The Perfect Socially Distanced Picnic
Picnics are a big part of how we normally eat in the summer. Sometimes long and lavish weekend affairs when we have something to celebrate, but more often than not, they’re about a simple supper taken to the park on a weeknight.
In these uncertain months, eating outside has taken on even more importance, as for lots of us, it’s the only way we can see each other.
If there is a recipe that makes more of an egg, I am yet to find it: a whole egg hidden inside a muffin, the yolk still runny. These are based on a muffin I ate at a brilliant bakery in the Mission District of San Francisco called Craftsman and Wolves. It’s the perfect breakfast muffin: a little bite from polenta, a hit of chilli, some brightness from the dill. They also travel well to a picnic, though be sure to eat them straight from the oven if you want a runny yolk, as the yolk will set a little as they sit.
You can use any grain here – I like pearl barley for its chewy, pillowy heartiness, but quinoa, millet or even brown rice would work a treat. If you are vegan, leave out the feta and use coconut yoghurt. I have used basil, as I usually have a plant sitting on the windowsill, but any soft herb would be good.
This barley salad bowl is just as good the next day and travels particularly well, so I often make it for plane journeys or make extra for lunch the next day.
I first made this noodle bowl for a picnic and it’s been made many times since. The dressing is a favourite for summer noodles; I finish it with lots of shredded greens and some final crunch from cashews and black sesame seeds (regular sesame seeds, well toasted, would work just as well), which elevates this from a one-textured noodle salad to something much more interesting. I use brown rice noodles here, as I prefer their depth of flavour and find them more filling and satisfying, but use what you can get your hands on. Swiss chard, kale or spinach will all work here. The salad is great served just warm or cold.
These blondies are somewhat bottle blonde. Though they don’t have the cocoa or hefty amount of chocolate that a brownie would (which makes them a blondie), I do use muscovado sugar, which turns them a deep dark brunette. If you like you could use a lighter sugar, though the deep maltiness of muscovado works so well. The topping is blonde, however – it’s a quick, fudgy meringue-like almond topping which keeps them looking a bit blonder.