Paris Picnic Club

Every Friday in a small town tucked into the hillsides south of Paris, friends Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt ran a picnic club from a tiny apartment. Finding their simple formula of a sandwich, dessert and a drink (all made from scratch) proved popular, the pair soon moved to Paris and began sending out delicious picnics all over town from parks to private homes, introducing a supper club series too.

This cookbook shares the recipes of the Paris Picnic Club. With a charming, home-made feel, the book is illustrated by Jennie herself, and the small plates, sharing platters, tartines, drinks and desserts are just the sort of thing you fancy cooking at home. Unlike many French cookbooks that focus on predominantly French flavours, this book brings together the sort of diverse, international cuisine you find in Paris, so you’ll find a recipe for spring asparagus with Valençay cheese alongside eggplant katsu with quick-pickled vegetables. And drinks to go with them like home-made rhubarb and blood orange cordial and peach and rosemary syrup.

But the highlight has to be the desserts section where Parisian patisseries and cakes are given a spin. There are tonka brown butter madeleines, vanilla milk cake with tuberose ganache and numerous noisette ideas that are all very tempting. This recipe for Rasperry and Geranium Tart is of-the-moment:

Raspberry and Geranium Tart

We really enjoy infusing our creams with herbs that add an unexpected, delicate perfume to the dessert. At first glance this tart looks like an ordinary raspberry tart, but after one bite you’ll know that it is a twist on the classic recipe, made with French crème pâtissière. We start the process of making the pastry cream the night before, by infusing the milk with rose geranium leaves. After we’ve chilled the pastry cream, we then fold in some whipped cream for a lighter texture. Serves 6-8.

1 home-made or ready-roll Sweet Pastry Dough

240g whole milk

3-4 geranium leaves

3 egg yolks

17g cornstarch

120g whipping cream

15g unsalted butter

225g raspberries

Sweet Pastry Tart 

Pre-heat the oven to 170°CFlour a work surface generously and roll the dough out to a thickness of 3mm and a diameter of about 9-10 inches. Line an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with the dough. Prick the dough with a fork and trim off any excess dough that may be hanging over the sides of the pan. Chill for 10 minutes in the freezer. Remove the pan from the freezer, line it with parchment paper, and then fill the bottom with pie weights. Bake the tart in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and the paper and bake the tart for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before filling.

Geranium Pastry Cream

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a boil with the geranium leaves, then turn off the heat and cover with a plastic wrap. Let the geranium leaves steep in the milk overnight in the fridge. The next morning, bring the milk back to a simmer while you prepare the egg yolks.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture lightens in colour. Then add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth.

Discard the geranium leaves and pour the hot milk into the bowl over the egg yolk mixture, as you continue to whisk. Add all of the milk, making sure it’s evenly mixed. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and this as you cook it over a medium heat.

Keep cooking until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Don’t worry, the yolks will not scramble and separate. Cook until it has thickened and is smooth and shiny. Pour this German Pastry Cream into a clean bowl and stir in the butter until it has melted into the cream.

Cover the cream with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface. Chill thoroughly – at least 2-3 hours – before proceeding. Once chilled, pass the cream through a fine sieve, pushing it through with a plastic scraper to be sure it is free of lumps.

In another bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream gently to lighten its texture and colour.

Spread the vanilla pastry cream into the cooled tart shell and place the raspberries in concentric circles, starting from the outside. Serve.


Paris Picnic Club by Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt
— Daisy Allsup
6th June 2018