Thursday, July 4, 2013

On the Homefront: Fourth of July Table

Two Dalmatian dogs, Star and Stripe,
Are proud to announce they're the type
Who love red, white, and blue,
And fireworks too.
Independence Day's worth all the hype!

My husband is an aquatic ecologist who studies crustaceans, so naturally we have many home décor items featuring these awesome creatures, including much tableware.  Imagine my delight when I found crustacean-themed Lobster Pot table linens from Linen Source in red, white, and blue, just in time for the Fourth of July!  I pulled out as much of our appropriately colored dinnerware as would fit on the table, and ended up with a marvelous, if rather crowded, patriotic decapod setting:

Lobster Pot placemat and napkin from Linen Source; blue crab napkin ring (by a local artist); white dinner plate (Tivoli by Studio Nova); Coral Sea Creatures dessert plate (lobster or crab) from World Market; white-handled flatware from Target; crab coaster (gift from my husband); can't remember where I got the red-stemmed wine glass or the water glass.

I've had the blue starfish candle holders for quite a while --
I think they were from Target.

A star-spangled centerpiece!

The red crab soup tureen and matching salt and pepper shakers,
lobster napkin holder, and shrimp serving plate were all found at
HomeGoods over the years.  The glasses used as candle holders were
 brought home by my husband -- the tall one I think is from Red
Lobster, and the short one is from Neiman Marcus.

This lovely blue and white shrimp bowl found by my husband
many years ago will hold the rice salad.

My husband recently found these fantastic crab coasters!

One of the crab napkin rings (each is slightly different).

Every year one of my brothers, who lives near Baltimore, sends us a dozen baseball-sized crab cakes for Christmas.  I always prepare half of them on New Year's Day, and freeze the rest to serve on the Fourth of July.  If you don't have a brother who sends you crab cakes, you can make your own (try the easy recipe here, or the easy and healthy recipe here) or buy them at your local supermarket!  The simple sauce is, as the name implies, a blend of prepared tartar and cocktail sauces.  My Rice and Vegetable Salad (which is based on Melissa d'Arabian's Cold Rice Salad) is a great summer side dish, and Sesame Tomatoes are a good way to showcase fresh ripe tomatoes.  Cherry Pie Bars end the meal delightfully, but if you prefer something light, fresh cherries are in season now.

Fourth of July menu:

Iced Tea
Barbecue Potato Chips
Crab Cakes on Arugula/Tartar-Cocktail Sauce
Cold Rice and Vegetable Salad*
Cherry Pie Bars
(and/or Fresh Cherries)

*Rice and Vegetable Salad

1 1/2 C. uncooked rice, cooked and cooled
1 cup peas, blanched
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (see Note)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, quartered and thinly sliced
2 T. rice wine vinegar
5 T. vegetable oil
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Gently toss the rice with the vegetables in a large bowl.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the rice mixture.  Toss until the rice is thinly coated with dressing.  Adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serves 6.

Note: Soak the sliced onion in ice water for 10 minutes to reduce pungency.  If desired, use a bottled roasted red pepper instead of the fresh one.  I used brown rice because I like the nutty taste, but white rice is fine.  I also added some minced fresh parsley because I had some -- use any herbs or vegetables you think would work!

Dark chocolate Lindt Lindor Truffles would be a wonderful pairing with fresh cherries (and they look fantastic in my elongated lobster serving dish from HomeGoods!).

Little Crusty the Crab wishes everyone a Happy Fourth of July!


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