Picnic Season

By Andrew Quigley

Jan 12, 2022

Picnic Season

Praise the lord.

It's finally eat-outside weather (just as we're allowed to eat inside but we'll just ignore that for the moment shall we?).

OK, you're eating a picnic out on the grass. How are you sitting? Do you:

  1. a) Go formal, cross-legged, risk food dropping into your lap?
  2. b) Lie on your side like a greek Goddess dropping food into your mouth?
  3. c) Go on your stomach, getting your face right near the action but risk the eventual lower back strain?
  4. d) Not worry about any of the above because you're clearly not a weirdo like me...


Just asking.

This week's tip: Easy Greasy

from Thomas Frake, winner of Masterchef 2020


Don't have a non-stick pan at home? Does fish stick like glue when you try to get a lovely crispy skin?

As a chef, you often don't want non-stick. It's the sticky, caramelised brown stuff on the base of your pan that gives lots of food its flavour.

But sometimes you really don't want stuff to stick, like frying a bit of fish. Cut out a sheet of greaseproof paper and put in the base of your frying pan. Splash of oil, and then cook on top of the greaseproof. Don't worry - it won't set alight or burn! (although please don't come after me if it does...).

This week's recipe: Sweet parsnip tart

from James Knappett, 2 Michelin Star genius behind Kitchen Table


Sometimes it can be really fun to take a vegetable and use it in unexpected ways. There's nothing to say the parsnip can only be served roasted in gravy. It's sweet, complex, and works amazingly in dessert.

It's not parsnip season in the UK yet, but you can normally get them from your supermarket all year round. This looks daunting - but give it a go! You won't be disappointed.

​Serves 4

  • 150g grated parsnip (leaving out the cores)
  • 150g honey
  • Half a tsp ground ginger
  • 50ml double cream
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Pinch salt
  • Egg

You'll also need

  • Greaseproof paper
  • Small tart case (12cm ish)

  1. Preheat the oven to 140 (fan)
  2. Add the first 6 ingredients to a saucepan, and cook on a medium heat for 10-15 mins, stirring gently.
  3. Once the mixture has completely absorbed the liquid and turned golden, take off the heat and leave to cool. Once it's just warm to the touch, add an egg and gently mix in. Don't go in hot or it'll scramble.
  4. Line a small tart case (approx 12cm diameter) with baking parchment, and spoon the mixture in. Put into the oven at 140 for 30 mins. After 30 mins, turn the heat up to 180 and cook for another 30 mins.
  5. Let cool, and serve with cold custard. We also like a cheeky pear compote - dead easy, just fry in butter until soft and then give 'em a mash!

Your questions answered

by Tom Booton, Rising Star & Head Chef of the Grill at the Dorchester

"What wine should I buy for cooking? I normally just reach for the cheapest one...am I doing it right?" from Jeff


Jeff, never feel bad about reaching for the cheapest wine. In fact, we should all aim to be more Jeff.

When cooking with wine, you can't go too wrong. The 2 questions you have to ask is what this wine is known for, and do you want that flavour in your food? The price doesn't really make any difference.

For example, Riesling is known for being a sweet white wine - so for a lot of savoury dishes, you don't want that sugar hit. Pinot Grigio on the other hand is a crisp, dry all-rounder which is perfect for most dishes.

For red wines, avoid anything too acidic as it'll give unwanted bitterness (e.g. shiraz, syrah). Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect - tasty, full-bodied, and not too sweet. For lighter sauces, go Pinot Noir.

Or, you know, you could just choose your favourite and treat yourself to a glass as you cook.

This week's recommendation

This week I am talking you through part three of our extremely nerdy knife guide. So, you now know the difference between honing vs. sharpening, and you've mastered the basics of honing a knife. 

It's now time for the main-event... sharpening! This is when we are forging a new sharp edge. You'll want to do this a couple of times a year (more if you use them daily) to keep your knives really sharp. You've got a couple of options here:


  1. Use an electric or manual sharpener. These are those little gadgets that you run your knife through and it sharpens them for you. 

Good for cheap knives, but best avoided for more expensive ones! They remove a lot of material from your edge. Over time, this will make your knife unbalanced and the edge they create is never the sharpest.


  1. Use a wet stone. This is my preferred option as it removes the least amount of material. The legend that is Kenji Lopez-Alt, gives a good overview of using a wet stone in this video.


  1. If you can't be arsed with any of that, just send it to a professional! Give it a Google, there will be plenty in your area.

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