Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Summer Picnic Dinner

In the summer the San Diego Zoo is open late into the evening. A good friend offered to trade entrance to the Zoo for a picnic dinner. We thought that was more than fair, and a great way to enjoy her company.

I knew she was trying to eat healthy, so I made a couple of wraps with a multi-grain flat bread, a quinoa salad with fresh herbs and vegetables, and a nice fruit salad with a light honey poppy seed vinaigrette.

For the wraps, I used Flatout Multi-Grain with Flax. It is a hearty and sturdy, but still soft, flat bread that is great for wraps. I made two kinds. I made a curried egg salad, and maple pomegranate glazed grilled chicken with a candied ginger aioli. The egg salad had a combination of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, with some curry powder and hot curry paste, and some diced celery for crunch. For the chicken, I grilled the breasts, glazing them with the maple pomegranate glaze I used back at the chicken tasting party. When cool, I sliced them into strips across the grain. To go with the chicken, I made an aioli with apple and lingonberry vinegar and candied ginger. I added some fresh bronze leaf lettuce to the wrap.

The quinoa salad was cooked quinoa, with diced tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, mint, cilantro, and a little cumin. I used a couple of small, ripe cluster tomatoes that had nice, firm flesh. The quinoa expands much more than rice or barley, so two cups of dry quinoa made two quarts of quinoa salad.

The fruit salad had nectarine, banana, strawberries, strawberry orange, and blueberries. I made a light honey poppy seed vinaigrette with orange muscat champagne vinegar. The fruity character of this vinegar really enhanced the flavors of the fruit in the salad. A touch of honey counterbalanced the acid in the fruit and vinegar nicely.

For dessert, I brought a selection of the chocolates I made the other day in class.

It was a lovely evening. The weather was perfect. We got to watch another friend perform on the didgeridoo, then wandered and chatted.


Curried Egg Salad

6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. hot curry paste
salt to taste

In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, curry paste, and salt.

In another bowl, combine celery and egg. Add enough dressing to moisten and coat.

Candied Ginger Aioli

3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. candied ginger, finely minced
2 Tbsp. apple and lingonberry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Whisk together egg yolks, ginger, salt, and vinegar. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking vigorously, until emulsion thickens.

Quinoa Salad

2 cups dry quinoa
4 cups water
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 small ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup chiffonade of mint
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt to taste

Place quinoa and water in a rice cooker. Cook until done. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature. Mix in rest of ingredients, chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Fruit Salad with Honey Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

1 ripe banana, sliced
1 nectarine, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 strawberry orange, cut into supremes
5 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. orange muscat champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
pinch of salt

In a bowl, mix together fruit, set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, and salt until an emulsion  forms. Poor over fruit, Chill until ready to serve.

Happy eating!


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