Saturday, July 18, 2009

Feasting on the Fourth

Yes, I know it's been a while since the 4th of July. However, I was waiting for recipes and photos from others before I could complete this post. So, here's the deal - a friend, who just loves to cook for herself, her family, the neighborhood, the whole world(well, you get the idea - she LOVES to cook!) came up with a theme for our Pre-4th of July party - everyone had to pick a recipe from either the Food Network or Epicurious, take a photo of said recipe from whichever web site they chose (FW or Epi), make the dish and then bring both photo and dish to the party. Now, so there wouldn't be all hamburgers and nothing else, we had to send our recipe/photo to Leah. Well, I didn't know what I wanted to make and was chatting with my friend Kim who turned me on to Aaron's Potato Salad (thanks, Kim - the potato salad was loved by one and all!). Then, one of the people who was going to come but came down with the flu was supposed to make the baked beans so guess who got to make that as well? Yep, 'twas me. They too were delicious. Actually, everything was delicious! I'm not showing pictures of the chips as we all know what bags of chips look like. Drinks included soda, lemonade, peach ice tea, regular ice tea, Long Island ice tea (hey Kim, remember the crab crawl down the Del Mar cliffs...), beer, wine, cocktails and assorted coffees (the coffees accompanied the desserts).

The party didn't start until 6ish and, as you can see by the photos below, we had enough food for a third world nation. Surprisingly, though, amongst the main courses and side dishes there was not one leftover to be seen or had. There was, however, some cake and trifle left but I think that's because everyone was stuffed when the aforementioned was being served. By the time we were finished cooking and eating, a fabulous time was had by all.

Jack's Peach BBQ Beans
This recipe makes approximately 24 servings.

8 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 (#10 can, about 6 pounds and 10 ounces) baked beans (recommended: Bush's)
3 cups canned peach pie filling
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons Jack's Old South BBQ Rub, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until somewhat crispy and its fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. Add the pepper and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large baking pan. Add the bacon, beans, pie filling, barbecue sauce, and rub to the pan. Mix to combine and bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, about 1 hour.

Jack's Old South BBQ Rub:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Yield: 3/4 cup

Coffee Rubbed Cheeseburgers
Coffee rub:
1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee
2 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

8 slices applewood-smoked bacon
1 pound ground chuck (preferably grass-fed)
1 pound ground sirloin (preferably grass-fed)
8 slices smoked provolone, smoked caciocavallo, or smoked Gouda cheese (about 8 ounces)
8 potato-bread hamburger Buns
8 slices red onion
8 slices tomato

Barbecue Sauce (yields about 1 1/3 cups):
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 chipotle chile from canned chipotle chiles in adobo,* minced with seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup and all remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until reduced to 1 1/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. do ahead Can be made 1 week ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill.

For coffee rub: Mix all ingredients in small bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
For burgers: Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Break in half. Gently mix chuck and sirloin in large bowl. Form meat into 8 patties, each 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter and 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Using thumb, make slight indentation in center of each burger. DO AHEAD: Burgers and bacon can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover separately and chill.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon coffee rub on top side of each burger. Place burgers, rub side down, on grill rack. Grill until slightly charred, about 4 minutes; turn.
Place 2 bacon slice halves atop each burger. Cook 3 minutes.
Top each with 1 cheese slice. Cover and cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place burgers atop bottom halves of buns. Top with onion slices and tomato slices. Spoon dollop of Barbecue Sauce over. Cover with bun tops and serve, passing additional sauce alongside.

Aaron's Potato Salad
The recipe makes 4-6 servings so you'll need to adjust your measurements accordingly.
3 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large eggs
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons sweet relish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread out on a sheet pan to cool. Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the eggs; cook for 12 minutes, then remove to a bowl of ice water to cool completely. Peel the eggs under cold running water, then roughly chop.
In a large bowl, combine the onion, celery, relish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the mayonnaise. Fold in the potatoes, eggs and scallions. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs
The recipe makes 3-4 servings so you'll need to adjust measurements accordingly.
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
4 pounds baby back ribs, cut into 2-rib portions

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients except the ribs. Rub spice mixture all over the ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate ribs for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
Preheat the grill to medium heat.
Arrange the ribs on the barbeque and grill for 40 to 45 minutes, turning with tongs occasionally until meat is tender and crisp on the outside.

