Coast Cooking

Three fast treats for a fall picnic

Spicy stuffed jalapeños make a great finger food.
Spicy stuffed jalapeños make a great finger food. Special to the Sun Herald

If the beautiful fall weather has you in the mood for a picnic with the family at the beach or at a nearby park, I’ve got some finger food recipes that will be perfect for the occasion.

Two of the recipes included here are heavy on garlic, so if you’re not a fan of garlic, reduce the amount you use or just eliminate the garlic altogether.

Remember to take lots of paper towels, water for drinking and for cleaning up dirty hands, and don’t forget the sun screen.

Dark, crusty bread

Gently sauté the garlic in the olive oil (yes, all the oil!) for 3 minutes, over medium low heat. Add the tomatoes, season to your taste and simmer over medium low for 15 minutes. Taste and re-season as necessary. This is another recipe that is good hot or at room temperature.

Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos

This recipe was inspired by the Jalapeno Poppers served at Bacchus on the Beach. The recipe, however, has been modified it just a bit. These stuffed peppers are spicy and delicious and can be eaten hot or at room temperature.

6 jalapenos (makes 12)

1-pound fresh house-made Italian sausage from Rouses

Shredded pepper jack cheese (substitute cream cheese if you like)

12 slices smoked bacon

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Stuff with the Italian sausage, top with cheese and wrap in bacon. Place on an oiled sheet pan, and bake at 425 f. for 20 minutes, or until the bacon is as crispy as you like it.

Super Easy Tomato Topping for Bruschetta

Chef Hillary Henley from C&C Italian Bistro in Bay St Louis showed me this simple recipe recently. It is delicious and has wide application. Leave it as suggested here and serve it as a bruschetta or add chicken or shrimp and make it a pasta dish.

Prepare this dish in advance, store in plastic containers, slice the bread at home, but don’t top the bread with the stewed tomatoes and garlic until ready to eat.

4 cups halved cherry tomatoes

2/3 cup best quality olive oil

3-4 paper thin sliced cloves of garlic

Pinch red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt

Shell-on Garlic Shrimp

This is another easy recipe that seafood and garlic lovers will enjoy. It is not exactly finger food, but if you carry it to the beach in a plastic container and let people dig in with some good crusty bread, it works fine.

24 large shell on wild-caught Gulf shrimp

1 stick of butter

3-4 cloves of diced garlic

Red pepper flakes, salt

Crusty French bread

Optional glass of dry white wine and fresh basil

Olive oil

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the garlic and season well. Cook over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes, but be careful not to burn the garlic. In a separate pan, add olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is simmering, add half the shrimp and toss for 2-3 minutes, add the optional wine if you like, reduce by half. Remove and set aside. Cook the remaining shrimp in the same way. Add the shrimp to the garlic butter and toss well, add the basil here if you like. To serve, place in a large communal bowl and use the bread to sop up all that garlic butter.