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A day of indulgence: Picnic in the Park

picnic in the park

The photos here represent how I spent my Saturday: nice, huh? I’d been craving a big, elaborate picnic for months, and yesterday the birthday of a friend provided the perfect excuse. Andrew and I met up with our pals Kent and Becky to spend a celebratory afternoon in Greenwich Park, complete with good food, bottomless mimosas, intermittent sunshine and great company. 

Natually, yours truly was the caterer du jour. I spent hours in the kitchen preparing for this feast, but it was so worth it. The menu for the day consisted of:

Mini Calzone  I made two kinds: Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto and Caramelized Onion and Goat’s Cheese. I played it pretty fast and loose with the ingredients, but Jamie Oliver’s calzone recipe is a good place to start.

Sesame Peanut Noodles  I used Nigella’s recipe with some added chili flakes and toasted cashews.

Tuna and Beans  Use my Pasta, Bean and Tuna Salad recipe, but omit the pasta and use half borlotti beans and half cannellini. The colours and flavours here are perfect picnic fodder.

Greek Pepper Salad  A mash-up of this recipe and this one, this is super easy to make. Marinate a sliced red onion in 1 Tbs. vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. sugar and the juice of one lemon for a few hours (or overnight). When you’re ready to eat, throw the whole lot over some chopped peppers, cucumber and feta cheese. Salt, pepper and parsley to taste, and you’re good to go. 

Lemon Cupcakes  The birthday girl doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, so lemon trumped chocolate in this case. I used this recipe from Rachel Allen, which produces a dense, rich cake. Topped with my favourite buttercream recipe (I pumped up the flavour with some extra lemon juice), these made a great treat for the end of the meal.

I tend to suffer from nerves when cooking for a crowd (yes, even a “crowd” of four), but I’m happy to report that everything went down well. I was expecting leftovers-a-plenty, but over four hours we ate almost everything. Today, of course, I’m paying for it. Still full from my day of (over) indulgence, I’m not sure I’ll ever be hungry again. Do I really have to go to the farmer’s market today?

7 comments

  1. Hilary says:

    That is one lucky birthday girl. Are those ‘Happy Birthday’ candles? Cute!

  2. [...] A day of indulgence: Picnic in the Park [...]

  3. kent says:

    i can say first hand, that this was the best meal i’ve ever eaten, ever. Not only was the birthday girl lucky, but all in presence were thoroughly spoiled by you Ele. Thanks!

  4. Chad Jeudy says:

    is that a minor opening the champagne ?!

  5. Natalie says:

    What a pleasant way to spend a Saturday! The calzones sound great… and so do the cupcakes… well actually everything sounds yummy!!

  6. Ele says:

    Hil- Yup, they sure are! However, none of us remembered to bring matches so I had to run home to get some, only to find that the ones I’d grabbed didn’t work very well. We finally got all the candles lit and then they started to drip wax over the cupcakes… a minor glitch in an otherwise great day!

    Kent- You’re too nice, it wasn’t THAT good! I guess this means that the next one has to be doubly delicious, though… good thing I like a challenge :)

    Chad- Why yes, yes it is. I do believe that the legal public champagne-opening age is like, 29 or so.

    Natalie- The calzones are my favourite, too. I’m thinking I might do a post just on them soon…

  7. [...] saw some lovely weather earlier in the month, and I took the opportunity to host a picnic to end all picnics. Taking advantage of the warmer temperatures, I also saw made a green bean salad, a [...]