Here’s my entry for this week’s challenge–or I should say, entries. I decided to make an entire menu. The picnic basket featured is actually a backpack, with shoulder straps so you can wear it on your bike in search of the perfect place. So I kept the menu to a minimum.
MENU for a picnic
Goat cheese and dried tomato tarte
Fried chicken goujons
Cucumber and sour cream salad
Goat cheese and dried tomato tarte:
Ingredients: prepared puff pastry, slightly aged goat cheese (log type), softened dried tomatoes, eggs, milk, s&p
Preparation: lightly oil a small pie pan and fit the pastry to it, trimming off excess; prick the bottom of the pastry and blind bake for 8 minutes in a 200°C oven; meanwhile whisk together the eggs, milk and salt and pepper; remove the pastry from the oven and gently press down any puffing; cut 1 or 2 dried tomatoes (you can buy them soft but if you didn’t, soften them in hot water before using) and press them lightly into the bottom crust; pour over the egg/milk combination and set enough slices of goat cheese on top to fit; decorate with remaining tomato pieces; return to oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the egg mixture has puffed up and a toothpick comes out clean; cool before eating.
Fried chicken goujons
Ingredients: chicken breasts, milk, flour, cooking oil, s&p.
Preparation: cut the chicken into strips and soak in a bowl of milk for 10 minutes; dredge them in flour till well coated; fry in deepish oil until golden brown; remove to a paper towel to drain: salt and pepper to taste (serve with a wedge of lemon if desired).
Cucumber and sour cream salad
Ingredients: fresh, firm cucumber with glossy green skin, sour cream, dill.
Preparation: without removing the dark green skin, slice cukes as thinly as possible, using either a vegetable peeler or mandoline; place them in a colander and sprinkle lightly with table salt, leave to drain for about 30 minutes; squeeze the cukes by hand to remove excess water and place in a bowl; add sour cream and dill and stir gently until well mixed.
Serve the fresh strawberries exactly as they are.
Picnic recipe. Another leftovers recipe. I made a roast duck today and with the extra, I used 200 gms of the cleaned meat, 4tbsp of the duck fat and cooked up 100 gms of pork sausage leftover in the fridge. I put them all in the kitchen aid until smooth, spread on my homemade multi-cereal bread toasted in the oven with a few drops of my EVOO on top. It is obvious by the presentation there is a woman about the house at present :). It went well with my red which is 75% Montepulciano and 25% Syrah with no oak aging.
I make this all the time for BBQs and Picnics. I just love Cole Slaw. It is basic simple and so yummy.
About 6 cups of white & red cabbage
3 large carrots
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon of white sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
Shredding the cabbage and carrots. in a bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Pour over the cabbage and carrots. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Some variations: Add crumbled bacon, raisins, cooked farro, rice, or nuts.
I decided to use some of the vegetables I bought at the market this morning and make a quinoa salad for lunch today, and I think it would make a great picnic food item. If you can’t get a hold of quinoa you can use rice, couscous, farro, etc. This serves 2.
2 cups vegetable broth (I cheat and use broth cubes)
1 cup quinoa
1 bell pepper, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
3 or 4 radishes, sliced
1 tropea (red) onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
dash salt and pepper, to taste
I generally use one part quinoa to two parts water, but in any event, follow the instructions on your package of quinoa. Cook the quinoa in vegetable broth (once the boils, turn down the heat to simmer it) until it fluffs up, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the quinoa is cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cool the quinoa a bit and toss with the vegetables and olive oil/lemon juice mix, stirring to combine well. Chill before serving.
The picnics I remember were the one’s my mother put together for eating on the side of the road on our trips to the Transkei, South Africa back in the sixties. It was close to an 8 hour trip and we would stop around noon for cold chicken, “Perks” steak pies, pasta salad and Scotch eggs washed down with home made lemonade. The Scotch eggs were my favorite….
As many hard boiled eggs as there are people. Wrap each egg in home made sausage meat, then roll in breadcrumbs and fry in about 1/2 inch of vegetable or olive oil until golden brown all over and sausage meat cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Split in half to serve at room temperature, with salt & pepper and HP sauce for dipping.
I had no idea what I’d do with Parmigiano Reggiano for this challenge, so I took to searching on the internet like anyone would do. I wound up straight at the source – http://www.parmigiano-reggiano.it/ and found a very simple recipe using fennel. I altered it a bit to my liking; for example, I didn’t feel the recipe called for enough cheese.
1 medium fennel bulb
a knob of butter
a good handful or so of grated Parmigiano
Peel the fennel at the hardest parts, cut it and cook it briefly in salted water. (The original recipe calls to cut it in half, but I sliced mine several times as I preferred smaller pieces.)
Drain the fennel, melt the butter in a frying pan and lightly brown it.
Place the fennel baking dish, sprinkle it with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and bake it until the cheese is completely melted.* Serve hot.
* I baked at about 150C and did not time it; I just kept my eye on the cheese.
My own version – I KNOW it’s not a traditional version, before the purists slate me!!
You’ll need – A large plump fresh aubergine sliced into 1cm rounds
Grated parmigiano – a nice little mountain of it!
Chopped or coarsely grated ball of mozzarella.
Finely chopped onion
Couple cloves finely chopped (or crushed) garlic
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Tablespoon tomato concentrate
Big handful of basil leaves, ripped up.
Salt and freshly ground pepper.
(Glug of red wine, if you want to make it richer)
About 200-250ml of beschamel sauce – if no time, the little tetra packs are a reasonable substitute for making it yourself!
What you need to do …
Heat the oven to a med-hot heat. I use about 180°c (I’m doubting myself now – is it °C or °F? You’ll know!)
Get a griddle pan nice and hot – no oil.
Cook the aubergine slices until tender and very slightly charred along the lines of the griddle. Put them to one side as you cook them, you’ll need to do the slices in batches, I doubt if you have a griddle pan big enough to do them all in one go!
While they are cooking, get your tomato sauce sorted …. In a saucepan, add a good glug of EVO and warm up – add the onion and stir a little to coat in the oil.
After the onion has softened slightly, add the garlic and stir that around too, coating it in the oil. Cook gently for about 5 minutes stirring frequently to stop the onion and garlic browning.
When they are nice and soft add the tin of tomatoes and about a tablespoon of tomato concentrate. (You can add your glug of wine at this stage if you want!)
Stir everything well and bring back to a simmer.
Add the ripped basil leaves & seasoning.
Stir, simmer for 15/ 20 minutes or so until the onions are really soft and the sauce has thickened.
When the sauce is done to your liking and the aubergines are cooked, start layering!
Start with a bottom layer of a bit of the tomato sauce.
Then some blobs of beschamel dotted over
Then a hefty sprinkling of parmigiano
Then tomato sauce…
Then start again.
Finish with a layer of aubergine.
Absolutely finish with a mix of parmigiano and mozzarella.
Into the oven for about 30 minutes.
You want it to be browned a little on top and bubbling away – and of course for the tomato sauce to have soaked into the aubergines!
Leave it to rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
It is a fairly ‘saucy’ dish, but REALLY tasty!
Now, silly me, I was so taken with eating this, I forgot to get a picture of it when it was on my plate! Rest assured, it was pretty damned good!