As the Arizona sun sets, candles and luminarias light the way to this
outdoor dinner party. In the Southwest’s low desert, mild March
nights are favorite times for such outdoor entertaining. Elsewhere in
the West, where fair March weather is less predictable, this picnic menu
adapts easily for indoor dining.
This desert dinner party was desined by the Men’s League of
the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, a fiesta held every February to
support the Scottsdale Center for the arts. We’ve scaled it down
to a party for 12 to 16, and also given you the choice of splitting the
menu to make 2 separate parties, each to serve 6 to 8. The recipes have
many make-ahead steps, and directions for transporting foods, if
The flavors of this meal reflect Arizona’s Indian, Mexican,
and Anglo culinary heritage. If you serve it as a picnic, choose a site
with barbecue facilities or carry along your own gear. Since you will
use the barbecue to grill the birds, cook the rice, and reheat many of
the other dishes, you will need a lot of grill space–3 grills of about
Spring desert picnic
for 12 to 16 Jicama Appetizer with Lime and Chili Beef and Pork
Picado Grilled Birds with Jalapeno Jelly Glaze Black Bean s Maid’s
Rice Cilantro Slaw Pinon Fingers Bunuelos Baked Apples with Cowboy Cream
Wine Beer Sparkling Water
If you serve the meal at home, you can grill the birds on the
barbecue on the patio or roast them in the oven. Recipes for beans,
rice, slaw, and salad are on page 184. Jicama Appetizer with Lime and
Chili To serve 6 to 8, use only 1-1/2 pounds jicama and 1/3 cup lime
juice. 3 pounds jicama, peeled 2/3 cup lime juice Coarse (such as
kosher) or regular salt Chili powder or cayenne
Cut jicama into 1/8-inch-thick slices or into sticks about 1/2 inch
wide and 3 to 4 inches long. If done ahead, package airtight and chill
as long as 1 day. To transport, pack jicama and lime juice in an
insulated chest to keep cold; bring along salt and chili powder.
To serve, mix jicama in lime juice, then arrange jicama in a bowl,
on a platter, or in a basket lined with plastic wrap. Pour remaining
lime juice over jicama; sprinkle with salt and chili powder to taste.
Makes 12 to 16 servings. Beef and Pork Picado 2 pounds each boneless beef chuck and boneless pork butt or shoulder 2 medium-size onions, cut
into wedges 2 medium-size green bell peppers, seeded, cored, and cut
into large chunks 2 cups regular strength beef broth 4 medium-size
tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1
fresh or pickled jalapeno chili, including seeds, minced 1/4 teaspoon
pepper Salt Water
Cut beef and pork, including fat, into about 1- by 1-1/2- by
1-1/2-inch pieces; place in a 5- to 6-quart pan. Cover and cook over
medium-high heat to draw juices out of meat, about 10 minutes.
Uncover meat and cook on high heat, boiling until liquid evaporates
and stirring occasionally. Add onion and bell pepper; cook meat and
vegetables in the rendered fat, stirring frequently, until meat is
fairly evenly browned. Add broth, tomato, garlic, chili, and pepper;
stir to release browned bits from pan bottom.
Reduce heat to keep liquid at a simmer; cover and cook until meat
is tender enough to shred easily when pulled apart with a fork, about
Uncover and boil over medium-high heat until juices are reduced
just below the top of the meat and slightly thickened, stirring more
frequently as mixture thickens; add salt to taste.
Serve; or, if made ahead, let cool, cover, and chill as long as 1
day. To transport, keep cold in an insulated chest. Reheat, covered,
on low heat or on barbecue grill over medium-hot coals; stir often and
add water if needed to prevent sticking. Serve from pan or bowl. Makes
12 to 16 servings in big party menu, 6 to 8 servings in small party
menu. Grilled Birds with Jalapeno Jelly Glaze
Barbecue or oven-roast birds. Order quail at your meat market;
they are usually frozen but may be available fresh. 12 to 24 (3 to 4
oz. each) quail, or 6 to 8 (about 1-1/2 lb. each) Rock Cornish game hens
About 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine 2 tablespoons lime juice 1
jar (about 7-1/2 oz.) jalapeno jelly Salt and pepper Cilantro slaw
(optional; recipe on page 184)
With poultry shears (or have your meatman do it), cut through
backbone of quail, or cut game hens in half. Rinse birds; pat dry. To
transport, keep birds, butter, and lime juice cold in an insulated
chest. Bring jalapeno jelly, salt, and pepper. Also transport the
cilantro slaw cold in an insulated chest.
Combine 1/4 cup of the butter and the jalapeno jelly in a 1- to
2-quart pan; stir until melted on medium-high heat or on the barbecue
over hot coals. Stir in lime juice; set aside.
To barbecue quail or game hens, sprinkle them lightly with salt and
pepper. Place quail (opened flat, bones down) or hen halves (bones
down) on a grill about 6 inches above a solid bed of medium-hot to hot
coals. (For quail, you should be able to hold your hand at grill level
for about 3 seconds before it is uncomfortable; for hens, 8 seconds.
Coals should extend beyond area covered by birds.)
