21 Jul

I can’t say enough about how much I love picnics.  It combines three of my favorite things: eating, relaxing and being outside.  We went on a camping trip with some friends this week (to Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia).  I took lunch duty and packed us a little picnic, which we ate under a gazebo in Abingdon, Virginia.  Umm, how cute is that?


Leland Palmer (via Bon Apetit)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups freshly brewed jasmine tea, cooled
3/4 cup gin
3/4 cup limoncello
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup chilled club soda
Ice cubes
6 lemon slices (for garnish)
Stir honey and 1/2 cup hot water in small bowl until honey dissolves. Cool completely.  Combine honey water, jasmine tea, gin, limoncello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice in large pitcher. Add club soda and stir to blend. Fill six 1-pint mason jars or 6 tall glasses with ice cubes. Divide tea mixture among jars; top each with lemon slice.

Babaganoush (via Food Network)
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 glove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, grill the eggplant over a gas grill, rotating it around until the skin is completely charred, about 10 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl.

On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in the parsley, tahini, and lemon juice. Season with more salt, to taste. Garnish with additional parsley.

Greek Pita Wraps (via Martha Stewart’s Living)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups chopped seeded plum or cherry tomatoes
1 cup diced seeded peeled cucumber
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)
4 8-inch-diameter whole wheat pita breads, halved

Whisk olive oil and red wine vinegar in large bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, radishes, and parsley into dressing. Stir in feta cheese.  Using slotted spoon, transfer salad mixture to pita bread halves. Serve sandwiches immediately.

Grilled Chicken (Dale Mackey Original)
4 chicken breasts
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 C honey
2 T walnut oil
salt and pepper to taste
bacon grease
Mix vinegar, honey, walnut oil, salt and paper in a small bowl.  Brush onto both sides of each chicken breast.
Meanwhile, heat a cast iron grill pan over medium flame and brush with bacon grease.
Place chicken breasts in hot grill pan and grill each side until chicken is cooked through, turning again if necessary.  Time will vary depending on thickness of chicken breast.  Remove from heat, let rest five minutes and cut into strips.
Potato Salad (Dale Mackey Original)
6 medium potatoes
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
4 pickled ramps*, finely chopped
mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
splash if white wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash hot paprika
Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces.  Place in salted boiling water and boil until tender, maybe about five minutes (sorry I wasn’t timing).  Drain potatoes and place into a medium bowl.  Add chopped onion and ramps and stir.  Add mayonnaise (1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on your taste) and vinegar if desired and stir to evenly distribute. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste.  Cool before eating.
*A pickle spear will work if you don’t have pickled ramps laying around.  I am lucky enough to have friends with propensities toward foraging and preserving.

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