Winter warm-ups . . . three picnics of varying totability
1. Out-of-the-pack lunch starts with hot soup
Picnic season never stops in the West, where alfresco dining can be
as much fun in January as in July.
We’ve designed three picnic menus to be enjoyed outdoors in
winter. The first movable feast stows in one or two backpacks to travel
on a cross-country ski trip. For the seafood feast, you pack
ingredients to cook and eat at the beach. For the snow picnic, you
carry hot soup and the makings for ice cream sundaes.
Cross-country pack lunch
Begin this meal with a hot, tangy yogurt soup thickened with ground
almonds. Then eat cool slices of veal loaf, served with parsley
mayonnaise and a homemade or purchased chutney. Accompany with your
favorite rice salad dressed with an herb vinaigrette. Finish the meal
with any firm-textured (uniced) cake cut into thin slices.
Yogurt Almond Bisque
Veal Spiral Loaf
Herb Vinaigrette Rice Salad
Parsley Mayonnaise Fruit Chutney
Coffee Brandy (optional)
You make this whole meal in advance. Keep the soup hot in a
thermos. Pack the rice salad, parsley mayonnaise, and chutney in
separate containers with tight-fitting lids; tape or clamp shut. You can
pack the veal loaf and the cake in their baking pans to preserve their
shapes. Purchase the bread; cut it in half if needed for packing.
Yogurt Almond Bisque
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground mace
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 quart regular-strength chicken broth
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup unflavored yogurt
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vermouth (optional)
Salt and cayenne
In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium heat, stir butter and onion
until onion is very limp. Stir in paprika, cloves, mace, thyme, and
cumin. Add broth.
In a blender, whirl nuts until finely ground. Add nuts to broth.
Bring to boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Mix the yogurt and flour; whisk into soup. Stir until it boils.
Stir in the vermouth; add salt and cayenne to taste. To hold up to 3
hours, pour soup into a preheated 1-quart thermos. Pour into cups to
sip. Makes 6 servings.–Connie Chesnel, Sun valley, Idaho.
Veal Spiral Loaf
2 pounds ground lean veal
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup minced green onion
3/4 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
8 thin slices (2 to 4 oz.) prosciutto or cooked ham
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup minced parsley
3 thin slices (about 3 in. square) Swiss cheese, cut in half
Parsley mayonnaise (recipe follows)
In a bowl, beat eggs to blend; add veal, bread crumbs, tomato
juice, onion, oregano, salt, and pepper; mix together.
On a 12- by 15-inch piece of foil, pat meat mixture into a 9- by
Arrange prosciutto slices over meat, leaving 1/2-inch margin around
edges. Sprinkle shredded Swiss cheese and parsley onto prosciutto.
Starting at one of the short ends, carefully roll up meat, using the
foil to lift meat; peel off foil. Pinch edges of meat together to seal.
Place the roll, with seam side down, in a greased 5- by 9-inch loaf pan.
Bake in a 350| oven until meat is no longer soft in center (cut to
test), 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Overlap cheese slices on top of loaf and
return to oven briefly just to melt cheese. Let cool; cover and chill,
at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Leave in pan to transport. To
serve, turn out of pan and cut into thick slices. Pass parsley
mayonnaise to spoon over individual servings. Serves 6.
Parsley mayonnaise. Mix 1 cup mayonnaise; 3 cloves garlic, pressed
or minced; 2/3 cup minced parsley; 2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves; and
salt and pepper to taste. Serve, or cover and chill up to 1 day.
2. Seafood stew to cook at the beach. Dunk your bread sticks
in the broth
Seafood beach feast
You make a few preparations at home, then head for the beach. Stop
en route at a fish market to buy fresh seafood–or collect shellfish at
the beach if permitted.
At the seashore while the main dish heats, nibble on appetizers of
marinated olives and stalks of celery or fresh fennel to dip into the
Serve the seafood on wide plates with mugs of caper-accented broth.
Offer the buttery breadsticks for dunking. End with cheese and fruit.
Marinated Olives Fennel or Celery
Steamed Shellfish with Caper Cream Broth
Brie with Pear or Apple Slices
Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay Cider
At home, make the marinated olives, or purchase Greek-style olives
from the deli. Also, toast the giant breadsticks and prepare the
ingredients you’ll need for the seafood broth base.
Pack a brush and bucket to scrub clams and mussels, a big kettle,
and campstove for cooking (or use a fire ring at the beach, if
permitted). Bring big napkins, utensils to crack crab, and wet cloths
for cleaning hands.
While the broth base simmers, clean the seafood. If there’s a
fire, set the bread alongside to warm.
In a 1 1/2- to 2-cup wide-mouth jar, mixtogether 1/2 cup olive oil
or salad oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1/2
teaspoon crushed dried red hot chilies, and 1 clove garlic, crushed.
Add 1 can (7 oz.) black ripe olives, drained. Cover and shake to coat
olives; chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 week. Makes 1 3/4 cups,
enough for 4 servings.