Barbecue quail until browned and breast is light pink at the bone
(cut to test), 7 to 8 minutes; turn several times and baste frequently
the last 5 minutes with jelly mixture, using all of it (coals may
Barbecue hens until browned and breast is no longer pink at bone
(cut to test), 30 to 40 minutes; turn several times and baste with jelly
mixture the last 15 minutes, using all of it.
To oven-roast quail, melt 2 aditional tablespoons butter in a 12-
to 14-inch nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat. Open quail out
flat, then add to pan, skin down and without crowding; cook until skin
is lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan as browned and
arrange, bones down and side by side, in 10- by 15-inch baking pans.
Brown remaining quail in pan as space permits; if butter scorches, wipe
from pan with a paper towel and add more butter, 1 tablespoon at a time,
as needed. (At this point, you can cover quail and chill as long as
overnight. Bring to room temperature to continue.) Brush quail with
jelly mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake in a 500
[deg.] oven, uncovered, basting once or twice and using all the jelly
mixture, until breasts are light pink at bone (cut to test), 5 to 7
To oven-roast game hens, place birds, bones down and side by side,
on racks in 10- by 15-inch baking pans. Brush with jelly mixture and
sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake in a 400 [deg.] oven,
uncovered, until breast is white at bone (cut to test), 30 to 40
minutes, baste occasionally, using all the jelly mixture.
Line a platter with cilantro slaw, if desired, and arrange birds on
top. Makes 12 to 16 servings with big party menu, 6 to 8 servings with
small party menu. Baked Apples with Cowboy Cream 4 medium-size Red
Delicious apples 1/4 cup each melted butter or margarine, firmly packed
brown sugar, and coffee-flavored liqueur Cowboy cream (recipe follows) 2
cinnamon sticks, each about 3 inches, or ground cinnamon
Core apples, then cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick wedges. Overlap
wedges in a buttered shallow 9- to 10-inch round baking dish or pan.
Pour butter over apples; sprinkle with brown sugar and liqueur; sprinkle
with brown sugar and liqueur. Bake, uncovered, in a 350[deg.] oven
until apples are tender when pierced, 35 to 45 minutes. Serve them warm
or at room temperature.
If made ahead, let cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days. Transport
To reheat, cover and place in a 350[deg.] oven or on the grill over
medium coals until warmed, about 20 minutes. Top with cream and
cinnamon; spoon into bowls. Makes 12 to 16 servings with big party
menu, 6 to 8 with small party menu.
Cowboy Cream. In a bowl, combine 1 cup whipping cream, 1
tablespoon each powdered sugar and coffee-flavored liqueur, and 1/4
teaspoon ground cinnamon. Whip until cream holds peaks. Use, or chill,
covered, up to 4 hours. To transport, keep cold in an insulated chest;
stir to serve. Pinon Fingers Pinon is Spanish for pine nuts. 1 cup
(1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature 2-1/4 cups powdered
sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup pine nuts
In a bowl, cream together butter, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and
vanilla. Stir in flour and pine nuts until well mixed. Pinch dough
into about 2-tablespoon portions; on a lightly floured board, roll each
portion into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rope into 2-inch lengths.
Place pieces of dough side by side about 1 inch apart on ungreased
10- by 15-inch pans. Bake in a 275[deg.] oven until edges are tinged
light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Switch pan positions halfway
While cookies are still warm and on the pans, evenly sift remaining
2 cups of powdered sugar over them; let cool. Serve; or, if made ahead,
cover airtight and hold at room temperature up to 1 week (freeze for
longer storage). Transpor cookies in a rigid container. Makes 5 to 6
dozen, enough for 12 to 16 servings with big party menu, or 6 to 8
servings with small party menu. Bunuelos
Make bunuelos from scratch or start with flour tortillas
(directions follow). 1/4 cup lard or shortening 2 cups all-purpose
flour 1/2 cup lukewarm water 1-1/2 cups sugar 1-1/2 teaspoons ground
cinnamon Salad oil
With two knives or a pastry blender, cut lard into flour until fine
crumbs form. Sprinkle with water and stir with a fork until dough forms
a ball. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth. Cover dough and
let rest at least 20 minutes.
Dividde dough into 12ths; keep covered with plastic wrap as you
work; shape each piece into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll each ball
on a lightly floured board to form a circule 7 to 8 inches across.
Stack rounds, separating with waxed paper.
Combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
In a deep 2- to 3-quart pan or a wok, heat 1-1/2 inches oil to
375[deg.] to 400[deg.]
Cut each dough circle into quarters and slip one at a time into
oil. Cook without crowding, turning occasionally until golden brown,
about 1-1/2 minutes. Lift from oil, draining briefly, then dust with
sugar-cinnamon mixture. Repeat until all bunuelos are cooked.
Serve; or, if made ahead, cover airtight and store at room
temperature up to 1 day. Bunuelos are fragile; transport them in a
rigid container. Makes 12 to 16 servings with large party menu, 6 to 8
servings with small party menu.
Quick bunuelos. Cut 12 flour tortillas (7- to 8-in. size) into
quarters. Fry, dust with sugar-cinnamon mixture, and serve as directed