[caption id="attachment_64296" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2020\/01\/DSC_0517.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="397" class="size-full wp-image-64296" \/> Photo by Laura Dean Bennett<br \/>Whether plans call for snowboarding, hiking or sitting by a window watching the bird feeder, a winter lunch al fresco may be just the thing to make a mild winter day extra special. Hand and foot warmers, lots of hot drinks and soup, and a picnic table laid with festive table linens beside a crackling fire will make your guests happy to be served outdoors.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nLet the wind blow and let the snow fall, as long as there\u2019s warmth, good food and warm drinks, you have the start of a memorable winter supper.\r\n\r\nOf course, any elegant repast brought to a well-decorated winter table is going to be welcomed by your guests.\r\n\r\nNothing says winter feast like the smell of roasting meat, a fire in the fireplace and a kitchen and dining room draped in evergreen boughs. \r\n\r\nBut, maybe your guests would be up for something a little \u201coutside\u201d the norm.\r\n\r\nIf it\u2019s a mild winter day, and not at all windy, consider serving a winter luncheon al fresco.\r\n\r\nAfter a morning of ice skating, skiing, walking in the woods or just sitting at a window watching the birds at the feeder, what could be nicer than a winter picnic?\r\n\r\nAnd you don\u2019t have to go far outdoors to have one. \r\n\r\nSet a spectacular table laid with pine branches and lanterns right on the porch.\r\n\r\nA warm blanket draped over the back of each chair, festive table linens, hand and foot warmers at each place setting and carafes of hot drinks will keep your company cozy as they enjoy a snowy winter scene. \r\n\r\nSome winter mood music will complete the picture.\r\n\r\nOr, if your guests are really hearty outdoor types, wouldn\u2019t it be adventurous to take your picnic outside around a crackling fire? \r\n\r\nOnce you have the fire started, set up a portable table and chairs. And don\u2019t forget to line each seat with a blanket.\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ll also need thermoses of soup, hot coffee, tea and\/or hot chocolate. \r\n\r\nDessert should be easy and fun. Bring cookies, brownies or fudge, or really round out the picnic theme by having the makings for s\u2019mores. \r\n\r\nNow, for the menu... \r\n\r\nStart with an appetizer of baked brie and crackers. \r\n\r\nIf you\u2019ll be dining on the porch, how about maple vinaigrette grilled salmon and Brussels sprouts for the main course?\r\n\r\nFor a picnic, what could be nicer than roasted tomato soup and beef tenderloin sandwiches?\r\n\r\nWhether you settle for eating on the porch or decide to sit out around a fire, a lovely winter picnic could be such fun that it might just become a new winter tradition.\r\n\r\nLet\u2019s get started:\r\n\r\nRoasted Tomato Soup\r\n\r\nThis soup is perfect to take along in a thermos for a winter picnic. And, don\u2019t put the recipe away in the winter file, because, in summer it can be served cold.\r\n\r\nYou will be starting with tomatoes.\r\n\r\nShould they be in season, fresh tomatoes work best, otherwise, I\u2019d recommend well-drained, sieved, home canned tomatoes for that just-picked taste.\r\n\r\n3 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and cored, or 2 quarts canned tomatoes\r\n1\/3 cup olive or vegetable oil, divided\r\n6 garlic cloves, minced\r\n2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 2 tsp. dried thyme\r\n2 cups chopped onion\r\n1\/4 cup minced fresh basil or 1 Tbsp. dried basil\r\n1 can chicken broth (14 1\/2 oz.) or equivalent measure of fresh chicken broth\r\n1\/2 cup half and half \r\nSalt and pepper to taste\r\n\r\nPlace tomatoes in a roasting pan; drizzle with 1\/4 cup oil. Sprinkle with garlic and thyme.\r\n\r\nIf using home canned tomatoes, sprinkle a tiny bit of the oil in a hot roasting pan, add garlic and thyme to the tomatoes and pour them into the hot pan. \r\n\r\nRoast the tomatoes, uncovered, at 350\u00ba for one hour, turning occasionally. \r\n\r\nIn a separate large saucepan, saut\u00e9 the onion in remaining oil until softened. Add roasted tomatoes and basil; cook for 5 minutes. Put through a sieve or food mill; return puree to pan. In small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm cream (do not boil). Stir cream, salt and pepper into soup.\r\n\r\nYields 4-6 servings.