It’s a bit hard for me to believe that it’s already May—this year is really just flying by. The weather in Boston isn’t doing much to convince me that we’re well into spring, either. We’ve only just made it into days where we can consistently expect highs above 50, and the sun has barely made an appearance all week. But that won’t deter us New Englanders from doing our darndest to enjoy spring anyways. You’ll find us shivering in our shorts, BBQ-ing with hats and gloves on, and, yes, having picnics in weather that is really not that enjoyable for picnicking. We’re committed.
My first picnic of the year was in honor of my mom, although she wasn’t actually there, which I’m sure she will mention to me as soon as she sees this post.
(Don’t worry, mom, I will give you your own picnic when it is actually Mother’s Day — this picnic was just in preparation so that the real one can be as good as possible. And so that other people could read this and plan picnics for their moms.)
I packed food that is light, portable, spring-like and good at any time of day—these recipes could easily serve as a menu for brunch, lunch, or a light dinner.
The savory part of the picnic was Mushroom and Goat Cheese Savory Squares, which is just a fancy name for “puff pastry tarts.” These are super simple to prepare: The mushrooms are sliced and sautéed with butter, garlic, Chardonnay, and thyme, then baked along with goat cheese on store-bought puff pastry. Despite being easy to make, they look and taste super elegant, thanks to the wonderful amount of butter in puff pastry.
For dessert, Mini Lemon Curd Trifles. Trifle, because it reminds me of my mother; mini, because packing things in mason jars is trendy and perfect for picnics; and lemon curd, because I love it and it screams springtime. The trifle layers are lemon shortbread, lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. I could have eaten about 6 of these little mason jars on my own, they were so good.
It’s always good to have fresh finger food to round out a picnic, so I also packed grapes, fava beans, and some good aged gouda. And of course, the wine! We broke out a bottle of Cambria’s Benchbreak Chardonnay for this one, because it’s a lovely match for the mushrooms, goat cheese, lemons, and buttery pastry and shortbread.
Mother's Day Picnic
- Mushroom and Goat Cheese Savory Squares (recipe below)
- Mini Lemon Curd Trifles (recipe below)
- Fresh fruit - Grapes, Strawberries, Raspberries
- Steamed Fava Beans or Asparagus, tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt
- Good cheese
- Cambria Bench Break 2012 Chardonnay
- Plates, glasses, napkins, and silverware
- Picnic blanket
- Your Mom!
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Savory Squares
- 3 TBS butter
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 c. sliced mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake or baby bellos
- 2 TBS olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ c. Cambria Bench Break Chardonnay
- 4 oz. soft goat cheese
- ¼ c. heavy cream
- 14 oz. puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Make sure you have thawed your puff pastry according to the package directions before starting.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and the olive oil and saute until golden brown all over, about 8-10 minutes. Stir the mushrooms only occasionally in order to allow them to brown and crisp. When the mushrooms are soft and golden brown, add the chardonnay. Cook until the liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes, then remove the mushrooms from the heat.
- In a medium bowl, beat the goat cheese to soften slightly. Stir in the cream 1 tablespoon at a time, stopping when the goat cheese is a spreadable consistency.
- Place the puff pastry on a thawed cutting board and cut into 8 rectangles. Cut a ½ inch interior border into each square, cutting only partially through the dough - this will allow the edges of the dough to puff up. Spread the goat cheese mixture on top of the interior square, then top with mushrooms. Place the squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown all over, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Mini Lemon Curd Trifles
Serves 8. Basic shortbread recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.
- ¼ c. sugar
- zest from 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 stick butter, chilled
- ¼ tsp lemon extract
- 1 c. flour
- 2 c. lemon curd, store-bought or homemade
- 2 c. freshly whipped cream
- 8 oz. fresh raspberries
- 8 small mason jars, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and salt to a food processor and pulse several times until zest is well chopped. Pour the lemon sugar into a bowl. Cut the cold butter into chunks and use a pastry cutter to combine the butter and the sugar, mixing until they are evenly combined. Stir in the lemon extract. Add the flour and continue to mix with the pastry cutter, until the mixture is coarse with chunks of butter no larger than a pea.
- Press the dough into a large ball, flatten into a disk, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. Once the dough is chilled, unwrap it and press it into the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown, then remove from the oven. Immediately cut the shortbread into 8 wedges inside the pan, then allow the shortbread to cool completely.
- To assemble the trifles, remove the shortbread wedges from the pan. Cut half of them into thin slices. Layer a few slices of shortbread on the bottom of each mason jar. Top with a few spoonfuls of lemon curd, followed by whipped cream, followed by a few fresh raspberries. Repeat the layers until the jar is full. Screw the lid on the jar and refrigerate until ready to serve - do not make more then a few hours in advance or the shortbread will become soggy. Serve chilled.