4th of July Recipe Roundup
With the fourth of July right around the corner, it’s time to clean the grill and get ready to barbecue. Whether you are using charcoal or gas, Independence Day just wouldn’t be the same without the smell and the sizzle of a big steak wafting through the backyard.
For my taste buds, however, nothing beats the old-fashioned, three-legged charcoal grill, whose heat has been reduced nearly to embers and tinged with hickory chips I’ve soaked to add that delicious smoky flavor that enhances grilled food so well. Unfortunately, in Switzerland, unless you have a personal source of wood chips, you’ll have to use regular charbon de bois, or wood charcoal, which is usually a mixture of several different woods.
To get juicy, flavorful steaks, try slathering each side with mustard, Worcestershire sauce and soy, then let the meat sit while the charcoal reduces itself for slow cooking.
When grilling ribs (the pork variety), soak your wood chips in apple juice for about 30 minutes, then wrap them in foil, perforate it, and lay it on the coals. This gives a slightly sweet taste to the ribs which complements the saltiness of the pork.
Traditional or healthy accompaniments?
While the kids line up for hot dogs (in the Lake Geneva region, local pork butchers or charcuteries often make their own homemade frankfurters) and hamburgers (get the butcher to grind it for you fresh on the morning of the 4th), think about what you want to serve with your grilled delicacies.
Traditionally, there was potato salad, great lumps or cubes of potatoes swamped in mayonnaise, with perhaps a scallion or two to give it some punch. However, not being a fan of such cholesterol- and fat-filled fare, I have always opted for the healthier green salad, loaded with a variety of lettuces and pea shoots I can get by hitting the farmers’ market early enough. In Switzerland, there is an endless choice of greens, herbs and shoots at this time of year in any farmers’ market you go to.
A platter of just-cut, ripe red tomatoes (local if you can find them), sprinkled with salt and drizzled with high quality olive oil and a local full bodied red wine round out the meal. Until dessert.
Dessert: a healthier version than in the old days
I have to say while the all-American barbecue meal totally sates me, I never pass up dessert, and this is one time of the year it’s really fun to use color in making dessert. There are a number of red, white and blue desserts I’ve come up with in the past, but everyone’s favorite seems to be what I call the “flag cake.”
This is a flat rectangular sheet cake that I cover either in white icing or whipped cream. On top, I create horizontal rows of raspberries for the red stripes of the flag and in the left corner, I intersperse blueberries so that the icing can shine through as “stars.”
For a lighter, but equally festive dessert, I layer yogurt with berries in parfait glasses, alternating the raspberries (you can also use strawberries or currants) with the blueberries in between the layers of yogurt. The kids seem to prefer vanilla yogurt, but for the adults I use plain, sweetened with a bit of honey.
Let the fireworks begin!
Christina Daub studied at L’Ecole du Cordon Bleu in Paris. She now lives in Washington, D.C. She is a poet, and teaches poetry at George Washington University and other writing workshops around the country.
Photos compliments of GenevaLunch.