Al Fresco Adventures Aboard

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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!

SPRING

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

Mustards

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

FALL

Chile Breakfast Or Brunch

Coffee laced with Tia Maria or Mexican hot chocolate

Chilaquiles

Refried beans

Fruit salad tossed with a little tequila and margarita mix

Harvest Lunch

Hot apple cider with rum

Sloppy joes on kaiser rolls

Applesauce

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 T. oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. fennel seeds

1 ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage meat (casings removed)

1 c. 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 c. olive oil

½ c. store-bought pesto sauce

1 ½ T. lemon juice

¾ c. mayonnaise (light mayo is terrific with this)

¼ c. grated parmesan cheese

¾ c. 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 T. oil

¾ cup diced fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers (or more if you like it hot)

¼ t. salt

2 T. cilantro, chopped

½ t. sugar

1 lb. grated mild cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or a blend of both)

½ c. milk

½ c. 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 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1 ¼ lb. ground beef

¼ c. brown sugar

1 t. pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 cups tomato sauce

2 T. 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 c. pumpkin or winter squash that has been cooked until soft (or canned pumpkin puree)

2 T. butter

2 T. brown sugar

4 c. chicken or beef stock

¾ t. fresh grated ginger or ¼ t. dry ginger

½ t. each of white pepper and salt

¼ c. rum

½ t. turmeric (to make more golden)

¼ c. 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 chives. Serve hot or chilled.

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