I had the unique opportunity to spend the 4th of July in the Czech Republic. Though we were thousands of miles and an ocean away, we celebrated with a BBQ, fireworks for the small village of Postovice and the most beautiful church service set in a church built in 1330s. We brought with us tons of red, white and blue decorations, glow sticks and party blowers. A group of four of the sweetest little old ladies came to the party. When Mike gave them glow necklaces and bracelets they we enthralled, giggling, as they had never seen glow sticks before. The day was magical…
Now I am back home and still full of excitement from the time we spent with our Czech family. So, to continue the celebration, I wanted to make a special Independence Day inspired meal. However, I thought I would make something a little more fancy than hotdogs and hamburgers. Though nothing beats a Fourth of July barbecue! I challenged myself to make a dinner using three star ingredients, one red, one white and one blue. Complete with ice cold bottles of Coke we had quite the meal!
Red Garden Fresh Tomatoes
Potatoes, White Cheddar & Garlic
In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to get a hold of some really great fresh ingredients. Our garden is doing well, producing loads of tomatoes and the boys and I went blueberry picking.
Red Garden Tomato Braised Chicken
6-8 pieces of Chicken, legs and thighs
1 small onion
3 cloves roasted garlic (see instructions below)
Fresh herbs, 4 sprigs of oregano or rosemary
4 cups diced tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup white wine
Heat 2 tbs. EVOO and 1 tbs. butter on high. Season chicken with salt & pepper and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Turn chicken when skin easily releases from pan. Remove chicken from pan and remove any excess grease. Saute onions until golden brown. Deglaze the pan with diced tomatoes and white wine. Simmer tomatoes for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add chicken, herb and cherry tomatoes back into pan. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve over warm mashed potatoes.
White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4-6 white potatoes, peeled and diced
1-2 cloves of roasted garlic
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tbs. butter
salt & pepper
Place potatoes into and a large pot of water, bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender when poked with a fork. Drain water from potatoes and return back to warm. Add to the potatoes the milk, sour cream, butter, cheeses, garlic and mash. I like my potatoes a bit lumpy. If you like yours very smooth, Pour ingredients into a stand mixer and mix for five minutes. Add extra milk to desired consistency. You do not want to overwork potatoes or they will lose their yummy fluffiness.
Roasting garlic is simple and packs huge flavor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I usually roast 2-3 heads of garlic at a time. Cut the top 1/4 of of the head of garlic, exposing all those lovely cloves. Set the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil and bake for 35 minutes. The smell is out of this world! I use roasted garlic in dressings, soups and on crusty bread. It will store great in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Blueberry Bread Pudding
1 large loaf of bread, I used challah
5 cups of milk, or half and half
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbs. honey
1 tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish and add torn bread into pan. Pour blueberries over dry bread pieces. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, zest, honey, sugar and cinnamon. Pour egg mixture over dry bread and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes until golden brown, berries are bubbling and custard has set.
3 egg yolks
4 tbs. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream or milk
Whisk together eggs and sugar, until pale yellow. Heat milk in a small saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Remove pan from heat. Whisking very quickly, slowly add about 2 tbs. hot milk to the egg mixture in order to temper eggs. This warms the egg which will keep them from scrambling when back into the milk. Next, whisk the egg mixture back into the milk until combined and smooth. Heat mixture on low until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, yet still thin enough to pour. Pour this dreamy custard over your warm bread pudding.
So today, cook up a special red white and blue dinner for your family and tomorrow sit back and eat a big summer burger.