The Saturday Picnic Society

In search of good views and good food

Walk 23: Caramelised Onion, Potato and Thyme Frittata with Nectarine and Raspberry Salad

Walk: Crystal Palace Park and Lambeth Country Fair

Picnic: Brunch for a change….Caramelised Onion, Potato and Thyme Frittata; Nectarine, Raspberry and Mint Fruit Salad; and vanilla lattes

Sure I usually head out of London to have lunch in some beautiful country field. But  London’s got some pretty great fields too. No train ride also allowed an early start which meant a nice change with a backpack full of brunch instead of lunch.

When my lovely friend Hanna suggested exploring London I never thought we’d end up finding these guys - dinosaurs Crystal Palace Park. They were totally weird and strangely primordial for things cast in concrete.

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Early morning dinosaur hunting is also a good way to work up an appetite. Chiled frittata travels remarkably well. And is even better if studded with sweet caramelised onions, fluffy potatoes and thyme and dipped into lemon mayonnaise.

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A little fruit salad of juicy nectarines and ripe jewel-like raspberries drizzled with honey, a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkled with shredded mint goes down pretty well too.

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Great energy for heading back into London to find a country fair in the middle of Brockwell Park - jousting, duck wrangling, local urban honey, sheep and reggae all made appearances. Weird? Yup, but wonderful too.

Also found the inspiration for a possible new hobby - check out these little guys!

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Walk 22: Salade de Carottes Rapees, Celeriac Remoulade, creamy cheese and crusty bread

Walk: Hastings to Rye with a detour for a dip in the sea on a hot hot day

Picnic: Salade de carottes rapees (grated carrot salad), celeriac remoulade, cornichons, cherry tomatoes, mini camembert, a crusty white loaf, galettes and iced hazelnut coffee


Did you know it was Bastille Day last weekend? Okay, sure, I am an American living England and not French in the slightest.  But I do love a themed picnic and I really love an excuse to eat bread and cheese, so let’s celebrate!

We got an early start to the seaside to beat the crowds. This meant elevenses were necessary. A little café? Mais oui! Except this coffee is nice and light and creamy because it was made with hazelnut milk and a little vanilla. Pair with some buttery biscuits and some fresh sea air? Parfait!

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Then walk, walk, walk some more and check out some boats on the way.

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Find some relief from the heat in cool shady trees.

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And then, once you’ve worked up an appetite finding the perfect spot, lay out your feast - ripe little cherry tomatoes, bright tiny cornichons, an oozy camembert, crunchy grated carrot salad, creamy celeriac remoulade and some really good crusty white bread. Rip off the bread in chunks and use it to scoop everything up. Mix and match as you go.

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Have a nap. Finish your coffee.  Sing La Marseillaise.

Head home. Sleep really well. Dream of poodles, vin rouge, moustaches and Breton stripes.

Walk 21: Chilled Avocado Soup and Roasted Pepper Focaccia

Walk: Hot and sunny through the rolling hills and fields from Leigh to Sevenoaks

Picnic: Chilled Avocado Soup, Roasted Pepper Focaccia and apples

A picnic on the hottest day of the year so far? Glorious!

How about a chilled avocado soup? Amazingly creamy, a little rich, so completely refreshing and a bit unexpected. Garnish when you’re ready to eat with some toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted corn, feta and basil.

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And then maybe some Roasted Pepper Focaccia for dipping? 

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Then maybe you can find a spot in the tall grass to nestle in. (Though we couldn’t help thinking about this!)

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Perfect energy for strolling through fields.

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And stopping to smell the roses.

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Though still not so sure where these English mountains were…

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Walk 20: Chipotle Black Bean and Butternut Salad with Cheesy Chili Corn Muffins

Walk: 10.1 miles of glorious sunshine and cool woods from Petersfield to Liss

Picnic: Black Bean and Butternut Salad, Cheesy Chili Corn Muffins, strawberries and white chocolate

Summer! La la la la la!

Let’s pack delicious summery flavours and skip out into the countryside.  

How about a Black Bean and Butternut Salad? Roast the squash, toss with some fresh things - green pepper, spring onions, coriander - and then drizzle with a chipotle honey lime dressing. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on top for crunch… ooooh yeah.

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Maybe pair it with some Cheesy Chili Corn Muffins? Couldn’t hurt!

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Then all you need is a good view.

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And a comfortable spot.

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And to avoid this guy.

