Haricots Verts Salad
Other tasty bites.
Again, i'd serve this with a chilled rosť or sauvignon blanc. Perhaps a nice pinot grigio or a very dry riesling. Ingredients used: Potato, mushroom, green beans, mackerel, artichoke hearts. My additional pantry items are: blue cheese, bread or crackers, capers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, milk, garlic, shallots, a lemon, and fresh herbs.
There's a fair amount of prepwork involved here, but everything can be served at room temperature, and thus be prepared earlier in the day. I'd recommend cooking the mushrooms within an hour or so of service, so they stay a bit warm.
This is a take on a traditional salt cod brandade. I haven't DONE this with mackerel, but i'm confident enough to try it out on a good friend.
Peel, dice, and mash 1 potato with a little milk. Set aside. Heat 3 tbsp of milk until it's warm. Do the same with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Pound 3 or 4 cloves of garlic to a paste with a little salt; beat a third of the potato with the garlic. Use more garlic if you like things extra-garlic-ey. Rinse and pound the mackerel in a wooden bowl or morter until it's reduced to a pulp. The more you work the cod, the fluffier your brandade will be. When you've thrashed the fish thoroughly, gently mix in the milk, olive oil, and potato-garlic mixture to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste; this should look like fluffy mashed potatoes. While you can serve this at room temp, you can also serve it warm; if you prefer, keep it warm in a double boiler or rewarm in a nonstick pan. Note: you can use heavy cream instead of milk if you happen to have it for a richer brandade.
Clean & dry your mushrooms (at least 12, 3 per person), and pull out the stems. Make a mixture of 2 parts bread or cracker crumbs to 1 part blue cheese and 1 part minced shallot. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste. Preheat your oven to 400F. Press the mix into the mushroom cap, mounding it high. Place on a cookie sheet (use a silpat if you have one) and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is bubbly and golden.
Haricots Verts Salad
This is the same as in menu #1. Repeat:
a) Make a sherry-shallot vinaigrette: whisk some good vinegar (sherry vinegar is what i would use), some good olive oil, a tablespoon or two of finely minced shallots, the chopped sage, and salt & pepper to taste. Your oil:vinegar ratio should be about 2:1. Set aside.
b) Put a pot of water on to boil. When it's boiling, blanch the green beans for 2 minutes, and shock them in cool water. Make sure you check them for tenderness before you shock them. Toss beans in sherry-shallot vinaigrette & set aside.
Other tasty prep
--Drain the artichoke hearts. Rinse well, and toss in a bit of vinegar, olive oil, and chopped fresh thyme. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the top just before serving.
--If you have some bread, slice it thinly and toast it.
To plate your picnic
Find a large platter. Fill a large ramekin or colorful bowl with the brandade, and place it in the center of the platter. Surround it with piles of crackers, toast, the haricot vert, the stuffed mushrooms, artichoke hearts, capers, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Let your artistic eye reign and enjoy!