A feast for the fourth: Readers offer up their recipes for a tasty celebration
By: Michael Hastings/Winston-Salem Journal

In asking readers for favorite Fourth of July recipes, I received a nice mix of traditional and alternative choices.

Lee Morgan sent in several recipes. If you’re looking for a different, starchy side dish, try her sweet corn and basmati rice salad, which is tossed with pecans and a Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

“This corn and rice salad is just different from anything else, and the flavors and textures work very well together,” Morgan said.

“You get a nice crunch from both the corn and the nuts, but a different crunch from each, which is fun,” she said. “I sometimes can’t find watercress, so I just leave it out, and it’s fine without it, although it does bring a nice flavor to the dish.”

Arugula or baby spinach would make a good substitute for the watercress.

Speaking of spinach, Laura Buxenbaum, a registered dietitian with the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, sent in a healthy “red, white and bleu” spinach salad, using off-white chickpeas that are toasted for optimal texture and flavor, along with Red Delicious apples and bleu cheese. And , like Morgan, she likes the salad with a mustardy dressing.

“Perhaps only a registered dietitian would think of spinach salad for a 4th of July meal, but I promise that guests will ask for seconds,” Buxenbaum said.

This salad is a “powerhouse of nutrition,” she said, and a good source of fiber and protein.

“Spinach is a super food : low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. It can help promote cardiovascular health, defend against cancer and improve brain function,” Buxenbaum said. The roasted chickpeas, which contain fiber and protein, “offer a unique substitute to the crunch of croutons, with less fat and more nutrition,” she said.

Finally, Jean Bailey of Advance sent in a traditional recipe for baked beans. And as much as I love making baked beans from scratch, on a busy day when I am cooking a big feast, it’s nice to be able to take a shortcut.

Bailey’s easy dish doctors canned pork and beans. Aside from cooking the bacon, the dish can be assembled in minutes.

“I do ribs a lot, and every time I do ribs, my family wants these baked beans,” she said.

Morgan just happened to submit a recipe for bourbon-flavored spareribs from the book “Smoke & Spice” by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. This book won a James Beard award after its release in 1995, and if you make these ribs, you’ll see why.

Morgan likes to smoke the ribs, but said they can be cooked over indirect heat on a regular grill. Heck, they will even taste good cooked slowly in the oven.

“I’ve made it with both the barbecue sauce in the recipe and bottled barbecue sauce,” Morgan said. “As with most smoked recipes, it’s a great excuse to sit out on the deck with a good book and a tasty beverage for a good portion of the day while still doing something productive.”

For dessert, Robin Blakley sent in an easy recipe for blueberry tarts.

This keeps the preparation simple by using store-bought puff pastry. And because Blakley makes goat cheese at Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery in Germanton, she uses a base of sweetened goat cheese, though cream cheese could be substituted in a pinch.

Blakley said that the recipe comes from Marsha Torres, the pastry chef at Rhett’s Restaurant in Southern Pines.

“Of course, I like it because it uses goat cheese,” she said, “and during the July 4th holidays, we always have an abundance of fresh blueberries.”
Sweet Corn and Basmati Rice Salad

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large ears yellow corn, husked
1 cup chopped green onions
2¼ cups water
1½ cups basmati rice (or long-grain white rice)
½ teaspoon salt , plus more to taste
1¼ cups coarsely chopped, toasted pecans
3 bunches watercress (about 12 ounces total), stems discarded
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Whisk red wine vinegar and mustard in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in ½ cup oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Using large sharp knife, cut corn kernels from cobs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add green onions; sauté 30 seconds. Add corn; sauté until corn is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Vinaigrette and corn mixture can be prepared one day ahead. Cover separately, chill. Rewarm corn mixture over medium heat and rewhisk vinaigrette before using.)
Bring 2¼ cups of water to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Rinse rice in strainer. Add rice and ½ teaspoon salt to boiling water. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender (do not stir), about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Mix rice, corn mixture and pecans in large bowl. Mix in vinaigrette and watercress. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe submitted by Lee Morgan.

Baked Beans

2 cans (about 1 pound each) pork and beans
12 slices bacon, cooked until almost crisp
½ onion, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish and bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes.

Recipe submitted by Jean Bailey of Advance.

Red, White & Bleu Spinach Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained well
¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 10-ounce package fresh baby spinach, thoroughly washed
1 Red Delicious apple, thinly sliced
1 cup freshly slice white button mushrooms
3 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Toss chickpeas with 2 teaspoons of the oil; spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and toasted. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes.
3. Whisk together remaining ¼ cup olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and black pepper until well blended. Layer spinach, apple, mushroom and cheese in a bowl; top with roasted chickpeas. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Recipe submitted by Laura Buxenbaum, from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association.

Bourbon Glazed Ribs

Barbecued rib rub:

1/3 cup ground black pepper
¼ cup paprika
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
3 full slabs of pork spareribs, preferably 3 pounds each or less (or baby-back ribs)
Bourbon mop (Optional):
¾ cup bourbon
¾ cup cider vinegar
½ cup water

Bour-B-Q sauce:

¼ cup butter
¼ cup oil, preferably canola or corn
2 medium onions, minced
¾ cup bourbon
2/3 cup ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt

1. The night before, combine rub ingredients in a bowl. Apply about half of the rub evenly to the ribs, reserving the other half. Place the ribs in a plastic bag and refrigerate them overnight.
2. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before cooking them. Pat them down with the remaining rub.
3. Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 to 220 degrees. (The ribs can be cooked on a grill. Put the coals on one side of the grill and the ribs on the other, so they cook over indirect heat. Try to keep the temperature low.) If you plan to baste the meat, mix together the bourbon, vinegar and water. Warm the mop liquid over low heat.
4. Cook the ribs for about 4 hours, until tender, turning and mopping them after 1½ and 3 hours, or as needed. If using a grill rather than a smoker, cooking time may need to be adjusted. (Note that baby-back ribs will cook more quickly than spareribs; if cooking baby-back ribs, start checking them for doneness after 2 hours.)
5. While the meat is cooking, prepare the sauce so that it is ready to apply to the ribs about 45 minutes before the meat is done. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens, about 40 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Brush the ribs with sauce once or twice in the last 45 minutes of cooking. Return the remaining sauce to the stove and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until reduced by one-third.
7. When the ribs are ready, the meat will bend easily between the ribs, and the sauce will be gooey and sticky. Allow the slabs to sit for 10 minutes before slicing them into individual ribs. Serve with the reduced sauce on the side.

Recipe submitted by Lee Morgan.

Blueberry Goat Cheese Tarts

Makes 8 to 12 tarts

2 to 3 sheets of puff pastry
1 cup goat cheese (or cream cheese, or a combination)
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Sliced strawberries (optional)

1. Mix goat cheese, honey, thyme, lemon juice and vanilla, and then fold in the fresh blueberries.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet (or two) with cooking spray. Cut a sheet of puff pastry into quarters, each about 4-by-4 inches. Fold each side of each quarter of puff pastry in to make a ledge all the way around and place on a sprayed baking sheet. Add some of the filling to each piece of puff pastry. Repeat until all filling is used.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with a few sliced strawberries, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Robin Blakley of Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery in Germanton.

Photo: Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/Journal
Photo: Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/Journal
Our farm was featured in the June 26, 2013 edition of The Winston-Salem Journal
Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery, LLC
Farmstead Goat Dairy
3255 Buffalo Creek Farm Road
Germanton, NC 27019