Long Summer Holiday Weekend Special

Well, hip hip hooray! With the Fourth of July on Tuesday, we have an extra-long weekend coming up! Get ready to dodge a few thunderstorms, enjoy a little sunshine and cook up some delicious fun. Here are a few ideas:

An all-American cookout is the default celebration for Independence Day. You’ll probably want to start with a few tasty appetizers. How about:

 

Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola

Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad

Summer Rolls

Baba Ganoush

There are lots of choices when it comes to the main course. Now, will it be fish or fowl, a fabulous steak or …:

Grilled Steak with Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze

Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Red Hot Barbequed Chicken

Southwest Turkey Burgers

Not Your Ordinary Burger

Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad

Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol

Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter

Now, what to serve with it? Or bring along to that potluck:

Grilled Potato Salad

Orzo Salad with Lemony Pesto & Grilled Tomatoes

Grilled Balsamic Vegetables

Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado

And since you don’t have to grill everything and the first local tomatoes are ready for eating …Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction

Of course, you’ll want to end on a sweet and patriotic note. Think red, white and blue with:

Berry Flag Cake

Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

Creamy Yogurt Tart with Fresh Strawberries (you’ll have to add a few blueberries to the mix!)

Happy summer – have a great weekend and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Happy Fourth of July Weekend Special

sparklers_flaresThe holiday weekend promises great weather in New Hampshire! Perfect for hiking, biking, tennis and golf. A few thundershowers on Friday night might send you inside a little early but the garden will be happy. The only question, what to cook?

Here are a few ideas for a star-spangled, spectacular Fourth of July cookout!

Start with a homemade cracker and a glass of wine. My Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam is a great choice. For a change, try the shortbread with a dab of Tapenade instead of Tomato Jam.

How about the main course? Well, I’m assuming you’re thinking cookout. Burgers are a big part of the Independence Day tradition. No need for same-old/same-old, try my Not Your Ordinary Burger or Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa. want to take it up a notch or three? How about my Grilled Filet Mignons & Mushrooms with Stilton Butter? Of course die-hard New Englanders might prefer Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli.

You’ll need a few sides. There are local tomatoes at the farm stand and my basil is coming along nicely. You can’t beat my Insalata Caprese. Or keep it simple with Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction. Now all you need are a few spuds. My Grilled Potato Salad is a great choice. For a patriotic twist, use red, white and blue new potatoes.

Think stars and stripes for dessert. You’ll love my Berry Flag Cake!

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate the Fourth of July? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

How to Spend Independence Day in a Small Town & Berry Flag Cake

JC_FlagFrom sea to shining sea, cities and towns will be vying for our attention this coming weekend. What better place to spend the long Independence Day Weekend than Tucson, Chicago, Boston or New York. I’m going to take that as a question and not a rhetorical one. My answer: “None of the above.” The best place to spend the Fourth of July is in a small town. If you can manage it, I’d seriously recommend you fine-tune that down to a small town in New Hampshire. After all, it is the live free or die state.

Forget the hustle and bustle of a busy city. Relax and enjoy a country holiday:

Between the sun streaming through the skylight and the birds tweeting, I generally wake early in the summer. As I see it, I have two choices. (Perhaps you have more but I’ve narrowed it down to two.) I can get up and slowly ease into the day with a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin. It’s a red, white and blue weekend, hence blueberry. Or I can head right out the door for a cool morning walk or bike ride. I’ll still get the coffee and muffin, just later rather than sooner.

Midmorning, it’s time for a trip to the farm stand or the farmers’ market. Unless I stocked up the day before, then I might whip up another batch of muffins or bake a coffeecake. When you live in a beautiful place, people tend to visit on holiday weekends. It’s good to be prepared.

Next, I can take it easy and enjoy lunch under a tree at that café I like or belly up to the counter at the local diner. There’s a pretty good chance that the server will know me, if not by name then maybe by face or reputation. Then again, I don’t want that beautiful produce I just bought to go to waste. Perhaps, I’ll toss up a salad and have a leisurely lunch on the porch. Then again, a picnic at the beach sounds pretty good. Decisions, decisions.

Many small towns are almost famous for their Fourth of July parades. Kids attach playing cards to their bicycle spokes and clickety–clack along, veterans march, tutu-wearing dogs look embarrassed, the high school band performs and kids on unicycles amaze. For those of us with a lake nearby, the parade moves onto the water. Instead of unicycles, costumed captains and mates slowly cruise along the shore. There are no bands but flags fly and streamers waft in the breeze.

