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Old 02-21-2014, 03:43 PM   #1
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A picnic to impress?

I really need menu ideas - I'm trying to put together a picnic to impress a certain someone. I'm a decent cook and competent at baking, however I'm completely out of ideas - finding recipes which will travel well enough and are coherent together is really difficult.

One of the attendees is vegetarian, one can't eat chocolate and another is allergic to nuts.

So my criteria are:
- Taste amazing, look really impressive
- Recipes which travel well (won't go off/soggy/squashed/result in food poisoning)
-are mainly vegetarian (gelatine etc... is acceptable. Just no actual meat or fish.)
- Nut free
- Chocolate free

If it can be prepped in advance that would also be amazing.

Happy to consider themed menus (e.g asian/chinese/thai etc...)

Cookery skill isn't a problem - I'm happy to handle pastry, plaitted breads, Pierre Herme's patisserie etc... (just not macarons. They are my nemesis.)

Ideas please?

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Old 02-21-2014, 04:01 PM   #2
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Sounds like you have your work cut out for yourself. Its hard to cook for people who can't eat anything!

That aside. You can make dishes to please everyone. My thoughts are, colorful pasta dishes, fancy fruit baskets, and mabe some veg sushi. Cheese cake is also popular.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:15 PM   #3
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What is the setting? Is it an outdoor picnic? Have you teh means to keep food hot, or cold?

Italian would be a great theme, with maybe a tomato Aspic, Crusty bread to put the aspic on, maybe toast points. Include olives, pickles, or pickled veggies. A lite pastry would travel well for desert, like a cheese danish, or filled, yeast-raised doughnut, long-john, or eclair. Profiteroles would also work.

Other ideas might be baked beans, good bread, apple cider, and fried chunks of tofu, seasoned with a bit of liquid smoke.

If cheese is not a problem, there are few picnics better than those that feature a cheese tasting, with good bread and beverages.

Bruscheta and garlic bread are easy to take on a picnic.

If you have a way to keep it hot, smashed spuds with veggie gravie and lightly steamed asparagus would be scrumptious.

Cold, desert soups are great as well, or for that matter, fresh fruits, such as berries, melons, stone fruits, cherries, etc.

There are a great many yummy sandwiches that can be easily made at the picnic site, such as veggie sandwiches with avocado, mayo, bean sprouts, tomato, and cheese, or PBJ's, or PB&honey.

Me, I'd go with cheese and fruit, with good bread. After that, I'd make sandwiches, or rather, let the others make sandwiches from the ingredients brought.

Three bean salad is always appreciated, especially if the salad is cold. A simple zip-lock bag, and cold chest is all that is needed to carry it.

Others will soon come on, look at what I've suggested and say, hey, what about this, or that. You will have more ideas than you know what to do with.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:24 PM   #4
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If one person is a vegetarian, that doesn't mean no one can have meat.
If another person won't eat chocolate, that doesn't mean...
If a third person can't have nuts,...

Fried chicken is a picnic classic.
A Pasta and/or bean salad for the vegetarian that can also serve as a side for the fried chicken.
Fresh fruits and cheeses.
You should have no problem coming up with a dessert that avoids nuts and chocolate.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
If one person is a vegetarian, that doesn't mean no one can have meat.
If another person won't eat chocolate, that doesn't mean...
If a third person can't have nuts,...

Fried chicken is a picnic classic.
A Pasta and/or bean salad for the vegetarian that can also serve as a side for the fried chicken.
Fresh fruits and cheeses.
You should have no problem coming up with a dessert that avoids nuts and chocolate.
I was thinking the same thing, Andy! Other than the nut allergy, there should be no reason to deprive all for each individual allergy or preference. Nut allergies can be a bit trickier, if it's a young child who's allegic, even a whiff of say, peanut butter can be a problem.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:35 PM   #6
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Welcome Wanda! Boy, you sure travel with a tough-to-feed crowd.

Mediterranean foods stand up to travel well. A bowl of Tabbouleh or hummus perhaps? You can take pita chips or cut-up veggies for the hummus. I also like the Chief's suggestion of a nice cheese and produce selection. If you aren't familiar with all of the different cheese profiles that would make a nice spread, get thee to a cheesemonger. Many shops are more than willing to let you sample any of their items, hoping that just one taste of that $30+ a pound cheese will encourage you to take a nice size piece home. Don't forget that savory items pair well with some cheeses too - grape tomatoes or salty olives are good with the briney or tangy cheeses.

Hope you find what works for your very diverse group. Let us know how it all turns out.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:35 PM   #7
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He did say NO meat or fish.
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:45 PM   #8
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Hi and welcome to DC

I love this sandwich for picnics: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/a...at-recipe.html

I like to make it with roast chicken; you could make more than one and use different fillings for vegetarians and meat-eaters - add lettuce and other vegetables. I've made it several times and the dressing doesn't make the bread soggy.

Pasta or potato salad goes well with this.

Here's an easy dessert that travels well and is really delicious. Someone I used to work with called them orangies
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/p...s-recipe2.html
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Old 02-21-2014, 06:40 PM   #9
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I like the traditional fried chicken idea. I would go with fried chicken fingers of white meat or boneless dark meat. A potato salad, with or without mayonnaise depending on the travel time. Some crisp vegetables, corn muffins, fresh fruit or fruit salad and giant oatmeal cookies.

Calzones and an antipasto platter would also be nice.

I also like the idea of a no work picnic. Pack the basic eating utensils, paper products in the car. Take off on a mystery tour and pick up your picnic items along the way in a grocery, deli, farm stand, winery, bakery etc...
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:38 PM   #10
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Unflavored gelatin mixed into fruit juice would be good. Maybe something like peach nectar and put little peices of strawberries or raspberries in it. There are usually instructions on the gelatin packets for mixing with juice. If you add an extra packet it can be firmer and less likely to melt at room temperature. Then just cut into cubes for easy searving.

