Planning The Perfect Picnic

Summer weekends are the perfect opportunity to grab a blanket and a picnic basket and head down to the park – or the beach – for a lazy afternoon in the sun. Whether the weather is typically British or taking a tropical turn, spending some time outdoors with friends and family is enough to make us forget that we have to go back to work on Monday! It’s a simple, chilled out way to spend the day, and it gives you the chance to do whatever you want, especially if that involves lying down and having a little al fresco nap. 

Getting the perfect picnic basket together requires a little bit of imagination, after all, you don’t want to end up with just a pile of soggy ham sandwiches and sausage roles. To plan a picnic that everyone will remember, take a look at our pick of the best easy recipes. They’re simple, fun and will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters! Whether you’re going for a family outing, a romantic afternoon or a full-on picnic party, these are bound to be real crowd pleasers.

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Herb Focaccia Bread

This deliciously soft herb focaccia bread is incredibly moreish, and will leave you wanting to eat it every day of the week! The dough is very sticky at first, but don’t worry, it’ll bake into the perfect picnic bread. Best served with sides of hummus, olives and salami. Enjoy!

For the dough

  • 500g Strong white bread flour 
  • Easy bake yeast sachet (7g)
  • 1tsp Unrefined golden caster sugar 
  • 2tsp Salt
  • 300ml Warm water
  • 50ml Olive oil

For the topping

  • 12 Sage leaves
  • Thyme or oregano sprigs
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • 1tsp Sea salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling

Method

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Mix the water and oil together, then stir in with a cutlery knife. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes. Lightly grease the mixing bowl, put the dough back in it and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size. Push the dough onto an oiled baking tin, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size again. Preheat an oven to gas mark 6, scatter the dough with herbs and sea salt and pressed your fingers into it to make dimples. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for around 30 minutes, until golden.

Foccaccia with Parmesan and Onions on a Wooden Tray

 

Fennel & Parmesan Bread Sticks

These crunchy bread sticks are the perfect picnic snack, and will keep everyone happy and nibbling away all afternoon. They taking a little more effort than regular bread, but trust us, it is definitely worth it.

For the dough

  • 500g Strong white bread flour 
  • Easy bake yeast sachet 
  • 1tsp Unrefined golden caster sugar 
  • 2tsp Salt
  • 300ml Warm water
  • 50ml Olive oil

For the topping

  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 2tbsp Fennel seeds

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Mix the water and oil together, then stir in with a cutlery knife. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes. Lightly grease the mixing bowl, put the dough back in it and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size. Knock back the dough by kneading just five times to get the air out. Pat a quarter of the dough at a time into a rectangle and use a sharp knife to cut it into lots of strips. Roll each strip into a long snake, then place onto a baking sheet and scatter with Parmesan and fennel. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 15 minutes, then bake at gas mark 4 for 12-18 minutes.

bread sticks

 

Bite Size Chicken Fried Steak

It’s not chicken, and it’s not quite steak. It’s chicken fried steak. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing fried steak, then make this as soon as you possibly can. The tastiness will blow your mind.

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb top round cube steak, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon each of: paprika, garlic powder, cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • egg
  • Oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Season the steak cubes generously with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch and spices. Whisk the buttermilk into the flour. This helps create extra crunchy bits. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can skip this step. In another shallow bowl, lightly whisk the egg. Toss the steak cubes into the flour mix, then the whisked egg, then back into the flour. Let floured steak pieces rest on a plate/tray while you heat up your oil – it helps with crunch. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Heat an inch of oil in a high-sided, heavy bottomed pot or skillet over medium high heat until oil reaches 350°F. Fry the steak pieces, being careful not to crowd the pan, until deeply golden brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes, flipping if needed. Drain the steak bites on your prepared rack and keep warm in the oven while you make your gravy.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone’s made chocolate chip cookies, right? But you haven’t made these chocolate chip cookies. They are so sweet and soft, your picnic guests will be fighting each other off to grab the last one!

  • cup unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp medium grain kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces chocolate, chopped
  • Flaky seas salt, to finish

Preheat the oven to 360°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended. Stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate for 5 minutes then roll into 3 tablespoon balls and arrange on the prepared pans, leaving 3 inches between each cookie. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, the move to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Festival Season | An Interview with DJ Denney

Music producer and DJ Denney has been playing all over the world this summer and we managed to grab five minutes of this jet-setters time to ask him a couple of questions about what it’s like to work the festival DJ circuit.

Originally from the North East, Denney is best known for his single Ultraviolet which was released under Hot Creations and reached No.1 in the best selling vinyl chart on Juno. Proving himself to be one of the hardest working names in the industry, Denney first began DJ’ing around clubs in the North East before he became associated with the legendary Back To Basics in Leeds. Having been signed by Steve Lawler’s VIVa Music Label, Denney became a resident DJ at Lawler’s VIVa Warrior party at Sankey’s in Ibiza and was soon working his way around Europe, Australia and the US, this year playing international festivals during the summer months. His style is certainly unique with a blend of house and techno which creates a great party atmosphere perfect for a summer festival. In fact his most recent track ‘Low Frequency’ which was released in February this year has become something of an anthem with the support of regular airplay on Radio 1 and its’ status as a party anthem to get the crowd going.

Naturally we felt compelled to ask Denney a few questions about life on the road what he had to say on this summers’ hottest tunes and hottest shades…Denney 2

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you end up doing what you love as a career?

I’ve actually been DJ’ing for 18 years now and producing music for 12 so it hasn’t been a quick process. A lot of hard work, determination and hundreds of knock backs but keeping positive has finally got to where I am today.

What is your favourite thing about playing festivals and DJ’ing abroad?

I love festivals as they are usually so much fun and I get to play bigger sounding records on the bigger stages. Playing abroad is amazing as I get to see so many incredible places I never thought I would end up in – definitely a perk of the job.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on mixing this years VIVa Warriors compilation, its been a big project as all the tracks on it are exclusive for the album so have spent the last few months searching for them and have nailed it down to 13 wicked ones which I’m really happy about. Alongside that, I’m working on some new music and a couple of collaboration projects –  I can’t say too much about right now but watch this space.

Of all the places you have visited as a DJ and producer, which has been your favourite and why?

Burning Man as it is like nowhere on earth;  it is literally like being on another planet. I can’t wait to go back next year!Denney 4

What project or collaboration have you enjoyed the most?

I actually really enjoyed remixing a track for Maxi Jazz from Faithless, the track went under the radar a bit but I think it’s one of the best I’ve done.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I would have to say all the success with my track Low Frequency has taken things to another level for me which is amazing.

Who would you love to work with or what would you most like to do in the future?

I’d love to do a film score further down the line; it’s something I have always been interested in doing.

What kind of tracks get people going during a set?

Depends where you play but as long as the groove is good, people will move.

What are your Top Five Tracks for Summer 2015?

Denney  – Low Frequency (Detlef Remix)
Tim Weeks – Trapped
Monday Club – Kanpipe
Jordan – So High (Acid Dub)
The Mekanism – Acid Love

What shades from Red Hot Sunglasses will you be wearing this year?

The Cazal legend 650s and I absolutely love them!

SHOP
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What are your top five summer tracks for summer 2015?
Tell us in the comments below!

The Red Hot Guide to Alternative Travel

Europe is a well-traveled road for many of us, and often when we think of taking a city break or a sunny getaway the first places we think of are Paris, Venice and Barcelona. These are all fantastic destinations, filled with fascinating historical and cultural exhibits, delicious foods to try and enough beautiful views to block up your Instagram feed. But if you’re looking for something a little of the beaten path, something with just as much history, culture and beauty, but a bit less Pinterest coverage, we’ve got just the thing for you. 

Alternative travel destination are getting harder and harder to come by, what with social media increasing our knowledge of just about every corner of the globe, but there are still a few big cities in Europe that are often overlooked. Whether because of their lack of English-speaking shops or their failure to reach international fame for a monument, these places have been hugely underestimated by most of us, and that might actually be a good thing.

It isn’t often that you’re able to explore somewhere completely new to you anymore, that you haven’t seen a million photos of online and that – crucially – hasn’t become a cliche yet, but it is still possible. Europe is so special because of its hugely contrasting cultures and landscapes, many of which going unseen by those of us who stick to the more mainstream choices. So take a look at our three favourite alternative travel destinations in Europe and get planning your next trip!

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Istanbul

For anyone who doesn’t know, Istanbul is located in the north of Turkey, near to the borders of Bulgaria and Greece. It is known around the world as the meeting place of the east and the west, and this is evident in its architecture, culture and amazing selection of markets. The locals are said to have an endless supply of hospitality, good-humour and insightful conversation at their disposal, and the skyline is one of the most beautiful in the world. The famous churches and palaces are adorned with with mosaics and frescoes, and equally beautiful mosaic creations are available to purchase all over the city.

The city’s cuisine is as diverse as its heritage, including kebaps, mezes and freshly caught fish, alongside fusion cuisine and even classic Italian restaurants. Be sure to grab some street food for lunch, as this really is your best chance to try out to local delicacies. The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern are absolute must-sees, and of course the Grand Bazaar cannot be missed. Just make sure you have lots of spare room in your suitcase for all of the beautiful souvenirs you’ll want to bring back!

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Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is located at the south edge of Croatia, and is bordered by both Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. In latitudinal terms it is just above Rome, Italy, so it gets decently hot in the summer! Dubrovnik is a coastal city, and is known for its beautiful ocean bays and clear water, but it often overlooked by those searching for the perfect beach holiday. If you’re looking for some time to relax by the shore and take a dip in the sea, book an apartment outside of the city in one of the quiet bays along the coast. From there you can take the bus into town whenever you like and explore the incredible architecture of the Old Town.

The curiously named Cathedral of Assumption is a must-see, as it embodies the historical essence of Dubrovnik and highlights its cultural beauty. You can also take a trip up into the hills on a cable car, go on a snorkeling trip and go on a Game of Thrones tour to check out some of the filming locations! There’s so much to do in this beautiful city, you might just about have time to try the delicious local fish dishes, which are served at the many harbour-side restaurants near the Old Town.

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Budapest

 Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, located close to the borders of Slovakia and Austria and bisected by the River Danube. The Chain Bridge, which was constructed in the 19th century, joins the hilly district of Buda to the flat area Pest, with the former being well known for its historic Old Town. The Royal Palace and Szechenyi Baths are at the top of our sight-seeing list, and there are far too many Basicilas and Synagogues toe even list! Needless to say, the architecture is stunning.

If you’d like to travel about a bit while you’re in the area, you can take a day trip to nearby Vienna, where you can sample a different kind of culture altogether. And if you want to unwind, be sure to take a trip to the famous thermal baths or try out a local day spa. With so much to see, you could get lost in this fascinating city for days. It’s the perfect way to beat the crowds, as well as the hefty price tag, so what are you waiting for? Better start booking your alternative travel adventure now!

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