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Summer holiday picnic time
No.1 The Strand Chef
It seems like a such long time ago that I’ve been on a picnic or been under canvas.
Maybe it’s that we don’t venture into the countryside or the beach like we used to and instead tend to eat alfresco around the barbecue or outside bustling restaurants or cafés.
There are some wonderful areas to have picnics here in the Bay. Occasionally, you see the odd couple or family enjoying a picnic but it seems to be in decline.
Getting a dose of the countryside while relaxing beside a lake and enjoying some wonderful prepared foods with a glass of wine or fresh brew of coffee is something that takes a little planning.
But quite often it’s all worthwhile.
Food that can be prepared ahead of time, like bacon and egg pie and scotch eggs are great – and so is this week’s big sandwich recipe.
My famous frying pan focaccia bread is only really a recipe – and an easy way to make a huge sandwich.
When the bread is freshly made you can press the whole sandwich before cutting and it’ll stay together longer, making it easier to wrap and transport.
There’s numerous fillings you can put in your sandwich. Recently, I made the biggest sandwich for 120 people using roasted asparagus, roast beef, horseradish sauce, homemade mayonnaise, leftover roast gravy and a large dose of microgreens.
Frying pan focaccia
3-4 cups strong flour
3 cups warm water
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp instant yeast granules
2 Tbsp sea salt flakes
Rosemary leaves (optional)
Put half of the flour and all of the salt into a large bowl. Heat up the honey by adding half of the warm water to it, then pour this from a height into the bowl to make loose puddle with bubbles.
This activates the gluten in the flour. Leave for a few minutes then add the yeast to the remaining water. Stir well then pour this into the sloppy puddle, and you can stir in some of the olive oil as well.
Stir well with your hands, and add more of the flour until you have a soft, loose dough. Cover and leave undisturbed for about an hour.
Tip out onto a bench and add more flour to form a dough that won’t stick to your hands.
Select a large pan, or two small ones that have ovenproof handles, or use a large cake tin.
Oil the pan with the rest of the olive oil, squish the dough into the pan and poke down well with your fingers. Put more olive oil on top, to fill finger holes.
The dough should cover the pan and be only three-four centimetres thick.
Rub with some fresh rosemary and sea salt and leave to rise in a warm place for about four-five hours until dough has reached top of pan.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, or until the pan sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove to cooling rack, then simply fill with your favourite fillings.
Press for a while with a plate, then cut and wrap for your picnic.
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