4th of July Menu

June 27, 2011
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Photo Courtesy of www.eventbrite.com

Independence Day is 1 week from today so we have concocted a delightful summertime menu in preparation for the weekend festivities. Shish Kabobs, Peppered Couscous, Watermelon and Serrano Salad, and a Flag Cake will make for a patriotic and delicious lunch or dinner. Ice down your cold beverages and a selection of rosé and white wine in one of our attractive hammered stainless steel tubs. Build Your Own Shish Kabobs w/ Lemon Garlic Shrimp & Veggies: Shish kabobs are great for grilling and summer days spent outdoors or on picnics. Since I’ll be spending the 4th on the Texas coast, Shrimp is my choice of meat, but this recipe also has Chicken and Beef substitutes available.}

Ingredients: Lemon-Garlic Shrimp: 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 shallots, minced 1 bay leaf (fresh or dried) 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 pound (16 to 20 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined

Veggies For Kabobs: Bell peppers Onions Cherry tomatoes Mushrooms Italian squash Baby potatoes, boiled until cooked through Corn on the cob, husked and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

Balsamic Basting Vinaigrette for Veggies: 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Salt and pepper If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 1 hour to retard charring.

What You Do: 1. Whisk together all of the lemon garlic shrimp ingredients (except the shrimp) in a bowl. Toss the shrimp in the mixture until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours. 2. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces. 3. Puree balsamic basting vinaigrette ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds. 4. Place shrimp and veggies in individual bowls and set out buffet style. Instruct your guests to skewer their own kabobs and baste veggies with balsamic vinaigrette. 5. Grill kabobs directly over heat source for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning 1/4 rotation every 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp (or meat of your choosing) is cooked throughout.

What You’ll Need: Whisk & Mixing Bowl, Blender, Shish Kabob Skewers, Basting Brush Peppered Couscous (8 servings) I had the great privilege of trying this recipe first with Patricia Wells herself and this recipe is simple, fresh and zesty, and best yet, it is easy to make ahead. Perfect July 4th material.

Ingredients: 1.5 cups medium grain instant couscous 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt 1 pound red ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered 4-5 bell peppers (assorted colors) cut into a very fine dice 1/8 teaspoon ground Espelette pepper (or ground mild chile) 1/8 teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh mint leaves

What You Do: 1. Place couscous in a very fine sieve and rinse under cold water. Put in a large bowl and toss with a fork to fluff. Set aside. 2. In a food processor or blender, add the lemon juice, salt, tomatoes, Espelette pepper and Cayenne. Process to blend. 3. Pour mixture into the couscous, tossing with a fork, and set aside for about 3 minutes, occasionally fluffing and stirring until all the liquid is absorbed. 4. Add the diced pepper and mint. Toss and serve!

What You’ll Need: Fine Sieve, Mixing Bowl, Blender, Cutting Board & Santoku Knife

Watermelon and Serrano Salad (RECIPE FOUND HERE) This delicious side combines juicy summer watermelon with a kick of heat in the serrano. The perfect blend of sweet and spicy makes it a popular side dish on a hot summer afternoon.

Flag Cake: The always lovely Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa provided this recipe for a patriotic Flag sponge cake with homemade icing and fresh berries. You can keep this as simple as you want but the concept is wonderful for a patriotic holiday.

Ingredients (for the cake) 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature 3 cups sugar 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature 1 cup sour cream at room temperature 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 3 cups flour 1/3 cup cornstarch 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients (for the icing) 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 half-pints blueberries
  • 3 half-pints raspberries
  • What You Do: 1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 2. Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan. 3. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth. 4. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. 5. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. 6. For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth. Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. 7. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries. {Optional step} 8. ENJOY!

    What You’ll Need: Sifter, Bake Sheet, Spatula, Pastry Bag & Star Tip {optional}

    Watch Ina in action with this step-by-step video! http://www.foodnetwork.com/inas-flag-cake/video/index.html

    Recipes Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Patricia Wells Food Lovers Guide to Paris…And Provence, Choosy Beggars, and Bob Blumer from The Surreal Gourmet

    One Response to 4th of July Menu

    1. E. Keith Owens
      July 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Wrap up fresh greens with seafood or chicken for an appetizer or light lunch. If making ahead cover uncut rolls with a damp towel then plastic wrap let stand at cool room temperature up to 1 hour or chill up to 1 day chilling firms and toughens the wrappers and noodles slightly .. Peel shrimp and with a small sharp knife split in half lengthwise through back.

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