LET’S DISH! LET’S TALK ABOUT PICNIC
May 27, 2021
LET’S DISH! LET’S TALK ABOUT PICNIC
By MaryAnn Miano
Let go of everything and let’s go on a picnic! A shared meal eaten al fresco in the open might be the dictionary definition of ‘picnic’, but for some of us its meaning is to be in a carefree state of mind with an easy going approach. . Eating outdoors with friends increases our senses towards the pleasures of eating and makes great memories of summer.
Picnics were a thing in the 18th century, generally frequented by the aristocracy who used the picnic as an opportunity to fill the conversation with spirit. Usually, everyone invited contributed by bringing a dish. Today’s picnic is a respite from the ordinary, an escape from the routine, and can be as simple (or elaborate) as you want. You can create an interesting theme or organize a feast filled with an eclectic mix of cold and hot dishes.
Some basic necessities for a successful picnic include a cooler (which you should keep in a shaded area); refrigerator bags to use for hot or cold foods (hint: freeze juice boxes and use them to keep your food cold, then let the juice thaw as needed); a large thermos for a cold drink; paper tableware with plastic utensils, serving spoons and cups; tablecloths for picnic table and / or old quilted bedspread for the floor; fun outdoor games to play with children; and a garbage bag to dispose of everything neatly. And yes, a cute picnic basket is fun to wear to make the occasion official.
Food can be prepared at the picnic with a portable barbecue. Just be sure to keep meats cold before they’re done. Or prepare as much as you can in advance to make your picnic stress free. Substantial, easy-to-prepare, well-cooked food is the way to go. Head into the woods and follow in the footsteps of Little Red Riding Hood and his picnic basket for his grandmother. It’s International Picnic Day this Friday, June 18. If the following recipes sound easy, they are meant to be. Try them out to make your picnic a fantastic, traditional, fun and memorable one!
COLD CHICKEN VINAIGRETTE
6 whole chicken breasts
3 liters of water
1 onion sprinkled with 2 cloves
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of salt
Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan with the water, clove onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
Skim the foam, replace the lid and simmer until the chicken is fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot. Debon the breasts and remove the skin. Cut the breasts in half to make 12 chicken pieces.
Wrap in foil. The following dressing is poured over the warm chicken just before serving.
4 tablespoons of wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tbsp chopped sour pickle
½ teaspoon of dry mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
Combine all the ingredients and let the sauce sit at room temperature for several hours. Take for picnic in a separate container.
CHEESE NUT BURGERS
1 ½ lb round minced steak (or sirloin)
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
2 tablespoons of ice water
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts
Mix the meat with the Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and ice water. Mix lightly with a fork and add the grated cheese and chopped walnuts. Shape into 6 patties (1/4 lb each), but do not wrap the meat with a heavy hand. The burger should be loose or “soft” enough to breathe. Grill to the desired color and enjoy!