Table of Contents
- Plan your location
- Time it right
- Be creative
- Food for thought
- Be handy with the sanitiser
- Play hard
- Keep it clean
- Save the date
- Alex Hollywood’s Sticky Wings & Drumsticks
- Ken Hom’s ten-Minute Salmon
- Kwoklyn Wan’s Pancake Rolls
- GBBO star Laura Adlington’s Biscuit Fudge Brownies
- How to get your Metro newspaper fix
Ainsley Harriott and Jo Brand support The Big Lunch, the UK’s annual celebration of community (Picture: The Big Lunch)
Gone are the days when you could live in a street without getting to know your neighbours.
But one upside of the pandemic is that community ties have strengthened, with millions of people telling a One Poll survey they now feeling more in touch with their neighbours than they did a year ago.
As socially safe get-togethers become the new normal, The Big Lunch — the UK’s annual celebration of neighbours and community — is encouraging everyone to share a snack, meal or drink together on the front doorstep, across a fence, in a park or in the garden, over the course of a month from Saturday.
‘I believe in the power of getting together to talk,’ says comedian and Big Lunch supporter Jo Brand.
‘This year, more than ever, it feels so important to stay connected to the people around us.
‘If you are feeling nervous about jumpstarting your post-pandemic social life, The Big Lunch is the perfect excuse to step outside for a natter without having to change out of your slippers.
Comedian Jo Brand says The Big Lunch is all about staying connected to your neighbours (Picture: The Big Lunch)
‘A recent survey found that more than 12million of us feel closer to our neighbours than we did before the pandemic, so what better way to celebrate that friendship than by having a socially safe bite to eat together.’
East Londoner Sarah Boniface has taken part in the event for seven years. ‘In previous years, we have held it in our local park with hundreds of people,’ she says.
‘This year, we’re planning smaller groups on the street and in gardens so we can stay safe.’
According to the One Poll survey, one quarter of the UK population recognise the importance of strong neighbourly ties, with 23% alking to their neighbours more now.
Sarah Boniface is an experienced Big Luncher (Picture: The Big Lunch)
However, with 64% of people worried about visiting crowded places, a park picnic, garden barbecue or drink on the doorstep is the perfect first move back to socialising.
Ready to host your own? Here are Sarah Boniface’s top tips for socially safe get-togethers….
Plan your location
Choose an outdoor space with room to spread out like a garden, common or your street.
Have a few tables rather than one, or spread out on large blankets. Keep to recommended numbers and safe distances.
Time it right
If you don’t have a garden or drive, choose a less busy time at the park to avoid crowds.
Create a welcoming setting with colourful homemade decorations. Drape bunting across fences or hedges and decorate nearby trees. Use ribbons or fabric to create zones for people to stay in socially safe groups.
Food for thought
Minimise self-serving options and individually wrap food portions. Put finger food such as sausage rolls, fairy cakes and tarts into paper bags or make pre-packed lunches in decorated party bags.
Encourage people to bring their own food, drinks, cutlery and plates — minimising waste as well as contact.
Be handy with the sanitiser
Stock up on enough hand sanitiser and paper towels for your group.
Non-contact games made a comeback during lockdown so grab some chalk and draw a hopscotch on your drive, play musical statues or make a washing line limbo. It’s fun for kids and a great icebreaker.
Keep it clean
Don’t leave anything behind if you’re in a public space, clean up and take your rubbish home.
Save the date
Pick a Big Lunch date between June 5 and July 4 and let your neighbours know so you can celebrate with the community that supported you through lockdown.
Wondering what to cook for your neighbours? Try these chef approved recipes…
Alex Hollywood’s Sticky Wings & Drumsticks
(Picture: Dan Jones)
- 800g chicken drumsticks
- 450g chicken wings
- 250ml tomato ketchup
- 150ml maple syrup
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- Juice of one small lime or lemon
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 2 tbsp sesame oil or olive oil
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger or a splash of orange juice
- Salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas mark 5.
2. Skin the drumsticks and place them in an ovenproof dish with the wings.
3. Put all the remaining ingredients into a bowl, season generously and mix well. Pour the mixture over the chicken pieces and mix thoroughly.
4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, basting a couple of times. Serve hot or cold.
My Busy Kitchen by Alex Hollywood, £25, published by Hodder & Stoughton, hodder.co.uk
Ken Hom’s ten-Minute Salmon
(Picture: Ken Hom’s 100 Easy Chinese Suppers)
- 450g fresh salmon fillets
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground white or black pepper
- 6 tbsp coarsely chopped spring onions
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1½ tbsp groundnut oil
- 2 tsp sesame oil
1. Rub the salmon fillets with half the salt and the pepper. Bring 600ml of water to a simmer in a frying pan. Add the salmon, simmer for 2-3 minutes, cover tightly and turn off the heat. Let stand for 8 minutes.
2. To make the sauce, combine the spring onions, ginger and remaining salt in a small bowl. In a small pan, combine the oils and heat to smoking point.
3. Remove the salmon from the water and place on a plate. Scatter over the spring onion mixture then pour the hot oils over and serve.
Recipe courtesy of BBC Books
Kwoklyn Wan’s Pancake Rolls
(Picture: Sam Folan)
- 300g beansprouts
- 6 baby corn, quartered lengthways
- 30g bamboo shoots, roughly chopped
- 1 cup shredded char siu pork
- 8 x 22cm spring roll wrappers (defrosted)
- Oil for frying
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp sugar
1. Place a wok over a high heat until hot. Add 1 tbsp of oil along with the beansprouts and stir fry for 1 minute before adding the baby corn and bamboo shoots. Stir fry for a further minute before adding the pork, soy sauce, salt, pepper and sugar.
2. Continue to cook for a few minutes until everything is well combined and cooked through. Place a colander over a large bowl and tip the mixture in to drain and cool.
3. Once the mixture is cool, place a spring roll wrapper on a board with one corner pointing towards you and brush the edges with water. Spoon 2-3 generous tablespoons of mixture into the centre of the wrapper. Fold the bottom corner up over the filling, fold the side corners in to enclose the filling and create a large fat sausage shape, then roll towards the final corner. Use a little water to seal the wrapper. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
4. Pour enough oil into a deep-sided wok so that once the pancake rolls are added they can float. Heat the oil to 170ºC and cook the spring rolls two at a time for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the rolls from the oil and place on a wire rack or a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve hot.
GBBO star Laura Adlington’s Biscuit Fudge Brownies
(Picture: Laura Adlington/ @laura.adlington)
- 165g unsalted butter
- 200g dark chocolate (70 per cent)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 165g soft light brown sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
- Generous pinch of salt
- 2 x 154g packs of Oreos
- 100g milk chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 170ºC. Grease a 20cm square tin with butter and line with baking paper.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in 20 second blasts in the microwave, stirring vigorously in between, until it’s just melted.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy.
4. Pour the chocolate/butter mixture down the inside of the bowl with the eggs and sugar in it and stir carefully to combine.
5. Sieve in the flour, cocoa powder and salt and add chocolate chips. Crush both packs of Oreos and add ¾ to the mixture, reserving the last ¼.
6. Pour the mix into the tin, sprinkle with the remaining crushed Oreos, pressing them in slightly, and bake for 25-28 minutes depending on how fudgey you like them. The middle should wobble slightly when you get it out.
7. Let the brownies cool to room temperature in the tin and then place in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill. Remove from fridge, cut into squares and enjoy!
The Big Lunch is supported by the National Lottery and Iceland Foods. Visit the Big Lunch website to get involved.
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