Winter warm-ups … three picnics of varying totability Essay

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 beas much fun in January as in July.

We’ve designed three picnic menus to be enjoyed outdoors inwinter. The first movable feast stows in one or two backpacks to travelon a cross-country ski trip. For the seafood feast, you packingredients to cook and eat at the beach. For the snow picnic, youcarry hot soup and the makings for ice cream sundaes. Cross-country pack lunch Begin this meal with a hot, tangy yogurt soup thickened with groundalmonds. Then eat cool slices of veal loaf, served with parsleymayonnaise and a homemade or purchased chutney.

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Accompany with yourfavorite rice salad dressed with an herb vinaigrette. Finish the mealwith any firm-textured (uniced) cake cut into thin slices. Yogurt Almond Bisque Veal Spiral Loaf Herb Vinaigrette Rice Salad Bread Braid Parsley Mayonnaise Fruit Chutney Cake Coffee Brandy (optional) You make this whole meal in advance. Keep the soup hot in athermos. Pack the rice salad, parsley mayonnaise, and chutney inseparate containers with tight-fitting lids; tape or clamp shut. You canpack the veal loaf and the cake in their baking pans to preserve theirshapes. 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 onionuntil onion is very limp. Stir in paprika, cloves, mace, thyme, andcumin. 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 3hours, pour soup into a preheated 1-quart thermos. Pour into cups tosip. Makes 6 servings.

–Connie Chesnel, Sun valley, Idaho. Veal Spiral Loaf 2 eggs 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 halfdiagonally Parsley mayonnaise (recipe follows) In a bowl, beat eggs to blend; add veal, bread crumbs, tomatojuice, onion, oregano, salt, and pepper; mix together. On a 12- by 15-inch piece of foil, pat meat mixture into a 9- by13-inch rectangle.

Arrange prosciutto slices over meat, leaving 1/2-inch margin aroundedges. Sprinkle shredded Swiss cheese and parsley onto prosciutto.Starting at one of the short ends, carefully roll up meat, using thefoil 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 totest), 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Overlap cheese slices on top of loaf andreturn 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. Toserve, turn out of pan and cut into thick slices. Pass parsleymayonnaise to spoon over individual servings.

Serves 6. Parsley mayonnaise. Mix 1 cup mayonnaise; 3 cloves garlic, pressedor minced; 2/3 cup minced parsley; 2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves; andsalt and pepper to taste. Serve, or cover and chill up to 1 day.

2. Seafood stew to cook at the beach. Dunk your bread sticksin the broth Seafood beach feast You make a few preparations at home, then head for the beach. Stopen route at a fish market to buy fresh seafood–or collect shellfish atthe beach if permitted.

At the seashore while the main dish heats, nibble on appetizers ofmarinated olives and stalks of celery or fresh fennel to dip into theolive marinade. 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 Giant Breadsticks Brie with Pear or Apple Slices Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay Cider At home, make the marinated olives, or purchase Greek-style olivesfrom the deli.

Also, toast the giant breadsticks and prepare theingredients 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, ifpermitted). Bring big napkins, utensils to crack crab, and wet clothsfor cleaning hands. While the broth base simmers, clean the seafood. If there’s afire, set the bread alongside to warm. Marinated Olives In a 1 1/2- to 2-cup wide-mouth jar, mixtogether 1/2 cup olive oilor salad oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1/2teaspoon crushed dried red hot chilies, and 1 clove garlic, crushed.Add 1 can (7 oz.

) black ripe olives, drained. Cover and shake to coatolives; 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 (orsome 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 heatuntil 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 andsimmer until clams and mussels open (discard those that do not open),shrimp is opaque throughout when cut, and crab is hot, 4 to 5 minuteslonger. With a sotted spoon, lift out seafood and place on platter orplates.

Ladle brogh into cups to sip. Serves 4. Giant Breadsticks 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 clovesgarlic, pressed or minced. Cut 2 baguettes (5 oz.

each) lengthwise intoquarters. Brush butter mixture over cut sides of bread. Broil about 4 inchesfrom heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Makes 8pieces, enough for 4 servings. 3. Thermos picnic shown on our cover.

You build a one-bowlmeal Soup, sundaes in the snow This menu features a warming one-bowl meal based on a chicken andrice soup, with condiments of black beans, salsa, and cilantro butter toadd to taste. The green-flecked butter is also good spread on bread. Radishes Whole Green Onions Chicken and Rice Soup with Condiments French Bread Hot Fudge Sundaes Chocolate Chip Cookies (optional) Wine Assorted Juices Prepare the soup and condiments ahead. The soup, black beans, andchocolate sauce can be reheated before packing in preheated thermosjugs. If travel time is short, bury the ice cream in the snow to keepit 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 isno longer pink (cut to test), 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from heat. Lift out chicken and cool; remove and discardskin and bones. Tear meat into bite-size pieces; set aside. Strainbroth; 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 anddiscard fat. (If made ahead, cover and chill chicken and brothseparately.

Reheat broth to simmering.) Add chicken and simmer untilchicken 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. Ladlesoup into large mugs or bowls; add black beans, salsa, and cilantrobutter to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Black beans.

Remove and discard any debris from 1/2 pound (1 1/4cups) dried black beans; rinse beans. In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan over medium heat, cook 1/2 pounddiced bacon until crisp, stirring occasionally. Drain off and discardall but 1/4 cup of the fat.

Add 1 medium-size onion, chopped, and 3tablespoons minced fresh ginger; stir often until onions are limp, about5 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, addingmore 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 winevinegar. Stir in 3/4 cup minced green bell pepper and 1/4 cup seededminced small hot fresh chilies (such as Fresno or jalapeno). If madeahead, cover and chill up to overnight.

Makes 1 cup. Cilantro butter. Mix 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.

) butter or margarine (atroom temperature), 1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh cilantro(coriander) leaves, and 2 cloves garlic, pressed. If made ahead, coverand chill up to 1 day. Makes 2/3 cup. Hot Fudge Sundaes In a 1- to 2-quart pan, stir 6 ounces semisweet chocolate pieceswith 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, thenstir over low heat to reheat.) To hold up to 3 hours, pour into apreheated 1 1/2- to 2-cup thermos.

To serve, pour over scoops ofvanilla or coffee ice cream, 1 to 2 pints total (pack in dry ice or buryin snow to keep firm); top with sliced toasted almonds (about 1/2 cuptotal). Serves 4 to 6. Photo: At Sun Valley, Idaho: cross-country skiers picnic on hotyogurt almond soup and cool slices of veal loaf. Meal was stowed inbackpacks Photo: At the beach they serve shellfish hot from the kettle withmugs of wine- and cream-laced broth for dunking bread sticks Photo: Assembly line makes quick work of scrubbing shellfish andcooking it over a campstove Photo: At lake Tahoe: thermos jugs keep chicken soup and blackbeans hot. Crisp radishes and green onions are for munching Photo: Add black beans and green salsa to individual servings ofchicken and rice soup; if you like, also spoon in cilantro butter Photo: Spoon chocolate sauce over ice cream for sundaes. Saucestays hot in thermos. Snow keeps ice cream firm.

Serve with cookies ifdesired

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