Grown up picnic food

Typically there are fireworks in our neighborhood the weekend before the Fourth put on by a local nursing home.  They didn’t do it this year and when I told my daughter, she started to cry.  Obviously we needed another plan.  I bought tickets for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra fireworks at Oregon Ridge and we are going with our friends and taking a picnic.  It’s going to be hot so I wanted cool things.  Christie is making her wonderful ceviche which has been blogged previously.  I made vodka cherry tomatoes, cucumber cups with crab salad, tuna tartar, deviled eggs and Parmesan crackers.  Here are the recipes:

Vodka spiked cherry tomatoes

  • 2 pts cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup good vodka
  • 3 TB white wine vinegar
  • 1 TB sugar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper
Make an x at stem end of each tomato.  Dunk in boiling water for about 20 seconds and then in ice water.  Remove peels.  Combine vodka, vinegar, sugar and lemon zest and soak tomatoes in vodka mixture.  Combine salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Serve tomatoes with toothpicks – spear the tomato and then dip in the salt, pepper mixture.  For an indoor party, these look pretty in a glass trifle bowl – for a picnic transport in any plastic container.
Deviled eggs
Classic picnic food – not the easiest to transport but worth the trouble.
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (My daughter loves the filling – not surprising given that when I make her poached eggs she only eats the yolks.  She is spreading the extra filling on pretzels – it’s pretty good.)
Tuna Tartar
  • 1 lb fresh tuna, chopped finely
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 5 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper with seeds removed, minced
  • 1 1/2 avocados, chopped

Place tuna in a bowl.  Whisk together olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper.  Pour over tuna.   Stir in  scallions, jalapeno and avocado.  Refrigerate for a few hours until ready to serve.  This is really good on sesame crackers and I found some with lime.   (You can also eat it with a fork!)  🙂

Cheese crackers
I wasn’t going to make these but I was in the garden picking herbs for dinner and I smelled the rosemary and I thought it would be a good addition to the cheese crackers that I make.  I was right.
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated cheese (I used half Parmesan and half Romano)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 TB fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine cheese with salt and pepper and rosemary in a mixer.  Add butter and beat to combine.  Add flour in 3 batches combining until mixture holds together.  Roll into balls (about 1 TB in size) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Flatten slightly.  Bake about 14 – 16 minutes until edges are browned.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Crab salad in cucumber cups

  • 2 cucumbers, cut into slices about 3/4 inch
  • 1/2 pound of crabmeat (leftover after my seafood salad last night)
  • 2 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Scoop center out of cucumber slices with a spoon.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Gently combine crabmeat with mayo, lemon juice, celery and Worcestershire.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, mound about 2 tsp of crab salad in cucumber cup and eat.  These will be very refreshing at our picnic.

When we were talking about the picnic, Kevin said that when he was a kid they always had gingersnaps (or ginger cookies) with strawberry cream cheese and he wanted ginger cookies with something.  I am a big fan of Laurie Colwin’s food essays and remember her writing about a gingerbread cake with chocolate icing.  I also thought about lemon with the ginger flavor.  I made a batch of icing – 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 lemon.  I bought a package of Anna’s ginger thins and a package of Otterbein’s ginger cookies (not realizing that they are cut into shapes – trucks, people, etc. which made it a little harder to make sandwiches).  I spread the Anna’s cookies with chocolate icing and sandwiched them together and the Otterbein’s with lemon icing.  I froze them in bags.  I think they are going to be popular.

Icing for cookie sandwiches

  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Combine together with a mixer.  Split in half.  For chocolate add 4 TB of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tsp milk.  Beat until spreadable.  For lemon add juice and zest of 1 lemon and beat until spreadable.  Spread on ginger cookies and sandwich together.