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Walk 19: Wanderer’s Cobb Salad

Walk: New Cross Station to Peckham Rye Park, via Telegraph Hill and Nunhead Cemetery  in glorious sunshine

Picnic: Wanderer’s Cobb Salad, rosemary potato bread, cherries and coffee

An American classic, Cobb Salad tastes distinctly of summer. Plus the fresh rainbow of ingredients all lined up on your plate makes for an impressive-looking feast.

A little too fiddly for picnics though, right? Nope. You’re definitely going to need to ditch the plates, but you’re in business if you layer all the ingredients into a jar like this. Looks pretty, right? 

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Which means you can wander all over southeast London with it on your back. Perhaps stopping in a wildly overgrown Victorian Cemetery.

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And then maybe checking out an old-fashioned fun fair.

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All the while practically chatting your mouth off with an old friend who’s up to pretty amazing things while taking in the scent of June’s abundance of blooms.

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All before settling down amongst the bougainvillea of Peckham, dishing out your (still) perfectly arranged salads, tearing off some crusty bread and popping a juicy cherry into your mouth in the sunshine. Pretty fancy, really easy.

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Walk 18: Five Spice Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Asian Slaw

Walk: A few shining miles along the Thames Path to a blossom-studded Victorian gem of a park in South London

Picnic: Five Spice Pulled Pork and Asian Beetroot Slaw sandwiches, strawberries and elderflower cordial

Gimme summer! Give me summer now? Please?

Oh thanks, right… let’s get cooking. Long weekends mean more time to spend in the kitchen. Slow cooking some pulled pork perhaps? Maybe with some aromatic Five Spice and garlic and ginger and soy? Oh yeah. And then we can just casually top it all off with a creamy Asian Beetroot Slaw? All in squished into a brioche bun? Drool.

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I made all of this for a dinner party the night before my picnic. It’s a long weekend, there’s the time to do these kind of things. And it turns out it all tastes even better as leftover sandwiches eaten in the sunshine. 

Under a blossom tree after a river stroll is pretty good.

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Especially if you bring a blanket for a sunshine nap before trundling home.

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Walk 17: Curried Cauliflower Wraps and Flour’s Banana Bread

Walk: A few sunny miles through spring wildflowers along the River Chew from Keynsham

Picnic: Curried Cauliflower Wraps, tomato salad, grapes and Flour’s Banana Bread


I used to think of cauliflower as broccoli’s albino cousin - a bit weird and brain-looking. Oh how wrong I was. It’s a wonderfully versatile ingredient (though I still hold it looks like a brain).

Last weekend I went on a reunion picnic with some university friends in the sunshine of the Somerset countryside. Some cauliflower came along for the ride in the form of Curried Cauliflower Wraps.  A little cauliflower tossed in some curry spices, ginger and garlic and roasted, some mango chutney, some raita, a little lettuce, toasted coconut and coriander for crunch…

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Perfect sunshine food.

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Now follow that up with a slice of banana bread and a cup of tea and a wander through riverside wildflowers….

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Good food, good friends. Great.

Isle of Skye Part 2: Oatcakes with Mull of Kintyre Cheddar and Chutney

Walk: 10.5 miles of stunning coastal hills through a little sunshine, a little wind and a little driving rain and sleet in search of Macleod’s Maidens


Picnic:
Ham sandwiches, apples, Dundee cake and homemade oatcakes with Mull of Kintrye cheddar

Homemade oatcakes? Yes please. I made a big batch and bundled them northwards. Super easy, super tasty.

Then all I needed to do was to find something to go on them when I hit Scotland.  How about some delicious Mull of Kintrye cheddar (think tangy, mature and a little bit crumbly) and a bit of fruit chutney?

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Ideal when you’re wandering through the woods.

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Even better when you’re looking out over this view.

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Isle of Skye Part 1: Cranberry Wholewheat Shortbread

Walk: Boreraig and Suisnish: the Cleared Coast10 coastal Scottish miles past waterfalls and through abandoned villages

Picnic: Smoked salmon sandwiches, black pepper crisps, plums and cranberry wholewheat shortbread

Sometimes a girl is lucky enough to get out of London for more than a day trip.

This particular girl was lucky enough to get away to the Isle of Skye, on the west coast of Scotland, for a long weekend.

What’s that? This is perfect excuse to do some baking you say? I was just thinking the same thing.

In fact, how about some cranberry wholewheat shortbread? This recipe is a twist on a Scottish classic with buttery biscuits given a bit of nuttiness from wholewheat and a little tartness from dried cranberries. Using demerara sugar added a little caramel flavour and a lovely grainy crunch.

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The perfect thing to power you over the hills, through historic abandoned villages…

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…through streams and past waterfalls…

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…and on to views like this.

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