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COOK'S CORNER CAN'T-MISS DISHES FOR YOUR PICNIC BASKET.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

With picnic season in full swing, grab a basket or cooler, pack up some delicious totable fare, gather family or friends and have an impromptu outing to the beach, park or elsewhere.

You'll find lots of portable options in ``Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods,'' by Robin Vitetta-Miller (Clarkson Potter; $14.95). Feasting possibilities, several illustrated with attractive color photos, include delicious-sounding salads, sandwiches, wraps, dips, cookies, cakes breads and more, most quickly and easily prepared. Accompanying each recipe are tips for packing and transporting the item.

Some foods stand the test of time and travel better than others, notes Vitetta-Miller, adding that you need to consider the following: how the food will be transported, the ease of transporting particular foods, how long the food will stand before eating and at what temperature the food should be served. ``Don't prepare food more than one day before the picnic, unless you plan to freeze it,'' she advises, noting that cooked food must be cooled completely before packing. ``To keep all foods equally cold, arrange food and ice in layers - don't rest the food on top of the ice or nestle it underneath.''

On your next trip, pack up these picnic-friendly ideas from the book - you're in for some wonderful alfresco feasting.

SMOKED SALMON SPREAD

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces smoked salmon, shredded OR finely minced

2 green onions (green parts only), chopped

In bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and cream. Mix on low speed until smooth. Beat in dill, lemon juice and pepper. Fold in salmon. Sprinkle green onions over top just before serving. Serve with crackers. Makes 2 cups spread.

PACKING FOR PICNIC: Store spread in a sealable plastic container in refrigerator until ready to pack into a cold cooler. Top with green onions just before serving.

ROASTED RED PEPPER WRAP WITH MOZZARELLA AND BASIL PESTO

8 tablespoons prepared basil pesto

4 (8-inch) flour OR whole wheat tortillas

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

4 roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar), thinly sliced

1 cup shredded romaine lettuce

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Spread 2 tablespoons pesto on one side of each tortilla to within 1/4 inch of edges. Top with mozzarella, red peppers and romaine. Sprinkle with black pepper and roll up tightly. Makes 4 servings.

PACKING FOR PICNIC: Individually wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to pack into a cold cooler.

MARINATED ITALIAN VEGETABLE SALAD WITH OLIVES

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

3 cups cauliflower florets

1 1/2 cup sliced carrots (cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds)

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved

1/2 cup assorted pitted olives

1/2 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon drained capers

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, combine vinegar, garlic and bay leaves. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower, carrots and celery and cook 1 minute. Drain and transfer hot vegetables to vinegar mixture. Add artichoke heart, olives, roasted red peppers, oil and capers. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (and up to 48 hours).

Drain vegetables and remove bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

PACKING FOR PICNIC: Store in sealable plastic container in refrigerator until ready to pack into a cooler.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

no caption (book: ``Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods'')
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 2, 2005
Words:626
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