“Be Inspired” Seasonally by Rita Calvert

Summer's hottest holiday arrives with a bang and lots of excitement! Break out your bright red, hot and blue table toppers and keep the cool food comin'! Here are dishes that sparkle for the menu with patriotic colors and tableware to round out the celebration. Foods for the Fourth of July don't need to be fussy. Most folks appreciate the regular grill favorites and, of course, there will be lots of kids to appease. Dessert though, can be another story as no one could pass up a spectacular fresh strawberry pie! If that doesn't suit, give 'em watermelon.

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 Red and Green Cabbage and Fennel Coleslaw  

Serves 4-6

 Colorful, cool and crunchy. Try giving your holiday batch of this classic cabbage salad an extra garden healthy twist with the addition of shaved fennel.

 There are two tricks here. One, salt the vegetables first to wilt and get rid of excess moisture. Two, make sure you don’t load the ‘slaw down with too much dressing.  

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, stems and core removed, cut into quarters, and shaved or sliced very thinly, fronds reserved
  • 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
  • 2 cups, thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme, chopped

 For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Toss the fennel, cabbage, and salt together in a medium bowl. Now place in a colander and let soften at room temperature for 30 minutes. Return the cabbage and fennel to the bowl and add the lemon thyme.

 Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, fennel fronds, sugar, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the slaw along with the lemon thyme and toss to coat.

Terrific Burger Toppings

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In my book, you can't have enough toppings for the burgers. Some folks however, do prefer their hamburger straightforward. No worries,s offer  a wide selection and let them build their own. It's fun to put them on a large lazy Susan and let people spin for their choices. See the choices below: homegrown lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onions-sauteed or raw, sauteed mushrooms, blue cheese, roasted bell peppers, cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, avocados.

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DSC07498 Fresh Strawberry Pie

Serves 6-8

This glorious dessert will satisfy everyone. Do make your own crust as it makes so much difference. The real beauty of this pie is the 2 different textures of strawberries-first large whole berries in the bottom and then cooked berries topping that for a blend of a sweeter strawberry sauce.

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Whipped cream
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

 Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the cooked pie crust.

Fill pie crust with 2 cups of the largest berries.

 In a saucepan, crush the remaining 2 cups berries (a potato masher works well). Add sugar and cornstarch; stir to combine.

 Cook and stir constantly over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and clear. Add lemon juice; stir. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly.

 Pour berry mixture over the berries in the pie crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

 Before you are ready to serve, prepare whipped cream: Add whipping cream to a mixing bowl; whip, using an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar and whip until peaks form.

 Spoon whipped cream over pie wedges.

Carved watermelon photo by bhg.com

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