Picnic in the City

Forget the burgers and brats; we're packing roast beef sushi

Now that's urban living, S.F.-style.

PICNIC RECIPES FROM MARI TAKAHASHI OF MARI'S CATERING

Makes four servings.

BAKED CHICKEN WITH WASABI AIOLI

4 pieces of chicken thigh

1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice added (if using Japanese brand of lemon juice; if using American brand, add an additional 1 tsp of rice vinegar and a pinch of sugar and salt)

1 tsp wasabi paste (or 2 tsps wasabi powder mixed with 1 tsp water)

1. Preheat oven to 425¡F.

2. Mix mayonnaise and wasabi well to make the aioli.

3. Place chicken onto baking sheet and bake, covered with foil, on middle rack for 10 minutes.

4. Take off the foil, put the wasabi aioli on top of the chicken, and bake for another 10 minutes until thoroughly cooked brown on the top.

OVEN-BAKED ASPARAGUS AND RED PEPPERS WITH SOY SAUCE BUTTER

1 lb asparagus

1 big red bell pepper

1 tsp butter or sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce (Japanese brand such as Kikkoman or Yamasa)

1 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1. Cut asparagus diagonally into thirds.

2. Julienne the red pepper.

3. In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, butter or sesame oil, and lemon juice.

4. Salt the asparagus and peppers lightly, wrap them with foil, and put into the oven. If you're making the chicken dish above, the veggies go in when you take the foil off the chicken.

5. After 10 minutes, take veggie packet out of oven (when the chicken is done).

6. Brush veggies with soy sauce, butter or sesame oil, and lemon juice, then wrap them back up for travel, adding an additional foil layer if necessary.

GREEN SALAD WITH PONZU DRESSING

1/4 lb pre-packaged green salad mix or mixed greens

About 10 nasturtium edible flower buds

4 tsp ponzu (or 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp grapefruit juice)

2 tsp sesame oil

1. Wash salad greens and nasturtium well and decorate them nicely in a bowl.

2. Mix ponzu and sesame oil together and put into a container.

3. Dress the salad just before serving.

PLUM WINE JELLY

Agar-agar jelly firms up without chilling and will not melt once it is set, making it a good weather-resistant picnic dessert.

1 stick of agar-agar

1 cup of Choya brand plum wine

1 1/2 cups of water

Sugar to taste

1. Soak agar-agar stick in 1 1/2 cups of water for 30 minutes.

2. Heat it up in a saucepan over medium heat until it completely melted.

3. Add plum wine and turn off the heat when it is mixed.

4. Add sugar if desired, making sure it melts.

5. When it cools down a bit, put it into the container you want to serve it in (could be a big square baking pan).

6. Place it into fridge or cooler with ice.

7. Cut into individual serving pieces.

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