Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Screen on the Green

One of the things I love about living outside DC is all of the fun events that take place each day. One summer tradition is called the Screen on the Green. Several Monday nights in the summer, people from the DC area flock to the National Mall to watch classic films on the lawn of the National Mall. They bring in a GIANT movie screen and a great sound system. People and families arrive after work, equipped with blankets and picnics, ready to relax and enjoy the movie. Last Monday, Curt and I braved the metro to make a little date night of watching a movie under the stars.
Since you have to get there decently early to snatch a good spot, I picked Curt up from work and we headed straight there. I wanted to pack a great picnic dinner so we would have plenty to eat.

The Menu:

Pesto Steak Sandwiches
Brie, Salami, and French Bread
Carrot Sticks
Apple Slices
Pasta Salad
Graham Crackers with Nutella
Granny Smith Apples with Caramel Sauce
Mango Iced Tea


I decided to make some fresh pesto because my mom grows it in her garden and she had a ton of it that she picked and needed to use. As usual, I didn't have a recipe, but I know the main ingredients, so I experimented.

  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cups of fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan
  • olive oil

This was pretty simple... I just threw the garlic, parmesan and pine nuts into my little food processor first to make sure that I could grind up the "big things" first. Once that was all ground up, I added in the basil leaves and drizzled in some olive oil (I just eyeballed it).

Once that was all whirled, it looked like pesto.I tasted it and added in some salt and a bit more pine nuts. It had a pretty strong taste of garlic, so I'll probably leave out a clove or two next time.
Anyway, this pesto only took about 5 minutes to make, so it was a success in my book! Just in case you need a "real" pesto recipe : http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1826,152188-250203,00.html

Steak Sandwiches
I'm not a huge fan of sandwiches with regular lunch meat... I think eating them every day for lunch growing up has just turned me off of them. But... since we were going to be having a picnic, you can't deny how convienent they are... I decided to make up a yummy sandwich to bring with us.
I had bought some beef tenderloin strips from the store, so I just seasoned them with some salt and pepper and grilled them on my indoor cast iron grill. I love using our indoor grill because you get the nice grill marks on them! Sinc the steaks were only about 1/2 inch thick, they didn't take long at all to grill, especially because Curt and I both like our steaks done medium rare/medium. Once they were grilled, I just let them cool for a while on a plate. You don't want to cut them too soon anyway, because then, all of the flavorful juices will spill out of the steak and you won't have as much flavor or tenderness.
Earlier in the day, I had made a run to Trader Joes to pick up a few little things for the picnic, including some fresh French Bread. Now having a sandwich on French bread is great, but I decided to jazz it up a bit. I sliced it in half lengthwise and spread some butter on each half. Then I sprinkled a bit of garlic salt and parsley on top. I was going to bake it in the oven for a bit, but I didn't want the whole piece of bread to dry out, I just wanted the garlicky side to be browned and crunchy. Instead, I cooked it face down in a non-stick pan, on medium heat... that way it browned up nicely, like a grilled cheese sandwich. Once done, I let the bread cool.
The last little twist I made was to the mayo... I love mayo, but, again, I wanted to it up a bit... I took about 2 big tablespoons of the pesto I had made and added it to 2 tablespoons of mayo, then mixed. The result was a yummy pesto mayo! This worked out perfectly too, since the mayo sort of mellowed out the strong garlic flavors.

So now, assembly time! I took the bread and spread it with the pesto mayo. Then added the steak. The steak was already very tender since it was beef tenderloin, but I wanted to cut down on any chance of messiness, so I sliced the steak into thinner strips before putting in on the sandwich. I also had two pieces of gouda left over from last week's pork loin so I went ahead and added that to the sandwich... Here's the final product! It was SUPER delicious!

Here's a picture of our whole meal on our little blanket. At Trader Joe's, I had picked up some crackers, double creme brie (my FAVORITE), and some salami. I also made some pasta salad... I cheated and bought th
e "Suddenly Pasta Salad" out of the box. It's surprisingly easy and good... you can add a few things to make it a bit more exciting. I added some diced pepperoni and cheese. I also cut up some carrot sticks and apple slices to have with the meal. For dessert, I didn't have time to make anything fancy, but I did have some graham crackers that I spread with some Nutella which was surprisingly good (at least in my opinion). I also sliced up another apple and we dipped it in some caramel dip. To drink, I had made a pitcher of Mango Iced Tea, so I brought that with us in my little eco-friendly water bottle. The iced tea was the perfect match for the meal... my best friend's sister, Stephanie Pool makes and sells her own loose leaf tea. Her company's called Regency Tea and it's amazing! The website isn't up and running yet, but I'll put a link up when it is so you can check it out!

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