1. John Addiego’s Egg Salad Bike Picnic Extravaganza

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    Wait…you mean you haven’t been following our preparations for the Ultimate Unbridled Picnic—until now? And you’ve just looked up from you work-a-day life and realized that it’s Labor Day and you’ve been doing nothin’ but working? Never fear! Read on for the antidote to last-minute picnic planning from author John Addiego.

    And be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader.

    Then put the kickstand up … and kick back!

    Egg Salad Bike Picnic Extravaganza

    Ingredients:
    1 hard boiled egg
    1 clove of garlic
    1 dill pickle
    1 hard roll or hoagie
    Salt, pepper, mayo, mustard
    1 plastic bag

    Ride your bike to a special picnic spot, preferably with a bench or picnic table. Take off one shoe and smash the egg and garlic with heel until they are easy to peel and place in bag with pickle. Continue to pulverize the pickle, egg, and garlic with your shoe, then throw some salt, pepper, mustard and mayo into the sack. Turn your bicycle on its back and tie the sack to the rear wheel, using the Velcro pants cuff strap you are wearing, then crank the pedal rapidly for about three minutes. Try to be inconspicuous by making comments about lubricating your chain. Using a house key, gouge a slit in the roll and pour the contents of the bag into the cavity. Taste. If not successful, place sandwich in a trash can and ride your bike to the nearest deli. Enjoy!

    John Addiego is the author of The Islands of Divine Music and Tears of the Mountain.

    Download an excerpt of Tears of the Mountain.

    Visit John Addiego’s website.

  2. We asked New York Times bestselling author, Edward Falco, for his favorite thing to take on a picnic. Obviously he’s a gentleman who chooses his words…and visuals…wisely.
Edward Falco is also the author of a number of books including Wolf Point, Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha, and Saint John of the Five Boroughs. 
Download an excerpt of Saint John of the Five Boroughs. 
Visit Edward Falco’s website. 
Be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader—kick back and enjoy!

    We asked New York Times bestselling author, Edward Falco, for his favorite thing to take on a picnic. Obviously he’s a gentleman who chooses his words…and visuals…wisely.

    Edward Falco is also the author of a number of books including Wolf Point, Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha, and Saint John of the Five Boroughs.

    Download an excerpt of Saint John of the Five Boroughs.

    Visit Edward Falco’s website.

    Be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader—kick back and enjoy!

  3. Jennifer Spiegel’s Phenomenal No Effort Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Bars

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    I offer this to you spontaneously, inelegantly. Here’s something that tastes phenomenal, takes no effort, and uses famous brands which boosts your legitimacy.

    Buy that roll of pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge section of the grocery store—you’ll find it close to the cottage cheese, sour cream, and pre-made dinner rolls. Pillsbury, right?

    Get enough. You’ll want a square or rectangular pan, and you’ll make the bars. We’re doing bars. Do whatever they tell you to do.

    When the bars are done, take them out immediately. As quick as you can—because you don’t have a lot of time—spread peanut butter, chunky or smooth, all over the top. It’s going to melt, which is good. Though organic would probably work, I can’t personally vouch for the meltability.

    Right after that, spread one of two things over the peanut butter: chocolate chips or, better, squares of multiple Hershey milk chocolate bars. (I guess you could do dark chocolate, if you prefer). The chocolate is going to melt right on top of the peanut butter! This is what you want! Those bars will be emanating heat from the oven, so you get to melt stuff on top.

    Take a butter knife, and spread that mess all over the top of the cookie bars.

    Let it cool. Let it cool some more. Cover it. Stick it in the fridge, so that you’ll have something much like a peanut butter cup hardened right on top of a chocolate chip cookie bar. Actually, that’s exactly what you’ll have.

    Eat them after they’ve been in the fridge for a while. The thing is that people love them. They just do. And you’ve pretty much done nothing.

    Incidentally, there’s a not-veiled reference to these bars on page 70 in LOVE SLAVE.

