Lung chilling air, azure skies, skeletal trees, crunchy grass. With darkness exceeding daylight at this time of year – and rain, going by wet winters past – perfect, crisp, clear days are to be celebrated. We get out when we get the chance, to enjoy the beaches, woods and hills.
For fresh adventures, Colby Woodland Garden has newly accessible paths over the road from the main grounds. There’s a map in the top car park, although the signposts along the paths are a work in progress (tip – take a photo of the map on your phone). This winter we’re planning to get up into the Preseli Hills (covered with a smattering of snow as I type!) as well as down to beaches we didn’t visit this summer. It may be a bit fresh for a sea-dip but winter picnics will be a treat.
A flask of soup to warm the soul and individual ‘peepo pizzas’ should motivate any moaners to get up and out. Peepo pizzas contain the filling better than their flat namesakes, making them easier to eat on the go. If you start these recipes early they can be ready in time for a picnic lunch, pizzas still warm. For anyone who hasn’t made bread or pizza dough before there are step-by-step photos below.
Ingredients (makes 6)
700g strong bread flour (white, brown or mixed)
1 sachet yeast
1 tsp salt
400g lukewarm water
Toppings, sliced/grated as necessary e.g: creme fraiche, apples, celery, walnuts, blue cheese, or tomato sauce, chorizo, onion, pepper, cheddar
Method (step-by-step photos below)
1 – In a large bowl mix flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre, pour in water, mix until all ingredients are combined.
2 – Tip dough out and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Return dough to bowl, cover and leave for an hour until doubled in size.
3 – Tip dough out and cut into 6 pieces, knead into rounds, cover and leave for 30 minutes.
4 – Prepare topping ingredients. Heat oven to 220c.
5 – Stretch/roll the dough balls into rectangles about A5 size. Spread tomato sauce/crème fraiche along the middle length of the rectangle, add toppings and cheese. Lift the long edges together from either side and pinch together in the middle, top and bottom, sealing these sections together but leaving a couple of ‘peepo’ sections so you can see the toppings.
6 – Lift each peepo pizza onto a lined/greased baking tray, bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the bread is risen and golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
7 – To keep warm for your picnic wrap each peepo pizza in kitchen roll, wrap them all in a thick tea-towel &/ pack in an insulated coolbag (without chill packs!)
Parsnip and Roast Garlic Soup (makes 1.5L, enough for 4 hungry or 6 less hungry adventurers)
1-2 bulbs of garlic (depending on your love of garlic!)
1 onion, peeled and diced small
1 stick celery, diced small
4 parsnips, peeled and diced small
1 tblsp butter
1 tblsp oil
1 glass white wine (optional)
1-2 stock cube(s) dissolved in 1L of boiling water
1 tsp dried/1 tblsp fresh thyme
Pinch salt & pepper
1 – Separate the garlic bulbs into cloves, cut the base off, but leave skin on, each clove. Place on baking tray, drizzle oil over and roast in the oven at 180c for 10-15 mins until lightly golden and smelling sweet (I roast them as the oven warms up for the peepo pizzas). When they’re ready they should easily slip out of the papery skins.
2 – In a large pan melt the butter with a dash of oil, gently fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes until softening, add the parsnips and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the wine, and cook for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates off (it will no longer smell boozy).
3 – Add the roasted garlic, thyme, stock, salt and pepper and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer with a lid on for 20-30 minutes until the parsnip is soft.
4 – Blitz smooth with a blender/food processor, add water/milk if too thick.
5 – Transfer to thermos flask(s) for the picnic.
Peepo Pizza step-by-step photo recipe
This article first appeared in Narberth Breeze magazine.