Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"On the Road" Picnic Recipes and Travel Tips

from Award-Winning Chef and Mercedes-Benz USA

Few things are more reminiscent of summer than enjoying the perfect outdoor picnic. With the summer season in full swing, Mercedes-Benz sets the stage for the perfect escape with an “On the Road” picnic menu created by renowned chef Michael White, Executive Chef and Partner of Alto, Convivio and Marea in New York City. Marea, his most recent restaurant, was awarded the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant.

A pioneer of American-style gourmet cooking, Beard was an avid lover of picnics.  Mercedes-Benz and The James Beard Foundation have turned to Chef White to create an innovative menu that inspires food lovers to hit the road.  

This fruitful partnership aims to incorporate the James Beard Foundation’s mission of preserving and celebrating America’s culinary heritage alongside Mercedes-Benz cultural heritage as the inventor of the automobile - a fusion of the finer things in life, namely travel and enjoying good food!

In addition to White’s delicious, yet easy to prepare recipes, Mercedes-Benz offers the following tips and checklist to enjoy the ultimate “On the Road” picnic:
Picnic Checklist:
o   Picnic basket or cooler
o   Bottled water (tip: freeze overnight and use as an ice pack)
o   Outdoor dinnerware
o   Flatware or plastic silverware
o   Napkins / paper towels
o   Sturdy glassware
o   Corkscrew and/or bottle opener
o   Tablecloth or blanket
o   Trash bag
o   Hand sanitizer or wipes 
o   Salt and pepper
o   One sharp knife (consider using a Swiss army knife)

Optional Items
o   Portable speakers and iPod (don’t forget to charge!)
o   Camera
o   Sunscreen (depending on day or evening picnic)
o   Bug spray or citronella candles (don’t forget matches for candles)
o   Decorative centerpiece (a cup of freshly plucked wildflowers, a beautiful dessert)
o   Candles or lantern (evening picnic)
o   Bug net

Location and Planning:
·         When choosing a location for your outdoor meal, you should consider all types of scenic options -- parks, beaches, concerts or open fields are great places.
·         Plan the menu based on the number of people, how much you can carry, and how long the trip will be, factoring in when food will be ingested.

·         Pair wines based on the menu, but for a picnic, you should chill the wine you choose, white or red
·         Rose wines and Reislings have broad appeal, and go well with picnic food - such as chicken and grilled meats
·         Cheese and meat plates can pair well with a Cabernet or Beaujolais

The ultimate picnic menu features the following items:

Insalata di Mare

Serves four

¼ cup Taggiasca olives
¼ cup caper berries
2 tbsp chopped Parsley
½ cup olive oil
Celery leaves for garnish
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 ounces calamari, cleaned and rinsed
4 ounces mussels, de-bearded
4 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined

Blanch all seafood in boiling salted water. Mix all ingredients together and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Season and garnish with chopped celery leaves.  


Serves four

1 large head napa cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed and julienned
1 large carrot, grated
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 tbsp sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sour cream
1 green apple, washed and grated
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp celery seeds
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Salad: In a colander set over a large bowl, combine the cabbage, peppers, carrot, salt, and sugar. Toss to combine. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Dressing: Combine the dressing ingredients in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes
Remove salad from refrigerator and discard any liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Add the salad to the bowl. Add dressing and toss to combine.

Insalata Cruda con Parmigiano

Serves four

2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 large radishes, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, thinly sliced on the bias
1 large carrot, finely julienned
1/2 small seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 head of Boston lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp shredded basil leaves
1 tbsp coarsely chopped tarragon
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk the white balsamic vinegar with the Dijon mustard and the 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Add the radishes, fennel, asparagus, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, basil and tarragon and toss gently to coat. Serve the salad right away.

Gemelli e Heirloom Tomatoes e Basil

Serves four

3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs, hard-boiled, finely chopped

1 pound gemelli, cooked al dente, rinsed to prevent sticking
6 ounces pecorino, shaved
3 mixed heirloom tomatoes
1 small bunch of basil, leaves torn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette: Add all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth. If necessary, add more vinegar to adjust the acidity.
Salad: Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss together with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Potatoes con Bagna Cauda Vinaigrette

Serves four

1 lb. baby red bliss potatoes, pre-cooked

6 anchovy filets, packed in oil
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed and soaked overnight
3 tbsp heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper

Potatoes: Bring 1 lb. of potatoes in cold, salted water up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender. Drain and chill. Once cold, quarter potatoes and store in refrigerator.
Vinaigrette: In a food processor, combine anchovies, garlic and capers. Puree until smooth. Add lemon juice and oil. Process until smooth. Pour in the cream and process until smooth. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Assembly: Toss quartered, chilled potatoes with the vinaigrette and serve.

Gamberoni alla Piastra

Serves four

2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary, stemmed
½ cup and 1 tbsp olive oil
16 large head-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups mixed cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 cups arugula
1 lemon

Mince garlic and rosemary together and place in a large bowl. Pour in 1/3 cup olive oil and combine. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
After the shrimp has marinated, combine red wine vinegar, shallot, 4 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper in the bottom of a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Add the tomatoes and arugula and toss gently to coat. Put the mixture aside. Next, heat the grill. Once hot, remove the shrimp from the marinade and skewer shrimp (two per skewer) and place on grill. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 ½ minutes. After 90 seconds, flip to the other side, season with salt and pepper and cook 90 seconds more. Once cooked, remove from heat and place 4 shrimp on each of the four plates.

To serve, divide the tomato salad onto four plates and top each with two shrimp skewers. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of remaining olive oil and serve immediately.

Grilled Tagliata con Rucola, Parmigiano e Ciabatta

Serves four

1 whole flatiron steak, cleaned and trimmed
1 ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 bag arugula, rinsed
4 ounces parmigiano
olive oil to drizzle
lemon juice
rosemary, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Season meat with salt, pepper and olive oil. Grill until desired temperature. Allow to rest.
Combine fresh, chopped rosemary with sea salt.

While meat is resting, brush sliced ciabatta bread with rosemary salt and olive oil. Grill each slice until slightly toasted.

Thinly slice meat and assemble steak atop grilled ciabatta. Top with arugula and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve.

Italian Tuna Insalata

Serves four

4 cups canned white beans drained, rinsed and chilled
1 1/2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained, broken into chunks
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place beans in large bowl. Add tuna and onion; drizzle with oil. Toss gently to combine. Season with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

Strawberries with Honeyed Marscarpone and Balsamic Vinegar

Serves four

2 pints strawberries, stems removed
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 cup marscarpone cheese
2 tbsp honey
1 bunch of fresh mint
aged balsamic vinegar, for garnish

Wash strawberries. Pat dry. Place 1 cup of strawberries in a blender with the water and sugar. Set aside. Marinate remaining whole strawberries in pureed strawberry mixture. Allow to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Mix honey and marscarpone. Divide the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of the strawberry puree in four high ball glasses. Layer a spoonful of the honeyed marscarpone mixture between each layer of the strawberries until glass is ¾ full. Drizzle aged balsamic atop each glass. Garnish with fresh mint.

Gianduja Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

2 cups and 3 tbsp all purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
10 ounces gianduja, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Do not spray sheets.
Using an electric mixer and paddle attachment, cream the butter and all sugars (granulated, light and dark brown) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined, followed by the vanilla extract.

Combine all the flour, salt, and baking soda and whisk to remove lumps. Add dry ingredients to the above mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in gianduja chunks.

Place small spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let cookies rest for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.


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