Earlier in the month I came across a competition from ‘Holidayscottages.co.uk’, asking bloggers to write about their favourite picnic recipes. Considering that picnics have always been a big thing in our family, and in fact, are the reason for the name of this blog, I had to give it a go!
The only slight problem – this is a picnic competition… in April. A time when the weather is temperamental to say the least, here in the UK. Last week had been the hottest week of the year so far, with sunshine and temperatures up to about 23 degrees! Yet the one day I had set aside to do my picnic (Sunday) turned out to be fairly chilly and overcast. But I wasn’t to be deterred – instead, I set up a picnic area in our own living room!
Given the name and the story behind this blog, I wanted to make it a gourmet picnic. So I thought about what foods I would traditionally eat during a picnic, and what could I do to make each item a little more special. So I came up with the following:
Venison & Red Wine Sausage Rolls
Truffled Egg Mayonnaise on Wholemeal Blinis
Red Cabbage with Grapes, Celery & Pine Nuts
Lemon & Raspberry Coulis Cheesecake
Champagne with Raspberries
There was quite a lot to do with these different recipes, so it took me the whole morning – but the end results were so worth it! All of the recipes are as follows:
Venison & Red Wine Sausage Rolls
This was originally a Jamie Oliver recipe which I tweaked to use venison and rosemary, rather than pork and sage.
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 handful breadcrumbs (anything which will hold the sausage mixture together – I just used some Ryvita Crispbread)
6 venison and red wine sausages (I bought these from Sainsbury’s)
250 g ready-made puff pastry
1 free-range egg
A little milk
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook gently for about 20 minutes until soft and golden brown. Add the rosemary, cook for a few more minutes, and spread out on a plate to cool (if you’ve used quite a bit of oil, pat it dry with a kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil).
With a sharp knife, slit the skins of the sausages and pop the meat out. Put it in a mixing bowl with the cooled rosemary and onion mix, and the breadcrumbs, then scrunch well with your clean hands and mix together,
On a floured work surface, roll the pastry out into a big rectangle as thick as a pound coin and cut it lengthways into two long, even rectangles. Roll the mixture into sausage shapes with your hands and lay along the centre of each rectangle.
Mix the egg and milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, then fold one side of the pastry over, wrapping the filling inside. Press down with your fingers or the edge of a spoon to seal the join.
Cut the long rolls into the sizes you want and space them out on a baking tray. Brush with the rest of the egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until puffed, golden and cooked through.
Truffled Egg Blinis
I got the recipe for the blinis from http://www.bakingmad.com
For the blinis
70g Plain wholemeal flour
70g Plain white flour
1tsp Baking powder
175ml Milk (whole) warmed
1 Egg (free range) separated
100g Butter (unsalted)
1 tsp Easy bake yeast
For the topping
3 large free range eggs
Sieve the flours and baking powder together in a bowl.
Add the yeast to the warm milk and separate the egg, adding the egg yolk in with the yeast and the milk.
Whisk the milk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter. Add 1 tsp of melted butter and stir until combined.
Whisk the egg whites until they’re stiff, then gently fold into the batter, trying to keep as much volume as possible.
Clarify the rest of the butter, heat some of it in a frying pan, and drop in dessert spoonfuls of batter. Cook until the surface starts to bubble, then flip over and cook the other side. Set aside once they’re done.
Hard boil 3 eggs and peel them. I’ve recently started using the nifty glass of water trick – if you haven’t seen this yet. watch this YouTube video to show you how. It makes things much easier!
Mash up the eggs (whites and yolks) in a bowl, add a generous helping of mayonnaise, a dash of truffle oil and mix it all together. They’re now ready to be served on your blinis!
Red Cabbage with Grapes, Pine Nuts & Celery
This is a super easy recipe that my parents did for years, and was one of the first items on our family gourmet picnics!
1/2 red cabbage
2 celery sticks
A handful of grapes
A sprinkle of pine nuts
Salt & Pepper
This recipe is very simple, so I don’t really need to break it down into lots of stages. Chop up the half red cabbage into small pieces and put in a pan with a couple of centimetres of water and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Turn up the heat until the water/vinegar starts to boil. Allow it to cook until the cabbage feels softer (add more water as necessary). Chop up the celery into small slices and add to the pan, along with the grapes (chopped in half) and the handful of pine nuts. Allow it all to cook together for a few minutes and season to taste.
Lemon Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis
This is an easy cheesecake recipe by James Martin that I regularly use from the BBC website.
For the biscuit base
75g/3oz butter, melted
1 tbsp clear honey
For the filling
700g/1½ lb mascarpone cheese
2 lemon, juice and zest
200g/7oz caster sugar, plus more to taste
4 tbsp icing sugar
mint, to garnish
For the sauce
450g frozen summer fruits, defrosted
icing sugar, to taste
Brush the bottom of a 23cm/9in springform cake tin with some of the melted butter and place a round of greaseproof paper in the base.
Crush the biscuits and tip them into a bowl, add the melted butter and honey and stir until well combined.
Tip the mixture into the bottom of the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon, gently push the crumbs from the centre outward, until smooth and level. This will form the base of the cheesecake. Chill in the fridge while making the filling.
For the filling, mix the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest and caster sugar together in a bowl until well combined. Do not mix the mixture too much as this will cause it to split. Taste the mixture and add more sugar, to taste.
Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the chilled biscuit mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, either run a hot cloth or blowtorch round the outside of the tin and ease out the cheesecake.
For the sauce, blend most of the fruits with some icing sugar (to taste) in a food processor until smooth. Pass the sauce through a sieve.
Place the cheesecake onto a plate, decorate the top with the sprigs of fresh mint and spoon the sauce around the side. Decorate with the remaining berries.
‘This is my entry for the www.holidaycottages.co.uk Oh so tasty picnics! competition. You can get involved too. Click this link to read how www.holidaycottages.co.uk/blog/oh-so-tasty-picnics-blogging-competition’