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Festive Picnics: Recipes, Crafts and Decorations for Outdoor Occasions


Book Review by Cheri Sicard
Editor Fabulous Foods & Fabulous Travel 

Festive Picnics: Recipes, Crafts and Decorations for Outdoor Occasions
By Pamela Sheldon Johns and Jennifer Barry
112 Pages
Trade Paperback
2003, Ten Speed Press

ISBN: 1-58008-560-1

I'm a picnic junkie. I love picnics -- all kinds of picnics -- from informal gatherings for 50 or more members of my friends and family, to dinner on beach blankets with a handful of friends, to romantic al fresco dining for two. Likewise I'm always on the lookout for new recipes and ideas.

The authors of Festive Picnics "get it." They know that picnics can be a memorable method of entertaining, and as such, this book goes far beyond recipes for picnic appropriate food. You'll also get craft, table setting, serving and decorating ideas to make your outdoor soirees as eye appealing and elegant as they are delicious.

Crafts chapters include:

Picnic Baskets and Boxes -- clever ways of packaging foods for picnics: Picnic Bento Boxes; Decorated Picnic Takeout Containers; Picnic Sand Pail; Mother's Day Picnic Tea Baskets; Hand Stamped Picnic Boxes.

Picnic Tables -- creative ideas for dressing up the picnic table for celebrations: Decorative Tablecloth Weights; Flag Place Mats and Star-Folded Napkins; Sand Shovel napkin Rings; Beach Bottle Place Cards;

Picnic Decorations -- Spruce up your picnic areas and tables with craft projects: Fourth of July Centerpiece; Picnic Party Fans; Father's Day Party Ties; Rice Paper Candle Holders

But man does not live by décor alone. That's why this book is filled with forty picnic worthy recipes. Categories include: Soups, Salads & Sandwiches; Picnic Barbecues; Picnic Desserts; and Picnic Desserts. An introductory chapter gives invaluable tips for giving picnic parties, including a picnic packing checklist, menus, food prep tips, and more. More importantly, this chapter will start you "thinking outside the lunch box," and prepare you for the artistic and innovative picnic ideas coming your way in the rest of the book.

Sample Recipes from Festive Picnics:

  • Roasted New Potato Salad With Pancetta-Rosemary Dressing
  • Goat Cheese Arugula and Tapenade Tea Sandwiches

Roasted New Potato Salad
With Pancetta-Rosemary Dressing

Pancetta is a flavorful meat that derives its name from Pancia - Italian for "Belly".It is made by rubbing a slab of pork belly with a mixture of spices and curing it for two months or longer. Bacon can be substituted

2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and halved

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, diced

4 ounces pancetta, diced

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

Serves 6

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the potatoes with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and place in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in the roasting pan and roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown and fork tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool

In a small sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and pancetta 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar and mustard. While constantly whisking, drizzle in the remaining ¾ cup olive oil.

Add the onion and pancetta mixture and rosemary. Add the potatoes and toss to coat well.

Goat Cheese Arugula and Tapenade Tea Sandwiches

An assortment of tea sandwiches makes a lovely picnic.

Some other fillings or open-face toppings might include cream cheese and roasted red bell pepper, prosciutto and julienned sun-dried tomatoes, or thinly sliced cucumber and smoked salmon


½ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

1 cup arugula leaves, coarsely chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 thin slices white bread, crusts removed

4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature

Serves 4

To make the tapenade, combine the olives, olive oil, and orange zest in a food processor. Pulse to a smooth paste.

Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the arugula and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Spread the olive paste on 4 slices of the bread, spread the goat cheese on the 4 remaining slices. Place the arugula mixture on each olive paste slice and top with the goat cheese slices. Cut diagonally into triangles.

Cheri Sicard is the editor of FabulousFoods.com, a favorite net destination for recipes, cooking tutorials, health and fitness information, holiday and entertaining ideas, celebrity chef interviews, cookbook reviews and more.

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