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full auto
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:04 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm in a bit of a pickle. I want to make a nice dinner for that special someone but I've got a few things I'm tripping over:

1. No wheat (allergies bite).

2. Must be able to be packed to the beach for a sunset.

3. Goes good with a wine (optional).

Any ideas/recipes from you more experienced cooks out there?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:08 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Where's 419weasel when you need her? Not only can she tell you what to cook, she can provide coupons!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:28 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Full Auto: Are you looking for a dinner type thing or just a light picnic? Go to the special foods/all natural section of the grocery store, they usually have all of the gluten free stuff there. You could get rice crackers or other gluten free crackers, then add some nice cheeses and some fruits. If you want a bigger meal, it's going to be tougher, but you'll still get ideas from the gluten free stuff.
Or, just go with all proteins and pack a big basket of meat. Laughing

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:40 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@ Ima: I'm looking to do a picnic over a sunset at the beach. I was going to pack everything up in such a way as to keep it warm for the 5 minute drive, maybe even do the whole blind folded thing and see if I can pull a surprise out of it. I'll definitely head down to the health food store. I don't have any idea with the wine though as I'm not really the wine kind of guy.


Last edited by full auto on Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:41 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ima's idea is perfect. Most health food stores have a large selection of gluten free products.

or make some cold lettuce wraps.

Toss some cold sliced chicken breast together with some spring onions, cranberries, a few nuts, salt, pepper and a bit of mayonnaise. Keep it cold then wrap it in the lettuce leaves when you get to your picnic. Add some fruit, cheeses, rice crackers and wine.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

You can't go wrong with the marinated chicken nibbles option (served either hot or cold). PM me if you want a good marinade.

But be warned - don't tell anyone else or I'll track you down.... Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:52 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Lotta's wraps sound delicious!
Full Auto: You might want to reconsider the warm food for the picnic. You should also not pick the wine until after you've chosen the food. Depending on where you buy the wine, you can usually get good advice for something that will complement what food you're serving. (Go with Lotta's wraps with our fruit/cracker/cheese suggestion). Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:05 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@Full Auto:

I don't know what your cooking skills are like, but a tasty, healthy, and relatively low-risk proposition is cold meats and veggies - they go well with white wine. I recommend either roast beef (easiest to get right, and slices well) or grilled lamb, along with grilled vegetables. Chicken is also good, but it's tricky to get right on the grill - it dries out in a flash. I have no experience with gluten allergies, but I'd go with Ima's advice there. Where I'm going with this is a sort of 'ploughman's lunch', but everything's cooked beforehand.

If you go with the grilled veggies, cut them in large pieces that aren't going to fall through the grill, marinate them for a few minutes beforehand in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and brush them a few times with the oil/vinegar mixture while they're on the grill. Let them char a bit. The heat caramelizes the natural vegetable sugars, making them deliciously sweet -and they're great cold. Green, red, yellow peppers, asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms all respond well to this technique.

As for the meat, if you're not a very experienced cook, look for pre-marinated meats at the supermarket or deli. If you're lucky, the person behind the counter may be able to give you specific advice on the cut of meat you choose.

Okay, I'm really getting into this now. Wine: as I mentioned, white wine is your safest bet unless you are certain you both prefer something else. If you go with the grilled veggies, I'd recommend staying away from the sweeter whites like Rieslings or Gewurtztraminers and instead find something drier that might complement the sweetness. If you really want to impress, after you have chosen the food for your picnic, go to an actual wine shop if you have one nearby and ask the staff there for their recommendation.

The fact that it's all cooked food will make it clear to your special someone that you've put thought and effort into this, and that can't fail to impress.

Good luck!


Edit: the last para makes sense now. And I also think Lotta's wraps sound really good.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:55 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I take it you want this to be a surprise, I mean as much as possible. Take her to the beach (hopefully you will have a table) and tell her you want to show her something. Show her the mighty and vain sunset shining from the heavens, then announce to the sun that you wanted to show it was real beauty is, and introduce your significant other. I wouldn't go through all the motions of introducing just enough to get your point across that she is more beautiful then the sky.

Have some whine and cheese as a snack so she will think thats it. Then have dinner delivered. Either a dinner you made brought by a friend or ordered through the town waiter or the like.

The dinner part will be a surprise without a doubt Very Happy

Now if you fancy yourself a cook then delivering food from a restaurant may not go over as well compared to you cooking for her yourself.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:59 am Reply with quoteBack to top

wow ghost, you gonna take me out fer dinner sometime? Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:10 am Reply with quoteBack to top

You will almost certainly be able to find a wheat-free pasta (probably done with rice flour) in the gluten-free section. If not, you can also just substitute rice in a recipe for pasta salad.

here's my favorite:

Boil some spiral pasta (or rice) to al dente, then rinse it in cold water

put a little olive oil in a pan, heat it, add some pine nuts, and brown them

mix into the pasta:
pesto
pine nuts
green onions
green & red bell pepper
cubed feta cheese

If you want, you can add a bit of cubed salami, but if you are going to include ANY sausage, read the label, because they will often have added wheat.

Olives, slices of prosciutto and buffalo mozarella, or even a nice tuna or salmon steak on the side with lemon pepper and butter would go well.

Although traditional wisdom says that you should have white wine with lighter foods/fish and red wine with beef/more strongly flavoured foods, I'd check first to see which type of wine she prefers, because there's no sense in getting a bottle of something to go with the food, and then finding out she hates it.

So if you're going with a fish or light food, and she prefers red wine, a Pinot Noir or Barbera would not be bad.

