The Main Menu: Some cool recipes to help create a perfect summer picnic

If you are planning a picnic this August long weekend, Jan Main's recipes for Scotch Eggs, French potato salad and coleslaw can help make it a perfect summer celebration.

By JAN MAIN

A picnic, according to the dictionary, is a pleasure outing including an informal outdoor meal. It can be an easy breakfast by the lake early in the morning and sandwiches carried in your backpack while you cycle, or as elaborate as champagne and pate by the River Avon in Stratford.

The operative words are “pleasure outing” and “outdoor meal.” Keep it simple and have fun! The following recipes are designed with those intentions.

Scotch Eggs

These are simple to eat, tasty and portable!

Ideally, Scotch eggs are made the day before. Pack in a container with an ice-pack in your picnic bag to keep cool. Cut in half and serve with your favourite mustard for dipping,

4-6 hard cooked eggs, peeled and patted dry
1 lb (500g) sausage meat (Schneider’s Mini sizzlers in the freezer section of the supermarket work well)
2 cups (500 mL) fresh bread crumbs, about 2 slices of bread made into crumbs with a blender or food processor

Hard Cooked Eggs: Please note, the term is hard cooked, not hard boiled. If you boil eggs, they become tough and rubbery. Place eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold in a single layer covered with cold water 1 inch (2.5 cm) over top of egg. Bring to boil; immediately reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes then immediately immerse in ice water to cool rapidly, then peel and pat dry.

If sausage meat is frozen defrost then squeeze meat out of skins and discard. Divide the meat evenly among the 4-6 eggs and shape meat evenly around egg then dip into a bowl of freshly made breadcrumbs and coat evenly with crumbs. Repeat with remaining eggs.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F (190 c). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange Scotch eggs on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Cool on rack; cover and refrigerate until ready to pack.

Keep for up to 3 days chilled. Makes 4-6 servings.

French Potato Salad

A great potato salad to take on a picnic because of the vinegar marinade which makes it tasty but safe to tote in a picnic bag with ice-pack. May be made a day ahead and keeps well for several days refrigerated.

1 1l2 lbs (1 kg) tiny new potatoes, washed (about 6 cups)
Marinade
1/2cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) white wine vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) white wine
1 tsp (5 mL) each, Dijon mustard, tarragon and salt
1/4 tsp ( 1 mL) fresh black pepper
2 tbsp (2 mL) fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh chopped chives

Wash potatoes (many are pre-washed, check) then steam in a steamer for 15 – 20 minutes or until tender. In a mixing bowl, whisk together wine vinegar, wine, mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes while still hot. Cool; sprinkle parsley and chives and toss to coat. Refrigerate. Makes 6 cups (1 ½ L).

Coleslaw

Wonderful for picnics and barbecues as it is marinated and travels well with an ice-pack. You can use any cabbage or mixture of cabbages, but I prefer the delicate flavour of napa cabbage and find it easier to slice thinly.

6 cups (1 1/2 L) finely shredded nappa cabbage or mixture
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted almonds
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
Marinade:
1/3 (75 mL) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15mL) each, granulated sugar and soy sauce
1 tsp ( 5 mL) sesame oil (optional)
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, salt and fresh black pepper

In a mixing bowl, combine shredded cabbage, red pepper, onions and almonds.

In food processor or mixing bowl with whisk, combine oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Add parsley or cilantro (coriander) and toss. Cover and refrigerate.

Keeps well for up to 5 days. Makes about 6 cups (1 ½ L).


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