Taking a quick break from Cuba for a moment, I have all the fun of planning and packing a hamper for Royal Ascot to share with you today!
Every year a big group of my friends and I get all dressed up for a day at the races during Royal Ascot, we’ve been to a few race days at other times of the year but Royal Ascot has a certain something something that makes it extra fun. Maybe it’s the dress code…maybe its the giant hamper of food and champers!
Let’s get straight into in shall we as there’s lots of yummy things to see.
First up is a staple of any good picnic, finger sandwiches.
These can take almost any form you like; rolls, sliced bread, brown, white, wraps – it’s totally up to you!
We went for brown bread, sliced up into triangles with three fillings;
- Smoked salmon with cream cheese and cucumber slices
- BLT with thick bacon and crisp lettuce
- Cheese and tomato, I like to grate the cheese I think it makes it easier to manage and tastes better as it mixes in more with the tomato
Some other flavours I love are; brie and cranberry, ham, emmental and salad and avocado with prawns and a paprika mayonnaise.
I also got my bake on for this picnic, I made savoury muffins, goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tarts, rocky road (okay not really baking) and a wonderful lemon drizzle cake.
Let’s start with the muffins.
Sundried Tomato, feta and basil cheesy muffins
You will need:
250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
80g butter – melted
1 egg – lightly whisked
Grated cheddar – (to taste)
Feta cheese – cubed (again as much as you would like)
Sundried tomatoes – diced (I used a whole pot but it’s up to you)
Thinly sliced basil – (you guessed it! Use as much as you prefer)
1/4 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds or similar
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius
This one is easy peasy. Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in your tomatoes, feta, cheddar, basil and nuts. Keep a little bit back of the cheddar and nuts to sprinkle on the tops.
Combine the milk, butter and egg in a separate bowl or jug.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet stuff all at once.
Mix well until it is fully combined.
Spoon your mixture into a lightly greased muffin tray, or use paper cases to line the tin.
This recipe made 10 of my giant muffins
It would probably do 12 normal sized offerings
Then sprinkle your saved nuts and cheese over the tops and bake for 20-25 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Apologies for my terrible ‘through the oven door’ picture taking skills – but they’re rising nicely!
To remove the muffins, allow them to cool for 5 mins in the tin and then tilt it slightly and they should just slide out. Leave on a cooling rack to finish cooling or eat hot and toasty from the oven – it’s up to you!
Shall we stick with savoury and do the tarts next?
Goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion puff tarts
Honestly, these babies are even easier than the muffins. You are totally allowed to cheat and buy ready made puff pastry – I did (!) because no one has hours to spare when knocking up a picnic hamper.
You will need:
Ready made puff pastry
To begin. Pre-heat your oven to about 180 degrees Celsius and chop your onions. I did mine in slices. Pop them in a pan with some oil and start to cook over a medium heat, stirring them gently.
Once the onions have softened you need to caramelise them. I like to add a bit of honey into the mix when doing this to make them nice and sticky and I also think it makes them taste better as you have a more complex sweetness than just sugar. After that though, follow with the sugar! You might want to crank the heat up a little bit to get it really bubbling nicely, the onions should be a nice sticky mix now. Throw a little splash of vinegar in at the end and give it a good mix in. You just want to take the edge off the overwhelming sweetness a little. Set aside and leave them to cool a little.
Roll out your pastry on a clean, lightly floured surface and cut into portions, I chose to make 4 largeish tarts but you could half each of these again to make 8 easily.
These then need to be filled with the caramelised onions and covered with slices of your goat’s cheese. Whisk the egg and using a brush, lightly run some egg along the edges and roll up the sides whilst pinching the corners together.
Run the egg along the top edges as well and then place your tarts on a baking tray and slide into the oven. They will take about 20 mins to cook but keep your eye on them, they might need rotating to ensure they are all nice and even.
Et voila! Yummy scrummy tarts.
The next recipe is one I cannot take any credit for, I followed this one word for word from Rosie over at The Londoner. It’s her recipe for lemon drizzle cake and it turned out perfectly. Let the master show you how it’s done and just check out my final product instead.
I also made rocky road, and this stuff tasted amazing.
Oreo Rocky Road
Our hamper also included vegetables and humus, strawberries for munching and scones with clotted cream and blackcurrant jam. It was the most amazing feast.
There’ll be another Ascot post coming soon about the actual day but until then, I’ll leave you with our final spread; a hamper and cool bag full plus an extra cool bag with the drinks! It looks like I over estimated how much we could eat but it was all gone for the journey home