Look at them, with their picnics
Welcome, everyone, to the Summer of 2012. Yes it’s only March, yes, a week ago it was snowing, yes, this seems almost absurd it’s so premature. But the world has changed. Seasons don’t blend as they once did, because we’ve all been spraying aerosols into space, and wafting Range Rover smoke at the Ozone Layer. Hence this is Summer, then some time around July we’ll have ice storms, flooding in September. The planet beats to a new rhythm, and from now until Arctic Autumn, every single stretch of UK greenery will be sat upon by small groups of outdoor diners, each one enjoying the warmth on their face, all rampantly snogging one another in between chomps on a scotch egg. With that in mind, we thought it high time we flung open the Interestment Cook Book, from which we plucked only the best recipes for the ultimate Summer picnic. And don’t worry, kitchenphobes, these are so simple that even a hamster in a blindfold could casually fling them together.
And bosh! Great picnic.
Where’s Mummy going? Find out!
For those of you sick and tired of perusing the various Top 4’s on offer, or totally uninterested in anything we have to say about fashion, we have been doing odds and ends for the brilliant grown up gossip site Hecklersray. This week, we decided to have a look at the sixteen Strictly Come Dancing contestants… with hilarious results! Find out all about that here.
If anyone is planning on a Bank Holiday picnic, you could do a lot worse than have a look at the important Picnic Essentials.
Including these delicious meaty eggs…
We’ve done it, friends. After several decades of firing canons at the atmosphere, driving monster trucks around in deserts, and secretly instructing teenagers to spray their Lynx Java directly at the moon, we’ve forced a climate change. No more dreary grey skies for us, no sir. When it gets cold, it’s going to literally freeze cats in the street, when it’s hot, expect to see dogs microwaving in cars. But best of all, it looks like we’re going to get another crack at having a summer this year, so in the coming weeks, any local bit of green, for sprawling parks, to the miniscule square of lawn between road lanes, will be awash with fashionable young people in silky shirts, folding tasty European meats into their cherry lips. It is Picnic Season after all – by far the greatest of the culinary movements.
So with that in mind, we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book and selected excellent outdoor treats that anyone picnicking would be a fool to leave behind. Today, canapes…
You will need:
1. Some Scotch Eggs
2. Some Cocktail Sausages
3. A few packets of gormet crisps
Every meal needs a sexy starter, and a picnic is no different. Simply throw your treats onto a selection of plates, then talk like lovers, whilst taking enthusiastic bites from a brilliant scotch egg. Delicious.
Italian for “tomato on toast”
Yes, you’re absolutely right, the weather is very schizophrenic these days – almost like one of those scary people with multiple personalities. One minute, it’s screaming at you like a maniac in the middle of the road bellowing into your windscreen, as sheets of rain come sloshing down over your regulation summer-shirt-and-bermuda-shorts work outfit. The next minute it’s caressing your face like a recently satisfied lover, warm rays of golden sunshine lapping your cheeks and earlobes. Quite rightly, none of us know where we stand anymore, and it’s all thanks to those years of driving with leaded petrol as big mushroom clouds of thick black smoke wafted from your exhaust pipes solely intent on gnawing away on the rather sensitive Ozone Layer. You think it’s bad now? In less than a decade, we’ll have hail the size of watermelons closely followed by actual spitting lava from the sun. Try fitting your wardrobe around that.
Anyway, we’re miles off the subject, as we’re here to celebrate Picnic Season – the most magnificent of the culinary movements – a time when freshly shaved groups of beautiful people can wile away entire afternoons rubbing cheese into their gums, and then rinsing their mouths out with a wonderful pink wine. We love it. And to celebrate we’ve opened up the Interestment Cook Book and selected the most simple recipes that even a brain damaged hamster could fully comprehend. Today, Bruschetta.
You will need:
1. About ten tomatoes
2. Some fresh basil
3. Three cloves of garlic
4. Olive oil
5. Salt and Pepsie
6. Ciabatta bread
7. Parmesan and Balsamic optional
Now, dice your tomatoes, making sure to get rid of all the pulp and seeds, chop up a load of basil, and crush your garlic. Now mix it all together with a splash of olive oil, plus some salt and pepsie to taste. Toast one-inch-thick slices of ciabatta, them smear your concoction over the top. For those looking for an extra hit, you could shave some parmesan over the top, or add a few drops of tasty balsamic vinegar. Bosh. Bruschetta.
