Your Gourmet Picnic for Labor Day 2017
If you have not crossed a hearty summer-inspired picnic off your to-do list yet, the first Monday of the coming September is going to be the right date to go for one. And if you have already crossed it off…Well, nothing can prevent you from adding it to the list again and planning it for September 4th! Have you already guessed what the occasion is?
Right, it is Labor Day! Plus one day off to wave friendly goodbye to the summer 2017, remember its brightest moments, and toast it for them.
We would also like to propose another toast for Peter J. McGuire or Matthew Maguire, or for both of them, as these two labor activists of the late 19th century are actually credited with the original idea of Labor Day as a US federal holiday. They fought for workers’ rights and managed to make the government of that time respect the working class. Let this fact be a little pinch of solemnity, seasoning your cheerful celebration.
So, the reason for a picnic is defined, the place is chosen, the weather forecast is checked. Looks like it is the right time to plan the gourmet menu and pack the baskets!
At Marky’s we have come up with a few helpful tips on managing the successful summer picnic outside the well-familiar backyard as well as selected a number of scrumptious recipes to please the taste buds of your nearest and dearest. Let’s see how to make your Labor Day picnic memorable and delicious!
Tasty Starters or What to Do While Others Are Exploring the Territory
You arrive at a beautiful picnic site, park your bikes or cars, bring all totes and hampers to one place, and…start to decide who is going to do what. Let Ben go and install the grill. Susie will take the kids for a little walk. And the most creative and least hungry of you will prepare some appetizers.
The best solution is spreading the morsels on the table or blanket and let everybody choose what they want. So, what do we have here? You will need some veggies and greenery (but do not take all of them out of the box at once unless you want to feed bugs). And here are your favorite baguettes and buns. Ermm, where is the duck pate?! Ah, here it is. And there is some tuna. Alright. Let’s see how they all can help us make some wonderful appetizers!
They are simple. They are filling. They are delicious. What can be a better starter to celebrate your safe arrival at the picnic place? Let’s check out the best combinations of ingredients for them!
- Gorgonzola cheese + Prosciutto or Jamon Serrano + pear and a drop of honey.
- Gruyere Swiss cheese + Salami + basil.
- Gouda + sun dried or roasted tomatoes + butter (and grill it all).
- Brie + fig jam (grilled).
And here is the other recipe featuring a somewhat extraordinary combination of flavors. If you have about 20-25 free minutes before leaving for the picnic location, make these sumptuous Tuscan Tuna Sandwiches.
- ciabatta bread (1 loaf = 4 sandwiches)
- 1/2 cup your favorite mayo;
- 1/4 cup black olives
- 2 oz. cans oil packed tuna saku, oil drained
- 4-6 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 hard boiled eggs, quartered or sliced
- 2 tbsp. sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 avocado
- 2 cucumbers
- fresh arugula and shredded purple cabbage to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine the tuna with the sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
- Cut the loaf of ciabatta in half lengthwise and spread both halves with the mayo.
- Then spread the tuna and tomato mixture over the bottom half of the ciabatta.
- Place avocado, cucumber, hard boiled eggs, cabbage, and arugula in a single layer.
- Crumble the feta over this layer and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the top half of the ciabatta and push down on the sandwich.
- To serve, slice into 4 equal sandwiches!
Platters and Dips
These are great companions that will never leave your guests and you hungry. As you will anyway take some veggies and greens or, maybe, mushrooms, some olives, cheese and ham with you, why not serve a wonderful antipasto, while the assigned are dealing with the fire? Accompanied by your favorite fresh dips, this is going to be a superb appetizer! By the way, here are some dip ideas for you:
- stir crispy cooked bacon with cream cheese, chopped scallions and dried tomatoes;
- or blend smoked salmon with crème fraiche;
- or choose from one of Marky’s duck pates;
- or try this hummus from Greece.
To Grill or Not to Grill? That… Should Not Even Be the Question
Grilled foods always have very special flavors. It even seems that they soak up the whole surrounding atmosphere, which smells of sun rays, or the lake coast, or the woods. So, when the heated grill is waiting for you to let it serve its mission, you are free to bring into life almost any of your culinary fantasies.
