Saturday, July 9, 2011

fourth of july "thanksgiving" picnic favorites with pickles and panzanella

happy weekend after the fourth, everyone! i had company all week and cooked up a storm......brit and i sat in the kitchen and sampled the cracked chocolate earth batter and laughed ....she said it felt like thanksgiving in july.....that is exactly what a summer holiday picnic should and food  (and thanks up there for the awesome weather!!!)......a plethora of all the picnic favorites.....i made pickles for the first time ever (easy and so much fun and they were yummy!) from smitten kitchen, and potato salad and beans, grilled 16 spice chicken breast with bobby flay inspired barbecue sauce,  cracked chocolate earth,  and ina garten's greek panzanella salad.
brit's nyc version in progress

panzanella and pickles recipe details and pics after the jump

the panzanella recipe is from the "how easy is that cookbook"...... a good one to buy! the link above takes you to ina's recipe on the food network.  i delete the red and green pepper and add a bit extra cucumber otherwise my recipe is the same.  (my tip is on the chopped onion soak the chopped onion is a glass of ice water for half an cuts down on the overwhelming onion flavor that happens as the salad sits). this salad is a delish lunch all on its own or a great side with steak.
3/4 cup good olive oil, divided
6 cups (1 inch diced) rustic bread
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1-2 hot house cucumbers un-peeled halved lengthwise with seeds removed then sliced into 1/2 slices
1 pint of cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes halved
1/2 small red onion thinly sliced in half rounds
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 pound good feta cheeses (buy a block not crumbled) and dice it into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large saute pan and toast the bread cubes with salt and pepper....tossing frequently for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned.  set aside.
place the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, in a large bowl and toss.
for the vinaigrette, place the vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl and whisk together.  Whisking constantly slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil to make an emulsion.
add the feta and olives to the bowl of vegetables and add the toasted bread...toss together then add the vinaigrette and toss lightly....set aside for 30 min.

bread and butter pickles:
adorable little cucumbers
soaking with  onion and salt and ice

follow the excellent smitten kitchen directions!  I used the same amount of sugar that she did...i would not reduce it as she hints at....these are bread and butter pickles after all and should be sweet.  next time though...i don't think i will add the celery seed.  the most fun part of this is watching the cucumbers turn into pickles before your is magical.  ok eating them is pretty good too!
tossing the cukes and onions with the sugar spice liquid
too much for 2 bottles and not enough to fill 3

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