Oct 23 2010
Way back when my husband and I were just married, we used to go on picnics all the time. My husband’s work route took him through a park, and after work on nice warm days, I would meet half way and we would have a picnic for dinner.
Now that we have two wonderful children, our picnics revolve around play grounds and sandboxes more than they do around food. So, since Foodbuzz asked us to blog about a meal on the go for this weeks Project Foodblog challenge, I decided to recreate a picnic for two.
On one of our previous visits to Prague, we discovered 94-year-old Deli in the heart of Downtown that has some of the most unique and delicious sandwiches I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Today, I would like to share the experience of a true Bohemian picnic with you.
The region of Germany that I live in is right next to Bohemia – which is in the western part of the Czech Republic, and much of the Bohemian culture extends into Bavaria. And, my butcher’s family just happens to be from Bohemia, so I asked for some advice as to what would be a typical Bohemian picnic meal to complement my potato salad and roast beef sandwiches. His mother-in-law came out from the back where she usually helps prepare take-away food, and shared some advice with me. We settled on Brussels sprout salad, rice pudding with preserved, sour cherries, and elderflower spritzer. My Bohemian picnic was starting to come to life.
And, with the surprisingly sunny weather we had this weekend, we were able to head on over to our community garden for a nice picnic dinner for two – while the kids played in the playground, of course! I really love the scent of fresh air with my meal – it makes everything taste better.
Potato salad is a very classic picnic dish, but it’s much more fun – and delicious – when it’s in a sandwich. It transforms a dry piece of bread into a deliciously creamy sandwich. You can top it off with any deli meat of your liking; my favorite is roast beef because, not only does it taste good, but I have many wonderful childhood memories attached it it. Then, go ahead and add some tomato, hard boiled egg, and pickle, and you have yourself the perfect Bohemian sandwich.
To complement the flavors and textures of my creamy potato salad and roast beef sandwich, I made a Brussels sprout salad. I actually grew-up eating this same dish at home – even though I’m not Bohemian – with one major difference. They add sugar. I was really worried that this would over sweeten the Brussels sprouts and make them taste gross, but I was quite wrong. And, although I still prefer my mother’s tangy version, this one is quite palatable and a really big hit with the kids. My son was begging me for more after 2 helpings!
To help wash everything down, I chose to make an elderflower spritzer. True, beer is very Bohemian, but I wanted something lighter that would offset the savory flavors of the sandwich. This was actually the first time I had ever used and tasted elderflower syrup, and I was pleasantly surprised by its fragrant flavor.
To crown the meal, we enjoyed rice pudding topped off with the sour cheery pie filling that I canned this summer. Traditionally, you would use sour cherries preserved in their own juices, but I find the creamier pie filling preserves the consistency of the rice pudding instead of turning it into a watery mess.
The general rule of a Bohemian picnic is to use what’s available to you. Don’t have access to roast beef? Use ham. Or, go vegetarian and leave the deli meat out all together. Not a big fan of Brussels sprouts? You can make the same delicious salad using cauliflower. Did you miss-out on the 3 weeks of the year when sour cherries are in season? No problem, you can also top off your rice pudding with preserved plums, raspberries, or apples. Use what you have in your pantry or what is in season and local. Never heard of elderflowers and they don’t grow in your region? Make a simple syrup with fresh petals and herbs available to you: rose petals, orange or lemon blossoms, lemon verbena leaves, lavender flowers, hibiscus flowers, mint leaves, vanilla bean …the list goes on and on. Mrs. Willomitzer shared with me that when there was no wine they even made a simple syrup out of red wine vinegar and drank that mixed with water. Creativity is key.
So, get your creative juices flowing, get cooking, pack your awesome Project Foodblog cooler or picnic basket, and take the time to have a Bohemian picnic.
Chlebíček se Roastbeef a Bramborový Salát
Potato Salad & Roast Beef Sandwiches – Potato Salad original recipe here
1 kg Potatoes
1 Red Onion, diced
3 large Sweet Pickles, finely chopped
56 grams cooked Peas
3 cooked Carrots, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
2 large slices of bread
6 sliced Roast beef
1 hard boiled Egg, sliced
a few slices of Tomato
a few slices of Pickle
Potato Salad Directions:
Place all the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until a fork inserts into the center of a potato without trouble. Remove from heat, drain water, and let cool completely.
Once the potatoes have completely cooled, peel with a knife, and then chop into small cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the onions, pickles, peas, and carrots.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and mix to completely coat. Mix in the mayonnaise and combine well. Let stand over night in the refrigerator for the best flavor.
Makes 8 servings.
Sandwich assembly: Press about 1 cup of potato salad on to each slice of bread. Top each slice of bread with 3 slices of roast beef, one slice of hard boiled egg, 1 slice of tomato, and a sliced pickle.
On the go: If you cannot assemble your sandwich directly before eating, I recommend adding a slice of bread to the top and wrapping it in some parchment paper and then some plastic wrap. This will keep your sandwich snuggly assembled until it’s time to eat.
Růžičková Kapusta Salát
Brussels Sprouts Salad – original recipe courtesy of Mrs. Willomitzer from Metzgerei Willomitzer
500 grams Brussels Sprouts, cross cut into heads
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
freshly ground Pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 slices of Bacon, diced
Place a steamer basket in a pot with a fitting lid and fill with enough water to sit under the steamer basket. Place all the Brussels sprout in the steamer basket and sprinkle with 1/2 a teaspoon of Salt.
Steam on high heat with the lid on for 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove immediately and cool with running tap water.
In the mean time sauté the bacon until crispy. Set aside to let cool.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, salt, sugar, pepper, and olive oil. Mix in the Brussels sprouts and top with bacon crumbles. Serve immediately.
On the go: Make up to one day in advance and keep the bacon on the side. Top with bacon crumbles right before serving.
Makes 2 servings.
Rýžový Nákyp a Višně
Rice Pudding & Sour Cherries – Original rice pudding recipe here
250 mL Milk
62 grams round-grained Rice
1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Cream
4 Tablespoons preserved Sour Cherries (I used my homemade Cherry pie filling – here’s the recipe I used)
In a pot, combine the milk and the rice, and bring to a boil – stirring constantly. Mix in the sugar, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in the cream.
Spoon into individual serving containers and top each with 2 tablespoons of sour cherry preserves.
On the go: Spoon the rice pudding into small jar, let cool completely, and then top with cherries and close the lid. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
Makes 2 servings.
Bezový květ střik
Pour about 2 tablespoons of the syrup into each cup and top off with cold seltzer water.
On the go: Pour 1/2 a cup of the syrup in a 1-liter bottle and top off with seltzer water. Make sure the lid is on tight and try not to shake it too much on the way to your picnic.
*I bought my elderflower syrup from my son’s preschool’s homemade sale. You can find many recipes online, such as this one. However, the syrup I used was not made with fresh squeezed lemons, as is traditional, but rather with fresh squeezed oranges.