Picknicking with the Orchestra

The Cleveland Orchestra and Blossom Festival Band are the perfect musical accompaniments to dusk falling over the Cuyahoga Valley. And maybe the best part about grabbing a lawn seat to a summer classical music performance at Blossom Music Center is you’re welcome to pack a picnic.

The program that seems to bring out the most people each season is the Blossom Festival Band’s performances in honor of Independence Day, “An American Salute,” July 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.

This year, Loras John Shissel will conduct the Blossom Festival Band and the West Point Hellcats Drum and Bugle Corps through Sousa marches and Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture. Fireworks will follow.

So, we asked Heather Haviland of Sweet Mosaic Bakery and Lucky’s Cafe
(777 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland 216-374-9030, www.luckyscafe.com) to plan an all-American picnic for us. Her creation includes picnic grinders, pasta salad, roasted beets, blueberry rhubarb crisp and a watermelon cooler.

The picnic includes ingredients that Clevelanders can find locally grown by farmers. We are lucky to be blessed with so many seasonal gems and this should be celebrated," Haviland says. "This menu will create fireworks for your taste buds."

Picnic Grinders
2 rustic baguettes
1 pound Black Forest ham
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese (sliced)
2 medium local tomatoes
1/2 pound arugula
Black pepper mayonnaise
Buy fresh, crusty baguettes from your favorite local baker. Cut each loaf in half and then cut each piece lengthwise. Mix fresh ground pepper into mayonnaise and spread onto the baguette. Divide the ham between the four sandwiches and layer with cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes and arugula. Wrap each grinder with waxed paper and tie with butcher’s twine to secure.

Watermelon Cooler
Watermelon, sliced
Soda water
Ginger ale

Squish watermelon with hands until thinned, and strain through cheesecloth. Mix two parts watermelon juice to one part soda water and one part ginger ale.

Roasted Beets with Spicy Pecans and Goat Cheese
6 medium beets
1/2 cup pecans
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Clean beets and rub with oil. Roast in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until fork-tender. Let beets cool and then rub off the skin. Cut into thin slices and reserve in a bowl. In a separate bowl, toss pecans with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Toast in the oven for 6 minutes. Let cool and then add to the beets. Toss together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Add the goat cheese in little chunks. Prepare at least one day in advance so that the flavors marry.

Summer Pasta Salad
1 pound penne pasta
3 medium zucchinis
4 ears sweet corn
1/2 pound green beans
1 medium-sized ball of fresh mozzarella
12 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, sliced
into thin strips
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste
Grill corn with husks on until tender. Cool them with husk on. Slice zucchini along its length, toss with olive oil and grill until tender. Cool zucchini and slice into medium chunks. Blanch green beans and cool. Slice the fresh mozzarella into small chunks. Cook pasta to liking and cool. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, balsamic, kosher salt and pepper to taste. Prepare at least one day in advance so the flavors can marry.

Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp
1 quart blueberries
1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
Zest and juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into little pieces
Toss together and divide into individual buttered ramekins or foil mini pie tins.

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) whole butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
Cream butter, sugar and salt. Add dry ingredients and mix to a rough coarse crumble. Top each ramekin with 3/4 inch tall of topping, being sure not to compress. Keep it loose. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown and dry. Ideally, these should be baked the same day.
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