    I still make them. This secret recipe was passed on by my mother.

    Jennifer Spiegel is the author of The Freak Chronicles and Love Slave.

    Download an excerpt of Love Slave.

    Visit Jennifer Spiegel’s website.

  4. Thad Nodine’s Hurricane Picnic

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    Wait…are you looking for a bit of adventure in your picnic? Try Thad Nodine’s Hurricane Picnic—it pairs perfectly with TOUCH AND GO: 

    MRE (Meal Ready to Eat), Hurricane Cocktail, and dessert 

    MRE: pasta salad. Make spiral pasta night before. Day of picnic/hurricane: Mix pasta with fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, chop up anything left in garden, smallest squash (raw or cooked), Italian parsley, toss with olive oil and parmesan cheese. Bring in a bowl, bag or tupperware.

    Hurricane cocktail:a classic tiki mixed drink made of rum, passion fruit, orange, lime, and grenadine. Lots of lime

    Dessert: Sliced fresh fruit with emergency bar of chocolate

    Thad Nodine is the author of Touch and Go.

    Download an excerpt of Touch and Go.

    Visit Thad Nodine’s website.

  5. Virginia Pye’s Impromptu Pasta Pesto Picnic Salad

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    This is my favorite picnic recipe for impromptu, on-the-fly picnics when the weather is too nice to stay indoors and I want to make something quick and easy.
    Salmon and Pasta Pesto Salad
    Ingredients:
    Salmon steak 
    Bow tie pasta
    Pesto (store bought, sorry!)
    Cherry tomatoes
    Instructions:
    Grill salmon steak 
    Cook and drain bow tie pasta
    Combine pasta and flakes of salmon 
    Mix in pesto sauce
    Slice cherry tomatoes and add

    Mix in a large bowl and serve! Our family has enjoyed this dish on rocks by the river, on beaches by the shore and beside the community pool. Nothing glamorous…but tasty!

    Virginia Pye is the author River of Dust.

    Go behind-the-scenes with Virginia Pye on her inspiration for River of Dust.

    Visit Virginia Pye’s website.

  6. Have Tamales Will Travel…with Elizabeth Huergo

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    Along with language and reading, cuisine is a wonderful entry-point into a different culture. I found out long ago that when friends come over they generally prefer being introduced to a new dish rather than an old favorite.

    So I often make my version of a Cuban tamal. Yes, grating the corn by hand is preferable, but I am not a Latin version of Martha Stewart, so I use organic frozen corn (4 pounds of it), and toss it into a food processor. Then I set aside 8 cups for a bit. Since I’m always trying to eat more fruits and veggies than meat, I stay away from the use of chicken, pork and bacon that are the staples of some very delicious (and traditional) tamal recipes. Instead, I pour some olive oil into my favorite iron kettle and sweat about 6 to 8 cloves of garlic (minced) and a couple of medium yellow onions (chopped). Then I add some fresh chopped tomatoes (5 or 6 medium-ish), and a couple of teaspoons of cumin, red-pepper flakes and salt (to taste). You will know the sauce is done when everyone in your home suddenly appears in your kitchen asking silly questions. Stir in milk (about ¾ cup) and butter (about a tablespoon?) into the sauce. Then add very slowly a cup of yellow cornmeal. Keep stirring until the corn meal thickens. You now have masa! Once this happens, pour the mixture into a bowl and go walk the dog, write a chapter, drink a pre-party mojito—or all the above. The point is the corn-thickened sauce or masa needs to be at room-temperature for you to work with it, and the actual construction of the tamales requires a creative, non-linear, relaxed sort of mind-set. Before you leave kitchen, though, toss the dried corn husks into some warm water. Once you return, check the directions on the husk packages, which usually include information on how to spread a couple of tablespoons of the masa into the re-hydrated husk and bundle the leaves up into a packet. Once the packets are all made, place them in batches in a veggie steamer for about an hour.