With added fruit and veg…
While your eyes say April, the yearly calendar still says August. That’s right, August. We’re bang in the middle of the annual British Summer. In years gone by, this would have signaled an influx of men wearing tiny little shorts, women unbuttoning slightly further on their work blouses, and children silently bawling their eyes out, attempting to communicate their dehydration to a mother who can’t stop hoovering the stairs. And yet, no more, because after years of aiming cans of Impulse directly at the Ozone Layer, August is officially late-Winter, and December is going to be the real scorcher. Should we finally succeed in melting those ice caps, it’ll be blazing hot all year round, but there’s still much work to do, and whales to kill. Of course, none of this really makes any mark on the British psyche, as we tend to enjoy sunshine activities regardless of the weather, so the next few weeks will still see parks awash with suave picnickers, happily folding cold meats into their handsome mouths, despite the fact that sheets of rain are spewing down onto their red-and-white blankets turning them maroon-grey-and-sodden. Whether we like it or not, Picnic Season – the greatest of all culinary movements – is here to stay.
Hence, we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book, and randomly selected the finest recipes that even a dog could understand. Today, here’s how to make the perfect Pimms, which you can enjoy regardless of the cruel wet weather sloshing down into your glass making it overflow, like a boozey water feature.
You will need:
1. A bottle of Pimms
2. A bottle of Lemonade
4. Chopped fruit – strawberries, oranges etc…
6. Fresh Mint
Now, throw a load of ice, fruit and chopped cucumber into a glass, then fill the glass half full with tasty Pimms, then half with sweet fizzy Lemonade. Add a few bits of chopped mint, stir the lot around, and bosh. Pimms.
Possibly the greatest salad…
We’re now at the stage of the mid-year months known in the business as Assumed Summer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hot any more, men will be wearing shorts as often as possible, women will have at least four bikinis in grabbing distance at all times, and weekend picnics will go ahead, regardless of the angry sheets of rain pounding down onto the local park. As Brits, we will grit our teeth, we will have this Summer, we will see Picnic Season right through to the agreed end, which is in early September. And this is great news, because when it comes to annual culinary movements, Picnic Season is our favourite by a long way. It’s even better than Hot Spicy Wine Fortnight. Hence, to celebrate, we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book and plucked out recipes so simple that even your dog would understand them. Today, tasty Greek Salad…
Of all of the many fine salads, Greek might be the best, thanks to the sensual mix of soft cheese with tangy olives, the bite of onion, and the sweet acidity of red wine vinegar. It’s a total delight. You will need:
1. Some feta cheese.
2. Your favourite olives, black ones preferably.
3. A red onion.
4. Some little tomatoes.
5. A cucumber.
6. A COS lettuce.
7. Olive oil.
8. Red Wine Vinegar.
Now chop up your lettuce, your tomatoes, your cheese, your cucumber, your onion, then throw it all into a massive bowl, and mix it around, adding the olives. Add a nice glug of olive oil, about two or three tablespoons of red wine vinegar, salt and pepsie, and bosh. Greek Salad.
The ultimate picnic pudding…
Well, it appears that we have finally achieved the unthinkable, and actually have European weather conditions, so presumably in a year or so scores of Spaniards will be coming over in droves to get sangria’d up and play pass the cucumber in front of a shell-shocked seaside town audience. Then the espadrille will be firmly on the other foot. But, until then, we can still find quiet nooks of greenery on which to enjoy a seasonal picnic away from sex-mad tourists, or – worse still – the hoards of uncouth barbecuers, with their dripping wet meats and lurching games of hoof the ball into a group of sunbathers. Hence we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book and plucked out some of the most magnificent picnic recipes imaginable. Today, strawberries.
You will need:
1. Some strawberries.
2. Some single cream.
3. Some sugar.
This one is actually a no brainer, just plop your strawbs into a plastic bowl, splat on some cream, wallop some sugar in there, and bosh. Lovely strawberries.
