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As a kid, Independence Day was synonymous with a warm summer afternoon spent eating hot dogs and watermelon, acquiring a tank-top tan and grass-staining my favorite denim shorts. As an adult, I now see it as an opportunity to celebrate the essence of being American: our melting-pot culture.
Hot dogs are my own personal Fourth of July tradition, as well as a relatively easy and cost-effective way to appeal to the masses. They offer plenty of opportunity to get creative with toppings, and there’s almost no wrong way to go. This year, I’ve decided to bring a sweet, spicy and tangy twist to the picnic table. Pro-tip for your topping game: slice your hot dogs in half, lengthwise. This will allow you to fit more inside the bun.
6 hot dogs
6 hot dog buns
2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded purple and green cabbage and carrots
½ cup ranch dressing, divided in half
1 cup of ridged potato chips
Hot and sweet peppers
Chopped chives, for garnish
1) In a bowl, toss together the coleslaw mix and ¼ cup of the ranch dressing. Set aside.
2) Heat your grill to medium, and grill hot dogs until the outside is charred and crispy and interior is cooked through.
3) Warm the hot dog buns for 30-45 seconds on the grill; be careful not to burn them.
4) Split open the buns and fill with grilled hot dogs, top with potato chips and peppers, and divide the coleslaw between the six hot dogs. Garnish with chives and additional ranch dressing before serving.
Here in Southern California, we are spoiled by the quantity of delicious Mexican food available to us. Mexican street corn, or elote, is one of my favorite summertime treats. The best part about this side? There’s no slicing, dicing or mixing involved. Simply toss it on the grill and get back to enjoying an ice cold beer with your guests. Easy as pie.
6 ears corn, still in the husk
½ cup chili lime seasoning
Juice of one lime
Cotija cheese and lime wedges, for garnish
1) Fill a large bowl with water, and soak corn with the husks for 20-30 minutes prior to grilling.
2) Heat your grill to medium, and place soaked corn on grill for about 20 minutes, turning 4-5 times during cooking. The husks will burn and look charred. Do not be concerned; the inside will be perfect.
3) Once the corn is cooked, remove from grill and peel off husk and silk from the ears of corn.
4) Roll corn in lime juice and then the chili lime seasoning; sprinkle with Cotija cheese, and serve with extra lime wedges and an ice-cold beer!
Did I say pie? I meant crostata, which is basically a dressed-down pie. While you can make this with any fruit you prefer, I decided to capitalize on the amazing crop of peaches we’ve been enjoying this season. Pair this rustic Italian tart with some old-fashioned French Vanilla ice cream for a moment of à la mode excellence.
For the pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, diced
2-3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling
2 pounds firm, ripe peaches, peeled
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1 tablespoon turbinado or other course sugar
For the pastry:
1) In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse three times to combine.
2) Add the cold butter, and pulse no more than 10-15 times until the butter is the size of peas.
3) With the motor running, drizzle in the ice water.
4) Continue to pulse, just until the dough comes together. If it is still dry, add in the extra tablespoon of ice water.
5) Turn out dough onto a floured surface, and shape dough into a flat disk. Wrap disk tightly, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
For the filling:
1) Cut peaches into wedges and place in a bowl.
2) Toss with flour, sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice.
1) Preheat oven to 400ºF. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 12” round. Place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
2) Mound the filling in the center of the dough; be sure to leave a 2” border. Fold edges over and slightly overlap. Brush the dough with milk, and sprinkle with sugar.
3) Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling: 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Even better if served with vanilla ice cream!
However you choose to celebrate Independence Day, I wish you a happy and safe one.