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Paralyzed with anxiety at the thought of feeding chowhounds!

I would so enjoy going to the Chowhound picnic in Golden Gate Park this Saturday, but I am flummoxed by the prospect of bringing something that will please such exquisitely refined and opinionated palates. I am home cook of modest skill, but won't have much time to prep in the morning. Can you suggest something simple, sensational, delightful at room temperature and easily transported (recipes gratefully received)?

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  1. There's a CH picnic in Golden Gate Park? That's worth hopping on a plane for!

    TT

    1 Reply
    1. re: TexasToast

      If you have Paypal to pay the reservation fee, there's still time and a couple spaces open to register TODAY before registration closes.
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    2. How modest is modest? (Ditto how little prep?) Last picnic I catered, the definite hits were stuffed poussin (you have to tunnel bone them) which were prepped over the course of the previous week, mini quiches with roast peppers and olives (not a lot of work) and chili and garlic (just a little) prawns - took 10 minutes for 12 people and that was mostly chopping the onions and garlic. (chop onion finely, ditto garlic and green chili, fry in a little butter, throw in prawns, cook for a couple of minutes, add chopped parsley and lemon juice, turn over. Serve hot or allow to cool. Yum)

      1. Forgot the simplest! Made a salad nicoise (had new potatoes the night before and made sure I cooked too many - ditto the beans) and used whole quails eggs to be sure that they didn't disintegrate like cut hens eggs would. Anchovies were just drained, ditto good tuna and the rest is just salad!

        1. A couple of simple things for a picnic, muffeletta (think Dagwood sandwich in a round boule) or Tuscan bread salad. You'd have to bring them in coolers, though. For simple, good food, choose the freshest, best ingredients you can.

          http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

          I always get good feedback with the Tuscan bread salad. I've used the marinated mozzerella from Costco and it worked well in the recipe:

          http://www.care2.com/channels/solutio...

          1. What about a "big aioli"? You can do small potatoes, various blanched veggies, sliced tenderloin and bring aioli for dipping. People generally enjoy the homemade mayo!

            I also do a really good chilled carrot soup with mint that would work well if you think you'll be able to serve it easily...let me know and I'll post the recipe.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Procrastibaker

              Please post your carrot soup recipe, I'm sure others will enjoy it.

              Oh, and a reminder when bringing liquids to a potluck, be sure to bring some cups as these are usually in short supply.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                No problem! Here it is...
                Chilled Carrot Soup
                Melt 2 T butter in a large saucepan
                Add 2 T chopped shallots, 3 c. shredded carrots
                Cook 5-10 min (until carrots are just tender)
                Add T Dijon mustard, and one medium, peeled, sliced potato
                Add 1/2 c. dry white wine, 3 c. chicken broth; cook 15 min.
                Remove from heat and add 1/2 c. heavy cream and puree
                Serve chilled with chopped mint
                Voila, carrot soup!

            2. LOL! I can so relate to you right now.... I'm feeding a couple of hounds this weekend (although at a much smaller scale) and this morning my car's brakelight just went on (The fluid is a little low! :P) and I have to go get that taken care of tomorrow instead of heading over to the farmer's market. :(

              Anyway, from my experience feeding hounds, don't sweat it too much!!! :) They appreciate GOOD food period... it's doesn't have to be fancy or pretty, just tasty!! :) Plus, in the company of hounds, the focus is often on future and past meals rather than the meal they are having now (I get teased by friends about talking about 'food' while I'm eating other food... LOL!!)

              Anyway, something simple that can be preped the night before and quickly done the morning of is Bacon Wrapped Dates (especially since dates are in season! :))

              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

              --Dommy!

              8 Replies
              1. re: Dommy

                These are so good. I've done them w/ goat cheese (excellent) and almonds stuffed (not as good). I like them hot, out of the oven.

                1. re: chowser

                  Yeah, they are ALWAYS a hit... :) And actually when it comes to pot lucks like these, everyone goes all out and makes a grand entree, a grand dessert, even a grand salad, but there is never enough appetizers... :)

                  --Dommy!

                  1. re: Dommy

                    The distribution of dishes is shown on the sign-up sheet so that we don't go overboard in one category. But I do agree that it can be a good strategy to pick an area that's underrepresented. When that course comes out, the 'hounds will be more appreciative. Since we're looking at sunny, but temps in the mid-60s on picnic day, a hot beverage would be really welcome! We're low on the drinks category now. Cold is good too, I recall a zesty kalamansi limeade that "beanbag" made a couple years ago that was a highlight of the picnic.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Ummm, yeah, that was good!

