web analytics

Archive | picnic food RSS feed for this section

pan bagnat – a delicious French sandwich

pan bagnat - a french sandwichLooking for new ideas to make interesting sandwiches your kids will eat? Pan bagnat, the street food of Nice, is the answer.  Think of salade niçoise and you have the portable sandwich version.  I have to admit my lunches were not that inspiring…sorry mom.  To be fair, though, she had to make four lunches so some days (usually after grocery day) those would be the best-packed lunches.  To my mom’s credit, they were usually healthy with at least two servings of fruit and dessert consisted of miniature canned fruit.  I liked peaches and apple sauce but if there was a can of mixed fruit (too many chopped pears for my liking), I’d use them as a bargaining chip with some of my school friends; one fruit cup for one bag of chips or whatever was on that day.   My youngest sister used to hide her lunches behind the furnace until one day my father smelled something a bit off.  What were your school lunches like? Continue Reading →

wild rice salad

wild rice salad by The Culinary ChaseA rice salad is so versatile and using wild rice is a healthier option.  Wild rice is a grass and can be as long as one-inch and range in color from brown to black.  I prefer a wild rice mix which is a combination of brown basmati and wild rice.  A salad of your own creation can take on many forms and if you’re like me, making the same one twice never seems to happen.  I find I’m adding whatever is leftover in the fridge.  Continue Reading →

bulgur and black bean salad

bulgur and black bean saladSummer always means a change in cooking gears.  The oven gets used less, our barbeque more, and food prep becomes simple.  Spending as much time outdoors is key and my energy is focused on leaving kitchen time down to a minimum.  I think we eat better during the summer with fresh, local produce available at markets and grocery stores.  Salads are a favorite and I never seem to make the same one twice.  It’s either missing one veggie or something else is added.  Continue Reading →

puff pastry pizza tart

pizza tart by The Culinary ChasePizza can be an easy midweek meal to make and it’s one where you can get the family involved.  Make individual pizzas to cater for the fussy eaters in your family or have them build their own.  I like making my own pizza dough but sometimes, to save time, it’s just as easy to buy the dough from the grocery store.  Puff pastry is so versatile and is another alternative I like to use as a pizza base.  It’s so airy and light. Continue Reading →

Scotch Eggs

Scotch EggsI had too many hard boiled eggs leftover from the posting I did on how to dye eggs naturally. Of course the easy remedy was to make an egg salad sandwich but what would I do with the rest of them?  Scotch eggs had been on my mind while I was coloring the eggs.  I had never made them before and wasn’t really sure if they’d be my cup of tea or turn out the way my husband said they should.  It’s a snack he grew up on so my culinary skills would be dearly tested to rekindle that childhood food memory.  I was curious, though, why they’re called Scotch eggs when it’s an English tradition. Continue Reading →

Picnic Bread

Picnic BreadI absolutely love the way the kitchen smells when bread is baking in the oven.  It transports me back to a time when I was a young girl.  My siblings and I would take turns delivering mail to our grandparents who lived down the road from us.  My paternal grandmother was always baking something, especially fresh bread…my grandfather disliked the grocery store version.  Making bread isn’t a priority for me so I make it very seldom, but, when I do, we devour it like a pack of hungry wolves.  Continue Reading →

How To Make Pulled Pork

easy to make pulled porkEver go past the meat counter in your grocery store and pass by the ugly cuts of meat? Guilty as charged, however, it’s only the two of us so a big honking piece of meat such as a pork shoulder would go off before we ever finished it. Having said that, I’ve been wanting to make pulled pork f-o-r-e-v-e-r!  The food stars aligned as we had a pot luck to attend and this was my opportunity to make it and not worry what to do with the leftovers.  I was delighted!  Continue Reading →

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

roasted carrot and parsnipPop-up shops (temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind) have been around for a while and not limited to art or fashion.  Farmers’ markets are getting on the band wagon and showing up in places you wouldn’t have thought.  And why not?  Last week I dropped my daughter off at Mic Mac Mall and she quickly called to let me know there was a market in the main entrance. When I returned to pick her up, I popped in to see what was being offered. The Vegetorium Country Farm Market had a small, but jam-packed table.  Every Thursday from now until October locals will have an opportunity to buy produce fresh from the farm.  I eyed the carrots and new potatoes.  Roasted carrots and parsnips make a lovely side dish and easy to eat when serving to children – perfect finger food!

