One of perks of living in Queensland is amazing weather, even in winter! So when winter decides to turn on a 28C day it would be a crime to not get out and embrace it. What better way to embrace the outdoors then with a picnic in the park with the family?
A key to any picnic is of course the food! You want something that is easy to share, easy to eat while lounging around and most of all is very tasty. So whilst the options are endless for the perfect picnic basket, here is what made up our picnic basket.
Snacks to get started
Eating is like exercise, you can’t jump in at full pace, you need to warm up and that’s where the snacks come in. We kept things simple with some good quality crisps like Tyrrell’s, dips like hummus, strawberries and cheese, and in this case we went for some Jarlsberg and a trilogy flavoured cheese. All great to get things started and everyone relaxed.
Something a bit more substantial
We went around lunchtime so we needed something a bit more substantial to fill everyone up. But rather than the boring old sandwiches, we decided to mix things up and go for something a bit different. Pizza swirls or pinwheels are always a finger food crowd favorite, so for lunch we supersized them and to stay on the pastry theme we also whipped up what we are calling Mexican chicken and rice pastry rolls.
Supersized Pizza Swirls
3 sheets of pre rolled puff pastry
150g of bacon
150g of shredded tasty cheese
3 tablespoons of pizza sauce or passata
1 egg to glaze before baking
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the pre rolled puff pastry on the bench to defrost, this only takes a few minutes. Whilst you wait, finely dice the bacon. Once the puff pastry is defrosted, spread the pizza sauce on the pastry with the back of a spoon, leaving about a centimeter of two at the top and bottom for when you roll everything up. Distribute the bacon and cheese evenly across the three sheets of pastry.
Roll up the first sheet in a pretty tight roll, then pace inside the second sheet and roll up, then in the third and roll up. Take your time, trying to keep the rolls as tight as you can, three rolls should just fit. Once rolled up, place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up. One firm, take it out and slice into about centimeter size discs and lay on a baking tray. Glaze with the beaten egg and bake until golden brown, this will probably take about 15 minutes but keep an eye on them.
Makes about 12
Mexican Chicken and Rice Pastry Rolls
2 sheets of pre rolled puff pastry
1 breast of roast cubed
½ packet of Uncle Ben’s Mexican rice
3 tablespoons of tomato salsa
handful of shredded tasty cheese
1 egg to glaze before baking
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the pre rolled puff pastry on the bench to defrost, this only takes a few minutes. Whilst you wait, cube the chicken and place in a mixing bowl. Add the rice, cheese and salsa and mix to combine. Once the pastry is defrosted, slice into four equal squares. Place about a heaped dessert spoon of the chicken and rice mixture in the centre of each square. Fold in the sides of the square and roll up into a roll, so it looks like a little contained parcel. This can be a little tricky so don’t rush and keep poking the mixture inside the roll. Glaze with egg and bake until golden brown, this will take about 15mins but keep an eye on them.
Makes about 8
You can’t have an amazing picnic feast without something sweet to cap it off and if there is a better sweet than chocolate brownies then I don’t want to know!
This brownie recipe is hands down the best and everyone we have served it to always wants more. But it is not our recipe, so credit has to go to Donna Hay.
1 cup of plain flour
¾ cup of brown sugar
¾ cup of cocoa
1 1/3 cup of sugar
175g of butter – melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
125g of dark chocolate – chopped
Preheat the oven to 160C. Place all ingredients expect the dark chocolate in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add the chocolate and stir to combine. Spread into a tin pre lined with baking paper. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Once cooked, allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
Hopefully this will inspire you to get out and have a picnic with your friends and family. Plus you will be able to showoff with your own version of the perfect picnic basket.
Came up with these playing around in the kitchen last night – Chocolate Frangipane Tarts. The dark chocolate works really well with the almond of of the frangipane.