As we work our way steadily through June, take the opportunity to enjoy South Florida's sunshine and host a picnic of your own.
The preparations don't have to be laborious either, even if you're looking to create something special. Here are some recipes shared by Broward-Palm Beach chefs to help fill your picnic basket with easy and delicious dishes.
Mike Hampton of Hot & Soul: Orzo Pasta Salad with Pickled Shrimp
This salad recently ran as a special at Hot & Soul and combines Mediterranean flavors from lemon juice, olive oil, and tomatoes with a tangy, spicy flavor of the pickled shrimp.
"It's totally picnic-y, especially in South Florida," Hampton says. "Whenever I go to a picnic, other than bringing bug spray, I like to bring cold salads."
Step one: To make the pickled shrimp, add ¼ cup of kosher salt, a medium sliced onion, a jalapeño pepper, ½ cup of lemon juice, ¼ cup of sugar, ¼ cup of rice vinegar, two tablespoons of mustard seeds and four cups of water to a pot and bring to a boil. Then add two pounds of large shrimp (Hampton recommends Key Wests) and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat, add a big scoop of ice and let it cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes.
Step two: Fill a large pot up with water. Throw in a handful of salt and bring it to a boil. Add one pound of orzo pasta (Hampton recommends 365 brand) and stir. Cook for about eight minutes. Strain and let cool.
Step three: Once the orzo has cooled, add two cups of diced tomatoes (the ripest you can ﬁnd), ¼ cup rough chopped parsley, a medium small diced onion, three tablespoons chopped oregano (or basil), ¼ cup lemon juice, three tablespoons sherry vinegar, one cup of extra virgin olive oil and the two pounds of quick pickled shrimp.
Keep it cold, and enjoy it on your picnic. Hampton also recommends bringing along a six-pack of Ballast Point Sculpins to go with it.
Lauren DeShields of Market 17: Sour Beer Mustard
Executive Chef DeShields recommends taking a plate of cold cooked meats and cheese with you on a picnic as a light and tasty treat.
"One of my favorite pastimes is to go to a park with some nice charcuterie, cheese, beer, a fresh crusty baguette, castelvetrano olives and some house-made mustard," she said. "The charcuterie can be anything from culatello to spalla or salami diablo to finocchiona. When selecting your cheese and you are not sure, ask your local cheese purveyor. I'm a sucker for bloomy rind goat cheese, so that's what I would get. A baguette is the perfect vessel for your charcuterie and cheese. Top off your meats with some house-made mustard and crack open an Oskar Blues G'Knight and snack on some olives, and that's the perfect picnic."
Step one: Mix together ¾ cups of yellow mustard seeds, ¾ cups of brown mustard seeds, 1 ½ cups of Duchesse De Bourgogne (or any sour beer of your choice) and three cups of distilled vinegar. Place into a container and cover. Allow to sit for 48 hours.
Step two: After 48 hours, blend the mustard with one cup of extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of kosher salt in a food processor.
Step three: Refrigerate the mustard for one week and then taste.
Sang Chirdchid of Palm Sugar: Grilled Chicken and Scallion Skewers
For the picnic-preparers, Chirdchid recommends making simple and flavorful skewers served with sweet and sour chili sauce or spicy soy vinaigrette.
Step one: Marinate chicken meat of your choice with soy sauce, mirin, sake and cinnamon powder to taste and one to two tablespoons of cooking oil.
Step two: Let the chicken marinate for one to two hours. Then, cut into bite-sized pieces and place on skewer with scallions.
Step three: Grill the skewers, occasionally brushing with the marinade.
Ben Lubin of the Blind Monk: Watermelon Banh Mi
Chef Lubin shared a summertime recipe featuring watermelon to produce a refreshing sandwich to include for a picnic.
"I love watermelon in the summer, and searing it gives it this savory quality that reminds me of a cookout," Lubin said. "The other flavors in the sandwich bring a nice freshness and crispness that is great on a summer day."
Step one: To make the pickles, combine ¼ cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of distilled white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of warm water, and a few pinches of salt in a bowl; stir to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, peel and cut some carrots and daikon radish into matchsticks. Put the carrots and daikon in a glass jar, and cover with pickling liquid. These can be done in advance but need at least an hour.
Step two: To make the whipped feta, combine 4 ounces of feta cheese with 1.5 ounces of cream cheese (at room temperature) in a food processor or standing mixer and blend until smooth.
Step three: Cut cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices on a bias. Slice jalapeño peppers thinly. Pick some cilantro sprigs. Slice a watermelon into 1/2 inch thick pieces; make the slices as long as you want for the sandwich. Cut up the baguette into sandwich-sized pieces and slice them in half horizontally. Scrape some of the bread from the inside of each slice to make some room for the good stuff.
Step four: To put it all together, toast the baguette crust-side up in a hot oven or toaster. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan on high heat with a touch of oil. Season the watermelon slices with salt and pepper and add to the pan when hot (do not crowd the pan.) Cook for a couple minutes on each side. Take the baguette from oven and smear some of the whipped feta on the top side. On the bottom, place the watermelon, followed by some sliced cucumbers, jalapeño peppers, pickles and cilantro. Close it up, wrap it in parchment paper, and you are ready to go.
Lubin recommends accompanying the dish with Cocchi Americano and soda (and ice.)
"Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is an Italian aperitif wine flavored with cinchona bark, citrus peel, spices, and other botanicals," he said. "It is a refreshing balance of sweetness, spice, and bitterness, which will tame and complement the spiciness and richness of the Watermelon Banh Mi."
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