Make this stuff less boring…
It’s arrived, people. That weather we’ve all been dreaming of. After years of secretly spraying cans of hairspray at the moon, we’ve obliterated the Ozone Layer, and now it’s pretty much set to be hot all year round. Except for a couple of weeks every April when icebergs will crash into parts of Wales and areas of Cambridge will literally disappear underneath gallons of rain. Scotland will feel no change. Poor Scotland. But great for the rest of us. Well done. It also means that picnic season will go on and on and on in future years, so it’s enormously important that you learn the correct cold meats and salads to drop lazily into your mouth while the sun drains every last fluid ounce of energy from your sticky, sensual body.
Today, we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book, and come up with a simple and delicious salad dressing recipe to spruce up boring lettuce leaves and tiny little vine tomatoes.
You will need…
1. Some nice Olive Oil, probably the virgin stuff.
2. A jar of delicious clear honey. Not the cloudy stuff.
3. A couple of lemons.
4. Some wholegrain mustard
5. Salt and pepsie.
Now, if it’s a big picnic, you’ll need a lot of this stuff, so throw about ten tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl, then add five tablespoons of lemon juice, a couple of tablespoons of honey, a dollop of mustard, some salt and pep, and bosh. Dressing. Done.
To be eaten cold…
We are now guaranteed two types of weather for the next month – howling rain, or glorious sunshine. One might change to the other in less than half a second, meaning that if you’ve already kick-started Picnic Season, it might be wise to employ a couple of hungry street urchins to be on cloud watch while you eat. Any hint of condensation, and get them to make that owl noise that people do through their thumbs, into some kind of hand conch. That way, you can quickly fashion a waterproof gazebo, while the drunk Barbecue prats stop playing wallop the football for a couple of minutes to go owl hunting.
Anyway, to celebrate Picnic Season, we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book, and come up with recipes that even a footballer could understand. Today, tasty chicken drumsticks…
You will need…
1. A dozen drumsticks
2. Salt and Pepsie
3. Honey, the clear stuff.
4. Mustard, the grainy stuff.
5. A fridge and an oven.
Now simply hurl the seasoned drumsticks into an oven on around 180 degrees, let them sizzle and cook for about half an hour, or until they look like they’re done. Then smear them with the tasty honey and mustard dressing you’ve been mixing up, pop them in the fridge overnight, and bosh. Drumsticks.
Can you spot danger is this image?
Yeah, you went to the park at the weekend, of course you did. It was blazing. Yet, while the sun gives with one hand, it punches you in the face with the other, as parks are awash with an almighty cross section of society – from the sophisticated picnickers in one corner, gently gnawing on soft cheeses knocked back with fruity wines, to the young bikini-clad office workers, to the tattooed toddlers with shaved heads and footballs in the other. Oliver, usually our fashion expert, was sunning himself this Saturday, and he has made a few smart observations about the people he saw ruining the nation’s delicious outdoor parks. He had this to say…
Britain’s parks have become home to literally millions of eager sun worshippers. Big ones, small ones, pink ones and we even saw one wearing a thong the other day. The only problem is the swathes of park idiots that go with them. Here’s our top 4 of those to avoid sitting anywhere near when you’re out this summer…
1. Circus drop outs
Ahh, zany rastafarians, only white – these posh young gentlemen are easily identified by their dreadlocks, their thai-fishing trousers and that stinky unwashed smell which comes from weeks of lying on a wigwam floor listening to dub reggae. They feel that their amateur juggling, fire twirling and acrobatic dance skills should be shared with the rest of the park. They, unfortunately, are completely wrong about that.
Everyone likes music, that’s just a fact. Sometimes, most of us even sing in the shower. That, however, does not mean that the nation needs to hear some lantern-faced oik practising Columbian Tree Drum next to a few discarded cans of the strong stuff. And as for that guy on didgeridoo – someone should probably explain that the circular breathing is merely ridding his body of extremely important sex hormones? Unless you’re very good, or your name is Neil Young, you should probably shut the hell up.
Sport can be brilliant. It’s inspired things like cool trainers, sexy swimming shorts and balls of all different shapes and sizes. Balls are great. In fact, a good game of kick-ball or throwy-catchy can be a very pleasant way to pass the time. What we don’t need are your funny shaped rugby balls landing in our coleslaw during a lovers picnic. And please stop kicking your football in our godson’s tiny little baby face – he doesn’t seem to like it.
