A fine, frosty time for a hearty picnic


The crisp, cool days of fall arrive in many parts of the country attendant with annual rituals. As leaves turn from green to vibrant hues of orange, gold and red, people organize hikes or bicycling trips to view nature's impressive handiwork. For sports enthusiasts, weekends are filled with football games or soccer matches. By mid-autumn, pumpkins are so bountiful in many areas that families plan outings to harvest these fall squash, returning home to carve them into magical creatures.

Such events are often combined with autumn picnics. I remember when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, the happy sounds that resonated from the grounds surrounding the Ohio State stadium on fall Saturday afternoons. Thousands had gathered there for tailgate picnics before the Buckeyes' games. My parents, avid Ole Miss fans, used to travel several hours from their home in Memphis, Tenn., always with a picnic lunch to enjoy with friends, before their favorite team's home matches.

Where I live now, in New England, fall foliage expeditions are the main attraction. An afternoon of "leaf peeping" is often accompanied by an alfresco picnic. And, whether you have small children or not, a pumpkin harvest excursion provides a perfect backdrop for a seasonal picnic.

I love to prepare the food for these movable feasts. I assemble sandwiches, toss together salads and sometimes, depending on how chilly it is, fill thermoses with hearty soups. For dessert, such simple treats as tart apples or ripe pears offered with homemade oatmeal cookies or freshly baked brownies are typical choices.

The following recipe is for a sandwich that would make a fine addition to picnics for this time of year. It is a combination of smoked turkey, white Cheddar and thin tart apple slices on whole-wheat country bread spread with chutney mayonnaise. It can be prepared ahead, wrapped well and transported to a site you choose for fall feasting.

Betty Rosbottom writes for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Smoked Turkey, Cheddar and Apple Sandwiches With Chutney Mayonnaise

Makes 4 sandwiches

1/2 cup best-quality prepared mayonnaise

3 / 4 teaspoon curry powder

2 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney (with any large pieces of mango chopped coarsely)

8 thin slices whole-wheat country loaf or crusty sourdough bread

10-12 ounces of thinly sliced, smoked turkey

8 ounces thinly sliced, medium sharp white Cheddar cheese

1 large Granny Smith apple, halved and cored but not peeled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

4 small romaine or red leaf lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried

Stir together mayonnaise, curry powder and chutney in nonreactive mixing bowl. (Chutney mayonnaise can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Spread one side of each of the bread slices generously with 1 tablespoon or more of chutney mayonnaise. Top 1 slice with 1 / 4 of the sliced turkey, then with 1 / 4 of the sliced cheese.

Slice each apple half thinly and toss slices with lemon juice in small bowl. Arrange 4 to 5 slices over cheese layer. Top with lettuce leaf and another slice of bread. Repeat to make 3 more sandwiches.

Halve sandwiches on the diagonal and skewer halves with toothpicks. (Sandwiches can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep cool.)

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