With the prospect of sunnier spring weather and the easing of lockdown restrictions, Lexus and leading chef Emily Roux have put together tasty recipes and helpful tips to enjoy the perfect Easter picnic.
Emily Roux, a Lexus Ambassador and chef at the Caractére restaurant in London’s Notting Hill, has produced some easy-to-follow recipes for ideal snacks to enjoy in your local park or countryside.
Cacio e pepe arancini
Often found on restaurant menus, these filling, bite-size arancini (Italian rice balls stuffed, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried) are ideal for hungry picnickers – a sandwich on its own never really satisfies. They pack a punch, meaning no extra seasoning or sauce is needed.
300g of carnaroli rice
70g unsalted butter, diced
80g grated pecorino
50g grated parmesan
2g crushed black peppercorns (500ml of water to cook the rice)
2 large beaten eggs
4 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs
3 heaped tablespoons of plain white flour salt, season to taste
(500ml sunflower oil to shallow fry)
Instructions:1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
2. Toast the rice in a large saucepan (no need for butter or oil at this stage) stirring continuously until the rice itself is hot. Add a generous pinch of salt followed by the first ladle of water. Keep stirring vigorously. Let the rice absorb the water before adding another ladle full. Cook on a gentle simmer adding more water as and when needed.
3. After a total of 18 minutes, all water should be completely absorbed by the rice. Remove the risotto from the heat and vigorously beat in the butter, pecorino, parmesan and peppercorns with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until all ingredients are fully melted and the risotto is sleek and glossy.
4. Pour the cooked risotto in a large shallow dish/container and leave to cool (ideally overnight in the fridge).
5. When completely cooled and firm use your hands to create and shape small rice balls of 5-6cm in diameter. Once all the rice balls are shaped, put the breading ingredient into three shallow dishes. Then repeatedly dredge each ball in flour, followed by beaten eggs and finally coat in crisp breadcrumb.
6. Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan. When the oil is nice and hot, shallow fry the arancini balls until crisp and golden brown on the outside. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place on absorbent paper to remove any excess oil.
Bagels, cured salmon, wasabi
Spice up the typical sandwich concept by making it with a bagel. Then add some spice with a filling of wasabi on salmon – the combination you never knew you needed, until now.
7g of dried yeast
4 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 teaspoons of fine salt
450g of bread flour
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
Poppy or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
500g fillet of salmon
130g of sea salt
180g of demerara sugar
1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seeds
½ a lemon zested
½ a lime zested
½ an orange zested
1 teaspoon of crushed white peppercorn
200ml crème fraiche
1 tablespoon of wasabi paste
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt (season to taste)
Bagels:1. Mix the yeast with 300ml lukewarm water (approx. 40C) and let it sit for five minutes or until completely dissolved. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix together, creating a well in the centre. Then pour over the yeasty liquid and mix into a rough dough. Tip out onto the work surface and knead continuously until smooth and elastic. This can take up to 10 minutes.
2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Set aside for one hour in a warm area until the dough has doubled in volume. Then tip back onto your work surface and form 10 equal sized balls. Extra tips: - Slice the bagels in half and place toothpicks into each side so that they remain firmly in place during travel. This avoids awkward cutting without an adequate knife. - Use greaseproof paper instead of cling film to wrap the bagels up. Cling film tends to make sandwiches soggy, whereas greaseproof paper keeps moisture at bay.
3. Separate them up on two parchment-lined baking trays and cover with a lightly oiled cling film. Set aside for a further 30 minutes until risen. Use a floured finger to make a hole in the centre of each bagel, swirling it around to stretch the dough a little. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
4. Fill a large saucepan with water and bicarbonate before bringing to the boil. Place one or two of the bagels in the water at a time and boil for two minutes, turning over halfway through.
5. Carefully lift out the bagels and drain well. Sprinkle the topping of your choice. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.
1. Mix all the ingredients except the salmon in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture onto a flat tray and place the salmon fillet on top with the skinside up.
2. Evenly sprinkle the remaining salt-sugar mixture over the salmon and marinate for eight to 10 hours (depending on the thickness of the fillet) in the fridge.
3. Once the salmon is cured, wash the mixture off with cold water and pat dry. Slice as and when needed.
1. Whisk the crème fraiche, lemon juice and wasabi paste together. Season to taste with a pinch of salt.
To build your bagel:
Slice your bagel in half and toast until nice and crunchy. Once cooled down, generously spread the wasabi cream and delicately add the sliced cured salmon.
The perfect pork pie
This sturdy pork pie will definitely make it to the picnic in one piece. It is a little more time-consuming to prepare, but well worth it.
400g minced pork shoulder
100g minced pork belly
100g of chopped pork belly
125g of cubed smoked bacon
125g of cubed lardo di colonnata
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of ground white pepper
½ a teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of dried thyme
285g of plain white flour
100g of lard 110ml of water
3 gelatine leaves
150ml of chicken stock
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C fan
2. In a large mixing bowl mix together by hand all the ingredients for the filling. Set aside in the fridge in order to look after the pastry casing.
3. Place the water and lard into a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Once the lard has completely melted bring to the boil. Pour directly over the flour in a large mixing bowl and then stir vigorously using a wooden spoon. When the dough is cool enough to handle knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Set one quarter of the dough aside for the lid.
4. Roll out the remaining dough into a circle. Then place in the base of a nonstick 12cm round cake tin. Press the dough evenly over the base and up the Extra tip: Prepare just a few things and do them well. This homemade pie is a little more time consuming, but well worth it! sides of the tin. Make sure there are no holes before filling with the meat mixture.
5. Finally, roll out the dough for the lid and place on top of the pie. Pinch all around the edge to seal the pie. Make a small hole for steam to escape in the centre of the pie. Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg in order to get a nice golden colour.
6. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170°C and bake for a further 30 minutes. Leave the pie to cool down completely before starting the next step.
7. Soak the gelatine in cold water. When softened, squeeze and remove the excess water.
8. Heat the stock in a small saucepan, when close to boiling point remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Leave to cool to room temperature and use a small funnel to pour the stock into the pie through the hole in the top. 9. Pour in a little at a time allowing a few seconds before each addition. Place in the fridge to set overnight.
Impress your friends with these dainty French patisseries that can be made with minimum effort in the kitchen – they certainly look the part. Their caramelised coating means they are unlikely to break, so they are ideal for transporting.
150g granulated sugar
2 heaped teaspoons of ground cinnamon
50g of melted unsalted butter
1 block puff pastry (approx. 500g)
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C fan
2. In a bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon together until evenly combined.
3. With a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry sheet in both directions until you create a thin (3-4mm), even and rectangular sheet. Brush the melted butter uniformly all over. Evenly sprinkle &14; of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the puff pastry sheet. Using the rolling pin, gently roll over the sugared surface; this will help the mixture adhere to the pastry. Carefully flip the pastry over and repeat the process on the other side.
4. Fold the long sides of the puff pastry towards the centre so they go halfway to the middle. Then fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold one half over the other half to resemble a closed book. Chill the pastry sheet for 15 minutes to allow the butter in the puff pastry to harden slightly.
5. Slice the puff pastry sheet with a sharp knife into 2cm slices. Dip each side of the sliced heart shaped palmiers into the cinnamon and sugar mixture remaining.
6. Finally, bake for 12 minutes before turning them over with a spatula and bake for another four minutes, or until golden and caramelised on the surface.
7. Immediately transfer the palmiers to a cooling rack.
Dark chocolate cookies
These are no ordinary cookies, and kids and adults alike will love them. They will also help ease the load for the return journey, as they’re sure all to be eaten up during the picnic.
200g chopped dark chocolate 70%
125g unsalted butter, diced
140g caster sugar
90g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
130g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (170°C fan)
2. Place the butter and chocolate into a bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Allow to melt, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside until it reaches room temperature.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whisk together the eggs and sugars, for at least two minutes. Once the eggs have doubled in volume and lightened in colour pour in the chocolate mixture.
4. Finally, mix all the dry ingredients together, use your spatula to make sure everything is evenly combined. Use a spoon or piping bag to place the cookie mix onto baking trays. Make sure to leave plenty of space between each cookie as they tend to spread.
5. Bake for 12 minutes. When removed from the oven the cookies will be soft so allow them to cool on the trays before removing.
Lexus Picnic Top Tips
Delivering an impressive and enjoyable picnic is about more than just taste. Lexus and Emily Roux have come up with some useful tips on how to prepare and present the best outdoor feast.
- Be realistic – Plan carefully and realistically how much food you are likely eat. You don’t want to have to be taking home and potentially wasting any left-overs.
- Free(ze) up space for the journey home – Freeze small bottles of water or juice and place them in your cool bag instead of using chiller blocks. This avoids having to carry the blocks home with you.
- Leave the leaves – Avoid packing beautiful green salads, they tend to wilt during transit. Items such as the sturdy pork pie (recipe link above) will be sure to reach the picnic in one piece.
- Take your (tooth)pick – For breaded items such as bagels, slice them in half and use toothpicks to hold them together during the journey. This removes the need for taking a knife and chopping board with you.
- Grease is the word – Use greaseproof paper instead of cling film to wrap the bagels. Cling film tends to make sandwiches soggy, whereas greaseproof paper keeps moisture at bay.
- Step away from the cookie jar– Items such as cookies will keep for four to five days in an airtight container…unless the temptation to eat them is too strong! So you can make them in advance and, if you don’t trust your willpower, perhaps hide the container until picnic day.
- Be prepared, it is the UK after all – Even if you look outside on the morning of your picnic and think you have woken up in Greece, always pack an umbrella. This can double up as a parasol if the weather does hold out.
- Chairing is caring – Cushions or even camping chairs add large loads to be packed in the car, but they are worth it if you know you won’t be comfortable sat on a blanket on the grass. If this is your first picnic of the year, don’t underestimate the time it takes to find the chairs and clean them up ready for use.
- Pick the right spot – When you arrive at your chosen picnic location, be sure to choose somewhere with a view you are happy to look at for the rest of the day, settling any doubts of “is the grass greener over there?.”
- Finally, clean up after yourself – Pack items that can be disposed of, and when you’ve finished your picnic, put them in a bin or recycling point; otherwise, pack reusable items and take them home with you. There is still an awful problem with litter in the UK, so make sure you don’t add to the mess.
When asked about her favourite picnic spots, Emily said “I love Richmond Park as it’s local to us, with varied scenery and many different picnic spots to choose from. Diego and I have spent many afternoons there since living in London and we love to sit on Sawyer’s Hill looking at the London skyline. We’ve been really impressed by Dorney Lake, which we’ve never visited until the Lexus picnic shoot, and as lockdown eases we’re looking forward to bringing our one-year old son here.”
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