Speaking of boat parades, a beach on one of New Hampshire’s lakes is the perfect place to spend a holiday afternoon. After the parade, it’s time for an adventure in my kayak. Perhaps you’d prefer a little water skiing or a sail.

Next, who needs a fancy, downtown restaurant when you can enjoy a country cookout with family and friends? Our family tends to go all-American on the Fourth with burgers and dogs on the grill and a couple of salads (including red, white and blue potato salad). Top it off with a spectacular, stars and stripes dessert for a perfect and perfectly delicious patriotic feast.

And finally, out-of-staters will tell you that the best part of a live free or die Independence Day Weekend are the fireworks. Okay, so our public displays can’t necessarily compete with the grandeur of a big-time, big-city extravaganza. But, and it’s a big BUT, any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy fireworks in New Hampshire. Make sure you have the first aid kit and fire extinguisher ready!

Let the fun begin and bon appétit!

Berry Flag Cake
A deliciously patriotic dessert for the long holiday weekend! Enjoy!
Serves 8-12
Flag_Cake_01

8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
4 tablespoons Grand Marnier or freshly squeezed orange juice
About 1 1/2 cups Lemon Curd (recipe follows)
1 cup very cold heavy cream
About 24 crisp ladyfinger cookies
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 quart strawberries, halved plus more to pass
1 cup blueberries, plus more to pass

Put the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. With the mixer running, slowly add the Lemon Curd in large dollops, incorporating each spoonful before adding another. Set aside.

Clean the beaters and beat the heavy cream with the electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese and Lemon Curd mixture.

Arrange the cookies in a single layer in the bottom of 9 x13-inch glass or ceramic pan. Combine the orange juice with the remaining Grand Marnier and drizzle over the cookies. Spread the creamy topping over the cookies. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, overnight is best.

To serve: line up the blueberries in a 3-inch square in the top corner of the cake. Create stripes with the strawberries. Let everyone admire your flag before spooning the cake into individual bowls and serve with more strawberries and blueberries.

Lemon Curd
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

6 large egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Create an ice bath by setting a small bowl in a larger bowl and surrounding it with ice and water.

Put the yolks, juice and sugar in a small, heavy saucepan and whisk to combine. Set over low heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the curd reaches 170 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove the pan from heat, add the butter a few pieces at a time and whisk until incorporated. Pass the curd through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl set in the ice bath. Add the lemon zest and, stirring frequently, cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

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One Year Ago – A Hint of Asia Barbecue Chicken or Pork
Two Years Ago – Potato Salad Niçoise
Three Years Ago – Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad
Four Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Five Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Six Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate the long holiday weekendt? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Hip Hip Hooray – A Delicious Independence Day Weekend Special

sparklers_flaresSaturday is the Fourth of July! Time to get together with friends and family for flares and fireworks … and, of course, a cookout. How will you make your holiday cookout special? Here are a few ideas.

Fireworks were invented in China – so – why not go with an Asian theme. My Summer Rolls are a delicious way to start the evening. If you’ve got a big crowd, add some fresh veggies and my Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce.

For the main event, everyone likes chicken. Fire up the grill and enjoy my A Hint of Asia Barbecued Chicken. Serve it with my tasty Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint and Peanuts and/or Asian Noodle Salad.

How about some homemade ice cream for dessert. The kids will be happy to turn the crank! Try my favorite Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato. It’s delicious with fresh local strawberries. Or, go red, white and blue. Whip up batches of Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato, Strawberry and Blueberry Gelato.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate the Fourth? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

Celebrate! & A Hint of Asia Barbecue

fireworks_101Hip hip hooray! Unfurl the flag. Throw a watermelon on ice and some chicken on the grill. It’s the Fourth of July and time to celebrate! Do you have big plans for the holiday weekend or are you still at loose ends? There is still a day or two to figure it all out. Need some help; here are few thoughts:

Hit the road. There’s never been a better time. Gas prices are down about a buck a gallon from last year. Add an improving economy and AAA estimates that almost 42 million Americans will hit the road over the long holiday weekend. What about you? I vote for staying put and letting the family come to me. What could be better than a weekend in New Hampshire? The days are warm, the nights cool and the locals are even cooler still.

Head to the beach. As a kid, I spent most Fourths on the Cape or at the lake. Somehow, water, sand and Independence Day all go together. Pack your swimsuit, towel and the latest best seller. Bring plenty of sunscreen and a picnic and spend the day … better yet, stash a flashlight in your beach bag and stay until well after the sun has set and the moon has risen.

