National Picnic Week starts today and when doing our research for this blog we were surprised to discover that, for a change, picnics didn’t originate here in the UK.
The first usage of the word can be traced back to a French book in 1692 which described a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine.
These days we would call that BYO (Bring Your Own)!
It wasn’t long until picnic made its way into the English language though and when you think of it now, it seems quintessentially British.
According to the organisers of National Picnic Week, the average person picnics at least three times a year. We wonder if this includes a car picnic. If you have children you will know what we mean here!
The most popular picnic snack 50 years ago was the cheese sandwich and now, apparently, it’s a bag of crisps. We hope that’s incorrect because if eating a bag of crisps constitutes a picnic, we have one every day!
Seriously, though, thanks to the rise in convenience food – by the way we know someone who makes amazing chilled food for the major supermarkets which would be ideal for picnics, picnic baskets (do people still use these?) can now be much more varied.
If that has got you in the mood, the weather set to be great this weekend, Chef Chris has made a perfect picnic dish.
500g shortcrust pastry
4 large eggs
165g golden caster sugar
600ml double cream
15g corn flour
1tsp good quality vanilla essence
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Roll the pastry out to about 1cm thick large enough to line a 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tin with some overhang.
- Press the pastry into the tin (leaving extra for over hang, put onto a baking sheet and chill for 20 mins in the fridge. Line the pastry with baking parchment then tin foil as tin foil conducts heat better and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 20 mins, and then remove beans/rice, paper and foil. Bake for another 15 mins until golden and sandy all over. Trim the edges of the tart with a sharp serrated knife.
- Turn oven down to 150C/130C fan/ gas 2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Put the cream vanilla into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour onto the eggs, whisking as you go.
- Sieve into a jug and let it settle for 10 mins then skim to get rid of bubbles. Put the baking sheet onto the pulled-out oven rack, then pour in the custard, right to the top. You may not need every last drop.
- Sprinkle over nutmeg powder then slide gently back into the oven and bake for 1 hr. When it’s ready, the tart should be set and pale golden on the top with slight wobble the centre when you jiggle the tray.
- Cool completely, then serve in slices and enjoy!