IT’S going to be hotter than Ibiza this week – and the picnic blankets will be out in force.
Here, ALI RAY shows you how to add an exciting twist with some simple recipes from her new collection The Picnic Book.
8 Ali Ray shows you how to muster up these exciting recipes so you can have the best blanket banquetCredit: Getty – Contributor
Cheese, ham corn muffins (serves 8)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
8 Once tasted, these gorgeously gooey, sticky, savoury muffins will become a favourite
50g smoked ham slices
200g self-raising flour
1½ tsp baking powder
Generous pinch of salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp sweetcorn
80g cheddar cheese, grated plus an extra 10g for sprinkling on top before cooking
100g natural yoghurt
125ml milk, whole or semi-skimmed
40g salted butter, melted
1 small egg
METHOD:Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and chop ham into 1cm squares.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, sweetcorn and grated cheese. In a separate bowl, combine the yoghurt, milk, butter, egg and ham. It will look a little lumpy.
Give it a good mix then pour it into the bowl of flour and mix again. Spoon equally into a muffin tin lined with eight cases. Sprinkle the extra cheese across the top of each muffin.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are well risen and golden. Remove from the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Red pepper tortilla fingers (serves 8)
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
8 These tortilla fingers are a good way of sneaking in new ingredients that younger children might otherwise not choose
250g white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
15g unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, cut into 1cm pieces
6 large eggs
2 tbsp double cream or milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for five minutes. Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion on a low heat for eight minutes.
Add the potatoes and gently fry for five minutes. Mix in the peppers and take off heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the cream (or milk), nutmeg and seasoning. Add the cheese and mix.
Pour it over the potato, onion and pepper mixture and leave on a low heat until it is almost set (about ten minutes).
Preheat the grill to a medium heat and place the frying pan under until the top has set. Allow to cool for ten minutes and cut into finger-width wedges.
Boozy berry picnic puddings (serves 4)
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
8 These berry bombs look much harder to make than they really are so be sure to soak up all that praise
500g mixed summer berries
100ml fruit liqueur, dessert wine or gin
75g caster sugar
Approx 12 slices of day-old white bread
Clotted cream, to serve
Put the berries, alcohol and sugar into a saucepan and gently heat for three minutes until the juices are released. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
Put a sieve over a bowl and pour in the fruit. Leave it for about 15 minutes for all the juice to drain.
Line four ramekin dishes with cling film. Use a cookie cutter a little larger than the base of the ramekins to cut eight rounds out of the slices of bread. Dip four in the bowl of juice and press them into the bottom of the ramekin dishes.
Cut strips out of the leftover bread that you can use around the inside edges of the dishes. Soak these in the juices too before using them to line the dishes.
Divide the berries equally between the ramekins, packing them in tightly, and put the final four bread rounds, soaked in juice, on top. Wrap each dish tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To serve, removed the cling film and place a small plate on the top of a ramekin dish, flip it over and slide out the pudding. Add dollops of clotted cream.
Sticky sweet sausages (serves 4)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
8 These sticky sweet sausages are a virtually effort free recipe that doesn’t compromise on taste
12 pork chipolatas
6 tbsp honey
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cook sausages for 10-15 minutes, until beginning to brown. Whisk together honey, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl.
Add sausages and mix until coated. Take them out, shake off excess marinade and put back on greaseproof paper on baking tray.
Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and put back into the oven for about 15 minutes. Take them out and refrigerate for two hours.
Pizza puff spirals (serves 12)
Preparation time: 10 minutesCooking time: 15-18 minutes
8 A bit like a mini pizza in flavour, these puff pastry swirls tend to be scoffed within minutes of appearing on the picnic rug
125g ready-made puff pastry
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp pesto
75g cheddar cheese or mozzarella, grated
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and put a baking tray upside down on the top shelf. This will provide a hot surface to help cook the underside of the pastry.
Unroll the puff pastry, keeping it on the greaseproof paper, until it is 3mm thick. Spread the tomato purée and the pesto all over the pastry. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
Starting at the short edge, roll the pastry as tightly as you can. Wrap the roll in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes until firm. Remove the cling film and cut into 12 slices. Place the pieces on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Put this on the upturned heated baking tray in the oven for 15 minutes until the spirals have risen and turned golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Strawberry rocky road (makes 8 squares)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
8 You can adjust the chocolate ratio according to your picnickers, but they’ll get snatched up no matter what
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
50 mini marshmallows
30g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
20g walnuts or hazelnuts, roughly chopped
75g fresh strawberries, cut into small pieces
2 digestive biscuits, broken up
METHOD:Break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water. Stir occasionally until melted then take off heat and put to one side.
In a separate bowl, put in the marshmallows, almonds and walnuts or hazelnuts, strawberries and bite-sized biscuits. Pour the melted chocolate over and mix together.
Spoon the mixture into a 23cm by 12cm loaf tin and cover in cling film. Refrigerate for two hours until set then cut into pieces.
8 You can purchase yourself this wonderful book by Ali Ray at Amazon
Spencer Matthews whips up recipes for Simply Beef + Lamb