Summer is in full effect and it’s prime time to get out in the sun and have a good old-fashioned picnic. Perfect for lovers or for groups of friends, picnics are a great excuse to spend an afternoon with people you love in a relaxed park setting. Here are a few tips to create summer picnic traditions that are comfortable and fun.
1. Make something amazing to eat.
Exceptional food for your picnic will make it memorable. Pick a couple of handmade dishes that are special. We like to focus on a couple recipes that have been tried and true then keep the rest easy. Choose something that transports well and can be eaten at room temperature. Here are a couple favorites; a main course and dessert. For sides, we like to grab a couple pre-made salads in the deli section of the local grocery that are easy to grab and go.
Main Attraction – Chicken Marbella
This is one of the most delicious chicken dishes you’ll ever eat. It’s essential to marinade the chicken the day before. Then bake it the day of your picnic and it can be served room temperature. This recipe is from the Silver Palate Cookbook which is a treasure trove for decadent meals.
16 pieces, 10 or more portions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them. 4. Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour. 5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat. Note: To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter. If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, reheat it in the juices, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.
Just Desserts – Let them eat Cake.
Peach Blueberry Cake
With so many delicious peaches in season now, take advantage of that sweet fruit with this irresistible and easy to make cake. Found this on the Epicurious website and it’s from Gourmet magazine circa 2005. Bonus is that it’s fairly rustic so if it breaks apart in transit? NBD.
Peach Blueberry Cake
Yield: Makes 8 servings Active Time: 25 min Total Time: 3 1/2 hr (includes cooling to warm)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
2 lb firm-ripe large peaches (about 4), halved lengthwise, pitted, and each half cut lengthwise into fourths
1 cup blueberries (1/2 pint)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Special equipment: a 9- to 91/2-inch (24-cm) springform pan; an electric coffee/spice grinder
Pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add egg and vanilla and pulse just until dough clumps and begins to form a ball, about 15 pulses.
Press dough onto bottom and evenly (about 1/4 inch thick) all the way up side of springform pan with floured fingertips. Chill pastry in pan until firm, about 10 minutes.
Make filling while pastry chills:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Grind 2 tablespoons sugar with flour and tapioca in grinder
until tapioca is powdery, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Add peaches, blueberries, and lemon juice and gently toss to coat. Spoon filling into pastry and bake, loosely covered with a sheet of foil, until filling is bubbling in center and crust is golden, about 1 3/4 hours.
Transfer cake in pan to a rack and cool, uncovered, 20 minutes, then carefully remove side of pan.
Cool cake to barely warm or room temperature, then cut into thick wedges with a sharp knife before serving.
Pastry can be made and pressed into pan 1 day ahead and chilled, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before filling.
2. Let the games begin!
Bocci and Croquet are super. Or bring a deck of cards which are easy to pack.
3. Bring a big cozy blanket and invite friends.
As a Bedding company, we think the comforts of home should extend to entertaining out of the home as well, and will make your picnic special. Bring a comforter or slip a blanket into a duvet cover for easy cleaning. A big fluffy space to lay out your food, friends, and warm bodies creates the perfect foundation for a picnic you’ll want to make a yearly event.
What are your picnic traditions? Tell us some of your favorite picnic ideas in the comments below!