Monday, June 14, 2010

Culinary Throwdown: Picnic Baskets

Our hostess with the mostest, La Diva Cucina, was the winner of the last Culinary Throwdown and therefore got to choose the theme for this one.

What a lovely idea! Unfortunately, I'm currently spending most of my free time wrangling a manuscript, so I only had time to concoct a single dish. But in my mind, the sweet stuff is always the most important stuff, so here's goes my entry:

Fresh Fruit With Lemon Curd and Meringue Cookies

This is really a no-brainer, which is what you want for a picnic. Everything can be cut up and prepared a couple days ahead of time, stored in plastic containers, carted to the picnic spot of your choice in an insulated cooler, and assembled on site. I recommend serving in those el cheapo Pyrex custard dishes you can get four-for-a-buck at the local Dollar Store, because not only are they retro fabulous cool-looking, they're also tough as nails. You can cart them anywhere.

For the lemon curd, I've used Martha Stewart's recipe for years and it hasn't failed me yet. Easy to make, tangy-delicious, and super duper versatile, the curd works beautifully as a topping for ice cream, a fruit tart filling, or mixed with cream cheese for a kicked up carrot cake icing. And it's delicious slathered on toast first thing in the morning.

The meringue cookies are likewise easy to make. Ingredients:

4 egg whites (use the yolks for the curd)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar (regular ol' granulated will work, too, but superfine makes a crisper meringue)
Your choice food coloring

Beat the whites in a stand mixer on medium high with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar until foamy. Turn mixer to high and beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is glossy and sticky-stiff, about 4-5 minutes. Add eight drops your choice food coloring and mix until well incorporated, then pipe or dollop the meringue on a Silpat-lined baking sheet, pop into a 225º F for 1-1/4 hours, turn the oven off, leave cookies inside of another 60-75 minutes, then serve.

Take along your favorite bubbly libation and, bam, instant picnic desert without the hassle.


LaDivaCucina said...

Ahhh, I thought the meringues had lemon curd in them! HOW LOVELY! I love lemon curd and used to buy it at the local markets in Sydney and just eat with a spoon! It's addictive! Also, meringues are a really good treat for those that want something sweet without a lot of fat. Lovely idea, Moi! Thanks for participating in the throwdown, in spite of being super duper busy!

Heff said...

Classy, I must admit !

Big Shamu said...

I thought I was the only one with a powerful love of lemon curd? Glad to see I'm in such good company.

Jenny said...

I'm going to make this one. Pretty picture too.

Big Shamu said...

I can't see the picture because I'm at work.

Stupid work.

Aunty Belle said...

This is lovely--looks like a serendipitous excursion with jes' enough delicious eye appeal to qualify fer the Tissot version of Pique nique.

Sharon Rudd said...

Looks and sounds lovely, Moi! And what a gorgeous spot for a picnic. Lemon curd has been on my list of things to try, so I'll go with your rec of Martha's recipe. Good luck with the manuscript wrangling. I'm up with my picnic post too.

Buzz Kill said...

Clean and simple, can't go wrong with that. I've never tried lemon curd but it looks easy enough. Nice job.

Is that some kind of poltergeist in the upper right hand of the picture? Bwahahaha

fishy said...

Been needing a good recipe for Lemon Curd ... I love the stuff but have never made it.

Sweet, simple clarity is always a great picnic menu. In the heat of the South, the cold crispness of fruit always pleases. With meringue and lemon curd .... inspired!

moi said...

La Diva: Two of my guiltiest spoon pleasure are lemon curd and sweetened evaporated milk.

Heff: Actually, that's 7-Up in the champagne glass :o)

Shamu: Yeah, I'm a card-carrying member of the Lemon Curd nation.

Boxer: So easy, even Boxer can make it!

Aunty: You mean the Swiss watchmaker?

Eggplant: Make it now! You won't regret it. Well, your thighs might but never your tastebuds!

Buzz: Ya diggin' my photo shop skills, eh?

Fishy: It's so hot here, too, I don't want to eat anything but salad.

Christo Gonzales said...

lemon curd? I am going to have to have some of that!