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A great picnic starts with a great sandwich!

I love a picnic - I mean who doesn't? Spending the day outdoor with friends and doggies can't never be boring! One thing I love about meeting friends at the park is to eat together, I like to cook lots of nice little bits that you can pick at throughout the whole day, so yeah basically spending the day eating and chatting ;-)

On Sunday I am having a little get together in our garden and have been thinking about easy things to prepare that everyone can enjoy, yummy food that can be served cold and still be nice - so I thought I should share with everyone, in case you are planning an outdoor lunch soon! Despite reports of our summer already being over I’m confident the nice weather will become more frequent and let’s face it in this country it doesn’t take much for an excuse for everyone to get together in the park... or failing that even in doors as it looks like I might have to for my picnic if the forecast is right!

Today I’ll show you how to make 4 different sandwiches using 4 different cheese spreads... including carrot lox (smoked salmon)! Who’s excited? Me! Over the following weeks we will be making sausage rolls and chocolate and courgette mini-cakes with matcha frosting to complete your perfect picnic. You will also see what cheeses I am currently using and hopefully find that useful when shopping next :-)

I chose to make these with bagels but you could use whatever bread you fancy. I think bagels are perfect to share as you can cut them in 4 parts and taste a bit of everything. I bought some fresh bagels with different favours, I love the ones with sesame seeds but couldn't resist picking up some with pumpkin seeds and even found one with onions, what a catch! I got them at Morrison’s and I must say they’re really tasty.

Pretty tomato - Make your own cheese!

My favourite of all sandwiches is the simplest - cream cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil with a pinch of salt. I really love this one and I could eat it for breakfast or have it as a simple snack. I have made my very own cream cheese using cashews. How? Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover with water, I leave them overnight, then drain and rinse the cashews, I use a cotton cloth for that. In a food processor mix the nuts with a spoon of nutritional yeast, 2 spoons of lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp water, job done! Store in a glass jar into the fridge.

The crunchy one

I made another sandwich using coconut spread as a base (I use Vitalite), I like the taste of it and use it a lot especially on toast with jam. I gave it a bit of a twist by seasoning it with cumin, pepper, salt and a pinch of smoked paprika, and boy was it tasty and spicy! Then I added some red pepper, peas shoots and lettuce, all raw - I like to have the veggies raw and super crunchy especially if the bread is soft, the peppers especially worked out really well. You should definitely try this spread when making sandwiches as it adds a barbecue, smoked taste to them. You can store the butter in the fridge and it should last a long time as you’ve basically only added some spices to it.

The super fresh

The cucumber bagel, I don't think there is an English picnic without a sandwich with cucumbers in, am I right? Here I mixed some violife cheese (the plain one) with some capers and cucumber. I didn't add any salt as the capers are already quite salty - then I added some cucumber slices and voila! The capers added a nice kick to the bagel giving it an unexpected taste - it’s almost like a tartar sauce so if you like tartar you would love this! You can keep the spread in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Using the same cheese I have also made this weird but super tasty mix, flax seeds and cumin cheese spread :-) as you can see from the pic below it looks good and it tastes good too!

FLAX SEED MIX: in a a handful of flax seeds, a handful of cumin seeds, a sprinkle of turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. ​​​​​​​​​​ Add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan and coat the pan in it then wipe off the excess. You want the pan to be oiled but not greasy. Put the frying pan on the heat and make sure it gets piping hot. Add one ingredient at a time to the pan. Roast them together until they’re golden brown. If you want to discover more ways to toast nuts and seeds then here is the link to follow.

Last but not least, MR salmon!

This is one of my fav things recently and I always make sure I have it in my fridge, it is easy to make and very inexpensive. This is how I do it: peal the carrots in thin strips then place them between 2 sheets of nori (it will give it that salty fish taste, then add salt to them, place all in a oven tray and cover with some aluminium foil, cook at low temperature for about an hour, the foil will keep the moist inside the tray and make the really soft and juicy. When they are completely cool, put them in a jar with the liquid from the tray then add 1 tbsp of the following: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, paprika, pinch of pepper.

Ok now you are ready to go, you can make 4 different bagels and who says they need to be bagels, you can use anything from crackers, to white bread, up to you really. These can make some tasty lunches too so whenever you prepare any of these cheese mixes then make sure to do a little bit more so you can use it again!

More cheese for your Picnic!

New Roots, I am absolutely in love with their cheeses and so happy to see young entrepreneurs thrive and help Veganism grow! You can find their tasty cheeses at: GreenBay and Wholefoods in London

Seriously delicious Kindaco Greek Style cheese marinated in garlic and herbs, perfect for salads! This is produced by a young lady in London in small batches, and you can definitely taste all the hard works that goes into it! You can find her fab products on her website and at Hetu. Hetu is a vegan zero waste store, that offers whole foods and sustainable reusable items without unnecessary packaging. Possibly one of my favourite shop in London, pay them a visit if you can.

Nutcrafter Creamery

This Fauxmage is a French double-crème style cheese. It comes in two flavours, Original (this on in the pic) and Fresh Chive. This lovely cream is buttery and rich in flavour, I really love it. My cheese supplier brought me some last week to try and I literally finish a jar in an afternoon! If you fancy try this then check here their store locator. Here is what I have made using their cheese :-)

Let me know what you think about these cheeses and what you are currently eating, can't wait to discover more cheese makers!

Hope you will enjoy to make these super easy bagels! I look forward to reading your comments and see your creations, don't forget to share your recipes with us using @leles_london and #LelesRecipes.

And don't forget the most important thing; add a little love to all your recipes - it's the most important ingredient.

Next time we’ll make mini courgettes and chocolate cake, I hope you’re ready!

Valentina x

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