Monday, October 02, 2006

Picnic by the River for September 27

Well, I need to get busy and post about this past week’s picnic! Otherwise it will soon be Wednesday again -- it’s already a new month!

It was another nice evening by the river, and we enjoyed our supper at our favorite picnic table -- the one right beside the water. It’s so pleasant just to sit and enjoy the music of the gently rippling water while we have our supper. This week we had Pizza Loaf -- a sort of calzone with all kinds of interesting yummy stuff for the filling -- and Artichoke-Bean Salad. Both originally came from QUICK COOKING magazine. Here are the recipes, for those who would like them.

1 loaf (1 lb.) frozen bread dough, thawed
2 eggs, separated
1 Tblsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. pepper
Garlic powder or granulated garlic to taste -- up to 1/2 tsp. powder
Sliced pepperoni to taste
Shredded mozzarella cheese to taste
Pickled banana pepper rings to taste
Sliced black olives to taste
Pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce for dipping

Roll out dough to form a 15-inch x 10-inch rectangle. In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, Parmesan, oil, oregano, parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Spread this mixture over the rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with pepperoni, mozzarella, pepper rings and black olives. Roll up the dough, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch the seam of the loaf to seal it and tuck the ends of the loaf under. Place the loaf, seam side down, on a parchment-covered baking sheet (to prevent messing up your baking sheet if the loaf leaks). Beat the egg whites lightly and brush the loaf with beaten egg whites. (You probably won’t use all of them.) Do not let the loaf rise -- you bake it unrisen. Bake at 350º for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Warm the pizza sauce; serve with the sliced loaf. Makes 10 - 12 slices -- or 4 servings.

This recipe also originally called for a can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained and sprinkled on with the pepperoni, etc. I did use these the first time I made the loaf, but it’s good without. Chopped green pepper may be added at this time too -- the recipe called for that -- but I think it’s better without. But do as you think best!

Next time I make this, I’m going to skip the frozen bread dough and use the recipe a friend gave me for calzone dough. It’s far tastier and MUCH easier to roll out.

For the picnic, I wrapped the whole loaf in foil and took along a cutting board and sharp knife. It stayed nice and warm. I warmed the pizza sauce before leaving the house and took it along in a covered plastic container.

1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) cut green beans, drained
1 jar (6.5 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
2 to 3 Tblsp. dried minced onion
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Yield: about 6 servings.

This was tasty, but not the most attractive salad I’ve ever made. I was out of cut green beans so used French style, and that gave it a sort of messy appearance. Then, I used balsamic vinaigrette since I was out of bottled Italian dressing, which added an unappealing murky look. (I could have made homemade Italian dressing, but Wednesdays are a hugely busy day for me and there was no time.) Here’s what I would do next time to increase the attractiveness of this salad: 1) Use white kidney, or cannellini, beans; 2) Use red pepper instead of green; 3) Be sure I have cut green beans and Italian dressing on hand to use.

In talking with the attendant at the rest area, we learned it is slated to close for the season November 1. Not much time left for picnics -- especially since we will be away for 2 weeks in October. But it’s been fun!

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