Picnics can be great fun, and it is great to see that they are coming back into fashion. The impact of the recession, maybe but also getting back to the simple things in life!. So, if you are charged with organising the food end of a picnic, dont, whatever you do, resort to a few mangy cheese sandwiches and some warm white wine or Fanta orange - here are lots of great ideas which you can make or buy and wont cost a fortune!
Firstly, make sure that you have a number of different sized plastic food containers to hand - from a small one to take the mayonnaise or the salsa, to a large one to pack that freshly baked interesting bread! And, try to find a decent cooler bag or two to take the items that should be kept at a low temperature, so that you dont risk food poisoning for you or your family & friends. Always, always remember - if in doubt, throw it out (well, in this case, bring it home and put it in the bin - dont sully your lovely picnic spot with debris either!).
The main rule with picnics is that the food has to be easy to eat, cannot require any last minute fiddly preparation (I dont count adding dressing to a salad in that category!), and has to be really tasty and zingy in flavours. Street f00d works really well, as it is designed to be eaten on the move without any cutlery.
So, what falls into that category?
Well, how about some of the following, which you can eat with your hands?
- Chicken wings or drumsticks, coated in some herbs and spices and roasted in the oven work well.
- Crab claws (already cooked and sealed packs are available from Johnny the Fishmonger) with a light lemon mayonnaise dressing
- And how about some mini-quiches, or other baked savoury dish? Here is the recipe for mini-quiches if you want to try your own hand at them, or you can simply get Sarah Jane to keep you some for Saturday morning
- Or you could make some Spanish tortilla and then just cut it into chunks for everyone to help themselves (or pick up a slice or two at the market). We'll post that recipe in the next week or two.
- You could get some of Jim Ryan's ham and cook before you go, or get some already-cooked at the cafe to bring with you.
- Then you also have the option of one of the Curry Sauce Companys lighter curries, cooked with some chicken or pork, cooled and packed with some bread.
- Then of course you could pick up some smoked salmon, or smoked chicken or duck breast at the Pantry, or some of the pates, which will taste wonderful outdoors, simply placed on some fresh bread, with salad
- Dont forget that lots of people are gluten intolerent these days, so check out Sticky Fingers Bakery at the market for gluten free alternatives and The Mexican Shop also does lots of corn and bean based alternatives.
Salads can be a bit tricky to get right, and we would definitely advise against adding the dressing ahead of time - it will nearly always result in a soggy end product, so invest in a small plastic tumbler with a sealable lid and put the dressing in that. Generally speaking, keep wet ingredients away from dry ones til the last minute and it should be ok. You cant get fresher than the leaves at the Dublin Meath Growers stall or at Rosie's organic stall. You can also pick up some lovely fresh fruit to have as an easy finisher.
A good potato salad works well, and add some fresh herbs and an olive oil or mayonnaise to it to really make it work for you. And of course, there are salads available to take away at the Pantry or at Sarah-Janes stall.
Breads should be as far away from a sliced pan as you can get! There is no excuse at our market not to get some breads to suit! You can get bread at Arun Bakery stall, or at the Pantry - both of which do a great range of breads - slice them before leaving home as otherwise your most likely option will be to tear chunks of it as you go, which could lead to arguments!
Dessert could be a slice of tunisian orange cake or other simple fare or some of Sarah-Jane 's, Sticky Fingers or Kates wonderful creations. You could also pack some cheese with you and have that with the last of the bread!
Pack a bottle of Prosecco or Cava in the cooler bag, and away you go! You can also pack fresh fruits juices available from the Dublin Meath Veg stall or at the Pantry.