Chow Town

Round-up of Fourth of July recipes from drinks to dessert

Serve baby-back ribs with barbeque sauce and creamy apple coleslaw.
Serve baby-back ribs with barbeque sauce and creamy apple coleslaw. JCCC

There’s nothing quite like watching fireworks with friends and family on the Fourth of July. The holiday is a time to relax and relish in the sweetness of summertime. And, of course, the food is a big part of what makes Independence Day so great. The smell of meat on the grill and apple pie in the oven are all part of the nostalgia and warm memories of the Fourth.

With the holiday weekend coming up, we’ve rounded-up some of our favorite recipes for Fourth of July. Our list covers everything from drinks to dessert because this holiday requires a feast!

Drinks

Sure, hotdogs and hamburgers get plenty of attention during the summer months, but there’s nothing quite like a cold drink by the water on a hot day. To celebrate this weekend, try out the Star’s original recipe for raspberry green tea, and, for the adults, this classic mint julep recipe is sure to be a hit.

RASPBERRY GREEN TEA COOLER

Makes 4 servings

2 raspberry green tea bags

1 cup light cranberry juice cocktail

2 cups 0 calorie raspberry sparkling water

Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Slice of lime, for garnish

Heat 1 cup water to a boil. Add tea bags and allow to steep 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour into a pitcher and add 1 additional cup of water. Add cranberry juice and raspberry sparkling water.

Serve with ice and if desired, float a few fresh raspberries in glass as a garnish. Serve with a wedge of lime if desired.

JULEP’S TRADITIONAL MINT JULEP

Makes 1 drink

3/4 ounce mint syrup (recipe follows)

Crushed ice, about 2 cups (see note)

2 ounces Buffalo Trace or other straight bourbon

1 large bunch fresh mint, for mint syrup and for garnish

Pour 1/2 ounce mint syrup in the bottom of a metal julep cup or 10- to 12-ounce glass. Fill with crushed ice, mounding it into a snow cone shape on top. Pour bourbon over ice, and then follow with the remaining 1/4 ounce mint syrup. Garnish with three or four mint springs (“The sexy parts on top,” Williams says). Place a straw next to the mint and serve.

For mint syrup: Combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 cup water in a saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, cool and then refrigerate. Once the syrup is chilled, add a handful of fresh mint. Macerate for about 30 minutes, or until mint leaves begin to wilt. Strain syrup into a clean jar, discarding mint, seal and refrigerate until use.

For crushed ice: Place large ice cubes in a Lewis bag (a canvas bag used by bartenders for this purpose, available at cocktailkingdom.com) or wrap in a clean kitchen towel and crush using a wooden mallet, heavy frying pan or similar object.

Main course

If you’re looking to step up your grilling game this weekend, try these recipes for a more sophisticated twist on Independence Day staples. This pot roast slider recipe from Joe Pearce of Squeal Like a Pig BBQ won the KC Masterpiece Slow Cooker Challenge this month, so you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking to perfect a classic, try this recipe for slow-cooked baby back ribs from Brenden Grinnell, a student at Johnson County Community College student. Yum!

PITMASTER POT ROAST SLIDERS

Makes 12-16 sliders

3- to 6-pound chuck roast

1-ounce package Au Jus powder

1-ounce package Hidden Valley Original Ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix

1 stick butter

16-ounce jar banana peppers, with liquid

21-ounce bottle KC Masterpiece Kansas City Classic sauce

Pretzel slider buns

Place the chuck roast in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add Au Jus powder, ranch seasoning, butter and banana peppers. Cover the pot and cook on the low setting for 6 to 8 hours.

Drain half of the liquid from the slow cooker. Use tongs to shred the meat. Add half the bottle of the barbecue sauce to the meat and stir to combine.

Spoon pulled pot roast onto slider buns and top with a few banana peppers. Serve with remaining sauce alongside, if desired.

GRILLED BABY-BACK RIBS WITH BARBECUE SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

2 racks (about 2 1/2 pounds) baby-back pork ribs

Dry Rub:

2 cups brown sugar

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper

Barbecue Sauce:

1 tablespoon hickory-flavored liquid smoke

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

1 cup ketchup

To prepare the ribs: Using a paring knife, remove the white membrane on the underside of the ribs. Once you can clearly see the blade between the layer of thin membrane and meat, pull up to take the layer off. It should all come off in one long layer.

To make the dry rub: In a medium-sized bowl, combine brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and mix them together until thoroughly combined. Apply the rub to the ribs on both sides, coating them completely. Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil wrap and store in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

To make the barbecue sauce: Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the foil-wrapped ribs on a sheet tray and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until tender.Thirty minutes to an hour before the ribs are done, start a fire in the grill and allow the coals to burn down to medium-high heat.

