Summer is the season for picnics and eating alfresco. Sadly the British weather can be a little bit uncertain, even in the summer, and you can’t guarantee that the day you’ve chosen to head off out and have a picnic is a nice sunny warm day.
If you’re happy to carry on picnicking whatever the weather, you might want to think about taking along some hot food options to warm people up if the day is a tad chilly! Here are our suggestions for quick and easy picnic food warmers.
Hot chicken pasties
There’s nothing like a homemade pasty! To serve four, you’ll need a sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry, 60g of butter, 60g of flour, 300ml milk, 100g Stilton or other strong blue cheese, 1 onion, 60g mushrooms and 100g cooked chicken or turkey.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, then finely chop the onion and fry it until golden. Wash and slice the mushrooms, and add them in for a couple of minutes towards the end of the cooking time. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan, melt the butter and flour together over a low heat to form a paste. Add in the milk and stir until you get a smooth sauce. Stir in the vegetables, cheese and chicken, and stir everything round until the cheese has melted.
Cut four large rounds from the sheet of pastry, cutting around a saucer. Pile a little filling into each one, fold them over and crimp the edges closed firmly with your fingers. Use a knife to make a small slit in the top for the steam to escape. (Don’t be tempted to put too much filling in, or things will get a little oozy!)
Bake for around twenty minutes, or until the pastry is golden. While they’re still hot, wrap carefully in aluminium foil then in a couple of clean tea towels, and put in a thermal cool bag to transport. They should stay warm for an hour or so.
Baked potatoes are a brilliant picnic standby – just bake, wrap in aluminium foil and pack as above, and they’ll help keep the rest of the food warm.
You could also make them into a main meal by slicing cooked potatoes in half, scooping out some of the filling, mixing it with cooked chopped bacon, putting it back into the potato and covering it with cheese.
Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden, then pack as above.
For easy garlic bread, soften 50g butter and mash it with a spoonful of chopped chives, a spoonful of chopped parsley and two cloves of garlic, skinned and finely chopped.
Cut a shop-bought baguette into thick slices, butter each slice generously then stick it back together in the original shape.
Wrap the loaf in foil, and bake at 180 degrees C for five or six minutes, then remove it carefully from the oven and wrap it in several tea towels for transporting.
Take a long a hot sauce to jazz up your pudding options. Serve up apple cake with butterscotch sauce, or chocolate brownies with chocolate sauce. Keep the sauce warm in a Thermos flask until required.
For butterscotch sauce, you’ll need 50g of butter, 175g of light brown sugar and a 248ml carton of double cream. Melt the sugar and butter together and let them simmer for 30 seconds. Bring the pan to the boil, stir in the cream and let it boil until smooth.
For chocolate sauce, you’ll need 50g of butter, 50g of golden syrup and 50g of cocoa, sieved. Put everything in the pan over a low heat, and stir until combined.
Top tips for a cool-weather picnic
Take extra picnic blankets – they can be handy for keeping draughts off legs and backs
A small portable or disposable barbecue can be useful for last-minute hot food
Take plenty of Thermos flasks filled with hot drinks – hot chocolate cheers up any weather situation!
Take along something to sit on, as grass may be damp.
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