Picnic Recipes for a Change

“If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?”
Marie Dressler.

Having just got over National Cucumber Week we now find ourselves in the throes of National Picnic Week.  Will it never end?


So here are a few suggestions if you are headed out to dine al fresco, en plein air, sur l'herbe or simply outdoors.

Pan Bagnat Aka Soggy on Purpose Sandwich!

This is traditionally made using a round flat country loaf but is also good using a chunk of baguette.

Here’s a sort of recipe!

5 lovely ripe tomatoes
60ml olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
2 baguettes cut into 3 pieces
a selection of ingredients you fancy such as ...
more tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, anchovies, celery, onion, tuna, rocket, tapenade, goats’ cheese, roasted vegetables etc.

~   Purée the five ripe tomatoes with oil, vinegar, garlic and a little seasoning.  
~   Cut the baguette pieces in half lengthways and scoop out some of the crumb to make room for goodies. (Obviously you will keep the scooped out bread for some other delicious purpose such as these ideas for leftover bread).
~   Brush the cut sides of the bread with the tomato mixture.
~   Layer your chosen fillings in one half of each piece of baguette, drizzling with any tomato mix you have left.
~   Press the tops on firmly, wrap tightly in cling film and chill for several hours, preferably with a weight on top.
~   Unwrap and slice thickly to serve.

Mrs. Beeton's Potted Beans

Mrs. B’s recipe is very odd calling as it does for ½ a pint of haricot beans baked in a slow oven with no liquid whatsoever, which must surely be an oversight, till tender. Here’s my variation ...

400g can of haricot beans – drained
60g (possibly leftover) wholemeal breadcrumbs
60g grated mature Cheddar cheese eg. Cornish Crackler
60g soft butter
seasonings of choice
60g or so more butter – melted

~   Basically pound everything together till you have a coarse pâté like thing!
~   Taste and season – Mrs. B favoured cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper and I have not argument with that.
~   Decant into a pot or pots and top with a little melted butter to seal.
~   Chill till needed.

If you feel like being more orthodox with your beans please see here for Hummus and other bean dips and purées. 

Pasties of some sort –I would say that!  How about these ...

Cornish Gouda and Leek Pasties

This recipe makes 2 large, 3 medium or 6 small pasties.

15g butter
90g leeks, halved, sliced, washed and drained – how to clean leeks
45g coarsely chopped crumbly mature Cornish Gouda or similar tasty mature cheese
200g pastry
1 egg – beaten
sea salt – the crunchy kind

~   Gently melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat.
~   Stir in the prepared leeks.
~   Turn down the heat to low and press a piece of foil, baking parchment or a butter wrapper directly onto the leeks covering completely. Try not to burn yourself.
~   Cover the pan and cook gently for about 20 minutes till utterly tender and just starting to brown.
~   Set aside to cool a little.
~   Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC/180C fan/gas 6.
~   Grease and line a baking tray.
~  Roll the pastry out fairly thinly and cut into 6 x 75mm or thereabouts circles, or whatever size you choose.
~   Stir the cheese into the leeks. I normally say “season to taste” at this point but the mixture was so delicious I’m not going to say it here.
~   Divide the filling between the pastry circles, fold in half and crimp the edges to seal.
~   Put onto the prepared baking tray.
~   Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little crunchy Cornish Sea Salt.
~   Bake for 20-30 minutes till golden and smelling gorgeous.


If you have any pastry over – how about some cheese straws

Salad of some sort – nothing too fragile, perhaps coleslaw and potato salad ...

Easy Impressive Potato Salad

~   Put a bunch of spring onions, coarsely chopped, in the food processor together with a couple of dollops of mayonnaise.
~   Use to dress warm, freshly cooked potatoes. If you can get ones with red skins these look fantastic!

More potato salad ideas here.

Strawberry Scones 

To make 6 normal scones or 4 embarrassingly large ones!


This is a good way to make a few strawberries go a long way.

225 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch or two of salt
50 g cold butter or margarine
200g coarsely chopped strawberries
80 ml milk

~   Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC/180C fan/gas 6.
~   Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
~   Add the butter or margarine and “rub in” with your fingers until a breadcrumb texture is achieved
~   Stir in the sugar and the strawberries.
~   Add the milk and mix in, by hand is easiest, till you have a soft dough.
~   Add a little more milk if too dry or a little more flour if too wet – you need a soft but not sticky dough.
~   Lightly knead just a few times to bring the dough together.
~   On a floured surface press or roll the dough out to about 2 cm thick and using a cookie cutter cut into rounds or other attractive shape.
~   Transfer the scones to a greased baking sheet, brush their tops with a little milk and bake in the oven till risen and golden – about 20 minutes.
~   Transfer to a cooling rack till cold.
~   Take some clotted cream with you.

genius scone recipe cookbook
Great Preview Here!

Incidentally this is based on my genius scone recipe from which no end of wonderful things can be made! Not only can it be varied to create any sweet or savoury scone, American biscuit, griddle cake or rock bun you can think of, not only is it the base recipe for many traditional and ancient dishes but it also makes lovely fluffy dumplings, crisp doughnuts, cobblers, turnovers, pie crusts and more.

Naturally, I've written a book on the matter ~ The Secret Life of Scones.

Other good things to take on your picnic include crisps, nuts, biccies, chocolate, cheese and good bread.

Remember ...

~   A picnic blanket or similar.
~   Kitchen roll and maybe some wet wipes.
~   A bag for rubbish.
~   Plates, knives, forks and, very important, wine glasses.
~   Salt and pepper and any pickles, sauces or relishes you fancy.
~   Something delicious and refreshing to drink – kept cold in a cooler.
~   Choose somewhere beautiful!


PS.  Hold yourself in readiness its Wrong Trousers Day on June 27th!

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Judith Hannemann said...

LOL @ Mrs Beaton....at least I know who these people were!!! Next time slip in Johnny & Fanny Craddock!!! :)

Charlotte Oates said...

I love the idea of embarrassingly large scones, especially ones full of strawberries - delicious!