Picnic Baskets

The perfect excuse for a romantic date night!

BY: KRIS BEASLEY

There is no better time than the month of May to pack up a basket full of goodies, grab a blanket and have a picnic with your loved one. In our fast paced lifestyle there is little time for social relationships, and a picnic offers a bonding experience for you and your significant other.

The inspiration for this months article and the perfect reason to take action is, Friday, May 13, a special viewing of the 1957 drama, “Something of Value” will open this year’s season of Southport Outdoor Movie Nights. This film was adapted from the novel written by Robert Ruark, Wilmington and Southport’s native son. This free event will be held under the live oaks in Franklin Square Park at dusk, approximately 8:00 pm. Baked With Love restaurant will be selling picnic meals. A portion of the proceeds from the meals will be donated to the Southport Robert Ruark Society. But if you want to create your own picnic masterpiece, we have put together some fun recipes to try. And don’t forget to include some grapes to feed each other!

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY WITH A TWIST

In place of jelly, use fresh fruit like pomegranate seeds or strawberries. Use slices of pound cake in place of bread. Or replace the jelly with Nutella and add crumbled bacon. Use a hot dog bun, spread with peanut butter, place a banana in the bun and top with jelly.

MAKE HIM CRY IT’S SO GOOD, FRIED CHICKEN

For the brine

• 2-1/2 oz. kosher salt (1/2 cup Diamond Crystal or 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp. Morton)

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

• 1 large orange

• 1 large lemon

• 2 boneless skin-on chicken breasts, halved crosswise

• 2 boneless skin-on chicken thighs • 2 bone-in chicken drumsticks

For the honey butter

• 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste

For dredging and frying

• 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour • 1-1/4 oz. (1/4 cup) rice flour

1 Tbs. plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more for serving

• 1 Tbs. garlic powder

• 1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper

• 2 tsp. onion powder

• 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 1-1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

• 2 cups buttermilk

• 1 gallon canola oil or rice bran oil

Brine the chicken

Combine the salt, sugar, pepper flakes, and 1 gallon water in a large pot. Using a vegetable peeler, and lemon in strips, and add the zest to the pot. Stir over medium heat until the salt and sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature in the pot or other large container. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

Make the honey butter

Using an electric mixer, whip the butter ingredients in a medium bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with more salt.

Dredge and fry the chicken

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, 1 Tbs. of the salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, baking powder, cayenne, and 1/4 tsp. of the paprika. Remove the chicken from the brine and blot dry with paper towels. Pour the buttermilk into a medium bowl and dip a piece of chicken into it, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, dragging it through to coat both sides but not too thickly. Repeat with the remaining pieces and set aside while you heat the oil. Set a wire rack on a paper-towel lined rimmed baking sheet. Fit an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot with a deep-fry thermometer, add the oil, and heat over medium high to 340°F. Working in batches, fry the chicken, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain 340°F, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F in the thickest part of each piece, about 8 minutes for the boneless pieces and 10 to 12 minutes for the drumsticks. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Combine the remaining 1 tsp. paprika and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and sprinkle half of it over the chicken while it’s hot. Let the chicken rest 1 minute, turn the pieces over, then sprinkle a little of the paprika mixture over the other side. Serve with the honey butter on the side, or generously smear some of it on the chicken before serving.

CAULIFLOWER AND GREEN BEAN SALAD

Steam cauliflower florets and green beans for 2-3 minutes so that they still have some bite. Toss them into a French dressing with a mashed anchovy fillet and small garlic clove, Dijon mustard and masses of freshly chopped tarragon.

GUACASALSA

Mash an avocado up in some salsa. Don’t forget the chips.

BLACK BEAN SALAD

Soak a can of rinsed black beans in sher- ry or wine; toss with a cup of cooked rice, 1 TB soy sauce, 1 TB rice wine vinegar, 1 tea. Sesame oil and 1 TB chopped parsley.

MELON SPEARS

Cut your favorite melon (cantaloupe or honey dew) into wedges and wrap with thin slices of prosciutto. Stack in a container, sprinkle with a little olive oil and black pepper.

BLUEBERRIES

Toss 2 cups of fresh blueberries with cornbread cubes(about a cup), add 1-2 TB of lemon juice and olive oil and 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts.

EASY CHOCOLATE MINT BROWNIES

• 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels/Chips divided.

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into pieces

• 3 large eggs, lightly beaten • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour • 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan. MELT 1-cup morsels and butter in medium, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat. When morsels and butter begin to melt, remove from heat; stir. Return to heat for a few seconds at a time, stirring just until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla extract and baking soda. Stir in remaining morsels and nuts. Spread into prepared pan. BAKE for 18 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

One Response to Picnic Baskets

  1. renee says:

    Sounds yummy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine