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Archive for July 4th/Independence Day

PRODUCT: Watermelon “Keg” Tap With Watermelon Agua Fresca

A melon tap turns any large, seedless watermelon into an punch bowl, ideal for filling with watermelon-based beverages. Simply hollow out the melon, insert the tap and fill it with your beverage of choice. In addition to a refreshing drink, you give guests the fun of dispensing their drinks from a watermelon. (In the fall, you can do the same with a pumpkin.)

For starters, fill your watermelon “punch bowl” with watermelon agua fresca. It’s a memorable finale to the summer.

Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water.” In culinary terms, it refers to sweetened, fruit-flavored water. Like lemonade, it is noncarbonated and nonalcoholic.

But you can keep a bottle of spirits next to the melon dispenser for guests who’d like a shot or two. May we suggest watermelon vodka? You can find watermelon-flavored vodka from Smirnoff, Three Olives, Pinnacle (Cucumber Watermelon), UV (Salty Watermelon) and others.

The tap in the photo is the PROfreshionals Melon Tap, $9.99. It includes “feet” that insert into the bottom of the melon to keep it stable. Another variation, from Final Touch, is designed to look like a beer tap handle. It’s $19.99.

 

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Turn a watermelon into a punch bowl. Photo of PROfessionals Melon Tap courtesy GoodCook.com.

 
This agua fresca recipe was created by Cheeky Kitchen for Good Cook. Of course, you can also serve the drink from a standard pitcher.

RECIPE: WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA

Ingredients For 8-12 Drinks

  • 6 pounds seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave or honey
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Optional: gin, tequila, vodka
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE and discard a 2” piece from the top of a large, seedless watermelon. Carve out the red melon flesh from the inside of the watermelon and cut into large cubes (they can be as free-form as you like, as they’ll soon be puréed). Place in a large bowl and set aside.

    2. PREPARE the melon for serving by ensuring it can stand upright. Slice a small portion from the bottom of the melon to make it more stable. Place the tap about 3 inches from the bottom of the melon and push it through the rind to the inside. Set aside.

    3. PURÉE the watermelon flesh and all other ingredients in a blender in small batches, as needed. Pour the beverage into the prepared watermelon. Press the melon tap to dispense the drink into large glasses filled with ice.
     
    MORE AGUA FRESCA RECIPES

  • Agua Fresca recipes: horchata (creamy almond), lychee, mango and pineapple
  • Apple-Cucumber-Lime Agua Fresca Recipe
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    TIP OF THE DAY: The History Of Independence Day (& What They Ate)

    THE HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY

    A federal holiday, Independence Day—also known as July 4th or the Fourth of July—commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, which met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia.

    The legal separation of the Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, the day that the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution declaring the United States independent from Great Britain’s rule.

    Congress declared that the 13 American colonies were now a new sovereign nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.

    The Declaration of Independence, a statement comprising 1137 words, authored largely by Thomas Jefferson, was officially adopted by Congress on July 4th after two days of debate and revision.

       

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    Happy Independence Day. God Bless America! Photo courtesy ESquared Hospitality.

     
    Nearly a month would go by, however, before the signing of the document took place.

  • On July 4th, only 12 of the 13 colonies voted to approve the Declaration. New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9th, because their state assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence.
  • It took two weeks for the Declaration to be engrossed on parchment. Engrossing is the process of preparing an official document in a large, clear hand. Timothy Matlack, a Pennsylvanian who had assisted the Secretary of the Congress, Charles Thomson, was probably the engrosser.
  • Most of the delegates signed on August 2nd, but several signed on a later date. Two others never signed at all! (Source)
  • Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed on July 4th!
  • If you were a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1776, you were a rebel and considered a traitor by the King of England. You knew that a reward had been posted for the capture of certain prominent rebel leaders, and that signing your name to the Declaration meant that you pledged your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of freedom.
  •  
    The Revolutionary War was a long, hard, and difficult struggle that began on April 19, 1775 with the battles of Lexington and Concord. It ended officially on September 3, 1783, when a peace treaty with Great Britain was signed. If you’ve forgotten your high school history, here’s a recap.

    From the outset, Americans celebrated their independence on July 4th, preferring to honor the approval of the Declaration of Independence over the July 2nd vote for independence.

     

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    Baked ham was a colonial mainstay. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    WHAT DID THE DELEGATES EAT?

    Since THE NIBBLE focuses on food, we investigated what the delegates might have eaten.

    Working long hours, the delegates would have stepped out for nourishment at coffee houses, taverns and publick houses. These destinations were not known for their cuisine, but were venues for exchanging ideas, sharing news and conducting business (the restaurant business as we now know it developed later).

    People who could afford to eat meals in these establishments were generally of the wealthier classes. The food was often served buffet-style, on a sideboard. As was common into the 20th century, the food came free with the drinks. (Source)

    At the time, colonial Philadephia was a melting pot of English, French and West Indian cuisine influences.

  • Meals often featured baked ham with warm potato salad, meat pies (chicken or pork), oysters, stew and soup, including the traditional Philadelphia PepperPot Soup.
  • Also popular: terrapin (turtle) and tripe (animal stomach, typically from cows or pigs).
  • The bread included corn muffins, white and whole wheat rolls—buttered, of course.
  • Dessert could be fruit pies, sugar cookies, gingerbread, Sally Lunn (a pound cake) or ice cream. The confectionery in Philadelphia, including ice cream, was considered the best in America.
  • Beverages included beer, hard cider, rum, and other alcoholic beverages; alcohol was considered healthful. City water supplies were dangerously polluted; only rural folk drank water from clean sources, and bottled it to sell in the city. In 1790, government figures showed that annual per-capita alcohol consumption for Americans over age 15 included 34 gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits and one gallon of wine. (Source)
  •  
    Would you give up the modern July 4th standards for a colonial-era meal? If yes, start planning for next year!

