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Al fresco dining - summer recipes

From: Treatwell Expert Panel ,

Al fresco dining - summer recipes

Like a lot of people, summer is my favourite season and although the sun has barely raised its head this year, I still live in hope that it will come out to play.  The summer always inspires my cooking and brings a smile to my face; quite simply when the sun is shining everything seems fine.  

The summer has a special place in everyone’s heart; from childhood it represents long hazy summer days away from school books and now that I am a mother it is also a time in the year when I get to spend some quality time with my daughter. 

The summer is also a great to time to gather friends and family and with a little help from the weather al fresco dining is simply heaven. There are few things better than being surrounded by the people you love sharing dishes and catching up over platters of freshly made food and a nice cold drink. 

The pleasure of summer eating is the freshness of the ingredients - this normally means you do not need to do too much messing around.  'The fresher the tastier' is not a bad rule of thumb.

Homemade Coleslaw

This is a simple recipe that I use all the time. It reminds me of wonderful, noisy weekends when all my friends and family and all our children gather at one of our houses for long, lazy lunches or dinners. It is great served with the gammon and pease pudding - or anything, actually! The chilli gives a kick to the usual coleslaw flavour.


  • 1 white cabbage
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large fresh beetroot
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4-5 radishes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise


Grate all the vegetables into a large mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper and chillies and stir well.

Summer Pudding

This is another family classic that I remember from my childhood summers.  The freshness of the fruit really adds to the summer flavours and although a pudding, this is a very healthy indulgence. I found this recipe recently on my mum's list of things to take to one of our picnics at Henley Regatta  – how she transported all of these things I still find amazing but she did it.


  • Serves 6-8
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 8 slices of stale, crustless white bread, 1 cm (½ inch) thick
  • 750g (1 ½ lb) mixed fruit (see Note)
  • 125g (4 oz) caster sugar
  • Clotted cream, to serve


Lightly grease a 900ml (1½ pint) soufflé dish or pudding basin (this helps the bread to stick and helps with the ‘un-moulding’ at the end), then line with 1 or 2 slices of bread to cover the base completely.  Line the side of the dish with more bread - if necessary, cut the bread to shape to fit closely together.

Hull and carefully wash the fruit (pit cherries, if using).  Place the fruit in a heavy-based pan and sprinkle the sugar over.  Bring to the boil over a low heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until the sugar melts and the juices begin to run.

Take the pan off the heat and set aside 1-2 tablespoons of the fruit juices.  Spoon the fruit and remaining juice into the bread-lines dish and cover the surface closely with the rest of the bread.

Put a plate that fits inside the dish on top of the pudding and weight it down with a heavy tin or jar.  Transfer the pudding to the fridge to chill for 8 hours.

Before serving, remove the weight and plate.  Cover the dish with the serving plane and turn upside down to un-mould the pudding.   Use the reserved fruit juice to pour over any parts of the bread that have not been soaked through and coloured by the fruit juices.  Serve with clotted cream.

Note: Strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants, black pitted cherries are all suitable for this dish and can be mixed according to taste and availability.  The more varied the fruit, the tastier the result, but be careful with too many blackcurrants as they tend to dominate.

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