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Jul 12, 2012

Carried Away


I find the above illustration amusing. Where there is food, there are opportunists. Sometimes, things just get carried away.

I, too, have been carried away by special picnic moments. Tonight, my mom and dad went to the first of a series of concerts at a charming old park in Long Beach, California. While living there, this was an anticipated summer activity for me. The Long Beach Municipal Band is top drawer and our food varied from homemade favorites to locally baked pasties to specialty sandwiches and desserts from popular eateries.

Mark Bittman, The Minimalist, is often my go-to-guy when it comes to quick and easy recipes. In 2008, he wrote a New York Times article entitled 101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics. What a list! Here are a few examples...
  • BEET SALAD Peel beets and grate them (a food processor will keep the juice contained). Add pistachios or hazelnuts; dress with orange zest and juice, and olive oil. Add bits of goat cheese and chopped parsley.
  • CURRIED EGG SALAD Make egg salad with hard-cooked eggs, mayo, curry powder, Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, red onion and, if you like, diced apple.
  • GRAPES AND CHEESE Mix feta cubes and green grapes (or grape tomatoes or pieces of watermelon). Add mint, salt, pepper and olive oil. A tiny bit of chopped fresh chili is good, too.
  • THAI GAZPACHO Combine tomatoes and cucumber in blender with lemon grass (only the most tender part), cilantro, fish sauce and lime.
ADDITIONAL IDEAS
  • Mix peeled, grated carrots with chopped dates, cumin, minced chili, lemon or lime juice, mint or cilantro.
  • Toss toasted pita with olives, parsley and mint, salt and pepper, bits of chopped-up lemon (rinds and all; preserved lemon is even better), chopped seeded tomatoes, chopped seeded cucumbers and chopped red pepper. Take olive oil for last-minute dressing.
  • Toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven until browned and cooked; while still warm, toss with curry powder and a handful of raisins. Pour on the lemon juice.
  • Mix cooked couscous with olive oil; add pimentón, cumin, salt and pepper, chopped shallot or red onion, toasted slivered almonds and orange zest and juice. Cooked cauliflower is good, too.
  • Cook a couple of pounds of berries with some sugar and a little water until they break down. Layer in a plastic container with slices of good pound cake. Pour any remaining juices on top. You might want some cream.
  • Slice open a good baguette and fill it with chopped or shredded cooked chicken tossed with fish sauce, chili, sugar, lime, garlic, scallions and Thai basil (or, in a dire emergency, regular).
  • Toss cooked couscous with oil, chopped parsley, chopped black olives, capers, red onion, salt and pepper. Scoop out medium-size tomatoes and fill with mixture. Pack carefully.
Click on Mark Bittman's link for additional inspiration. 

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