Weather putting you in a pickle Prepare a spring picnic

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Despite the recent rains, so unusual for May, my mind has been on picnicking.

Jews in Israel as well as the diaspora, share a love and appreciation for eating outdoors. Whether it’s a Moroccan family grilling a feast in a public park in Tel Aviv, a Polish family foraging in the forest for wild mushrooms, berries and sorrel, or an American family celebrating Israeli independence, we love our picnics!

Today’s recipes are picnic salads and finger foods borrowing from international Jewish traditions. Herring and pickles were favorites of my grandfather, whose parents came from Lithuania (see the Pickled Herring Salad. The pickles I’ll save for later).

And everyone seems to love the Moroccan flavors in the carrot salad.

As for dessert, I’ve created these brownies based on S’mores. The name Mrs. Morris comes from my son Gideon. At age 3, he kept talking about Mrs. Morris and how yummy her dessert was at a picnic we had recently attended. We couldn’t imagine whom he was referring to, until he described the graham crackers, marshmallows and melted chocolate. At that point, we realized that Mrs. Morris was Gideon’s name for S’mores.

Pickled Herring Salad | Serves 8

1 cup pickled herring, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 medium boiled red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 small apple, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
3 Tbs. vinegar
5 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Place the herring, potatoes, celery, red onion, apples and egg in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sugar and pepper. Pour the dressing over the herring and toss gently. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Spiced Carrot Salad | Serves 6-8

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. grated ginger
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon stick
1 tsp. ground cumin seed
1 tsp. sweet paprika
small pinch of cayenne pepper
1 lb. carrots, peeled and grated

Mix together the olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Whisk in the ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin seed, paprika and cayenne pepper. Toss in the grated carrots, allow to marinate for about an hour and serve at room temperature.

Mrs. Morris Brownies | Serves 8

1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup graham cracker pieces
1/2 cup mini-marshmallows

Whisk the eggs and sugar until they are frothy. Add the vanilla and stir well. Add the chocolate and butter and blend well. Stir the flour, salt and cocoa together in another bowl. Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and the graham cracker pieces.

Spread the mixture in a 9-by-9-inch baking pan which has been lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with the mini-marshmallows and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 25 to 35 minutes, until edges pull away from the pan. Allow to cool before turning out and cutting.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected] .