Fourth of July Weekend Summer Vegetable Dishes

For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?
— Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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What pop music show was ABC-TV’s longest running series from 1957 to 1998?

I think that everyone has a special menu for the 4th and a zillion menu suggestions fill a foodie’s mailbox on a daily basis which can be rather overwhelming and confusing so I hit the vegetable stands and go from there relying on the contents of the pantry and freezer to fill out the weekend celebratory menus.   We expect that it will be pretty quiet around here with the exception of a rowdy game of Trivial Pursuit – All American barely touched game from the 90’s 1st on the game list for the weekend.  Rowdy?  I don’t think so, but rather filled with Huh’s, I didn’t know that, I knew that, and ending with I quit, you know all the answers…did I say barely touched game?  I recall Trivial Pursuit being one of the hottest games on that market and perhaps it should be, by all rights, at the top of the charts again as it can be a fantastic educational tool.  I must have at least 6 versions of hardly played games and I just might pull one out each weekend as we all can stand a refresher now and then especially at geezer status.  So now that we have that part of the plan set, the menu planning will be rather simple.

To begin with my counter top is full of bowls and plates overflowing with peaches, melons, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes all screaming for attention, but needing a bite to eat distracts me and I find myself cooking bacon, slathering slices of bread with mayo and butter, washing lettuce, slicing juicy fat tomatoes, and plucking baby leaves of basil for one of many to come BLT’s of summer.

iPhotoWith the thought of ribs for dinner I have a simple let somebody else do the dirty work broccoli slaw in mind and an old recipe for potato gratin from “Gratin Made Easy,”
Saveur – December 2006 article by executive food editor Todd Coleman.
Potato Gratin Unbaked – SaveurIMG_2012

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iPhotoIngredients
5 tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves
Salt
6 large red potatoes, peeled and sliced about ⅛” thick
2 cups half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Rub the inside of an 8″ × 8″ baking dish with 1 tbsp. of the butter. Smash garlic with the side of a knife and sprinkle generously with salt. Chop and scrape the garlic into a mushy paste.
2. Combine garlic paste, potatoes, half-and-half, and remaining 4 tbsp. butter (cut into ½” pieces) in a pot; stir. Season with salt and pepper and taste the creamy liquid—it should be seasoned generously. Grate in a hint of nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon. After 8–10 minutes the potatoes will be a little tender, and their starch will have thickened the liquid considerably.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish; smooth the top as much as possible. Cover the gratin with Gruyère and bake until deeply golden brown, about 20–30 minutes. Let gratin cool and set a little before serving.

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Buy a bag of broccoli slaw mix, freshest date possible, add thin slices of a Fuji or Gala apple, dried cherries, dried cranberries and your favorite nuts (pecans and sunflower nuts are my favorites) toss with your favorite on the sweet side dressing and a sprinkle or two of celery seeds just before serving well chilled.  I made a simple white balsamic honey Dijon vinaigrette, sweet tart…

White Balsamic Honey Dijon Dressing

In a 16 ounce measuring cup or small bowl whisk 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon Dijon mustard, add salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon honey and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup doodle oil until emulsified, taste and add more honey if you like it on the sweet side.