IF the weather gods smile on us this weekend, pack up your cooler and head to the beach for a good old-fashioned picnic.
I have lots of happy childhood memories of my dad loading the car with blankets, folding chairs, sandcastle equipment and a basket of sandwiches and drinks in preparation for a day at Birch Bay or Crescent Beach. Unloading our feast as the sea breeze blew was a challenge, but a little sand in the potato salad never dampened our enthusiasm. Here are some ideas for filling your own holiday picnic basket - just be sure to include lots of cold packs to keep the food well chilled.
Happy Canada Day everyone!
Calabrese Sandwich Loaf
I haven't shown specific amounts for some of the ingredients - use whatever amount appeals to you. You should be able to find most of the fillings at the deli counter.
1 loaf crusty French or Italian bread, about 18" long
¾ of a 250 gram package cream cheese, softened (or 1 package Boursin garlic and herb cheese)
Olive tapenade (sold in small jars)
1 ?3 cup basil pesto
Sliced Provolone cheese (you can substitute Havarti or Swiss) Thinly sliced salami
Thinly sliced cooked chicken breast, Black Forest ham or mortadella Oil-packed sundried tomatoes, patted dry
Thinly sliced dill pickles, patted dry
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into thin rings
½ medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
Slice the loaf in half lengthwise and remove some of the soft bread inside - leave about a half-inch shell. Spread cream cheese generously on both halves of the bread, then spread the top with tapenade and the bottom with pesto.
Layer the cheese, salami, chicken, sundried tomatoes, pickles, bell pepper and onion on the bottom of the loaf. Cover with the top of the loaf and press down lightly.
With a sharp bread knife slice the loaf into serving portions without cutting all the way through - leave sections slightly connected to make wrapping easier. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and then in foil. Keep cool. Makes six to eight servings.
Fresh Sweet Corn Salad
5 ears of corn, husks removed
½ cup finely diced red onion
16 cherry or large grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup bocconcini pearls (tiny versions of bocconcini)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp good olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper A handful of fresh basil leaves
In a large pot of boiling water with half a teaspoon of sugar added, cook the corn for three minutes to remove starchiness.
Drain and immerse in cold water to stop the cooking. When the corn is cool cut the kernels off the cob into a large bowl (stand the corn upright in the middle of the bowl and run a sharp knife down all sides close to the cob). Add the onion, tomatoes and bocconcini and toss to mix. In a small jar combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper; place lid on jar and shake vigorously to combine (the dressing will taste quite salty and vinegary, but when added to the salad it's just right). If taking this to a picnic, place salad into a large plastic container and take the jar of dressing and basil leaves along separately. When ready to serve shake the dressing again, add to the salad and toss; tear the basil leaves into small pieces, add to salad and toss gently. Makes six servings.
Raspberry Jam Bars
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1½ cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
1½ cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and oats; stir to combine well. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Press half of the mixture firmly into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Spread jam evenly over top, then sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture and press down lightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set. Cool completely on a wire rack and then cut into bars. Makes 12-16 bars, depending on size.
Sparkling Cherry Limeade
2 cans Minute-Maid frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
¾ cup maraschino cherry juice
2 bottles lime-flavoured Perrier sparkling water, chilled
1 lime, cut into thin slices
Maraschino cherries, drained
In a plastic bottle with a screw top combine the thawed limeade concentrate and the maraschino cherry juice; put top on bottle and shake gently. Refrigerate until ready to place into your picnic cooler along with the chilled Perrier. Pack the lime slices and cherries in a separate container.
To serve, place about 1 ?3 cup of the limeade mixture into each of six large plastic cups and top with approximately one cup of Perrier. Place a lime slice and a couple of cherries in each glass. Makes six servings.