Fresh, Fun, Family Picnic

watermelon2foodtablejulienne

Asian Noodle Salad

Portable Salad can be prepared in advance and assembled at your picnic/part destination!

Portable Salad can be prepared in advance and assembled at your picnic/part destination!

Dressing:

Juice of 1 whole lime (about 2 tbsp.)

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

4 tbsp. light oil (grapeseed, peanut or avocado) Olive oil will work if that is all you have on hand

4 tbsp. soy sauce

1-2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. brown sugar or palm sugar

1 tbsp. grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

1 finely chopped chili pepper or jalapeno (to taste) If you have picky eaters at your picnic – just leave this out or add very small amounts.

Chopped cilantroTo preserve cilantro, or any fresh herb from the garden, chop it up and place a spoonful – or other measured amount – into a freezer tray. Fill the tray with water.  Once frozen – store the cubes in Ziploc bags or an airtight container.  Flavour will last for several months (when using the cubes – you can use the same ratio as fresh herbs! Link below *

Whisk ingredients together and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Taste and adjust.

Salad Ingredients:

1 pkg. linguine noodles or chow mein noodles, cooked according to package directions. To sneak some added fibre into your picnic – try using whole wheat noodles! Angel hair pasta would work well here too. Make sure to break up the noodles slightly before cooking (long strings of noodles make the salad harder to eat during a picnic)

Rinse cooked noodles and pour on a few spoonfuls of the dressing and set aside This will dress the noodles and make the salad more flavourful

½ head Napa cabbage finely sliced If in a time crunch – bagged coleslaw would work here too.

1 each red and yellow pepper, julienned Julienning vegetables cuts them into ‘matchsticks’ and makes them very thin and crunchy.  Below is a video to show you how**

4 oz. mung bean sprouts, rinsed thoroughly and drained – When using sprouts, be very careful to make sure they are fresh and not approaching the expiry/best before date.  Make sure you wash them thoroughly.  When in doubt with a sprout – throw it out!

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 whole English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 cup baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained

4 oz. sugar snap or snow peas, sliced diagonally

Up to ½ cup chopped cilantro (to taste) Parsley can be used instead

1 cup whole cashews, roasted and lightly salted To roast nuts, place in frying pan or skillet – dry (no oil or butter) – stir over medium- high heat until slightly brown and aromatic. Video below***

(toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts could be used instead)

All nuts are best stored in the freezer to preserve the essential oils and to keep them in a dry environment!

Assembly:

Toss the vegetables with some of the dressing, and then combine with the noodles. Add the cilantro and spinach just before serving to prevent wilting.

Sprinkle with nuts, if desired

It is sometimes necessary to add more dressing after salad sits for a while, since the noodles absorb it.

 *How to Freeze Herbs

**Julienne Technique

***How to Toast Nuts on Stove

Caprese Salad Appetizers

caprese skewers

Perfect for a picnic – easy to transport and very quick to prepare. The technique can be applied to just about any vegetable/cheese combination and can also impress guests at a dinner party!

Ingredients:

24 grape or cherry tomatoes – Tomatoes from the garden can’t be beat!  Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow in pots if you don’t have the space for a full garden.  I grow the Tiny Tim variety – perfect for a caprese skewer.  Experiment using different coloured tomatoes to make your skewers stand out!*

24 bocconcini balls (comes packed in brine) Feta or mozzarella cubes can be used here as well.

Basil leaves – Delicious straight from the garden, you want to make sure your basil leaves are dark green and whole for the best appeal.

24 skewers – The small or medium sized skewers are all you need.  We only want to place two tomatoes, and one boccocini ball on each – the large skewers will be too big.

Dressing:

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Assembly:

Place tomato, basil leaf and bocconcini on skewer. If too much room is left on the skewer – add another basil leave and another tomato.  When placing basil leaves on the skewer, fold the leave in half with the shiny green side facing out – better appearance!

Arrange on a tray with fresh basil leaves for garnish or on a bed of fresh lettuce.

Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh pepper.

