Stories

The Ultimate Guide to a Picnic Date

Inspired by the movie “Paris Can Wait”, directed by Eleanor Coppola, in which a seven-hour drive to Paris turns into a two-day marathon food run (a personal dream come true!), there is a beautiful scene in which the car breaks down and Arnaud Viard simply gets out of the car and arranges a roadside picnic in a conveniently beautiful spot nearby. He removes a blanket, cheese, bread, strawberries and, of course wine (why have I not met this man yet?).

So, while my feet are itching to travel back to Europe and meet a charming French man who’ll do nothing but feed me, I think a picnic closer to home can do the trick. I believe a picnic should be fun and relaxed; and that means preparing for it should be even easier, especially if it’s with the intention of indulging in some romance. If you’re planning it in your own backyard, then bring out the nice glassware, plates and teakettle and cups; and if you’re packing for going away, use good Tupperware and disposable dishes.

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The not-so-quintessential summer date

The Picnic Date Menu

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Pasta Salad

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

Croissants

Fresh Berries, Oranges and Grapes

Cheese Board

Champagne

Herbal Tea

Mini Confectionaries

Below is a basic guideline to help you ensure a fuss free date with your loved one, including a delicious recipe for old-fashioned chocolate cupcakes.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes

These old fashioned cupcakes are a breeze to make, with very little preparation or planning required. The cupcakes by itself are low on sweetness, as the sweet vanilla frosting balances it out.

Yields: 10 cupcakes  |  Prep Time: 10 mins  |  Cook Time: 25 mins

Ingredients:

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Dessert first, always!

½ cup flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp instant coffee powder

¾ cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup milk

½ cup yoghurt

Frosting:

½ cup butter, soft

¾ cup icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare the muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil and sugar until combined.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for at least 3-4 minutes.

Then add the yoghurt and whisk.

Fold in the dry ingredients, careful not to overmix and add two mini scoops into each cupcake liner, or until each case is filled 3/4th.

Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let the cupcakes cool completely on a cooling rack.

Frosting:

While the cupcakes cool, start the frosting by whipping the butter and vanilla extract with an electric whisk.

Add the icing sugar bit by bit, until you get the consistency that you like. Add milk if required.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread the frosting on top and store in an airtight container.

Pasta Salad

The pasta salad is a good traveller as it is filling, feels fresh and travels well in an icebox. Ensure to keep the dressing simple, avoid garlic as garlic strengthens over time! And refrain from adding ingredients that release too much liquid like tomatoes. If you are married to the idea of tomatoes, then I suggest you remove the seeds to avoid a disaster.

Serves: 2 mason jars  |  Prep Time: 10 mins  |  Cook Time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

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How pretty do these mason jars with pasta salad look?

½ cup dried pasta

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp balsamic

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

½ cup peppers, chopped

olives, chopped

sundried tomatoes, chopped

Method

Place a large pot of water to boil. Once the water starts to boil, add some salt and olive oil. Drop the pasta in to cook according to the packet instructions (should be around 7-10 minutes).

Drain the pasta and set aside with some olive oil.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Then add the pasta and check for additional seasoning.

Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Sandwiches

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White bread sandwiches with the most delectable berry jams.

The sandwich is the most versatile snack to take along on a picnic. There are no rules, except, go easy on the liquid preserves and any other filling that can impart water and make the sandwich go soggy – such as tomatoes, yoghurt based marinades or sauces. My personal favourites are mayonnaise and mustard in small quantities as they impart good flavour, and don’t interfere with the bread going limp. I prefer to use sliced cheese over grated simply because it’s quicker and holds shape.

For this picnic I made:

White bread sandwich with crunchy peanut butter and strawberry + raspberry jam

Croissants from Le Artisan Boulangerie 

Fruits

Always remember to pack whole fruits so that they don’t spoil. Pre-wash and dry completely before packing up. Berries, oranges, grapes and apples work best. Pick local seasonal fruits for the best taste and of course nutrition.

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Fruit platters and cheese boards can never go wrong.

Cheese Board

Cheese board is a necessity for any picnic, particularly after you’ve seen Paris Can Wait! Nothing too fancy, just one or two blocks of good cheese wrapped properly in butter or wax paper, some grapes, crackers or bread, and nuts.

Drinks

If you’re having a picnic in your garden, I say go ahead and bring out that silver teakettle! But what’s more important is the alcohol. No romantic evening is complete without some good wine or bubbly! If you’re taking the picnic away from home, then be low maintenance and take paper cups with you.

Other Tips & Guidelines:

-Pack light! Use disposable items

-Pack food that cannot leak and make a mess

-Go easy on the pungent aromatics such as garlic

-Remember to pack paper napkins and wet tissues!

-Take a spare plastic bag to collect your rubbish in and take it home with you to throw away

-Icebox for drinks, fruits, salads

-Comfort essentials: a blanket, pillow, umbrella, sunglasses

-Entertainment essentials: books, magazines, battery operated music system, deck of cards, board games

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See their Behind The Scenes Video here

Photo Credits: The Kitchen Trail 

Video Credits: Quantum Media

Floral Arrangements: Hello Sunshine

Guest post by: Kamini Patel, Kitchen Therapy 

Follow her on:

Instagram: @kitchentherapyindia  

Facebook: @Kitchen Therapy India 

Twitter: @kitchentherapy1 

YouTube: Kitchen Therapy by Kamini Patel

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