Picnic crudite loaf by Valentine Warner

What to Eat Now - More Please! by Valentine WarnerMost of the dishes in the cookbook What To Eat Now, More Please! (Mitchell Beazley, stg£20) are basically pretty sensible, but I can’t make my mind up about the following recipe – is it actually any use or just a bit too fey?

It’s certainly cute anyway – and, without the loaf idea you have a good basic recipe. And you can always use the discarded bread to make breadcrumbs (freeze until the next time you want to make a stuffing or crumb topping).

“I cannot remember where I saw this dish first”, says Valentine Warner, “But I do recall a sixties-looking book with a sun-bleached dust jacket and the weirdest-coloured food inside.  I thought this ingenious idea should resurface. You’ll need a good, large crusty loaf, not the pale, soft and weedy type that people give to 1-footed pigeons.” Quite.

Serves 2    

1 crusty white tin or farmhouse loaf, a day-old is perfect
4 free-range hard-boiled eggs
assorted vegetables, such as radishes, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery    
sticks and cucumber    


2 large free-range egg yolks
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon caster sugar
11⁄2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
200ml sunflower oil
flaked sea salt and ground black pepper

Place the loaf on its side on a board, then carefully slice off the top and put to one side. Upright the loaf again. Place a knife about 2.5 cm from the outside and cut into the bread down all 4 sides. Pull the bread from inside.
To make the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks, mustard, sugar and vinegar in a high-sided bowl. Whizz with a stick blender while slowly dribbling in the oils together until the mayonnaise thickens and becomes smooth and glossy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a small jam jar and fasten the lid.

Put the jar inside the loaf of bread and add the hard-boiled eggs. Scrub the vegetables and cut into small batons where necessary. Arrange alongside the mayonnaise and eggs. Wrap some sea salt and ground black pepper individually in small envelopes of foil and add to the parcel.
Pop the bread lid back on and secure with a large elastic band or good string, then disappear on your picnic whence you will return with only the empty jar, elastic band and foil. I guarantee your friends will be amazed.

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