It’s called a leash and it’s very good at tethering and restraining your dog from biting people’s eyes out, pooing on picnic blankets and scaring the toilet parts out of everyone else but you. Leave the hound at home.
Have fun roadtripping, ladies!
Yes, it’s the bank holiday. For some, that means an extra Sunday, another day of rest. But for most of us, it’s the chance to squeeze in an extra afternoon of ice cold beers and gorgeous picnic foods. Whatever you’re doing, have a great time, and we’ll be back up and running on Tuesday.
And here’s The Monkees!
Make your own, Lazy Bones
So far, it’s been a staccato start to the Summer, one minute violent beams of sunshine are boaring into the back of your neck, the next it’s so breezy that you’re begging passing women for a go on their cardigans. That, by the way, is not a euphemism. We don’t deal in euphemisms. We wouldn’t even know how. The point being that Picnic Season is here, and then it’s not, and then it’s here again. And then it’s not. Parks should really be full to the brim with rival factions – the buck-toothed Barbecue idiots one side, the sultry Picnic ensembles the other. One group wolfing down strong lagers and throwing rugby balls hilariously into one another’s groins, whilst the others fold thinly-sliced meats into their mouths whilst making witty observations about European women and body hair. We know which side we’d be on!
To celebrate Picnic Season, we’ve flung open the Interestment Cook Book, and today, excellent commentator on cloth, Oliver, has a recipe for a canape of sausage rolls that is so simplistic, even a gold fish with special needs would totally get it.
You will need:
1. Puff pastry
2. White flour
3. Sausage meat from a supermarket/butchers
6. A mighty onion
8. Salt and Pepsie
Now, roll your pastry out into a big long rectangle using flour and a rolling pin (or a clean empty wine bottle), mix good pork sausage meat (or empty out good sausages but this gets a bit weird and yucky) with some fine breadcrumbs, finely chopped sage and finely chopped onion with lots of salt and black pepper, and one beaten egg to bind it all together. Then pop the meat down middle of the pastry.
Next, brush one edge of the pastry (inside) with some beaten egg and roll it over into, well, a massive sausage roll. Then chop it into smaller sausage rolls, and snip the top of each one with scissors to make them look good, let some air out and get all the juicy burnt bits on the top.
Brush the rolls with more beaten egg and whack in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 220 degree C or 425 degree F. Allow to cool on a wire tray, then EAT.
Simple, but YUM
So, did you enjoy the Summer? Good wasn’t it. There was the time it was hot for five hours in one day. Boy, did people burn themselves that afternoon! Then there was that two hour period over the bank holiday weekend when the Barbecue Boys squared up to the Picnic Brigade – things got pretty messy. Still, great days. We can’t wait for next year. Of course, from now until April 2010, there will still be sporadic beams of hot sun roaring down from the heavens, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself carried along by a wave of euphoria to a local green patch to fold Italian meats into your mouth and flirt with beautiful French women. It is still Picnic Season – by far the most delicious of the culinary movements – after all. So with that in mind, we’ve kept the Interestment cook book open, and it’s packed with great recipes that even a stupid dog could understand. Today, coleslaw.
Coleslaw is absolutely great, and serves as a masterful accompaniment to things like ham and cheese. In fact, probably only ham and cheese. But, being that this is Picnic Season, you are already on a diet of ham and cheese anyway. You will need.
1. A lovely onion.
2. A big white cabbage.
3. Some carrots.
4. A jar of delicious mayonnaise.
Now, chop the onion finely, so that it’s finely chopped. Now cut the cabbage into strips, long strips. Peel and grate the carrot. Mix it all around in a big bowl, add some mayo, throw in a bit of salt and pepsie, and bosh. Coleslaw.
The cornerstone of a good picnic…
By the smell of things, Barbecue Season has started. You can just sense it in the air, you can even see it on the landscape – the putrid stains of Australian vomit spattered on park bushes. No one will want to make love in those for a while. It’s such a shame, and such a distraction from Picnic Season, which is by far the most sensual and loving of all the culinary movements. From now until the end of August, Bank Holidays will mark a territorial tug o’ war between the cool espadrille-wearing sophisticats who like nothing more than washing down expensive European meats with large glasses of gin, and the barbarians. The Barbecue Season boys, with their burning chicken claws, their cackling hag girlfriends, and their clumsy games of hoof the football at someone’s face. A horrible, horrible bunch.
