Tagged With: Picnic
Tart, sweet and dramatically red, rhubarb never tasted so good as in this rustic cake with lemon thyme. The cake is moist and fluffy on the inside with a slight crisp on the outside edge. The sharpness of the rhubarb combined with the delicate pungency of the lemon thyme make this a most wonderful way to take advantage of an abundant rhubarb harvest.
In the last few weeks, we’ve shown you a host of delicious recipes and grilling tips for your summer cookout. We’ll continue to roll those out as summer grilling season progresses, but with the hottest grilling day of the year coming up (solstice, 4th of July, take your pick), we want to take a moment to address all those pesky little details that go into planning an awesome cookout.
#1 Location, location, location
Whether you choose to host a cookout in your own backyard, park, or camp site, you’ll need to consider the logistics. Choosing your backyard will make things easier for you, but the mess left behind is yours to deal with and yours alone. Make sure if you’re having your grilling party elsewhere that you have plenty of supplies for food and drink, and that you get the tough prep work out of the way early.
Waiting for the first batch of goods from the grill can seem like an eternity. Help your guests get through the wait by grilling up some appetizers, like these shrimp:
Looks good, doesn’t it?
They’ll cook fast and give your guest something to talk about before the main event.
#3 Make your sides easy
Our Chaat Masala Fruit Salad will blow guests away, and can be prepared in advance. You can use it as an appetizer as well.
If you want to include corn as a side dish, you might already know about the technique for cooking corn without the benefit of a big pot. It’s called “Cooler Corn” and yes, it’s exactly what you think. Load your ears of corn into a clean cooler, and pour boiling water over it 30 minutes before you plan to serve. Close the lid and forget all about it. This corn will be cooked in roughly 30 minutes, but you can leave it in the cooler for up to 2 hours without it getting over cooked.
Don’t forget to ask guests to chip in on the sides. You never know what they might bring, but that’s why it’s called a potluck. If they love good food as much as you do, you might be the potluckiest!
#4 Keep it simple, stupid
My Mantra. Overplanning, or planning complex events will rob you of the pleasure of grilling and spending time with friends and family. Your guests are there for good food and good company, and in the end if you can provide those two things, you’ll all have a great time. Stop worrying so much, it’s a cookout for crying out loud!
Want to raise a few eyebrows at your next picnic or barbeque? Try our Chaat Masala Fruit Salad for a wholly unexpected treat. This traditional Indian street food combines pungent, piquant and savory spices with black salt, citrus and fresh fruit for a refreshing summer treat. The flavor combinations are outstanding. Try the party sized recipe below and mix it up with just about any seasonal fruits. We were wishing we had some watermelon….or mango….or….
Pork shoulder is one of the most inexpensive cuts of meat, and you can find it almost anywhere. The lean meat is punctuated with ribbons of fat, which self-bastes the pork as it cooks slow and oh-so-low. While the meat is fabulously tender, it doesn’t boast much inherent flavor… which is where our Smoky BBQ Rub comes in. This spice blend, combined with beer, forms a marinade that infuses a wonderful smoked flavor deep in to the roast- you won’t believe it came from the oven. Banana leaves are a nod to traditional Mexican carnitas, effectively steaming the meat as it cooks slowly, holding in the moisture, while imparting some of their own nutty, grassy flavor. They can be purchased in many Latin and Asian markets. You can sometimes find them fresh, but they’ll often be frozen, which works just as well.
Sometimes we just want a little something sweet, but not too heavy. This updated version of a classic blondie fits the bill. Our Cinnamon Toast Spice, featuring Indonesian and Vietnamese cassia-cinnamons with true cinnamon, dark brown sugar and just a hint of nutmeg, perfectly complements the sweet potato base. These disappeared in moments at our last recipe test, and may need a “re-test” in my personal kitchen tonight. They’ve got sweet potatoes in them… so they’re totally healthy, right?
Who doesn’t love food that you can hold in your hand? The beauty of empanadas is that the rich, buttery dough can be filled with almost anything – sweet or savory. Our Ancho Chili Powder is mild-medium in heat and adds magnificent depth to the beef and vegetable filling we chose. Ancho chiles have a wonderful, darkly sweet flavor, so we added a little Alderwood Smoked Salt for just a touch of smoky contrast. They can be served either hot or at room temperature; we like ours with salsa, sour cream and a Hibiscus Margarita. They freeze well, so make a bunch and plan to enjoy them another day, or surprise yourself at how quickly your guests devour the extras.