Picnic perfection: a celebration of Spring
Good news, spring has sprung which means it’s time for all kinds of amazing outdoor activities. There is no better time for a hike, a trip to the local pool or a spring picnic. Hong Kong has no shortage of lovely outdoor venues and the humidity level is still bearable! Find the perfect venue, check the weather and pack a delicious lunch for the gang…. it’s picnic time!
Read more: Hiking in Hong Kong: 6 Family-Friendly Hikes
Picnic food needs to be packable, easy to transport and easy to eat. Think sandwiches, cold cuts, cheeses, and fresh fruit, all easy to make, pack and transport. However, if you are feeling inspired, how about making some homemade picnic delights to treat your family and friends. These recipes are all spring inspired and are guaranteed to treat anyone who is lucky enough to have gotten an invite.
Beef Cashew Nut and Chilli Spring Rolls with Coconut Lime Sauce
(makes 10 spring rolls)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 250g rump steak, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
- ½ cup (75g) cashews
- 1 cup baby spinach
- Black pepper
- 8-10 spring roll wrappers
- 1 tablespoon corn-starch
- 2 ½ tablespoons water
- Oil for deep-frying
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Heat the oil in a sauté pan until just before smoke point. Add the thinly sliced rump steak and fry quickly to brown.
- Lower the heat to a medium heat and add the garlic, chilli flakes and then the cashew nuts. Fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the spinach and cook just until the leaves are wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to cool.
- Make a sealing paste for the spring rolls by mixing the cornstarch with the water.
- To assemble the spring rolls, lay a spring roll wrapper on a clean cutting board. Add about 2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle, be careful not to overfill (we know it’s tempting!).
- Fold in the two sides and roll up the wrapper tightly to form the spring rolls. Seal the edges with the sealing paste.
- Deep fry the spring rolls until golden and crispy (about 5-7 minutes) turning occasionally.
- For the sauce simply mix the coconut milk, lime juice and sugar. Season with salt and serve.
Green Bean, Tomato and Feta Salad
- 1 ½ cup green beans, ends cut off
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon oregano, dried
- Salt and pepper
- Add water to a saucepan and add a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil. Add the green beans and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain and allow to cool down.
- Meanwhile mix the vinegar, olive oil, honey, mustard, herbs and seasoning until they are well blended. Set aside.
- When the beans are cooled mix the beans, tomatoes and feta and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Curried Chicken Skewers
(makes 10 skewers)
- 1 large chicken breast, boneless and skinless cut into 2-3cm cubes
- ½ red pepper, cut into large pieces
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a small bowl mix the curry powder, cumin as well as a pinch of salt and pepper. Put the toothpicks or skewer sticks in a bowl of cold water.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the chicken and drizzle over the olive oil, mix well so the oil covers the chicken.
- Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and mix well.
- Alternate skewering a piece of chicken and a piece of pepper on the skewer stick or toothpick.
- Heat your oven grill to high. Grill the skewers for 3-4 minutes on each side until the juice runs clear and the chicken is firm but not dry.
Easy Garlic and Herb Bread
(makes 1 large bread, serves 4)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, good quality
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
- 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
- 1 teaspoon parsley, dried/fresh
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, fine
- 1 cup water, lukewarm
- 2 ½ teaspoons yeast, dry active
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 1/2 cups flour, plain
- 1 teaspoon salt, coarse
- In a small pot mix the olive oil, minced garlic, herbs and a little bit of black pepper. Heat the mixture over a low heat until the garlic browns slightly and the mixture starts to release a lovely herb scent. Set aside to cool down.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar and leave to stand for about 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes add 1 cup of the flour and a 1/4 cup of the infused garlic-olive oil mixture. Stir just a few times to moisten the flour and then let the mixture sit for another 5 minutes. It will become slightly bubbly.
- Stir in the remaining flour and the salt. Once the dough starts to hold together, transfer to a floured surface, and knead the dough 10 to 15 times until smooth.
- Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Oil a large rimmed baking sheet with about 15ml of olive oil. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and press it down into the pan. Make sure to dimple the dough with your fingers to give it that characteristic look.
- Drizzle over the remaining herb oil mixture and allow to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- After the bread has leavened bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. The bread should sound hollow when tapped against.
Strawberry Basil Iced Tea
- 2 cups water, boiling
- 4 bags of black tea
- 4 tablespoons sugar, granulated
- 2 cups water, cold
- 5-6 strawberries, large, cut in quarters
- 5 basil leaves, fresh
- Brew the tea with the 2 cups of boiling water for 5-10 minutes until the tea is nice and strong.
- Remove the teabags and add the sugar, stir until dissolved.
- Add the cold water and allow the mixture to cool down slightly before adding the strawberries and basil leaves.
- Leave in the refrigerator for an hour or two or ideally overnight.
- Serve over ice.
This is a great cooling drink for all ages but if you’re looking for that little something extra, add two shots of vodka for a grown-up iced tea mama!
White Chocolate Oatmeal S’more Cookies
(makes 15 medium-sized cookies)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar, white granulated
- 1 egg, large
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 8 marshmallows, cut in half
- Preheat oven to 175°C. With some butter or oil lightly grease a large baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth and light in colour.
- Stir in the egg and vanilla and mix well.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then stir into the butter mixture.
- Add the rolled oats and white chocolate chips.
- Drop a tablespoon of the cookie dough at a time on the prepared baking sheet about 2.5cm apart as the cookies spread when baking. Press a half a marshmallow into the centre of each cookie and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
- Cool well and allow to crisp up. Store in an airtight container.
Whether you want to head to a park for a sunny Sunday afternoon, pack a lovely beach lunch or have a late night romantic rooftop picnic in mind, these delicious recipes are guaranteed to impress. So “spring” into action and make the most of the lovely season!