But no matter, because to celebrate Picnic Season, we have prized open the Interestment Cook Book to select only the most simple guides and recipes that even a bleach-blonde glassy-eyed cretin called Glen could just about understand. Today, breads.
Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that the key to a fine picnic is to have a selection of strange and luxurious breads on offer. Not your sliced Sunblest, you understand? Here’s what we recommend…
1. A fresh baguette or two – it’s important that these are bought on the day, else you are risking heavily bleeding mouths and very unimpressed picnickers. Make sure they feel like they might be nice and squidgy in the middle.
2. Ciabatta – again, make sure this is nice and soft. For sophisticated picnickers, this goes well dipped in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar. To the rest of us, this makes cheese sandwiches taste classy.
3. Olive Focaccia – it’s important that one of your breads be a conversation piece, just in case the mini bieres aren’t doing the trick. Something like this, crammed with olives, and available at most upmarket delicatessens, should be just the ticket.
And there you have it, all your breads. Bosh. Of course, you could make your own with flours, yeasts, and oils, but what’s the point? A good baker, that’s all you need.
Crafted of your own hand, of course
Ignore the lull in the sunshine, it will be back, and in greater numbers. Think of The Sun as a battery in a recharger – those rays of pure joy will be boaring sweaty red holes into the back of your neck before you know it. Then those shorts you’ve been wearing to work this week won’t look so limp and inappropriate. Plus, even better, Picnic Season will resume with a roar. We love Picnic Season, it’s by far the most progressive of the culinary movements. It’s not to be confused with Barbecue Season – or Barbaric Season as it’s called by those who love gin and sometimes cry when they’re alone. It’s easy to differentiate between the two – one is an outdoor meal enjoyed by topless maniacs, all outrageously thick and playing a clumsy game of drunken frisbee that will result in at least one visit to Casualty. The other is Picnic Season.
Anyway, to celebrate, we’ve clunked open the Interestment Cook Book to provide recipes and tips so simple that even a frightened mouse would stick around to see what you’re talking about. Today, amazing woman and relative of Interestment, Annie, talks us all through the perfect homemade pizza. She had this to say…
Here is a lovely pizza recipe:
1. 500g strong white (or if you want to be trully authentic Tipo 00) flour
2. 15g of dried yeast
3. 15g of sugar or honey
4. 15g of salt
5. 1 pint tepid water
Mix the yeast and sugar/honey in with half of the tepid water to dissolve. Then mix the flour with the salt and create a pile with a hole in the middle (like a volcano). Pour the yeast/sugar/water mix and stir into the flour with three fingers. Once combined add the rest of the the tepid water and create a moist dough (you may need to add a little more water). Knead the dough for about five minutes. If it sticks to your hands rub them with some flour. Once it is well kneaded, form a big ball and dust it with flour. Now leave it for about 45 mins to 1 and a half hours to approximately double in size (try and keep it somewhere warm as it helps). Bosh, done.
In the meantime, make your topping…
1. 2 x tins of plum tomatoes
2. 2-3 cloves of garlic
3. Fresh basil
4. Sprinkle of crushed chilli
5. A dash of balsamic vinegar
6. Olive oil
7. Salt and pepsie (and a touch of sugar if it tastes bitter)
Slice the garlic and begin to fry in the olive oil – don’t burn it as it stinks and tastes bad! Add the stems from the basil. Add the tins of tomatoes and start to cook down. Add the chilli, a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper (and sugar if you think it needs it). Tear up the basil leaves and add them. Cook down for about 5 mins. The get a seive and pour the mixture through, pressing it through the seive to get as much out as you can. Discard the pulp and pour the soup-like sauce back into the pan and cook down so it reduces to a lovely pizza topping (which could also be used for pasta).
Now, back to the dough. It should have pretty much doubled in size. Knead it for a further minute to get all of the air out. Divide it into the number of pizzas you want – you get three good pizzaria sized pizzas out of this amount … or four Pizza Express sized ones – flatten and shape it out to pizza size/shape, about 25-30cm diameter (it rises a little bit in the oven so bear that in mind if you like a thin pizza). I place it on a slightly oiled piece of tin foil half way through shaping and finish the stretching on that (I cook it on the tin foil).
