I really love living in Southern California, as we have access to delicious, fresh, locally grown produce all year long. Seriously, this is an incredible blessing!
Lately, my mom and I have been making creative dishes like mini frittatas, empanadas, risotto, quiches, soups (with fresh stocks), mini muffins, biscotti, tarts, slow braised meals with fun sauces and more. We cook together in the kitchen at least three times a week. I am always supervised by my mom or dad when I'm in the kitchen, and I always adhere to the safety rules and guidelines that my parents set for me while I'm in the kitchen (important reminder for all of my younger readers).
I highly recommend that you spend quality time in the kitchen with someone you love, at least two to three times a week! You can share the yummy stuff you make, with loved ones, friends and neighbors. Shared homemade food is like a big warm hug for the soul.
Well, back to this post. Sandwiches are great for picnics, but I recommend trying something creative, tasty and new for your next outdoor meal. As the title suggests, I'll be talking about cooking "in paper". In Italy, they cook in parchment paper and it's called "al cartoccio". In France, they cook in parchment paper and it's called "en papillote". This is a really cool technique in which you can bake veggies and meat or just veggies in parchment paper. You place the food inside the paper and fold the edges of the paper so all the air stays inside the paper, creating a steaming effect. The flavors are bold, delicious and incredibly healthy. I recommend using chicken, pork or shrimp. Almost any vegetable would be fine. Keep in mind that you want your veggies to be cut in similar sizes, so that the cooking time is the same. For instance, if you are going to use carrots, potatoes and squash, I recommend that you julienne the pieces. You can throw some frozen peas on top if you want. I like to place a fresh sprig of some type of herb on top. Make sure that your meat is cut into thin, little strips and keep them all about the same size (if using shrimp, just clean, devein and place a few pieces of shrimp in a row; no need to slice the shrimp). Always wash your hands well and have your parent or caretaker clean the work surfaces really well after handling meat, seafood or eggs.