Bohemian Picnic Recipes
by Kristi Mast
My cousin Christy and I have been away from our home base of Kansas for most of last year, but we both came back for the summer. We both had busy summers, but we wanted to do something before we both headed to Faith Builders in the fall. On our family trip this summer, we had the most amazing charcuterie boards at Olympia Provisions in Portland, so my sister and I started brainstorming about a gypsy picnic with charcuterie boards as the centerpiece. Unbeknownst to me, Christy was also dreaming up a bohemian picnic and she wondered if I would want to do the food. I was delighted.
So, one evening, we invited some of our favorite women and celebrated summer, good food, and beauty together by the river. I’ve compiled the recipes and some basic tips for making your own charcuterie boards. All photos were taken by Heidi (@heidimast) and Christy (@thechristybird) via iPhone 6.
Lemon Mint Chiller
Christy’s sister Hannah made this fabulous drink for the occasion. She was trying to recreate a drink she had on the hot streets of Amman, Jordan. It’s the best of mint tea and lemonade all in one.
- 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate-1 cup fresh mint tea leaves, tightly packed
- 1 cup sugar
Blend mint tea leaves with two cups cold water until leaves are finely chopped and water is fragrant,strain and discard pulp. Pour mint water into a gallon pitcher, add lemonade concentrate and sugar, stir until well blended. Add enough water and ice to fill pitcher, stir, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches
I don’t have a source for this recipe because I never really used a recipe. However, it’s not an idea that’s original with me. The elements of fruit and cheese and prosciutto together are common in Italian and French cooking, so I guess I’ll give credit to Italian tradition for the recipe. The easiest thing to sub in this recipe is the fruit. Cantaloupe is often used, but any firm seasonal fruit will work well. If it’s not a super sweet fruit, a drizzle of honey would not go amiss.
- Goat Cheese
- Balsamic reduction or really high quality balsamic vinegar
- Basil, chiffonade* or chopped
Peel the peaches and cut into fairly thick wedges (think 8 wedges per peach). Cut prosciutto pieces lengthwise and smear with a thin layer of goat cheese. Roll a peach wedge up in the prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and top with basil. Easy and elegant!
*I like to do a chiffonade which is just a fancy term for cutting up herbs. Basically, layer basil leaves onto a pile and roll them into a “cigar” then slice finely with a sharp knife. This make little ribbons instead of a typical mince.
Heirloom Tomato Salad (adapted from laurenconrad.com)
I love this simple, elegant salad! It encapsulates the fresh wealth of summer while still being polished and refined. You could take this idea and do so many riffs on it, using different herbs and produce. Melons and mint? Kohlrabi and tarragon? The options are endless.
- 5 Tomatoes, sliced (heirloom make it prettier and more flavorful)
- Mint and Basil, chiffonade (you can really use any herbs you have on hand. The original recipe called for marjoram, mint, and parsley)
- 1 lemon, zest* and juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt**
- fresh ground pepper to taste
Overlap tomatoes on the serving platter starting with the lightest and moving down the rainbow to give the graduated, ombre effect. Sprinkle with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper.
*Using a vegetable peeler to zest the lemon and then slicing the wide strips into thin curls makes it match the chiffonade and gives the confetti feel.
**Maldon, Fleur de Sel, or another kind of finishing salt is preferable because you want a crunch. Pretzel salt would also work.
Charcuterie and Cheese Boards
This is fast becoming one of my favorite things to have at relaxed picnics and parties. The basic idea is to take a base and add meat and/or cheese with a condiment. But really, there aren’t any rules. People feel like genius inventors because they have free rein to make different combinations, but they don’t know that the secret to their success is that you curated their selection to make it hard to make a bad combination. The key to the best combinations is putting different flavor elements together like spicy and sweet or creamy and sour. There are a few elements essential to making a good charcuterie and cheese board, but the details are wildly flexible. Those elements are:
- Breads and crackers
- Meat and cheese
Breads and Crackers: This is the vehicle for the food, so something basic works well here. Our friend, Rani, bread-maker extraordinaire, made focaccia and a brown sourdough. We also had two kinds of gluten free crackers to accommodate my Celiac sister.
Meats and Cheeses: This is where it can get expensive, but this is also the heart of the board. It can be hard to find really good charcuterie*, but really you can use whatever you want. Pulled pork or cold shredded chicken work as well as hard salamis and prosciutto. For our board I used salami, ham, and prosciutto. There’s also a wide range of cheeses to use, but it is good to try to have one hard, savory cheese and a softer, sweeter cheese. Cheeses don’t always fit into these categories, but it’s something to keep in mind. We used a white cheddar, kasseri, and bleu cheese as well as soft goat cheese and brie.
Condiments: It’s good to aim for a sweet condiment and a sharper, spicier condiment. We had honeycomb and a huckleberry mint jam for the sweet, and hot mustard and radish and onion pickles for the spicy. I also made a mushroom paté** and lemon butter***.
Snacks: These are nice to break things up a bit and relieve the richness of the meats and cheeses. This is traditionally nuts, fruits, and olives, but the options are wide open. We had cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, pears, cherries, olives, and nuts.
*Charcuterie is any meat that is smoked, dry-cured, or cooked.
**Sauté mushrooms, garlic, and onions in lots of butter until the mushrooms are well-cooked and soft. Blend, adding salt and pepper to taste and olive oil or melted butter if needed. Spread on bread and be amazed at the meatiness of mushrooms.
***Room temperature butter with lots of lemon zest. Heavenly on hot toast with honey.
Elderberry Peach Galette
Hannah also made the lovely dessert to finish off the meal. A galette is basically a free form pie and it’s a delightful way to show off summer fruit. A crust recipe is included here, but any sturdy pie crust recipe would work.
- 1 ¼ cup flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (one stick) butter, cut into cubes and chilled
- 4- 6 tablespoons ice water
Blend dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a fork or pastry cutter until butter chunks are the size of peas. Slowly add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just begins to clump. Turn out onto a clean surface and shape into a round disc. Dust with flour, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- 2 heaping cups sliced fresh or frozen peaches
- 1 handful fresh elderberries, removed from stems and rinsed thoroughly
- 2/3 cup peach juice (or water)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup mira-cleer (scant)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- dash of salt
- 1 egg
- splash of cream
- coarse sugar
Combine mira-cleer and sugar, add juices, butter, and salt, whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until syrup is very thick. Remove from heat. Add peaches and elderberries, stirring gently until syrup is distributed evenly over the fruit. In a separate dish, whisk together egg and cream and set aside.
Assembly: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured, clean surface, roll the chilled crust into a 12-inch circle. Carefully place crust on a parchment lined baking sheet. Heap filling onto center of crust, forming a 7 or 8 inch wide mound. Gently fold the outer edges of the dough over the filling, overlapping the folds accordion style all the way around. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool on pan for about 15 minutes.