Now it is time to add your toppings.
The king of pizzas is, of course, the Margarita…
Spoon on and spread the tomato sauce to cover the base, it is pretty concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Then tear up mozzarella and dot it around the pizza. Add some more chopped basil, and whatever else you’d like on the thing. Then cook on high (approx 220 C) directly on the oven shelf for about 10 mins.
…or if you want to take it on a picnic, leave it to cool.
The ultimate canape…
Finally, after years of spraying Right Guard directly into the Ozone Layer, we’ve managed an early start to Summer. Good for us. Time was when April was notoriously rubbish, so bad that even the most demure women-about-town wouldn’t leave the house without a set of Chanel gum boots, and a massive waterproof poncho. But now look at us – bikinis at work, most of your colleagues going commando. It’s boiling. It has also, brilliantly, made for an early start to Picnic Season – by far the most magnificent of all the food-based movements. From now until late August, every single blade of grass in the country will be Pimms-soaked, park bins will be overflowing with discarded salami. Unless, of course, Winter decides to come early this year. Bloody Ozone Layer.
Either way, to celebrate Picnic Season, we have cracked open the Interestment Cook Book, and have compiled lists and recipes so simple that even a cat would know what you’re talking about. Today, delicious olives.
Olives were once disgusting. You must remember that. Small and childlike, you were so used to piling fistfuls of sweets into your mouth, so when this shiny little morsel didn’t erupt with licorice goodness, you came this close to sacking Nanny. She survived by the skin of her teeth. Anyway, the point is that they now make for a brilliant starter to your picnic, so it’s worth getting a few tubs of the things in. We suggest you go for anything Sicilian (ask at the Deli counter), some of those brilliant green stuffed ones with the red pepper in the middle, and some brownish ones with stones in the centre that you can throw at people when you’re drunk.
Perfect for summer sandwiches…
It’s been threatening to happen for a while now, and finally, this weekend, it did. The sun came out. Actually came out, not just for a few seconds, but for most of the weekend. Of course, this is all news to you, because you can’t remember. Like everyone else, the minute you saw it, you immediately leapt from your house and began running around hysterically searching for cold beers. You might even have grabbed a handy set of shades so that you could pretend to study the horizon, whilst deftly straining your eyes to take in the cleavage at nine o’clock. You’re a clever so-and-so. But also a stupid one. You got so wasted that you missed at least two fantastic picnic opportunities. It’s not your fault, you just got a little bit carried away. We forgive you. But, from now on, silence your haste, and take a few moments before you go dashing wildly into the streets. Pack a hamper.
As ever, we will be saluting picnic season – our favourite culinary movement – by throwing open our incredible outdoor cook book and selecting treats and recipes that even the most vomit stained tramp could put together in a neat and tidy fashion. Today, cold meats…
Every picnic needs a clever variety of meats. The posher types might pack an entire corn fed chicken, and some rare roast beef. But for most of us, the cold meats will come in small skinny packets picked up in a hurry from Sainsburys. Hence, you need to know what to throw into the hamper. Here’s what we suggest:
1. Chorizo – In Italy, men eat these straight from the sausage, using a knife and not once breaking eye contact. Here, you should buy it in a pre-sliced packet, as knives and parks tend to spell trouble these days. A strong, well-flavoured meat, this isn’t for the faint hearted or elderly.
2. Breaded Ham – The traditional choice, the added breadedness makes it seem more classy than the non-breadcrumbed stuff. This goes excellently in a baguette with a cheese and coleslaw accompaniment.
3. Salami – Besides at picnics, very few people ever enjoy salami sandwiches, even though they’re fantastic. Hence, take the opportunity with both hands, and splash out on plenty of the cheap Danish stuff. Not to be confused with German sausage, which is absolutely vile.
4. Pastrami – Should you be looking to impress your pals with salted and spiced meats, this is one of the best.
And, there you go, a selection of tasty meats to go with your breads and cheeses. No cookery required.
