We have just returned from holiday on the Dalmatian coast in Croatia, and mighty nice it was too. Anyone who has been to Croatia raves about it, and I can confirm that it is a wonderful place for a holiday: almost endless sun in the summer (the temperature reached 39 Celsius), warm crystal clear sea, swimming with dolphins, ancient coastal towns whose buildings huddle together with impossibly narrow passageways between, craggy mountains and emerald lakes.
I love picnics, but in Northern Europe they can be a challenge: wasps, horseflies, mosquitoes, stinging nettles, thunderstorms, angry cows, soggy sandwiches…Apart from stating the screamingly obvious (take fly repellent, check the weather forecast beforehand), I can only offer help for the last of these!
The secret of a picnic is to keep it relatively simple, with minimum last minute preparation. My perfect picnic for 4 would be:
• Sweetcorn Empanadas
• Smoked salmon and avocado ciabattas
• Cherry tomatoes
• Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastel de Nata)
• Fresh cherries, water melon and strawberries
• Fresh iced mint tea
Children will also love all of these in my experience, with the possible exception of the cherry tomatoes and mint tea.
The empanadas can be prepared in advance and will keep several days in the fridge. The same for the custard tarts, but if you store them then the filo pastry will go soft so best to bake them just before the picnic if possible.
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Ciabattas
These are my favourite sandwich. But if you do not eat fish, then my second favourite is ripe brie with walnuts.
4 mini ciabattas
Mayonnaise (preferably homemade – see under Basic Recipes)
120g smoked salmon
1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and thinly sliced
chipotle chilli powder
Cut each ciabatta in half and smear one side with mayonnaise .
Add a layer of smoked salmon, and quirt with a little lemon juice.
Cover with avocado
Season with salt, pepper and chipotle to taste
50g fresh mint, insects and slugs removed!
1litre boiling water
Sugar to taste
In a large jug, cover the mint with boiling water.
Add sugar to taste (about 2 tsp.)
Allow to cool and remove the mint.
Refrigerate until needed.
Serve with ice, mint sprig and a slice of cucumber.