Fourth of July

blueberrypieA friend of mine from NYC called the other day to ask which pie bakery I preferred. He had guests from Norway stopping by that afternoon for coffee and wanted to offer them a slice of “American pie”.

When he told me a whole pie from a bakeshop would cost anywhere from $35-$65, I suggested he take a quick lesson in pie making and bake one himself. He had 3 hours before they arrived and I was convinced I could help him get a pie, prepped, baked, and on a cooling rack before they rang his buzzer.

I quickly emailed this recipe for Best Ever Blueberry pie and he raced to his local grocery store to pick up everything we needed, (including a pie plate). With the help of Skype, I coached him through the basic steps (he saved time with a ready-made pie crust) and the pie was in the oven in no time.

There's nothing better than the smell of a freshly baked pie and this one is certain to please any guest.

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flagtrifleThe Fourth of July—or Independence Day as it is more officially known—has always been a celebratory day in my family. It's partly because my birthday is on the 2nd and the local Barnum Parade always takes place around that date. As a kid I remember getting up early and excitedly readying myself for the party and parade. My cousins would come over and we would spread a blanket on the sidewalk to watch the parade. My mother would stay home to prepare fried chicken and potato salad. My dad would grill hamburgers and hot dogs once we got back. And of course the celebration always ended with a great big birthday cake.



For me any celebration, party, or simple gathering cannot end properly without dessert. Dessert may come last in the succession of a meal, but it should never be considered the least important. Even after filling our bellies to the brim with wonderful food, there's always room for dessert. A sweet concoction like cake or ice cream is the ideal ending to an old-fashioned backyard barbecue. You don't want something heavy, but also not something too light. Still it should be rich yet refreshing.

I always take the opportunity to make a special dessert for a special occasion, such as this flag cake.



This recipe is a twist on trifle, the classic British no-bake dessert, but assembled like an Italian tiramisu. What could be funnier on a day that celebrates independence from Britain? I can't help but think about all the different cakes I ate every single birthday. This one is probably the most festive.

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Why doesn’t somebody make a hamburger bun that also fits a hot dog?  It would be hinged.  That way, if you had a small family, you would only have to buy one package of buns.  Here’s what it would look like...

bun.jpg

From the DallasNews.com 

0617sangria.jpg Traditional sangrias are luscious, bold blends of fruits, wine and spirits, often served in pitchers or punch bowls. But this wonderfully refreshing summer drink from Spain and Portugal leaves plenty of room for improvisation.

Beverage consultant Kim Haasarud offers dozens of riffs on sangria in her recent "101 Sangrias and Pitcher Drinks," including a New Zealand Kiwi Sangria, which combines sauvignon blanc, melon liqueur, kiwis and pineapple.

In her book, Haasarud also offers tips for speeding up sangria, which tastes best when allowed to infuse at least several hours. If you're short on time, she suggests lightly mashing some of the fruit, which releases the juices.

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salmonpeas.jpg The “old timers” in Maine always eat salmon and peas for their fourth of July family feast. This tradition was started a long time ago when salmon still came “up river to spawn” and people still rushed in the Spring to plant their peas so they would have the first peas of the year, hopefully by the 4th, if the weather was good.  (I still have customers that plant their peas in the fall so they sprout when they are ready come Spring.)

The old tradition is to bake a center cut chunk of salmon at 350 degrees till it is less than moist, (so all the relatives like it) than nap it with a white sauce, better known as a béchamel sauce to which you add in chopped hard cooked eggs.  And peas, lot of peas cooked with butter, salt, pepper and a little water. The rule of thumb was to cook them till when you blew on a spoonful they wrinkled.

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