Inside the Picnic Basket: Celebrating a Night in August

We all have a meal to prepare for Dîner en Blanc to pack inside our picnic baskets for the most enchanting evening of the summer. In this series, we bring the stories and recipes of local chefs and food lovers to help inspire your own magical meal. We are pleased to present the third installment of this year’s Dîner en Blanc inspired recipes!

Chef Barbara Foods is a small, quality caterer/ private Chef service, specializing in packed picnics, luncheons, brunches, dinner parties and socials. Barbara’s diverse career in the food industry has included stints on the Main Line for 2 prominent families, a decade in Rehoboth Beaches best restaurants- where her northern Italian influenced ‘Palazzo’ was named “Best Italian at the Beaches” by the Washington Post! – and her real passion, Catering. With her South Georgia roots, her father’s first-generation Polish upbringing, to the family’s relocation to a predominately Italian-American neighborhood outside Philly, Barbara draws on many cultural cuisines, having learned firsthand right from the source. Chef Barbara is currently putting a cookbook together and looking to launch a line of foods she prepares, under her name. To contact, go to: For this blog post, she shares a few recipes that are Dîner en Blanc-worthy!

Picnics are my favorite – day or night, formal or informal, just a touch of cheese and wine or full gallop. So many choices, so little Summer! So this year, as we celebrate along with our Sister city, Paris, we raise a flute to great cuisine and thank her for the Chef’s that inspire us, while not forgetting how fortunate we are to live in the garden capital of America in the month preceding Harvest. With all of this in mind, I configured a menu worthy of Diner en Blanc that my Parisian brethren would nod in approval… maybe even my favorite Frenchman, Jacques Pepin, whom I had the great honor of drinking wine with a few years back! Pinot Noir of course! It was one of the greatest moments of my life! I, like Jacques, enjoy the true flavors of foods to come through, cooked beautifully with little effort. I hope you enjoy my recipes.

A Night in August

Amuse of Proscuitto di Parma wrapped Local Figs w/ Mascarpone & oranges, Brie de Meaux, Crutes and Honey

Mustard–Herb Roasted Loin of Lamb

White Bean Cassoulet

Jersey Tomato Provencal Gratin

Herbed Flatbreads

2006 St. Emilion

Local Figs w/ Mascarpone & Oranges (serves 4)

8-12 fresh figs- look for firm, blemish free, soft skinned, “bright Figs”, green or black.

1⁄2 pint Mascarpone Cheese

1 T. local honey

1⁄2 tsp. orange zest & small squeeze of Oranges juice

1/2 lb. thinly sliced Proscuitto, Speck or a good light Salumi

1.Wash figs under cold running water, handling gently, place on tea towel – (preferably from the Williams-Sonoma collection!) to air dry.

2. EITHER cut figs in half vertically, from stem end, down or leave whole and make a vertical slit in side. Set aside.

3. Combine Mascarpone ( you can use Cream Cheese, just sweeten it up a tad w brown sugar), orange zest and quick squeeze of juice and the honey.

4. Pipe or spoon onto figs side or into slit. Wrap lovingly w the Proscuitto, cover and chill.

5. You can also wrap the Figs in phyllo dough and bake for 10-15 mins at 400* for approx. 5-7 mins.

6. Place on platter w Brie, some crutes and honey. Outstanding!

Jersey Tomato Provencal Gratin

2 lg. ripe Jersey tomatoes, stemmed and rough chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1⁄4 cup Olive Oil

Mince of Basil, chives and fresh thyme

1 cup homemade breadcrumbs

1⁄2 cup grated Piave Cheese

1. Rough chop or slice tomatoes kind of thick.

2. Salt and pepper to taste, then set aside. Oil baking dish or ramekins.

3. Place garlic, herbs & olive oil in small sauté pan, heat thru for only a few seconds.

4. Layer tomatoes, cheese, breadcrumbs in baking dish, drizzling w the oil. Finish w breadcrummbs.

5. Bake at 375* for approx. 15 minutes, till browned and bubbly.

6. Serve warm or cold. Great w scrambled eggs in the morning!

Roasted Loin of Lamb

2 Lamb Loins

Olive oil

Salt & pepper, coriander, to taste.

1 clove of garlic

1⁄2 cup Dijon Mustard

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1. Rub down loins w salt and pepper to taste.

2. In cast iron pan, heated thru, drizzle olive oil and sear the loins, approx. 2 mins of each side.

3. Rub in the minced garlic and thyme, then a rub of the Dijon, place back into pan, roast at 400* for approx. 5 mins for rare to mid-rare.

4. Take out of pan onto platter, allow to rest for 5-7mins prior to cutting, to allow juices to settle.

5. Delicious cold as a main course!

One thought on “Inside the Picnic Basket: Celebrating a Night in August

  1. Pingback: A few notes of thanks… Part III | Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s