    To reheat, once you’ve reached your picnic destination, bundle about 10 or 12 wrapped tamales into an aluminum foil canoe, cover, and set on grill to reheat. Enjoy!

    Elizabeth Huergo is the author of The Death of Fidel Perez.

    Visit Elizabeth Huergo’s website.

  7. Jane Bradley’s Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

    8 pieces of chicken (I use a mix of breasts and legs and thighs, depending on whose coming to the picnic with me—I do aim to custom please my guests. And the chicken is always organic.)

    Brine

    1 quart buttermilk (I like to avoid the low fat variety.  I’m Southern, and tend to believe fat makes everything better.)

    1 cup water

    1/8 cup kosher salt

    1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (What did we do without this stuff?  Used regular hot sauce I suppose.)

    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    1/4 cup honey

    cayenne or hot Hungarian paprika to taste (optional)

    Coating

    3 cups flour

    3 tsp baking powder

    3 Tbsp cornstarch

    1-2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)

    1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper

    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

    1/4 tsp paprika

    2 tsp garlic powder

    2 cups buttermilk

    oil for frying (I confess I use only Crisco for frying chicken and okra too, by the way.You need enough to come about 1/3 of the way up the pot or 2 inches)

    kosher salt for sprinkling (optional)

    Directions

    For the brine: Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large mixing bowl combine buttermilk, and thoroughly stir with a whisk to evenly distribute honey. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Divide all pieces of chicken between two large ziplock bags. Pour half of buttermilk brine in each, close, shake, and place in the refrigerator over night, turning occasionally.

    1-2 hours before you are ready to fry: Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry. Let the chicken come to room temperature, half an hour to one and a half hours, on a cloth towel or paper towels.

    Preheat oven to 350°.  

    Mix all of the ingredients for the coating together in a large bowl, transferring half to a second bowl. (The measurements given for seasonings here are approximate. I season my flour to taste. Yes, I taste the raw flour. It should taste salty and flavorful.) Fill a third bowl with the 2 cups of buttermilk. The easiest way to coat the chicken is to have a line set up: uncoated chicken, flour coating, buttermilk, 2nd bowl of flour coating, wax paper lined baking sheet for the coated chicken. 

    Pour the oil into your pot (preferably an old fashional cast iron skillet on the cast iron enamel variety like Le Crueset). It should come at least two inches and no more than 1/3 of the way up the side of the pot. Turn the heat to low.  (Some use a frying/candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot. But if you’ve fried chicken all your life, you will sense when the oil is hot and ready for frying.)

    Dredge each piece in the coating, dust off all excess, dip into the buttermilk, and then into the second bowl of coating, letting the 2nd coating be clumpier but still patting to get rid of excess that might fall off in the oil. Place coated chicken on the wax paper lined tray. 

    Turn the oil up to high and let it come to about 350° F. Let the coated chicken sit so that the coating will thicken while the oil gets hot. When it reaches temperature, very carefully place 4 pieces of chicken one at a time in the hot oil and fry, adjusting the temperature as needed to maintain a frying temperature between 310° -325° F. Try to keep it around 320°. You start the oil at 350° because when you add the chicken to the hot oil, the temperature will drop. Fry dark meat first, as it takes longer. Fry the chicken for about 13-20 minutes, moving the chicken gently—you don’t want to knock the coating off—after the first five minutes to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom. Be careful to monitor your chicken, watching the oil temperature closely and not letting the chicken get too dark.

    Remove chicken from the oil with a spatular or slotted metal spoon when it is golden brown (metal tongs will knock off your precious coating), and place it on a cooling rack over a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.(optional) Check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Fully cooked chicken will read 160 degrees and can be served then if desired. If it is lower than that, it must be finished in the oven. Fry the second batch and then place it on the rack. Place the rack in the oven for ten minutes. Check the internal temperature to make sure the chicken is cooked through, let rest 10 minutes, and serve hot. If all the chicken is cooked through and you want to keep it hot, you can hold it in a 250 degree oven. 

    Jane Bradley is the author of You Believers.

