The weather’s warming up and it’s picnic time! What are your favorites to eat and drink?

From a wine point of view, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir are the first three varietals I run to. What’s nice about them is that they pair well with a variety of foods, often have lower alcohol levels (making them perfect for warm weather), and pair great with salty foods.

We recently met Chef Nick DiBona of Peter Pratt’s Inn,Yorktown Heights, New York. His food rocks! Here he is for some great recipe ideas that will spice up your picnic season. ~Jeff

Thanks Jeff,

Since you’re taking care of the wine, let me take care of the food. When thinking of a picnic, you might think of sandwiches, fruit salad, and lemonade. As Jeff said before, “Kick that lemonade to the side and open some wine!” and I say “Leave the fruit salad and sandwiches to the amateurs!” Being a chef, my picnic has to be better than that for my friends and girlfriend. I am thinking Mini Curried Fried Chicken with a yogurt dipping sauce, some Maine Lobster Rolls, a light red bliss potato salad, and a quick 5 minute dessert. That’s much better!

Using high quality, in-season products at Peter Pratt’s Inn is very important. I buy all my meat, poultry and specialty items from a company named D’artagnan (dartagnan.com). One really cool item they have is Poussin. Poussin is a young chicken about three weeks old and very tender. The whole poussin is only 16 – 20 ounces. When you’re ready to make fried chicken, the pieces are mini. See recipe below…

NEWS FLASH: LOBSTER IS EXPENSIVE!! During the summer months the price of lobster will drop slightly which is great for us. When using a high-priced item like lobster, it is necessary to pair it with lower priced items called “fillers.” I promise you, pulling some lobster rolls out of your picnic basket will be worth the tiny hole it puts in your pocket. See recipe below…

In the summer at Peter Pratt’s Inn, we serve a weekly Wednesday BBQ. We put out a huge spread. While I try to stay away from the usual and serve up items such as roasted suckling pig and local produce from Hilltop Hanover farms, some things are staples like hamburgers and potato salad. For these items, I like to add a gourmet spin. Instead of regular ground beef, try grass-fed or Kobe beef. Potato salad is more elegant when you add vegetables and replace the mayo with extra virgin olive oil (plus, it is more heart healthy!) See recipe below…

Ok, ok…at this point you have been in your kitchen for a few hours, making a mess – sorry. Here is a quick and easy dessert that should impress your friends, Simple Strawberry Shortcake. Here is the twist, make this super easy dessert, all about strawberries, by buying local strawberries and NOT buying them from the supermarket!! See recipe below…

Thank you for your time, hope I helped you make your summer picnic a little more interesting.

Nick DiBona
Executive Chef/Peter Pratt’s Inn

Mini Curried Fried Chicken (2 poussin feed 3 people)
Ingredients:
2 whole poussin (2 legs, 2 thigs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts per bird)
1 squirt of sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon powered garlic
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons of curry
1teaspoon of turmeric
1 cup butter milk
1 cup flour
1 quart of canola oil

Sauce:
1 cup yogurt
chopped dill (to taste)
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
In a bowl mix all ingredients except for oil and flour. Add the mini chicken pieces, let marinade at least an hour, 24 hours would be great. Take your quart of oil and warm it to 320ºF (nothing more then 320). Pull mini chicken pieces from buttermilk mixture and right into a bowl of flour, then in hot oil. Cook for 7 minutes. Lay out on paper towel to drain extra oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Lobster Roll
(1-1/4 lb. lobster feeds 3 people)
Ingredients:
1 lobster (cooked, cooled, and all meat pulled from shell)
quater cup of mayo
1 (ear) of corn (grilled and cut off)
1 roasted red pepper (grill pepper till skin is charred, cool, rub off the charred outer layer)
1 lemon juice and zest
1 head of bibb lettuce
3 hot dog buns

Directions:
Chop lobster meat into small bite sized chunks. Mix chopped lobster meat and other ingredients in a bowl (not bibb and hot dog roll). Open hot dog bun, lay down bibb lettuce then spoon over the lobster mixture. Enjoy!

Red Bliss Potato Salad
(Feeds 3 people)
Ingredients:
4 medium sized red bliss potatoes (boiled, cooled then cut in quarters)
hand full of green beans (boiled, cooled then cut in half)
half of a small red onion julienne
1 clove of minced garlic
quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
minced parsley

Directions:
Toss everything together and enjoy!

5 Minute Strawberry Short Cake
(Feeds 3 people, and a little extra!)
Ingredients:
1 pint of local strawberries
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 small orange juice and zest
1 cup of whip cream (fresh or store bought)
sliced store bought pound cake

Directions:
Cut greens off strawberries and wash. Mix washed strawberries, sugar, orange, and whipped cream (don’t over mix). Spoon mixture on sliced pound cake and enjoy!

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