Remove ribs from the oven, unwrap foil and place them on the grill. Baste both sides with barbecue sauce and grill 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce has an almost honey-like consistency. Be careful not to overcook. You may need to move the ribs around so the sugar in the sauce does not burn. Remove ribs from grill and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving with Apple Coleslaw.

Sidedish

A meal wouldn’t be compelte without a great sidedish pairing. This recipe for apple coleslaw adds a unqiue flavor to a summer favorite, and this recipe from Merriam resident Carol Eubank for bacon and spinach-stuffed tomatoes is another delicious option.

APPLE COLESLAW

Makes 4 servings

4 Granny Smith apples

1 large carrot

2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon celery seed

Grated beet, for garnish

Use a mandoline to cut the apples into julienne strips. (If you don’t have a mandolin, use a knife.) Peel the carrot and use a box grater to shred the carrot. Rinse the shredded carrot in cold water until no more orange water is visible. In a mixing bowl, combine apples, carrots, mayonnaise, sugar, salt and celery seed together. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

VERA CRUZ TOMATOES OR BACON AND SPINACH-STUFFED TOMATOES

Makes 8 servings

6 strips bacon

1 small onion, finely diced

1 pound fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry

1 cup sour cream

1/8 teaspoon hot sauce, optional

8 medium tomatoes, washed

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large sauté pan, fry bacon until crisp over medium-high heat on stovetop. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease in pan and turn heat to medium.

Add onion to pan and sauté until soft tender. Place spinach in pan and cover tightly with lid. Allow spinach to steam for 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted and tender.

Remove pan from heat and stir in sour cream, crumbled bacon, and optional hot sauce. Set aside.

Cut tops from tomatoes and discard. Seed whole tomatoes, discarding tomato innards. Season each tomato “shell” with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Evenly divide spinach mixture between 8 hollowed-out tomatoes, stuffing each to the top with filling. Place filled tomatoes into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and cheese is melted. Outdoor option: Place tomatoes over an indirect flame on grill and warm until soft and cheese is melted.

Dessert

Of course, Fourth of July wouldn’t be complete without pie and popsicles. No two desserts would do the trick quite like this recipe for cherry pie from pastry chef Erin Brown and this recipe for honey dew melon pops.

TART CHERRY HAND PIES

Pate Brisee (flaky pie crust)

8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2.5 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup ice water

Cut butter into 1-inch cubes and freeze for about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, salt and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water (excluding ice pieces).

Work mixture with fingertips until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more water by teaspoons if dry. Dump the shaggy mixture onto a floured countertop and gather dough into ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least one hour. This will allow the dough to absorb moisture and the butter to chill.

Filling

12 ounces tart cherries, pitted (frozen work well)

2/3 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

11/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Juice of 1 or 2 lemons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Combine first ingredients in a small pot on the stove. Heat over medium heat 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with enough lemon juice to have pourable slurry. Add slurry to cherry pot and bring to a full boil while stirring. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract and almond extract if using. Cool.

Assembly

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a tiny pinch of fine sea salt

1/4 cup turbinado sugar (optional)

Here are my instructions for little 2-inch hand pies … because they are adorable and no one can turn them down. You can make this into a traditional 9-inch double crust pie. Just holler if you need help with how to make that happen.

Split your dough into 2 portions. On a well-floured surface, roll one of the disks out to a 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut little circles out of the rolled crust. Place the circles on a plate in the refrigerator while you roll out the hand pie tops. (You can reroll the scraps of pie crust if you’d like. The more you work the crust the tougher it will become.)

Place about one heaping teaspoon to one heaping tablespoon of cherry filling in the center of each circle. (I try to use as much filling as possible.)

Lightly stretch the remaining circles with your fingers. Dip your fingers or a pastry brush in water and lightly line the outside edge of the bottom crust. Place the slightly stretched top crusts over the cherry filling. Press the edges together with your fingers. Don’t worry about the little bit of cherry juice that leaks out. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a small X in the top crust for a steam vent. You could skip the X and in use a tiny star or heart-shaped cookie cutter to punch out of the center of the top crust when cutting the little circles in the first step.

Lightly brush the tops of each pie with egg wash. If using, sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar. Place pies into the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 9-12 minutes, or until light golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool.

HONEYDEW MELON POPS

4 cups diced (6 1/2 -inch cubes) ripe honeydew melon

1/3 cup plain yogurt

Juice of 3 limes

Grated zest of 1 lime

3 teaspoons honey

Combine 2 cups of melon, the yogurt and lime juice and zest in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Add the honey; process again to combine. Stir in the remaining 2 cups melon.

Fill the pop molds with the mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours.

Remove from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds.

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