Summer picnic opportunities abound in our fair city. From afternoons at Grant Park to day hikes around the Chattahoochee trails, Piedmont Park “Screen on the Green” evenings to the legendary concerts at Chastain — Atlanta comes alive outside when temps rise.  Skip the predictable sandwiches and elevate your al fresco experience with a perfectly posh picnic!

Chef Amy Stillwell, owner of Relax for Dinner Personal Chef Services, loves planning menus for any occasion and offering creative dining choices to her clients. We talked for awhile about how exciting the Atlanta food scene has become and what that means for her. “Raising everybody’s expectations about food is great for the entire community. I want people to appreciate a really good meal. It allows me to experiment with so many different flavors and cuisines. I love when I sit down with a client and they tell me ‘I had the most interesting dish at a restaurant, do you know how to make that?’ I might, but if not, I’ll find out.” For an eclectic picnic, she suggests a stylish Asian menu with sweet and tangy flavors that work chilled or at room temp, giving maximum portability.  Amy welcomed me into her kitchen for preparation tips.

Chef Amy Stillwell, owner of Relax For Dinner, loves creative meal planning and recommends an Asian-style picnic including homemade eggrolls!

MENU

Crunchy Broccoli Slaw Salad

Homemade Egg Rolls

Asian Peanut Noodles

Mango & Blueberry in Lime-Ginger Gastrique

Crunchy Broccoli Slaw Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags ramen noodle mix, reserve 1 seasoning packet (Amy uses Oriental Flavor)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 24 oz. broccoli slaw mix (2 bags)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

 

Directions:

Put the ramen noodles in a bag and crush them while melting the butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat.  Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and sauté, stirring constantly until golden brown.  Remove to a dish and let cool. For dressing, whisk together the seasoning packet and final 3 ingredients in a small bowl or food processor. Place the shredded broccoli into bowl and toss with noodles and almonds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Bags of pre-shredded broccoli slaw and ramen noodles make this recipe even easier.

Homemade Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp ginger root, grated
  • 1 bag (16-oz) shredded cole slaw mix
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snow pea pods, thinly sliced
  • 3 TBSP oyster sauce
  • 10 – 12 egg roll wrappers (Amy uses Nasoya Egg Roll Wraps)
  • peanut oil for frying

 

Directions:

Heat a large saute pan with 1 tablespoon of oil on med-high (until shimmering but not smoking).  Add ginger root and saute until almost cooked through. Add shredded cole slaw mix, scallions, and snow pea pods. Saute for about 4 – 5 minutes or until the cabbage begins to wilt. Remove from heat, add oyster sauce and stir to combine. Let mixture cool.

On a flat surface, place one of the egg roll wrappers with a corner pointing toward you. It should look like a diamond shape. Place about 3 heaping tablespoons of the filling horizontally across the center of the wrapper. Fold bottom corner over the filling and roll half way to cover filling. Fold both sides snugly against filling and moisten top corner with water. Roll over flap to seal. Lay flap-side down until ready to cook.

Heat a large saute pan to med-high with 4-5 tablespoons of oil (until shimmering but not smoking). Carefully add a few egg rolls and turn with tongs to brown all sides. They brown very quickly so keep an eye on them. Drain on paper towels.

Think homemade egg rolls sound a little ambitious for picnic fare? So did I, until the magnificent Chef Amy showed me the technique step-by-step. I’ll never be satisfied with frozen or takeout again.

 

Spread out eggroll wrapper at diamond-shaped angle, filling corner to corner with about 3 tablespoons of sauteed veggie mix. Fold back corner over filled middle, then tuck side corners into the center. Slightly dampen remaining front corner for best adhesion, then complete roll and place on prep tray with folded-flap edge down.

 

Sizzling egg rolls cook up crisp and light.

Asian Peanut Noodles

Peanut butter, Sriracha chili sauce, soy sauce and a drizzle of honey, all blend with broth for a sweet & spicy noodle sauce.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 14.5 oz broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 5 TBSP peanut butter
  • 1 TBSP Sriracha chili sauce
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP freshly grated ginger

 

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 1 TBSP Sriracha chili sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1TBSP fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 8 oz. rice noodles

 

Veggies Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded broccoli slaw
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 TBSP chopped peanuts

 

Directions:

For sauce, combine listed ingredients in small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until sauce becomes smooth and well blended, about 5 -10 minutes. Set aside.

Boil water for the noodles and cook according to package instruction. Season chicken with salt and pepper, Sriracha, lime, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Heat a large skillet or wok until hot. Add oil and saute chicken on high heat until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic, scallions, carrots, broccoli slaw, and bean sprouts, saute until tender crisp, about 1-2 minutes.
Drain noodles and toss with peanut sauce (use additional broth if needed to loosen sauce). Add chicken and sauteed vegetables, toss together. Garnish with chopped peanuts.

For this peanut noodle recipe, Amy uses chicken, but tofu could be easily substituted for a vegan/vegetarian dish. Delicious served cold for the picnic, but just as satisfying hot off the stove for dinner any night.

Mango & Blueberries in Lime-Ginger Gastrique

Ohhhh… The Mango-Blueberry Gastrique… Y’all, seriously? Have you ever tried this? How did I not know about this delicious concoction? The moniker may be French but the taste blends phenomenally with the palate of this meal, ending it all on the most delightfully refreshing note.

Dress up fresh fruit with a gastrique — a quick acid-sugar reduction sauce adding complex layers of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP lime zest from 4 limes (zest limes before juicing)
  • 1 cup lime juice (from grated limes & additional 3-4 limes as needed)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch table salt
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, peeled & minced
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 cups fresh mango (peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

 

Directions:

In a small, heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan, simmer lime juice, sugar, and salt over high heat until syrupy, honey-colored, and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add lime zest, ginger, and lemon juice; steep 1 minute, and strain. Combine fruit in medium bowl; pour warm dressing over fruit and toss. can be served immediately at room temperature or cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate up to 4 hours, and serve chilled.

Steep lime zest and fresh ginger in the warm reduction to intensify flavor, then strain it out for a smoother texture. Pour over fresh fruit and chill.

Other Fun Tips

  • Pack portions into paper take-out style cartons (available at craft & party stores) and using chopsticks.
  • Serve iced green tea or even a cooler full of Asian beers like Sapporo, Ichiban and Tiger.
  • Decorate the picnic table with paper lanterns and bring paper fans to help keep cool.

 

Thank you so much, Amy!

Enjoy!