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Jan 23, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘picnic’

By the Book: Carla Kelly’s Strawberry Basil Scones

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

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I used to be an avid baker, but things changed a few years ago after I started a small kitchen fire with an errant kitchen towel. Since that not so holly-jolly Christmas, I’ve taken an extended hiatus from baking, but after spying this recipe for summery strawberry basil scones, I decided my stomach would overpower my fear.

Carla Kelly’s book, Vegan Al Fresco, is a collection of vegan recipes meant to be consumed at picnics and on patios. They also seem simple to prepare and boast versatility; the strawberries in these scones, Kelly claimed, can be replaced with blueberries.

 

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Strawberry and basil are a classic combo, and both are available in abundance at farmers markets right now. And while the recipe is techincally vegan, the only changes from a traditional scone recipe is soy milk in place of cow’s milk and canola oil in place of butter. All other ingredients are available in any baking aisle, so I didn’t have to hit three different specialty shops hunting down an obscure dairy substitute.

 

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I began the recipe with high hopes and an empty stomach. First, I chopped the strawberries and basil, which smelled divine. Then I combined the soy milk and the apple cider vinegar, a vegan substitute for buttermilk. The soy milk immediately began to bubble, but don’t fret – it’s suppose to do that. The reaction is meant to create the tangy flavor notes buttermilk provides.

 

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Whisking in the jam, sugar, oil and extract was pretty straightforward, and left a pink milky mixture with chunks of jam throughout. Don’t mix the batter too thoroughly; the chunks of strawberries and jam throughout the scones are the tastiest part.

 

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Rather than shaping the dough and then slicing it into triangles, Kelly advocated scooping 1/3-cup portions onto the baking sheet, hence their more freeform shape. They required only 15 minutes in the oven – perfect, since I was hungry now.

 

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The finished product was light and cakey, more like a strawberry bread than a denser, crumbly scone. They also lacked the berry and basil punch I expected, though I quickly remedied that with a thick smear of strawberry jam on top. Next time I make these summer treats, I’ll add more sugar and jam to up their sweetness – even if that loses my outdoor fete a few healthy points.

 

Strawberry & Basil Scones
10 scones

1 cup (250 ml.) plain soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. strawberry jam
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. strawberry or vanilla extract
2 cups (500 m.) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 m.) whole wheat pastry flour
3½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup (125 ml.) finely diced fresh strawberries, about 8 medium
2 heaping tsp. finely chopped fresh basil

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, combine the soy milk and vinegar. Let it thicken for 5 minutes. Stir in the jam, sugar, oil and extract and whisk to combine and eliminate large lumps of jam.
• Sift in the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to just combine. Gently fold in the strawberries and basil.
• Portion the dough into 10 scones with a 1/3 cup (80 ml.) measure. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
• Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to complete cooling, or serve warm.

Reprinted with permission from Arsenal Pump Press

What’s your favorite use for seasonal strawberries? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Vegan Al Fresco.

 

 

5 meals to pack for a perfect picnic

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Today is a hot one, but guys, have you seen the forecast for this weekend? We plan to spend every minute outside in that gorgeous 75-degree weather – with a picnic of course. Here, we packed up 5 picnic baskets perfect for anyone from vegans to kiddos to that special someone.

 

 

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1. Spark some summer lovin’ with this Date Night Basket full of light (and garlic-free) fare. Start with this fresh, summery Shaved Zucchini Salad, then share a few Goat Cheese Balls, dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. Keep your entree simple with local charcuterie, cheeses and good bread, then surprise your date with a bouquet of these adorable Pie Pops.

 

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2. Who says vegans can’t enjoy some traditional American comfort food? Dig into this Vegan-approved Americana Basket starting with an egg salad using tofu and vegan mayonnaise. Get saucy (and spicy) with big bowls of cauliflower poppers and dip, and finish it all off with chocolatey – vegan – brownies.

 

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3. If you’re feeling inspired, impress someone with these Gourmet Picnic dishes that are easier than you think. Start with a decidedly unleafy Bittersweet Chocolate, Pistachio and Fig Salad, then scoop up bowls of chilled Cantaloupe Soup garnished with prosciutto. This homemade Banh Mi project requires advanced prep, but they will blow your friends away. And for the grand finale: a very Berry Frangipane Tart, perfectly portable and delicious.

 

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4. Feeling the heat? This (Almost) No-Cook Basket will come together in no time — no stove required. Serve up a crunchy, flavorful bowl of Daikon, Apple and Edamame Slaw, then assemble Open-faced Tomato Sandwiches onsite (OK, fine, you have to use your toaster before you leave. It’s worth it.) and hunting down a mangosteen turns this Fruit Salad into a gourmet, no-cook treat.

 

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5. Odds are you kid won’t love cantaloupe soup or flip for figs, but this Kid-Friendly Basket is sure to please youngsters –without resorting to PBJs and Goldfish crackers. Let your little ones help stuff these homemade Pizza Rolls with their favorite fillings. You need greens somewhere, so keep it fresh and easy with the Simplest Seasonal Salad Ever (if they turn their noses up at arugula, swap it for good ol’ romaine). Finish the meal with a classic: homemade Chocolate Sandwich Cookies that are so much better than that prepacked childhood standby.

-Cauliflower poppers photo by Carmen Troesser, banh mi photo by Michelle Volansky, tomato sandwich photo by Greg Rannells, pizza rolls photo by Kristi Schiffman

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Tuna Salad

Monday, July 21st, 2014

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Like so many culinary “aha” moments, the idea for the base of this recipe came to me during what I like to call a “college kitchen” day. I needed something for lunch but hadn’t gone grocery shopping in more than a week. My ingredient options were either in can form or sitting in the freezer in unmarked plastic bags (with an ominous layer of ice, I might add).

I opted out of rediscovering the frozen tundra of past cooking adventures and stood in the pantry, staring at the shelves, willing something to jump into my hands and reveal a brilliant plan. After several scans, I settled on a can of garbanzo beans, thinking I’d whip up some hummus. Then I remembered our food processor went kaput earlier that week. Drat.

Undeterred, I decided it was nothing my good ol’ potato masher couldn’t handle, so I set to work draining the beans and adding some salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil to get things going. About halfway through the mashing process, I realized I had the beginning of tuna salad.

Find out how Beth Styles went from half-smashed beans to a spot-on vegetarian version of this picnic staple here, and get the recipe here.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

 

Cheap Date: Picnic Under the Stars

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

In honor of all the incredibly enjoyable weather that’s been happening as of late, this week’s Cheap Date focuses on evicting you and yours from those well-worn spots on the couch and rediscovering nature. It’s time to switch off Netflix, head outside, lay a blanket down, pop a cork and enjoy an evening under the stars.

Starting in a few weeks, the best time and place to do so will be Forest Park after dark during the monthly Star Parties.Beginning April 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., the St. Louis Astronomical Society will set up super telescopes outside of the Forest Park Science Center Planetarium. Grab a spot on the lawn and stick around till 7 p.m., when the party moves inside the Planetarium for a free showing of a Star Trek movie or episode in the Omnimax theater. The stargazing will be held on the first Friday of each month through October, but the indoor showing of Star Trek only runs until May 28, when the Star Trek exhibit ends. The best part: These star-studded events are free.



Your evening picnic menu can be as light and fun or as sumptuous and sensual as you want. Our advice: Aim for someplace in between. Throw in a cheap bottle of wine, and try to avoid foods that can’t be eaten with your hands. So, in the spirit of ditching sweater weather for good (hopefully), here’s our inexpensive and relatively easy-to-prepare suggestions for the perfect picnic that will only set you back about $34.



Croque Monsieur Sandwiches
A decadent ham and cheese snack made famous in Parisian cafes circa 1900

Makes 2 sandwiches

1 French baguette
Dijon mustard
½ lb. deli ham
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided
Butter

• Cut the baguette in half lengthwise. Spread a thin layer of mustard on one side of the baguette. Arrange a few slices of ham on the mustard side, then top with 1½ cups of the Gruyère.
• Cover the sandwich with remaining slice and butter the outsides. Starting with the bottom side up, broil for 6 to 7 minutes on a baking sheet. Flip the baguette so it is right side up, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, and broil for another 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cut in half.



Herbed Roasted Chicken Drumettes
These finger foods can be enjoyed hot or cold and nicely complement the sandwiches.

1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ to 2 lbs. uncooked chicken drumettes
2 Tbsp. olive oil

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
• Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the raw chicken and coat with the herb mixture.  Drizzle with olive oil and place in a casserole or baking dish.
• Bake for approximately 75 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear.

For dessert, consider strawberries dipped in Nutella. Wash everything down with a decent, inexpensive red.

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