5 Easy-Peasy Picnic Foods
Soggy supermarket pork pies begone, homemade is where it's at.
A summertime picnic — from childhood onwards, the resonance is powerful and deep.
Escape, freedom, exploration: it’s Blyton’s Famous Five on perilous adventures fortified by cucumber sandwiches and lashings of lemonade; Mole and Ratty traversing waterways, their hamper joyously stuffed with cold meats, gingham and ginger beer; or Foster’s Room With A View, where childhood innocence gives way to something far more knowing. Youthful Edwardians throwing off their parents’ stuffy, dress-for-dinner mores for wild swimming, chicken pie and champagne.
The cultural history of modern Britain summed-up by a sausage; cold at that.
Back in the Edwardian day though, soggy, supermarket pork pies were non-existent; picnics came homemade or not at all and tasted incredible for it.
There is something infinitely satisfying and soothing about making everything from scratch.
Here Rhona Everard from Thyme Homecook gives us five tasty picnic ideas*. Ratty would be proud.
1/ Sausage Rolls
- 8 Cumberland sausages, skins removed
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 3-4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 500g puff pastry
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1. Place the sausage meat in a bowl with the onion, sun-dried tomatoes, sage, parsley, pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix together until well combined.
2. Cut the pastry in half and roll out 1 piece to make a long oblong shape, 40cm x 17cm x 3mm thick. Put half the filling onto the long log shape, which runs the length of the pastry. Place the sausage log about 5mm in from the edge of the pastry. Brush the edge with the beaten egg and fold the pastry over the sausage filling and press to seal the edges. Crimp the pastry with a fork. Cut into 8 rolls; prepare a second batch with the remaining pastry and filling.
3. Brush the tops of each sausage roll with beaten egg. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper.
4. Pre heat oven to 200 C / 180 F / Gas Mark 6 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden, risen and flaky. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack.
2/ Basic Hummus (Jamie Recipe)
Serves 6-8 people
- 2 x 400g cans of chickpeas (reserve the liquid) and a few chickpeas for decoration)
- 4 tsp. tahini
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1tsp crushed sea salt
- 6 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Paprika (optional)
- Coriander or parsley leaves
1. Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and tip into the food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, salt and lemon juice and 7tbsp of the reserved liquid from the cans. Turn on the food processor and slowly pour in the oil while it runs.
2. When the mixture is combined and smooth, tip into a serving dish. Drizzle with some more extra virgin oil and decorate with a few whole chickpeas. Sprinkle with paprika and finely chopped coriander or parsley leaves for colour.
3/ Scotch Eggs
Serves 8 people
- 10 medium room temperature free-range eggs (2 beaten)
- 800g butchers sausage meat
- Handful of chives
- Handful of parsley
- 1 tbsp. English mustard
- Plain flour
- 150g white breadcrumbs
- 2 litres sunflower oil
1/ Put the eggs into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 4 minutes, and then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Once cooled peel the eggs.
2/ Mix the sausage meat together with the herbs, mustard and season well. Divide them into 8 balls.
3/ Prepare 3 plates – one with a handful of flour, one with the beaten egg and the final one with the breadcrumbs. Start by putting flour on your hands. In the palm of one hand, flatten the sausage ball in to an oval shaped pattie. Roll a peeled egg in flour, and then put it in the middle of the pattie. Shape the meat evenly around the egg, moulding it with your hands.
4/ Roll the meat wrapped egg in the flour, and then dip into the beaten egg, followed by breadcrumbs.
5/ Heat in oil in a deep fat fryer to 150C/300F. To check whether the oil is ready add a piece of bread and cook for 1 minute. If it sizzles and browns the oil is ready. Lower the eggs into the pass and cook for 5 minutes turning them half way through cooking. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
4/ Mini Chicken Pies
Makes 12 pies
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 20g unsalted butter
- 1 x small onion, finely chopped
- 90g pancetta, chopped
- 6 skinless and boneless free range chicken thighs, cut in 2cm pieces
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 150 g dry sherry
- 100 ml double cream
- Small bunch of tarragon and curly parsley, finely chopped
- Juice of ½ Lemon
For the pastry:
500 g plain flour
1 tsp. salt
1 medium free-range egg, plus 1 egg, beaten and mixed with a little double cream to glaze
80g unsalted butter
1/ For the pastry, put the flour and salt into a large heatproof bowl, make a well in the centre, crack the egg and cover it with flour. Put the butter and lard in a pan with 200ml water and bring to the boil. Pour the hot water mixture onto the flour; mix quickly with a table knife to bring the pastry together. When it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to work the pastry together until smooth. Leave to cool, covered in a tea towel, until warm or room temperature.
2/ Make the filling. Heat the olive oil in a casserole and add the butter, when the butter has melted, add the onion and fry for 5 mins until they have softened. Turn down the heat; add the chicken, flour and garlic, stirring until coated.
3/ Fry for a few moments then add the sherry and cook for 5 mins to reduce the liquid. Pour in the cream and bring to a simmer for another 5 mins or until the chicken is cooked. Take off the heat and stirs in the herbs and lemon juice. Season and cool completely.
4/ Cut off a quarter of the dough, wrap in cling film and set aside. Divide the rest of the dough in 12 equal pieces and use to line the muffin holes as mini pie shells. The pastry needs to be as thick as a £2 coin, make sure it comes just above the top of the try lip. Roll out the reminder of the pastry to the thickness if a £2 coin. Using a 7cm pastry cutter stamp out 12 circles.
5/ Divide the chicken filling among the pastry cases in the tray. Brush the edge with the egg and cream glaze, then cover with the pastry lids and glaze the tops. Use a fork to decorate the edges of the pies. Use a skewer to poke a hole in the top of each pie, glaze again, and then chill uncovered in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6/ Heat the oven to 200C/180CFan/Gas 6 and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden. Serve the pies warm or at room temperature.
5/ Bacon and Gruyere Tarts
Makes: 8 Tartlets
Shop bought shortcrust pastry or make your own
- 175 g plain four
- 100g butter (cubed)
- 1 egg
- A knob of butter
- 1 onion
- 250g streaky bacon (chopped)
- 3tbsp of chopped parsley
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 200 ml (1/2 pint) double cram
- salt and pepper
- 100 g Gruyere cheese, grated
1/ You will need 2 x x 4 hole Yorkshire pudding tin.
2/ If making your pastry, measure the flour and butter into a processor and whiz until they look like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and whiz again to form a ball.
3/ Roll the dough out evenly on a floured work surface, cut into 8 circles and use them to line the Yorkshire pudding tins.
4/ To make the filling, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and bacon and fry for a few minutes. Once cooked set aside.
5/ Measure the eggs and cream in to a jug and beat together. Season with salt and pepper.
6/ Add the bacon and onion mixture to each pastry circle. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and pour over the egg mixture. Top with the cheese.
7/ Cook in a preheated oven 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6 for 15 minutes.
*Plan B: if the idea of skinning a Cumberland sausage leaves you cold, give Rhona a shout. If you ask her very nicely she may just do the cooking for you; like her Facebook page and keep to date with what’s cooking in her kitchen and remember to mention Muddy!