A vegetable salad would be good. Maybe something with cucumber, tomato, mixed olives, crumbled cheese, pearl couscous or quinoa, fresh chopped basil or parsley or maybe even mint, and a splash of lime juice.

Another salad idea could be brocoli chopped small, toasted squash seeds (if you buy them instead of making them be sure to check the wrapper to see if they were processed in a plant with nuts or toasted in nut oil), parmesian, and red pepper. Toss with a thin, lightly sweet vinagarette.

Hummus topped with roasted red pepper and fresh pitas cut into wedges. Celery and carrot sticks would also be good with the hummus.

Melon slices are always good at a picnic. Whole fruits like apples and pears would be easy to cut up on site. Give each person a knife and a piece of fruit, maybe have some sort of dip or a cheese pairing for the fruit.

A nice artisan loaf of bread to eat along side everything would be good. Or something like a sliced sourdough. You could bring butter and cinnamon sugar to put on the bread.

To drink, you could put water and ice cubes in mason jars with lids. Add fruit slices, mint, cucumber, berries, or citrus zest, or some combination of those, to the water. One of my favorite combinations is watermelon cubes, mint leaves, and berries. You could add everything except the ice the night before and make each person his/her own jar. They are very pretty to serve. You could even research edible flowers and put one of those or the pettles of one of those floating at the top of each jar.
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:13 PM   #11
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Last picnic I was on all I had was some takeout and a blanket.
Everybody was pleased.
I hope this helps.
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:45 PM   #12
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I'd make a generous platter with an array of pinwheel sandwiches with various fillings. There are dozens of ideas for the fillings. They are both pretty and easy to eat and the vegetarian can see which ones have meat in them to avoid making a fuss. A simple couscous salad with halved grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, basil, and a light lemon dressing would work well.
Lemon bars or lemon tarts would make most people happy.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:44 PM   #13
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Baked beans, cole slaw, broccoli salad, tabouleh (sp), caponata, hummus, some herbed up pre toasted pita triangles. Guacamole, a rice and spinach (kale) or something colorful to add in the rice, either as a casserole or a salad.

Lemon bars. Angel food cake topped with some fresh fruit. Apple or other fruit crisp

If you are in a warmer climate and can hold an outdoor picnic !?! , then you should serve icy cold watermelon slices.
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:30 AM   #14
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I'm going to have to bookmark this thread so that, come picnic season, I can come back and look at the ideas. Lots of good ones coming in.
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Old 02-22-2014, 10:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
If one person is a vegetarian, that doesn't mean no one can have meat.
If another person won't eat chocolate, that doesn't mean...
If a third person can't have nuts,...

Fried chicken is a picnic classic.
A Pasta and/or bean salad for the vegetarian that can also serve as a side for the fried chicken.
Fresh fruits and cheeses.
You should have no problem coming up with a dessert that avoids nuts and chocolate.
Which one of these picky eaters is the certain someone you are trying to impress? If you are trying to impress all of them, best pack some oysters in that pic-a-nic basket!

Yes, fried chicken is a picnic classic, but I have always preferred a store bought rotisserie chicken.

Baked beans, a green bean salad, or multi-bean salads can be served hot or cold, macaroni and potato salads will keep on ice for several hours, or you could just settle for a variety of chips; potato, corn, pita, tortilla, etc. and a selection of dips such as salsa, pico de gallo, bean dip, queso dip, and hummus.

Celery and carrot sticks with some bleu cheese and/or ranch dressing is also a distinct possibility, along with black or green olives and jarred mushrooms. Fresh greens salads can be served with a variety of dressings. Many dressings are packaged in small single serve containers that don't require refrigeration.

For dessert, fresh fruit macerated to bring out the juices and served over a slice of angel food cake or pound cake would be very impressive and be both chocolate and nut free. If you have a cooler full of ice, you can bring along a squirt can of REAL whipped cream to top off the cake and fruit. Bring some Cool Whip for the vegetarian. If it were me, I'd bake up some sweet biscuits, get some strawberries (I live in the strawberry capital of the world so I get them fresh year around, but frozen and thawed will work), and seeing I have that whipped cream and/or the tub of whipped hydrogenated vegetable oil in my cooler, make strawberry shortcakes for dessert.

Buon Appetito!
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:35 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Wanda1989 View Post
One of the attendees is vegetarian, one can't eat chocolate and another is allergic to nuts. - Nut free
I guess I can't come?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Hi and welcome to DC

I love this sandwich for picnics: Pan Bagnat Recipe : Alton Brown : Food Network
This sandwich sounds excellent! Thanks. I saved it.
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:18 PM   #17
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Is the whole outing a surprise? If not, ask the person what works for them. Just a hint or two would help. While most vegetarians might be willing to eat chicken, my mother would not touch chicken except, maybe, during a famine. But neither did she expect any exceptional effort being made for her quirks and would be happy with a fresh french roll, butter or cheese and lots of fruit. You might look into falafel sandwiches. Sorry I don't know much about how to make them.
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:02 PM   #18
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This sandwich sounds excellent! Thanks. I saved it.
It's really good. I should say, I make more of the dressing because I like to brush it on both sides of the bread. I also cut the sandwiches into quarters and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap so at the picnic, I can just give each person their own sandwich - no cutting at the picnic site.

Also, if you make different kinds and cut them into quarters, you can put a piece of tape on each one indicating what kind it is - V for vegetarian, C for chicken, etc.
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