10 Aug French Picnic Menu
You’d be hard-pressed to find a latte to-go in Paris, or least that was the case two years ago during our dream vacation to the City of Lights. When in France, sit down, get served and enjoy whatever it is you are eating or drinking, s’il vous plait. And isn’t that the way it should be?
But a baguette? That you can find on practically every corner, in the neighborhood boulangerie, freshly baked using just water, flour, yeast and salt. With no preservatives added, the bread lasts less than a day, but that’s no problem for the French who make it a daily ritual to pick up fresh baguettes: those long, thin loaves of French bread popping out of bicycle baskets and shopping bags or tucked under pedestrians’ arms everywhere.
The French have the right idea, I think, when it comes to their more relaxed pace of living and Sunday afternoon tradition of taking a walk along a beach, in the countryside or to a park for a leisurely picnic outdoors.
On the weekends in the summer, we have the luxury of slowing down and making an event out of eating as well, and I do enjoy it. Last weekend, we served baguette sandwiches on the deck with cornichons, lightly dressed greens and French potato salad. And for dessert, chocolate palmiers, made easy with the use of frozen puff pastry. Delicieux!
Pick up a freshly baked baguette, some prosciutto and some brie and do as the French do, sit down, slow down and enjoy a picnic outdoors this summer.
Le Special du jour: French Picnic Menu with recipes for French Potato Salad, Baguette Sandwiches and Chocolate Palmiers. Bon Appetit!French Potato Salad (serves 8 as a side salad) 2 24-ounce packages sunrise medley (small fingerling) potatoes, cut in half Dressing: 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 teaspoon sherry wine 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon white wine 2 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves only 2 tablespoons shallots, minced Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook halved potatoes about 8 minutes, just until tender. Do not overcook or they will be mushy in the salad. Remove from heat, drain and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad. Whisk all dressing ingredients together in medium bowl until combined. Pour dressing over chilled potatoes and stir to coat. Chill until ready to serve. Baguette Sandwiches (serves 8 for lunch) 3 tubes French loaf refrigerated dough (Sacre bleu!) Unroll dough into loaves. Cut into four sections, each, making baguettes for 12 sandwiches. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal slashes across loafs. Bake according to package directions, watching to make sure not to overbrown. Remove from oven, let cool. Slice each baguette in half horizontally and brush with melted butter. Arrange in a napkin lined basket. *Or pick up a freshly baked baguette at the bakery. Tarragon Mayonnaise 1/2 cup real mayonnaise 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, leaves only, minced Dash of salt Mix tarragon mayonnaise ingredients together thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. ½ pound thinly sliced deli prosciutto 1 pound thinly sliced deli chicken breast 8 ounces Brie cheese, sliced into ¼ inch slices Arrange sandwich meats and cheese attractively on a serving platter. Lightly dressed mixed greens 1 package spring greens, washed and dried 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Salt Freshly ground pepper 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved Toss greens, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and tomatoes together until, mixed. Place in a bowl for serving with sandwiches. Additionally, you may want to set out Dijon mustard and cornichons, tiny sweet pickles for sandwich making. Chocolate Palmiers (makes three dozen small cookies) 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions on box 1 egg white, beaten ¼ cup sugar 3 tablespoons grated chocolate (I used a bittersweet baking bar.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unroll puff pastry and roll to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Brush pastry with beaten egg white. Sprinkle sugar evenly over pastry. Sprinkle grated chocolate on top of sugar. Position both pastry sheets so long ends are facing you. Mark the middle of each long end with a small line. Carefully and tightly roll pastry to midline and stop. Repeat with other end, so you have two rolls meeting in the middle. Using your fingertips dipped in a little water, seal pastry seam. Using a sharp knife, cut palmiers into ¼ inch slices. Place on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving space between. Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned. Shuffle onto cooling rack to cool.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org