\r\n\r\nHoliday Roasted Tenderloin\r\n\r\nThis is a hearty feast! Serve with mashed potatoes and crusty rolls. \r\n\r\nThe leftovers make the best (hot or cold) beef sandwiches you ever ate. Ideal for your winter picnic. \r\n\r\nThis recipe for beef tenderloin has been one of my family\u2019s favorite special meals for decades. You can adjust the garlic to suit your taste and you may substitute light soy sauce to decrease the amount of sodium. But I would recommend adding more water to the recipe to decrease the sodium, instead, so as not to change the soy sauce flavor too much. \r\n\r\nThe sauce for this recipe leans heavily on mushrooms, they add so much flavor to it. If you have guests who do not care for them, just brush them aside when serving.\r\n\r\nYou will need:\r\n\r\nA huge piece of beef tenderloin \r\n\r\nI recommend planning for at least 1\/2 lb. per person, and for this recipe, at least a 5 or 6 pound tenderloin.\r\n\r\nDepending on the number of guests and\/or how much roast you will want for \u201cleftovers,\u201d you may want to double all of the following ingredients. I always do.\r\n\r\nCook and mash a suitable quantity of potatoes while the tenderloin is cooking.\r\n\r\nYou may cook the tenderloin on an outside grill or inside in the oven.\r\n\r\nFor the Sauce:\r\n1\/2 cup water\r\n1 cup soy sauce\r\n1\/4 cup sugar\r\n8 spring onions, chop-ped fine\r\n1 clove garlic, diced\r\n1\/4 cup sesame seeds\r\n1\/8 cup cornstarch, added as a paste with the water or soy sauce to avoid lumps\r\n1 lb. of fresh, sliced mushrooms, cleaned and dry\r\n\r\nInstructions:\r\n\r\nBring all sauce ingredients to a simmer and cook until thickened. \r\n\r\nHave a deep roasting pan on hand \u2013 large enough for your roast \u2013 and several sheets of foil large enough to cover the pan.\r\n\r\nBrown the tenderloin thoroughly on all sides \u2013 outside on a hot grill or in the kitchen under the broiler of your oven. Once browned, take meat away from the fire. \r\n\r\nTurn the heat down on the grill to lowest heat setting, or, if using an oven, turn oven down to 375\u00ba. \r\n\r\nPut the meat into the roaster, place raw mushrooms around the tenderloin and pour the sauce over the tenderloin. \r\n\r\nSeal tightly with aluminum foil and place the roasting pan back on the grill over LOWEST heat or in the oven at 375\u00ba. \r\n\r\nCook for 30 minutes, then check for doneness by slicing in the center. Stir mushrooms in the sauce and spoon sauce over the tenderloin. Cover. If necessary, cook longer for required doneness. \r\n\r\nTake tenderloin out when meat is slightly more rare than desired. Cover meat, and let it rest a few minutes and you are ready to serve. \r\n\r\nSlice thick steak-like servings and serve with mushroom sauce poured over each steak and each serving of mashed potatoes. Place some sauce in a gravy boat for the table.\r\n\r\nServe to general approbation and expect a certain amount of swooning. \r\n\r\nUse the leftovers to make delicious sandwiches \u2013 served hot or cold \u2013 on crusty bread or rolls \u2013 no condiments necessary.\r\n\r\nGrilled Salmon and Brussels Sprouts ala Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette \r\n\r\nFor those who say they don\u2019t like salmon or Brussels sprouts \u2013 this might change their minds! \r\n\r\nFor a traditional grilled winter meal, you can grill under the broiler in the kitchen.\r\n\r\nFirst, you will need several fresh or frozen salmon fillets. I suggest you do as I have done and ingratiate yourself with someone who makes frequent fishing trips for salmon and is generous enough to share the catch.\r\n\r\nYou will also need maple balsamic vinaigrette. Here again, I have a recommendation. \r\n\r\nI always keep a bottle of Pocahontas County\u2019s own Frostmore Farms\u2019 maple vinaigrette in my cupboard. Not only does it make a great salad dressing when mixed with a tiny bit of oil, but it comes in handy for grilling anything. \r\n\r\nSalmon Preparation:\r\n\r\nSlice away skin. Place salmon fillets in grilling pan and marinade them in the maple syrup vinaigrette while prepping the Brussels sprouts. Turn fillets and leave them in the vinaigrette for grilling.\r\n\r\nBrussels Sprouts Preparation:\r\n\r\nSlice off the stem ends and cut in half. Discard only any truly bad outer leaves. Any good leaves that fall off during preparation should be saved and grilled with the rest. Simmer or steam in a saucepan with water until al dente, then remove and strain away water. Place in grilling pan. Sprinkle liberally with maple syrup vinaigrette.\r\n\r\nGrill Brussels sprouts under high broiler heat (or on a sheet of foil on an outdoor grill) and turn as soon as outer edges are dark brown. \r\n\r\nYou may grill salmon at the same time as the sprouts. If you are grilling on an outdoor grill, place a sheet of foil on the grill and lay fillets on that. Turn once and check for doneness. Do not overcook! Salmon flesh should have just barely turned white and flake apart when it is ready to be served.\r\n\r\nServe the salmon and Brussels sprouts side by side. \r\n\r\nAh! A winter feast \u2013 an idea that warms the heart.\r\n\r\nBon Appetit!