In several of my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ books the members of the Council, together with their consorts meet to spend some time together, relax, talk, enjoy nice conversations, jokes and laughter. Sometimes they meet in one of the member’s houses for dinner, but occasionally they organize a picnic. Today I decided to provide you with the recipes of the latest ‘Council Of Twelve’ picnic. Enjoy! (And feel free to try out the recipes!)
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Golden pineapple, peeled, cut in 8ths lengthwise, core removed and sliced crosswise
Cantaloupe, peeled, cut in half and sliced
Arrange the fig leaves on a platter. Place the pineapple and cantaloupe on top of the fig leaves, and artfully arrange the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries over the top of the pineapple and cantaloupe.
Cheese of your choice:
1. Brie. Brie is a soft ripened cheese with a rind that helps to preserve the interior. Brie has a very creamy texture and a strong aroma that develops with age. Brie is great with fruit, crusty bread, crackers or toasted fruit bread.
2. Camembert. Camembert is also a soft and creamy cheese with a powdery rind. Similar to Brie, there are some differences as they are ripened differently.
3. Blue Cheese. Traditional Blue Cheese has cultures added to it so that the final product has fine blue veins running through it. Blue cheese has a distinct smell and can be crumbled or melted over other foods. Types of blue cheese include Gorgonzola, Blue Stilton, and Bleu de Gex.
4. Gouda. Gouda is a yellow cheese mainly produced in Holland. It is made in a round mold and has a distinct taste and a complete rind. Gouda can be aged for varying periods of time so the taste and texture depend on how long it is aged.
5. Maasdam. Maasdam cheese is creamy, but a bit sweet and fruity. Great for sandwiches, grilled cheese or eaten with fruit.
6. Grana Padano. Grana Padano is one of Italy’s most popular cheeses. It is a hard cheese and very tasty shaved over pasta or salad.
7. Smoked Cheese. Smoked cheeses are smoked in a traditional way so the outer skin is usually a brownish color. It has a smoky flavor and is sliceable, great on toasted sandwiches or with crackers. Types of smoked cheese include Gruyère, Smoked Gouda, and Provolone.
8. Edam. Edam cheese comes in a sphere, it is pale yellow and has a red paraffin wax coating. Edam is a semi-soft cheese with a mild taste and little smell but as it ages the taste and smell increase.
9. Swiss Cheese. Swiss Cheese is an ‘eye cheese’ or ‘hole cheese’, it has a smooth satiny texture and is slightly sweet in taste. It is a firm cheese which has a wide appeal so it is great for cooking, sandwiches, or a cheese board.
10. Feta. Feta has a deliciously soft and creamy texture. It has a slightly savory flavor and crumbles easily so it is good for salads, antipasto, savory pastries or served with crusty bread and crackers.
11. Cheddar. Cheddar cheese if a hard cheese with a sharp taste. It is one of the most popular cheeses and can be used in a variety of ways such as cooking, for sandwiches or with crackers and wine.
1 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups 100% Whole Wheat Flour, White Whole Wheat Flour, or Organic White Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
1/4 cup Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. For easiest, most effective kneading, let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the bowl; this gives the flour a chance to absorb some of the liquid, and the bran to soften.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.
Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
4 cups whole milk, the fresher the better
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt with live and active cultures
Rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of a heavy pot to prevent scorching (or rinse the inside of the pot with cold water). Add milk and cream, if using, and bring to a bare simmer, until bubbles form around the edges, 180 to 200 degrees. Stir the milk occasionally as it heats.
Remove pot from heat and let cool until it feels pleasantly warm when you stick your pinkie in the milk for 10 seconds, 110 to 120 degrees. (If you think you’ll need to use the pot for something else, transfer the milk to a glass or ceramic bowl, or else you can let it sit in the pot.) If you’re in a hurry, you can fill your sink with ice water and let the pot of milk cool in the ice bath, stirring the milk frequently so it cools evenly.
Transfer 1/2 cup of warm milk to a small bowl and whisk in yogurt until smooth. Stir yogurt-milk mixture back into remaining pot of warm milk. Cover pot with a large lid. Keep pot warm by wrapping it in a large towel, or setting it on a heating pad, or moving to a warm place, such as your oven with the oven light turned on. Or just set it on top of your refrigerator, which tends to be both warm and out of the way.
Let yogurt sit for 6 to 12 hours until the yogurt is thick and tangy; the longer it sits, the thicker and tangier it will become. (I usually let it sit for the full 12 hours.) Transfer the pot to the refrigerator and chill for at least another 4 hours; it will continue to thicken as it chills.
2 tablespoons bacon grease
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup whole unsalted almonds
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for Cajun seasoning. (You will only use 1/2 tablespoon of this mixture. Save the rest for other uses.)
In a small pan heat bacon grease over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Place nuts in a large bowl.
