Jun 27, 2012 7:11 PM

Let's Make a Meal: Side dishes for your summer picnic

TUCSON - Today on "Let's Make a Meal," our food contributor, Jennifer English, stopped by with some side items perfect for your summer picnic. Here's what she had to say:

"Summertime gives us much to celebrate. I just had my birthday, and Allison is about to celebrate hers. Our first monsoons are promising relief from the heat, and 4th of July is right around the corner.

"Longer daylight means our parties can become picnics and dining alfresco means planning ahead for maximum flavor and possibility. Think Thanksgiving. What? Did you say Thanksgiving? Yes. Here's what I mean. At Thanksgiving everyone cooks a turkey. But it is the side dishes that make the meal interesting and delicious.

"So when it comes to summer, we all do burgers and dogs the way we do turkey at Thanksgiving. So we turn to the side dishes for a star turn and I have four beauties to share: bright, flavorful, delicious and easy to make. Plus, the best cool drink recipe in the world.

Happy Birthday America & Allison!

1. Tangy Cole Slaw
Recipe courtesy Jean Anderson
2 pounds green cabbage
• 4 carrots
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup mustard
• 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut cabbage in quarters and remove core. Peel carrots and onion and cut into pieces that would fit through the feed tube of a food processor. Fit food processor with the large-holed grater attachment and push cabbage, carrots, and onions through feed tube to grate. In a large bowl, toss vegetables together.
In another medium bowl, prepare the coleslaw dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and cayenne. Toss dressing with the cabbage mixture, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

2. Magnolia Grill Sweet Potato Salad
For the potato salad
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup Pickled Pepper Relish with juice (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

For the pickled pepper relish
1 cup green bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, and cut into small dice
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and cut into small dice
1 medium red onion, cut into small dice
6 ounces cider vinegar
3 ounces sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 dried chipotles, halved and seeded (optional)

Make the relish
1.Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seed, and chipotles, if desired, to the vegetables. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
2. To can the relish, ladle it into 2 hot point jars and fill to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Wipe the rim, seal the lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Start timing after the water bath reaches full boil.
3. Check to be sure the jars are securely sealed. The relish will keep for up to 6 months.
4. If you prefer to skip the canning, this relish can be refrigerated for up to 3 months, covered, in clean, sterile containers. This recipe can be scaled up easily but be cautious with the chipotles.
Make the potato salad
1. Cook the sweet potatoes in salted water until done but still firm. Plunge them in ice water to stop them from cooking and drain well.
2. Combine the relish, garlic, and Dijon mustard in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, as well as salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to taste.
3. Fold in the sweet potatoes and Italian parsley and toss gently. Keeps refrigerated for 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

3. Saffron Pickled Cauliflower
Saffron Pickled Cauliflower
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 teaspoon saffron
• 1 teaspoon coriander seed
• 2 teaspoons mustard seed
• 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
• 1 whole clove garlic, smashed
• 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
• 1 bulb of fennel, julienned
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup rice wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon pickling salt

Heat the canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seed with the coriander seed and add to the pan. Add the ginger, and garlic to the pan. Cook these spices, stirring until the oil colors and the spices are fragrant but no colour. Add the cauliflower florets and fennel to the pan and toss to coat.
In a lidded plastic container, combine the water, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, and pickling salt. Shake to combine.
Once the cauliflower is slightly tender, add it to a glass jar. Pour the pickling liquid over the cauliflower, filling to the top of the jar. Cool, chill, and store the pickles for 1 week to allow the flavors to develop thoroughly.
* Sterilizing Jars
Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.
Sterilizing Tips:
Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum seal when processed.
Before filling with jams, pickles or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Leave in a preheated 175 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Or boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.
Use tongs when handling hot sterilized jars, to move them from either boiling water or the oven. Be sure tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.
As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

4. Crispy Fish Nuggets
Crispy Fish Nuggets
• 2- 6.38-ounce cans of Pringles Salt & Vinegar flavor
• 2 pounds cod fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 2 cups of skim milk
1. Place nuggets in milk.
2. Puree the Pringles in a food processor, and pour into a large sealable plastic bag. Place two or three nuggets at a time in the bag and shake to coat.
3. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and place the well-coated nuggets in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
4. Remove and let stand, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes to crisp.

5. Texas Sweet Tea by Linda West Eckhardt
• 1-ounce loose black tea
• 1 quart hot water
• 1 quart room temperature water
Simple Syrup:
• 3 cups sugar
• 3 cups cold water
• 2 sliced lemons
• sprig fresh mint
Infuse loose tea into hot water for 4 to 5 minutes. Strain tea into room temperature water. Sweeten with simple syrup if desired.
Simple syrup, is made by combining 3 cups of sugar and 3 cups of cold water and bring to a boil then add 2 sliced lemons and a few sprigs of fresh mint. Remove from heat. Allow to cool 10 minutes and strain.


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