In my opinion, though, champagne goes with everything. If you're on a budget, Freixenet is a cheap but tasty sparkling white.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:33 am Reply with quoteBack to top

A big pot of arse stinging chilli con carne always gets me going. Served with tortillas and a few cold dips.
Tastes like shit if you get sand in it though.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

i dont think you can beat fish and chips at the beach watching the sun going
down.

get the chippie to fry the fish without the batter.
two tins of vimto or irn bru,pickled egg and couple of slices of bread with butter for the ultimate chip buttie.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:57 am Reply with quoteBack to top

A simple one I like is take a relatively thin flank steak lay it out flat put thin sliced swiss cheese and agiaso cheese on top place a layer of spinich, roll it up and broil it, slice it into 1 inch madalions top with a marsella and portabello mushroom reduction. serve with a nice merlot

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:29 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Don't know if you're a fan, but a classic American picnic lunch is cold fried chicken (and I don't mean crap KFC thrown in a bucket). Either make it yourself (not that hard really -- look for some good buttermilk recipes) or find a place that specializes. The key is you want it relatively non-greasy, so you could also substitute baking for frying, which is nearly as good, but much healthier.

Then along with that, you can make a nice salad (my fave is a spring mix, goat cheese, dried cranberries and pistachios -- you can mix ahead of time and then apply dressing upon arrival) and a light dessert of say sliced berries with confectioners sugar (again, easy to transport).

The best part is that the chicken will go well with nearly anything you drink, including beer! But if you want to stay "classy" I would recommend a non-oaky Chardonnay or a light Pinot Noir.

Have fun!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:12 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

None of these will take you more than 20 minutes each, and it doesn't matter if it cools down at all, it's all equally nice lukewarm or even cold.
Good with a cold crisp white, Chablis is ideal, or Pinot Grigio if you're on a budget.

Chinese honey chicken bites.
Do these the day before. Slice 2 chicken breasts into thick strips.
Mix up your marinade using 2 Tbsps of honey, 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine or mirin, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, and a small handful of torn up coriander (cilantro) leaves. Mix your chicken strips up into the marinade and leave it for a few hours or overnight, before either frying them quickly for 2 minutes each side maximum, or barbecueing or griddling as you prefer. Don't overcook them. Let them go cold and use as finger food alongside....

Steamed Broccoli with sesame dip:
Get the tenderstem young broccoli from the grocers. Steam it in your steamer for about 3 minutes, or if you don't have a steamer, heat your wok to high with a tiny amount of oil, then stir fry the broccoli for about 4 minutes, adding a little splash of water each minute or to make some steam. Take them out and get them packed. These are actually nice cold, so don't worry too much.
For the sesame dip, take 1/4 a cup of smooth peanut butter, add 1/4 of a cup of chicken stock, 1/4 cup of Tahini (from the middle eastern food shops) a splash of hot sauce (like tabasco for example, you decide on how much) or some finelly chopped hot red chilli. Mix well and get that packed into a pot. And the main dish......

Prawn Rice Noodle salad:
Boil some rice noodles until soft, rinse under boiling water, keep them warm and toss them in a little sesame oil. Put to one side. Meanwhile stir fry some thin slices of onion in a little oil until just softened, (2 mins), add a clove of crushed garlic and a chopped deseeded hot red chilli and fry for 1 minute more. Add enough large king tiger prawns for 2 (well drained and patted dry) and stir fry for 2 minutes (if ready cooked) or 4 minutes if raw, until pink and heated through. You can substitute cooked crayfish tails if you prefer.
Finally add the noodles back to the Wok along with some chopped spring onions / scallions, a good splash each of soy sauce and chinese cooking wine, and some roughly chopped coriander leaves (cilantro). Toss it all together and get it packed into a plastic box to keep warm.

Now down to the beach..... enjoy your evening!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:24 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Some ideas from a few websites -

http://www.fabulousfoods.com/holidays/picnic/picnicmenus.html

http://www.picnictips.com/romantic_picnics/index.html

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/menu/views/romantic_picnic

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I didn't read through the thread.. I'm lazy today.

If you want something that is good hot or cold, try marinating 2 chicken breasts in the following:

1/8 cup Olive oil
1/8 cup COLD water
pinch of sea salt
1/2 to 1 TBSP dried oregano
1/2 to 1 TBSP dried basil
Fresh ground pepper
1 or 2 cloves sliced garlic

Mix marinade ingredients in bag. Trim chicken and slice into thin slices lengthwise. Place chicken in bag, seal and place in fridge overnight. The chicken is best grilled. (If you have a George Foreman grill, this works great)

Pasta and sauce:

Find some rice penne pasta at the health food store (sometimes asian markets have rice penne, too)

Olive oil
1 head garlic
1 whole onion
2 cans diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
oregano
basil
pinch of sea salt
pepper

Crush garlic and set aside. Coat bottom of pan with olive oil and turn stove on to medium heat. While olive oil is warming, cut onion into bite size chunks and separate the layers. Sautee onions until they are just transparent. Add garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Sautee for a minute and add entire cans of tomatoes, juice and all. Stir, cover and allow to simmer for a while, occasionally "chopping" the sauce with a soft spatula. You want the sauce to reduce so it will stick to the pasta. When sauce is reduced, allow to cool enough to put in an airtight container. Place in fridge overnight.

Next day, you can cook your chicken, pasta and heat up the sauce. Sprinkle some pine nuts or parm. cheese on it and have a nice, crispy salad and some wine. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:08 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ah... good deal. Thanks all. I'm going through all the posted up stuff and just figured out her favorite wine goes best with a pasta dish, and I've definitely got a few of those up here. Trick will be keeping the gluten out.

Again thanks all.
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