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Friday, 7 June 2013

Not Your Grandma's Potato Salad and National Picnic Week

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National Picnic Week is coming of the week of the 17th to the 23rd of June!  Nobody does picnics better than the British!  When the weather turns nice we just adore packing up a tasty lunch, hopping into the car, or on a bus or a train and high tailing it out and into our stunningly beautiful countryside to enjoy some good food and outdoor delights!

We are a nation of picnic-ers and for the last nine years we have been celebrating our love for the outdoors and outdoor lunches with a National Picnic Week!

A picnic can be as grand or as simple as you desire . . . a moveable feast which pleases all of the senses.   I can remember a picnic when I was a girl which consisted of nothing more than a bread bag filled with peanut butter sandwiches and a thermos filled with coolaid.  (A North American powdered drink which you re-constitute with water, much like the British squash)  A friend and I biked half a day up the South mountain back home and enjoyed our picnic resting on a grassy knoll overlooking a church graveyard.   The sun was hot.  The drinks were refreshing and the sandwiches were every bit at delicious as delicious could be!

Another memorable picnic was one which I enjoyed after I had grown and had a family of my own.  Rained out, we spread a blanket on the floor in the living room, where we enjoyed our sandwiches and treats  and each others company as thunder cracked and lightening light up our big picture window.   It's not so much the food you eat, or the location as it is the company that you keep!  And of course the spirit which you bring to the occasion!

I was recently sent a delightful picnic hamper from Unilever and challenged to come up with a new recipe for the upcoming National Picnic Week!  You know I do love a challenge and I do love picnics so the hardest part for me was narrowing it down to one recipe!

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Let me say first of all the hamper was absolutely gorgeous.  A lovely white wicker basket filled to the brim with an assortment of lever  products . . . Hellman's mayonnaise's, Coleman's sauces, a variety of mustard's and every thing else you could need for a successful picnic . . .

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. . .  a cooler bag to keep your salads cool, plates, salt and pepper shakers, forks, knives, spoons etc.

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In short, everything that anyone could possibly need to take four hungry and adventurous people on a picnic!!

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I can tell you that we will sure be getting good use of this (I'm being optimistic here!  We can't have three bummer summers in a row can we???   I sure hope not!)  We do love a good picnic here at Casa da Rayner!

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The Toddster is a potato fiend!  He just loves potatoes.  I love them too.  In this house it's not a perfect day unless some potatoes are involved and so I decided to create a delicious potato salad to take on our picnic and to help celebrate National Picnic week!

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I love potato salad.  This is something which all too often is done very poorly though . . . over gloppy and cloying . . .  stogged far too full of mayonnaise, with potatoes that are either under cooked and hard . . . or over cooked and falling apart.

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Store bought ready made potato salads are always  a HUGE disappointment to me!  Lacking in flavour, they just never quite reach the mark of what a good potato salad should and can be.

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My salad has a lovely light dressing that is neither cloying or gloppy, flavoured lightly with a touch of horseradish, lemon and dill . . . sweet and oniony spring chives . . . the merest hint of mayonnaise . . .a dollop of extra virgin olive oil . . . the peppiness of mustard cress . . .

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Add to that the delightful crunch and colour of spring beans and petit pois . . . crisp slices of red radishes . . .

In short the perfect picnic potato salad!  I call it Better than Grandma's Potato Salad!  Not because it's better, but because I'm cheeky!   My gran made the best potato salad ever, and so did my mom.   But this is good too, very . . . very good!  Happy National Picnic Week!

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*Better Than Grandma's Potato Salad*
Serves 4 to 5
Much better for you than the mayonnaise laden potato salad of yore, yet still every bit as tasty and healthier with the addition of lots of green vegetable crunch and snap!
2 1/2 pounds of waxy new potatoes, halved or quartered if large
6 large radishes, trimmed and finely sliced
a large handful of fresh chives, finely snipped
1/2 of a punnet of mustard cress, snipped
a large handful of fresh haricot beans, trimmed and cut into two inch lengths
a handful of frozen petit pois, thawed and drained
1 TBS minced fresh dill weed
For the dressing:
2 TBS creamed horseradish
2 TBS good quality mayonnaise
the juice of half a lemon
4 TBS good quality olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the potatoes and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender, adding the green beans during the last five minutes.  Drain well and then tip in to a large salad bowl. Toss in the peas.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour them over the vegetables.  Season with some sea salt and black pepper to taste.  Allow to cool.   Add the radishes, chives and cress, folding together gently.   Serve at room temperature.

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Many thanks to the people at Unilever for sending me this delightful hamper and for challenging me to come up with something new!

Now, get out there and have a picnic!  Go on . . . you know you want to!

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Note:  All artwork and photographs for this post are copyright owned by myself, the artist and photographer. 


  1. Im going to have to celebrate national picnic week with you!! That hamper is GORGEOUS! Stephen bought me a picnic backpack for an anniversary one year. It was like a mini version of your hamper, and I loved it. We didnt get to use it, then gave it to his brother as a wedding present because it was practically new, unused, and we couldn't afford to buy them anything. I miss it. One of these days I want to get a new one, family size! That is by far the prettiest, yummiest looking potato salad I've ever seen! My menfolk probably wouldn't appreciate all the veggies, but I may have to try it anyway :)
    Lots of Love, April

  2. You and T will surely put that beautiful basket to great your art always:-)

  3. Your potato salad looks and sounds delicious! The addition of horseradish surely adds some zip, I bet. The hamper is great, but it will have to warm up a lot here before it's picnic time!

  4. Only to see this Marie Im hungry!! really!
    This potato salad look amazing and love the picnic basket I wanna one!!! have a nice weekend! xoxoxox

  5. This potato salad looks so good, and I'm completely in love with that hamper!

    I would love it if you would link up and share some of your wonderful recipes with my readers on my Foodie Friday Blog Hop! You can share some of your favorite recipes and find some new ones, as well!

    Hope to see you there!

    A Room for Two with a View

  6. The potato salad looks so delicious.

    We got a picnic backpack as a wedding present. Same idea as your basket. Cooler spot for the food and all the plates, glasses, and silverware you need. It make spontaneous picnicing so much easier. All I have to do is throw in the food. It even has a plastic backed blanket.

  7. Marie, You're totally right: there's no other nation who could serve picnic foods better than british! Since I have been living here my favorite in summer is going outside with a picnic basket and enjoy fresh air. Next time I'll try your lovely potatoe salad, it looks gorgeous! I'll love it!


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