Ah, the 4th of July. Fireworks, friends, family… and food. What can be better? Particularly when the 4th is on a Thursday, which means you will probably take off Friday, which means a four day weekend, which means four full days of fireworks, friends, family and food. So with out my usual prefatory rambling, I give you a plethora of food (and drink) for your holiday weekend.
* POMEGRANATE COSMOS
While I myself am partial to a Martini (click here!) or a Manhattan, I came up with this twist on a regular cosmopolitan for friends who like something a little less intense than either of my favorites but not as icky sweet as most “fru-fru” cocktails. These Pomegranate Cosmos are very tasty with a nice surprise kick from Limoncello. They are also gorgeous to present. I usually make a pitcher full, they go that quickly, but you can make them one at a time. Be sure to use fresh pomegranate juice. I once used juice from a jar and the result was terrible. Pom Wonderful is indeed wonderful and worth getting for this drink.
Mix 1 part vodka with 2 parts Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice. (I usually do half and half but let’s start easy.)
Add Roses Lime and Limoncello. If you are making a single drink, a healthy splash of each will do. If you are making a pitcher, a few healthy glugs of each is called for. Then add fresh lime juice following the same principle.
Stir it up and taste! If you want it sweeter, add more Roses. If you want more of a kick, which people like, add limoncello. If you want it, um, stronger, add vodka. Stir and taste, stir and taste, it’s part of the fun of making this drink.
If you are making a pitcher, mix it early and stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then you can pour right out of the pitcher… or go ahead and cocktail shaker each drink anyway to get it freezing cold and impress your guests. Definitely use a shaker for single servings. Don’t forget the fresh squeezed lime juice in the drink and a lime wedge as a garnish. Fresh pomegranate seeds are an excellent garnish in the drink, just three or four per cocktail.
* GRILLED MEATS
Most people will be grilling, of course. I love grilling sausages and/or baby lamb chops. If you do lamb chops, find a rack of lamb you can cut into individual riblets. Cut them into the riblets then marinate them overnight in olive oil, salt and pepper, minced garlic, lemon juice and thyme. Then grill… not too much! Simplicity is always best and lamb chops/riblets prepared this way are divine. If you grill sausages, get a bunch of different kinds. And be sure to make aioli on the side. This is a must. If you watch the video below, you will see it can be ridiculously easy. I used to make aioli by hand, which takes a lot of effort but the result was worth it, so I suffered through it weekly. Now I get the same wonderful result in less than a minute. Check this video:
If you want to make something amazing that takes a little more effort than grilling sausages and lamb chops, make
* SUZANNE GOIN’S PORK BURGERS
I posted about these once before but they are so good, I am posting the recipe again because they are the perfect 4th of July food and because you simply must try these. I’ve made these pork burgers every 4th of July the last few years. They are amazing. I’ll say it a third time… these are amazing. Be sure to make the Romesco, it’s a must and I always add aioli to the burgers. Just make the damn aioli. The recipe for these burgers can be found at another wonderful food blog I encourage you to check out, Food Gal, written by the extremely talented Carolyn Jung:
* WHEAT BERRY SALAD
Another favorite of mine. This Wheat Berry Salad is fresh, healthy, tastes great and is an excellent base for all kinds of variations. I love using wheat berries because even when fully cooked, wheat berries have a soft but hearty pop in your mouth. You can easily substitute barley or farro, or any grain you like. If you are gluten-free, try quinoa… or just eliminate the grain and make a tossed vegetable salad.
You can also substitute your own favorite herbs and vegetables. The recipe below is a guideline, though if you follow it you will get a wonderful salad. Note: I tend to do all my vegetables raw in this salad, but feel free to roast the peppers and asparagus first. Just not too much. You want a good crunch.
First, prepare your wheat berries in advance. (You can do this the day before). For grains of this kind, I love Bob’s Red Mill products. You can find this brand at more and more stores, and you can also get them from Amazon. Prepare the grains as instructed but use Chicken or Vegetable Broth instead of water, which gives your grain more flavor. (Do this with rice, always, too.) You should have some homemade broth in your freezer now, of course. Drain, rinse and let dry/cool.
Toss your cooled grains with chopped raw vegetables of all kinds: carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, squash, red onion… then toss again with your homemade vinaigrette you also now know how to make and of course have ready to make. If you read the last blog and preserved some lemons, dice a wedge or two of these up and toss in as well. (I’m making this easy for you, folks. Learn to make one dish or pantry item, then you can make many more complex dishes next. This salad uses three of the pantry items I’ve encouraged you to try!) Be sure to add lots of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
You can make this salad to this point in the process the morning of, it sits well. Just be sure bring to room temperature before serving so that the flavors can open up. Right before serving, toss a final time with your choice of additions. Be sure to throw in a couple of handfuls of herbs. I use basil and thyme in this salad but add your favorites. Rosemary would be excellent, as would mint. Combine all four, even, it can sustain it and that will create bursting flavors. Don’t forget the crumbled goat cheese either! It’s the final, killer addition on this final toss. You can even add diced avocado. I like holding the herbs, avocado and goat cheese until right before serving so the avocado stays green and the herbs don’t wilt.
This is a terrific salad/side. The finished product looks something like this:
* KALE SALAD WITH MINT AND SERRANO PEPPERS
One of my favorite blogs is Domestic Daddy, written by the very talented Christopher Nordquist. I highly recommend following this blog. I’ve made one of his recent inventions repeatedly this summer, a spicy Caesar-like twist on raw kale salad. I’ve posted on our Facebook page about my love for raw kale salad and my own recipe. This, however, is the best one I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly flavorful, has a wonderful spicy kick, and given raw kale is so firm, you can prepare and toss this an hour or so before your meal and still have a crisp salad, as the kale takes a long time to wilt. Check out the recipe at his blog and have fun scrolling through his other posts:
* CORNMEAL SHORTCAKES WITH BERRIES AND CREAM
I give you two desserts. The first is again from Suzanne Goin, about whom I first wrote here. She’s one of the best chefs in the country, wrote one of the best cookbooks you will ever find and has had a huge impact on my life with food. One of my favorite desserts to make are her Cornmeal Shortcakes, which are wonderful and also quite easy. I am very impatient and I hate specific measuring which means I am a terrible baker. Which means if there is something that involves dough and baking, and I can do it successfully, it is easy. The short cakes themselves are a breeze to make. The recipe to which I am linking has a pretty easy peaches and soured cream addition but as you can see below, you can simply toss fresh berries over the shortcakes and drizzle with heavy cream and a little sprinkle of brown sugar and they are just as good.
* RAW PEACH COBBLER
If you want to go a healthier route, try this Raw Peach Cobbler. I’ve given you a few raw recipes before, and will wax enthusiastically soon about Raw Tacos on the Facebook page, but if you’ve never tried a raw dessert, give these cobblers a try. You might be shocked at how good something this healthy can taste.
7-10 Ripe Peaches
2 Lbs of Pitted Dates
2-3 Cups of Pecans.
Place the pecans, 1 lb of dates and a shake or two of cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until it looks like the crumble topping of a cobbler. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, blend the nectarines, pitted, with the remaining dates and a little cinnamon. This will create a wonderful sauce akin to the filling of a peach cobbler.
In a pie pan or individual gratin dishes, put fresh sliced peaches on the bottom, then drizzle over the nectarine sauce, then top with the crumble.
This dessert is wonderful as is but you can certainly add fresh vanilla ice cream. It’s The 4th Of July, after all.
Enjoy your 4th and try some of these! I stand by them all. And let us know in the comments section below what you will be cooking/doing. Have a wonderful, blessed holiday!