Pack a powerful picnic for local concerts

Remember the first rule of food service is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Summer concerts and movies are perfect opportunities to enjoy outdoor dining along with the entertainment. Simple planning will ensure your food is safe to eat.

Dust off your picnic basket and shake out the blankets - the summer concert season is about to begin!

Starting this Wednesday we will have oodles of opportunities to enjoy free entertainment for the rest of the summer. Concerts, movies, theatre, baseball and bocci ball games - you name it! - opportunities abound for us to enjoy a meal al fresco. So let's take advantage of this free fun! Pack a picnic, grab a few sand chairs and your Frisbee and head for the park.

Picnicking, or eating al fresco, does come with its own concerns for keeping food safe. Warmer weather provides the perfect conditions for bacteria in food to multiply rapidly and cause food-borne illness. But with a little planning you can serve food with confidence that it is safe to eat.

First rule of food service is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Put food and beverages in separate coolers. You will likely be opening the beverage cooler often, so this will prevent warm air from reaching your perishable foods.

Transport your coolers to the picnic in the air-conditioned car, rather than in the hot trunk.

Besides plates, napkins, cups and silverware, be sure to pack several serving utensils to avoid cross contamination. Also take along antibacterial wipes or hand-washing liquid to clean your hands before serving and eating.

If serving meats, fish, potatoes or pasta mixed with mayonnaise, bring the salad and dressing in separate containers and mix them when you are ready to serve.

Wash the outer surface of fruits well, including melons, before cutting them.

Keep your hands and utensils clean; wash openers and other tools you keep in your picnic basket well when you get home.

And when you get home, handle leftovers appropriately. Remember 'when in doubt, throw it out.' Anything left out more than two hours should be discarded; in hot weather don't risk it - just toss the leftovers.

In this week's Review and Tidings we printed the summer line up of the area's concerts. Next week we will publish the movie and outdoor theatre schedule. Clip both of these listings so you don't miss out on the fun, free entertainment and the al fresco dining opportunities they present.

The recipes provided today can all be made ahead in the cool of the day. Add a jug of ice tea, some brownies and berries and you've got a perfect summer picnic!

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful - outdoors!

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken

Makes 6 servings

1 ¼ cup buttermilk

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large onion, sliced

12 chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks) with skin and bones

1 cup Panko

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons dried thyme

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Olive oil spray or Pam cooking spray

Whisk buttermilk, oil, hot pepper sauce, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend well. Add onion, then chicken and turn to coat. Cover; chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 day, turning chicken occasionally.

Place racks on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Whisk panko, cheese, flour, thyme, paprika, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in large baking dish to blend.

Remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Add chicken to breadcrumb mixture and turn to coat completely. Arrange chicken, skin side up on racks on baking sheets. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spray chicken with olive oil spray or PAM. Bake until crisp, golden and cooked through, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Sweet Corn and Basmati Rice Salad

Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 large ears yellow corn, husked

1 cup chopped green onion

2¼ cups water

1 ½ cups basmati rice

½ teaspoon salt

1¼ cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans

3 bunches watercress (about 12 ounces total) stems discarded

Whisk red wine vinegar and mustard in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in ½ cup oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Using large sharp knife, cut corn kernals from cobs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add green onions; sauté 30 seconds. Add corn; sauté until corn is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Vinaigrette and corn mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill. Rewarm corn mixture over medium heat and whisk vinaigrette before using.)

Bring 2 ¼ cups water to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Rinse rice in strainer. Add rice and ½ teaspoon salt to boiling water. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender (do not stir), about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Mix rice, corn mixture and pecans in large bowl. Mix in vinaigrette and watercress then season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.



A five-ingredient en-trée ready in 30 minutes or less. (Salt, pepper, oil and water don't count!)

Parmesan Peppers

Makes 4 servings

4 bell peppers (a mix of yellow, red and orange)

1 clove thinly sliced garlic

8 thyme sprigs

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup grated Parmesan

Juice of ½ lemon

Stem, core and quarter bell peppers; place on a baking sheet. Toss with sliced garlic, thyme and extra virgin olive oil then season with kosher salt and black pepper. Arrange skin side down in a single layer and roast in a 425ºF oven until softened, then top with Parmesan and broil until cheese is melted and peppers are slightly charred. Squeeze the lemon juice over peppers.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 ext 101 or by email at [email protected] .