Wednesday 6 July 2011

Picnic perfect

August is upon us but there is still time and hopefully the weather to enjoy a few picnics. Whether it is at the heart of a simple family outing, devoured on a rug spread on the ground or the crowning glory of an outdoor festival, concert or special occasion, enjoyed in state with table, chairs and candelabra, a picnic is a memorable occasion and the perfect way to celebrate the summer.
A pie is always a favourite! A good quality pork pie with hard boiled eggs, carrot, celery and cucumber sticks, tomatoes, dips, cherries make light work of a picnic. However if you want to make something as a centre piece for a full-on eating al fresco experience try this simple to make but oh-so-impressive, layered salmon, prawn and potato file pie. It can be made in advance served hot, warm or cold.

Layered salmon, prawn and potato filo pie flavoured with tomato and basil serves 6-8
800 g (drained weight) canned tomatoes, drained, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x cm square dried chilli
500 g salmon fillet cut into domino sized pieces (skin discarded) and seasoned with salt and pepper
500 g new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced lengthways
100 – 150 g readymade basil pesto
6 large sheets of filo pastry
100 g butter, melted
200g cooked peeled prawns
Salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Springform cake tin, 22 cm
Preheat oven to 200C 400F gas 6
Heat enough olive oil to cover the base of a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the prepared tomatoes, garlic and chilli, reduce the heat to minimum, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir from time to time.. Mash the tomatoes to a pulp and stir in the salmon pieces and cook for a minute or two. Transfer the salmon and tomato sauce to a bowl to cool. Toss the sliced potato in the pesto to coat evenly.
Brush the base and sides of the cake tin with a little of the melted butter. Paint the first sheet of filo with melted butter and lay it across the cake tin to line the base and sides of the tin, leaving any excess hanging over the sides. Paint a second sheet of filo with butter and lay it at right angles to the first, smoothing it down to line the base and sides of the tin. There should now be equal overhang of filo all the way round the tin. Repeat this until all six sheets of pastry have been used up.
Cover the base of the filo lined tin with half the potatoes, then half the salmon in tomato sauce and then half the prawns. Make a second layer of each and then carefully fold the over-hang of filo over the filling. Paint butter over the top of the pie.
Set the tin containing the finished pie on a baking sheet and put it in the preheated oven and cook until golden brown, say 25 minutes.
Allow to cool a little before taking the pie out of the tin. If baking freshly to serve warm on a picnic leave the pie in the tin, wrap in a clean tea towel and a blanket to transport and transfer carefully to a serving plate on arrival. Otherwise leave to cool completely, wrap in foil and refrigerate until required. Don’t forget to take a sharp knife and platter for serving.