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Jul 12, 201310:12 AMFood & Dining

Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought

Big Interesting Food, S1., E.2

Jul 12, 2013 - 10:12 AM
Big Interesting Food, S1., E.2

In the realm of amateur home-based culinary excursions, it's important to keep in mind that America tastes like freedom and designated drivers are not needed when drinking at home.  (Warning: Adult supervision and responsible decision-making is always wise when wielding knives, operating ovens/stovetops and not leaving a giant mess of dishes for the following day.)

In celebration of the Fourth of July as well as the long, lazy days of summer ahead, it's only right that this installment of Big Interesting Food be dedicated to the cuisine of the season.  And what says summer and/or Independence Day more than freedom dogs featuring mustard calligraphy, U.S.-geography-shaped steak, flaming summer salad, American fajitas, patriotic Jello shots and some refreshing white sangria?

Freedom Dogs and Mustard

It's your basic hot dog (beef, kosher or otherwise) on a bun with yellow mustard.  So, what transforms a nothing-special hot dog into a freedom dog, you ask?  Why a patriotic word hand-drawn in mustard and an American flag toothpick of course.  The two secrets to creating a good-looking freedom dog are a steady pen hand and a narrow mustard nozzle.

1 pack of hot dogs (beef, kosher or otherwise)

1 pack of hot dog buns

1 container of yellow mustard with a thin-tipped condiment distributing nozzle

1 small pack of American flag toothpicks

Patriotic Jello Shots

Next to toast or microwavable meals, making Jello is perhaps one of the easiest culinary tasks.  You boil water, pop open the package of Jello powder, mix it together, add some cold water, pour the concoction into a pan or mold and then throw it in the refrigerator to set.  To make regular old Jello into shots, just replace half the amount of called-for cold water with rum or vodka.  To make Jello shots patriotic, buy red and blue flavors – good luck finding white Jello, though – and cut out with a star-shaped cookie cutter.  Adding a dollop of whipped cream and a blueberry add to the overwhelming patriotism.

1 pack of blue Jello

1 pack of red Jello

2 cups boiling water

1 cup cold water

1 cup rum or vodka

Dollop of whipped cream

Blueberries

The United Steaks of America

Most any nicely marbled cut of beef will work as long as it has a basic rectangle shape.  Porterhouse or T-bone cuts are more difficult to carve because of the bones.  I recommend a Delmonico cut.  Flatten the raw steak a bit to create a larger carving surface; then stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to help it keep it's form while cutting.  Then, get yourself a sharp knife, use a picture of U.S. for reference and slice away until the geographical likeness of the lower 48 takes shape.  Here, Alaska and Hawaii were formed from the leftover scraps.

1 basically rectangle cut of beef (Delmonico recommended)

1 sharp knife

1 geographical representation of the United States

A pinch of salt and pepper

American Fajitas

Taking the United "Steaks" of America one step further, each state's likeness was sliced in strikingly accurate detail to be used in the fajitas.  (There is no photo to show this amazingly realistic display of meat-carving artistry, but take my word for it, it looked fantastic.)  Chicken breast was also sliced up in the shape of strips.  The rest of the recipe is fairly simple: sauté steak and chicken in separate pans and toss with fajita seasoning; sauté onions and green peppers; and serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and a squeeze of lime.

2 steaks sliced (each state must be carved in striking detail – it's what makes regular old fajitas into American fajitas)

2 chicken breasts sliced

1 onion sliced

1 green pepper sliced

1 package of fajita seasoning

1 package of tortilla shells

1 package of shredded cheddar cheese or preferred blend

1 small container of sour cream

1 lime quartered

Summertime White Sangria

It's white wine and fresh fruit on ice – it doesn't get more summer than that.

1 orange sliced

1 lime sliced

2 plums pitted and sliced

1 peach pitted and sliced

1 cup of blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1 750 ml. bottle of crisp, fruity white wine

2 ounces Triple Sec

1/2 liter of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda

serve in white wine glass

Flaming Summer Salad

Summer salads are the perfect hot-weather meal.  But, let's face it, they can be boring.  So how do you make a salad more exciting?  By lighting the dressing on fire, of course.  This recipe is simple: toss together watermelon cubes, feta cheese, walnuts and – in a twist of irony – spring mix.  In a well-ventilated area with a fire extinguisher within reach, bring balsamic dressing to a boil in a pan.  Add a glug or two of brandy, and ignite with a long match stick or candle light to avoid burning your hand.  In tribute to the Fourth of July, a sparkler was used to set fire to the dressing.  Warning: flambé cooking is dangerous, please use caution.

1/2 cup of feta cheese

1/2 cup of toasted walnuts

1 cups of watermelon cubes

1 bag of spring mix salad

1 to 2 ounces of brandy

balsamic dressing

 

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