July is not only time for celebrating Independence Day but also for picnics, vacations, family reunions, and block parties. Each is a time for good friends and good food. There’s just something special about these outdoor get-togethers that brings back nostalgic thoughts of summers gone by. You can contribute your own memories start some new Los Angeles culinary traditions by cooking up one of these delicious and fun summertime foods for this year’s Fourth of July picnic.
Homemade Baked Beans
Maybe only hamburgers and hot dogs are more popular than baked beans at summertime picnics. This year you can skip those bland from the can choices and make your own. Not only will they taste better but they will be better nutritionally with much less sugar and salt added. Don’t forget the big chunks of bacon or ham, uncured of course.
You’ll be the hit of the family reunion this year if you set up a shaved ice station and serve cool, refreshing snow cones. Both the kids and the adults will love it. Machines are cheap at most home and kitchen store. You can make it a patriotic theme by using cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry flavorings.
Cold fried chicken has been a staple at summertime picnics for generations. It makes a delicious handheld treat while playing a game of horseshoes or Frisbee. This summer try making it a little healthier by using the oven frying technique. You can still use your favorite seasonings and breading techniques, but the amount of oil needed is much less than deep fat frying.
Old Glory Cupcakes
One of the most popular spots at every picnic is the dessert table. And a popular summertime dessertis the cupcake. Make Old Glory Cupcakes with carrot cake batter and cream cheese frosting. Top with strips of strawberry fruit leather for the stripes and blueberries for the stars.
If you grew up in the South, then you had an aunt or grandma that would bring this traditional Southern dessert to every family event. That makes you a lucky person; banana pudding is a fantastic all-American treat. The combination of vanilla pudding, wafer cookies, bananas, and whipped cream is a pure joy to eat. Make sure you get a big spoonful before you serve it, because it doesn’t last long.
A Note about Food Safety
Culinary universities teach a lot of food safety procedures to their students. There are a few of which everyone should be aware. Remember that bacteria thrives between 40 and 140 degrees F. Do what you can to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep hot foods in heated containers or on the grill and keep coolers filled with ice. To avoid cross contamination, be sure to keep foods sealed in watertight containers that don’t leak.
It’s okay to leave foods out while serving meals, but they should be covered and refrigerated immediately after. You can always break them out later for seconds. The extra work is worth it to prevent a foodborne illness from being one of the memories of your picnic.
This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in Los Angeles, California. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Los-Angeles for more information.
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