carrots, sliced lengthwise
parsnips, peeled and sliced lengthwise
extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
half a lemon

garden fresh carrotsPreheat oven to 400f. Arrange carrots and parsnips on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle cumin over the vegetables. Squeeze lemon over and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place pan in oven and roast 20 to 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Serve hot or allow to cool to room temperature.

carrots and parsnips
To take this dish up a notch (photo shown at the top), sauté chorizo slices until warmed through and the natural oil is released. In a bowl, add chorizo plus any oil from the pan and the roasted vegetables along with a choice of cooked barley, lentils, or quinoa. These grains can be cool or warm. Add a splash of olive oil, minced garlic and chopped parsley.  Toss to combine.

roasted parsnips & carrotsThe Culinary Chase’s Note:
If you bought small carrots fresh from the farmer like I did, don’t peel.  Simply scrub clean.  If the carrots or parsnips are large, cut them into quarters (lengthwise).  Roasting brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables and remember to keep an eye on the cooking time. Cut vegetables in roughly the same size for uniform cooking. Enjoy!

Aussie Meat Pies

Aussie meat pieMeat pies in Australia and New Zealand are what apple pie is to North America – iconic. Years ago John and I visited Australia and everyone kept telling us to try the Aussie meat pies.  Not one to turn down an opportunity to see what all the fuss was, we tried our very first meat pie from a roadside convenience store in Rosebud.  Wow!  I’ve had meat pies before but none could have prepared me for the down-to-earth flavor sensation of this national dish.  Must have been the gravy-like meat mixture that had us hooked as we tried at least six different locations offering meat pies and all were downright scrumptious!  They’re a favorite at sporting events (football and rugby) and construction sites.  It’s the perfect snack food for on the run.

Makes 10 to 12 pies
adapted from Tobie Puttock

500g medium ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 strips of bacon, chopped
ready rolled pie pastry

meat sauceCook bacon with garlic, rosemary, and onion over medium heat. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent (8 – 10 minutes). Turn heat up to medium-high and add ground beef. Stir to break up chunks. Lower heat to medium and once the meat is cooked, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Then add about a cup of beef stock. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low (gentle simmer). While this is simmering, take cornstarch and mix it with a bit of water and pour this over the beef. Simmer until the meat sauce has thickened and has a gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat and allow meat sauce to cool.

pastryPreheat oven to 400f. Lay the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut out 3-inch circles. Grease a muffin pan and gently place the pastry dough inside the pan. Fill with meat sauce.  Top with a pastry circle and pinch edges or use a fork to press edges to seal. Place pies on a baking tray and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.  To remove from pan, run a knife around the edge and pop out the meat pie.  The Australians serve their meat pies with ketchup.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Make sure the meat sauce is cool otherwise it will make the bottom of the pie crust soggy.  These are good the next day and can be reheated or served cold.  Enjoy!

Quinoa Barley Salad

Quinoa Barley Salad by The Culinary ChaseSpring is such a pretty time of the year with new growth, greenery, flowers and birds singing. Many will embark on a Spring cleaning campaign of their homes, open up cottages, and plant gardens all of which require a well-fueled body. This quinoa barley salad will keep you satiated for hours and give you the energy to fulfill those Spring cleanup chores. Barley has a chewy, pasta-like consistency. It’s a super grain in my books – rich in fiber (helps lower cholesterol and good for intestinal health) and helps curb your appetite for high calorie food. Quinoa, the super seed hailing from South America, is high in protein, good source of riboflavin, and is low glycemic index (won’t spike your blood sugar). This salad is perfect for a pot luck gathering, barbeque or picnic.

Serves 4 to 6
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup red quinoa
1 tablespoon minced garlic
handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
heirloom tomato, roughly chopped
yellow cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Cook barley and quinoa according to package instructions. Allow to cool to room temperature.
lemons zested by The Culinary ChaseIn a large bowl add herbs, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Mix to combine and then add quinoa and barley. Toss and add tomatoes. If the mixture looks dry, add enough olive oil to moisten. Adjust seasoning according to taste. Serve room temperature or cold.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
A vegetarian delight! Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped cucumber for added crunch and fresh dill. Enjoy!