Oven-Fried Chicken

The recipe makes 6 servings so you'll need to adjust your measurements accordingly.

2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.
Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don't crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

L.A. Burger

Bobby's Perfect Patty
Shape 6 ounces of 80 percent lean ground beef chuck into a uniform patty, no more than 3/4 inch thick (don't overwork the meat). Make a depression in the center with your thumb so the burger won't bulge; the indent will rise as the patty cooks. Preheat a grill or cast-iron grill pan to high. Brush the burger with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown and slightly charred, turning once (7 minutes for medium-rare). Avoid pressing with a spatula! Add cheese for the last minute of cooking.

Your pick: Monterey Jack is a California favorite, but Bobby loves this burger with cheddar, too.

Avocado Relish:
Avocado is one of Bobby's favorite ingredients. He mixes 2 chopped Hass avocados with 1/2 diced small onion, 1 minced jalapeno, the juice of 1 lime, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper.

L.A. doesn't do iceberg lettuce, so Bobby tops off the burger with this peppery green instead.

One thick, juicy slice take the place of ketchup.

Chili Cheese Dogs

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 all beef hot dogs, about 1/2 pound
4 hot dog rolls
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar

To make the chili: Heat a skillet over medium flame and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil gets hazy, add the onion and cook, stirring, until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, and cook until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, chili powder, and mustard; simmer for 15 minutes until thick; season with salt and pepper.

For the hot dogs: While the chili is cooking: place a large grill pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat or preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue and get it very hot. Brush the grates with oil to keep the hot dogs from sticking. Parboil the dogs first before grilling: bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the hot dogs for about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and grill the hot dogs just long enough to give them grill marks. Brush the insides of the rolls with the remaining oil and place them face down on the grill until toasty. To serve, top each hot dog with the chili and some Cheddar cheese.

Watermelon/Cantaloupe Fruit Salad
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice, from about 1 lemon
1/4 cup simple syrup, recipe follows
1/8 teaspoon amaretto
2 cups watermelon balls, from about half a watermelon
2 cups cantaloupe balls, from about 1 cantaloupe

In a blender, combine mint, lemon juice, simple syrup, and amaretto. Blend until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine the watermelon and the cantaloupe. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Take pan off heat and cool the syrup. Any extra cooled syrup can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Yield: 1 cup

Red, White and Blue Trifle

1 box red velvet cake mix, about 18 ounces (if you can't find red velvet cake use 1 box chocolate cake plus a bottle of red food coloring)
1 (16-ounce) tub whipped topping
2 pints blueberries
1 pint strawberries, tops removed

Bake the red velvet cake mix according to package directions and allow to cool.
Using a serrated knife cut the red velvet cake into 1 inch square pieces and line the bottom of the trifle bowl with half of the cake squares.
Using a spatula, spread about a 2-inch layer of whipped topping on top of the cake squares.
Layer about 1 1/2 pints of the blueberries on top of whipped topping.
Layer the remaining cake pieces on top of the blueberries forming a second layer of cake.
Using a spatula, spread remaining whipped topping over the cakes pieces.
Decorate the perimeter with the strawberries; placing the strawberries cut side down. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries on top of the trifle inside the strawberry perimeter.

Flag Cake

This recipe yields about 20-24 pieces, depending on how you slice the pieces.

18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To assemble:
2 half-pints blueberries
3 half-pints raspberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.
For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.
Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

Some people serve this cake right in the pan. If you want to turn it out onto a board before frosting, use parchment paper when you grease and flour the pan.