Next time: How to make the perfect drumsticks…
It’s salad, only butch…
Did you feel it yesterday? The hot rays of sunshine boaring into the back of your neck? That sensation is exactly what a pressed button feels when it’s used to mark the beginning of picnic season – by far and away our favourite of the many culinary movements. From now on, any space of greenery – from proud sprawling parks to small squares of grass located next to train tracks – will be spattered with quintets of shirt sleeved young professionals, lying on their sides, folding wafer thin slices of Italian ham into their lovely mouths. Some will be piling into paper plates full of colourful and alluring salads. Others might be snogging their way through a scotch egg. It’s a wonderful, wonderful time. Not to be confused with barbecue season.
To celebrate, we’ve dusted down and flung open our ginormous seasonal cookery book, and selected a load of recipes that even the most blinkered of race horses could accurately comprehend. Today, the potato salad.
Salads are hugely important. They provide all-important vegetable content, which is the key factor in seperating your sophisticated picnic from all the caveman barbecues happening around you. The king of all the salads, the real stomach-filler, is the potato salad. It’s the picnic version of chips, only much more delicious if fashioned correctly. You will need.
1. A bag of new potatoes – go for Jersey Royals if you can, they’re notoriously excellent in salads.
2. Four spring onions – otherwise known as SALAD onions. Take the hint.
3. A packet of bacon, streaky. This is optional, but well worth it.
4. Some mayo – you’ve got this.
5. Cider vinegar – or red wine vinegar. Borrow this from an elderly woman.
6. Whole Grain Mustard – most places sell this.
7. Some chives – optional.
Now, boil your potatoes for about twenty minutes, then let them cool down. Chop into halves or fours, throw into a bowl. Fry up a few slices of bacon, cut it up into little bits, whack that in. Now finely obliterate four spring onions, a handful of chives, hurl those in, and scramble it all around, mixing and fusing, before adding a few dollops of mayo, a tablespoon of cider vinegar, a teaspoon or so of mustard, salt and pepsie, and spalt! Potato Salad, done.
Not to be confused with beer…
Some of you might share an office with a gentleman who has decided to dust off his flippy-flops, pop the long shorts on, and wear it all to work. It’s a brave, premature move. It’s also the sign of a barbecue guy. They’re different to us picnic folk. To them the summer is a long stretch of veering from one drunken pool of sick to the next, stopping only to stuff sticky chunks of half-cooked meat into their drooling mouths. They often wake up full of shame and regret. Whereas, picnic people know how to correctly behave themselves, and any vomitting will take place discreetly into a bush. It’s a more sophisticated crowd, who know that an afternoon meal should last at least four hours, and that drinking is a prolonged marathon, not a competition with a buck-toothed Australian called Glen. Picnic season is by far the best of the culinary movements, so we’re celebrating it by suggesting simple treats that even babies could understand. Today, small bottles of biere.
If you’re passing on the wines or Pimms, you’ll have to drink a more sophisticated kind of beer – namely a small bottle of biere. These can only be bought in big supermarkets like Sainsburys or Tescos, and always come in packs of ten or twelve. A decent drinker should be able to polish off at least eight of these in one sitting – the equivalent of around four pints. Hence, for a decent sized picnic, you will need:
1. Around five or six mini-cases of biere.
2. Some water to combat dehydration.
After three… YUM!
Should you take a walk down a busy shopping street, have a look at the confused expression on most people’s faces. Why is it so hot? Isn’t this supposed to be rainy season? They’re all wearing big yellow waterproofs like they’re on a boat, but, thanks to all those high flyers using spray-on deodorant during the 1970s, we have now butchered the climate. Two years from now, it’ll all be Christmas barbecues this, and Epiphany spent sunbathing on the pavement that. But, for now, we applaud the worrying shift in the weather, because the premature sunshine makes for an early kick-off to Picnic Season – by far the best of all the culinary movements. All day, every day, parks are now crammed with gargantuan groups of freshly unemployed city workers, their suit trousers rolled up into shorts, mouse mats fashioned into frisbees. Oh, and look, they’re slurping bits of filo pastry into their mouths like it’s 1999! This is brilliant. To celebrate, we’ve opened up our massive picnic cook book, and will be randomly doling out superb recipes that even the most foreign of exchange students could understand. Today, bean salad.