    Download an excerpt of You Believers.

    Visit Jane Bradley’s website.

  8. Grandma LaBosco’s Picnic Bruschetta—Thank You, Peter Geye

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    My stories are about Norwegians, but an equal part of me is Italian, and it’s to Grandma LaBosco I owe my gift in the kitchen. Though this is a recipe I made up on my own, it’s got her heart in it.

    First, you’ve got to make the pesto.

    1 cup (packed) fresh basil
    1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
    1/4 cup imported romano cheese
    2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
    dash of salt
    dash of pepper
    1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably Italian olive oil…)

    Put it all in a food processor and blend until it’s a paste. Set it aside.

    Next, chop the tomatoes. You’ll need about eight ripe Roma Tomatoes. Cut out the seeds and dice. The smaller you dice them, the better they’ll be.

    Next, dice a quarter of a red onion. Not a yellow onion. Not green onions. I said a red onion.

    Next, dice a half cup of Kalamata olives.

    Then, dice about a half cup of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese.

    Toss the tomatoes, onion, olives, and cheese with the pesto. Garnish with fresh roasted pine nuts and fresh basil and serve on baguette toasts (toast with olive oil and fresh garlic for best results).

    This dish travels anywhere, especially to the park for that last picnic of the year. Enjoy. You’ll thank me later.

    Peter Geye is the author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road.

    Download an excerpt of Safe from the Sea.

    Visit Peter Geye’s website.

  9. Finger-Licking Cherry Balsamic Ribs from Deborah Noyes

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    Finger-Licking Cherry Balsamic Ribs
     
    2 lbs beef braising ribs
    Flour for dusting
    1 T olive oil
    2 stalks celery (chopped)
    1 leek (chopped)
    3 garlic cloves (minced)
    1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    1 cup beef broth
    1 cup fresh cherries
    1/2 t dried thyme
    salt and pepper to taste
     
    Dust ribs with flour and brown in olive oil over high heat on all sides. Add in all other ingredients and bake at 350 for 2-3 hours or slowcook on high for 6 hours.
     

    This is a variation on a recipe from the blog Jane’s Adventures in Dinner: http://janesadventuresindinner.com/2013/06/cherry-balsamic-ribs.html

    Deborah Noyes is the author of Captivity.

    Download an excerpt of Captivity.

    Visit Deborah Noye’s website.

  10. Janyce Stefan-Cole’s Hollywood Boulevard Fruit Salad

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    It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!

    One of my sexier desserts is a liquor-laced fruit salad that is perfect at table or blanket when fruits are in season and haven’t left a huge carbon footprint getting to the picnic basket. Any fruit will do (and, if you don’t mind it having been flown in, a ripe mango never hurts, if you can find one).

    So choose your favorite ripe summer fruits, amounts depend on number of guests:
    Blueberries (wild if you can find them, they are astonishingly flavorful)
    Juicy peaches
    Raspberries (again wild is best)
    Blackberries (ditto)
    Ripe mango
    Ripe apricot
    The portions of each fruit are, as my grandmother would say, accordingly. However you like it but you must have at least one juicy fruit and a lot of that—like the peach.
    Add a dash of lemon juice
    A dash of nutmeg (optional)
    Grenadine—not a lot, it can overwhelm the fruit
    Some liqueur: blackberry, Drambuie, Creme de Cassis (recommended) &/or bit of all of the above, accordingly. I go with one liqueur + the Grenadine.
    Stir fruit into the liquid—a wooden spoon is gentler on tender fruit. Cover and let sit at least one hour. Overnight okay, though textures will alter. Serve chilled with a mint leaf and a very thin wafer style cookie or square of dark chocolate.
    Viola!

    Note: in LA the fruit options expand, so in Hollywood Boulevard, Ardennes’s salad would be more exotic.

    Janyce Stefan-Cole is the author of Hollywood Boulevard.

    Download an excerpt of Hollywood Boulevard.

    Visit Janyce Stefan-Cole’s website.