What better way to spend a lazy warm weather day than outside with your special someone or a group of friends.
A picnic is a great way to entertain; the food is prepared in advance and you don’t have to entertain in your own place. Just pick a spot, send out an invite and plan ahead.
Remember to arrive at your picnic area in advance, set up and await your friends. If you are a budding foodie, I have included a simple menu for you. It is important to be very organized when planning; remember, think like a caterer. List your meal and other items and check them off as you pack.
If your talents lie outside of the kitchen, don’t fret, just grab a shopping sack and some eating utensils and hit your favorite market or neighborhood stores for your picnic items.
Living in Mt. Vernon, I am fortunate to have a park right on the square. This makes for a lovely venue and for an easy picnic. Grab a blanket, some picnic necessities and hit the shops. Eddies of Mt. Vernon Deli makes great old fashioned sandwiches, they also prepare very delicious chicken salad. Seasonal fruit from Burton’s Farm is also available. Next stop Milk and Honey. This lovely gourmet shop can provide you with great cheese, bread, and charcuterie. So much is available here this could be your one-stop shop. Don’t go overboard because we are just getting started. Next stop is Libations and Spirits of Mt. Vernon. This is the perfect place for that special bottle of wine or microbrew. Non alcoholic refreshments are also available. Many of their favorite wines and beers are already chilled.
Check out the selection of plastic wine glasses, they look so real you will be surprised they are not glass. Now one final stop and you are off to claim your spot. Marie Louise offers some of the most delicious pastries this side of Paris. Pastry Chef Donna Simmonds’ selections are as unique as this Baltimore Bistro. Now all that is needed is a shady spot and its picnic time, Mt. Vernon style.
This picnic is for the adventurer. Lexington Market is a famous institution in Baltimore. Why not swing in on a summery day and load up on some delicious market foods before heading to the Harbor for a picnic. Federal Hill Park offers great views of the harbor and a delightful breeze to keep you cool. What’s more traditional than an old fashioned fried chicken picnic? Lexington Market offers some of the most delicious chicken boxes. Want to take it over the top? Stop by Fadleys for crab cakes that are not to be missed. You can enjoy a cold Natty Boh at the raw bar while these jumbo lump beauties fry. Some of the freshest fruit salads made are available at the market too. A great addition to a not so healthy meal! Why not grab some dessert at Bergers, their cookies and cakes are legendary. This picnic cries for a red and white checked table cloth, sweet tea, lemonade and ice cold beer! Don’t forget the hot sauce too!
KEITH’S PICNIC BASKET MENU
BRIE WITH APRICOT AND GINGER CONSERVE
To make this easier to serve, pre -slice the brie while cold. I like to serve this with ginger snaps and strawberries. Great with French bread too.
1 wedge of your favorite brie, as generous as you like
½ cup apricot preserves
2 Tablespoons of minced candied ginger
1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds, optional
Juice of half a lime
1. Warm the preserves in the microwave slightly, about 30 seconds. Fold in the candied ginger and lime juice.
2. Place the conserve in a small serving bowl and sprinkle on black sesame seeds.
“FRENCH STYLE” CHICKEN SALAD IN A CHINESE BOX
This is a great salad that is satisfying as a main course. Pack this in layers into Chinese carry out boxes. Serve with chopsticks too!
2 individual chicken breasts, bone in
and skin on.
1 yukon gold potato
2 plum tomatoes, quartered
2 cups mixed salad greens
2 hard cooked eggs quartered
1 Tablespoon capers
1 Tablespoon minced shallots
“French Style” vinaigrette-recipe follows
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper generously and place in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Let cool for about 20 minutes and slice off the bone, remove skin and cube.
2. Place the potato in a sauce pan and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until tender. Remove the potato and let cool to warm. Slice potato and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. To assemble the salad, place half of the potato in the bottom of the container, sprinkle with half the shallot and about a tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
4. Next, add half of the chicken, sprinkle with half of the capers and a tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
5. Layer in the tomato, egg, and salad greens.
6. Close the container and repeat this process for the second salad.
7. Vinaigrette: In a mason jar add 2 tablespoons each sherry wine vinegar and white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put on lid on tightly and shake to combine. This will keep for weeks refrigerated.
RADISH BUTTER WITH BAGUETTE
Bread and butter the way it is suppose to be done! This is tremendous with Champagne too.
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2-3 radishes, minced
Fleur de Sel
1. Fold together the butter and radishes until combined. Place in a crock and chill. Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel and serve with crusty French bread.
This is an easy one, no recipe here just a tweak to your favorite box brownie. Mine happens to be Ghirardelli. All you need to do is add one tablespoon instant espresso and one teaspoon cinnamon to your brownie mix and follow the package instructions. Once cooled, slice in generous portions and wrap in waxed paper. I also sprinkle cocoa on top
• Don’t forget the flowers, a ball jar makes for a whimsical vase. Use glass marbles to keep the flowers steady and the vase upright.
• Linen napkins are a must! Tea Towels make great picnic napkins.
• Pack a damp and dry kitchen towel for clean up. Zip lock bags are ideal for this.
• Sun block and insect repellent are good to have on hand.
• Utilize plastic containers for food items; they are light in weight and easy to carry.
• Have a plan “B” picnic area in mind just in case .
• Bring something fun to do, frisbee, badminton, even a kite to fly.
• Pack a small cutting board and pocket knife for cheese, paté and bread.
• If you want to bring Fido, check in advance for pet restrictions. Make sure to pack a water bowl and maybe a juicy bone too! If your pooch is spoiled he or she may need their own picnic blanket!
Author Credit: Keith Berghoff
Image Credit: Pinterest