Picnics Archive

Thursday, June 27, 2013

pickled vegetable sandwich slaw

mustard seed-pickled sandwich slaw

If you’re one of those people who saw the word “pickled” in the title and said “Ugh, no, sorry, not for me,” do know, I was the same not too long ago and encourage you to fight the good fight for as long as you can, because once your tastes cross over to the vinegar side, there’s little going back.

fact: colorful things taste better

Something of a gateway pickle, these should be eyed suspiciously as well. The thing is, one day you’re eating the foods you’ve always liked — sandwiches, salads, tacos, cheese — and you wouldn’t change a single thing. And then, once day, the quadruple-threat crunch/sweet/salty/punch of a pickle gets under your skin and suddenly, the food landscape is a bleak, depressing place without them. You need pickled red onions on your tacos, pickled celery in your tuna and egg salads, cucumber slices in your potato salads, grapes with your sharp cheeses and pickled carrot sticks in the fridge whenever the mood strikes, and nothing’s ever quite right without them again. I can find a clear demarcation in my pre- and post-pickle junkie days (it’s just about 10 (!) years ago, when I took up with this Russian I married) and think there’s still hope for you. Here, how about some granita instead?

julienned radishes, maybe not recommended

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 7, 2013

rhubarb cream cheese hand pies

rhubarb cream cheese button pies

A few weeks ago, I retold the sad tale of the late rhubarb meringue tart that met its end when it slid off the plate and managed to coat nearly every part of the open fridge I’d intended to put it into with smears of curd, puffs of meringue and crust of crumbs. Rhubarb, although not to blame, and I took a break after that, and it might had continued longer had I not been haunted by an Instagram commenter (hi!) who urged me to try my hand at a rhubarb cream cheese danish. I imagined the tart pink rhubarb against a lemony slick of cheesecake, enveloped in a puff of orange-scented pastry and I could not bear it.

rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
sugared rhubarb

However, as I began researching danish dough, my interested waned. I don’t think it will be a bad project for one day, but all of that envelope folding and yeast and butter and carefully timed steps seemed a bit much for six to eight folded pastries that wouldn’t survive beyond the breakfast meal. And certainly not when it is finally high pie season, that blissful period from May to September when we in this hemisphere are lucky enough to have more fruit than we know what to do with.

rhubarb, cooking until slumpy and reduced

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

lobster and potato salad

lobster and potato salad

One of the aspects of my personality that I should probably be less proud to admit to is that I can be a tad bit lazy. I often consider doing many things when I could be doing fewer things a bother. Much praise may be given these days to the pursuit of busyness, and days jam-packed with frenetically fun activities, but I’m more protective of time that could be spent daydreaming/staring slack-jawed into space and letting disparate thoughts knit together in my head.

lobster, potatoes, scallions, etc.

So, last summer when an editor reached out to me about spending a day with a famous cookbook author as part of a larger magazine story, I had no interest. I didn’t know who this mystery person was but it certainly didn’t seem worth all the work that would be entailed in an over 12-hour day. In actuality, that “work” was later revealed to be horrendous things like “having hair and makeup done,” “gossiping with a famous person’s hairdresser,” “drinking pink champagne,” “eating homemade cookies for dinner,” and “meeting awesome people,” but at the time, I didn’t know this, and I turned it down. Then I learned that this “cookbook author” was none other than one of best-selling cookbook authors in American history and easily one of the three patron saints of Smitten Kitchen (other two: Julia Child and any one of our grandmothers) and I was all “SHUT UP” and punched my husband, who sometimes likes to sit next to me but probably not that day, in the arm.

not my house, sadly

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rhubarb snacking cake

rhubarb snacking cake

Almost every year, as soon as the weather gets warm, I become obsessed with a simple, single layer cake that can be made in little time and that I promise will be all you need to be welcome at any picnic/barbecue/cook out/pot-luck that summer.

pretty stalks of rhubarb, at last
rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice

Three years ago, it was a raspberry buttermilk cake, which was the equivalent of taking a single, thin layer from the very best yellow birthday cake you’ve ever had, scattering fresh raspberries over it and baking it until bronzed and perfect. Needless to say, it went on repeat. Later that summer, it was blueberry boy bait, a cake so decadent and buttery I briefly questioned if it had too much butter, then checked my pulse, realized any talk of too much butter was simply madness, and enjoyed the cake thoroughly for as long as the blueberries lasted. (Also, it worked.) Last year I become enamored with something I called a strawberry summer cake. Round and finely crumbed, yet almost butter-slathered-hot-biscuit in texture, it works best with just-picked and borderline-overripe strawberries that, when baked, nearly dissolve into jammy puddles throughout the cake. I also found that I liked it with some of the regular flour replaced with barley flour; just trust me, it works.

sour cream cake batter

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

cabbage and lime salad with roasted peanuts

peanut lime slaw

I know that on the surface, peering in from your side of the computer screen, this looks like a pile of shredded cabbage, a poorly lit one (look, it was late, okay?). But from my site, from my seat right here, this is pretty much the best thing ever, a yearly event I like to call First Slaw of the Season.

red and green cabbage
salting the cabbage

Yes, friends, rooftop grilling season is back (or it was, er, briefly last Saturday afternoon but not really by Saturday evening, when we shivered around the actual grill; details) and I could not possibly be more excited. That means summer is coming. That means Jacob and I get to go to barbecues as separate human beings this summer (aw). That means that this one, the adult one, gets to have a beer (yay).

limes

Continued after the jump »


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