No matter if the outdoor eating event planned for Memorial Day is a picnic hamper filled with fried chicken, potato salad and chocolate cake at a picnic table in a park; a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a bottle of wine laid out on a blanket spread on the ground, like in movies; or something more fancy taken to the patio, eating outdoors can be a pleasant experience. And this first holiday of the warm weather season is a great time to start experiencing it.
Outdoor social gatherings in the 17th century were called picque-niques by the French, and it is termed al fresco on occasion now. But whatever the term, here are some appropriate recipes to enjoy.
FITTING FINISH — A berry cobbler is the perfect ending to a Memorial Day picnic with iced tea an
-- Esther McCoy
A kabob is an easy way to get veggies and protein at the same time, and they look very elegant. This recipe calls for marinating chicken pieces in a sauce and then threading it, along with the vegetables on wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes.
Sesame Chicken Kabobs
6 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned, about 1 1/2 pounds
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Six 12-inch wooden skewers
2 medium-size sweet red and yellow peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 small purple onions, cut into wedges
Fresh basil sprigs, optional
Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces; arrange in a shallow container. Combine teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, sesame seeds, vegetable and sesame oil, stirring well. Pour over chicken. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for three hours. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade and bringing it to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Thread chicken alternately with peppers and onions onto water-soaked skewers. These can now be put into a plastic container, packed in ice and taken to the picnic destination. Remove and grill over medium-hot coals for 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is done, basting frequently with reserved marinade. Garnish with basil sprigs. Makes six servings.
Potato salad is a given for a picnic but be sure to have it packed in ice. This salad includes Italian salad dressing and sour cream in the dressing for the potatoes.
Sour Cream Potato Salad
6 medium boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup sliced celery
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2-ounce jar diced pimento, drained
Combine potatoes, eggs and celery in a large bowl. Toss gently. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, Italian salad dressing, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir well. Pour over potato mixture, tossing gently. Cover and chill. Just before serving, add relish and pimento. Toss gently again. Makes eight cups.
Tomatoes are good in salads. They are also tasty when sprinkled with a flavorful crumb topping and grilled.
4 large, firm tomatoes
Spicy brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Pat cut surfaces of tomatoes with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Spread mustard over cut side of each tomato half. Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle evenly over top of each tomato half. Combine cheese, bread crumbs and butter. Stir well. Spoon mixture over top of each tomato half. Place in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool and pack to take on the picnic. When ready to eat, heat on the grill until they are sizzling. Makes eight servings.
For something different to take along in the way of a vegetable, try this pea casserole. It has noodles, cream cheese, sharp cheese, mushrooms and, of course, the frozen peas.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
5-ounce package medium egg noodles
Two 3-ounce packages cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups, 8 ounces, shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
10-ounce package frozen English peas, thawed and drained
2 1/2-ounce jar sliced mushrooms, undrained
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
10 round buttery crackers, crushed
Saute onion and red pepper in butter until tender. Cook noodles 2 minutes less than package directions; drain. Add cheeses to hot noodles and stir until melted. Stir in onion mixture, peas, mushrooms and pepper. Spoon into a greased 10- by-6-inch baking dish. Top with crumbs. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes eight servings.
Note: English peas are also called garden peas. They are in a pod that needs to be shelled before eating. But if they are frozen, you don't have that worry.
This is a beautiful dessert. If going on a picnic, the cream cheese spread, fruit and apple jelly glaze could be brought along with the dessert pizza and put together on site.
Brownie Fruit Dessert Pizza
Two 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 1/4-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup mandarin orange segments, drained
1 to 2 kiwi fruit, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons apple jelly
Place chocolate in top of a double boiler. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and let cool. Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg, beating well. Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in melted chocolate. Shape dough into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly. Roll or pat dough onto a lightly greased 12-inch pizza pan, forming a rim around outer edges. Flute edges, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until done. Let cool. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Beat well. Either put in a plastic bowl and put in a cooler with ice to take along and spread at the picnic site or spread over brownie crust now. Arrange fruit over cream cheese mixture. Melt jelly in small saucepan or in a microwave or on the grill and brush lightly over fruit. Slice pizza into wedges to serve. Makes a 12-inch dessert pizza.
A berry cobbler is a treat at any time. If raspberries are scarce, the filling can be fortified with apples. I put this recipe together when I wanted a raspberry pie and there were not enough berries in our freezer. I just added sliced apples. It ended up winning awards at the Smithfield Apple Festival Bake Off. I have now made it into a cobbler.
Recipe for two-crust pie dough
4 cups peeled and thinly sliced apples
2 cups black raspberries
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on your taste
4 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel, if desired
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to fit an 8-by-8-inch glass casserole or baking pan and then cut eight strips to make a lattice top to use later. Combine fruits and sprinkle with sugar, flour, cinnamon and peel. Mix well and put into the crust-lined pan. Smooth out filling and make the lattice work on top. and flute crust. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until the entire filling is bubbling and the crust is browned. The time was different each time I made this.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)