Turn your bike ride into a parade. From tiny villages to big cities, there will be parades throughout the land. Whether there is a parade in your town or not, you can stage your very own cavalcade of festive bikes. It’s easy. All you need is a few old playing cards and a couple of clothes pins. Attach the cards to your wheel spokes and clackity-clack your way through the neighborhood. While not strictly mandatory, streamers on the handlebars are a nice addition.

Get competitive. What’s your family’s favorite sport? Tennis, golf or sand castles? Whatever it is, organize a round-robin, tournament or contest. Unlike Thanksgiving, Independence Day get-togethers are not fraught with a history of melodrama and rivalry. That’s easy to fix. More than fireworks will fly if you add a little healthy, or not-so healthy, competition to the mix. Never a dull moment.

Transform your backyard. Can’t get to the beach? Don’t pout. Invite the neighborhood over for fun, food and games. Break out the croquet set and volleyball net. Fire up the grill and fill the cooler with ice. Don’t let the setting sun put an end to the fun; those little white lights are not just for Christmas. String them in the trees or the porch rafters and turn your backyard into a magical garden.

Dress the part. No matter where you spend the Fourth, at home or away, get your red, white and blue on. No need to get all fancy; bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts and sneakers are just fine. Stay with the patriotic theme when it comes to your picnic or cookout. Decorate with lots of little flags and pots filled with red geraniums, white daisies and blue petunias. By the way, colorful red, white and blue bandannas will make cheap and cheerful napkins for your party.

Live free and let the fireworks fly. As kids, New Hampshire summers were exciting for many reasons. For the boys, the bottle rockets and cherry bombs were chief among them. Although these childhood favorites are now banned, the Granite State has a long list of incendiary devices available for sale for your Independence Day festivities. Just make sure you read the safety instructions and have a fire extinguisher handy. Sure, the firefighters and EMTs are great people but you really don’t want to set the house on fire or spend the evening in the emergency room. On second thought, maybe you should skip the do-it-yourself solution and head to a public display!

Have a wonderful and safe Independence Day and bon appétit!

A Hint of Asia Barbecue – Marinade & Sauce for Chicken (or Pork)
A little spicy, a little sweet – what more could you ask for in a barbecue. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/2 onion, roughly choppedGrilling_Chicken_01
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or sambal oelek or your favorite chili paste
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
About 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts

Make the marinade: put the onion, garlic, ginger and thyme in a small food processor or blender, add the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, honey and sriracha and pulse until smooth. Add the hoisin and ketchup and process until smooth and well combined. Makes about 2 cups marinade.

Marinate the chicken: put the chicken in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag, add enough marinade to generously coat, cover and, turning a few times, refrigerate for several hours.

Cook the chicken: preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve.

Or, if you prefer a barbecue sauce to a marinade …

Make the sauce: lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion and thyme and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, honey, sriracha, hoisin and ketchup, bring to a simmer and, stirring a few times, continue simmering on very low for about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature, add the sesame oil and process in the blender for a smooth sauce. Makes about 2 cups sauce.

Cook the chicken: preheat the grill to medium-high. Generously coat the chicken with sauce and arrange on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve with more sauce.

Can’t decide which method? I like to marinate the chicken but you can always combine the two for extra flavor. Whip up a batch of marinade and a batch of sauce. Marinate and grill the chicken and serve it with a spoonful or two of sauce. The marinade and sauce are also great with pork.

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One Year Ago – Potato Salad Niçoise
Two Years Ago – Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad
Three Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Four Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Five Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Six Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the long holiday weekend? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Independence Day Special

fireworks_01Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! To help you have the best ever, I’ve put together a few ideas for a traditional Fourth of July picnic. At least in New England, salmon is a Fourth of July classic. So visit your favorite fishmonger and get out the grill. Then again, if you have a big crowd coming, it will be easier to prepare everything in advance and go with a cold buffet.

Start with a special cocktail: Spiked or not, Watermelon-Limeade is refreshing on a hot day. To nibble, try some Caponata with pita chips. Add a bowl of Spicy Olives and a real fan favorite Rosemary Cahews. With all the cooking done in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

Moving onto dinner … Whip the salmon up in advance and serve it cold. Gravlax with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce would be a delicious choice. Or roast salmon in the morning and serve it cold with Tarragon Aioli. If you are noticing a pattern here, tarragon pairs very well with salmon. Serve the salmon with Asparagus & Radish Salad and Potato Salad Niçoise or maybe you’d prefer a creamy and delicious Potato Salad Dijon or New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola.
strawberries 02

End on a sweet note with special, early summer dessert. The pick-your-own strawberry field down the road from my house is open. Strawberry Shortcake with Cardamom Cream is a terrific choice for a Fourth of July picnic. That said, Panna Cotta with Strawberries would be wonderful as well.

