Warmer Weather Creates the Opportunity for a Romantic Picnic for Two

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Chef Jacques Haeringer has created easy-to-prepare, light summer alfresco meals sure to kindle up passion.

The act of creating a meal for someone special is an act of love.

A beautiful day, great food, nice bottle of wine and maybe a little romance…how much better can life get? That’s Chef Jacques Haeringer’s philosophy. He also believes that eating alfresco lends a festive air to a delightful afternoon repast. Perhaps you and a special someone are heading to a romantic destination and you want to make it memorable. Chef Jacques suggests bringing a picnic basket on the plane with you. Maybe you want to plan a picnic supper at The Hollywood Bowl or Wolftrap Farm Park before an evening concert, or just dining out on the balcony on a warm summer night.

“Dining outside is the perfect setting for a bit of romance,” says Haeringer. “The act of creating a meal for someone special is an act of love. A simple cookout can turn into a passionate fling with some of my favorite warm weather recipes.”

Chef Jacques has selected some light and nutritious recipes that are perfect for warm summer days by the pool or in the park. To go with them, he suggests serving a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage such as a sparkling Apple Cider. His favorites are Le Mousseaux or Alpenglow. For a more festive celebration he recommends a nice sparkling wine or Champagne.


1 - 1 pound lobster
1 quart court bouillon

2 vanilla beans
1/3 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon finely minced shallots
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of evaporated cane juice (optional)

8 - 10 stalks of lightly steamed asparagus
2 ounces (2 cups) mesclun salad, mixed baby lettuce

Fill a pot fitted with a steamer top with salted water and bring to a boil. Steam the asparagus to al dente, remove and allow to cool. Place the lobster in the steamer, cover, and cook for approximately 8 -10 minutes until the lobster is just cooked through. Remove and allow to cool.

Crack the claws to remove the meat. With a pair of heavy kitchen scissors, cut the shell around the lobster tail down the center to remove the tail whole.
Cut the tail into 4 medallions and reserve with the lobster claws.


Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the insides of the pod. Combine the split beans, vanilla seeds, and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately, remove pan from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the split beans from the pan.

Combine the oil and shallots in a small mixing bowl and whisk in the vinegar from the saucepan. Scrape the pan with a rubber spatula to retrieve all of the vanilla seeds.

Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of sweetener, if desired. The sweetener enhances the flavor of the vanilla.


Divide the well-drained and cooled asparagus between two serving plates.
Place the washed and well -drained salad in a mixing bowl, add ½ of the vinaigrette and toss. Divide the salad between the two servings of asparagus. Cover the stems but leave the asparagus tips exposed.

Divide the lobster medallions and claws between the two plates placing them on top of the salad greens.

Spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the lobster and asparagus tips.

Serve at once.

Hint: A neutral vegetable oil is preferred for the taste, as a scented oil such as extra virgin olive oil tends to overwhelm the vanilla. A cold pressed oil is preferred for your health. Health and taste do occasionally conflict!


Salmon is known for its bravery and vitality, swimming gallantly upstream. It is said that vitality is passed on to us when eating it. Rillettes are traditionally made with meat. I’ve given you a healthy alternative to this traditional French dish that is easy to make and sure to please.

1 cup lightly salted water
5 oz salmon fillet
2 1/2 oz. smoked salmon
6 tablespoons softened lightly salted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon peel
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

Bring salted water to boil and poach salmon for 8 minutes or until cooked. Remove salmon from liquid, drain well, and chill thoroughly.

Peel a lemon to obtain 1 teaspoon of peel. Press the lemon to obtain 1 tablespoon of juice. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch lemon peel for approximately 5 minutes. Strain, cool, and finely chop the lemon peel. Reserve.

Cut smoked salmon into small dice and place in food processor with butter, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon chopped peel, dill, and heavy cream.

Process until well-mixed, about 30 seconds.

Flake the cooled poached salmon into a mixing bowl and combine with the contents of the food processor. Mix lightly with the aid of a rubber spatula, to keep a course texture.

Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Place the rillettes in a terrine or mold and refrigerate.
Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Fill a small hollowed out with the salmon spread. (hollowed out what??)

Recipe may be reprinted with the following credit:
Recipe from Two for Tonight by Jacques E. Haeringer
Bartleby Press; $26.95/Hardcover


Chef Jacques is one of America’s most respected and innovative culinary personalities. Continuing in his father’s footsteps, Jacques loves to create and serve contemporary French fare at his restaurant, L’Auberge Chez François, in Great Falls, Virginia. His menus feature reinterpreted Alsatian and French cuisine for American palates. When he isn’t in the kitchen, he can be found teaching his popular gourmet cooking classes. Jacques is often asked to author magazine articles, cook up recipes at culinary events, and to be a guest on television and radio shows across the country.

Jacques is the author of Two for Tonight, a collection of recipes that inspire romance through food and togetherness, and the Chez François Cookbook, the bible of classic Alsatian cuisine featuring some of the restaurant’s most popular recipes. He lives in Northern Virginia and is currently working on a new cookbook and television show.

For more information on L’Auberge Chez François, Chef Jacques, and his books and cooking classes, visit him online at http://www.ChefJacques.com, on Facebook @JacquesHaeringer, and Twitter @ChefJacquesH.


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