Any nation’s Independence Day grants some sort of rambunctious community gathering. Its a time of expression and pride, whether or not one knows how independence was even reached. There is this dire need to barbecue, break out some booze, and invite over everyone you’ve known in the last ten years.
This year, surprisingly, I encountered a more intimate Fourth of July. It all began the day before when I spotted a nice porterhouse in the butcher’s case. For some reason, I do not love steak like I did once before. My usual days show that I am more partial to a pescetarian diet, but I NEVER limit myself to such a label. I adore food and tend to eat mostly anything. So, seeing a RAW steak and saying “I WANT TO EAT THAT” is rather a big deal to me. Also, what symbolizes America more than a nice thick steak?
I knew I could not afford more than one or two of these things, so this lunch, dinner, brunch, or hell breakfast was going to be small. Which eventually brought me to the more important question of, well, how the hell do I cook this thing? I certainly did not want to waste a pound and a quarter of meat, ruining the apprehensive tummies of my father and boyfriend. I needed to nail it. I needed it to look professional.
So I googled it.
I went with the first link. It was Bon Appetit. They introduced me to a magnificent salted butter apple galette that shocked my Thanksgiving guests so I figured they could be my best bet. To my surprise, the superb steak results came from a guy I never truly knew how to feel about, Bobby Flay. I used to tune into the Food Network quite religiously. I love Ina Garten and even Paula Deen. But, Bobby. He was just some guy who mastered that rusty thing on my deck that has not been touched since last Fourth of July. Or, that chef Ari Gold nearly killed. Now, I can openly say, “Thank you, Bobby Flay,” for making me actually attempt to be a “Masterchef” and utilize my broiler like they do at a steakhouse. I was salivating at bubbling beef fat. And I even grasped a hot skillet barehanded in the process, which, after reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, I should expect and definitely not whine about.
I neither whined nor complained, I swear Anthony. I am proud of my blistering hand!
I paired this beauty with roasted broccolette (broccolini) with extra virgin olive oil and garlic. No recipe, just place it on a aluminium foil covered pan, generously drizzle some EVOO and three sliced cloves of garlic. Toss with your hands if you feel like getting dirty. A calciferous vegetable, typically of the broccoli variety, is compulsory to steak. Also, you cannot forgot the caramelized onions. If you are not the biggest fan of the kitchen, I will inform you that these should be started much prior the steak. The onions take a nice vacation in that skillet. Why do you think they come out so tan?
With this holiday comes lots of reds, whites, and blues that only induces more reds, whites, and blues. I abhor dressing myself in bright American flag colors so I resorted to reviving the adventurous baker deep within me to create something festive. I was aiming for a fruit cobbler because, first, I have never made cobbler and, second, I love cobbler. A scoop of ice cream on top and all your problems seem to drift far away. I chose blueberry mainly because of convenience. Whole Foods had a sale on organic local berries, most likely due to their in season abundance. It worked well since my recipe called for 6 cups. The ingredients are simple and straight forward. I added something unique, though: Big Tree Farm’s coconut palm sugar. Its a wonderful sugar for both the body and the environment. It sounds like a paradox. It is not. Coconut palm sugar is sustainably sourced and, mine at least, is Fair Trade Certified. It does not spike your blood sugar like regular sugars, which makes you literally feel good after consuming it. Just a food for thought that always brightens my day.
I of course considered ditching my cobbler idea and putting my frozen pie shells in the fridge to use. But, I always have that “from scratch” itch and cobbler sounded way too delicious. I found a fantastic recipe on Epicurious for a blueberry-drop biscuit cobbler. I followed the recipe directly. I used crème fraîche over sour cream, a preference. There was some banter over decreasing the sugar and eliminating lemon in the comments section that I did not read until mine was baking. I disregarded it anyways. Lemon zest never hurt nobody!
(Except my friend who is deathly allergic. Shout out to her for keeping up in in a lemon-free world.)
WARNING: if you really dislike blueberries, do not even consider this recipe. Its full of them, I mean a PLATEful of them.
Any who, I decided to get creative by forming the dough into little stars, with hopes that the biscuit ingredients would keep some shape while baking. It did better than I expected it to. I would suggest to add some cornstarch to the berry mix if you prefer a cobbler with less moisture. Mine turned out slightly too runny, although the nature violet colors beautifully swirled into the melted ice cream on my plate.
Those main attractions on the dinner table paved the way for a simple day of baking, chatting, and supplemental grocery shopping with two of the closest men in my life. It was blissful and abundant. I strangely did not miss a large crowd, but I definitely would not say I prefer a small dinner every time. It is what fits, what happens sort of naturally. I love moments like these where all your considerably idealized kitchen plans turn out somewhat right. The table has an all-encompassing nonchalant flow and no one leaves hungry. There is an unspoken thank you for the independence, which is incredibly, but unconsciously, apparent to you.
So, to the great ole U.S.A.: thank you for food accessibility. Thank you for my gracious company. Thank you for my safety. Thank you for letting me have a whole day to just be, well, free.
(the little green thing is oddly a small sprout from my nearby basil plant, nothing is ever perfect!)