We love taking quick day trips around the Capital Region and exploring all of our wonderful surroundings. This month, we’ve developed a great take-along menu for picnics while you’re out adventuring. The foods are all easy to prepare and pack, and will make for a great south Louisiana outdoor lunch this spring.
ON THE MENU:
• Cherrydale Royale
• Homemade Shallot and Chive Boursin-style Cheese
• Sticky Balsamic Glazed Chicken
• Lemon Mascarpone Icebox Pies in Jars
• Creole Tomato and Avocado Salad
One of our favorite spots for a picnic is in our own backyard. We have many memories of sipping kir royales on the lawn with our extended family while the kids played. Since we both live on the Dale streets in the Southdowns area, we decided to make our own version of a kir royale using cherries steeped in rum in place of cassis. The result is quite delicious.
Servings: Yields 6 cocktails
2 cups frozen, pitted, unsweetened cherries
¼ cup sugar
½ cup dark rum
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups fresh cherries
1 bottle Champagne
1. Thaw cherries according to the package directions. Place them in a medium sauce pot.
2. Add the sugar, rum and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat. Allow the cherries to come to room temperature. Place the cherry mixture in an airtight container and chill until you are ready to serve.
5. To Champagne flutes, add a fresh cherry along with a couple of teaspoons of the cherry liqueur. Fill with chilled Champagne, and serve.
HOMEMADE SHALLOT AND CHIVE BOURSIN-STYLE CHEESE
We love serving Boursin cheese as a small appetizer along with fresh vegetables and crusty bread. As it turns out, it’s quite easy to make your own version at home, and even more delicious than the store-bought version. You can change up the flavors by using different fresh herbs from the garden. Our favorite combination is shallots and fresh chives.
Servings: Yields 3 cups
8 ounces softened butter
16 ounces softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
2. Add the shallots, chives, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
3. Place the cheese in an airtight container and chill for a few hours or overnight.
4. Serve with crudites, French bread or crackers. Store the remaining cheese for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
STICKY BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN
Grilled chicken is always a crowd pleaser. It’s an easy dish to pack and take along since it can be eaten at room temperature. This marinated grilled chicken is delicious because it is finished off with a tangy and sweet balsamic glaze that is incredibly flavorful. When we take chicken along for a picnic, we like using bone-in pieces because they tend to stay juicy and retain more flavor.
3 large chicken breasts (bone-in, skin on)
6 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on)
FOR THE BALSAMIC GLAZE:
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Set aside until the chicken is off the grill.
FOR THE MARINADE:
1⁄3 cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1. Cut the breasts in half through the bone. This will make the chicken pieces more equal in size and help to ensure a more even cooking time.
2. Place the chicken pieces into a large plastic freezer bag and set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade. Pour it into the bag with the chicken.
4. Make sure the bag is completely sealed and gently shake it to evenly coat the chicken pieces with the marinade. Place the bag in the refrigerator, and chill for several hours or overnight.
TO PREPARE THE CHICKEN:
1. Heat a grill to 400 degrees. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the pieces on the preheated grill. Evenly space the pieces so the chicken can sear and not steam.
3. Cook the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side and then reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Continue grilling the chicken at this lower temperature for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the juice runs clear and the chicken is tender.
4. Remove the chicken and place it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the balsamic glaze over the chicken while it’s still warm. Toss to coat and cover with foil. Allow the chicken to sit 15 minutes before serving. This chicken is great served warm, but it is also good at room temperature.
LEMON MASCARPONE ICEBOX PIES IN JARS
It’s always nice to serve a little something sweet after a meal, but to bring a whole pie on a picnic is not easy. This recipe works perfect because it is served in small, shallow, individual jars. They are easy to transport, and all you need for serving is a spoon. The lemon and mascarpone make for a delicious combination, with the buttery and crunchy graham cracker crust at the bottom of the jar giving it the right amount of texture. Dig in!
FOR THE CRUST:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and melted butter.
3. Blend until the mixture resembles wet sand.
4. Spread the crumb mixture evenly onto a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.
5. Bake the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to mix the crumb mixture around and place it back in the oven to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until just toasted.
6. Allow the crumb mixture to cool a little before dividing it between 6 (4- to 6-ounce) jars with lids.
7. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the jars to form a crust. Allow it to cool completely before adding in the filling.
FOR THE FILLING:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar
1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the mascarpone with the lemon zest and juice until smooth.
2. Fold in the sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to whip up the cream until soft peaks form.
4. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
5. Fold the whipped cream into the lemon mascarpone until well blended.
6. Place the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large rounded tip.
7. Fill the jars up with the lemon mascarpone filling, leaving a little room at the top so you can close the lid. Chill for several hours or overnight.
This article was originally published in the May 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.