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The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining by Alanna O'Neil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta   
The Art of Picnics - Seasoned Outdoor Entertainment - by Alanna O'Neil.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "picnic" as "a meal that is eaten outdoors especially during a trip away from home; a trip or party that includes a meal eaten outdoors; something that is pleasant or easy." Professional photographer, designer, and home cook Alanna O'Neill's debut cookbook, The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining published by Yellow Pear Press a division of Mango Publishing, beautifully captures that feeling with inspiring recipes and stunning photography. Let the picnicking begin!


The Art of Picinics by Alanna O'Neil 

We have always believed that there is something special about a picnic, perhaps it is the sheer enjoyment of eating al fresco whether it is at home, sitting in a park, on a beautiful sandy beach, on a snowcapped mountain, or simply tailgating. A picnic is as much about the food as it is the setting and whom we share it with. In Alanna O'Neil's cookbook, The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining, she shares great tips and ideas as well as recipes to inspire in all seasons. 

The book is divided into chapters: Prepare & Gather, Pop Up & Pantry Picnics, Seasonal Spreads, Spring,

Summer, Autumn, Winter, and The Pairing Glass, with subdivisions under each category. The result is a rich treasure-trove of imagery and recipes for all seasons. Style is also an important aspect of seasonal outdoor entertaining and Alanna's gorgeous styling and photographs will have you rushing to plan your next picnic with ease. 

There are many wonderful recipes for appetizers, main courses, snacks, sweets, and even drinks for every season from casual picnics to those casually elegant (Spring - An Invitation to Tea), throughout the cookbook. A few of the many tempting recipes that spurred our taste buds were Alanna's recipes for Olive Oil Cake with Summer Peaches & Thyme (Summer - Upcountry Lunch, pages 112-113), Orchard Harvest Salad (Autumn - A Day in the Orchard, pages 162-163), Coriander Chili (Winter - A Day on the Hill, pages 204-205), and Mulled Wine with Pomegranates (Winter - A Day on the Hill, pages 210-211). 

Author Alanna O'Neil and Mango Publishing Group graciously share two tasty recipes from Alanna's cookbook, The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining, Olive Oil Cake with Summer Peaches & Thyme, and Mulled Wine with Pomegranates, to inspire your own picnics. 

The Recipes 

Olive Cake - The Art of Picinics by Alanna O'Neil 

Olive Oil Cake with Summer Peaches & Thyme
Serves 6 

Author Alanna O'Neil notes: "In high summer in Vermont, there is a small Mennonite family farm down the road from our home that ships up juice, swollen peaches from their Amish relatives in rural Pennsylvania. At least once a week, I would hop on my bike and fill up my backpack with as many as I could carry for the several mile ride. This cake is an ode to those sweet summer memories." 

Preparation Tip: "The cake itself can be baked a day in advance; it will still be moist and fresh. Use a tea towel to keep it covered overnight on a cooling rack or cutting board. The whipped cream can be made a day before, too., just be sure to keep it in the fridge and give it a fresh whip the day of your picnic. Use a sturdy cake carrier with a handle and bring along the edible flowers and thyme to decorate if it's easier for you. Don't forget a jar of honey for a last-minute drizzle." 

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9-inch round pan with olive oil. 


Peaches, thinly sliced
Wildflower Honey, reserve one tablespoon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, reserve one tablespoon
Brown Sugar
All-Purpose Flour
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Kosher Salt
Pure Almond Extract
Water (if needed)
Powdered Sugar
Wildflower Honey to garnish

Instructions: In a small bowl, toss together the peach slices with the reserved tablespoon of honey and reserved tablespoon of olive oil and set aside. 

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, remaining cup of olive oil, brown sugar, and honey until thoroughly combined and slightly foamy.

Combine the dry ingredients of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. 

Slowly add the flour mixture to the whisked egg mixture until thoroughly combined. Continue to add in the almond extract and tablespoon of water if the batter is a little thick. The thickness depends on the viscosity of your honey. 

Gently add the peaches into the batter, reserving 5-6 slices to place in the base of the cake pan. 

Create a circular fan-like pattern with the remaining peach slices on the base of the cake pan. Gently pour the batter on top into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until rich golden brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. 

Once the cake is completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and thyme sprigs. Decorate with fresh nasturtiums or other edible flowers you like. Serve with fresh whip cream or vanilla ice cream. 

Mulled Wine - The Art of Picinics by Alanna O'Neil 


Mulled Wine with Pomegranates
Serves 6-8 

Author Alanna O'Neil notes, "Infused with cinnamon, cloves, and orange, this traditional winter drink celebrates all of the seasonal flavors. It's a classic recipe that will warm you through and through, especially with the wine-soaked raisins. Pomegranate seeds and cranberries add a festive touch that resemble ruby red gems in your mug. What's a sledding party without a little mulled wine?" 

Note: "Simply substitute the wine with cider to make this kid friendly; they will love the warm cinnamon. It also can be prepared two days in advance and kept in the fridge and reheated. You can also use a cheesecloth to hold all the spices and discard it when you're ready to serve."


Whole Cloves
Full Bodied Red Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot), 750 ml = 1-bottle
Wildflower Honey
Apple Cider
Golden Raisins
Freshly Grated Ginger
Star Anise
Cinnamon Sticks (+ more for garnish)
Oranges, sliced into rounds
Pomegranate Seeds

Instructions: Place the tangerines with the cloves so that they are spiked all around. 

In a large pot, Dutch oven, or slow cooker, pour in the wine, honey, cider, cranberries, raisins, spices, and orange rounds. Bring to a very low simmer and cook for 15 minutes or else you will burn off the alcohol.

Strain the liquid and transfer into a thermos or keep it in a slow cooker. When you are ready to serve, garnish with the pomegranate seeds and cinnamon sticks.

Transportation Tip: "A large thermos works perfectly well as you can divide and share as you like. It's light and packable so that when your sledding party needs a hot drink to warm up, they can ladle the wine into enamel mugs for a toast or comforting drink. It can also be made a few hours ahead or chilled for 2 days. And of course, it is equally delicious enjoyed by the wood stove if the weather is appallingly bitter cold." 

You can find more wonderful recipes that inspire picnic celebrations throughout the year in Alanna O'Neil's beautiful cookbook, The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining. Happy picnicking! 

The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining by Alanna O'Neil
Published by Yellow Pear Press a division of Mango Media
224 pages
ISBN: 978-1-64250-646-4
$28.96 paperback
$42.95 hardcover 

Websites where you can purchase The Art of Picnics - Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining by Alanna O'Neil: Mango PublishingAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Barrett Bookstore

Mango Publishing Group 

Mango Publishing Group
2850 S. Douglas Road, 2nd Floor
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
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