PICNIC HAMPERS

I am a big fan of picnics, what’s nicer than lovely, fresh homemade food on a tartan blanket with your best teddy bear ☺ Don’t forget napkins, crockery and cutlery, I prefer disposable so I don’t have to carry them back to the car or to save weight!

If you do plan to bake for a picnic, make sure it’s small and easy to transport, items that don’t tend to spoil easy and nice sturdy items that won’t bruise or break easily. One of my favourites to take for a picnic is a Charcuterie platter or a Mediterranean platter, plenty of meat, cheese and bread! You can add in hummus, pate, olives, artichoke hearts and various chutneys then decorate if necessary with some green salad leaves.

When we think about the bulk of the picnic, look at sturdy sandwiches with crusty bread a favourite of mine is a nice hearty steak and onion sandwich which you can find below. Your side dishes need to be fresh and easy, I like a twist on a normal potato salad by adding quails eggs and some home made pesto. I also like to pre-make some sausage rolls and scotch eggs, you can then continue to snack on these throughout the day! Don’t forget the greens! A side salad of asparagus served with bacon and boiled eggs with a drizzle of oil tastes great.

Onto the sweet stuff! Cream is a big no no unless you have a coolbox and a short journey, my drive over to Badminton is a good few hours so by the time I am ready to eat my picnic the cream certainly won’t taste as good as it did when I packed it! Macarons can be a great addition, they are nice and light and you can mix up the flavours. But do remember to package these up well as they can easily be damaged. I love a cherry bakewell and they are also a great addition to any picnic, I have included a recipe below. Other things to think about are cakes, cookies and pastry dishes. I like different types of turnover as they are easy to bake and store, a recent one I tried was blueberry and almond which was delicious! A final snacking idea is fruit dipped in chocolate, strawberries are a firm favourite but what about something different like cherries in white chocolate?

And now for the drinks…….homemade lemonade always goes down a treat, is lovely and refreshing and easy to make. Something I love at the moment is infused water, various fruits cut up and put into your water is a taste sensation. You could chop and prepare all the fruit in advance and let each person choose which fruit to put in their glass, any fruit left over can go into my next suggestion…..Pimms punch! Pimms is almost top of the list for me when thinking about a picnic, create a punch by adding in gin or different fruit juices, pop in your fruit and enjoy!

Those are my staples for a tip top picnic, but it lies down to personal preference. If you have any other great suggestions please share with me as I am always keen to try new foods!

Steak and Onion Sandwich
A few days before, marinate your meat in oil and herbs such as thyme and garlic or basil and lime (save a small amount of marinade for later)
Cut a ciabatta in half lengthways
Grill the meat to your desired taste, once ready set aside and cover with foil
Place chopped onions in the grill pan and grill until brown
Using the same marinade as earlier, brush a small amount on the bread and add in the steak and onions
Cut into quarters, wrap in foil and pack away

Leek and Poppy Seed Sausage Rolls
Gently fry the leeks (or sweet onion if you prefer) until they are soft
Roll out your pastry and cut so you have two rectangular pieces
Think about your sausage meat, I like to get good quality sausages from my butcher and squeeze the meat out. Break the meat up with your fingers and form a line down the centre of the pastry leaving some space at either end.
Spoon over the leeks on the sausage meat and sprinkle on some poppy seeds
Brush beaten egg around the edge of the pastry then tightly roll up so the meat is encased, close the ends then cut into mini sausage rolls and place on a lined baking tray
Brush the top with a beaten egg and sprinkle with some more poppy seeds then cook for about 25 minutes at about 200-180C

Cherry Bakewells
Roll out 500g short crust pastry and cut into circles
Place the circles of pastry in a greased muffin tin and spoon some raspberry jam into each pastry cup
Beat together 100g butter, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs (one at a time) and 50g ground almonds. Once missed well and 50g sifted self-raising flour and a teaspoon of almond essence.
Spoon the mixture into the pastry cups and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool
Mix 175g icing sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of water and when the tarts are cold spoon on the icing, finally decorate each with a cherry.

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