Drizzle bacon fat/garlic over nuts and toss to coat.
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of cajun seasoning, salt, sugar, and black pepper over nuts. Toss to coat evenly.
Pour nuts onto a large baking sheet and place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
10 hard cooked eggs, peeled and halved
½ cup homemade mayo
4 tablespoons melted butter
Scoop out the yolks of each egg and set aside.
Arrange the whites on a platter.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the yolks, mayo, and butter until smooth.
Season to taste with salt.
Put the yolk mixture in a piping bag, and pipe the mixture into the halved whites. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sprinkle with paprika before serving.
Ranch Salad Bites
16 slices French baguette
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 cup green onions (finely chopped)
40 sprays salad (wish-bone, spritzers ranch dressing)
Combine arugula, roasted red peppers and green onions in medium bowl. Spritz with 24 sprays Wish-Bone® Salad Spritzers® Ranch Dressing.
Evenly top bread with vegetable mixture, then spritz with remaining Dressing. Serve immediately.
Arrange bread on serving platter; set aside.
Beet, Goat Cheese, and Grapefruit Salad
1 cup roasted beets
2 ounces of goat cheese (crumbled)
1 grapefruit (cut into segments)
1/4 cup hazelnuts
2 sprigs fresh mint
4 cups mixed greens
1 tablespoon EVOO
Preheat the oven at 350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and spread the hazelnuts over the tray. Roast for 5 -10 minutes until golden. Allow the hazelnuts to cool and then chop roughly.
Remove the peel from the grapefruit and cut it into segments.
Crumble the goat cheese, and finely chop the mint.
Cut the beets into small wedges.
Layers the greens, beets, grapefruit, goat cheese, hazelnuts and mint on a large serving platter. Dress the salad with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
Super Fruity Beet & Pear Salad
1/2 cup wish-bone superfruit berry vinaigrette dressing
2 beets (large, peeled, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 pears (large, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 head Boston lettuce (torn into bite-sized pieces)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
Toss Wish-Bone® Superfruit Berry Vinaigrette Dressing, beets, pears, tomatoes and parsley in large bowl.
Arrange boston lettuce on serving platter, then top with beet mixture, goat cheese and pecans. Sprinkle, if desired, with freshly ground black pepper.
Wedge Salad Platter
2 heads of iceberg lettuce look for light weight heads
4 ounces blue cheese crumbled
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
3 boiled eggs see below for perfect boiled egg instructions
1 1/2 cups store bought blue cheese dressing
Boil eggs: Put eggs in large sauce pan. Fill with cool water about an inch higher than the egg. (Add 1 tablespoon vinegar which will make them easier to peel). Bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover pan and let sit for 10 minutes for a perfect medium hard boiled egg. Remove eggs to a pan of cool water to stop cooking process. Peel when cool
Slice both heads of lettuce into 4 equal size portions for a total of 8 wedges and place on tray.
Sprinkle with blue cheese dressing, bacon, eggs and cheese crumbles. Add an additional bowl of dressing in the center.
Chocolate Lava Cakes
Baking spray, for spraying custard cups
1 stick butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray four custard cups with baking spray and place on a baking sheet.
Microwave the butter, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a large bowl on high until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate is also melted. Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Divide the mixture among the custard cups.
Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Invert on individual plates while warm and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Blackberry Cheesecake Squares
Cooking spray, for spraying foil
One 11-ounce box vanilla wafers
1/2 cup pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
4 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust: Line a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Place the vanilla wafers and pecans into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse again until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. (If they come up the sides, that’s okay!)
For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix again.
Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and allow the pan to sit in the open oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
For the topping: Add the blackberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water to a saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the juices thicken slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, make a slurry by stirring together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Add the slurry to the berries, return to the boil and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the mixture.
Pour the blackberries over the cheesecake and place the pan into the fridge to cool and set for at least 2 hours (several hours is better).
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the pan by lifting the edges of the foil. Slice into 15 pieces with a long serrated knife.
Lime Poke Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, well shaken
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
One 3-ounce box lime gelatin
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Green sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the buttermilk and vanilla in a spouted measuring cup; set aside.
Beat the granulated sugar and butter in a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer) at medium speed until very light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer still running on medium, slowly add the eggs and beat until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting; with the mixer running, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture, then 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and beat until well mixed.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Use a large fork to poke holes an inch apart in the top and all the way through the cake.
Bring 1 cup water to a boil, pour over the gelatin in a medium bowl and stir until completely dissolved about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water. Pour the mixture evenly over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Put a large bowl (for whipping the cream) in the refrigerator.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Whip the cream with the granulated sugar and vanilla in the chilled bowl until fluffy. Spread it over the cake and sprinkle the sanding sugar on top. Slice and serve.
P.S. Don’t forget that these lashings of food are calculated for 17 people, 12 of them huge and strong warriors.