Happy Friday!! I hope everyone is enjoying our picnic this week. There are more fun recipes to come, including a refreshing picnic cocktail from yours truly, so be sure to check back next week. In the meantime, it’s my turn to offer-up this week’s “Yum, We Love . . .” where we highlight a selection of our favorite links from around the web. Enjoy!
Alanna Taylor-Tobin of The Bojon Gourmet combined three of my favorite things in the world, rum, coconut and granola, to make one superhero combo of deliciousness: Rum-Kissed Coconut Granola. There’s officially no reason to even glance at another granola recipe, ever! You can quote me on that.
Although sandwiches seem like a given for a picnic, they’re tricky because you run the risk of ending up with soggy bread. However with certain sandwiches, it isn’t the worst thing to have the sandwich sitting around for a while – in fact, it makes it even better. The muffaletta, a classic New Orleans sandwich, is a great example and is super easy and convenient to make. You start with bread (which, yes you purists, I know this isn’t the authentic round muffaletta loaf, but a focaccia or other Italian round bread does just fine). Then, spread generous amounts of an olive spread and just layer all kinds of delicious cold cuts and cheese. The longer the olive spread and cold cuts can mingle with the bread, the better your muffaletta will be. I love serving these sandwiches cut into rectangles or into wedges so a beautiful cross section of meats and cheeses is exposed!
I wish I could say that I picked Hitachino Nest Beer out of a blind tasting lineup. Truthfully, however, it was the little red nest owl staring me down from across the beer aisle. I took a closer look and I was further intrigued after seeing the words, Red Rice Ale. I picked up a few bottles to take with me to our picnic, and it sure did hit the spot. Trust me, the Red Rice Ale from Hitachino Nest Beer is expressive in every way. I’m usually not a fan of malty beers, which it is, but this is different. This is complex, like no beer I’ve ever tasted. Bursts of bold ripe fruit combine with earthy, roasted, rice flavors, and very reminiscent of sake.
The thing that gets me most excited about summer is all the wonderful sweet fruit available, especially strawberries. I also love the idea of packing desserts in jars for picnics. So, when I thought about the perfect picnic dessert, strawberry shortcake in a jar instantly came to mind. I changed up the traditional shortcake by adding sweet basil, which gives the dessert a subtle light herby dimension – perfect for a warm summer day.
Strawberry Basil Shortcake in a Jar
A fresh and summery dessert on the go, perfect for a picnic!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse, about 10 times, until the mixture resembles cornmeal with some larger pea-sized chunks of butter.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and 1/2 cup of cream. Add the cream mixture to the dough in the food processor and pulse about 25 times until it just comes together into a ball of dough.
Roll the dough onto a floured surface, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut circles out large enough to fit in a weck or mason jar. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat and brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar on top. Bake about 20 minutes until lightly golden brown and allow to cool at room temperature.
Meanwhile, macerate the strawberries by combing them with sugar and basil and mix together. Let the strawberries rest at room temperature for 20 minutes until the strawberries are juicy and the sugar has dissolved.
To make the whipped cream, place the 1 1/2 cup of cold cream in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whip until soft peaks form.
To assemble the shortcakes, place the smaller shortcake in the bottom of the jar, spoon strawberries (strained of its liquid) over the shortcake, and dollop whipped cream over the strawberries.
Finish with a dollop with fresh whip cream and garnish with basil.
Because the weck jar I used is wider at the top, I made two sizes: a smaller one for the bottom and a larger for the top of the jar. This recipe makes enough for 6 shortcakes of both sizes, 2 shortcakes for each jar.
If you aren't eating the dessert for a while, pack the whipped cream in a separate container and keep the cream in a cold cooler at your picnic. Layer the shortcake and strawberries in the jar and add the whipped cream to the top at the picnic.
The recent wave of glorious weather can only mean one thing. It’s picnic season! Whether it’s spending an afternoon in a park, enjoying an outdoor concert, playing at the beach, or relaxing after a daylong excursion, a casual, yet well prepared meal is the highlight of any picnic. For the next couple of weeks we’re sharing a slew of picnic-friendly recipes and tips for putting together that perfect outdoor meal . . . just in time for summer!