"Everyone is looking for picnic recipes, and everybody has strong ideas on sandwiches (yes or no) and a Thermos flask."

The Royal Chef At Home Cookbook
The Royal Chef At Home Cookbook

Everyone is looking for picnic recipes, and everybody has strong ideas on sandwiches (yes or no) and a Thermos flask. A little further on, we have some ideas approved by Buckingham Palace for your next picnic.

Before we approach the sandwich issue, though, do you agree with Australian chef Maggie Beer? ( She likes home-baked chicken pie, preserved lemon and currant chutney, rustic tomato soup, goat’s curd with verjuice-soaked sultanas to serve with fresh pears, wood-fired bread, some salad leaves, extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, a pepper grinder and a pot of sea salt.)

We like Maggie Beer’s picnic tip – enamelware, not paper plates and cups.

Vintage Picnic Sets

Vintage picnic sets (this one was sold as long ago as 1930) also avoid the problem of the wind blowing cups away; paper plates to recycle in parks without recycling bins – and soggy paper napkins getting in the way. They can be picked up on eBay, or you can make your own with a little secondhand case and the enamelware suggested by Maggie Beer, or your own recycled charity shop finds. A thermos (also popular since the Thirties) is a solid companion to any picnic.

Asprey picnic hampers are highly collectable and since Queen Victoria granted a royal warrant, it has been a favourite of the family.

Tea Sandwiches and Finger sandwiches

As we’ll see in a moment, the controversial sandwich has become an art form in the hands of one chef who worked for Her Majesty the Queen. Did you know that the Japanese have also adopted sandwiches, though?

Konbi Japanese sandwiches in Los Angeles has a cult following for their Omelette and Egg Salad recipe.

Your Picnic Sandwich Duet

Named for the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, the classic recipes include The Club (triple-decker with chicken, bacon, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise). It is usually toasted but you can adapt it for a picnic.

The French baguette with butter and ham is a Paris classic. The most popular sandwich in France. Simply known as Jambon-beurre. If you have vegetarians at the picnic, or are one yourself, we have a royal cucumber sandwich recipe for you (scroll down).

The Claridge’s Tip

Here’s a Claridge’s sandwich tip to help your picnics, from chefs Martin Nail and Meredith Erickson:

“Picking different breads to pair with your fillings is exciting: rye, malt, granary, brown, onion, plain white … these are just some of the breads we regularly use.”

Chef to The Queen, Diana, William and Harry

Darren McGrady was private chef to Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales and Princes’ William and Harry for fifteen years and has cooked for five US Presidents. His website, Eating Royally, has good picnic inspiration.

Earl Grey and Iced Coffee

Official royal gatherings in the palace grounds are, officially, dry affairs. Instead of Pimms or champagne, guests are offered offered tea (usually Twinings Earl Grey) or iced coffee, made with coffee which is supplied by London-based merchant H.R. Higgins. Now there’s an idea for your Thermos flask.

Bridge Rolls and the Queen Mother

Bridge rolls were a favourite of the Queen Mother (eaten during Bridge games) and regularly make an appearance at garden parties, filled with coronation chicken, which has been on the menu since the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
Darren McGrady’s recipe, which makes six portions, requires 450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts — which are poached in a large pan with an onion, four sticks of celery, a bay leaf and 1.4 litres of cold water.

The next bit is easy (from his website): Mix 230g mayonnaise, 125g yoghurt and 60g double cream together with a tablespoon of curry paste, a teaspoon of sugar, the juice of a lime and a handful each of diced red pepper, diced red onion, diced mango, diced pineapple and diced tinned apricot, before seasoning.

He comments, “The curry paste makes the mixture bright yellow and it smells fragrant and spicy. I finish by cutting the chicken into bite-size pieces and stirring these into the mix. I’ve bought brioche rolls, which were the closest I could find to bridge rolls, so I slice each in half and dollop a generous serving of coronation chicken inside.”
Cucumber Sandwiches

An afternoon tea classic, ideal for a picnic – cucumber sandwiches use a royally approved recipe. Brown bread, cut wafer-thin, with the crusts off and lightly buttered is followed by cucumber, which is cut with a vegetable peeler, for thin, evenly sliced, pieces.

The sandwiches are finished with a sprinkle of black pepper — never salt. They’re then sliced into thin, dainty fingers.
If you are Vegan you can adapt by losing the butter and using a smear of avocado. Not too much.

Pimms in a Thermos – By Appointment

Pimms (Cold) in a Thermos is hard to resist on a picnic in your own garden – or a picnic with relaxed rules about drinking.

The Royal Pimms recipe is here. Enjoy your picnic, at home or away.

Glasses essential, which means a proper hamper.


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