food52

Outdoor Life

Picnic / BBQ Prep - Food Platter Ideas

Nantucket Wildflower Farm flower truck  on Main Street in Nantucket, Ma. The geese hold the spot until Charlene the truck arrives.  The farm specializes in growing native flowers and only sells on Main Street during the summer season.  If you can, grab some flowers for your picnic and put them in a mason jar or an old food jar. Easy to carry, it's an upcycled producct and will add a bit of summer fresh whimsy to your meal. 

Nantucket Wildflower Farm flower truck on Main Street in Nantucket, Ma. The geese hold the spot until Charlene the truck arrives.  The farm specializes in growing native flowers and only sells on Main Street during the summer season.  If you can, grab some flowers for your picnic and put them in a mason jar or an old food jar. Easy to carry, it's an upcycled producct and will add a bit of summer fresh whimsy to your meal. 

With Labor Day upon us our days of enjoying a meal outside are winding down. Vacationing on Nantucket where I have been lucky enough to come every year for the past 10 or so years. And 4 years ago we upped it and started coming for 2 weeks. It is for me the most relaxing and beautiful place. Whenever I am here I think can I live here year round?

The crowds can be a bit much but just this morning I dropped off Harper and my husband at the docks for a pirate adventure and it was relatively quiet.  A ferry just arrived and delivery trucks were making their way to restaurants. I walked along the cobble streets to the coffee shop and thought this is one of the things I love about this place. Just walking around the quaint, historic New England village. AND pedestrians have the right away, cars and trucks stop for you and wave across. Complete opposite of life in NYC. 

Summer is wonderful here. An abundance of places to have picnics and barbecues; the beach, the docks or the wharf are all a perfect setting.  In our case we utilize the barbecue at our rental which also has a beautiful yard and garden with a quick 5 minute walk to the beach. We really are lucky.

So what to do when you pack a picnic and want it to look like the lovely dinner parties you give at home?  Here are some platter ideas that are picnic and environmentally friendly.

Simple sandwiches and chips.  Food52  using bamboo plates, paper straws, glass bottles and cloth napkins. 

Simple sandwiches and chips.  Food52 using bamboo plates, paper straws, glass bottles and cloth napkins. 

Food52  crudite platter using a mesh net cover from Dot and Army. Starting from the bottom clockwise, yellow pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes keeping the vine intact, snap peas, orange pepper sticks, carrot sticks and celery sticks.  Notice how the green snap peas are placed to be diagonal from the artichoke dip; color coordination. 

Food52 crudite platter using a mesh net cover from Dot and Army. Starting from the bottom clockwise, yellow pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes keeping the vine intact, snap peas, orange pepper sticks, carrot sticks and celery sticks.  Notice how the green snap peas are placed to be diagonal from the artichoke dip; color coordination. 

Antipasto platter from Southern Living   - pickled okra, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, salami, breadsticks and cheese. 

Antipasto platter from Southern Living  - pickled okra, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, salami, breadsticks and cheese. 

Layered salad in a jar from  Lavender and Lovage  -  starting from the bottom, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, green olives, salsa and sour cream.  Don't add the chips on top until you are ready to eat. No one likes soggy chips. 

Layered salad in a jar from Lavender and Lovage -  starting from the bottom, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, green olives, salsa and sour cream.  Don't add the chips on top until you are ready to eat. No one likes soggy chips. 

Do you have any go to favorite platters you like to create for picnics or barbecues? There are so many wonderful ideas out there. Please share if you have a favorite. And thanks for visiting!

Tracey

Outdoor Life

Picnic Basket Essentials

photo credit:  food52.com

photo credit: food52.com

Tis the season, summer and picnicking.  Last week's post I told you about 3 picnic baskets locally made here in the U.S. Today I want to help you pack that basket. I did some digging to see what people like to pack and eat on a picnic.  Most of it goes back to common sense, logistics and classic traditional foods.  I will start off with saying, nothing with mayonnaise. It spoils super fast (1.5 hours)  and you don't want a slew of sick people on your hands. (although trash bags and wipes are on the things to bring list). 

Food: finger foods, easy to eat for kids and adults, and most finger foods stay edible. Crudités, hummus and my personal favorite french onion dip, cheese sticks for kids, 2 to 3 blocks of cheese. I had a truffle cheese recently at an outdoor night picnic that was absolutely amazing, so try something different.  Cut up fruit or just bring a watermelon to cut up onsite.  Baguette, crackers, tortilla chips because they can be eaten plain or with the hummus, pickles and/or olives.  Now on to more substantial items, salads, try to skip basic greens because of wilting, substitute the lettuce with kale or a grain like quinoa or farro and pack the dressing in a mason jar so you can shake and apply when you arrive. Caprese salad is always a hit, be sure to use local farmer heirloom tomatoes and a very nice Italian balsamic dressing. I go to L'Albero dei Gelati to buy our balsamic syrup.  A local place in Brooklyn who imports from Italy. It can be expensive but you do get what you pay for.  For the third course, I think fried chicken is always a hit and a cold pasta salad. Brownies or pie for dessert and don't forget the beverages; beer, wine and water.

photo:  oprah.com

photo: oprah.com

Ok so I told you all the food items, now for the non-food essentials. I try my best to leave a small carbon foot print. Have you seen the signs at the beach, take out what you brought in?  First on the list is trash bags. So easy to forget. Cloth napkins, gingham is a summer time classic, biodegradable plates/cups and flatware or take it up a notch and bring your melamine, acrylic or tin plates. Flatware, once again go with biodegradable wooden flatware or bamboo which you can get quite a few uses out of.  Another option is bring your flatware from home. You can wrap it up in each napkin and tie some twine or ribbon around it. Ready for use.  Corkscrew/bottle opener, salt/pepper, serving utensils and a small cutting board is ideal but not a deal breaker. 