Adding prosciutto, melon, or salami adds something extra as well!  I have had these little skewer snacks at all occasions – from small household gatherings to weddings!  Salad skewers are a very versatile technique. **

*Tomato Variety Guide

** Skewer Appetizer Ideas

Antipasto Platter

antipasto

An antipasto platter can be done any way you like it. You can be fancy, or simply sophisticated. Sometimes less is more depending on the occasion. Most times antipasto contains pickled or oiled vegetables (such as roasted red pepper), cold meat, cheese, perhaps some seafood, and some bread or crackers. I have had various different antipastos and have enjoyed them all!

Here is what our antipasto platter contained for the class:

Prosciutto slicesThis is an Italian pork product so be careful who you are serving to.  Melon goes very well with prosciutto!!YUM

Deviled eggsWhen hard boiling eggs, use older eggs and bring them to a boil over medium heat.  Once boiling, remove from heat and let them sit in the pot of hot water for 11 minutes.  After the time is up – shock them with ice cold water, changing the water often to ensure the cold temperature.  Peel when cool and enjoy them plain, with salt and pepper, or as a deviled egg!

Caprese SkewersRecipe above

Giardiniera – pickled vegetables in oil and vinegar – perfect for picnic or summer parties!

picklesandgardeneria

Homemade Refrigerator Pickleslink to recipe on our website is below*

*Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

**Antipasto Ideas

Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps

wraps

Ingredients:

450 g beef top sirloin grilling steaks – Sliced leftover steak, roasted beef, or flank steak works well here!  If you have leftover chicken on hand – use that!   TIP: When slicing grilled flank steak, make sure to cut across the natural grain in the meat – otherwise you will be chewing for days! Video below*

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper

3 tbsp (45 mL) lime juice

2 tbsp (30 mL) canola or olive oil

2 tsp (10 mL) chili garlic sauce – Siracha Sauce is a common type of chili-garlic sauce and can be found in most grocery stores (look for the large reddish-orange bottle with the green cap in the Asian/International isle!).  I have a bottle at home and use it to add flavour to everything from macaroni and cheese (trust me, it works), spaghetti sauce, soups, etc! If preparing this dish for kids – go easy on this sauce, or leave it out entirely!

1 tsp (5 mL) grated fresh ginger – Ginger can be stored in the freezer whole, and grated while still frozen. This is the technique I use because I never use my ginger fast enough. You can also break off knobs of the ginger at the grocery store – only buy what you need!

1 tsp (5 mL) liquid honey

1 tsp (5 mL) sodium-reduced soy sauce

1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil – If I don’t have sesame oil on hand – I use peanut oil and add sesame seeds.

1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup (250 mL) julienned carrot, and cucumber

2 green onions, thinly sliced

12 large lettuce leaves, (leaf, iceberg, romaine or Boston lettuces all work here)

Assembly:

Sprinkle steak with pinch each of the salt and pepper.

If using raw steak: Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until medium-rare, about 6 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together lime juice, canola oil, chili garlic sauce, ginger, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil and remaining salt and pepper. Stir in red pepper, carrot, cucumber and green onions.

Divide among four 2-cup airtight containers; top with sliced steak. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.)

To serve, toss vegetables with steak; wrap in lettuce. Use the same technique as you would while folding a tortilla for a fajita or wrap.

 *Slicing Flank Steak

Watermelon Salad

watermelon

1 fresh watermelon chopped into bite-sized cubes – If in a time crunch, use pre-cubed watermelon which can be purchased in the produce section of most grocery stores – but this is often a bit expensive so I like to cut my own

2 cups of feta cheese cubes – Most grocery stores will have feta cheese in the deli section and somtimes behind their deli counter.  If you do not use feta cheese often, buy a brick from the deli counter and only buy what you need for the salad.  If you do buy feta cheese in a package it is cheaper to by a large block and cut it yourself – but for convenience it can be purchased pre-cubed.  I like to make sure my feta comes with a brine to make it last longer in the refrigerator.

3-4 cups of fresh arugula

Vinaigrette Dressing to taste – Any vinaigrette type dressing would work here.  I would use a raspberry vinaigrette or red wine vinaigrette.  Our website provides various ideas for vinaigrette dressings and also provides the idea ratio for preparing any vinaigrette.  For a picnic, a bottled dressing may be the most portable. Remember it is easier to add more than to remove dressing.  Add bits at a time!! Link below*

 *Salad Dressing Ideas

Infused Water

cucumberwater

Ingredients:

Water and Ice

Mint – any fresh herb will do! We recommend lavender, mint, basil.