Salads are enormously important to a picnic – they provide essential vegetables, which are one of the major factors in seperating a picnic from a barbecue. You’re going to be eating for most of the afternoon, so you should think seriously about taking along a selection of salads, and this one is particularly easy. You’ll need:
1. A tin of chick peas – no longer just for hippies, everyone should have these.
2. A tin of kidney beans – you could probably loan these from a passing old man.
3. A tasty onion – go for either the Spring or Red variety. Not one of the normal ones.
4. Some coriander – the fresh stuff that’s a plant, not the seeds.
5. Olive oil – Extra Virgin if you happen to be posh, normal if not. No one honestly knows the difference.
6. Balsamic Vinegar – this is like vinegar, only balsamic. Everyone owns this.
Now, drain all your beans, throw them in a bowl, chop the coriander so it’s nice and fine, same with the onions. Throw them into the bowl. Now splosh in a lug of olive oil, a lug of the old balsamic, add some salt and pepsie, bosh it all around, splash it about, do it with your hands it you want. Zap. Salad done.
For the perfect outdoor brunch…
Once you’re used to the weird time shifting that has left your body clock all over the place – confused, dizzy and upset – you’ll notice that it stays light until after Eastenders, and most meals could probably be lovingly scoffed outdoors. This, let us remind you, is just the beginning of picnic season. From now on, any small space of greenery – even roundabout islands on busy main roads – will be awash with guffawing mobs of topless young professionals getting wasted on small bottles of French bierre, and devouring big straw dustbins of tasty cold snacks. With that in mind, it’s time to swot up on some decent recipes that even the most hyperactive sugar-rushing toddler could mentally digest. Today, Egg Mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise is great, just brilliant. Unfortunately, we’re not sure who to thank for it, with much contrasting historical doctrine – some say it was the French, others say we should look for the people of Mahon in Minorca and present them with grateful flowers. Either way, you’re not going to need to make it here, just buy a ready made jar. Egg mayo, by the way, works best at a cold temperature, and served with finely chopped onions on a crusty bit of bread. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Half a dozen eggs – that’s six, or six and a half if you happen to be a baker.
2. A jar of mayonnaise – any kind, although the yellower stuff looks better.
3. A bottle of white wine vinegar – you can always borrow this from an old woman.
4. English Mustard – everyone should have this.
Now, just boil the eggs for about eight minutes, then let them cool and peel them. Mash them up, add about six tablespoons of mayo, a dollop of mustard (which is exactly one teaspoon, by the way), a splash (again, one teaspoon) of vinegar, then mix around furiously, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepsie, then pop the lot in the fridge. Bosh.
Once the eggs are done, it should take about two mins.
Make it yourself, lazy bones!
It’s officially the beginning of picnic season, we know that because it was sunny for about an hour over the weekend. And for anyone remotely interested, the word picnic comes from two French words – piquer which means to pick, and nique which means a morsel. So, really, it was only intended to be a small French snack partaken by two lovers in a park – feeding one another soft cheeses, stroking eyelids, enjoying frenzied intercourse behind a tree. But, it hasn’t quite panned out that way, and here in Blighty, we like to take to local parks in massive groups with buckets full of cold brewski, strange jazz cigarettes, frisbees, and wooden suitcases overflowing with delicious treats. With that in mind, we thought it time to share some excellent picnic recipes that even the most mud-brained doofus could manage. Today, Smoked Mackerel Pate.
One option, of course, is to buy this in a supermarket – Sainsburys do a nice one. But we’d rather you did it yourself. It’s easy. All you need is:
1. Smoked Mackerel fillets – you can buy these in little packets for about £1.50
2. Tub of cream cheese – normal size one, Philadelphia if you’re posh.
3. Creamy Horseradish Sauce – everyone’s got this.
4. A lemon – like an orange, only yellow.
5. Salt and Pepper – the kitchen equivalent of chalk and cheese.
Now, in the words of Jamie Oliver, chump up the mackerel, you know, mush it up, scrape it about, chunk it off. All of which means you need to hack it up a bit. Then add the cream cheese, a couple of teaspoons of horseradish, squeeze in half the lemon juice, pop in some salt and pepper. Now mix around like a maniac, and you’re done.
It should take around three minutes.