Using Herbs on a Picnic

Gammon Cooked in Cider and Sage

3 lb gammon
2 pints cider
6-8 cloves, plus extra for decoration
bouquet garni (A bundle of parsley stems, dried thyme and a large bay leaf, tied
together and left to float freely in broth, stock or sauce)
1 tbsp sage, dried
2 tbsp brown sugar

Soak the gammon overnight to reduce its saltiness. Place the gammon in a large saucepan, add the cider to cover, plus the cloves, sage and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 1 1/4 hours, turning the meat occasionally. When the gammon is cooked, strip off the skin but leave a layer of fat. Place the joint in a roasting pan, score a diamond pattern over it and decorate with brown sugar and more cloves. Bake in a hot oven 425ºF for 15-20 minutes until the outside is brown and crispy.

Chicken with Mango and Mint

1 large 3-4 lb roasting chicken
handful of fresh mint
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp mango puree
1 tbsp mango chutney
1 tbsp whipped cream
1 tbsp fresh mint

Place the cleaned chicken in a roasting pan and add 1-1 1/2 inch of water around the bird. Place some fresh mint in the water and in the cavity of the chicken. Roast in a hot oven 425ºF for about one hour or until a skewer pushed into the flesh leaves a trail of clear liquid. Leave to cool, then cut the flesh from the bones and chop roughly. Mix all the other ingredients in a food processor and, once the chicken is cool, mix into the mango mayonnaise. Pack into a shallow dish and garnish with pieces of mango or sprigs of mint.

Tarragon Fish with Avocado

1 1/2 lb cod or haddock fillets
1 large ripe avocado
lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
melted butter
tarragon for garnish
24 sheets filo pastry

Remove all the skin and bones from the fillets and cut into 12 strips. Cut the avocado into 12 wedges and sprinkle both the fish and avocado with lemon juice before placing on separate plates. Brush one sheet of filo pastry with melted butter and place a second on top. Fold them in half and butter the top, then place two strips of fish and two of avocado in the corner, sprinkle with a little tarragon and fold the pastry over, fold in the sides and brush with butter. Finish wrapping the parcel and place it on a greased baking sheet with the join side down. Wrap the other five parcels in the same way and cook at 325ºF for 18-20 minutes.

Scotch Eggs with Sage

5 eggs
1 oz plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz pork sausage meat
2 oz wholemeal breadcrumbs, toasted
1/2 tsp dried sage

Hard-boil four of the eggs and leave to cool in cold water. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Work the dried sage into the sausagemeat, then divide into four. Using a floured board, work each piece into a circle large enough to cover an egg. Lightly dust the eggs with the seasoned flour, then place one egg in the center of each piece of sausagemeat. Mold the sausagemeat around the eggs and then pinch the edges to seal them firmly together.

Beat the remaining egg and use it to coat the Scotch eggs, then roll them in breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the Scotch eggs for about eight minutes until crisp and brown. Leave to cool.

Packing the Picnic Hamper

There are many other possibilities that you could include in a presentation hamper. Apart from the meat suggestions here, you could add jars of pickles and jellies. Giving a mixture of goodies that the recipient will like best is the main aim. You could also add some non-food herbal ideas, such as a small tussie-mussie or some herbal teas.

Really beautiful hampers can be hard to find, so a large basket could be used instead or even a big cardboard box covered in an attractive paper or some cotton fabric. Add plenty of ribbon and large labels for a really extravagant effect and what will be a very memorable present.

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About The Author, Carol J Miller
The author operates a retail and wholesale website for home and garden products and ideas at