Cucumber – any fruit/veg can work here – be creative!  We recommend raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, lemon, lime, cantaloupe.

Grandma’s Batter Bread

bread

Ingredients:

 4 cups unbleached flour (bread flour, all-purpose, or a combo of 3 cups white and 1 of whole-wheat)

½ tsp. yeast

2 tsp. salt

¼ cup maple syrup

2 cups (approx.) warm water

Put dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt) in large bowl and stir together.

Add warm water and syrup and stir to make very sticky dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and put it aside for 14-24 hours.

Uncover and stir the mixture down. Replace cover and let it rest for an additional hour.

While dough is resting for its final hour, heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Place pot that will cook the bread in oven WHILE EMPTY to heat for about an hour. (I use cast iron, but any good, heavy oven-proof pot with a lid will do.)

Carefully remove pot from oven. You may brush it with just a bit of oil (peanut or grapeseed oil)

Scrape the bread mixture into the pot and put the lid on.

Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes uncovered.

Allow to cool before slicing.

This mixture can be baked in a regular oiled bread pan. The loaf pan doesn’t need to be pre-heated.

This recipe is very flexible. If I want a very tall loaf, I sometimes use 1 extra cup of flour and a little more water. The consistency should be gooey, but not runny.

If you want a more interesting texture, add 1 cup of seven-grain cereal or rolled oats instead of the whole wheat. I happen to like bread a little on the sweet side, so adjust the amount of sweetener to suit your own taste.

Blueberry/Rapberry Cheese Coffee Cake

 Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (bottom) and Blueberry Shortbread Squares

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (bottom) and Blueberry Shortbread Squares

Before beginning the cake, it helps to prepare the cheesecake and topping mixtures.

Cream cheese filling:

 1 pkg. (8 oz. ) cream cheese at room temperature Having the cream cheese at room temperatures makes it easier to work with.

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. finely grated lemon rind Lemon is best grated with a Microplane or cheese grater. A grates lemon can stay in the fridge or freezer until you need the juice.  Zest adds great flavour to dishes.  Video below*

Beat cream cheese and sugar together until well combined. Add the egg and lemon rind. Combine thoroughly and set aside.

 Topping:

1/3 cup melted butter

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

Combine sugars and flour, and pour melted butter over. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

 Cake:

1/3 cup soft butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup sour cream

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries. In the class we used raspberries.

Directions:

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt together in a small bowl.

In mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs, 1 at a time and mix well. Add vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, beginning with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, ½ of the sour cream and repeat.

Line the bottom of a 9” square dish with parchment paper, and butter the sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread cake mixture over the bottom of the baking dish. Scatter 1 cup of the blueberries over the top.

Cover with the cream cheese mixture. Add remaining ½ cup blueberries over top.

Sprinkle with the crumb mixture and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean. Great technique to check doneness of baked goods. Video below**

The cheese mixture may be just a bit ‘jiggly’ but will continue to cook as the cake cools.

Cool on a rack for at least ½ hour before cutting.

 *How to Grate/Zest Lemon

**How to Check ‘Doneness’ of Baked Goods

Blueberry- Lime Shortbread Squares

 Crust:

1 cup room-temperature butter

½ cup icing sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 lime (or lemon)

¼ tsp. kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

 Blueberry Filling:

4 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained

½ cup white sugar

3 tbsp. cornstarch

Juice of 1 lime (about 2-3 tbsp.)

Topping:

1 cup reserved crust mixture

1 tbsp. melted butter

1 cup chopped pecans Walnuts can be substituted if pecans are not on hand.

Assembly:

Butter an 8” square pan and line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add crust ingredients to large bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture becomes coarse crumbs.

Alternately, place butter and sugar in bowl, and beat until fluffy. Add lime or lemon zest and half of the flour mixture. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon until mixture is crumbly.

 Remove 1 cup of mixture and press the rest into the prepared pan.

To the 1 cup of crust mixture, add melted butter and chopped nuts, and mix together. Set aside.

Filling:

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Add lime juice and combine well.

Toss with blueberries until all are coated.

Mash lightly with a fork or potato masher until some juice is released.

Spread filling over crust evenly.

 Sprinkle topping evenly over blueberries, and press in very lightly.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour or until all of the blueberry mixture is bubbly and topping golden brown. Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.