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book cover of A Return to Family Picnics

Selected recipes from:
A Return to Family Picnics
by Russell Cronkhite
Multnomah Publishers, March 2005
Hardcover, 224 pages,
ISBN: 1590521404
More Information:

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Cheddar Cumin Crisps

Makes 40 crisps


1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons whole milk, cold

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt


Combine the grated cheddar, Parmesan, flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade; pulse until the ingredients combine to resemble coarse crumbly meal.


Whisk the minced garlic into the cold milk and add to the mixture in the food processor. Pulse until a stiff dough forms.


Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Form into a round log about 8 inches long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is firm enough to slice, about 2 hours.


Combine the crushed cumin seeds with the coarse salt and sprinkle evenly onto a clean dry work surface. Remove the chilled log from the plastic wrap and roll in the seeds to coat the exterior. Cut into slices slightly less than 1/2 inch thick and transfer the slices to an ungreased baking sheet, placing them about 1-1/2 inches apart (if necessary, this can be done in two batches).


Bake on the middle rack of a 400 degree F oven until the crisps are bubbly on top and the edges are evenly browned, 10 to 12 minutes (they will spread a little as they bake). Immediately transfer the crisps to a cooling rack using a metal spatula. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


Basil-Pear Salad with Mixed Autumn Greens


Makes 6 servings



4 whole cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch of salt

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil

2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Coarse salt and cracked black pepper



8 cups torn salad greens (radicchio, endive, mustard greens, chard)

2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

6 medium Bosc pears


To roast the garlic:

Place the cloves of garlic in a small pan, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and bake for 20 to 22 minutes in a 425-degree oven.


To make the dressing:

Combine the roasted garlic with a pinch of salt in a bowl and mash into a paste with a fork. Transfer to a blender and add in the basil and vinegar. PurŽe thoroughly. With the blender running at low speed, slowly pour the vegetable and walnut oils into the dressing until emulsified. Transfer to a small bowl and fold in the Gorgonzola. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


To prepare the salad:

Rinse the greens thoroughly and shake off any excess water; combine with the basil and seal in a large plastic bag.


Cut each pear in half lengthwise and scoop out the core using a melon scoop; slice thinly.


To assemble the salad:

Toss the prepared greens with the dressing and garnish with the pears.


Note: If taking along on an outdoor picnic, it's best to pack the pears whole and slice them just before serving so they don't turn brown.


Double Fudge Rocky Road Brownies

Makes 16 brownies



6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups chopped toasted almonds

1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows



1/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, sliced into 1-inch pats

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

1/2 cup miniature marshmallows


Adjust the baking rack to the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x9-inch baking pan.


To make the brownies:

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler over medium heat, then stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.


Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside.


Thoroughly cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle; beat in the cooled melted chocolate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; then with the mixer running at medium speed add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the mixer speed to low and add the vanilla; then blend in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in the chopped almonds and marshmallows.


Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake just until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges, 30 to 35 minutes; do not overcook. Cool to room temperature before frosting.


To prepare the frosting:

Heat the cream with the sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan just until it simmers, whisking thoroughly to dissolve the sugar.


Add in the chopped chocolate and remove from heat; whisk until the chocolate is melted. Add in the sliced butter and beat until smooth. Cool slightly and pour over the pan of brownies. Sprinkle with the additional chopped almonds and marshmallows. Cool completely (do not refrigerate), then slice into 16 even squares.

Recipes from A RETURN TO FAMILY PICNICS (Multnomah Publishers; March 2005; $32.00/Hardcover)

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