added flavourings, and when toasted, the crunchy outsides contrast deliciously with the soft interior of the slice. It is packed with regular protein – diced cheese and sausage – and texture and even more protein is achieved with the addition of cooked kidney beans, which are a real delight to bite into as well as eye-catching with their red skins and pale interiors.

Initially I was just going to post the one recipe, but then realised it would exclude all the non-meat eaters. Then I thought I could crack a joke by saying “Look, it’ a loaf for everyone: there’s sausage for the meat eaters, cheese for the vegetarians and beans for the vegans” but realised that would be in poor (yet still delicious) taste. So I decided to create a second, vegetarian version. Alas, with the dairy and eggs, making it vegan is a stretch too far, but that said, I’m really pleased with what I came up with, because I think it’s actually more delicious than the original.

Inspired by the addition of the kidney beans, and having a tin to hand, I set about creating something chick-pea based. After much metaphorical pencil-chewing, I was really struggling to come up with replacements for the cheese and the sausage, so I gave up that idea entirely and decided to make hummus bread: not to dip into, but a bread that tastes like hummus. With a little parsley for colour and a couple of trials tweaking proportions, it came out better than I had imagined. And toasted – it’s fantastic.

Sausage and Cheese Picnic Loaf

sausage cheese picnic loaf

You don’t need to be heading out on a picnic to make this, my daughter has been enjoying a couple of slices toasted as an after-school snack.

1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 x 200g smoked u-shaped sausage – diced
200g sharp cheese – I used vintage cheddar – diced

3 large eggs
200g low fat creme fraiche
200g mayonnaise
1tsp salt
250g self-raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Grease a large loaf tin. I used this one (IKEA), to give a squarer slice, but a regular large loaf tin is also fine.
  • Whisk together the eggs, creme fraiche and the mayonnaise.
  • Sift together the salt, flour and bicarbonate of soda, then add to the bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add the cheese, sausage and beans and stir briefly to combine.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the tin around and bake for another 20 minutes for a total of 50 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edges and gently tip the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool. The sides will be browned but not crusty, so handle it carefully whilst hot.

Hummus Loaf

The method is practically the same as the loaf above, but I’ll write it out here as well, to save you from scrolling up and down.

1 x 400g tin chick peas, drained and rinsed.
handful of roughly chopped flatleaf parsley

3 large eggs
100g tahini
50g olive oil
200g reduced fat creme fraiche
50g mayonnaise
1tsp garlic paste
2tbs lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 rounded tsp ground cumin
250g self-raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Grease a large loaf tin. I used this one (IKEA), to give a squarer slice, but a regular large loaf tin is also fine.
  • Whisk together the wet ingredients: eggs, tahini, olive oil, creme fraiche, mayonnaise, garlic paste and lemon juice.
  • Sift together the salt, cumin, flour and bicarbonate of soda, then add to the bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add the parsley and chick peas and stir briefly to combine.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the tin around and bake for another 20 minutes for a total of 50 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edges and gently tip the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool. The sides will be browned but not crusty, so handle it carefully whilst hot.

 


Dutch Pea Soup

Dutch Pea Soup

Wotchers!

This is a fantastic winter warmer of a soup – I say soup, but it’s more accurately a meal in a bowl, with its thick, hearty mix of dried green peas, vegetables and flavourful meats. It is the sign of a good soup if your spoon can stand upright in your bowl!

In Friesland, the northern region of The Netherlands where my husband’s family come from, there is a marathon speed-skating race called The Elfstedentocht . It runs for approximately 200 kilometers in a huge circle around the eleven cities of the region. Because, for safety reasons, the ice needs to be of a minimum thickness for the race to proceed, sometimes there is as little as 48 hours notice for both competitors and spectators, although there is a frenzy of excitement for weeks as temperatures fall and the possibility of the race being staged rises.

Most of the country stay at home to watch the race, but the diehard enthusiasts flock to the start/finish town of Leeuwarden and all along the route to cheer on the skaters. To keep themselves warm during the race, spectators eat Snert or Dutch Pea Soup.

You need to start at least the day before you want to serve the soup with soaking the peas. The rest of the cooking can be completed on the following day, but this soup improves with keeping, so starting it even earlier is not a problem. This makes a large quantity of soup, easily enough for 8-10 people, but it freezes well.

I’ve adapted this recipe to ingredients available in the UK. If you’re planning any outdoor activities over the holiday period, then a flask of this soup will be a fantastic addition to the day.

Dutch Pea Soup

400g dried green peas

1.5 litres water
1 boneless pork chop
1 smoked ham hock or small smoked gammon joint
2 large carrots – sliced thickly and diced
1 large onion – chopped
1 celeriac – peeled and cubed

1 bunch celeriac leaves or celery leaves roughly chopped
2 leeks – rinsed and sliced
1 large potato – peeled and chopped
12 peppercorns
1 bayleaf

1 U-shaped smoked sausage

a handful of flat-leaf parsley – chopped
1 sharp apple – peeled and cubed

  • The night before: Put the peas into a large bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight.
  • The next day:
    • Drain the peas.
    • Put the water, peas, pork, ham hock, celeriac, carrots and onion into  large saucepan and simmer gently for 3 hours.
    • Add the peppercorns and bayleaf, leeks, potato and celery leaves.
    • Simmer for a further 1 hour.
    • Remove from the heat.
    • Remove the bayleaf and fish out the peppercorns (optional, most of the time I leave them in).
    • Fish out the meat.
    • Trim away all fat and discard. Shred the pork and ham/gammon and return to the saucepan.
    • Slice and dice the smoked sausage and add to the saucepan.
    • Warm the soup gently until heated through.
    • Using a potato masher, gently crush the vegetables a few times – you’re not aiming for a smooth puree, just a comforting, thickened mix.
    • To serve: Spoon into bowls and stir through the chopped parsley and the apple – it really lifts the flavour and makes what might be a rather heavy soup, light and fresh.