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Al Fresco in the Spring and Fall
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 74003 times

Story and Photography by Lori Ross

Today's power cruisers allow us to cruise and dine al fresco from early spring to late fall in many parts of the country. So here are some menu ideas to consider for your al fresco adventures!


Printemps Brunch Aboard

Pitcher of Bloody Marys
Sliced pineapple with mint
Egg salad with tarragon and spring onions
Sliced assorted hams
Thin-sliced rye and pumpernickel breads
Mustard and pickles
Pound cake with strawberry jam
Coffee and tea

Tuscan Picnic Lunch
Chianti and Orvieto wines
Grilled or sautéed sausages, onions, and peppers
Italian bread or rolls
Green salad with oil and vinegar
Biscotti and coffee

French Bistro Cocktails
Champagne cocktail
French baguette and butter
Country pate with pickles, onions, and mustard
Brie and bleu cheeses
Radishes, celery, and olives with salt and pepper
Grapes, pears, and nuts

Mediterranean Café Dinner
Steamed whole artichokes with warm butter/sea salt dip
Roasted or grilled chicken with lemon
Warm pasta salad with pesto and peas
Sautéed wild mushrooms and spring onions
Strawberries and cream
Coffee and limoncello

Presentation Ideas:

Create a sophisticated but casual look with white on natural tones.

Mix colors, patterns and styles for drama Use color cues from nature for a pretty table

Use colorful napkins to highlight dishes Use your anchorage as an al fresco backdrop

Achieve a sophisticated look by serving dark plates on patterned linens. Colorful fruit make great centerpieces.


Chile Breakfast Or Brunch

Coffee laced with Tia Maria or Mexican hot chocolate
Refried beans
Fruit salad tossed with a little tequila and margarita mix

Harvest Lunch
Hot apple cider with rum
Sloppy joes on kaiser rolls
Corn on the cob with butter
Sliced apples, pears, and cheese

Comforting Fall Dinner
Pumpkin soup
Spinach salad with warm mushroom bacon dressing
Grilled pork tenderloin marinated in molasses and rum
Fruit, nuts, and chocolate
Coffee with amaretto

Champagne Cocktail (Serves Four Drinks)
4 sugar cubes
12 dashes Angostura bitters
1 bottle Champagne or Cava or Prosecco
4 oz. brandy
4 orange slices for garnish
4 maraschino cherries for garnish
Place a sugar cube in the bottom of each champagne flute. Sprinkle two to three dashes of Angostura bitters on each sugar cube. Pour Champagne into the flutes. Add 1 ounce brandy to each glass. Garnish with the orange slices and cherries.

Country Pate
Making this pate is a lot like making a meat loaf wrapped in bacon, except you have to cook the ground meat in advance. It is delicious and freezes beautifully. Serves 40–50 as an hors d’oeuvre.
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage meat (casings removed)
1 cup beer
½ lb. ground veal
½ lb. sliced bacon
4 oz. herb-seasoned crumb stuffing (e.g., Pepperidge Farm) or Italian breadcrumbs 2–3 eggs
Salt and pepper
3 whole bay leaves

Heat oil in skillet. Cook onions and garlic until soft. Transfer onion mixture to very large mixing bowl, stir in fennel seeds. Brown sausage and veal in skillet over medium high heat and crumble into small pieces as you cook it. Once browned, add one cup of beer and cook for 10 minutes. Add to mixing bowl with onion mixture. In same skillet, cook six slices of bacon (diced) until fat is rendered. Add crumb stuffing and add to meat mixture. Add eggs and mix into meat mixture to make a moist, but not wet, mixture. Season with lots of pepper and salt. Preheat oven to 350º.

Using two ungreased 9x3 loaf pans, place three bay leaves (upside down) in a row down center of pans (to decorate top of pate). Next, line each pan with remaining uncooked bacon by arranging each strip side by side crosswise in the pan (this lines the sides and bottom of loaf pan). Let the ends of the slices hang over the edges of the pans. Pack pate mixture very tightly into the pans, pressing down firmly to get rid of all air pockets. Fold the overhanging bacon over the top of each pate. Completely wrap pans containing pate tightly with aluminum foil, sealing up on top and ends. Place the pans in a larger roasting pan filled half-way to the top with hot water. Put in oven and bake for 90 minutes. Remove pate from oven (still wrapped in aluminum foil) and place a 5-pound weight on each pate (e.g., brick, large can of tomatoes) and refrigerate for several hours. The weight compresses the meat and makes it a dense pate (it is the difference between pate and meat loaf). To unmold pate, run a knife around the sides of each pan and invert the pate onto a clean surface. The pate will keep up to two weeks, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, or it can be frozen for six months or more. When you defrost, make sure you do it in a refrigerator, very slowly, and over a couple days. Serve with cornichon pickles, chopped onion, and mustard on sliced baguette.

Pasta Salad With Pesto And Peas (Serves Six)
1 lb. pasta (fusilli, bow ties, or orecchiette is nice)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup store-bought pesto sauce
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup mayonnaise (light mayo is terrific with this)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
Salt and pepper
Cook pasta for 10–12 minutes until al dente. Drain and toss with oil and cool to room temperature. Mix pesto with lemon juice and mayonnaise. Add pesto mix to cooled pasta, and then add parmesan, peas, salt, and pepper. Mix well, taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature.

Chilaquiles With Sour Cream (Serves Four)
12 oz. corn tortilla chips
24 oz. canned tomato puree, drained
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 ½ tbsp oil
¾ cup diced fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers (or more if you like it hot)
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ tsp sugar
1 lb. grated mild cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or a blend of both)
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream

Sauté onions in oil until golden. Add tomatoes, chilies, salt, cilantro, and sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes. In a large casserole dish (I use an 8-by-8-inch glass dish), layer 1/3 of the tomato sauce, then 1/3 of tortilla chips over sauce, then 1/3 of cheese over chips and then make two more layers ending with cheese. Mix milk and sour cream and pour over top of casserole. Cover casserole and bake at 375º for 20 minutes, then remove lid and bake uncovered for 10 minutes more. Serve like a lasagne. I’ve made this at home and reheated it on the boat in the microwave…yummy!

Sloppy Joes (Serves Four)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ lb. ground beef
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 crusty rolls, split, toasted, and lightly buttered

Heat oil and add meat to the pan breaking it up as it cooks. Add brown sugar and pepper to the skillet and combine. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook sloppy joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Serve on crusty rolls with lots of napkins.

Pumpkin Soup (Serves Four)
4 cup pumpkin or winter squash that has been cooked until soft (or canned pumpkin puree)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 cup chicken or beef stock
¾ tsp fresh grated ginger or ¼ t. dry ginger
½ tsp each of white pepper and salt
¼ cup rum
½ tsp turmeric (to make more golden)
¼ cup cream (optional)

Mix squash with all ingredients except cream. Simmer for 30 minutes. If you wish, you may put mixture through food processor or blender until very smooth. If it is too thick, thin with water or cream. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, sour cream, or chopped

Tags:Lunch  Dinner  

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