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Picnic Chic

A vintage-inspired outdoor spread to kick your summer off in style

Sara Essex Bradley

Summer is the perfect time to call your girlfriends, pack a picnic lunch, croquet set and head out for the afternoon to one of New Orleans’ verdant and sprawling parks. Dress up, wear hats and pretty sundresses, bring a folding table and chairs along with a stack of pretty blankets to spread on the grass and a couple of lightweight poufs to perch on. In lieu of plastic plates and glasses or paper napkins, opt to make it special with vintage tableware. If each friend brings one key element to the party, a pretty setup is a snap.



The Menu
 

Lunch
Tarragon chicken salad sliders with pickled onions on Challah

Smoked ham sandwiched with pecan cheddar spread, pepper jelly, and arugula on sourdough pain de mie
Dessert

Madeleines, flourless chocolate bites, almond frangipane mini cakes, Sable Breton mini cakes, mini pecan tart, mini chocolate caramel tart

Cocktails
Principe de los Apostoles gin and tonic; pink sparkling wine
 

Tip

Keep cocktails simple.
Serve classic gin and tonics, and pink sparkling wine packaged in pop-top individual cans. Vintage glasses and cocktail stirrers add pizzazz.
 


Tip

Use a colorful quilt for a tablecloth. Mix and match vintage plates, cocktail napkins, cocktail stirrers and retro drinking glasses. Shot glasses hold a single strawberry. Choose a special gin to elevate the classic gin and tonic. Principe de los Apostoles comes from Argentina and is infused with botanicals such as yerba mate, pink grapefruit and eucalyptus. Within the realm of New World gins, Apostoles differs from the classic winter flavors of the London-style dry gins. The nuanced profile of tropical flavors makes it a perfect summer libation.
 


Cater your picnic.
 

Premade sandwiches and sweets make summer entertaining effortless. We asked Chef Megan Forman, co-owner and pastry chef at Gracious Bakery to pack the lunch. Everything is made from scratch, including the breads for their delicious sandwiches. Get breakfast and lunch catering packages with free delivery for orders of $100 and ordering is as easy as visiting the website, graciousbakery.com


Tip

A vintage croquet set adds charm to the party. Use a vintage picnic hamper placed on a folding chair as the bar. Place a large bowl and ice bucket filled with ice in the opened hamper. Clothing and accessories are from St. Claude Social Club in the Lower Garden District.
 


Madeleines
 

3 ¾ ounces of all-purpose flour

4 ½ ounces of granulated sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large room temperature eggs

3 ¾ melted butter
 

1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract, just to combine. Stir in butter.

3. Place plastic wraps directly on the surface of the batter and refrigerate until chilled.

4. Spray madeleine molds with non-stick spray. Preheat convection oven to 375 F.

5. Transfer batter to a piping bag, and pipe batter into molds. Bake the madeleines for 9 to 10 minutes, or until cakes feel set when touched. Makes 12 to 15.
 


Tarragon Chicken Salad
 

1 ½ pounds poached chicken, small dice

2 ounces golden raisins, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped

1 ounce sliced almonds, toasted and crushed

1 ounce shallot, minced

5 ounces mayonnaise
 

1. Mix ingredients together and serve on mini slider rolls with pickled onions and Romaine lettuce.

 

Recipes by Gracious Bakery
 

Tip

For dessert serve an indulgent selection of bite-sized mini desserts with pink sparkling wine. Store boxes and containers, hiding them under the quilt that is draped to the ground on the folding table. After the main course switch out savories for sweets on the table.
 



Left, Smoked ham sandwich with pecan cheddar spread (spread can be purchased at Gracious Bakery), with pepper jelly (sold at Gracious Bakery) on sourdough pain de mie, dressed with arugula.
 

Tip

Dress up for your picnic and croquet party. All clothes and accessories are from St. Claude Social Club. Colorful quilts and poufs add a festive feeling (from Discoveries Furniture and Finds.)

 

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