Friday, July 4, 2014

On the Homefront: Melting Pot Fourth of July Table

Dalmatians Red, little Whitey (hugging the flagpole), and Blue
enthusiastically join the Fourth of July celebration!

A Dalmatian patriot crew,
So steadfast and loyal and true,
Want the nation to know
That wherever they go,
It's "three cheers for the red, white, and blue"!

My table for Independence Day is set simply in the traditional color scheme of red, white, and blue.  Since crab cakes will be served (as an appetizer this year), I decided to feature a set of blue and white plates with a crab design.  Bright red place mats and table runner provide the background for accents of blue and white, with a few touches of Dalmatians, crustaceans, and flags to make this table uniquely our own!

Red place mat bought ages ago from who knows where; blue and white crab dinner plate by Primitive Artisan bought ages ago from who knows where; white flatware from Target ages ago; blue and white striped napkin bought in Japan by my husband ages ago; blue goblet from Target ages ago; clear water glass bought by my husband in Santa Barbara ages ago!

Blue-tinged white hydrangeas and a quartet of small flags in
a trio of red, blue, and clear vases make a perfect patriotic

Blue and white shrimp design serving bowls bought in Japan
by my husband years ago.

For my menu, I thought it would be fun to use a melting pot theme.  Familiar dishes accented by flavors from all over the world combine to create a truly American feast!  We always have Maryland Crab Cakes on the Fourth of July, courtesy of one of my brothers who lives in the Baltimore area, but this year I decided to form them into small balls and serve them as appetizers.  A good recipe for crab cakes can be found here if you don't have some conveniently available.  My usual condiment for crab cakes is a combination of tartar and cocktail sauces (I never measure but I would guess the ratio is about two parts tartar sauce to one part cocktail sauce).  I made a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage by combining equal parts pomegranate-cherry juice and soda water over ice, but any cold drink would work with this menu.

Melting Pot Fourth of July Menu:

Pomegranate-Cherry Juice Spritzers
Maryland Crab Cake Appetizers/Tartar-Cocktail Sauce
Mexican Coleslaw*
German Potato Salad**
Watermelon Slices

*Mexican Coleslaw

2-3 T. olive oil
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. lime juice (1/2 lime)
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1 bag (14 oz., or 7-8 C.) cabbage-carrot slaw mix (I used Dole)
1/3 C. minced cilantro

Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until blended.  Put the slaw mix and cilantro in a large bowl, pour the dressing over, and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for up to a day.  Toss just before serving.  Serves 6.

Note: If some of your guests do not care for cilantro, leave it out until just before serving.  Reserve enough cilantro-free coleslaw for those who prefer it this way, and toss as much cilantro as you like into the remaining coleslaw.  Also, if you are not using this as a sandwich slaw, try stirring in about 1/4 C. chopped roasted almonds (for a real indulgence, use Marcona almonds).  Add the nuts just before serving so that they stay crunchy.

**German Potato Salad

2 lbs. thin-skinned potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/4 C. white vinegar
2 T. water
3 T. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C. minced parsley

Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover them completely.  Boil for about 15 minutes, until they are tender.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Fry the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until brown and crisp, turning as needed.  Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.  Put the onion in the bacon grease and cook over medium heat until soft and slightly browned.  Add the vinegar, water, and sugar.  Season to taste and bring to a boil.  Toss in the potatoes and parsley.  Crumble in half of the bacon.  Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish.  Crumble the remaining bacon over the top and serve.  Serves 6.

Note: Next time I will reduce the sugar to 2 T., as the dressing was a bit too sweet for me.

A simple white bowl filled with red- and blue-wrapped Lindt Lindor truffles (milk and dark chocolate flavors) continues the holiday color scheme:

Since elephants were a prominent feature on my last table,
I decided to give equal time to donkeys today with
this patriotic fellow.

Glory the Dalmatian proudly displays her flag!

Happy Independence Day to all!

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