Tidewater Kitchen - May 2008

Hot Weather Foods That Travel Well

by

Pamela-Meredith-Doyle

    Great foods from picnics to meals on the boat! Portable, packable dishes are perfect for brown bag lunches, or for packing up for the boat. Whether you’re attending a holiday cookout or want to take homemade food to a fun boating event, try these great recipes, many of which can be made ahead.
     Summer foods are simple and fresh. If it’s warm outside, it’s time for refreshing salads, hearty sandwiches and fun foods that you can eat with your fingers. Eating outside makes you even more hungry for those tasty treats that are more fun to eat while  being in the fresh air.
     Packing the right foods for the picnic: Any time you are preparing a warm-weather menu, buy what is in season. The ingredients in the summer reflect all of the wonderful things you can find at your farmer’s market or the freshest ingredients your local grocery store carries. The stores and markets are abundantly stocked with beautiful and tasty foods, wonderful stacks of great corn, and smooth, ripe red tomatoes.
     Getting it all out the door: The aim in summer, especially for picnics, is less cooking, which will keep your kitchen cool. I like to use the grill because it gets me outside and it keeps the house cool.
     Whether your food is taken on the boat, to the beach, to a gathering or picnic, summer foods need to travel well. I don’t want to worry about reheating when I get to my destination, though last-minute grilling is a fun event. I have done it with a portable grill on the beach with a group of friends. The heavenly aroma always gathers a crowd!
     I like to be very organized so I can enjoy myself without fussing. I do all my prepping the morning of, then all I have to do is bring the food outside or to my destination. I also keep the pantry stocked with my favorite pastas, sodas, crackers, cookies and  fun snacks for the kids. Then everyone is happy and there is no stress.
     Transporting hot-weather foods: A good cooler or two is a must. Some of my friends love the ones with wheels because they do a lot of boating. If you go to the beach, like we do, the wheels really don’t go well with the sand.
     Gel packs are great and can be kept frozen, ready to use at a moment’s notice. Freeze juice boxes and pack them with the foods. They help keep the foods cold, and the drinks are perfect for the kids when you get there.
     Wrap foods well in plastic wrap, zip-lock bags or foil and pack them carefully in the cooler, surrounded by ice packs.
     If transporting raw chicken for the grill, wrap it well and pack it in a separate cooler or insulated bag so it doesn’t come in contact with already prepared foods.
     Return salad and other dishes with perishable ingredients like mayonnaise to the cooler with ice packs as soon as you serve. Bring them out again later for seconds or thirds.

CHICKEN WINGS with
CRUMBLED BLEU CHEESE SAUCE

These chicken wings are good hot or cold, so you can serve them right away, or make them up ahead. Celery and carrot sticks are great to serve with these. Pack everything in an insulated bag and they are ready to go anywhere.

1 cup cider vinegar
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
3 T. chili powder
1 t. dried red pepper flakes
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. Tabasco suace
4 pounds chicken wings, cleaned and patted dry
1 recipe blue cheese sauce

To make the marinade, stir together the vinegar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Place the chicken wings in a large heavy-duty zip-lock bag. Add the marinade, press out the air and seal the bag tightly. Massage the bag to distribute the marinade. Set in a large bowl and refrigerate for several hours, turning and massaging every 30 minutes.
Prepare the grill. Remove the wings from the marinade and pat them dry, reserving the marinade. Arrange the wings on the grill, turning frequently. Baste them frequently, and watch for flare-ups. Have your spray bottle handy. Cook about 25 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce and celery sticks.

BLUE CHEESE SAUCE
Use this as a dipping sauce for chicken wings, or for vegetables. It is so delicious that you will most likely never go back to bottled again.

2/3 cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 T. milk

Whisk the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and bleu cheese in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add enough milk to make the consistency of batter. Cover and refrigerate.

MUFFOLETTA
This was made famous in New Orleans and is an overstuffed, highly flavorful sandwich thatoriginally came from Sicily. A classic Muffoletta is stuffed with cold cuts, but if you are a vegetarian you can stuff it with your favorite pickled or grilled veggies. Some people enjoy it warm, right out of the oven, but this is also great wrapped in foil and served at room temperature.

¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 t. dried oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
10 large pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
¼ cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) round bread loaf - about 7 inches in diameter and 3 inches high
4 ounces thinly sliced ham
4 ounces thinly sliced mortadella
4 ounces thinly sliced salami
4 ounces sliced provolone
4 ounces thinly sliced Emmentaler cheese
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1½ ounces arugula leaves

Whisk the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Gradually blend in the oil. Stir in the olives and roasted peppers. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Tip: If you are in a hurry, I like the Olive Tapenade that Trader Joes carries. You can use that in place of the first eight ingredients.
Cut off the top 1 inch of the bread loaf. Set the top aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread. Spread some of the olive and roasted pepper mix over the bread bottom and cut side of the bread top. Layer the meats and cheeses in the bread bottom. Top with the onions, then the arugula. Spread the remaining olive and roasted red pepper mix on top of the sandwich and carefully cover with the bread top. You can serve the sandwich immediately or you can wrap the entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator a day before serving.
Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve.

MIXED ANTIPASTA
This is very colorful and enjoyed at all picnic gatherings. Serves 6 to 8.

