Given a choice, Híto Varon would spend every minute of his life outside. Either working his fields, rambling through the woods, or sleeping beneath the open sky with a certain lady. So, what kind of meal would he enjoy the most? Why a picnic by the river!
Appetizer – Egg-free Potato Salad (this is actually a side dish to the chicken below)(Recipe by Jacqueline Pham)
2 pounds red wax potatoes (15 potatoes)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed
½ cup celery, chopped
6 red radishes, cubed
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, coarsely chopped
¼ cup pine nuts, slightly toasted
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
3 chipotle peppers, drained, seeded and finely chopped
1 roasted bell pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, smoked (or roasted), skinned and coarsely chopped
4 cloves pickled garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
2/3 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
DIRECTIONS (for the dressing)
Zest and juice the lime.
In a food processor, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, chipotle peppers, roasted red bell pepper, roasted tomatoes, pickled garlic, onion powder, Dijon mustard and 3 tablespoons of Asiago cheese.
Add the zest of lime and the juice, red wine vinegar and the olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Check seasoning. Add salt and black pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until the salad is ready.
Boiling the waxy potatoes:
Wash and place the whole, unpeeled, potatoes in a medium-sized pot. Fill with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. Add the white vinegar. It’s preferable to choose same-sized potatoes and to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a full boil, they might fall apart). As soon as the water reaches a low boil, cook for about 15-20 minutes. Test, using a fork; the potatoes should be tender. Remove from the pot. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little.
Making potato salad:
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them leaving the skin on. Add the radishes, celery, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and red kidney beans. Set aside.
Add the salad dressing to the potato mixture. Toss well. Finish with the rest of the Asiago cheese, pine nuts, chives, dill, tarragon and flat-leaf parsley.
Chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
*Make sure to click on the source link in the recipe’s title. There are lots of recipe tips you need to keep in mind.
Main Course: Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken and (recipe by Martha Stewart Living)
6 cups nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 5 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup Tabasco Sauce (optional)
2 two- to three-pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces for frying
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 pounds vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons bacon drippings (optional)
1. Combine buttermilk, 1/4 cup salt, and Tabasco sauce, if using, in a bowl. Transfer to a large, airtight container. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat in the liquid. Cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Combine flour, remaining 5 teaspoons salt, black and cayenne peppers, and baking powder.
3. Place dredging mixture in a large brown paper bag. Shake vigorously. One at a time, place chicken pieces in the bag, and shake to coat. Place coated pieces on a clean plate or tray. Heat vegetable shortening (and bacon drippings, if using) in two 10-inch cast-iron skillets over medium-low heat. Using a frying thermometer to measure temperature, bring shortening to 375 degrees; it should be at a medium, not a rolling, boil. Use tongs to place thighs and drumsticks in skillets. Fry until coating is dark golden on bottom, 10 to 14 minutes; then, using tongs, turn chicken over. Cook until coating is dark golden, another 10 to 14 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh should register 170 degrees. Drain on brown paper bags or several layered paper towels. Transfer cooked pieces to baking sheets, and place in the oven to keep warm while frying remaining chicken. Using a slotted spoon, remove any bits of coating left in skillets, and discard. Place breasts and wings in skillets. Cook 10 to 14 minutes on each side. Drain on brown paper bags. Remove dark meat from oven, and serve.
Dessert – Jam Thumbprint Cookies (recipe by The Comfort of Cooking)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (or so) assorted jam (strawberry, blackberry, apricot etc..)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. Mix in flour and salt until incorporated and dough comes together in a ball.
3. Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheets. Flatten balls slightly with your thumb or the back of a small spoon, leaving an indentation in the center.
4. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottoms are just barely golden. Remove baking sheet from oven. If indentations look shallow, further define them with the back of a spoon and then fill each with approximately 1/2 teaspoon jam.
5. Bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until jam melts slightly and edges of cookies are lightly golden. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.
Now go enjoy a romantic riverside picnic with your someone special!