Friday, September 17

Pack for a Picnic

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These fresh recipes will add new fare to your outdoor table or picnic baskets

What better way to celebrate the end of summer than with an outdoor picnic? Eating outside can be as easy or detail oriented as you want to make it. And you don’t even have to have a table when an old quilt or a couple of beach towels will do nicely. All of these recipes can be made ahead and then easily packed and trans-ported to your destination, whether it’s your own backyard or across town.

Smoked Salmon and Corn Chowder

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
  • 6 bacon slices
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 sweet onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 7 cups milk, divided
  • 4½ cups diced potatoes
  • 2 cups whole kernel corn
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and crumble when cool enough to handle. Add the butter to the bacon drippings and increase the heat to medium-high. When the butter has melted, add the onions, celery and garlic and saute 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the paprika and tarragon and sprinkle with the flour. Stir for 1 minute and add 1 cup of the milk, stirring until well blended. Add the remaining milk along with the potatoes, corn, salmon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Transfer to a thermos to transport to the picnic area. Serve warm.

Turkey Meatball Kabobs

Yield: 36 meatballs (12 kabobs)
  • 1 slice loaf bread, crust removed and torn in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (6-ounce) package turkey sausage, casing removed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ cups prepared marinara sauce
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the loaf bread in a mixing bowl and add the milk. Mash with a fork and add the ground turkey, turkey sausage, egg, shallots, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic salt and pepper. Coat your hands with cooking spray and blend the mixture until well mixed. Form into 1¼-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 22 to 24 minutes and cool completely.
  3. Thread 3 meatballs each on small skewers and refrigerate until ready to transport to the picnic area. Serve at room temperature with marinara sauce for dipping.

Tennessee Gazpacho

Yield: 8 servings
  • 1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1½ cups tomato juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  1. Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers and garlic in a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the tomato juice, oil, lime juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, cumin and black pepper until well blended. Pour over the tomato mixture and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving cold.

Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad

Yield: 6 servings
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 scallions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 12 seedless red grapes, halved
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper. Gently stir in the celery, scallions, pecans and chicken. Fold in the grapes. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

New Potato Salad with Fennel

Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 pound multicolored new potatoes
  • 4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons avocado or canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Carefully add the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside to cool completely. Place the radishes, celery and fennel in a serving bowl. Slice the potatoes and add to the bowl, tossing to mix. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, mustard, oil, salt and pepper. Shake to emulsify and pour over the vegetable mixture. Toss in the dill, cover and refrigerate before serving.

Blonde Brownies with Toasted Pecans

Yield: 24 brownies
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1⅓ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  1. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper long enough to have “handles” hang off the edges. Set aside and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the granulated sugar for 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half of the mixture to the saucepan, stirring well for 1 minute. Add half of the eggs and the extract, stirring well to combine. Add the remaining flour mixture, stirring well. Stir in the rest of the eggs and the pecans. Mix well.
  4. Transfer to the prepared baking pan and place in the center of the oven. Bake 22 to 24 minutes or until the brownies are just starting to be firm in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack. Transport to the picnic area. Using the overhanging parchment paper as handles, lift from the baking pan and place on a cutting board. Cut in squares and serve.

Macaroni and Cheese Salad

Yield: 6 servings
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup cooked chopped chicken or ham
  • ½ cup frozen English peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Toss with the oil and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper. Blend well. Stir in the cheese, chicken, peas, onions and parsley. Add to the macaroni and stir gently to blend. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving at room temperature or cold.

Melt in Your Mouth Peanut Butter Fudge

Yield: 2 pounds
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (18-ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and set aside.
  1. Place the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When completely melted, tilt the pan to evenly coat the bottom and sides with butter. Add the sugar and milk, stirring well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer or the soft ball stage. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and marshmallow cream. Beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Transfer to the prepared pan and smooth evenly. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting in squares.
  1. Note: Store leftovers in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper.

Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Picnic pointers

  • Cute fabric-lined baskets are good looking but only good for packing paper goods, shelf-stable bagged snacks like chips and cookies, trash bags, hand sanitizer, zip-top bags, etc.
  • An appropriate-sized cooler is your best bet for keeping foods properly chilled.
  • A full cooler will keep your foods cold longer than one that is only half filled.
  • Make sure your foods are completely chilled before packing in the cooler. Making items the morning of or the day ahead if possible is best.
  • Frozen water bottles make excellent ice packs for your cooler, and you can drink the water as it melts.
  • Place the least perishable and most fragile items such as cheese and fruit on top in the cooler.
  • If possible, put the cooler in the back seat of the car rather than the trunk.
  • If you want to take something hot, use a thermos.
  • Don’t pull foods out of the cooler until just before serving.
  • Keeping lids on foods or using fly walks will reduce the annoyance of insects.
  • Discard any perishable food items that have been allowed to stay at room temperature two hours or longer.
  • When outdoor temperatures are over 90 degrees, discard perishable foods that have been out after one hour.

Ask Chef Tammy

Can you give me some advice on determining the doneness of fish when I am cooking it? I use the time suggested in recipes, but I always seem to overcook it!
— Marianne

Dear Marianne,
There are a couple of ways to check for doneness, and you are correct to use the time recommendation as your guide. You should start checking the fish a couple of minutes before the time listed in the recipe. You can test by using a fork to see if it flakes. I like to make a small slit in the thickest part of the fish with a paring knife. Properly cooked fish will seem firm and be opaque. Fish that needs a bit more time will look shiny and semi-translucent.

How important is it to preheat the oven?
— Roger

Dear Roger,
It is vitally important to baking because the leavening ingredients react to heat. Even other foods benefit from having the oven at the proper temperature before placing them in the oven. It is essential for the food to cook properly and within the time frame out-lined in the recipe. Allow at least 15 minutes for the oven to preheat.


About Author

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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