A satisfying repast for casual outdoor fun
As a child, I adored picnics. My parents were avid outdoors people and when summer arrived, there weren’t many weekends that didn’t find us enjoying a meal in the open air. The old Ford station wagon was loaded with hampers, baskets and ice chests for treks to the levee or a spot on the banks of Bayou Teche. The menu was simple — sandwiches, bags of potato chips, a thermos of tea or lemonade and cookies from the local bakery. Often, in the evening on weekdays, Mama and Papa set up the picnic table in our oak-shaded back yard for fish fries, barbecues and seafood boils.
I still firmly believe in family picnics, whether it be at a park, on a boat, at the beach, by the pool or on the patio.
It’s time to get out and enjoy the sights and scents only a Louisiana summer can offer — the fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine, the tweeting of cardinals, chickadees and mockingbirds, the chirping of crickets in the evenings, and the glow of an orange sunset are all the more savored when accompanied by a simple but sumptuous repast.
This is a menu I like but remember it’s best to prepare the items in advance.
Marinated Shrimp and Corn
Makes 6 Servings
¾ cup olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Creole mustard
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 pounds large shrimp, cooked in seasoned water, then peeled and deveined
2 cups fresh corn kernels
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, green onions and parsley in a mixing bowl. Whisk to blend and set aside.
Cool shrimp after they are cooked and peeled. Steam corn kernels in a little water for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and cool.
Place shrimp and corn in a large shallow plastic container. Pour in marinade and toss to coat evenly. Cover and chill for about 4 hours before serving.
On the Side
Herbed Cheese Spread
Makes 20 appetizer portions
½ cup crème fraîche
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Whip crème fraîche in an electric mixer until fluffy and set aside. In a separate bowl, whip cream cheese with the remaining ingredients until light and fluffy. Fold in whipped crème fraîche and refrigerate until ready to use.
I have no issue with bringing store-bought cookies or cakes, but if you have the time, this is one of my go-to pound cakes.
Makes 8-10 servings
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a loaf pan. Lightly dust pan with flour and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift flour with baking soda and cinnamon and stir half of dry ingredients into the batter. Beat in sour cream and vanilla, then stir in the rest of the dry ingredients.
Pour mixture into pan and rap pan sharply on table to remove air pockets. Bake for about one hour until top of cake is golden brown and lightly spongy to the touch. Remove from oven and cool before removing from pan. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil to keep it fresh and moist.
For another picnic perfect recipe, James Beard’s Pâté De Campagne Provencale, visit AcadianaProfile.com