Do you have some favorites you like to bring on a picnic?

Enjoy!

Baking

The Easiest Pumpkin Cookie

art by my 3 year old.  Love this!

art by my 3 year old.  Love this!

This past Thanksgiving I made the easiest and tastiest pumpkin cookies.  I love to bake and things were so busy last week I didn't get a chance to make a treat for Thanksgiving. However I woke up Thanksgiving morning and was trolling thru instagram and came upon the most delicious cookies from Food52. 

photo from Food52

What of course caught my attention was the phrase they used, soft as cake.  I was visiting my parents so I needed to go out and buy some of the ingredients but it was quite doable although some stores were closed for the day. (kuddos to those companies!) I am not a professional pastry chef. I spent a few summers on Martha's Vineyard at the Black Dog Bakery baking cookies and tea breads.  I have considered going to school to be a pastry chef.  As of now it is a passion and hobby. I do have some tools that I really like.  For example, the Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer, it makes me feel like a professional!  So while at my parent's house I had to mix the pumpkin cookie batter by hand, "old school",  and it was doable.  Not bad at all.  I survived.  My point being, you don't need many supplies and I was not in my comfort zone, my own kitchen.

pumpkin cookie batter

The next best ingredient, Giardelli 60% cacao chocolate. I debated between adding the chips or melting them and dipping the cookies into them. I took a poll, my sister and nieces voted for either.  As they said, either is going to taste really good. They were right! 

One little side note, I used Turbinado Sugar which you can see in the photo below.  I loved the texture it gave the cookie!

 

food52 pumpkin cookie

If you are interested in trying these the recipe is right here. 

Enjoy and Happy holidays! 

Tracey

 

In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen: Gazpacho 1,2,3 - #2

Gazpacho recipe #2.  This is the second recipe I found on Food52 and it's definitely a bit more garlicky than the first. This time I tried to follow the recipe as close as possible.  One exception, I thought I had fresh dill in the garden but didn't so needed to replace that with dry dill.  And once again trying to use up the veggies in the fridge, I added a green pepper. Let me know what you think if you try this one.

Rainbow Gazpacho. I do love the name and it truly looks like a rainbow when you start to mix the ingredients together. To get the recipe click here. A couple little notes while I was making this are below each picture.  

recipe calls for 4 cloves. I used 3 large ones, this was plenty for my taste buds.

the recipe did not mention taking the skins of the cucumbers off so I peeled some of the cucumber and scooped out the seeds with a spoon, sometimes by hand.

I cored and cut the tomatoes into chunks.

Something I added that was not in the recipe were croutons.  I broiled 2 small hearty rolls, one was wheat and the other a kalamata olive roll.  Both from my local Whole Foods.  I ripped these up into bite size pieces, drizzled olive oil and a little bit of grated parmesan.  These are great to also bag up for future use.  In each serving of soup I added about 4 to 5 bits.  Love the texture this adds.  Enjoy!

If you try this recipe please let me know what you think.

Tracey

In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen: Gazpacho 1,2,3

gazpacho recipe post

We are nearing the end of the summer and the heat in Brooklyn has been sweltering. Something like stepping into a walk-in oven, if such a thing existed.  The last thing I want to do is turn my oven on to make a meal.  Cold soups are a cooling, refreshing meal. Simple to make and with vegetables at their ripest what better time to make some gazpacho.

I try to use up what I have from my CSA (community supported agriculture) and try not to buy anything new so sometimes I do skip an ingredient.  Below is the gazpacho recipe I found last year on Food52.  

  • 4 good-sized heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • one 46 ounces bottle of low-salt vegetable juice, such as low-salt V8 or low-salt 365 "Vital Veggie"
  • 1/4cup best quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of one Meyer lemon (or any lemon)
Gazpacho 1-2.jpg

The ingredients I did not use are the 46 ounces of vegetable juice,  I replaced red onion with white onion and 2 small scallions and also added some small heirloom tomatoes from my garden. Also replaced the yellow pepper with a green pepper.  Ingredients I added because I've been seeing Gazpacho recipes this past season with watermelon so I added a few cubes.  

I really liked it, my father who tried it, didn't think it had enough oomph as he said.  He likes spice. So I added 3 pickled jalapeño slices that he had in the refrigerator and half a large sweet pepper.  We will see if that makes a difference. 

Check back soon, with Gazpacho #2. 

Enjoy!