- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

If you face a sweltering kitchen in the evening, you know how unmotivated you can be to cook dinner. Instead of suffering through the heat, plan your escape.

Mealtime relief can be as simple as a picnic in a nearby park, a meal on a blanket in the back yard or even dinner on the front porch. The change of scenery will do you and your appetite good.

Prepare a festive menu that gives you pleasure. Just because you’re not eating in doesn’t mean you’re doomed to peanut butter and jelly. You can transform your simple weeknight dishes into an elegant outdoor menu with a few simple additions.

If burgers are on the menu, make a fruit chutney as an accompaniment. These burgers don’t need a bun. You’ll enjoy seeing and tasting the lively fruit flavors. And don’t serve plain fruit for dessert. Instead, float the fruit in champagne for a festive end to the evening.

The following recipes are designed for indoor or al fresco dining. If you’re going to travel to a meal site, cook the sausage patties and wrap them in a double layer of aluminum foil to keep them hot.

Pack the mango-blueberry chutney separately in a plastic container with a lid. For easy transport, toss honeydew cubes with sugar, Grand Marnier and mint sprigs. Chill a small bottle of champagne and add it at the last minute. Serve whatever champagne you don’t need for the fruit as an accompanying beverage.

Sausage patties with mango-blueberry chutney

8 ounces maple-flavored bulk pork sausage

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ginger root

1 medium shallot, minced

1 small Fresno or mild jalapeno chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 small mango, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

cup blueberries

Shape sausage into 2 patties about -inch thick. Fry in a small skillet 5 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile prepare the chutney. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add ginger root, shallot and chili and cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until soft.

Stir in mango, brown sugar and vinegar and simmer over low heat 2 minutes. Stir in blueberries and simmer 1 to 2 minutes to heat through, but not cook. Remove from heat.

To serve, arrange 1 sausage patty on each of 2 plates and top with mango-blueberry chutney. Makes 2 servings.

Honeydew in champagne and Grand Marnier

2 cups honeydew melon cubes

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup champagne

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

2 mint sprigs

Spoon melon into 2 serving bowls. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over each serving. Pour cup champagne into each bowl and sprinkle with half of the Grand Marnier. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve immediately; makes 2 servings.

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