Picnic in the Park, 'Scratch That' recipes

Chef Connie Fairbanks includes some great picnic ideas in her new cookbook, 'Scratch That: Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings.'

Picnic in the Park:

Black Olive Tapenade with Mini Toasts

French Breakfast Radishes with Butter and Salt

Brie/Prosciutto/Fig Sandwiches

Grape Almond Salad

Chocolate Delights

Fresh Seasonal Berries

Prosecco, Rosé, or Sparkling Wine

Book Signings and Demos for 'Scratch That: Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairing's:

June 21 - Barnes and Noble- Downer's Grove - 1 - 3pm (630-663-0181)

July 1 - Hyde Park Produce - 5 - 7pm - Hyde Park (773-324-7100)

Recipes from the 'Scratch That' book:

Grape- Almond Salad- compliments of Connie Fairbanks and 'Scratch That Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings'

1 cup seeded green grapes, cut in half

1 cup seeded red grapes, cut in half

1 cup Marcona almonds

1 cup flat-leaf parsley sprigs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Lightly combine all of the ingredients in a pretty bowl and serve at room temperature.

Serves 4.

Avec Restaurant in Chicago was the inspiration for this recipe. An unusual salad for any time of year, it is so simple, yet so good. Because the almonds are salted, no extra salt is necessary.

Marcona almonds are very flavorful almonds from Spain. They have a richer more intense flavor than regular almonds. Marcona almonds can be found in the gourmet section of your grocery store, or online.

Brie/Prosciutto/Fig Sandwiches

one-half pound good quality prosciutto, thinly sliced

One-half cup fig spread

One-half pound Brie cheese, sliced one-fourth inch thick

One-half loaf ciabatta bread, sliced one- half inch thick

12 arugula leaves, cleaned with stems cut off

Place two slices of bread on a cutting board. Spread each slice with fig spread. Layer Brie on one slice of bread, and prosciutto on the other slice of bread. Place arugula leaves on top of the prosciutto. Place the two halves of bread together, and serve.

Connie's Notes: Fig spread can be found in small eight ounce jars in a specialty food store. Ciabatta bread is firm white Italian bread with a thin, crisp crust, and soft interior. It can be purchased at your grocery store.

Black Olive Tapenade

If you travel to the Provence region of France, you will be served this delicious tapenade, a thick paste used as a condiment. Sometimes chefs in Provence chop the ingredients by hand, but I prefer the food processor. Any leftover tapenade is delicious with grilled swordfish or tuna.

3 cloves garlic

1 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained

2 anchovy fillets

1 tablespoon drained capers

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 baguette, cut into one-half-inch-thick slices

6 quail eggs

Thyme or rosemary sprigs, for garnish

To make the tapenade: Finely chop 2 cloves of the garlic in a food processor. Add the olives, anchovies, capers, thyme, and rosemary and process until still chunky. Add the lemon juice. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil, and process until it is all combined, but still a bit chunky. Transfer to a small dish, and add pepper to taste.

To boil quail eggs: In a saucepan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 11 minutes. Quail eggs can be purchased at specialty stores or special-ordered. If you can't find them, just use small eggs.

To prepare baguette slices: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. As soon as the bread slices are cool, take a cut piece of garlic and rub it over each bread slice.

Serve the tapenade at room temperature with baguette slices and the quail eggs, sliced in half lengthwise. Garnish with sprigs of thyme or rosemary.


CONNIE'S NOTES: In Limoges, France, if your French baguette has a lot of holes, it is rumored to have been made by a baker who didn't tell the truth. This rumor might create some great dinner gossip!

Kalamata olives are darkcolored Greek olives. They are easily found in grocery stores. They often come in a jar, with or without pits.

Store the tapenade in a tightly covered container and it should keep for a week in the refrigerator. If the olive oil separatesfrom the tapenade, just mix it again when it is at room temperature.

Chocolate Delights

10 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 cups puffed rice cereal (non sugared), slightly crushed (or crushed wafer ice cream cones, or paillette feuilletée if you can find it)

Melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler, or a glass bowl placed over simmering water in a saucepan. Remove the bowl from the simmering water, add the cereal, and stir. Quickly spread the mixture thinly on a piece of waxed paper. Let dry for several hours. Serve on a large platter and break off what you want.

Serves 6 – 8

(This recipe was inspired by Avec Restaurant in Chicago).

Connie's Notes: Good-quality chocolate is essential for this recipe! To chop the chocolate quickly, place it in a plastic bag, close it, and chop it with a wooden mallet. Paillette feuilletée are French wafers that have a crunchy texture.

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