For the marinade:
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ t. crumbled dried rosemary
1 t. dried basil, crumbled
1 t. dried oregano, crumbled
¼ t. dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
½ cup olive oil

3 large carrots, cut diagonally into ¼-inch slices
2 small fennel bulbs, cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
2 red bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips
12-ounce jar pickled Tuscan peppers, rinsed and drained
¾ pound green brine-cured olives
¼ pound sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and cut into strips
¾ pound marinated small mozzarella balls
½ pound hard Italian sausage cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
2 7-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

Make the marinade: In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, the vinegars, rosemary, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Add the oil in a stream, whisking constantly until emulsified.
In a large saucepan of boiling water, blanch the carrots and fennel for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender. Drain them and then plunge them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let the vegetables cool and drain them well.
In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, fennel, roasted peppers, Tuscan peppers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated mozzarella balls, Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, marinade and minced parsley. Mix well and chill, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Transfer the antipasta to a platter and serve at room temperature.

GRILLED SALMON SANDWICHES
2 pounds fresh wild salmon fillets, trimmed of skin
Good olive oil
Kosher slat
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges for garnish
Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
¾ t. white wine vinegar
12 fresh basil leaves
¾ cup chopped fresh dill
1½ T. chopped scallions (white and green parts)
¼ t. kosher slat
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
3 t. capers, drained
To assemble:
6 favorite rolls of choice
¼ pound baby arugula greens

For the salmon, heat coals in an outdoor grill and brush the top of the grill with oil. Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill for 5 minutes on each side, or until the salmon is almost cooked through. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes (the salmon will continue to cook).
For the sauce, place the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, basil, dill, scallions, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until combined. Add the capers and pulse 2 or 3 times.
To assemble the sandwiches, slice the rolls in half. Spread a tablespoon of sauce on each cut side. On the bottom half place some baby arugula greens and then a piece of salmon. Serve immediately.
If you are traveling, put the grilled salmon in a Tupperware container and the greens in a baggie and assemble the sandwiches when you are ready to eat; otherwise they will get soggy.

BABY BACK RIBS
Serves 4
2 full racks (quartered) baby back ribs
1 quart beef broth
2 cups barbecue sauce (I like Bullseye Original Barbecue Sauce)
1 cup honey

Place ribs and beef broth in a heavy Dutch oven and add enough water to fully cover the ribs. Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. Once tender, remove ribs and set them aside.
Preheat the grill to medium heat. In a medium bowl, combine barbecue sauce and honey. Baste ribs generously with sauce and grill for about 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree on doneness.

HUMMUS
Serves 8
This flavorful puree is made from chickpeas and tahini. Tahini is a toasted sesame seed paste that is used in Mediterranean countries for sauces and dips. A number of garnishes can be used for this, including toasted pita bread wedges, crostini, lemon slices and vegetables.

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 4 hours
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup tahini
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 T. fresh garlic, creamed
½ t. ground cumin
1½ t. sea salt

Drain the chickpeas and place them in a saucepan with fresh water. The water should go two inches above the chickpeas. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to low. Simmer the chickpeas for 1 hour or until tender. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid.
In a food processor or blender, combine the chickpeas, half of the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and a quarter cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Process until soft; add more of the cooking liquid if necessary. Taste the mixture and season with the lemon juice and salt if necessary.
Serve the hummus on a plate garnished with parsley and lemon wedges. Drizzle some olive oil over it just before serving.

GRILLED VEGETABLE WRAPS
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded and deveined
1 green bell pepper, halved, seeded and deveined
1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch slices
1 red onion, sliced
1 zucchini, cut into lengthwise slices
4 mushrooms, wiped clean
¼ cup olive oil
3 T. balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Dijon mustard
Your favorite cheese, sliced
4 flour tortillas of any flavor

Heat a grill or broiler to high heat. Grill each of the vegetables until tender-crisp, turning frequently so they don’t burn. Slice the bell peppers and mushrooms into thin slices.
Spread a thin layer of mustard on each piece of bread. Lay the sliced vegetables on top of one another on each piece of bread along with the cheese. Roll up one of the unfolded sides tightly to the end. Cut on a bias and serve.

ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
1 small bunch fresh parsley, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
1 small bunch dill weed, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
1 small shallot, peeled and diced small
4-6 ounce dry blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste
1 box corkscrew pasta

Put all ingredients, except pasta, into a large bowl and mix together. Set aside at room temperature.
Cook pasta al dente. Once pasta is cooked, drain immediately and pour into large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Toss well and allow to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
After that you can refrigerate, but it tastes best at room temperature.

SOUR CREAM SHRIMP
This is great as an appetizer served with bagel chips or as a shrimp salad on a bed of mixed greens. You can even serve it on a roll for the hearty eater.

2 pounds steamed shrimp, without seasoning
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon pepper
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Half a Vidalia onion, sliced
3 scallions, sliced

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice together. Add the salt and pepper. Stir in the peeled shrimp and other ingredients.
Serve with light thin crackers or bagel chips, which are my favorite.
This is best made at least 4 hours before hand to allow the flavors to meld.

MOM’S FAVORITE CUCUMBER & ONION SALAD
2 large cucumbers
2 large onions
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 small bunch parsley

Peel cucumbers and slice into a large bowl. After slicing one cucumber, sprinkle slices liberally with salt. Then slice the second cucumber on top of the first and sprinkle again with salt.
Put another, smaller bowl on top the of cucumber slices and add weight (cast iron skillet, heavy books, ect.). Let sit for 3 hours.
Rinse the cucumbers and drain on paper towels. In a jar mix the sugar, vinegar and some parsley. Shake well. Slice onions into rings. Add onions and cucumbers to the liquid in the jar. Shake.
Store in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before eating.