THE END of summer does not diminish the need for portable meals. While temperatures remain high, the Bay Bridge will be well-traveled with families eager to leave the bustling city for a little sun and sand. Autumn trips to Williamsburg, weekends in Western Maryland and school openings all require food that tastes good and travels well.
The Gingered Fruit Salad takes the standard dish one step further -- sweetened with just a touch of honey and creamy cool from yogurt and sour cream. This keeps and travels well in a leak-proof container or thermos and is a perfect office lunch all by itself or packed with Waldorf Cheese Truffles.
For bigger meals or heartier appetites, extend the menu with Mushroom-Walnut Pa te' (also good solo with a few crackers or fresh vegetables), Rice-Stuffed Grape Leaves and cold marinated flank steak, otherwise known as leftovers but delicious cooked especially for the purpose of carrying.
Honeyed Sesame Squares are for those with a sweet tooth and a nutrition conscience. Food co-ops and health food stores -- even some grocery stores -- sell sesame seeds in bulk at a reasonable price. If obtained in conventional spice rack bottles, their cost seems prohibitive. GINGERED FRUIT-NUT SALAD (4 to 6 servings) 3/4 cups sour cream 1/3 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons honey (or to taste) 3/4 cup plain yogurt 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger 4 cups blueberries 3 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned or thinly sliced 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
In a bowl large enough to hold all the fruit and nuts, beat together sour cream, orange juice and honey until smooth. Stir in yogurt and ginger. Fold in fruit and nuts. Cover and chill until serving. WALDORF CHEESE TRUFFLES (Makes about 25 balls) 1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese 3 tablespoons sour cream or cream cheese 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts 1/4 cup finely chopped unpeeled apple 1/4 cup finely chopped celery 1/4 cup dried currants or finely chopped raisins 1/4 cup finely chopped dates (optional) 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or chopped sunflower seeds 1/4 cup wheat germ 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce Pumpernickel crumbs or toasted sesame seeds to coat balls
Combine all ingredients except crumbs until they are well-blended and evenly distributed. Shape into balls, 1-inch in diameter, and roll in crumbs or toasted sesame seeds to coat the enter surface. (These may be frozen). MUSHROOM-WALNUT PATE (2 cups) 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned and minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 teaspoons lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts Walnut halves for garnish
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until it begins to brown. Add mushrooms, garlic, tarragon, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook over fairly high heat, stirring constantly, until all moisture has evaporated. Stir in brandy, cook briefly, then remove from heat. Stir in chopped walnuts. Puree mixture in food processor, or in small batches in the blender. Pack into container or bowl, cover and chill. Garnish with walnut halves and serve with crackers or dense bread. RICE-STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES (30 to 40) 1-pound jar preserved grape leaves 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped 1 cup uncooked white or brown rice 2 cups boiling water 1/2 teaspoon salt Several grinds black pepper 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley 1 tablespoon dried mint (2 to 3 tablespoons fresh) 2 teaspoons lemon juice Lemon slices or wedges for garnish
Drain grape leaves, unroll, separate and rinse well under running water. Cut off any thick stems and discard. Then spread out leaves in layers on paper towels so that the dull, thickly-veined side of each leaf faces upwards. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook onion until translucent. Add rice and stir for 2 or 3 minutes. Then add boiling water, salt and pepper. Stir once, cover tightly and simmer until tender (white rice takes about 20 minutes, brown rice about 40) and all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Toast pine nuts (or almonds) by stirring them in a dry skillet until lightly brown. Remove from heat, chop and combine with currants, parsley, mint and lemon juice.
Place about 10 of the smallest and/or torn leaves in the bottom of a heavy 2 1/2- to 3-quart saucepan. Fill each of the remaining leaves with the rice mixture as follows:
Spread a leaf on a flat surface (thickly veined side up) so that the stem end is toward you. Place about a heaping spoonful (or more as required) of the rice mixture in the center of the leaf. Fold the lower-left point of the leaf over to cover the filling, then fold in the lower-right side to overlap. Starting at the stem end, roll the leaf up, rolling away from you, to enclose the filling, folding in sides as necessary. Place the miniature roll (it should resemble a cigar stub) seam side down in prepared saucepan. Repeat until all leaves are used. Place rolls close together in saucepan, stacking when necessary.
Sprinkle rolls with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 5 tablespoons of cold water. Cover tightly so the water doesn't boil away and place over high heat for 3 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to low and steam-cook rolls for 20 minutes. Serve cold or at room temperature, garnished with lemon slices. (These freeze well.) MARINATED FLANK STEAK ON BAGUETTES (6 to 8 servings) 2- to 3-pound flank steak, at least 3/4-inch thick 1/3 cup dry sherry or white wine 1/3 cup soy sauce 3 tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon wine vinegar 1 1/2 teaspoons honey 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger) 3 large loaves french-style bread, sliced horizontally Dijon-style mustard for serving
Trim meat of any fat or gristle. In a plastic bag or container, combine all ingredients except bread and mustard. Close securely so that it doesn't leak. Turn the bag several times to make sure the meat has been coated with sauce. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally to redistribute marinade. Remove bag from refrigerator and allow the meat to come to room temperature. Remove meat from marinade, place on hot grill or under preheated broiler and broil about 8 minutes per side, basting occasionally with marinade.
Allow the meat to cool 10 to 15 minutes, then slice thinly on the diagonal. Serve cold or at room temperature on french bread with good mustard. HONEYED SESAME SQUARES (About 24 squares) 1 1/3 cups hulled, raw sesame seeds 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, or unbleached flour, or a combination of the two 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 2 large eggs 2/3 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup honey 1/2 cup sugar For glaze: 1/3 cup honey 1/4 cup butter
Place sesame seeds in a large, ungreased skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until they are light brown. Remove from heat and keep stirring until the pan has cooled somewhat. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, eggs, vegetable oil, honey and sugar. Stir in in sesame seeds until evenly distributed (batter will be stiff). Turn batter into a well-greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread evenly. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile make glaze by heating honey with butter until butter is melted. Stir well to combine. Pour glaze over the top of still-warm cake and spread it evenly. Place cake under broiler for 1/2 to 1 minute. Cool and cut into squares. (Cake keeps for 4 to 5 days at room temperature and may be frozen.)