Monday, 20 April 2015

Spring Picnic Ideas


Spring has definitely sprung here in the UK. Over the weekend my social media feeds were full of my friends’ posts about their first BBQs and picnics of the year and mine was no exception. It was a lovely day on Saturday so my friends and I went to a place near Leeds called Almscliffe Crag which is famous for being a good place for climbing. While my friends were climbing up the massive rocks, I chose to sit in the sunshine and eat our picnic because I am too clumsy/lazy to partake in any kind of dangerous activity. I definitely felt like I had got the better end of the bargain when I was munching down on my homemade pizza and chocolate filled strawberries and they were hanging upside down from overhanging rocks. The snacks that I made for the picnic were really yummy and a bit different from your normal picnic foods so I thought I would share the recipes with you. It must have been fate as I also just discovered that www.holidaycottages.co.uk are running a brilliant competition for bloggers at the minute to come up with some fun picnic ideas. See the details at the bottom of this post if you want to join in too. Finally we’ll get onto the recipes for my favourite picnic snacks, they are all pretty simple to make and taste a lot better than shop bought sandwiches so I would love to know if any of you try them out!




Parma Ham and Feta Pizza

This recipe is for two big pizzas but you can adjust as needed, for my picnic I made one and it was more than enough for two people.

No knead overnight dough:
500 grams strong white bread flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
350 grams warm water

Tomato and basil sauce:
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tin of good quality plum tomatoes
3-4 sprigs of fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Toppings:
Cheddar cheese
Feta cheese
Cherry tomatoes
Parma ham
Fresh basil

1) Start the dough by mixing the flour and salt together in a bowl. Then add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and stir. Leave for two minutes before pouring into the flour and salt mixture. Combine all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until a dough-like texture forms and shape into a ball with your hands.

2) Cover the bowl with cling film and allow it to rise at room temperature overnight or until the dough has doubled in size. If you want the dough to rise quicker, keep it in a room with a warmer temperature.

3) Once the dough has risen and you are ready to start making the actual pizzas, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Roll out two sheets of tin foil big enough to cover two baking trays and oil both sheets. Split the dough into two balls and place one on each sheet of foil.

4) Flour a rolling pin (or a cling film tube like I did as we don't have a rolling pin!) and roll the two balls of dough into circular shapes 1cm thick to make your pizza bases. The circles probably won't be perfect but this is fine, it makes them look more rustic and homemade after all. Just try to get the same thickness across the dough so the pizzas cook evenly. Transfer the sheets of foil with the pizza bases on to baking trays ready to go in the oven.

5) Now move onto making the pizza sauce. Start by grating two cloves of garlic and frying them in a non-stick saucepan. Then add a tin of good quality plum tomatoes to the garlic and mash the tomatoes down so that they thicken the sauce. Add the leaves from your sprigs of fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce down over a low heat for 10 minutes until a thicker texture forms. Cover your pizza bases with the tomato sauce and don't worry about letting the sauce cool first as you can do this straight away.

6) Now for the fun part! Smother your pizzas in all the toppings that your heart desires. I used cheddar cheese, feta cheese, cherry tomato halves, Parma ham and more fresh basil. They make for a delicious combination, if I do say so myself! I also drizzled a small amount of olive oil over the pizzas to make the toppings go golden and crispy when cooked.

7) Place the baking trays with the pizzas on into the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the pizzas look brown on top and ready to eat.

8) Leave your pizzas to cool for an hour before cutting into slices and packing up into lunch boxes for your picnic. Like most pizzas, these taste amazing cold and are so easy to transport as you can stuff lots of slices into a single lunch box on top of one another.


I also made some other bits and pieces to go with the pizza. As a side dish I made salad jars by popping layers of lettuce, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, avocado, shaved corn on the cob and bacon bits into mason jars with a squeeze of lime juice. These are great as the mason jars are practical as well as pretty because the vacuum seal on the jars works well to keep the salad fresh.



As I have a very sweet tooth, I had to make a dessert for the picnic too (not that we really needed one as we were so full of pizza!). I had a real craving for chocolate covered strawberries that day but they usually get really messy and the chocolate gets everywhere so I didn't think they would be appropriate for a picnic. Then I thought of an even better idea... chocolate filled strawberries! All I did was chop off heads of the strawberries and cut out the middles with a knife. These didn't go to waste as I ate them as I was going along - chef's privileges after all. Then I stood the strawberries upright using an empty egg box and spooned in melted Dairy Milk chocolate. These were ready to pack up after ten minutes in the fridge as the chocolate solidifies really quickly. If you haven't tried these bite sized desserts before, you need to give them a go. The chocolate to strawberry ratio is perfect for a really indulgent treat!



Finally, I made watermelon lemonade for a refreshing drink to go with the rest of the picnic. To do this I crushed big chunks of watermelon down and sieved them to extract the juice. I then added the juice to cloudy lemonade along with some slices of fresh lemon. You could use homemade lemonade for this recipe instead but it still tastes just as fresh and delicious using the shop bought stuff.


I hope this has inspired some of you to go for a picnic when the weather is nice again. Has anyone else had their first picnic of the year yet?

This is my entry for the www.holidaycottages.co.uk Oh so tasty picnics! competition. You can get involved too. Click this link to read how www.holidaycottages.co.uk/blog/oh-so-tasty-picnics-blogging-competition
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4 comments:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful view and picnic that you've packed. I've always wanted to have a quiet picnic. Thanks for sharing

    Brooke | brookewrote

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, it was a lovely weekend :) let me know if you get to go for a picnic anytime soon!

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  2. Loved this post! Such good ideas to take on a picnic. Sometimes standard picnic food is boring so thanks for this!

    I just finished a blog post where I tagged you to answer a few questions, if you decide to, tag me so I can see your answers. :) xxx

    http://rachelmclaughlin23.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! It was really nice to have something a bit different, especially when it is tasty and easy to make!

      Really appreciate the tag, your post was so interesting to read and I love your blog design xo

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