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Food for the Road!

Posted By Kelly On October 23, 2010 @ 3:00 am In Baking,Cooking,Featured Articles,Pudding and Custard,Recipes,Sandwiches,Side Dishes | 51 Comments

It is time for the next Project Food Blog challenge … thank you all for voting and getting me this far!

This week we have been challenged to take our food on the road:

For this challenge, you’re tasked with creating a delicious meal that will travel well and still look great. From picnics and school lunches to bento boxes, or any other meal on the go, you need to whip up a entree, side, drink, and dessert to enjoy after hitting the road.

So, this week I packed a picnic party for two –  just hubs and me – which we enjoyed at the local park after work.  A picnic at sunset is just the thing to cure after work grumpiness!  What made this picnic even better?  It made enough to pack lunch the next day!  I love that!

When I am planning a meal to be eaten away from home I have some pretty specific requirements.  Depending on the situation I pack simple snacks to ease the road munchies, and meals that can be devoured on the back of my Honda Element’s tail gate or on a road side picnic spot.  I don’t get too fancy because, to my mind, the side of the road, or a scenic picnic spot, is not the place for knives and forks.  No, I want hearty, simple food that is sturdy enough to take packing and travel in a cooler, but it must be food I would be proud to serve friends joining us on the road.

So,  I decided the heart of my meal would be a  braised short rib sandwich.  Short rib meat, tender from slow cooking, packs a lot of great beefy flavor.  To compliment the beef I added a garlic mayo.  I used a high quality mayo and added some sauteed garlic.  With all that richness I knew I needed some fresh vegetables.  Tender butter lettuce and crisp red onions added just the right freshness to make this sandwich easy to eat.  Along side the sandwich are some spiced, thin cut sweet potato chips.  It is fall and sweet potatoes just seemed right, plus they are SO good with short rib meat.

For dessert I went for the comfort only Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Parfait can provide.  Parfaits always make me feel happy with their cheerful layers.  I also love how I can construct different ratios of chocolate, peanut butter, and whipped cream making the parfait interactive in a gluttonous sort of way!  This is rich, so a little goes a long way, and it can be served family style or in individual servings.

To wash it all down I have a Blood Orange and Ginger Sparkler.  It is not too sweet, and the tangy citrus is really refreshing.  Now if you are like me, you like to add a little ‘adult’ to your beverages.  Bourbon is my tipple of choice, and it goes so well with orange, lime and ginger it seemed silly not to combine them.  Of course, if you are driving or taking this drink on the road I expect you to leave out the bourbon, but this drink is refreshing and delightfully bubbly … you won’t miss it!

Short Rib Sandwiches    Serves 4

3 pounds bone-in short ribs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
1 red onion, sliced into 1″ rings
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cups beef or chicken broth
4 ciabatta rolls, or 1 loaf cut into four pieces, split lengthwise
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
4 butter lettuce leaves

For the garlic mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons olive oil

In a medium skillet add the oil and place over high heat until the oil shimmers.   Season the short ribs with salt and place into the pan.  Brown on all sides, about two to three minutes per side.  Set aside.

Into the sleeve of a slow cooker add the carrots, garlic, onion, oregano, bay leaf, and smoked paprika.  Add the short ribs and pour in the broth.  Cook on low for eight hours. Once cooked remove from the liquid and cool. Then pull apart into large chunks with two forks, discarding any large pieces of fat and the bones.

While the short ribs cook prepare the garlic mayonnaise.  Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat.  Once it shimmers add the garlic and turn the heat down to medium low.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is lightly browned and fragrant.  Strain the garlic from the oil and cool to room temperature.

Once cool mix it into the mayonnaise.  Cover and let chill four hours before serving.

Spread the garlic mayonnaise evenly between the split ciabatta rolls.  Start with the cheese, then lettuce and onion.  Finally divide the short rib meat between the sandwiches.  Top with the other half of the bread, wrap in parchment, and keep cold until ready to eat.


Spiced Sweet Potato Chips   Yield 4 servings

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
Oil for frying
Large bowl of ice water
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sugar

With a mandolin slicer, or a food processor with a thin slicing blade, slice the sweet potato into paper thin slices.  Place the slices into the ice water and allow to soak for 1 hour.  Drain, rinse the chips, and drain on paper towels until very dry.

In a small bowl combine the salt, cumin, cinnamon and sugar until well combined.  Set aside.

Fill a deep dutch oven at least two inches deep with oil, making sure the oil is at least three inches from the top of the pot.  Heat the oil to 375 F.  Working in batches, fry the chips until the edges are curled and they are golden brown, about three minutes.

Remove from the oil onto a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Season immediately with the seasoning mixture. Allow to cool completely before serving.  Store the chips in a zip top plastic bag if you plan to hold for longer than a day.


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Parfaits   Serves 6

For the chocolate base:
1 cup milk, 2% or higher
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the peanut butter base:
1 cups milk, 2% or higher
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoons butter

For the whipped cream:
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium sauce pan combine the milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and egg yolk.  Whisk until very well incorporated then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer and thicken.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, butter and chopped chocolate and stir until melted.  Pour through a strainer into a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium sauce pan combine the milk, sugar, peanut butter, cornstarch, and egg yolk.  Whisk until very well incorporated then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to simmer and thicken.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and butter, and stir until melted.  Pour through a strainer into a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Next, prepare the whipped cream.  Pour the gelatin into the cold water and allow to stand for five minutes, or until completely bloomed.  Heat for five seconds in the microwave, making sure it is melted, and cool to room temperature.  Pour the cold cream into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whisk on medium low speed until the sugar is blended then increase the speed to medium high.  When the cream is softly whipped pour in the cooled gelatin.  Whip until the cream forms medium peaks.  Chill for thirty minutes, covered, in the refrigerator.

Gently stir both the chocolate and peanut butter bases until smooth.  Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to each base and fold until the mixtures are uniform in color.

Fill three piping bags with the peanut butter mousse, the chocolate mousse, and the whipped cream.  Pipe the mousse into your serving dishes/glasses in alternating layers, starting with chocolate and ending with whipped cream.  Chill the parfaits for at least two hours before serving.


Blood Orange and Ginger Sparkler     Serves 4

1″ piece ginger, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blood orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 – 12 ounces sparkling water or club soda
4 shots bourbon, optional

In a small pot combine the sugar, sliced ginger, and water.  Bring to a boil then turn off the heat and allow to steep for one hour.  Strain the syrup and chill.

Combine the ginger syrup, blood orange juice, lime juice, sparkling water, and bourbon, if desired, and stir to combine.  Serve chilled.

All that is left is to pack up your picnic cooler and hit the road!

The chips are best packed in a sturdy plastic or paper container.   Plan to pack the parfait in containers with lids – I found some cute resealable glass jars and attached dessert spoons to make eating them easy!  The sandwiches need nothing more than to be wrapped in parchment, and secured with some twine, and the cocktail can be packed in a pretty jug.  An ice pack at the bottom of the bag will keep things nice and cold if you are going to travel for longer than an hour.  I also packed some bamboo plates, napkins, and glasses.


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