A moveable feast: Tailgate options are many and varied

Published April 11, 2007 in the Midland (MI) Daily News

Beth Medley Bellor

    So you’re headed to a baseball game at Dow Diamond, and thinking of making tailgating part of the event.

    You’ll have to depart just a little from the traditional tailgate. For one, thanks to the Liquor Control Commission, no outside alcohol can be brought onto Loons property.

    And grills? “I don’t know that that would be encouraged,” said Patti Tuma, office manager, because of the team’s own concessions.

    Not to worry. Pack a few juices instead and take a creative approach to the picnic basket — and plan for a little prep work.

    Greg Lopez, a Daily News food columnist, suggested panini — grilled sandwiches of Italian origin. They can be filled with cold sliced meats, topped with tomatoes and then grilled on a special press for a few minutes before popping into foil and packing.

    Baguette sandwiches are “perfect for picnics,” he said. “They can be filled with a nice smoked ham and Swiss cheese accompanied by some nice mustard.”

    Pastrami and corned beef are other options, he said, but must be kept cool. Ham and cheese will be OK for a while, but chicken salad should be brought only in a cooler with ice.

    Wraps also are a good choice, Lopez said, especially now that tortillas are being sold specifically for that purpose at local supermarkets. “They can be filled with all sorts of grilled chicken or fajitas with salad. They are also perfect for vegetarian fillings.”

    And while we’re on vegetables, don’t forget to toss them onto the sandwiches, even hoagies or subs. The Farmers Market will have fresh tomatoes later this summer, he said. In the meantime turn to grocery stores, and try something new — maybe avocado slices on sandwiches. Vegetable trays are nice sides, too.

    Fresh pasta salads came to mind for Gar Winslow, owner of Eastman Party Store. Or there’s the picnic classic — bread and cheese.

    “This time of year, we’d say take some cheese and breads and keep it simple,” Winslow said.

    What kind? “Aged gouda would be fun,” he said. Jarlsberg or Cheddars also would work, he said, while brie wouldn’t because it requires utensils.

    Or try fresh mozzarella on a baguette, with fresh tomato slices and basil.

    “Just sort of pile it on and make a real quick sandwich that way. Maybe some sliced salamis,” he suggested.

    Olives are a nice addition, he said.

    For the bread, Winslow suggested baguettes, “good and crusty,” or Italian ciabatta.

    “I would be happy with that. And a bag of licorice,” he said.

    Kate Mass, another Daily News food columnist, suggested stacked sandwiches.

    “Just a plain round unsliced loaf of bread at Meijer you could use,” she said. “You could go with a sandwich theme and go with like any kind of stacked sandwiches.”

    Calzones or pasties could be brought if kept warm. And for dessert? “Regular cookies; they’re very portable.”

    Mass also suggested a meat pie, such as an Italian Easter pie. This recipe is from her cookbook, expected out later this year.

Turkey Turkey Picnic Pie

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion, chopped fine

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup cooking sherry

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 pound ground turkey ham

1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon yellow salad mustard

Purchased ready-to-use double pie crusts

    Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add onion and garlic, and cook until onions are soft. Add sherry and boil until alcohol is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Turn into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands as for meat loaf. Turn into a 9-inch pie pan fitted with the bottom prepared crust and pat to form to the shape of the pan. Top with the upper crust. If you want to be fancy, cut leaf-shaped pieces of crust and decorate. Bake for an hour. Cool on a rack and refrigerate until you’re ready to go. This pie can go in its pan. Serves 8.

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