Vegetables and Mushrooms
Just choose the ones you like and grill them. Yet, before you do it, decide on the size of the chops. For example, hot multicolored cherry tomatoes and zucchini pair well with grated Parmesan, especially when drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with minced garlic and basil. And what about grilled baby potatoes, tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper beforehand?
Also, if you want to try to do something new with absolutely traditional corn, rub the whole ears with butter and grill them until they are slightly charred. Then top them with Cheddar (just slice or chop it if there is no possibility to shred it) and chopped bacon. Grill for two minutes more and serve!
Definitely, a grilled meat, poultry, or fish dish is the main course of a classic picnic. But how about approaching such a traditional treat in a slightly creative manner this time? Here is what Marky’s found for you!
Grilled Pork Chops with Raspberries, Vinegar, and Chipotle
- 1 lb. pork chops
- 1/2 cup tomato pesto
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1+ chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 2 tbsp. raspberry preserve
- 2 cups raspberries fresh
- salt and pepper to taste
- for the BBQ sauce, which you’d better prepare beforehand, puree raspberry preserve, vinegar, and chipotle in a food processor or blender and strain to remove the raspberry seeds;
- for the grilled pork chops: heat the grill to medium-high heat and season the pork chops with salt and pepper; place them on the grill and cook until lightly golden brown on one side (3-5 min.);
- then flip them and cook until the pork chops are ready (about 3 min.);
- baste in the BBQ sauce and serve hot.
Fantastic Picnic Desserts and How to Transport Them
Sweet treats for your picnic should actually possess a few very significant qualities. Firstly, they should be transportable. Of course, a cake with loads of cream on its top will not taste worse after it is slightly squashed. But if there is a well-transportable substitute for this dessert, you’d better go for it.
Secondly, as the dessert is usually the very last act of the picnic play, it should feature the ingredients that can keep their original flavors for quite a long time. Or these ingredients should be simple enough if you are planning to make the treat fast right at the picnic spot.
So, let’s see what you can come up with! Of course, fresh fruit or watermelon platter is a versatile and safe variant for the dessert part of the picnic. You could also add some candied apricots or oranges to the treat.
And would you like to bring some fresh pie? Try our Spanish cakes with figs and almonds! This is going to be a perfect final touch to the entire menu.
Post Scriptum: Some Picnic and Cookout Essentials
Whether you are planning to drive your car to the coast or to hike into the nearest woods, there are some versatile must-haves which will stand you in a good stead at a location of any kind. So, let’s first try to overcome the desire to pack everything that can be found in your kitchen and first-aid kit. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Alright. Now we can start.
- Find that bottle opener and put it into the tote or hamper. Experience shows, the little cunning thing does not like picnics that much and prefers to stay at home. But this time it will be the first to take its seat in the basket.
That has just been a little joke. And now we can have a really serious talk.
- Bring a picnic blanket or rug even if the place you will head to can provide you with tables and benches. None of you is going to sit still all day long, right?
- Make sure that you will transport dairy, meat, and fish dishes in separate cool bags or ice boxes. By the way, try to keep them inside as long as possible if you are not going to eat them right after you arrive at the spot.
- If you do not mind plastic plates, bowls, glasses, and utensils, then just make sure you have enough of them to provide everybody with their personal set. Nevertheless, a few normal knives should always be somewhere near you as well. And if you still want to bring those Bohemia wine glasses, pack them carefully in a hamper with something soft. You can also look for special wine holders, which can be stuck into the ground. These are really smart inventions.
- Remember that there cannot be too many napkins, wipes, and paper towels. Especially when there are kids among you.
- Take trash bags. Not only to collect wrappings, napkins, and empty bottles. Some dirty bowls and knives can be easily transported inside such bags back home, where they will be washed.
- An anti-bacterial gel, a bug spray, and a sunscreen will not take much place in your bag, but can make your picnic day much more comfortable. So, do not hesitate to bring them with you. Just do not put them near the foods.
- And do not forget about games. A badminton set, a ball, or a deck of cards will certainly bring much fun.
We hope you will have a lovely picnic and enjoy your time to the fullest!
Happy Labor Day to all of you! And thank you for staying with Marky’s Gourmet Store!