Friday, June 30, 2000
Backyard Barbecues and Porch Picnics Make for Good Summer Eating
Porch picnics and backyard barbecues are a much-loved summertime ritual. Serving a meal in an outdoor locale creates a party-like atmosphere and is an ideal way to celebrate the warm days and evenings of the summer months. Some dishes adapt better than others to a movable feast; it always makes sense to plan a menu that can be prepared in advance and doesn't need to be eaten piping hot.
Two entrees that I especially like to serve at a picnic supper are marinated beef and oven-fried chicken. For the beef, I use eye of the round or sirloin tip (homegrown on our farm, of course!) Both cuts are quite tender and, because of its being boneless and lean, you can serve three or four people to the pound. I usually start preparations for this simple dish the day before serving it. I depend on a good meat thermometer (the kind that you poke into the center of the roast but don't leave during roasting time) to get the meat to the desired point of doneness. The temperature will continue to rise another ten degrees or so when the meat is removed from the oven.
Recipe: Marinated Eye of the Round
One 3 lb. eye-of-the-round (or sirloin tip, which is generally smaller)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix flour and seasonings. Rub meat with the mixture. Roast at 450° for 35 minutes or till a meat thermometer registers 130° for medium rare. Cool.
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste or catsup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Put the cooled roast in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade over it. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for about 8 hours. Remove meat from marinade. Slice thinly on a wooden serving platter. Dribble some of the marinade over the roast, with accompaniments such as pickles, Videlia onion rings, mustard and catsup.
Baked chicken is another popular picnic entree. Nothing beats old-fashioned fried chicken, but not many of us do much frying anymore. And "store-bought" fried chicken, to my way of thinking, just isn't that good. This simple recipe for "oven-fried" chicken is a good alternative, and it is a healthier choice. Served hot, cold or room temperature, it is delicious.
In fact, I wish that it were available in my refrigerator at all times!
Recipe: Oven-Fried Chicken
5 lbs. (approximately) chicken pieces
I generally buy thighs and split chicken breasts. For this recipe, I use chicken on the bone. Leave the skin on or pull it off according to your preference.
Mix 1 cup oil and vinegar salad dressing (make your own or use Paul Newman's Olive Oil & Vinegar)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried tarragon
Marinate the chicken pieces in this salad dressing overnight.
Crumb Mixture: 1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (a mixture of basil, oregano, rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Roll the marinated chicken in bread crumb mixture. Bake in a single layer in a greased 13x9" pan for one hour and ten minutes at 350° without turning. That's all you do!
I find that vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike enjoy roasted vegetable dishes. Feedback to my cookbook, "Carolyn's Kitchen Revisited" tells me that "Italian Roasted Vegetables" is the most popular recipe in the book. Served warm, cold or at room temperature, the dish is perfect for a picnic supper. Additionally, it can be prepared in advance.
Recipe: Italian Roasted Vegetables
1 large green or yellow pepper, cut in rings
1 large red peppers, cut in rings
2 medium onions, cut in rings
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 pound mushrooms, halved if large
1/3 cup black olives, whole or halved
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each basil, oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Arrange vegetables and olives in a lightly-greased, shallow baking pan. Combine crumbs and seasonings; sprinkle over vegetables. Mix oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Drizzle over ingredients in baking pan. Bake uncovered at 350°for 35 minutes.
This is the time of year to savor fruit for dessert. A bowl of fresh fruit, fruit salad or fruit served over ice creamall are worthy desserts for a summer meal. But there is something especially memorable about an old-fashioned fruit crisp as an ending to a summer picnic. Peaches and blueberries, both available now, team well in this dessert. Like the other dishes I've suggested, this one is good served hot or cooled. Top individual servings with ice cream or yogurt. Or make a simple sauce by mixing 1 cup of sour cream with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
Recipe: Blueberry-Peach Crisp
1 pint fresh blueberries, picked over
4 medium to large peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup old fashioned or quick oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
In a shallow, 1 1/2 quart, lightly-greased baking dish, mix fruit, white sugar and juices. For the topping, combine brown sugar, oatmeal, walnuts and flour in a small bowl. Add cold butter, cut into small pieces, and mix with a fork or your fingers until small crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Have a happy summer, everybody!
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito