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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.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:29 PM   #5
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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.
She who dies with the most toys, wins.
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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
The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again. ~ George Miller
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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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