What kind of picnicker are you?
Friday is the main non-working day in Dubai and while the weather is good many people flock to the parks on the weekends to relax with their families. Safa Park is a popular destination of about 160 acres of greenery, palm trees, flower beds and lakes. I’m always fascinated by the various picnics that are brought; often women sit in the circle of deck chairs round skewering meat for kebabs to barbecue; I’ve seen enormous cooking pots, covered with foil, hoisted over the railings; Arabic families sometimes bring a drum and children munch from enormous bags of crisps accompanied by intoxicating rhythms.
So what happens when a group of friends who all blog about food get together for a picnic? I thought I was pretty normal bringing my picnic backpack, with plates, knives, forks and a tablecloth plus flask of tea (and National Trust rug!) but this brought gales of laughter from Arva. I suppose I can’t hide my English roots. Sandy impressed us all by producing a fold-up table which she’d transported across the park along with food and toddler in buggy. Anja iced her cake in situ and Sarah brought her goodies in stackable Chinese steamer baskets (practical and oh so stylish).
The picnic spread was fantastic including courgette and chocolate cake from Edwina, raspberry and hazelnut cake from Sukaina, corn muffins from Sid, preserved homegrown tomatoes from Lin and other goodies from Yasmin, Salman and Kari.
There was a concert (my daughter was playing bass clarinet) in the amphitheatre behind us, the music loud enough to enjoy but far enough away to be able to chat and munch as we sat under the shade of the trees.
My contribution to the picnic were these little spiced butternut squash and parsley frittatas plus some ginger chocolate cookies (recipe to follow soon). The weather is starting to get warmer here in Dubai so we are all savouring every moment outdoors before the summer heat makes daytime picnics unbearable. I transported the frittatas in their tin pretty much straight from the oven – I’d recommend cooling before transport under normal circumstances. They were perfect picnic food.
These frittatas were a combination of Jamie Oliver’s spiced squash recipe plus some inspiration from Donna Hay (and the ingredients I had in the cupboard). For more pics and who brought what go over to Spontaneous Euphoria and Out and About in Dubai
Little spiced butternut and parsley frittatas
1/2 a butternut squash (about 700g)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 small dried chillies
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
4 eggs, lightly beaten
240 ml single cream
40g Emmental cheese, grated
Remove the seeds from the squash and cut lengthways into slices. Put the spices, herb and salt into a mortar and pound to a make a fairly fine powder, add the garlic clove and smash to combine. Add the oil and stir to make a paste. Smear over both sides of the slices of squash. Place in a baking tray lined with foil at 200 C for about 30 minutes (or until tender. Leave to cool and remove the skin from the flesh with a knife and cut into small dice and mix with the parsley.
Combine the eggs, cream, freshly ground black pepper and Emmental cheese and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into 12 greased muffin tins. Divide the squash mixture into the tins. Bake at 160 C for 20 minutes until they are golden and firm to the touch.
So what kind of picnicker are you? Paper plates and sitting on the grass or wicker hampers and folding chairs?