Saturday, June 30, 2007

Red, White & Blue

Ever since I had kids, and even before, I've enjoyed making special meals for holidays. July 4 lends itself especially well to a festive meal, forcing a little creativity. Fortunately, in-season produce is appropriately colorful, as well as nutritious.

This year, we're celebrating twice, since Memphis's big fireworks display happened June 30 (much to the confusion of my children). We'll host another family on the Fourth. They're new to Memphis, transplanted from New York, and the husband was a professional chef until they moved here, with 20 years' restaurant experience.

I had only intended to make one Red, White & Blue meal, but the kids balked. To them, watching fireworks, no matter what the date, means eating that special meal. And, for little advance planning, it turned out pretty well.

Before we left for the park to watch the largest fireworks display in Mid-South history, we dined on:

Blue corn chips and salsa
Red-skin potato salad
Cole slaw (not quite white, but close enough)
Strawberries, bing cherries, blueberries, and blackberries

And, as we watched the fireworks, we enjoyed these very colorful, and ostensibly healthy(ish) chips.

Tomorrow I need to step up my game a little (remember? one of our dinner guests is a chef!) and because I'm a born Southerner, I feel the need to make barbecue pork. I have a tenderloin thawing right now, which I'll cook tomorrow morning in the crock pot for pulled pork sandwiches. For the vegetarians among us, I'm making grilled eggplant and tomato sandwiches(probably just tomato for the kids). I'll also make red, white, and blue cole slaw.

We'll keep the blue chips and salsa, and we'll get more of the Terra chips. We've also got a watermelon, and more blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and strawberries. I always enjoy making trifles, and a blueberry and strawberry trifle would be perfect with angel food cake (plus, all three colors in one dish!).

So, recipes?

Slow-Cooked Pork Tenderloin for sandwiches

Put a pork tenderloin into the crock-pot. You might need to cut it into two pieces, depending on the size and shape of your crockpot.

Add the following:
  • Half a beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon is my favorite)
  • Cumin (about a tablespoon, adjust to your taste)
  • Chili Powder (same as above)
  • Cinnamon (less than above, about a teaspoon)
  • A little apple cider or red wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • A little bit of cocoa powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • A pureed tomato

Cook on low until it falls apart when poked with a fork. Serve on buns or rolls.

Red, White & Blue Cole Slaw

Buy the bagged slaw already cut up, or cut up a white cabbage. Dress with cole slaw dressing (I'm far too lazy to make my own, though I often mix the slaw dressing with ranch, since kids love ranch dressing). Mix as normal. (Note: you can just purchase pre-made cole slaw, too, but I don't like how soggy it can be.)

Place the slaw in a rectangular dish and smooth the top with a spatula to make it flat.

Halve some cherry or grape tomatoes.

Arrange bleu cheese and the tomatoes into a flag design, with the bleu cheese being the blue section of the flag and the tomatoes being the stripes.

Bacon, of course, would be a lovely addition to this dish, but the vegetarians in my house don't allow that.

New Potatoes with Horseradish

Boil a bunch of redskinned new potatoes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
Mix plain yogurt (or sour cream, if you're feeling decadent) with fresh horseradish and a little mayonnaise. Toss the potatoes in it. A little fresh rosemary makes it fancy. This one is good served warm, room temperature, or cold.

Red, White & Blue Trifle

  • Make and cool, or purchase an angel food cake. Rip it up into bite-sized chunks.
  • In a glass bowl (the fancier the better!), layer 1/3 of the cake chunks. Cover the layer with whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups). You can make your own whipped cream and flavor it with vanilla or a little liquor (cream sherry, Tia Maria, etc.). If you're trying to be virtuous, you can also use lowfat vanilla yogurt. Or cool-whip. Then a layer of strawberry slices and blueberries. Blackberries and raspberries are also great.
  • Repeat each layer.
  • Repeat again.
  • Chill and serve.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


In addition to my regular blog, I wanted a space to share some of the foodie things I love. In this blog, I'll share recipes that worked (and some that didn't) as well as restaurant experiences, food sourcing, and more.

Last year, around this time, I got obsessed with the Caprese salad. I would spend hours thinking of variations on that theme. Since the tomatoes in my vegetable garden are this close to ripe, I'll post some of my meditations on the Caprese.

"Typical" Caprese Salad
Fresh tomato slices
Bite-size chunks of fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Arrange on a plate, enjoy.

See? It's the perfect opportunity for variation. Deconstructed? Foamed? The postmodern possibilities are almost endless.

1. Caprese with a Southern accent
Fried green tomatoes with mozzarella melted on top, served on a plate swirled with olive oil and dusted in basil

2. Liquid Caprese
Pureed tomatoes with basil and a dash of olive oil, with mozzarella on the side

3. Deconstructed Caprese
One tomato, a sprig of basil, a little cup of olive oil, and a hunk of mozzarella

And there are so many other taste variations for this salad. When I had a last-minute dish to make and had no fresh basil, I substituted fresh sage. And used sage-infused olive oil. Delicious.

Or chevre instead of mozzarella.

Or dice the tomatoes and cheese, toss in olive oil and minced basil, and serve as bruschetta.

You see where I'm going.

So what are you going to make?