      

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    JULY 4th: Red, White & Blue Ice Pops

    Popsicle and other brands make red, white and blue ice pops. But we’re not in grade school, and we want something more flavorful (and natural!) on a hot summer day.

    So we trotted out our ice pop molds to make our own red, white and blue “firecracker” pops. The recipe is courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted it from Everyday Food.

    The layers are made from strawberries (red), sweetened plain yogurt (white) and blueberries (blue). Very little sugar is added. Instead, a bit of lime juice heightens the flavors.

    Prep time is 2 hours. You can make them up to a week in advance.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE “FIRECRACKER” ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 6 Three-Ounce Pops
     
    For The Red Layer

  • 2 cups halved, hulled strawberries (or whole raspberries)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  
    For The White Layer

  • ¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt
  • 4½ tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
     
    For The Blue Layer
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons freah lime juice
  •    

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    Delicious homemade red, white and blue ice pops. Photo courtesy BrownEyedBaker.com.

     

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    Fresh fruit purée makes the best ice pops. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the red layer: In a blender, combine the strawberries, sugar and lime juice. Purée, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing the juice from the solids; then discard the solids. Fill the ice-pop molds 1/3 of the way. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. You may have some purée leftover—use it as a topping the next time you have a container of yogurt.

    2. MAKE the white layer: Whisk together the yogurt, cream, sugar and lime juice in a small bowl. Remove the molds from the freezer and top with the yogurt mixture, filling each another 1/3 of the way. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

    3. MAKE the blue layer: In a clean blender, purée the blueberries, sugar and lime juice, scraping down sides as needed. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing the juice from the solids; then discard the solids.

     
    4. REMOVE the molds from the freezer and insert the ice pop sticks through the white layer. Top with the blueberry purée (again, you may have some leftover), leaving ¼-inch of free space at the top of the molds. Freeze until solid, 3 hours or more. Just before serving, briefly run the molds under hot water to release the pops.

      

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    JULY 4th: The Easiest Dessert Recipe

    Here’s the easiest July 4th dessert recipe: vanilla ice cream with blueberries and raspberries.

    Sure, you can find vanilla ice cream with blueberry and raspberry swirls and just scoop them into dishes. But with a recipe, the cook combines ingredients.

    To make the easiest red, white and blue dessert, you need:

  • Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    You can substitute blackberries or strawberries, but blueberries and raspberries are a better size. If your market is sold out of fresh berries, head to the frozen foods case.

       

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    The easiest red, white and blue dessert recipe. Photo courtesy Talenti Gelato.

     

    If you don’t want to scoop and serve individual dishes, place the ice cream in a serving bowl.

  • Scooping takes time, so just peel away the carton and plop the entire square or round contents into the bowl.
  • You can slice the bulk ice cream into halves or thirds to better fill out the bowl, and use whipped cream to fill empty spaces if you don’t like them.
  • Top with the berries and whipped cream, and let guests help themselves.
  •  
    That’s it!

     

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    Another easy red, white & blue dessert. Photo courtesy Amanda Rettke.

     

    RECIPE: EASY VERY BERRY TRIFLE

    When you want to impress friends and family with a dessert that takes just minutes of prep, this is the one to prepare.

    Fresh berries are layered with mounds of whipped cream and angel food cake for a dessert that is be prepared ahead of time. It was created by Amanda Rettke from IAMBaker.net for McCormick, who used McCormick extracts in the recipe.

    The whipped cream—a special concoction of heavy cream, sour cream and orange extract—is a star. Once you taste it, you’ll want to use it on everything!

    Prep time is 25 minutes.

    Ingredients For 12 servings

  • 2 cups halved or sliced strawberries
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, divided
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 cups angel food cake cubes
  • Preparation

    1. TOSS the berries, 1/4 cup of the sugar and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla in large bowl. Set aside.

    2. BEAT the cream, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and orange extract in large bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently stir in the sour cream.

    3. LAYER 2 cups angel food cake cubes, and 1/2 each of the berry mixture and whipped cream mixture in 2-quart glass serving bowl. Repeat the layers.

    4. COVER and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Garnish with additional berries, if desired.

      

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    JULY 4th FOOD: Red, White & Blue Berry Trifle

    If you’re asked to bring something to a July 4th shindig, here’s a recipe that couldn’t be easier, no cooking required!

    In fact, the recipe is so easy that a tween or teen (or adult who “doesn’t cook”) can make it. It’s built in a springform pan instead of a traditional glass bowl.

    The recipe is courtesy Taste Of Home and Kaia McShane of Munster, Indiana, who advises, “This luscious trifle tastes best if made the day before serving. Keep additional blueberries and raspberries on hand for decoration.”

    If you’re going to make and serve it immediately, we prefer homemade whipped cream to the frozen topping.

    Total prep time is 20 minutes plus chilling.

       

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    So easy to make! Photo courtesy TasteOfHome.com.

     

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY TRIFLE

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant lemon pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen pound cake, thawed and cubed
  • 1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed—or preferable—homemade whipped cream
  • Additional blueberries and raspberries, optional
  •  

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    Homemade whipped cream is so superior to aerosols and frozen toppings. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together in a large bowl the condensed milk, 2% milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. Fold in the sour cream.

    2. TOSS the blueberries and raspberries with lemon juice in another bowl.

    3. LAYER half of the cake cubes, half of the berry mixture and half of the pudding mixture in a greased 9-in. springform pan. Repeat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours before serving.

    4. SERVE: Remove rim from the springform pan. Serve with whipped topping and, if desired, additional berries.

    Find many more recipes at TasteOfHome.com.

     

      

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