For the ultimate summer picnic, you need tiptop food as well as a beautiful setting. Focaccia with a ham or chickpea filling, a fresh and fruity Pimm’s Cup drink, and an easy-to-pack raspberry cheesecake are the ideal accompaniments for any excursion.
A savoury treat from Italy
Focaccia is a delicious, moist bread that can be eaten as such, or filled with a range of great-tasting ingredients. Filled focaccia is an Italian delicacy and a popular product sold by delis in the United States.
The keyword in picnics is preservation. Air-dried meats such as prosciutto and salami do not spoil so easily in summer warmth. If you want a vegan sandwich, chickpeas are a tasty option that will fill you up. In addition, ready-made meats and chickpeas from a carton don’t need lots of preparation time. You can make the focaccia the day before, only slicing it once the fillings are ready.
These fillings are sufficient for four servings of focaccia; the rest of the focaccia can be enjoyed as such with morning coffee or evening tea, or frozen and toasted later.
1 portion (11 g) dry yeast
4 dl water
9 dl wheat flour
2 tsp salt
3/4 dl olive oil (+3 tablespoons)
a pinch of salt and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and oregano) for sprinkling on top
Dissolve the yeast in a large bowl of lukewarm water and gradually add the wheat flour to the mixture while stirring. Then add the salt and olive oil, and stir. Allow the dough to rest for a couple of minutes to even out the moisture. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes or until it is smooth and stretchy. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Line a large dish with baking paper, tip the dough onto it and spread it evenly onto the baking paper with oiled fingers. Press the fresh herbs into the dough’s surface and splash on the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (not sea salt, its crystals are rock hard).
Allow the focaccia to rise for around an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 225 °C and bake the bread for 15—20 minutes. Lift the focaccia off the baking tray and allow it to cool. Eat in pieces, or slice the bread for filling.
1 carton (300 g) ripe chickpeas
1 dl pesto
lemon juice, salt and black pepper
1 small zucchini
salt and black pepper
Grind the chickpeas and pesto into a mash. Season with lemon juice, crushed black pepper and, if needed, salt. Cut the zucchini into thin slices. Spread the chickpeas on the bottom half of the focaccia and place the zucchini slices on top. Press the other half of the bread on top and wrap in greaseproof paper.
1—2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 pkt (70 g) air-dried ham
1 pkt (300 g) preserved artichoke
1/2 carton of rocket
Slice the shallot into thin rings. Add it to the bowl together with the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Leave to ‘pickle’ for 5-10 minutes. While waiting, fill the focaccia: cut the bread in two and spread the ham on the bottom half, then add the drained, sliced artichoke, rocket and shallots. Press the other half of the bread on top of the filling and wrap in greaseproof paper.
The sweetest thing
One of the easiest and quickest ways of making traditional cheesecake is to use condensed milk sold in cans as a sweetener. All you need to add is cream cheese. You don't even have to stiffen the topping – placing the cake in a fridge is sufficient. Follow these directions to make one traditional cheesecake in a loose bottom or springform cake pan, or 6-8 small cheesecakes, depending on the size of the boxes or pots you use.
250 g Digestive biscuits
100 g butter
1 tsp (300g) condensed milk
400 g unflavored cream cheese
juice and grated rind from 1 lime
fresh raspberries (or other berries and fruit)
edible flowers, e.g. violets
Crush the biscuits and pour the melted butter over them. Mix the biscuits and butter into an even paste and press it onto the bottom of small pots with lids. Place the pots in the fridge to cool for a while.
Whisk the condensed milk and cream cheese together. Season the mixture with lime juice and grated rind. Spread the mixture on top of the crushed biscuit and butter in the pots or dish. Decorate the surface with raspberries or other berries, and why not add edible flowers as well? Chill the pots for at least an hour. Serve the cheesecake with coffee, for example.
Sparkling summer drink
Pimm's No.1 is an English liqueur with gin and fruit, which can be mixed with drinks such as lemonade, ginger beer or tonic. The result is Pimm's Cup, a favorite among the British, which is served with fresh mint, cucumber slices, strawberries, and orange or lemon slices.
You can also mix a couple of portions directly into glasses, but it is best prepared in a jug if you are serving it to several guests. Add the ice to the glasses, not the jug, to avoid over-dilution. As for ice and fresh fruit, the more the merrier. Be bold! The drink is supposed to be slightly over the top in terms of its decorations, and fresh ingredients add flavor.
1 part Pimm's No.1 liqueur
3 parts ginger ale or lemonade
cucumber, strawberries, fresh mint and slices of orange or lemon
Pour 1 part of Pimm's liqueur and 3 parts ginger ale or lemonade. Mix. Place ice and sliced cucumber, strawberry and orange or lemon in the glasses. Pour the mixture into the glasses and garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.
Design Stories contributor Suvi Kesäläinen is a photographer, who loves to create dishes that are not only delicious but also fast and easy to make. She’s passionate about the best seasonal ingredients, local food and intriguing culinary trends.
Text and photos: Suvi Kesäläinen