4th of July Recipes

Mention Independence Day, and I automatically think of barbecues, beach, and best of all, fireworks (not to mention the Will Smith movie). Growing up, we always spent the 4th of July at my grandparents' cabin in northern Minnesota, and the days were full of swimming in the lake, four-wheeling, card-playing, and, of course eating -- as I always think they should be. Living on the east coast makes it hard to get home for this celebratory holiday, but I'll be lying on the beach in Connecticut and hopefully eating some great seafood, which should be almost as good. I rounded up a few recipes that would make great options for a 4th of July barbecue:

_MG_3663Ricotta & Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

_MG_4165Guacamole _MG_3090Corn & Tomato Salad

_MG_2829Greek Salad

_MG_4748Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad

_MG_4715Pulled Pork Sandwiches

_MG_2988Rhubarb Pie

_MG_1739Peach Cornmeal Shortcakes

What are your plans for the 4th of July? Do you have any long-standing traditions? I'd love to hear!

Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad

_MG_4750Potato salad is one of those foods that means summer to me. Of course, potatoes are in season pretty much all year round, so there's no real reason for that -- and yet, when I think of potato salad, I automatically think of barbecues, eating outside, laying in the sun. It does, of course, go very well with any kind of grilled meat, and since you can serve it at room temperature it's an ideal dish for picnics. With outdoor space in short supply in New York, we probably won't be grilling any time soon (though I have thought about one of those tiny charcoal grills for the fire escape), but I can still make a great potato salad -- no grill required. _MG_4741

_MG_4744_MG_4749

My mom has been making a version of this potato salad for years, and while I love the creamy mayo-based versions as well, this recipe is really the best. How can you go wrong with bacon and blue cheese?_MG_4748

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Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad (adapted from Bon Appétit)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or scallions

1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

Zest of one lemon

3 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered 8 bacon slices 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces) 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

To make:

Whisk oil, vinegar, shallots, 1 tablespoon chives, mustard, honey and lemon peel in large bowl until well blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Add warm potatoes to dressing; toss well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble into small pieces. Sprinkle salad with bacon, blue cheese, and remaining 1/4 cup chives, and arrange eggs on side of bowl.

 

Grilled Scallops

I know, I know, another grilled recipe. Kind of repetitive. But, since Ari and I have been doing quite a but of grilling and very little actual cooking (hello, 95 degrees in NYC today), this is a pretty accurate representation of what we have been eating lately. My mom came for a visit last weekend (lovely) and we of course made a stop at the farmer's market to pick up peaches (first of the season!), cherries, zucchini, and scallops. Oh, scallops. I pretty much order them every time I get to go to a fancy restaurant (i.e. only if I am lucky enough to be taken to one), but has only made them myself a couple of times. The ones we bought were super fresh and tasted like they had been caught that morning -- all I did was throw them in a simple marinade for a couple of hours and you didn't need anything else. You could also use this same marinade but instead of grilling, sear them quickly in a very hot pan until golden brown on each side, 1-2 minutes. Simple summer cooking at its best.

Grilled Scallops (serves 4)

15-20 large scallops

1/2 cup orange juice

1/8 cup olive oil

1/4 cup basil leaves, julienned

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons capers

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic bag and marinate, at least one hour and up to overnight. Preheat grill. Thread scallops onto skewers and grill over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side but still slightly opaque in center, 3-5 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Summer Grilling & Simple Chicken Kebabs

Ever since Ari brought home a free Craigslisted gas grill (an epic story which may or may not involve the subway), we have been grilling every chance we get. There's just something about cooking in the open air that makes everything taste that much better. We've made several dinners now solely by grilling (with the exception of the above scallops, which needed to be finished on the stove as we ran out of propane), including portabello mushroom burgers (great alternative to beef) and chicken skewers with tomato, avocado, hummus, and grilled flatbread. As you can tell by the pictures, there seems to be a common theme -- corn! I could seriously eat sweet corn every day of the summer, and grilling is my favorite way to make it -- just grill for a few minutes until slightly charred on all sides, then slather in butter and salt. I will certainly share more recipes for the grill soon -- and please excuse the pictures, as they were all taken with Instagram.

Chicken Kebabs (serves 4-6)

6 chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Red onion, cut into large chunks (optional)

Combine chicken with lemon juice, orange juice, and all spices in a large covered bowl or plastic bag and marinate in fridge at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Thread chicken pieces on skewers, alternating with red onion (if using), and grill over medium heat until cooked through and charred on each side, about 10 minutes per side. Alternatively, roast skewers on a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Note: be sure to soak wooden skewers in water before putting the chicken on them -- this will prevent them from burning.