Break out the basket: Bill Granger plans the perfect picnic
On this, the last Bank Holiday weekend of the summer, our chef is determined to dine outdoors – and to make it extra-special he's planned the perfect picnic
Sunday 25 August 2013
As we edge towards the end of summer, I'm becoming increasingly aware that the opportunities for eating outside are slowly running out. So this Bank Holiday I'm determined to embrace the great British picnic tradition and head to the park with our basket of food tomorrow.
People laugh about the unreliable weather here in the UK ruining outdoor plans, but Australians don't have it much easier: 40C in the shade, flies, mosquitoes, not to mention snakes and spiders – I'd take the safe option of Hyde Park with the risk of summer showers any day.
One of my favourite memories of last summer was going to the park with the girls. All we had with us were the books we were reading and some sandwiches. We hardly talked, just enjoying a beautiful afternoon together.
Dangerous as it might be to try to recreate such unplanned moments, I'm going to give it a try. Already I know I risk ruining it all by loading on the pressure too much. To make it extra-special, I'm packing a whole meal, including some white-peach wedges to drop into flutes of chilled prosecco and, as I can't quite bring myself to eat out of plastic containers, a few bowls will also go in the basket. Let's hope the weather co-operates…
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 75 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Meatloaf sandwich, mustard mayo, beetroot and gherkins
When did meatloaf go out of fashion? Well, this delicious, manly sandwich should soon put that right…
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
70g/3oz pancetta, finely chopped
750g/1½lb beef mince
50g/2oz fresh breadcrumbs
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the filling
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
6 ciabatta buns
3 cooked beetroots, sliced
6 gherkins, halved lengthways
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin with plenty of oil. Heat the tbsp of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and pancetta. Cook for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Tip the beef into a large bowl, add the breadcrumbs, parsley and plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tip in the cooled onion-and-pancetta k mixture as well as the egg, and mix with clean hands. Pack into the tin. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Just before leaving for your picnic, assemble the sandwiches. Preheat the grill, slice the buns open and grill until toasted. Combine the mayonnaise and mustard then spread on the base of the buns. Top with watercress, a slice of the meatloaf, some beetroot and gherkin. Add the top of the bun and wrap in wax paper.
Tomato, red onion and caper salad with smoked-paprika dressing
Tomatoes are at their juiciest at the moment, and seeing as tomato salads improve in flavour as they sit in their dressing, they're perfect for picnics.
750g/1½lb mixed ripe tomatoes – choose different shapes, colours for added variety
1 small red onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 tbsp capers
Handful basil leaves
For the dressing
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp smoked paprika
Juice ½ lemon
Slice the larger tomatoes and halve smaller ones. Place in a large Tupperware or picnic container. Scatter with the sliced onions, capers and basil. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing then pour over the salad. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and close.
Apricot and almond tart
What's a picnic without a tart of some kind? I've never been a fan of quiches, so I save the pastry for the dessert.
75g/3oz ground almonds
Grated zest 1 lemon
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
8 apricots, stoned and quartere
Handful almonds, chopped
2 tbsp double cream
3 tbsp demerara sugar
For the pastry
250g/8oz plain flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
For the pastry, whizz the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix the water into the egg yolk. Pour into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the pastry comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5. Roll the pastry out into a circle about 25cm in diameter. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Combine the ground almonds, lemon zest and brown sugar. Dust over the pastry, leaving a wide border. Top with the apricots.
Gather the pastry border over the fruit and top with the chopped almonds. Brush the pastry border with double cream and dust the whole tart with the sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden.
Leave to cool. To pack for the picnic, leave the tart on the paper on which it was baked and wrap in a double layer of foil.
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli; Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
Life & Style blogs
Blood test that predicts Alzheimer's disease
Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
Lego told off by 7-year-old girl for promoting gender stereotypes
Apple iOS 7.1 update: Boxes are out, circles are in; CarPlay support and no more random resets
Titanfall: Release date, gameplay basics, DLC and everything else you need to know
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
iJobs Food & Drink
£25000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Corporate Traveller: Opportunity for a B...
£20000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Corporate Traveller: We're looking for t...
£25000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Flight Centre Limited: Flight Centre Bus...
£16000 - £27000 per annum + Commission + Award-Winning Benefits): Flight Centr...