Eating in the great outdoors

Chef Babz Goldman

My favorite meals always have been a little impromptu. Planned, but not planned. Personally, the majority of those meals have also been outside. There is something irresistibly festive about eating outdoors. Planned or unplanned, the outdoors lends her ambiance and reminds us to look up from the table.

As basic as peanut butter sandwiches at a picnic table, my mother always pushed us to get out of the house and enjoy eating outside. Mom carried a picnic blanket with her through most of graduate school, pulling out the purple and teal plaid table covering out at a moments notice. We needed the fresh air, she would remind us all.

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. My grandmother and I regularly ate peanut butter and crackers, or grabbed a burger from Hutchinson’s and would enjoy it down on the river. It just tastes better like this doesn’t it, my grandmother would ask, but also answer. And it did!

The fresh air was good for us, but there was always something special about that time spent out of the house eating either somewhere special, or somewhere we made special. Mother nature gives us an ambiance abundant visually, but the smells and sounds are many times equally inspiring.

Today I have included a few of my favorite picnic items. Take your lunch outside, or make dinner outside. Enjoy this summer before we wake up and it’s chilly out. I hate to say it, but it will be here before we know it.

Good luck and enjoy!

Picnic Items to Think About Bringing: Picnic blanket, festive plates, napkins, forks, containers for food, cups, water, insect repellent, flowers or decorations, salt & pepper.

Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad

4 cups of pasta, cooks choice (I love penne or something bite sized), cooked, rinsed under cold water, drain

8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, drained and thinly chopped up

3 tbsp red onion, chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp olive oiled

1 cup basil, chopped

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Place pasta in a large bowl. Add all ingredients and toss. Add additional seasoning or oil if you prefer. Chill for at least an hour prior to serving.

Brie, Fig Jam and Apple Sandwich

Makes 4

1 loaf of crusty bread like a baguette, French or Italian bread

4 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 lb brie cheese, sliced

1 1/2 medium apples, thinly sliced, I prefer green 4 tbsp fig jam

Slice bread in half. Spread Dijon on one half and fig jam on bottom half. Top brie with apple slices. Place top half over apples. Either slice then into four sandwiches or wrap and slice on location.

Corn and Tomato Salad

Serves 4

2 ears corn, shucked, boiled, cut off cob, and slightly browned in sauce pan in its own juices

4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced

4 green onions, diced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 ounces feta, crumbled

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon fresh basil

1 tablespoon fresh dill

salt and pepper to taste

Arrange tomato slices on a large plater, over lapping each other. Sprinkle with corn and green onion. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle on platter. Sprinkle with feta and fresh herbs. Serve at room temperature.

Southern Deviled Eggs

8 large eggs

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt, paprika, and fresh ground pepper to taste

Prior to serving, or even much earlier in the day, slice hard boiled eggs and remove yolks. Place yolks in a

small dish and mash with a fork. Add ingredients a bit at a time. Fill in center of egg whites prior to

serving. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, or if you are taking to a game or a party, filling onsite is

recommended as well.

Chewy Caramel Brownies

Makes 2 ½ dozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 cups of packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped nuts (toasted)

½ cup shortening

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

¾ teaspoon salt

Grease and flour a 15 ½’ by 10 1/2’ jelly roll pan. Put all ingredient into a large bowl and mix

at medium speed. Beat until well mixed and even. Bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5

minutes. Cut, and remove with spatula. Allow to cool a little longer on a wire rack. This is the

best time to do this. If you wait to long the caramel will make cutting and removing from pan

more difficult and not as clean.

The recipes and photo used in todays article are from the kitchen of Chef Babz ([email protected]) with a little help from her grandmother, Louise Osborne.

Chef Babz Goldman