Children lend themselves to picnics. Food is always more fun when eaten outside, particularly if there is a blanket and a picnic hamper. Whilst the birds pick up the crumbs for you. And although some of our most memorable picnics have been those we have cobbled together (although can a pot of hummus and some PopChips strictly be called a picnic?) there is a lot to be said for organisation. Having a rug, a bottle opener, some wine to open, some mustard and knives and forks all makes eating outdoors a little more special. Even better if there are some chairs to sit on, our knees are not what they were.
One of my finest parenting moments was on holiday in Devon when I whipped out a picnic hamper containing a nutritionally balanced meal (by which I mean there was fruit and salad) and this picnic pie. I know smugness is an unattractive trait, but I did smile condescendingly at those families around me with pots of hummus and PopChips, knowing how little actually separated us. Obviously my superiority was short lived, but we must take what we can, when we can.
Anyway picnic pie is easy to make, easy to transport and even my kids seem to like it. Check out our video of it here. It is very forgiving, meaning you can put in what you fancy. This one is quite meaty, but you could layer roast butternut squash, red peppers with ricotta and spinach if you so desired. The only rule is to make sure everything is as dry as possible. As Mary Berry taught us, there is nothing worse than a soggy bottom.
Start to finish: 20 mins prep, 50 mins in the oven
2 sheets ready rolled shortcrust pastry
8 sausages skinned
4 slices thick cut ham
4 tbs pesto
6 large slices of cooked chicken
1 egg beaten to glaze
Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Get a pie dish or a 18cm springform cake tin. Line with one sheet of the pastry, making sure it fits snugly.
Place two pieces of ham on top of the pastry. Spread half the pesto on the top. Add half the sausage meat. Season. Place the chicken slices on top and then add the remaining sausage meat. Finish off with the last two slice of ham, spread with the pesto. Then roll over the remaining sheet of pastry and place it over the top, pinching it down at the sides of the tin. Brush over the beaten egg and place on any stars/hearts/or other pastry shapes you fancy. Pop in the oven for 50m or until brown on top. Allow to cool (this is important, as it helps it keep its shape) and you can take to the park/beach/woods in the tin so it is easy to carry. I like mine with some Picallili.