Three perfect picnic recipes from Emily Roux: Arancini, home-made bagels and chocolate cookies

Emily Roux's picnic recipes are as good as you'd expect from the latest culinary star from an extraordinary family.

It’s hard to imagine growing up with the surname ‘Roux’ and not becoming a chef, so it’s not much of a surprise to learn that Emily Roux is following in the footsteps of her grandfather and father, Michel Roux and Michel Roux Jr.

Emily is co-owner of the Caractère restaurant in Notting Hill, though these recipes are more about a wonderful family picnic than swish dining: she’s put them together with Lexus, along with a few warnings about common picnic pitfalls.

It’s easy to take too much — you don’t want to waste food or have to bring it back home. Similarly, packing your food with your almost-freezer-cold drinks avoids the need to pack (and carry) ice packs in your cool box. Avoid salads — the leaves will wilt en-route, leading to a limply disappointing salad. And finally, wrap things in greaseproof paper rather than clingfilm — especially sandwiches. That’ll keep them fresh and tasty rather than sweaty and soggy.

With those tips ticked off, here are Emily’s suggested recipes for arancini (aka Italian breaded rice balls), home-made bagels with cured smoked salmon, and a delicious chocolate cookie recipe so good that you’ll be wanting to make them for more than just picnics.

Recipe: Cacio e pepe arancini

These rice balls are incredibly versatile and work well with seasonal ingredients — asparagus in spring, for example, or fresh garden peas in summer. The can also be prepared and frozen, then fried when needed.

Ingredients

Makes 15

  • 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

 

Method

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.

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.


Recipe: Home-made bagels with cured salmon and wasabi cream

Makes 10

For the bagels:

  • 7g of dried yeast
  • 4 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoons of fine salt
  • 450g of bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • Poppy or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

For the salmon:

  • 500g fillet of salmon
  • 130g of sea salt
  • 180g of demerara sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seeds
  • ½ a lemon zested
  • ½ a lime zested
  • ½ an orange zested
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed white peppercorn

For the wasabi cream:

  • 200ml crème fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon of wasabi paste
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Salt (season to taste)

Method

To make the bagels:

Mix the yeast with 300ml lukewarm water (approx. 40C) and let it sit for five minutes or until completely dissolved. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix together, creating a well in the centre. Then pour over the yeasty liquid and mix into a rough dough. Tip out onto the work surface and knead continuously until smooth and elastic. This can take up to 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Set aside for one hour in a warm area until the dough has doubled in volume. Then tip back onto your work surface and form 10 equal sized balls.

Separate them up on two parchment-lined baking trays and cover with a lightly oiled cling film. Set aside for a further 30 minutes until risen. Use a floured finger to make a hole in the centre of each bagel, swirling it around to stretch the dough a little. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan).

Fill a large saucepan with water and bicarbonate before bringing to the boil. Place one or two of the bagels in the water at a time and boil for two minutes, turning over halfway through.

Carefully lift out the bagels and drain well. Sprinkle the topping of your choice. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the cured salmon:

Mix all the ingredients except the salmon in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture onto a flat tray and place the salmon fillet on top with the skinside up.

Evenly sprinkle the remaining salt-sugar mixture over the salmon and marinate for eight to 10 hours (depending on the thickness of the fillet) in the fridge.

Once the salmon is cured, wash the mixture off with cold water and pat dry. Slice as and when needed.

To make the wasabi:

Whisk the crème fraiche, lemon juice and wasabi paste together. Season to taste with a pinch of salt.


Recipe: Chocolate cookies

Ingredients

Makes 10

  • 200g chopped dark chocolate 70%
  • 125g unsalted butter, diced
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 90g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C (170°C fan). Place the butter and chocolate into a bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Allow to melt, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside until it reaches room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whisk together the eggs and sugars, for at least two minutes. Once the eggs have doubled in volume and lightened in colour pour in the chocolate mixture.

Finally, mix all the dry ingredients together, use your spatula to make sure everything is evenly combined. Use a spoon or piping bag to place the cookie mix onto baking trays. Make sure to leave plenty of space between each cookie as they tend to spread.

Bake for 12 minutes. When removed from the oven the cookies will be soft so allow them to cool on the trays before removing.