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


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