For the past three years my husband and I have not been home for the fourth of July. It’s usually our vacation week and we are often elsewhere for this holiday. Last year we were on our Honeymoon. This year we happened to be home with no particular plans.
We contacted our good friends Randy and Margaret and asked if they would like to join us for a casual meal around 3 pm on the fourth. They said sure. So I got to work on a menu.
Being the huge Ina Garten fan that I am, I choose recipes of hers that complement the freshness of summer and the celebration of time with our friends. Lobster Pasta Salad with Fresh Corn, Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta with Capers & Gorgonzola, French Apple Tart, and freshly made Mojitos.
I began by making the pasta salad a day in advance to allow the dish to fully chill and flavors to meld. This is dish full of flavor and certainly worth the work, but it does require a great deal of effort to make.
Using fresh white corn, boil the corn and then when the ears are cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. Get more water boiling and cook the lobster tails – usually a minute to a minute and a half per ounce. But if cooking more than one tail, use an accumulative weight and not the combined weight. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the shells, which is easier said than done. I actually cut not only down the middle of the inner softer shell, I also cut down the middle of the back shell, which makes it easier to remove.
Once again, boil more water for the pasta. And in your down time, prep the rest of the ingredients. Past that, it’s a pretty easy dish, just throw everything together, season and toss. Be sure not to overdress the pasta, I didn’t use all the dressing in the salad.
The day of, I made the bruschetta, with a few adaptations of my own. I used jarred roasted red peppers instead of sautéing fresh peppers. I cut the French bread in long diagonal slices, splashed with olive oil and toasted one side under the broiler. I then added thinly sliced roasted peppers, a few capers and a sprinkling of Gorgonzola cheese before placing them back under the broiler to melt.
I ran into a snag when I didn’t thaw the puff pastry in advance. I left it on the counter to thaw and when I went to unfold it, it broke into thirds. So, I flattened them out a bit with a rolling pin and then cut the thirds into half, making individual tarts instead of one big one.
After Randy & Margaret arrived, I made Mojitos and we sat outside in our back yard catching up. When everyone was hungry, we came inside, loaded up our plates and went back outside to continue to enjoy the day. After eating and more chatting, we got dessert ready.
Margaret brought a wonderful homemade Key Lime Pie and I set out the French Apple Tarts. Smaller sized portions, allowed us all to have a bit of each dessert. The pie and tart worked nicely on the plate together, each with a different texture and flavor.
It always warms my heart to share a good meal with great friends. Smiles, understanding, compassion, laughter, and a shared bond, all under one large sun umbrella at one outdoor table enjoying the fourth of July together.