My post for this month could not be more topical as Britain basks in a heat wave that has lasted for several weeks now and that promises to continue for a further week or so. I’m sure there will be many a family making that trip to the seaside, especially as the children are on their summer holidays too.
A trip to the seaside resonates with all sorts of childhood memories for me; making mountains of sandwiches, (wrapped in greaseproof paper, no fancy lunch boxes then) as well as the excitement of all piling into the car with rugs, windbreaks, umbrellas, buckets and spades, towels and the picnic of course. Then there was the seaside treat of being able to have an ice cream usually Mr Whippy, and always a “99” with a flake stuck in it!
A British seaside holiday may not be as stylish or as elegant as one in the South of France or on the Italian Riviera, but it has its own charm and traditions, with deck chairs, ice cream vans, fish and chips, catching crabs, making sandcastles and having a dip in the sea with rolled up trouser legs all part of the fun. It doesn’t matter that you may get sand in your sandwiches, or that your bottle of pop is warm, it’s just part of the special day out!
Although I am a BIG fan of the sandwich for a seaside picnic, and still insist on making several rounds of cheese and tomato when we go there, I also love the variety of other foods that travel well and have just a bit more panache than the humble butty. There are salads of course, and my Summer Salad in a Jar and Layered Picnic Salad in a Jar always go down well, plus, each person has their own jar of salad to enjoy, with a lid, making it great for meals on the move.
Then there are pies and pasties, which are always requested, as well as my Sausage Plait, which is like a large sausage roll with onions and herbs! Pies and pasties are perfect food for picnics as the pastry keeps the filling moist and fresh, and they are easy to transport. The modern day cheese and bacon tart, the Quiche Lorraine, is also a perfect picnic idea, or how about Sarah Raven’s lovely Ithaca Pie, which is the local version of spanakopita that Sarah enjoyed in the small town of Stavros – perfect for vegetarians.
As well as savoury treats, there must always be some sort of cake or sweet pie or tart, and my personal favourites are Sarah’s Gooseberry Tart as well as my grandmother’s Farmhouse “Teacup” Spiced Fruit Loaf, which can be sliced and buttered before setting off. There is nothing quite as British as a nice slice of fruit cake with a cup of warm tea from a thermos flask! Cream cakes are obviously not a good idea to take, but tray bakes are ideal, and Tropical Fruit Flapjack Slices are easy to make and are packed full of tropical dried fruit for health and energy.
But July’s recipe is a new idea, and something that I have made several times this year already for picnics, mainly due to the fact that my hens are laying well and I always have a pile of fresh eggs to use! It’s a Frittata, sort of an open faced omelette. My new recipe is made with leftover Ratatouille, something I make throughout the summer when peppers, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes are in full season. It can be made the night before, for a picnic, and slices well making it very well-behaved to eat on the beach!
I do have a low-fat version too, Low-Calorie Minted Pea & Vegetable Frittata, but this new recipe, Ratatouille Frittata, is so full of Mediterranean sunshine, that when if the skies are overcast on a British beach it makes you fell all summery. It’s so easy to make too, and if you don’t have any leftover or freshly prepared ratatouille, then you can just fry some peppers, aubergines, courgettes, onions and tomatoes in the pan before adding the eggs.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, if you make it, and I also hope that all of your seaside trips are filled with sand, ice cream, fun and laughter! Have a wonderful summer and enjoy your holidays wherever you may be going. I will be back later in the summer with cooling dessert ideas, see you then!