A Picnic Wash Out

Plated Picnic

(In the spirit of the picnic, palsticware was used, blankets available and sandwiches wrapped)

Last week I asked ES readers and foodies from across the land to help me with my dilemma. I was to attend a potluck picnic but had no idea what to cook, nor what to suggest to my friends, as I was the orchestrator of the event. For our non-DC readers, this past weekend was a complete wash-out; it rained for days. As concern was mounting, we were thinking of creating paddy fields on the national mall. All this rain meant we had to cancel our outside activities, which included missing the Lighting to Unite event at the National Cathedral. We’re not ones to be defeated so we decided to go full steam ahead, transferring the picnic to my apartment.

My friends who cooked did an impeccable job, and we had some amazing dishes. These included:

Coconut & Almond Cupcakes thanks to my friend BJ.

My friend 3Y’s made a delicious Olive Tapenade, I don’t like olives myself, not even on pizza, but this was really something new for me which I know I’ll be trying myself.

There was a Babaganoush made with homemade tahini, thanks to Boozilla.

Summer Camp went totally crazy. She made a Tyropita (Greek cheese pie): Feta and Kasseri cheeses with nutmeg and mint; a Kreaopita (Greek meat pie): Beef with kasseri cheese, cinnamon, cumin, and allspice; also a Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip): Greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic, and mint.

I made a Brie and Avocado baguette with a mint, garlic and oregano mayonnaise.

Finally, it pains me to write this but I do have to give a shout out to MD, he brought with him boxes and boxes of Popeye’s chicken, yes, you read that right, leave your thoughts on that one in the comments!

I pleaded and pleaded for my friend Tucker to make the potato chip cookies that gansie suggested, but to no avail. He chose to bake some absolutely amazing hazelnut chocolate cookies, the how-to on those are after the jump. They were seriously amazing.

The other superb dish I want to tell you about is the cabbage and bacon salad come coleslaw which one of the more discerning guests created. He used 1lb of bacon for this delight. Again, the recipe is after the jump.

Coleslaw for Skinny People

Coleslaw for Skinny People

Courtesy of CK

1 large head cabbage, chopped
4 large carrots, shredded
1 lb. bacon, cooked very crisp and crumbled
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Mix olive oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt for dressing.

Combine cabbage, carrots, cranberries, almonds, and bacon in a large bowl. Toss with dressing to taste.

Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies

Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies

Courtesy of Tucker

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cup Nutella-hazelnut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet mini chocolate chips

2 1/2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 13 ounce containers Nutella spread

Roasted Hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking pan. Toast until the skins begin to flake off, about 12-15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color. Wrap the warm hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel, and let steam for one to two minutes. Rub nuts in the towel on top of the counter until most of the skins have come off. Discard skins and transfer 1 1/2 cups roasted nuts to food processor. Coarsely chop remaining 1 cup roasted nuts, cool, set to one side.

Nutella-Hazelnut Butter
Process 1 1/2 cups roasted hazelnuts in a food processor. Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil and continue to process, until nuts have liquefied, about 3 minutes. Pulse in 1 1/2 jars of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread until incorporated and smooth.

Sift the flour, baking soda, powder and salt. Using electric mixer, beat butter, Nutella-hazelnut butter, and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Dough will be thick. Add remaining 1/2 jar Nutella. Stir in chocolate chips. Separate dough in half. Stir in chopped hazelnuts to one half. Cover both halves of dough and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 level tbsp for each cookie, roll dough between palms of hands into 1-inch balls. Arrange 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets on racks or stovetop 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool 5 minutes. Serve and get fat!

You may also like


  • Chou May 13, 2008  

    Indoor picnic–Brilliant! Was the flavor of the homemade tahini significantly different? (read: is it worth the effort?)

  • gansie May 13, 2008  

    i was thinking the same thing about the tahini…

  • Britannia May 13, 2008  

    I am seeking answers from Boozilla re this, but I know that the last time he used tahini from WF it wasn’t good so he decided to make himself, not too difficult from what i gather. The only noticeable difference to the babaganoush was its density, a lot thicker.

  • Boozilla May 13, 2008  

    The mystery of the tahini and why I choose to make it is exactly as Britannia stated. One of our former cooking experiences store bought (whole foods) tahini was used and it was quite awful. As a treat I thought I would try making the homemade variety. As I was already using a cuisinart to make the babaganoush it was not that much more difficult to roast the sesame seeds and then whip them into some tahini with olive oil, salt, and a dash of lemon.
    In case you wanted to try it yourself Preheat oven to 350F. Place 2 cups of sesame seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack while stirring the seeds so that they do not brown for about 15 minutes. place seeds in the food processor add olive oil to obtain the desired texture you are looking for. At least 1/2 a cup. Then mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of sea salt.

  • gansie May 13, 2008  

    boozilla, that actually sounds quite reasonable to make. do you buy sesame seeds in bulk?

  • Britannia May 13, 2008  

    I know that Boozilla is a WF addict, daily visits, so I can say with great confidence that he buys in bulk from WF.

  • Chocolate June 5, 2008  

    I just had to comment on the Popeye chicken. Not everyone who loves food wants to be in the kitchen.
    Especially not me!
    Joining a food column is about discovery, and eating yummy food. Sometimes that’s new and unusual and sometimes it’s the comfort food that we’re used to, and getting enough of it.
    Petite little bites when your really hungry can can be a serious pain in the gut.
    I say give the guy a break! Just tell him he needs to get a little more original occasionally.
    Since I’ve been cooking for over 40 years I’m a bit tired of it. I like the quick and easy, and finding the best vendors for prepared food. If it’s good and fresh and without a lot of bad chemicals who cares where it came from.

Leave a comment