By Barbara Beltrami
Even in these days of political dissent, I think and hope that we all still remember what the Fourth of July is really about, the achieving of independence from tyrannical rule and the birth of our nation and the good old red, white and blue of our flag.
Accordingly, I say Fourth of July food should be not just the traditional barbecue fare but also concoctions in red, white and blue. However, what blue foods are there except for blueberries and blue corn? So here in honor of Old Glory, our grand old flag, the birth and longevity of our nation, I offer you a cherry clafouti with mascarpone and blueberries, blue corn chip spread with sour cream and salsa, and watermelon, feta, cucumber and blueberry salad parfait.
Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
1¼ cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
3 cups pitted fresh cherries
8 ounces mascarpone
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed
Preheat oven to 350 F. Vigorously whip together the milk, half the sugar, the eggs, vanilla, salt and flour until well emulsified. Grease a 2-quart casserole, then pour half the batter into it. Bake 7 to 10 minutes until it starts to set but a knife inserted in center does not come out clean. Remove from oven, evenly distribute cherries over top, sprinkle with remaining sugar, then remaining batter. Bake 45 to 60 minutes until clafouti is puffed and golden brown.
Remove from oven and serve warm with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkling of fresh blueberries.
Blue Corn Chip Spread
YIELD: Makes 8 to 12 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups crumbled blue corn chips
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
One 8-ounce container sour cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream
2 cups shredded manchego cheese
2 to 3 cups salsa
Grease a large deep pie plate or 9×13 shallow baking dish with olive oil. Spread the crumbled corn chips evenly on the bottom. In a blender or food processor combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper and milk until they are well blended and the mixture is smooth but thick. Spread over the crumbled chips, then sprinkle with manchego cheese. Finally, spread the salsa over the top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with whole blue corn chips, crackers, cold beer, sangria, lemonade or soda.
Watermelon, Cucumber, Blueberry and Feta Salad Parfait
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
4 cups bite-size watermelon pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place ½ cup watermelon pieces in each glass, next add 1/8 of the diced cucumber, then 1/8 cup blueberries and finally two tablespoons feta. Repeat procedure. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, salt and pepper; keep at room temperature. When ready to serve, uncover and drizzle dressing evenly over each parfait. Serve as an appetizer or side dish with bread sticks, crusty rustic bread and extra virgin olive oil in which to dip the bread.