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:
Ricotta & Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini
Corn & Tomato Salad
Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Peach Cornmeal Shortcakes
What are your plans for the 4th of July? Do you have any long-standing traditions? I’d love to hear!
In my old apartment, I had a basil plant on the kitchen window — here in New York, we have to try pretty hard to bring the outdoors in, with few windows and outdoor space at a premium making it difficult. There wasn’t a ton of sunlight, but somehow that plant survived the winter and when I brought it to my new apartment (which somehow gets even less light, being on the first floor), I was hopeful. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have inherited my parents’ green thumbs and it lasted less than a month. Basil is one of my favorite herbs, a smell that means all sorts of wonderful things — like Italy, and pesto, and summer. I’m very excited to see it back at the farmer’s market, along with the season’s first greenhouse tomatoes. This salad makes an excellent main course when you don’t feel like doing too much cooking, or is a perfect accompaniment to roast chicken or rack of lamb (as we had it).
To make this salad even easier, you could skip roasting the red peppers and just chop them up raw, but I love the smoky layer of flavor they add.
Also, my second post is up on Wine & Bowties! See my family’s recipe for classic tomato-basil bruschetta here.
It would seem that fall has officially arrived. I am always reluctant to let go of summer, but something about the crisp air brings on wishes for apple cider doughnuts (of which I had some last weekend), warm soup, and sitting by a fire. Lately, I have had a particular craving for classic spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, growing up in my family, the classic meatballs were Swedish, not Italian (but just as delicious). However, having studied abroad in Italy, I came to love Italian food and culture — and in fact, one of my uncles is convinced we are part Italian, so you never know. In any case, these meatballs make an excellent and hearty dinner, and even better leftovers for lunch the next day. I modified the recipe to make it slightly healthier by using mostly ground turkey instead of pork, but you could also use pork only. I also love how the ricotta makes the meatballs surprisingly light.
To me, the end of summer means lazy afternoons spent in the park, swimming, candlelit dinners al fresco, and more than anything — tomatoes. Or at least, the first three are what I dream during the summer (mostly I’ve been in an air-conditioned office and sweating on the subway). But tomatoes, those I can have. My mom made these simple sandwiches for me when I was home a few weeks ago (why is everything always better when Mom makes it?) with tomatoes from their garden, and I couldn’t resist re-creating it once I got back to the city — especially since she sent a few of those tomatoes back with me as well. This makes an excellent appetizer or a simple lunch — but be careful, you’ll eat a whole baguette before you know it.
I think it’s the fact that summer is SO CLOSE so being here (as I sit writing this with raindrops pounding the windows), but I have been dreaming of tomatoes. Big, juicy, bright red tomatoes that only need a sprinkle of salt to accompany them. (Or a sprinkle of sugar, if you are my grandpa!) But for those I will have to wait for a few months (and don’t even get me started on peaches), so for now I will be content with cherry tomatoes, which you can find pretty much all year at the grocery store. My current favorite way to dress them up is in a fresh Greek salad, which is great with chicken kebabs or pita bread and hummus, but also makes an excellent (and healthy) lunch on its own. This isn’t the most classic of versions, as I have adapted it to my preferences (I don’t like olives, ok?? I know, it’s weird) and changed the ratios a bit. Feel free to adapt as you would like.