Food & Drink

June 4, 2014

Make-and-Take Meals

Area chefs offer no-fuss fare for a lake house gathering, patio party or summer picnic.

When it comes to lake day dish preparations, sacrificing lounge time for stove time is not on the agenda. And with few gourmet groceries around most lake house communities, a quick trip to the market for important ingredients like baguettes and basil leaves isn’t always possible.

That’s why we asked four local chefs and restaurateurs to give us recipes for portable meals that can be made in advance. All will withstand the car drive in a cooler, are easily multipliable in case our guest list grows, and all require minimal finishing touches upon arrival. Best of all, the meals are as delicious as they are gorgeous.

Serve on stylish melamine dishware to create an elegant banquet and invite friends and neighbors to gather ’round. The time and effort involved won’t take a moment away from your hammock-napping, magazine-flipping or wakeboarding goals this summer.

Clay Pigeon

Marcus Paslay, Executive Chef & Owner

A tangy potato salad is a lake day menu staple, best served the day after prep, when the flavors have been given ample time to meld and the vinegar has mellowed. Same goes for chimichurri, a thick herb sauce that’s as common in Argentina as salsa is in the U.S. It’s a must for grilled meats, especially Paslay’s wood-fired skirt steaks. Make his menu shown here by preparing everything but the meat in advance. It’s best grilled lakeside among family and friends with a glass of Argentinian Malbec in hand.

Mariposa’s Latin Kitchen

Irma Gamez, Executive Chef & Owner

No matter our location, we always feel like we’re dining by a shoreline when indulging in Gamez’s tropical ceviche with crispy plantain chips, best enjoyed with a lime-heavy margarita. Now we can make a batch of our own for lake day festivities with her easy recipe. Start the process a full day in advance, as the fish and shrimp need 24 hours to cure in a salt and lemon juice brine. Gamez says fresh-squeezed orange, pineapple or mango juice may be added to the end product for a more tropical taste. Serve with tortilla or plantain chips, found in most gourmet grocery stores and Latin markets.

Oliva Italian Eatery

Cynthia Loeb, Owner

These Mozzarella Caprese Sandwiches (easy to assemble in advance or upon arrival) make for a cheerful presentation when served open-faced, showcasing some of summer’s seasonal best — thick, juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil. Loeb, who’s worked in restaurants from Switzerland to New York City, shares recipes for her Keller Italian restaurant’s house pesto and house balsamic vinaigrette. Both make more than enough for additional uses, such as drizzling atop salads or as a dip for crudités.

Magnolia Cheese Company

Jen Williams, Executive Chef

Easy to transport, visually appealing and always impressive, kebabs are a summertime staple with endless possibilities. Williams offers this chilled variety that combines spice from red curry with a cool cucumber-feta dip. While Williams’ compilation of crisp bibb lettuce, snappy snow peas, San Marzano tomatoes and piquant shrimp is impressive, it’s the Yarra Valley feta that’s the star here. Made from cow’s milk, unlike typical feta made from sheep’s milk, the Australian cheese comes marinated in garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Magnolia Cheese Company owner Elizabeth Northern says the entire ensemble is beautiful with any sparkling wine.

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