Have a wonderful picnic and a happy Fourth! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Independence Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Celebrating Independence Day & Potato Salad Niçoise

fireworks_2013_4th_01The pressure is on. Friday is the Fourth of July, a day filled with tradition and special memories. From the flag waving by the front door to the t-shirt and sneakers we don for the cookout, it’s a red, white and blue holiday.

On a serious note, the Fourth of July marks the birth of our country and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s hard to believe that Congress was able to sign, seal and deliver the Declaration within two days of approving a resolution of independence. The current Congress could certainly learn a lesson or two from the Founding Fathers.

On a more frivolous note, at least in New England, the Fourth of July means that summer is well and truly here. Before the long holiday weekend is over, we’ll have the mosquito bites and sunburns to prove it. Many Independence Day traditions go back to the Founding Fathers. One of those Fathers, John Adams, set the scene for future Independence Day celebrations in a letter to his wife Abigail,

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports,… bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Although we are not nearly as solemn as Adams predicted; the Fourth certainly qualifies as a great festival. For our modern day celebrations, we like nothing better than to spend most if not all of the day and evening outdoors. Today we are less solemn acts and pomp and more games, sports, bonfires and illuminations. And of course parades. Small town parades honor veterans but also welcome kids on brightly decorated bicycles. No matter what your age, consider some star spangled streamers for your handlebars and playing cards for your spokes.

When we were kids, we spent most of the Fourth in the water. Our mothers did their best to yank us out of the lake for a few minutes for lunch and again for dinner. In spite of blue lips and wrinkly fingers and toes, we couldn’t wait to jump back in again. Now we create our own tri- or pentathlons by combining our favorite summer sports into an action-packed weekend. Knowing the season is short, we race between hiking trails, bike routes, the beach and the tennis court. We keep busy with fun runs, family golf tournaments and friendly games of volleyball. With all that fun, at some point we are bound to crash and need a nap in the hammock or under a beach umbrella.

The Fourth is a great time for families and friends to get together. Unlike Thanksgiving, it’s not fraught with a history of family melodrama. There’s no turkey to wrestle, no earthshattering confessions to make or certain disappointments to contend. The latest (or on-going) scandal, reprisal or tragedy can take a backseat to the sunshine and fun. It’s summer and time to relax. Besides, Adams may have mentioned fireworks but said nothing about angst or trauma in his letter to Abigail.

Top off the celebration and games with an easy potluck cookout in the backyard or beach. Stock up on hotdogs and hamburgers and let everyone bring an appetizer, salad or dessert. Sharing the work means everyone will have time for games and sport and still have a fabulous feast.

Have a wonderful holiday and bon appétit!

Potato Salad Niçoise
potato_salad_nicoise_07This composed salad will look beautiful on your Fourth of July picnic table and tastes wonderful. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Vinaigrette Niçoise (recipe follows)
2 pounds red skinned or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (optional) and cut in bite size pieces
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 small red onion, diced
1 pound assorted cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup Niçoise or oil cured black Greek olives, pitted and halved or quartered
2 tablespoons capers, drained

Make the vinaigrette.

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover by 2-inches with cold salted water. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, reduce the temperature to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes well and shake off excess water. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl, add the wine and enough vinaigrette to generously coat but not drown the potatoes and gently toss to combine. Stirring occasionally, cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Put the onion in a bowl, add enough vinaigrette to generously coat, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Marinating will take the bite out of the raw onion.

To serve: Spoon the potatoes onto a large serving platter.

Add the tomatoes and cucumber to the onion and, adding more vinaigrette if necessary, toss to lightly coat. Artfully arrange the tomatoes, cucumber and onion over the potatoes and sprinkle with olives and capers.

Vinaigrette Niçoise
Makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup roughly chopped basil
2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) hot pepper sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 cup (or to taste) extra virgin olive oil

Put the herbs, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in the food processor, season with salt and pepper and process until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil and process until smooth.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad
Two Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Three Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Four Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Five Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s on your list? What would you like to do this summer? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014