It’s arguable that the most important thing to take to a picnic is a large umbrella, but that’s a glass-half empty point of view. Optimists among us will dine al fresco even if the grass is damp.
Adventurous types don’t mind wearing a cagoule if they have a view of a meadow filled with buttercups, although I recall an odd family picnic on a roundabout off the A1 when my father got sick of searching for a field.
So much for Jewish love of the countryside, yet we persevere because of the food.
In my experience, there are two kinds of Jewish picnickers. The Grass Gourmet who makes all of Nigella’s al fresco recipes from scratch (including the olive panini) and serves them garnished on shabby chic china from a much-used hamper.
The clink of crystal flutes filled with passion fruit prosecco will lead you to the Grass Gourmets.
And then there’s the No-Prep Nosher who got a hamper as a wedding gift, but prefers an M&S freezer bag filled with food bought in Waitrose that gets half-eaten in the car.
The behaviour of the many rest with our ancestors, who always left in haste with no time to make sandwiches.
They did have matzah, which is much underrated as a picnic snack, with its crumbs for the birds. However, a biblical cracker pales beside the tantalising, ready-to-eat food at Supreme in Edgware.
The one-stop butcher and deli in Glengall Road has all you need for lunch on the lawn, notably pre-cooked chicken flavoured with delicious teriyaki sauce or honey mustard. Pargiot anyone?
The Israeli dish is a Supreme speciality and customers queue for the deboned capon in duck sauce sprinkled with fried onions. With this tasty dish served with Supreme’s salads – beetroot, leek and tomato, broccoli – you’ll be invited to sit on everyone’s blanket.
To claim a Supreme dish as one of your own is wrong, but their potato salad tastes like bubba’s home-made version, so it’s worth a try.
The falafel and dips from Ramona’s Kitchen will compensate for a NPN’s lack of effort, as Ramona is welcome at any picnic – although it’s her Me Too! aubergine babaganoush and award-winning houmous that gets the attention.
Should you decide to picnic in your garden, Ramona’s Kitchen will spice up the familiar location with their chilli falafels and veggie burgers served with tangy relish, and if you come up with a recipe of your own, tell Ramona who will help you bring it to market.
After 28 years as master cheese makers, Chevington’s in Manchester are dairy stars in kosher shops and all supermarkets. So whether you lean towards Gouda and Gloucester or long for Lancashire and Red Leicester, Chevington’s make it with a Kedassia kosher seal. For a more sophisticated picnic, its mild Cheddar with cracked black pepper or garlic will do wonders for your water biscuits.
Grass Gourmets also buy Chevington’s, but as an ingredient for their luxury quiches, as Jewish News chef Denise Phillips demonstrates with her recipe below.
But let’s not forget the children for whom picnics are intended, albeit fresh air with iPads. A menu of Supreme’s chicken nuggets served with your (their) potato salad, carrots dipped in Ramona’s Kitchen houmous or, for a vegetarian option, as many Chevington’s Baby Chev cheeses as they can consume, will keep them happy. Even if you do end up picnicking on a roundabout off the A1.
Supreme Butcher & Deli, 9 Glengall Road, Edgware HA8 8TB,
T: 020 8958 8757. Ramonaskitchen.com/
T: 020 8830 8585. Chevington’s Cheeses available at kosher
shops and all supermarkets
Summer dining Denise recipes for The Grass Gourmet
Garlic & Lemon Chicken Skewers with Herb Flatbread & Smoky Tomato Salsa
Use this recipe as part of a BBQ meze with chicken from Supreme Butchers & Deli. A Grass Gourmet can start the dough, marinate the chicken and make the salsa a day before.
Serves: 4-6 people – Preparation Time: 1 hour, plus rising and marinating. Cooking Time: 30 minutes
For the flat bread
- 7g dried yeast
- 220ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon golden caster sugar
- 350g strong white bread flour
- 50ml olive oil – plus extra for greasing
For the chicken
- 8 boneless chicken thighs (skin on if possible)
- Zest and juice of two lemons
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- 3 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons coriander – finely chopped
For the Salsa
- 1 small red onion
- 20g fresh coriander
- 125g cherry tomatoes
- ½ red pepper – deseeded
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons mild sweet paprika
- Pinch sugar and season to taste
Garden Vegetable Quiche
This is a delicious herb short crust pastry pie packed with summer vegetables. The secret of a good quiche is to ensure the pastry base is well-cooked, so that when you add the filling, the pastry does not go soggy. There are endless choices of vegetables that you can use to ring the changes – but look at colour and texture so that they blend well. I have used red and green vegetables that are in season.
For the Pastry
- 250g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint/parsley
- 125g cold butter
- 1 Babychev Cheese – finely grated
- 1 egg
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cold water
- 110g runner beans – stringed, halved
lengthways and sliced
- 110g fresh or frozen peas
- 25g plain flour
- 300ml milk
- 3 large eggs
- 4 Babychevs cheeses – sliced
- 3 small vine tomatoes – quartered
- Garnish: Dusting of black pepper and
- torn leaves of fresh mint/parsley
- Put the flour, salt and mint or parsley into the food processor. Add the butter, cheese and the egg. Continue to whiz together until the pastry cleans the side of the bowl. Add the water gradually as required.
- Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry so that it fits a 25cm /10 inch deep loose based flan tin. (It needs to be approximately 8cm/ 3 ¾ inches larger to accommodate the depth of the tin.)
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6.
- Carefully roll the rolling pin over the tin to neaten the edges and trim the excess pastry. Line the pastry base with foil. Fill with baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Place the beans and peas into a saucepan of boiling water. Cook for three minutes or until soft. Drain and put into the pastry case.
- Using the same saucepan, add the flour followed by the milk, stirring continuously over
a low heat until slowly thickened.
- Beat the eggs into the sauce and generously season. Pour into the pastry case and scatter with the Chevington Babychev cheese and tomatoes.
- Bake for 40 minutes until the filling is set and turning golden
- Cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin. Serve with a green salad.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling time Cooking Time: 1 hour