If you’re looking forward to weekends stretched out in the sunshine, enjoying good food and good company, Ali Ray has picked Brontë Falls in West Yorkshire as one of the best places in Great Britain to enjoy a romantic picnic.

Ali has created an assortment of delicious recipes that are perfect for a first date or if you just fancy making a special effort for a loved one.

Strawberry Tarts
Makes 8
375g pack all-butter sweet shortcrust pastry
4 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
25g plain flour
2 tsp cornflour
250ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
8 strawberries
To make the crème pâtissière, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it is glossy and slightly foamy. Sift in the plain and corn flours and whisk again.
Separately, heat the milk and vanilla essence in a small saucepan. Stir it continuously to stop it burning, turn the heat down and add the egg mixture. Continue to stir whilst it is on the heat until the sauce start to thicken a little. Take it off the heat and continue to stir for another 30 seconds to make sure the sauce is thoroughly silky. Pour in a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan 170C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
Put the pastry on a floured surface and push it down with your hand to flatten a little. Place some cling film over the top and roll it out to 0.5 cm thick. Cut out rounds and put them in a lightly floured tart tray.
Put the tart tray in the freezer (or the fridge) for 15 minutes to firm up the pastry. Line each case with a circle of baking parchment and pour in some rice or baking beans. Put the tray in the oven for 15 minutes. Take it out, remove the beans and the baking parchment and pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. By this time they will be turning a little golden in colour and be nice and crisp. Leave them to cool completely.
When the pastry cases and the custard are cold, spoon the custard into each of the pastry cases, enough to fill them up. Cut the strawberries to look like hearts and decorate the tops.

Finger Lickin’ Prawns
Serves 2
1 tsp butter
2 tbsp oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeds left in and finely chopped
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
10 large raw king prawns, shells on, heads removed
Juice of 1 lemon, plus a few slices
Salt and black pepper
½ small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
For the dip
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco or pinch of cayenne pepper
Melt the butter and oil together in a frying pan.
Add the garlic, chilli and paprika and fry for one to two minutes on a medium heat, then turn up the heat and toss in the prawns.
Fry them for a few minutes, adding the juice of half of the lemon. Keep stirring, until all the prawns turn pink. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and pour the remaining half of the lemon juice and the parsley over the top. Let them cool a little and put in the fridge until you need them.
To make the dip, vigorously combine all of the dip ingredients together and decant into a small pot with a lid. Keep it in the fridge until you need it.
Don’t forget to take a bottle of water and a bowl for washing your hands.

Orzo Primavara Salad
Serves 2
200g orzo pasta
150g courgette
300g fresh broad beans in their shells, or approx. 80g podded
150g frozen peas
100g asparagus, cut into 3cm lengths
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
A handful of parmesan shavings (optional)
For the dressing
1 tsp unwaxed lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
½ garlic clove, finely grated
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

Cook the orzo according to packet instructions. Turn off the heat and immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Add a teaspoon of olive or rapeseed oil and stir it through to prevent it sticking together. Tip into the bowl or tub you are going to transport it in, keep the lid off and allow to cool.
Cut the courgette into bite-sized pieces, then blanch them with the broad beans, peas and asparagus by tipping them into a pan of salted boiling water (a sprinkle of salt is enough), and letting them boil for three minutes, no more. Drain immediately and plunge the vegetables into a bowl of cold water. Add a few ice cubes, if possible. This stops them cooking and keeps their shape. Once they are cool, drain the vegetables and put to one side.
In a small bowl whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
Now assemble your salad, adding two tablespoons of dressing to the orzo and tossing it all together, next add the vegetables and add the rest of the dressing (according to your taste) and toss it again.
Add the fresh mint, parsley and the shavings of parmesan cheese (if using) and give it a final gentle mix.
Put the lid on and pack in a cool bag.

The Picnic Book: Making Marvellous Feasts for Marvellous Places by Ali Ray £14.99.

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