                      The only thing is, if you bring something warm, you need a means to keep it warm. I'm going to Costco to stock up on propane tonight.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Darn! I guess that means you aren't bringing the mushroom pate again this year! :-)

                        Seriously, while I am not the most serious cook at the picnic, one of the aspects of it that I loved the most last year was reading the recipes after having tasted the results, and thinking in several cases, "hey, I could do that". Ruth's mushroom pate was one of the prime examples: I've made it for at least three or four gatherings and family events this year, and it has always gotten raves!

                        Looking forward to Saturday!

                  2. re: chowser

                    Do you cut the rind off your goat cheese?

                    TT

                    1. re: TexasToast

                      When I stuff dates, I load it into a pastry bag so I have to cut it off or it would get stuck. I don't normally use goat cheese, just a small amount here and there for taste, at most.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I asked that because I started a thread about that on the GC Board and got mixed reviews.

                        TT

                2. Well, here is my suggestion...Go and find whatever is freshest and of the best quality, prepare it as simply as possible in a way that best suits its nature, cook it with a minimum of seasonings to preserve the flavor and then present it as attractively as possible. Stick to this philosophy and you will never fail to please a TRUE foodie. Good Luck and HAVE FUN !

                  1. Devilled eggs. People are always surprised by how good they are.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      You are so right- they are underrated.. And delicious with a little truffle oil, or smoked paprika, or chives ....

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Re potlucks -- transporting them can be a pain, and they take up a lot of tabletop real estate. Otherwise they're perfect, and everyone loves them.

                        1. re: Sharuf

                          I never used to make them until I bought a Pampered Chef deviled egg carrier. You freeze the base and the top has two sides, one for deviled eggs, the other has 4 compartments for anything that needs to be cold. I don't like a lot of PC things I've bought but this one was great.

                      2. What about gorgonzola stuffed figs, wrapped in prosciutto. Easy, fresh, tasty, chow-ish.

                        1. Here's the report from the 2005 picnic, and you can follow the other link to the Home Cooking posts for inspiration.
                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          I'd also like to point out that cooking something yourself isn't necessary. This is also a chance to show off your foraging skills and introduce your fellow chowhounds to some of your favorites. My own feeling is that if you buy something that tastes better than what you can easily make yourself, then the make vs. buy decision is a no-brainer. Six years ago, one late-arriving 'hound bought a dozen banh mi from Saigon Sandwiches, cut them into quarters, and dozens of her new friends had their first taste of a Vietnamese sandwich. Many of them still credit her for introducing them to the genre. One year I didn't have much time and ended up taking a big pot to Chinatown and telling the counter lady at my favorite spot to put as many hom joong in it as could fit under the lid. I think it was something like 14. Then I borrowed someone's camp stove to heat the pot with some water in it at the park to reheat, unwrapped and cut them in half, and instant entree!

                          I haven't given it much thought yet for myself. I was just wishing that I'd thought ahead to have Joe Matos set aside a wheel of cheese for some extra aging to share. Maybe I'll cook this time and will do that another time.

                          A plate of Cafe Rouge's charcuterie paired with some fancy mustards would be very nice.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Indeed. The Picnic Planning Committee Chair herself (that would be me) has decided that she is too frantic at work to cook this week, and has decided to pick up something from a CH favorite spot, that transports well and is good at room temperature, since she has to be at the picnic early....of course, what it is is a surprise...but I am sure CH's will love it! :-) Please don't feel like you need to cook: items that show off your foraging skills are always welcome, and you can find them in every category listed.

                            1. Thanks to all for the houndly suggestions and encouragement. I will make a quick run by my favorite purveyors, see what's at peak and hope for inspiration.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dordogne

                                It works for Alice Waters.;-) Have fun!

                              2. LOL, I feel the same way as you do. I think I have changed my mind 3 or times as to what to make for an appetizer. I think I am narrowing down my final choice. The link to previous picnics has helped a lot.

                                http://www.chowingwiththehounds.com/

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                  Yeah, me too. I was going to "work" on it last weekend but ended up getting food poisoning and not even being able to think about food for a few days. I eventually decided on something simple and delicious that I know how to make and that will be good on a cool day. And that's all the hint you're getting!