Picnic weather is coming! And with the prospect of some restrictions finally easing in the UK, Emily Roux, a Lexus Ambassador and chef at the Caractére restaurant in London’s Notting Hill, has created this fantastic recipe for Cacio e pepe arancini (see below).
Meanwhile Lexus have also come up with some tip top picnic tips.
Lexus Picnic Top Tips
1: Be realistic – Plan carefully and realistically how much food you are likely eat. You don’t want to have to be taking home and potentially wasting any left-overs.
Free(ze) up space for the journey home – Freeze small bottles of water or juice and place them in your cool bag instead of using chiller blocks. This avoids having to carry the blocks home with you.
2: Leave the leaves – Avoid packing beautiful green salads, they tend to wilt during transit. Items such as the sturdy pork pie (recipe link above) will be sure to reach the picnic in one piece.
3: Take your (tooth)pick – For breaded items such as bagels, slice them in half and use toothpicks to hold them together during the journey. This removes the need for taking a knife and chopping board with you.
4: Grease is the word – Use greaseproof paper instead of cling film to wrap the bagels. Cling film tends to make sandwiches soggy, whereas greaseproof paper keeps moisture at bay.
5: Step away from the cookie jar– Items such as cookies will keep for four to five days in an airtight container…unless the temptation to eat them is too strong! So you can make them in advance and, if you don’t trust your willpower, perhaps hide the container until picnic day.
6: Be prepared, it is the UK after all – Even if you look outside on the morning of your picnic and think you have woken up in Greece, always pack an umbrella. This can double up as a parasol if the weather does hold out.
7: Finally, clean up after yourself – Pack items that can be disposed of, and when you’ve finished your picnic, put them in a bin or recycling point; otherwise, pack reusable items and take them home with you. There is still an awful problem with litter in the UK, so make sure you don’t add to the mess.
When asked about her favourite picnic spots, Emily said “I love Richmond Park as it’s local to us, with varied scenery and many different picnic spots to choose from. Diego and I have spent many afternoons there since living in London and we love to sit on Sawyer’s Hill looking at the London skyline. We’ve been really impressed by Dorney Lake, which we’ve never visited until the Lexus picnic shoot, and as lockdown eases we’re looking forward to bringing our one-year old son here.”
Cacio e pepe arancini
These filling, bite-size arancini (Italian rice balls stuffed, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried) are ideal for hungry picnickers – a sandwich on its own never really satisfies. They pack a punch, meaning no extra seasoning or sauce is needed. Buonissimo!
300g of carnaroli rice
70g unsalted butter, diced
80g grated pecorino
50g grated parmesan
2g crushed black peppercorns
(500ml of water to cook the rice)
2 large beaten eggs
4 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs
3 heaped tablespoons of plain white flour
salt, season to taste
(500ml sunflower oil to shallow fry)
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
- Toast the rice in a large saucepan (no need for butter or oil at this stage) stirring continuously until the rice itself is hot. Add a generous pinch of salt followed by the first ladle of water. Keep stirring vigorously. Let the rice absorb the water before adding another ladle full. Cook on a gentle simmer adding more water as and when needed.
- After a total of 18 minutes, all water should be completely absorbed by the rice. Remove the risotto from the heat and vigorously beat in the butter, pecorino, parmesan and peppercorns with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until all ingredients are fully melted and the risotto is sleek and glossy.
- Pour the cooked risotto in a large shallow dish/container and leave to cool (ideally overnight in the fridge).
- When completely cooled and firm use your hands to create and shape small rice balls of 5-6cm in diameter. Once all the rice balls are shaped, put the breading ingredient into three shallow dishes. Then repeatedly dredge each ball in flour, followed by beaten eggs and finally coat in crisp breadcrumb. Extra tips: – A very versatile recipe that can be tweaked for each season (why not try asparagus arancini in spring or fresh peas arancini in summer). – Once breaded you can keep them in the freezer and fry them as and when you need. Perfect for a last-minute adventure.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan. When the oil is nice and hot, shallow fry the arancini balls until crisp and golden brown on the outside. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place on absorbent paper to remove any excess oil.