Eating al fresco: Recipes that are best enjoyed on your patio
One day past “I lost count” during this quarantine, my husband and I had enough. Our recently remodeled house lacked one element that we hadn’t originally put on our priority list–master bedroom curtains seemed more important at the time. However, after several weeks indoors, a patio was something we could no longer do without.
Fast-forward one weekend and plenty of frustration later, and a modest platform of bricks now acts as a gateway to the vast yard that served as the purchasing point for our home. And while the heat is already overpowering (did you know that some places consider it to still be spring?), outdoor dining is our new standard, as I’m sure it is for many of you who long for a return to normal restaurant visits. To help enhance the experience, I put together a short list of recipes from the inRegister archives that are ideal for enjoying al fresco. Read on for the recipes and click the titles for more information.
Start with a drink:
3 large tea bags for iced tea
8 fresh mint sprigs
4 cups lemonade made from frozen concentrate
1⁄2 cup peach-flavored vodka
1 peach, sliced, for garnish
Let tea bags steep in 3 cups boiling water for about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and let cool. Carefully discard tea bags.
Place mint sprigs in a large pitcher; mash with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon until slightly bruised. Pour in tea, lemonade and vodka. Chill in refrigerator before serving.
Fill 8 highball glasses or Mason jars with ice. Pour tea into glasses. Garnish with peach slices and an additional sprig of mint.
Makes 6-8 servings.
And, of course, an appetizer:
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. minced chives
1 Tbsp. minced onion
½ tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ Creole seasoning
1⁄8 tsp. curry powder
1⁄8 tsp. pepper
2 medium bell peppers
Assorted raw vegetables for dipping
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except bell peppers and raw veggies. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Either lay each bell pepper on its side and make a horizontal slice just above the stem, creating a boat, or slice off the top and sit the pepper upright. Remove top pieces, membrane and seeds. Fill peppers with veggie dip. Serve chilled with raw vegetables.
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.
Next, the main course:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (16-oz.) bottle Wishbone Bruschetta dressing
2 tomatoes, diced
1⁄3 cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup grated mozzarella
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Place chicken breasts in a resealable bag with dressing. Marinate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove chicken and discard bag and dressing. Heat grill to medium high and grill chicken for 6 to 8 minutes. Combine tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Turn chicken over, and top with tomato mixture. (Before topping chicken with tomato mixture, place a sheet of foil on top of grill grate to protect from spillage.) Grill for 8 minutes longer, or until done.
Makes 4 servings.
Note from the chef: I have only located the Wishbone Bruschetta dressing once here in Baton Rouge (at Albertson’s on Airline/Highland); however, an equally delicious substitution is Kraft Sun Dried Tomato dressing.
Don’t forget dessert:
1 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
½ cup rum
Zest of 2 limes (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1⁄3 cup fresh mint, chopped fine
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Mint and Lime Cream Cheese Frosting:
½ cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cups fresh mint, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. rum (optional)
Fresh lime and mint for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9-in. round baking pans. (Alternatively, you can use three 8-in. pans for a triple-layer cake.) In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add oil, milk, rum, egg, lime zest, lime juice and mint. Whip on medium/high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes to cream together. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Once wet ingredients are creamy and smooth, fold dry ingredients in, being careful not to over-stir. Pour batter evenly between prepared pans and place in preheated oven on a middle rack; bake for 30 minutes or until cake is firmly cooked and a toothpick comes out clean.
While cakes cool, prepare Mint and Lime Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides if needed. Add powdered sugar, fresh mint, lime juice and lime zest. If you want to really taste the rum, you can replace lime juice with 2 Tbsp. rum or more to taste. Once well combined and nice and creamy, place Frosting in fridge to chill while cakes continue to cool.
To assemble, carefully remove cakes from pans by turning over onto cooling racks. Once fully cooled, place first layer on a cake plate. Start by frosting the middle. Add a generous and even layer of frosting to coat top of base layer. Place second cake layer on top and frost cake fully. Garnish with fresh sliced lime and sprigs of fresh mint. Like its namesake, this cake is best served chilled!
What are your favorite dishes for outdoor dining? Let us know in the comments below or by tagging us, @inRegister, on Instagram.