As I shook out the floral picnic blanket, readjusted my sunglasses and straightened my straw hat, I congratulated myself on my after-school picnic in the park. Red onion marmalade, goat's cheese and fig tart. Only the kids were letting me down with their relentlessly snotty noses. Did they not realise I was living the dream?
There I was, looking fresh and fragrant in the sunshine. The 4yo had already poured an entire bottle of water down him and was stripped off to the waste. His shaggy hair making him look like a child of the 70s. The 2yo had refused at the outset to join in my vision, stubbornly pinning down his arms so I couldn't take off his grubby old favourite T-shirt and replace it with something fresher and more appropriate.
"Darling," I wanted to say, "if you want to look like my child, you need to lose the encrusted snot, the dirty fingernails and look a bit, y'know, clean." Of course, I didn't. I didn't want to confuse him. Normally snot and dirty fingernails suit my look completely.
For half an hour my look veered from the usual casually thrown together/hedge backwards stylee to something more sedate. But that was mainly because our picnic tea had been thrown together, giving me time to get fragrant. It was a riff on the whole open tart thing which I get a bit obsessed with and have written about several times, here and here. I had been sent a whole load of delicious ingredients by Capricorn Somerset Goat's Cheese and they wanted me to devise some new recipe for them, but really, when you've got things this nice you don't really need to do anything. I just put them all on some puff pastry and baked. The real revelation was the red onion marmalade - it makes the perfect base. It's sweet, goes beautifully with lots of things, and is straight out of a jar, result! It makes a change from pesto or tomato puree.
Goat's cheese and red onion marmalade open tart
Serves 4 adults (with a large salad)
Start to finish: Prep, 5 mins? Bake for 20 mins
1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
100g red onion marmalade
3 baby figs
100g Capricorn Somerset goat's cheese
Sprinkle of basil leaves
Turn oven on to 200C degrees. Put puff pastry on a large lined baking tray. Spread half a jar of marmalade over it, leaving an inch or so around the edges. Cut the figs into quarters and break up the goats cheese (I just use my fingers) and distribute on the pastry. Make a criss cross design with a butter knife on the edge of the tart and brush with milk (it really does make a difference). Put in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges have puffed and are golden brown, then serve.