Picnic

 

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As the warmer weather approaches, the outdoors beckons and it suddenly seems like a good idea to set off for an old-fashioned picnic.

Roll up a travel rug and pack a picnic basket. Be sure to pack travel-friendly food such as terrines and pates, quiches and frittatas. Think of substantial salads with grains or pulses that won’t wilt. Some robust salads can be dressed ahead of time to let the flavours blend and intensify. For more delicate salads, pack dressings separately in screw-top jars.

For something sweet, try an old-fashioned slice. It can easily be transported in its baking tray.

If your mood is more spontaneous, there are plenty of great delis and food stores where you can purchase all manner of ready-made goodies. Throw in some good quality fresh bread, a slab of cheese, slices of cured meats such as prosciutto, bresaola, salami and chorizo, smoked salmon or smoked trout, ready made dips and seasonal fruit.

As you venture into al fresco dining, there are some important points to remember. Most food needs to be eaten within an hour or two of being removed from the fridge. You’ll need a cool bag or esky to transport all your provisions. Tupperware really comes into its own as you pack and stack everything. Make sure you have tight fitting lids to avoid spills.

Freeze individual bottles of water and pack around the food to keep it cool. The drinks will be chilled by the time they are required. Put whole pieces of fruit in a container with a lid and surround with ice cubes to chill it down.

If the weather’s warm, why not pack iced coffee or iced tea instead of hot beverages? A thermos is handy for keeping drinks cold, too.

For some unknown reason, everything always tastes better outdoors, and if you’re really clever, there will be no washing up.

broad bean salad with preserved lemon

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2kg broad beans in the pod

4 tbs olive oil

juice 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves chopped

1 tbs ras al hanout

1 preserved lemon, skin only, finely diced

small bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked

small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked

handful black olives, pitted

salt and pepper

jar marinated feta cheese

 

Pod the broad beans. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Put the beans in the pot and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh beans under cold water. Slip off the tough outer skin and discard. Set aside the bright green double podded beans.

Make the dressing by combining the oil, lemon juice, garlic, spices and preserved lemon. Drizzle over the broad beans, season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh herbs and olives.

Add the marinated feta just before serving.

 

serves 4.

Damien Pignolet’s simple country terrine with fresh herbs

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12 slices rindless smoky bacon

1 bunch spinach, stalks removed

400g pork shoulder, coarsely minced

300g chicken mince

200g chicken livers, coarsely chopped

300g pork back fat, coarsely minced

1 clove garlic, chopped

half tsp quatre epices

half tsp ground black pepper

50ml brandy or cognac

sea salt: weigh all the meat and allow 18g per kg

half cup chopped parsley

4 chopped sage leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 egg, lightly beaten

 

serves 10 – 12

 

Use the bacon slices to line a terrine with a capacity of about 1.4 -1.6 litres, laying the slices crossways and allowing the ends to hang over the edges.

Thoroughly wash the spinach, blanch for two minutes, then squeeze really dry and chop roughly – you should have about ½ cup chopped spinach leaves. In a large bowl, combine this with all the remaining ingredients and mix well. If time permits, allow to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.Preheat oven to 160C. Press the mixture into the bacon-lined terrine, and fold the overhanging ends of the bacon over the top. Cover with a lid or foil and bake in a bain-marie for about 1 hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 140Cand continue cooking until the internal temperature of 70 -72C is reached or the juices run clear when the terrine is pierced with a skewer.

Weigh the terrine until cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Serve with pickled cherries or cornichons and toasted sourdough bread.

gingerbread slice

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150g unsalted butter

125g dark muscovado sugar

150g treacle

200g golden syrup

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp bicarb soda

2 eggs, beaten

250ml milk

300g plain flour

200g icing sugar

1-2 tbs lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 180C.

Grease and line a slice tin approx. 22 x 32cm with baking paper.

Place butter, sugar, treacle, syrup, ginger and cinnamon in a medium sized saucepan and heat until butter is melted and all ingredients are incorporated.

Remove from heat and stir in bicarb soda.

Add eggs and milk and mix well.

Pour mixture into flour and stir well until there are no lumps.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake in oven for approx. 35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean when tested.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

To prepare the icing, sift icing sugar and mix with the lemon juice until the icing is a spreadable consistency. Spread over cooled slice.

 

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