Our beloved holiday, Fourth of July, falls on a Tuesday this year. I am sure people will be celebrating as best suits their needs and schedules, perhaps even on the prior weekend, if necessary.
Due to fire prevention concerns and an aversion to traffic and crowds, I usually don’t get to see any fireworks except on the television. But I am often in Niagara Falls (Ontario side) at that time of year, and their Canada Day, every July 1, happens to have a very spectacular fireworks display.
Not the same thing as spending the Fourth in the good ol’ USA, but at least my eyes get a treat. Speaking of treats, here are a few you might want to serve at your own Fourth of July celebration, or as a potluck dish if you are a guest. No matter where you are, have a safe and sane holiday.
11 graham cracker sheets
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
Large or small marshmallows to completely cover top of pie
1. Preheat oven to 375. To prepare crust: Using food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they become crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse a few more times to blend with crumbs. Firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before adding the filling.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped semisweet and milk chocolate, butter and pinch of salt. In a saucepan, heat cream and sugar over medium-low heat until it just begins to simmer. Pour cream into chocolate and mix until all the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Pour chocolate mixture into chilled pie crust. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
3. Just before serving the pie, top chocolate filling with marshmallows, firmly planting them in the filling. Fill the entire pie with marshmallows. Place under oven broiler for approximately 30 seconds or until marshmallows have nicely browned. A kitchen torch can also be used instead of the broiler. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Red, white and blue deviled eggs
You don’t dye the yolks, just the whites, and they look so awesome. Prepare the yolks according to your favorite way, but I will provide one version that calls for mostly plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise being the main ingredient.
1 dozen hard boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon regular mayonnaise (I like Best Foods)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups hot water, divided
2 teaspoons white vinegar, divided
Red and blue food coloring (Americolor is a good brand)
1. Cut eggs in half and remove the yolks to a medium mixing bowl. Mash the yolks until they form fine crumbs.
2. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, dry mustard, salt and pepper and mix well.
3. For each color, mix 1 cup hot water, 1 teaspoon food coloring and 1 teaspoon vinegar in a medium bowl. Place 8 egg white halves in the red solution and 8 in the blue, leaving 8 plain white. Leave the egg whites in the colored solution about 2 minutes or until they reach desired color intensity. (The vinegar provides for a brighter color.)
4. Remove colored egg whites to paper towels and allow any excess liquid to drip off and be absorbed. Arrange them on a platter, alternating colors with white. Fill fill prepared egg yolk mixture, using a spoon or a piping bag. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 24 appetizers.
Red, white and blue chocolate dipped strawberries
1 pound ripe strawberries, with stems, if possible
1 bag white candy melts or white chocolate chips
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Blue food coloring
1. Wash and completely dry the strawberries. In a double boiler, simmer 1 to 2 inches of water (or place a glass or metal bowl on top of a saucepan that has water in it, being careful not to let any steam get into the chocolate) Slowly melt half a bag of the candy melts or white chocolate chips. When the melts are completely melted, remove from heat, add the second half of the candy melts, and incorporate until smooth. If the mixture has cooled down too much to melt everything nicely, simmer the pot of water again and let everything warm up a bit.
2. Once the white chocolate is completed melted, dip strawberries about 3/4 of the way and then set on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper for chocolate to harden. After you have dipped all the berries, in a separate bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup and milk. Then add as much blue food coloring (two drops at a time) until the desired shade of blue is reached. If you want a thicker icing, use less milk. And if you want a thinner icing, add more milk.
3. When the white chocolate coating has become firm, spoon icing into a piping bag or plastic bag with a small hole in one corner. Drizzle the icing back and forth on the strawberries until about half of the white chocolate area is covered.
Super simple patriotic cake
So simple you don’t even really need a recipe, but your guests will think you spent a lot of time on this. Note: The weight of packaged cake mixes now varies from 18.25 to 15.25. so always follow the directions when preparing.
1 box yellow cake mix
1 container (8-oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and drained
2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced
1. Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Allow to cool completely.
2. Spread the thawed whipped topping evenly over the entire cake. In the top left corner, place the blueberries to form a square. Use the strawberry slices to form the appropriate flag stripes. Keep cake chilled until ready to serve.
Since the strawberries bleed color and turn the jicama red, add the strawberries just before serving. Best eaten the same day it is prepared.
1 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cup diced fresh strawberries
1 1/4 cup peeled and diced jicama
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries, strawberries, jicama, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno and lime juice. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed. Season with salt, to taste.
2. Serve with tortilla chips or with grilled fish or chicken. Makes 6 servings.