Summer is the perfect time for outdoor eating. Whether you’re planning a meal with a significant other or the kiddos, a picnic is a safe bet. Whip up some pita toasts, biscuits and candied orange peels for a real treat. Grab the blanket, basket, some napkins, and find the perfect sunny or shaded spot in the great outdoors.

Goat Cheese Pita Toasts with Pomegranate, Pistachio and Mint

Make ahead: The pita toasts can be baked, cooled and stored in an airtight container at room temperature a day in advance.

1 1/2 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios
2 whole-wheat pita pockets, about 6 inches in diameter (see headnote)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 ounces plain fresh goat cheese, at room temp.
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pistachios on a small baking sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

2. Meanwhile, slice the pita pockets in half so each forms 2 rounds (for a total of 4 rounds). Place the pita rounds on a cutting board and brush them with oil. Cut each round into 6 wedges, to create a total of 24 wedges. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake for 5 or 6 minutes, until crisped and browned. Let cool completely.

3. Stir together the honey and lemon juice in a small bowl.

4. When you’re ready to serve, spread goat cheese on all of the toasted pita wedges. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, mint and pistachios, then drizzle with the honey-lemon mixture and serve.

Makes 8 servings

SOURCE: Monica Norton | The Washington Post

Rosemary biscuits

2 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (from 4 to
5 stems)
1 cup half-and-half

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse a few times to incorporate. Add the shortening and rosemary; pulse just long enough to form pea-size pieces, then add the half-and-half; process just long enough to form a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Lightly flour the (preferably chilled) work surface. Transfer the dough there, rolling it out to a rectangle about 8 inches wide and about 9 inches long, with a thickness of 1/2 inch. Use a very sharp knife to cut into 16 squarish biscuits, rerolling scraps as little as possible.

4. Arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet, spacing them at least an inch apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Makes 16 biscuits

SOURCE: Fritz Hahn | The Washington Post

Candied orange peel

3 organic navel oranges, preferably with thick peel, rinsed well
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
About 1/2 cup superfine sugar, for coating

1. Use a sharp paring knife to slice off the top and bottom of each orange. Score the oranges, making vertical slices at 1-inch intervals and cutting just through the peel and pith but not into the flesh. Pull off the segments of peel and slice them vertically into strips about 1/4 inch wide. (Reserve the flesh for another use.)

2. Place the strips of peel in a saucepan with water to cover by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, and cook the peels gently for about 45 minutes, until just tender. Drain in a colander set in the sink.

3. Set a wire cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet.

4. Combine the granulated sugar and 2 cups of water in the same saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to low and add the drained peels. Cook gently, stirring from time to time, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the peels are tender and most (but not all) of the syrup has been absorbed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peels to the rack, taking care to keep them from touching. Let dry for 1 to 2 hours. (Don’t discard the syrup; store it in a jar in the refrigerator and use it to sweeten brewed tea.)

5. Spoon about 1/2 cup superfine sugar into a quart-size zip-top bag. Add 3 or 4 strips of peel to the bag and shake to coat with evenly. Place coated strips back on the rack, taking care to keep them separate. Continue until you have coated all the strips. Let dry overnight, turning them once or twice, before serving or storing.

Makes 2 cups

SOURCE: Domenica Marchetti | The Washington Post

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