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What kind of picnicker are you?

April 1, 2011

Spiced butternut squash frittata

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).

Food from the picnic

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
parmesan cheese


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?

  1. April 1, 2011 9:04 am

    This picnic looks like so much fun! Plus I get to go check out your buddies in crime; hey, I never thought about it because I never go on picnics! Sad, I know. well, maybe that will change someday; but I am sure if I do go on a picnic, I would take with me a homemade pound cake and some tea.

  2. April 1, 2011 9:29 am

    Sally, I can’t tell you how much I loved your frittatas and the ginger-chocolate cookies. I wish I had more time in the day to make all your recipes!

  3. April 1, 2011 10:17 am

    What a wonderful picnic spread! We picnic very seldom but when we do, it is usually at the beach and will include boiled eggs, chicken wings, dates balls or the like, whatever else is on hand and definitely a flask of tea and coffee.
    🙂 Mandy

  4. April 1, 2011 10:30 am

    what a wonderful blog you have! So well packed with good reading and inspirational pictures that I’m afraid I will have to spend the whole weekend here 🙂

  5. April 1, 2011 10:42 am

    I’m salivating as I look at your post. Especially at the roasted butternut pumpkin slices and the frittatas.
    You’ve also reminded me to get out the picnic set I was given for my bday and get some use out of it before it’s winter here in Australia.

  6. April 1, 2011 11:46 am

    Looks like a great day! The bass clarinet looks very serious…she’s doing a great job not taking her eye off the conductor! (Fellow band mother here, as you can tell… ;-))

    • April 2, 2011 10:39 am

      Ah yes – well spotted. We’ve had such a delightful run of concerts recently.

  7. April 1, 2011 1:47 pm

    Lovely post and pictures. The frittatas were amazing! and can’t wait for the ginger and chocolate cookies recipe.. they were heaven. x

  8. April 1, 2011 3:27 pm

    So muche wonderful foods!! I love the recipe you have shared today, it is unique. I am a paper plate and sitting in the grass kind of picnicker 🙂

  9. April 1, 2011 4:52 pm

    Oh what a feast, it looks like a really fab-tastic pic-nic. I am like you, I like the napkins and the silver cutlery and the best china, I just can’t help myself. Thanks for calling by my blog and leaving a comment, it is much appreciated. I will call back later and grab those recipes. Love Linda x

  10. April 1, 2011 5:48 pm

    Your pictures are fabulous! Spring is just starting to peak around the corner here, and I am SO excited for when it will be warm enough to picnic again. Our favorite is some home-made bread with cheese and fresh fruit. Have a lovely weekend!

    • April 2, 2011 10:38 am

      Simple good ingredients are the best aren’t they.

  11. Connie permalink
    April 1, 2011 8:15 pm

    What an impressive spread for a picnic! I was going to go with sandwiches and salads, things easily eaten with hands or only with a fork straight from the container with my husband. How I miss the days of just the two of us on a picnic.

  12. April 1, 2011 10:25 pm

    You know, I am more a bonfire person than a picnic-er. For bonfires, sitting on the sand but with a wicker basket, metal skewers, and long-handled baskets for cooking over an open fire.
    Your picnic looks fabulous. And it sounds like SO much fun. The spread sounds delicious, particularly your fritters.

    • April 2, 2011 10:38 am

      We saw the New Year in around a roaring bonfire on the beach so I know exactly where you are coming from.

  13. April 1, 2011 10:39 pm

    Had a fabulous time with you and your daughter…..i’d say im the disorganised pinicker…will turn up with nothing but cake and no knife!

  14. April 1, 2011 10:51 pm

    Thankyou so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. The blue toile bedroom sounds lovely! Happy weekend, love Linda x

  15. Anna permalink
    April 1, 2011 11:25 pm

    We’ve had some fab picnics haven’t we. I suppose I always think of the Cotswold farm Park, Mum’s neat sandwiches cut into triangles, carrot sticks and bite size pieces of ginger cake from the WI stall. The picnic where we accidentally trespassed in the oasis in Al Ain was a good one – we had the national trust blanket and hamper then didn’t we? As for the food…please take me to the enormous bags of crisps accompanied by intoxicating rhythms!!!! X

    • April 1, 2011 11:41 pm

      A damp flannel in a plastic bag to wipe our hands!

      • crasterkipper permalink
        April 1, 2011 11:50 pm


      • Anna permalink
        April 2, 2011 12:37 am

        P.S. It’s still a bit cold for picknicks up here, except in the car. I did eat a delicious craster kipper from an outdoor van a couple of weeks ago though…in craster, hence my new ID!

      • April 2, 2011 10:36 am

        I want one!

  16. April 2, 2011 1:09 pm

    Those butternut frittatas were LOVELY!

  17. April 2, 2011 2:06 pm

    What lovely shots and what a great day. Ready for round two!

  18. April 2, 2011 3:44 pm

    Oh what I would do to be at this fabulous picnic!! Looks like a great time with blogger pals and the frittatas look amazing!

  19. April 2, 2011 6:47 pm

    Sounds like you all had a great time at the picnic! All of the food looks great!

  20. April 4, 2011 12:52 am

    The idea of picnic is looking amazing Sally…. ! Thanks for stopping by my space…cheers !

  21. April 11, 2011 8:32 am

    That spread looks amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • April 12, 2011 8:53 am

      It was Teri – we’re planning another one before it gets too hot to picnic.


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