National Picnic Week: How to Host the Perfect Picnic
Adam Smith’s Picnic Tips
- When it comes to a good picnic, it’s helpful to have something to carry and store items in. I have even been known to pack my grocery trolley similar to what my granny used to use and wheel it on to my favourite beach down on the Kent coast – I may look a little silly, but is the perfect way to take the stress away from the journey.
- You need to have the right tools to do the job. Take a cool box to transport your lovely prepared food and keep it cool, and ensure you have all the things you need to be comfortable like a good ground covering and pillows to rest on. Remember a thermos flask is great for keeping things hot but just as great at keeping things cold – whatever your tipple of choice! A chopping board is an essential for me, along with wet wipes for cleaning those messy fingers after lunch, and a bin bag to take all your rubbish away. Lastly, an umbrella is always a great tip – after all, we are in the UK and one thing we can never judge is the weather.
- Take some pomegranate seeds, a sliced lime and mint. Add these to some lemonade with ice for the family and the adults can add a good splash of vodka as long as you aren’t driving.
- Sandwiches, rolls and wraps are a picnic staple; I like to take a whole French stick made with a filling of choice, then cut into desired size, wrap in baking paper and tie with a little string. This saves a lot of time making individual ones and when you get to your destination it’s still perfect no matter how bumpy the ride. For if your more adventurous option just take a selection of fillings and build your own.
- When it comes to salads – which are a staple and a must for a picnic – I would suggest to never dress your salad at home. Take the dressing in an old jam jar or sealed tub, give it a good shake up and dress just before you eat, otherwise the salad will be all bruised and soggy if it is done too early. I would also say, forget any delicate salad leaves as these will just wilt on what is hopefully a sunny day. I always enjoy a good chopped salad or even crudités with homemade dips like guacamole, hummus or a simple mayonnaise. Take two or three dressings so people can build their own salad when they get there.
- Something sweet is always good to finish the afternoon. As ice creams and fancy cakes are out of the question for such an occasion, I would recommend a good old tray bake, such as a chocolate brownie, flap jacks or even millionaire shortbread – these will all survive the sun and are easy to make, transport and serve. Even some simple fresh fruit is nice, I often take wedges of melon, apple and mango or even some frozen grapes which make for a nice cool snack. Just pick them from the vine and place in a sealed bag, put in the freezer the night before and on your way out the door place them in your cool box.
Recipe: Heritage Tomato, Crab, Avocado and Basil Tart
- 4 banana shallots
- 1 pre-rolled puff pastry 500g
- Selection of heritage tomatoes
- 50g basil leaves
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 100g grated parmesan
- Splash of olive oil
- 1 ripe avocado
- ½ lemon
- 200g fresh white crabmeat
- 1 lime
- 10g coriander leaves
- Sea salt to season
- Pinch smoked paprika
- Thinly slice the banana shallots and cook at a low heat until soft without any colour.
- Roll out the puff pastry to your desired shape; roll over the edges to create a thin crust.
- Spread the cooked shallots in the middle of the tart and brush the edges with olive oil.
- Slice 2/3 of the tomatoes and lay with ½ the basil leaves on the onions within the folded edge.
- Sprinkle over the picked thyme and grated parmesan.
- Bake the tart at 180°c for 18 minutes in the oven, and then allow to cool.
- Cut the remaining tomatoes into even wedges and slices. Season with olive oil, salt, pepper and the remaining basil leaves, which should be roughly torn.
- Cut the avocado in half, removing the stone and the skin, cut into wedges and season with salt, juice of ½ lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Season the crabmeat with the zest and juice of the lime, picked coriander leaves, salt and smoked paprika.
- Arrange the marinated tomatoes, avocado and crab evenly on the cooked and cooled tart.
- Drizzle with the juices from the tomatoes and garnish with the basil leaves and herbs.
- Cut into wedges and serve!
Recipe: Egg and Cress Sandwich
- 8 slices of your preferred bread
- 8 free range eggs
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 small banana shallot
- Salt and pepper
- Place the eggs into a suitable sized sauce pan and cover in cold water, make sure the eggs are flat on the bottom and not stacked.
- Place onto a high heat and bring to the boil as quick as you can and cook for 8 minutes.
- Remove the eggs and place into ice cold water.
- Once cold, peel the shell and rinse the eggs.
- I find the best way is to chop the eggs with a knife, as it gives a better texture rather than grating.
- Peel and finely dice the shallot.
- Add the shallot to the chopped egg, along with the mayonnaise.
- Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Butter your preferred bread, I personally love a nice seeded bread for this.
- Generously spread on the egg mixture and cover with the washed and picked watercress to taste (I like loads).
- Cut into triangles or rectangles (whichever you prefer) and enjoy!
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