As you could probably tell from the first episode of my TV series Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook
-I just love a picnic. And with spring just around the corner, my thoughts are already turning to eating outdoors. I can never get enough fresh air into my lungs, so I really love the chance to take advantage of slightly warmer weather by heading off on a day’s outing with a basket of yummy treats. There is a real sense of freedom in cooking and eating outdoors. Simply by virtue of being outside, our gastronomic expectations are lessened and everyone loosens up and has a good time.
If we are heading off late or need to return early, nothing more is needed than a thermos of coffee and some fresh pastries. But with a little more time it’s nice to light a fire and cook Italian fennel sausages served with spicy sauce or chutney and some crusty bread. Sometimes we’ll stop in at a farmers’ market enroute to our picnic spot to grab our lunch supplies. It’s a great way to start the day and discover some new taste sensations.
For an easy picnic that you can assemble on site, pack a roasted chicken (cool and put into a chilli bin with ice packs if your journey is more than an hour), condiments such as tomato sauce, kasundi, mustard and mayo, and accompaniments such as gherkins, olives, cherry tomatoes, rocket or salad greens. Grab the freshest crusty French stick or rolls you can lay your hands on, and you have a perfect portable meal.
Home made frittatas and pies also make for delicious picnicking. My Bacon and Egg Pie is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The addition of cooked, sliced potato gives it extra bulk and it will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, so can be made ahead of time if you’re planning an early start to your journey. Accompany it with salad greens drizzled at the last-minute with vinaigrette carried in a screw top jar. (Never dress a salad before you set off on your picnic. It will turn soggy during the journey.)
I always like to pack a sweet treat to satisfy appetites boosted by all that fresh air. Slices and biscuits are a good option to enjoy with a thermos of coffee or tea. But you can also put together an easy dessert platter on the spot with a block of best quality dark chocolate, some dried fruit such as figs, apricots and pears, and roasted almonds and Brazil nuts. Now all I need is some fine weather and I’m off to enjoy my first picnic of the season!
Annabel Langbein is the star of the new TV ONE series Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook (7pm Saturdays).
Watch more Annabel Langbein recipe videos.
Get Annabel Langbein's Bacon and Egg Pie recipe.
Get all Annabel Langbein's cooking tips here.
See the cookbook Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook for all the recipes from the TV show.