Oh, the nostalgic charm of a summer picnic. You know the one, with the classic woven basket and red-and-white gingham cloth. Here is a fun fact: July is National Picnic Month. You can always find me heading into the heart of summer toting the perfect picnic. And this time, with a twist — it floats.
There’s something so fresh, unpretentious, and frankly all-American about red-and-white gingham, making it the perfect pattern for a summer picnic. Get all matchy-matchy with layers upon layers of gingham — think pillowcases, plates, napkins, and even a fun inflatable gingham buffet float. Pack the float with ice, and heap on delicious picnic sips and fare, served from waterproof acrylic trays with tossable gingham paper liners for easy clean-up. Add a few potted red geraniums and battery-operated firefly lights tucked inside mini lanterns.
with French salt
Start with this earthy, crunchy, and easy radish appetizer. Rinse and clean a bunch of radishes well, leaving on some of the green stem for easy handling. Slowly melt half a cube of unsalted butter over a double boiler. Turn off the heat. Lightly swirl the bottom of the radishes in melted butter, and sprinkle with French salt. Set on a parchment-lined dish, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Cherry-Lime Gin and Tonic
In a bucket glass, add a tablespoon of cherry syrup (I use the syrup from purchased Amarena cherry jars). Fill the glass with ice. Add one shot of gin, and top with tonic water and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Garnish with a slice of lime and a fresh cherry on top!
with cherry brandy
Clafoutis (pronounced kla-FOO-tee) is a simple, rustic French dessert that pairs stone fruit with an almost flanlike pastry. I’m partial to fresh cherries for this dessert, probably because growing up, we had an old cherry tree in our garden.
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
3 teaspoons Kirsch brandy
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vanilla bean sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I buy vanilla bean salt)
Zest of 1 small orange
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
11/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
To a blender, add almond milk, eggs, vanilla paste, and Kirsch. Pulse until combined. Next, add the dry ingredients; pulse until combined. Lastly, add the melted butter, and pulse. Butter the bottom and sides of a pie dish. Pour in the batter. Add the cherries, cut side up, in concentric circles, starting from the outside and working your way in. Bake in a 350-degree oven until set, about 35 to 45 minutes. The pastry will be puffed, and lightly golden brown around the edges. It will fall as it cools. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.
On a tray, artfully arrange a few hunks of great cheese, along with seasonal fresh cherries, berries, honeycomb, and nuts. Tuck in tasty crackers and sliced bread. Add fresh flowering garden herbs.
Grilled Salmon Sandwiches
with dijon tarragon honey yogurt dressing
For these simple sandwiches, the salmon fillet is lightly drizzled with olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and sprinkled with salt, then grilled. Place the fish fillet on a medium gas (or coal) grill. Grill uncovered for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Test with a fork. When the fish begins to flake, it’s done. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Then place a nice-sized hunk of salmon on a sliced ciabatta roll, and top with the flavors you love.
I used red onion (thinly sliced and marinated in a glug of champagne vinegar overnight), garden arugula leaves and edible flowers, and my dijon tarragon honey yogurt dressing. Make the dressing by whisking together the following ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup Greek plain yogurt
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste