Pack a perfect picnic

PUBLISHED: 12:03 06 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:59 06 May 2014

Picnic food 
Suffolk Magazine

Picnic food Suffolk Magazine

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis makes a locally sourced picnic full of flavour and fun

Picnic food 
Suffolk MagazinePicnic food Suffolk Magazine

5 places to picnic

1 At this year’s Suffolk Show, watching the world go by.

2 On the green in front of the visitor centre at High Lodge, Thetford Forest in the shade of a tree.

3 Nestled in a sand dune at Walberswick.

Picnic food 
Suffolk MagazinePicnic food Suffolk Magazine

4 Amidst the weathered trees at Covehithe.

5 In the tall grass by the river at Flatford – watch out for the cows!

Parisian lunch for four with a Suffolk influence

The beautiful simplicity of a rustic terrine and crusty baguette, thrown together with a handful of cornichons, magenta radishes, cheese and good wine, speaks of sunny days on the beach or by the river.

Say cheese

Nothing is easier for a picnic than selecting an array of fine cheeses and presenting them on a handsome wooden board. Choose no more than three or four good sized wedges and keep it local. Here we have Suffolk Blue, Suffolk Gold, Suffolk Brie and Shipcord. Shipcord, made at Rodwell Dairy is my favourite, being as fruity, nutty and savoury as the best Somerset cheddars.

Potted smoked mackerel with beetroot vinaigrette and croutes

Potting is a time-honoured way to make fish and meat go further. This recipe is so easy you’ll turn to it time and time again. It fills about three small ramekins and you can freeze what you don’t use for up to a month.

Method: Mash 400g of Pinney’s smoked mackerel in a bowl with a pinch of cayenne pepper and 1/4tsp of ground nutmeg then set aside. Melt 250g of unsalted butter and add ¾ of it to the fish with the juice and zest of a lemon.

Mash the mixture with a fork to combine and spoon into ramekins. Pour the left over butter over the top of the ramekins and cool, then place in the fridge until needed. To serve, slice a baguette thinly and warm the pieces in a low oven for about 10 minutes to crisp.

For the beetroot vinaigrette

Bake three medium-sized beetroots in the oven for an hour until almost tender. Allow to cool then peel and cut into 1cm cubes. Make a dressing with 1/2tsp each of salt and pepper, 2tsp sugar, 1tsp French mustard, 6tsp Aspall’s cyder vinegar and 4tsps local rapeseed oil or olive oil. Dress the beetroot, check the seasoning and serve finished with a handful of chopped parsley.

Gateau Breton

This soft, buttery treat reminds me of sandy holidays in Northern Brittany. It’s a speciality in the region and is often filled with moist prunes, or, as I’ve prepared it, with jam. The texture is part shortbread, part soft cake and it is divine.

250g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes

225g plain Marriages flour

250g caster sugar

6 egg yolks plus one for glazing

A jar of local jam – I used Tiptree strawberry


Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the sugar, then the six egg yolks and mix into a sticky dough. Chill for 30 minutes.

Line a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper. Press two thirds of the mixture into the tin. It will be quite gooey. Warm a few tablespoons of jam then spread it on top of the mix, leaving 1.5cm around the edge. Roll the remaining mix in flour to make it more workable and flatten it out. Press it on top of the jammy base and, using floured hands, press down and squish to cover and seal in the jam.

Flour the top lightly and press to make it as flat and even on top as possible. Glaze with the other egg and run the tines of a fork over the top to make a pattern. Bake at 190C for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180C, cooking for a further 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin completely before turning out.

Picnic tips

l Don’t take cream cakes on picnics – they can spoil easily and often don’t look as appetising when you get to your destination.

l Yellow attracts bugs and bees.

l Freeze your drink overnight before you go (unless it’s bubbly). It will then keep the contents of your picnic cool on your journey and be even more refreshing when you arrive.

l Making sandwiches the night before and keep them fresh by placing them in a tub in the the fridge overnight, covered with a damp (not wet) teatowel

Finger-licking food from the Deep South (for four)

I love American food and the food that resonates with me the most is that of the Deep South – New Orleans in particular – with its Creole/Cajun spice.

Ultimate BBQ sausages

These are always a winner at our barbecues and picnics. I make them for the children but it’s adults who really love them.

1 pack of local chipolata sausages

(about 16)

150ml tomato sauce

50ml Aspall’s cyder vinegar

2tsps English mustard

3tbsps muscovado sugar

1 small onion, chopped finely

A little oil for frying


Bake the sausages according to instructions. While cooking, make the sauce. Fry the onion lightly until softened. Add the brown sugar and caramelise. Throw in the mustard, vinegar and tomato sauce. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for a couple of minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking the sausages add the sauce to the tray, turning them in it a couple of times during cooking. They will go super-sticky as they cool.

Chopped salad

Finely chop a couple of cos lettuces, a roundhead lettuce, a couple of spring onions, half a cucumber and five spears of asparagus – yes, you can eat it raw. To finish, griddle a few asparagus spears in a little oil until lightly charred. Allow to cool and place on top of the salad in its bowl. Serve with a creamy dressing. >>

Enjoy a truly Suffolk picnic

All ingredients for our picnic came from the East of England Co-Operative Society, which offers Suffolk produce through its Sourced Locally initiative.

Why not treat yourself to a locally sourced picnic at the Darsham Hamper and Café – the flagship store for the Sourced Locally brand with 80% of products supplied direct from local farmers, growers and producers. Treat yourself to an all day, locally-sourced brunch in the café, then select your perfect picnic. Choose from sandwiches and snacks, bread, cakes and pastries, sweets and chocolate, local fruit and veg, smoked fish and pates, hams and chorizo and so much more. Don’t forget your Suffolk fruit juices, cordials, beers and wines – pick up your daily newspaper and head off.

Find Darsham Hamper at (A12) London Road, Darsham, Suffolk IP17 3QR. 
The store will be open from 7am – 7pm daily.

Suffolk suppliers

French picnic

Chequered blanket, The Crockery Barn, Ashbocking

Dragonfly wine glasses, white drinks tray, picnic basket, cordial bottle, Kendall and Ko

Wooden cheese board, milk bottle vase, yellow dipping bowl, long pink plate, Phoebe & Flo

International House, Orford St, Ipswich,01473 213370

American picnic

Coolbag, pink jug, multi-coloured plastic cups, melamine plates, Partridges,

Floral picnic blanket, Winch & Blatch,

Teal bowl with silver trim, Phoebe & Flo

Salad servers, The Crockery Barn

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the EADT Suffolk Magazine