Steamed Shellfish with Caper Cream Nectar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (about 14 1/2 oz. each) regularstrength chicken broth
3 cups dry white wine
1 strip (4-in.) lemon peel, yellow part only
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 dozen hard-shelled clams (suitable for steaming) or mussels (or
some of both), well scrubbed
8 to 12 large shrimp (about 1 lb.), deveined and shelled if desired
1 cooked whole crab in shell (1 1/2 to 2 lb.), cleaned and cracked
In an 8- to 10-quart pan, stir butter and onion over medium heat
until onion is limp. Add broth, wine, lemon peel, and capers.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cream,
parsley, and clams; cover and simmer 5 minutes.
Add mussels, shrimp, and crab. Bring to a boil, then cover and
simmer until clams and mussels open (discard those that do not open),
shrimp is opaque throughout when cut, and crab is hot, 4 to 5 minutes
With a sotted spoon, lift out seafood and place on platter or
plates. Ladle brogh into cups to sip. Serves 4.
Mix together 1/2 cup (about 1/4 lb.) melted butter or margarine,
1/2 cup minced green onion, 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves, and 2 cloves
garlic, pressed or minced. Cut 2 baguettes (5 oz. each) lengthwise into
Brush butter mixture over cut sides of bread. Broil about 4 inches
from heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Makes 8
pieces, enough for 4 servings.
3. Thermos picnic shown on our cover. You build a one-bowl
Soup, sundaes in the snow
This menu features a warming one-bowl meal based on a chicken and
rice soup, with condiments of black beans, salsa, and cilantro butter to
add to taste. The green-flecked butter is also good spread on bread.
Radishes Whole Green Onions
Chicken and Rice Soup with Condiments
Hot Fudge Sundaes
Chocolate Chip Cookies (optional)
Wine Assorted Juices
Prepare the soup and condiments ahead. The soup, black beans, and
chocolate sauce can be reheated before packing in preheated thermos
jugs. If travel time is short, bury the ice cream in the snow to keep
it firm. For long-distance transport, pack it in dry ice.
Chicken and Rice Soup with Condiments
2 1/2 quarts regular-strength chicken broth
1 broiler-fryer chicken (3 to 3 1/2 lb.), cut up
2 medium-size onions, quartered
1 cup chopped parsley
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
Salt and pepper
Black beans (recipe follows)
Salsa (recipe follows)
Cilantro butter (recipe follows)
In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine broth, chicken pieces, onions,
parsley, and tomato paste; cover and simmer until meat at thigh bone is
no longer pink (cut to test), 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from heat. Lift out chicken and cool; remove and discard
skin and bones. Tear meat into bite-size pieces; set aside. Strain
broth; discard onions and parsley. Bring soup to a boil and add rice.
Cover and simmer until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Skim off and
discard fat. (If made ahead, cover and chill chicken and broth
separately. Reheat broth to simmering.) Add chicken and simmer until
chicken is hot, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To hold up to 3 hours, put into a 3 1/2-quart preheated thermos. Ladle
soup into large mugs or bowls; add black beans, salsa, and cilantro
butter to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Black beans. Remove and discard any debris from 1/2 pound (1 1/4
cups) dried black beans; rinse beans.
In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan over medium heat, cook 1/2 pound
diced bacon until crisp, stirring occasionally. Drain off and discard
all but 1/4 cup of the fat. Add 1 medium-size onion, chopped, and 3
tablespoons minced fresh ginger; stir often until onions are limp, about
5 minutes. Stir in the beans and 4 cups regular-strength chicken broth.
Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until beans are tender to bite, adding
more water if needed, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (If made ahead, cool, cover,
and chill. Reheat, stirring, over low heat.) To hold up to 3 hours,
put into a 3- to 4-cup preheated thermos.
Salsa. Mix 2 tablespoons salad oil with 1 tablespoon white wine
vinegar. Stir in 3/4 cup minced green bell pepper and 1/4 cup seeded
minced small hot fresh chilies (such as Fresno or jalapeno). If made
ahead, cover and chill up to overnight. Makes 1 cup.
Cilantro butter. Mix 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine (at
room temperature), 1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh cilantro
(coriander) leaves, and 2 cloves garlic, pressed. If made ahead, cover
and chill up to 1 day. Makes 2/3 cup.
Hot Fudge Sundaes
In a 1- to 2-quart pan, stir 6 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces
with 2/3 cup whipping cream over low heat until the chocolate melts.
Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur (optional). (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 1 week, then
stir over low heat to reheat.) To hold up to 3 hours, pour into a
preheated 1 1/2- to 2-cup thermos. To serve, pour over scoops of
vanilla or coffee ice cream, 1 to 2 pints total (pack in dry ice or bury
in snow to keep firm); top with sliced toasted almonds (about 1/2 cup
total). Serves 4 to 6.
Photo: At Sun Valley, Idaho: cross-country skiers picnic on hot
yogurt almond soup and cool slices of veal loaf. Meal was stowed in
Photo: At the beach they serve shellfish hot from the kettle with
mugs of wine- and cream-laced broth for dunking bread sticks
Photo: Assembly line makes quick work of scrubbing shellfish and
cooking it over a campstove
Photo: At lake Tahoe: thermos jugs keep chicken soup and black
beans hot. Crisp radishes and green onions are for munching
Photo: Add black beans and green salsa to individual servings of
chicken and rice soup; if you like, also spoon in cilantro butter
Photo: Spoon chocolate sauce over ice cream for sundaes. Sauce
stays hot in thermos. Snow keeps ice cream firm. Serve with cookies if