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Picnic perfection: A duo of dishes just made for al fresco dining (weather permitting)

Paula McIntyre



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Cheese Flamiche Bread

Cheese Flamiche Bread

Courgettes with Korean Chilli salad

Courgettes with Korean Chilli salad

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Cheese Flamiche Bread

Picnics — a joy in theory, not always in practice. The romantic notion of eating delicious food from a picnic hamper is often overshadowed with the practicality of eating from your lap, the inclement weather and the potential of midges and other flesh-eating insects. Call me old fashioned but I prefer the comfort of my own garden, with real crockery and cutlery and access to the bathroom. You can set the table, bring out the glasses, pour a glass of wine without the stress of travel, sandy sandwiches and torrential rain.

Another advantage when it comes to using your own outside space is being able to serve dishes straight from the oven. A centrepiece bread or tart is always a good starting point. There’s nothing like a well-made quiche even though there’s a fair amount of work in baking the pastry blind and getting the filling just right. An equally lovely alternative is Flamiche. This bread/tart combination originates in the Picardy region of northern France. The base is a brioche dough that’s traditionally filled with a leek and cheese mixture. Brioche is an egg-based yeast dough enriched with butter. It’s not hard to make, especially if you have a mixer with a dough hook. The filling in the recipe here is soft, slowly cooked onions that then develop a golden hue and garlic enrobed in a creamy nutmeg redolent cheese custard. Onions and cheese, baked in rich buttery brioche, served hot and bubbling straight to the table. I’ll take that over a soggy sandwich any day. Serve with a dressed green salad to cut through this sheer culinary opulence.


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