Picnic in the Park

I had a wonderful picnic in the park with wonderful friends. Great weather and great friends, a perfect combination for a great time.

The table was covered with my Grandmothers quilt she had made many years ago. Each lovely guest had a picnic basket packed with a mini flower arrangement,watermelon limeade,Greek style layered hummus dip and pita chips, chicken-almond and bacon salad sandwich with arugula, and a raspberry-lime tart.

Picnic basket ready to be unwrapped.

Raspberry-Lime Tarts being packaged for the picnic.

Greek Style Layered Hummus Dip getting their green ribbons tied on.

Watermelon Limeade,Greek Style Layered Hummus Dip and Pita chips along with the dainty mini flower arrangements.

Digging in.

Chicken-Almond and Bacon Chicken Sandwich with arugula.

Chunky milk bottle filled with Watermelon Limeade.

The spread.

Eggplant – Chevre Tart

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Dough:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2/3 cup lukewarm water

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Filling:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 eggplant, cut into small 1/2 inch cubes

3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and mashed into a pulp

10 oz. creamy goat cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Dough:

Combine the yeast and the lukewarm water in a small bowl, stirring to blend. Set aside to bloom. Combine the flour, salt and olive oil in a bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until mixture looks like crumbs. Pour the yeast mixture into the food processor and process until the dough just begins to form a ball.  Place in greased bowl and cover . Allow to rise until doubled in bulk.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and roll out to a 12-13 inch circle. Place on a floured baking sheet, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Filling:

In a skillet , heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the minced garlic, then add cubed eggplant. Cook stirring frequently, until eggplant softens and turns brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

With a pastry brush, apply a 1 inch border with olive oil all around the outside edge. Spread the tomatoes evenly over the crust, sprinkle the thyme, salt and pepper over the tomatoes.. Spread the eggplant over the tomatoes. Crumble the goat cheese over the top of the eggplant and scatter the pine nuts over the cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is softened.

French Provencal Eggplant Spread

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Provencal Fresh Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 tsp. fresh minced fresh thyme

2 tsp. tomato paste

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup fresh minced basil

salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat oil. Add the shallot and garlic and saute until fragrant and slightly softened. Add tomatoes and thyme; reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened.

Add tomato paste, butter and basil; whisk until butter melts. Season with salt and pepper,  to taste. Refrigerate or freeze leftover for other uses.

Eggplant Spread

2 eggplants

1/2 large onion, peeled

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup fresh tomato sauce

3 tablespoons minced basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half and place on foil lined lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast until very soft, about 1 hour.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the pulp from the eggplants and place in a  bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the onion and garlic to the eggplant pulp. Blend until smooth. Add oil, vinegar and lemon juice and pulse to blend. Stir in 1/2 tomato sauce and minced basil. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Serve with crackers or fougasse bread. Also wonderful as a pasta sauce.