Picnics and Party Food | Dani Valent

Picnics and Party Food

Dainty bites, fresh flavours and dishes that don’t mind being moved from kitchen to hamper to blanket, or being passed around on a tray at a stand-up gathering…That’s what’s on my mind with these picnic and party favourites. Rustle up some of these beauties at your Melbourne Cup Day party, spring luncheon or pool-deck gathering.

Ah, frosé! It’s pink, it’s slushy, it’s wine and it’s fruit. It’s frozen rosé, aka fro-zay baby! This drink just promises summer vibes and it’s so easy to make in your Thermomix. (And if your part of the world isn’t summery right now, it’s the drink to make you look forward to next summer!)

I would never say that the Thermomix is really just for cocktails, but it’s so good at making cocktails that I have to assume they were always part of the grand Thermo-masterplan. This elegant and party-friendly spin on a classic martini only strengthens the case. The flavour combination comes from Gamila Macrury, who has a saffron and olive farm in Beechworth. Watch my video visit to her farm!

This cold Spanish soup from chef Emma Warren plays with the Catalonian love of partnering sweet fruit with cured meats. It’s surprising and delicious and can easily be made a day ahead of your gathering.

This flavoured salt is an incredibly versatile condiment. Turn cantaloupe or honeydew melon wedges from a kids’ snack into a thrilling grown-up nibble: arrange cut melon cubes on a platter and sprinkle with the spicy salt.

I love dishes that are more than the sum of their parts: really delicious but so easy to make that you feel like you’re cheating. This Cervelle de Canut definitely fits into that category. It’s a flexible friend, great with crackers and also good to dollop over roast potatoes or steak, or to dot on oysters.

Think of my Everything Salsa as a superhero in a jar, ready to sweep in and save you from any number of perilous situations. It’s great as a salsa, for sure, spooned over grilled meats or mushrooms, but that’s just the beginning of its heroism. It’s easy to wrangle into dips – dairy-free if you like – and it loves to save a salad too. Just to prove its versatility and can-do nature, it is even happy to do service as a marinade.

It’s an honour to feature two recipes from leading US chef Grant Achatz. These pierogies and pretzels are easygoing bites from the mindbending chef and they’re great to serve to a madding crowd.

The lovely Alice Zaslavsky is a wealth of information and she cooks with enthusiasm, enjoyment and a big dollop of fun. These quinoa bites are fab school lunchbox snacks but they’re just as good to pass around a grown-up gathering. You can vary the veg as desired.

While making this freeform chicken tart, I share a few fun tricks: flavoured pastry (mustard, mmm), shredded chicken (Thermo-genius), and a simple technique for creating a pastry lattice. I also let you into my love affair with buttered leeks – could they be the key to happiness?

As you can see, Frank Camorra makes his tortilla (Spanish omelette) in the great outdoors over open flame. You can do it his way, or go Thermo-style with our fabulous Varoma tortilla. It’s really so delicious – I’m thrilled with how this Thermomix method turns out. I’ve got a separate video below that demonstrates the ‘Varoma flip’ method that I use.

Deseeding a pomegranate is the beginning of this easy recipe, which ends up as a delicious and entirely flexible beetroot coleslaw. Beetroot coleslaw was one of the first things I saw made in the Thermomix and it totally rocked my world. I love that 2-second chop and stir!

I think food should be fun to say as well as to eat so I’m a massive fan of zhoug, a green chilli and herb paste from Yemen. Watch the video to hear how to say it! Today I marinate salmon in zhoug, then tear it into chunks and make it the hero of a fresh and healthy salad.

Do you know the words that stop me in my tracks? Chocolate. Mousse. Brownies. Think of these little squares of joy as a baked chocolate mousse, with separated eggs to give them a little air and no flour so we stay gluten free.

My husband lost the power of speech as he had the first slice of this cake. “It’s the best cake I’ve ever eaten,” he said. Well, all credit to the wonderful Belinda Jeffery, as it’s her recipe and is as simple and successful as all her dishes. As she says, “This cake is from the secret cache of recipes I turn to when I have to whip up something special at very short notice – and it’s just fabulous.”

I love my Elk top & Obus pants

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