Magazine article Sunset

September Menus: A Cook-Ahead Picnic with a Special Main Course. A Basket Lunch of Finger Salads

Magazine article Sunset

September Menus: A Cook-Ahead Picnic with a Special Main Course. A Basket Lunch of Finger Salads

Article excerpt

If September weather is generous, many days of the month will be just right for pleasant outdoor eating. These two meals are designed for outings, but if weather turns too sizzling hot or too breezy-chilly, just serve them as simple indoor meals.

The first is a substantial picnic you cook the day before. Another meal to tote outside features September's vegetables raw.

A late-summer picnic

This is a finger-food picnic. You eat rich pork with your fingers and munch it with tart apples and cool cucumber slices.

Crisp and Tender Pork

Vinegar-Garlic Dipping Sauce

Green Apple and Cucumber Slices

Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Tropical Spritzers or Gewurztraminer

Raisin Rice Pudding or Cantaloupe

You can put most of the meal together the day before; finish baking the pork in the morning as you are packing the picnic. Buy 4 tart apples (Newtown Pippin or Granny Smith) and 1 thin-skinned English (European) cucumber, bring along a small knife to slice them.

For spritzers, take individual cans or bottles of juices such as guava, papaya, passion fruit, sparkling water, and ice. Blend by the glass by pouring 2 parts fruit juice and 1 part sparkling water over ice.

You'll need spoons for dessert. And take along plenty of napkins and some wet washcloths in a plastic bag. Crisp and Tender Pork

Dip bites of meat in the vinegar sauce (recipe follows).

4 (about 2 lbs. each) pork knuckles or 2-1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4 equal pieces

6 or 3 cups regular-strength chicken broth

1 lemon, cut in half crosswise

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon dry thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon each whole cloves and whole black pepper

If cooking knuckles, use 6 cups broth and an 8- to 10-quart pan; for shoulder, use a 3- to 4-quart pan and 3 cups broth. Bring broth, lemon, bay, thyme, cloves, and pepper to a boil. Add pork, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until pork pulls apart easily; knuckles take about 2-1/2 hours, shoulder takes about 2 hours. Lift pork from broth; drain. If made ahead, cover pork and chill as long as overnight. To save broth for other uses, pour through a strainer; discard seasonings.

Place knuckles on an ungreased 10- by 15-inch pan, or put shoulder in a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake in a 500 [deg.] oven, uncovered, until skin on knuckles is crisp, about 30 minutes; or until shoulder is browned, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. To transport, let cool, then wrap loosely and serve within 4 hours. To eat, tear meat in shreds. Makes 4 servings. Vinegar-Garlic Dipping Sauce

In a 1- to 2-quart pan, simmer uncovered 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies until heat of chilies flavors vinegar, about 30 seconds. Cool, then stir in 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed. Serve, or cover and chill as long as 1 week. To transport, seal in a leakproof container. Makes 1 cup, enough for 4 servings. Raisin Rice Pudding

3/4 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups water

3/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup dark rum or orange juice

1 cup flaked sweetened coconut

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large ripe peach or banana

About 1-1/3 cups half-and-half (light cream)

In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine rice and water. …

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