Pack A Picnic

Picnic Pickings

We asked a few top-notch chefs and local foodies for a few good recipes worthy of a gourmet’s picnic basket. Some items are super simple, some are complex, but all are perfect for a summer evening concert or afternoon at the beach.

Our menu:
Gorgonzola Stuffed Figs
Pork Paté
Nutty Slaw
Spicy Fried Chicken
Red Pesto Potato Salad
Shrimp with Tequila Cocktail Sauce
Jewell Towne Riesling

This slightly spicy fried chicken from the Riverbend Inn in Chocorua is a perfect picnic lunch for hiking in the White Mountains or kayaking one of New Hampshire’s lakes. The hot sauce can be omitted, if preferred.

Riverbend Fried Chicken

Serves 6
3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup hot sauce, Louisiana or any style
12 pieces chicken, or 2-3 chickens cut into small serving pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon salt
3 teaspoons dry mustard
3 teaspoons cayenne
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Combine buttermilk and hot sauce. Place chicken in a shallow pan and pour milk mixture over. Let marinate for 3 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Combine flour, cornmeal, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper, and put in brown paper bag.

Lift the chicken out of the buttermilk and allow it to drain slightly before putting in the flour bag. Do this in batches. Shake chicken to coat well. Lift out, shake off excess flour, and place on waxed paper next to the stove. Repeat until all chicken is coated, using more flour mixture as necessary.

Pour 3/4-inch of vegetable oil into a large heavy skillet or use a deep fryer, filled to recommended level. Heat to 300 degrees. Fry chicken, being careful not to crowd in the pan, and turning several times, until deep golden brown. Adjust heat as necessary, and do not let flour burn. Take chicken out and drain on paper towels, set on top of newspaper.

A refreshing, healthy salad with an Asian twist.

Helen’s Nutty Slaw

One package cole slaw or broccoli slaw (used in photo)

6 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
One package ramen noodles, crushed
Slivered almonds, toasted
Sesame seeds, toasted

Combine salad dressing ingredients and set aside or refrigerate. Just before serving, pour dressing over cole slaw and toss. Top with crushed ramen, almonds and sesame seeds.

Courtesy of the Riverbend Inn, Chocorua

Start your meal with these stuffed figs from Phelps Dieck, chef/owner of the Green Monkey in Portsmouth. Pair with an Italian Prosecco.

Gorgonzola Stuffed Figs

Serves two
2 fresh mission figs
1 ounce Gorgonzola
2 slices prosciutto
1 sprig rosemary

Quarter figs and stuff with Gorgonzola. Wrap with prosciutto. Drizzle with fig essence or balsamic vinegar. Pierce with rosemary sprig.

Here is a potato salad recipe that travels well and can be made the night before, from “Potato Salad” by local author Barbara Lauterbach.

Red Pesto Potato Salad

Red Pesto
1 cup dried Roma (plum) tomatoes
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thoroughly dried
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, thoroughly dried and roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or more if needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste (kosher is preferable)
2 pounds red new potatoes
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup artichoke hearts, either marinated and drained, or frozen, thawed and cooked, according to package directions, halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

First, make the pesto. If you are using store-bought dry-packed tomatoes, rehydrate them by placing them in a bowl, adding the boiling water, letting them stand for 10 to 15 minutes, and then draining. If you use oil-packed tomatoes, drain them and add the oil to the measuring cup to make up part of the 1/2 cup oil.

Place the tomatoes, basil leaves and parsley in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. With the motor running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube, and then add the garlic. Stop the motor, remove the lid and add the pine nuts. Replace the lid and pulse 1 or 2 times until the nuts are chopped and the pesto is creamy, adding more oil if necessary.

Turn the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. (Parmesan is salty, so be careful.) You should have about 1 cup. You may store the pesto for up to a month in the refrigerator in a covered container. Top it with a thin film of olive oil before capping.

Cook the potatoes in a heavy saucepan that accommodates the potatoes without crowding. Add water to cover, bring to a boil and cook until tender, 20-25 minutes for 2- to 3-inch potatoes. Avoid piercing repeatedly to test for doneness, or too much moisture will seep in and produce a soggy interior. A knife instead of a fork works better. When done, drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the warm cooking pan briefly, tossing over low heat to dry them.

When cool enough to handle, peel if desired, then cut into cubes measuring no more than 1/4-inch. Place the cubes in a bowl, add the vinegar and toss gently. Add the artichoke hearts, pesto, salt and pepper, and toss gently.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, if not serving immediately. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Barbara Lauterbach
“Potato Salad:
Fifty Favorite Recipes”
Chronicle Books
$18.95 softcover

“Pate sounds intimidating, and the first time you make it, it will be. But once you get the hang of it, it is incredibly simple and fun to work with.”
Chef Evan Mallet,
Lindbergh’s Crossing in Portsmouth
Pork and Date Paté

2 pork tenderloins, fat and silverskin removed
1 cup smoked slab bacon, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium white or Spanish onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
8 ounces domestic mushrooms, chopped evenly
1 egg
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup inexpensive brandy or sherry
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
Salt and pepper
Refrigerate 12”x 3” terrine mold. Sauté onions until translucent, add mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables begin to stick to pan. Deglaze pan with brandy (if using gas burner, ventilate the stovetop with a fan and be sure to remove the pan from the burner while pouring the alcohol). The brandy will ignite. When the flame disappears, add thyme or other desired herbs and turn off pan. Remove contents of pan and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cut pork in cubes and place in processor with bacon. When mushroom mixture is cool, add it to processor and pulse until a meaty paste is formed. Add mushroom mixture and purée, breaking one egg and then slowly pouring the cream into the processor while it is running. If necessary, add more cream until a smooth pink farce (the fancy word for raw paté) is formed. Season well with salt and pepper. 

Transfer mixture to large metal mixing bowl and refrigerate for one hour. Transfer half the farce into the terrine mold and spread out with a rubber spatula. Then place dates in a line down the middle of the mold. Spread the remaining farce on top of the dates and bake the terrine, covered, in a cold water bath in a 325-degree oven for one hour, or until an inserted meat thermometer reads 140 degrees. Remove the terrine. For best results, place a piece of cut cardboard on top of the paté and weigh down with a three-pound weight.

Paté keeps well in proper refrigeration and makes a great addition to any picnic or party. 


1 lb. shrimp (approx. 12)
2 quarts water
1 cup white wine
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2 lemons, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
1 bunch parsley

Bring water, wine, onion, celery, parsley, salt and peppercorns to a boil. Add lemons, oranges and shrimp. Cook 3 minutes. Put shrimp in an ice bath, peel and de-vein.

Tequila Cocktail Sauce

1 cup chili sauce or ketchup
1 lemon, juiced
1 shot Souza tequila
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped chives
Salt and pepper
Combine all and chill.