PUBLISHED: 06:26 06 October 2014
We're beginning six weeks of food and harvest festivals, all celebrating the best of Norfolk's food and farming. These festivities start on August 30 with the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, set in the grounds of Holkham Hall, and bringing together a wonderfully eclectic mix of producers, many from north Norfolk, and some of best chefs from the area.
Hosting the weekend in the courtyard of the hall seems very fitting – a wonderful backdrop which comes with a fascinating history of food and farming, close to the sea, surrounded by beautiful landscape and agricultural land, epitomising that phrase “Grow it, cook it, eat it”, although I would add rear it, create it and catch it too!
Let’s hope for an Indian summer with the opportunity for a few more lovely days out – and with that in mind, here are two picnic recipes I hope you will enjoy.
Stuffed picnic loaf
Best made the night before, this recipe is packed full of roasted vegetables, meat and cheese, though you can vary the filling to include your favourite cooked meats or cheeses or make it purely vegetarian. I used Marsh Pig’s garlic and paprika salami and Fielding Cottage’s Wensum white cheese.
1 crusty round loaf of bread (I used a cob loaf)
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, seeds removed, cut into quarters
2 courgettes, sliced lengthways
1 aubergine, sliced lengthways
12 slices of salami
175g Wensum white cheese
A good handful of basil leaves or rocket leaves
A light rapeseed or olive oil
Salt and pepper
Toss the vegetables in a little oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast them on a shallow roasting tray for 20 minutes until they are soft but not coloured.
Slice the top off the loaf and put to one side. Remove all the soft bread filling, leaving the crust intact, then brush the inside of the loaf with a little oil.
Once the vegetables have cooled, prepare the filling of the loaf with layers of salami, cheese and each of the vegetables, adding a few ripped pieces of basil or rocket leaves between each layer. Repeat the layers until the loaf is full, add the lid, then wrap the loaf tightly in cling film and place in the fridge over night with a weight on the top. Serve, in slices with your picnic.
Brioche sausage roll
Make the brioche dough a good eight hours ahead, so it can be chilled and the butter hardened making it easier to shape and mould. Cook the sausages the day before too, then wrap them in the brioche dough and bake them at the last minute – they may still be warm at your picnic.
500g strong white flour
30g caster sugar
10g dried yeast
15g table fine salt
70ml warm full fat milk
350g butter, slightly softened
Egg wash – 1 egg yolk whisked with a little milk
16 Norfolk pork sausages
The night before:
Put the flour into a mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook. Add sugar and salt to one side of the bowl and dried yeast to the other (mixing them together at this point could stop the yeast working properly).
Pour in the eggs and milk; mix slowly for two minutes then up the speed for a further seven to create a soft, shiny dough. Add the butter, a little at a time, and continue kneading for a further five minutes. Tip the dough into a clean bowl, tightly cover with cling film and chill overnight or for at least eight hours.
I also cook the sausages the night before, until they are just golden brown, then cover them and stand them in the fridge too.
To create the sausage rolls:
Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. In an Aga, cook in the baking oven or in the roasting oven with the grid on the floor of the oven using the cold shelf.
Take your brioche dough from the fridge and knock it back by folding it in on itself several times on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 16 pieces, rolling each into a ball, then flatten into a disc, either by hand or using a rolling pin, big enough to wrap around each sausage. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will become too soft and sticky. Once each sausage is wrapped, leave to rise for an hour on a flat baking tray covered with a tea towel. Once risen, brush with the egg wash and cook for 20 minutes until golden brown.
North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, August 30 and 31; www.northnorfolkfoodfestival.co.uk