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The Perfect Picnic

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The last days of summer call for a picnic to celebrate! The perfect picnic is one that is easily prepared, shared, and of course…DELICIOUS! The following recipes satisfy all these requirements and work great for a beach day or simple summer outing. You can customize your picnic by using a certain theme with festively colored bags, or even Chinese takeout boxes for a fun way to store your food and ensure easy cleanup! You can even add some individual mini champagne bottles with festive straws for an adult picnic…the sky’s the limit!

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Tomato Feta Salad

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

3 pints (6 cups) cherry tomatoes
3/4 pound good feta cheese
1 small red onion, chopped
3 tablespoons white wine or Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions:

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl. Dice the feta in 1/4-inch dice, crumbling it as little as possible. Add the feta to the tomatoes and then add the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. Toss carefully and salt, to taste, depending on the saltiness of the feta. Serve chilled or at room temperature
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Shrimp Salad

Yields: 12 Servings

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lemon cut into quarters
4 pounds large shrimp in the shell (16 to 20 shrimp per pound)
2 cups good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 cup minced red onion (1 onion)
3 cups minced celery (6 stalks)

Directions:

Bring 5 quarts of water, 3 tablespoons salt, and the lemon to a boil in a large saucepan. Add half the shrimp and reduce the heat to medium. Cook uncovered for only 3 minutes or until the shrimp are barely cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cold water. Bring the water back to a boil and repeat with the remaining shrimp. Let cool; then peel, and devein the shrimp.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, wine or vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and dill. Combine with the peeled shrimp. Add the red onion and celery and check the seasonings. Serve or cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

4

Lemon Cake

Yields: 2 (8-inch) loaves

Ingredients:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides

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