July Fourth Guide: A Four-Course Fourth

By Beacon Staff

From turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving to corn beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, American holidays are the ultimate excuse for guilt-free gluttony. The Fourth of July is no exception, so the Beacon has raided Kitchen Guy Jim Gray’s stash of recipes for a selection of dishes meant to shake up the traditional spread of burgers and hot dogs.

There’s a tart twist for your favorite summer fruits, an easy-to-make rice salad and the ever-classic baked bean dish. The flank steak pinwheels with bacon and spinach aren’t just great looking; they also taste fantastic and will impress guests without killing your grocery budget. And, of course, what’s as American as apple pie? Well, these fried apple fritters come close.

For more of the Kitchen Guy’s recipes, look for his column each week in the Beacon or online at www.flatheadbeacon.com.

Grilled Fruit with Pineapple Mint Glaze

Here’s what you need:
1 honeydew melon, halved and seeded
1 cantaloupe melon, halved and seeded
1 fresh pineapple, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups pineapple juice
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, minced

Here’s how to make it:
Soak wooden skewers in water for at least one hour to prevent them from burning on the grill.

To prepare the glaze, combine the pineapple juice, orange juice and vinegar in a saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced to ¾ cup, about 25 minutes. Pour ½ cup of the mixture into a small bowl and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Once cool, add the lime juice and mint and stir to blend and set aside for presentation. The remaining ¼ cup of the glaze will be used to brush on the fruit while grilling.

To prepare the fruit, use a melon baller and scoop out enough melon balls from the honeydew and cantaloupe melons to measure 4 cups total. Or cut the melons into 2×1 inch pieces. Thread soaked wooden skewers with the fruit, alternating types.

Grill over lightly oiled grill over a medium hot fire. Grill until golden brown and slightly charred, brushing with reserved glaze on each side during the last 30 seconds of cooking. Drizzle with the cooled mint glaze.

Summer Rice Salad
Here’s what you need:
4 cups water
2 cups white rice
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
4 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
30 cherry tomatoes, halved
7 small cucumbers, diced
1 cup green onions, sliced
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
16 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled

Here’s how to make it:
Bring water and rice and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Uncover saucepan and cook rice over very low heat until dry, about 5 minutes. Transfer rice to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.

Whisk orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice and ground cinnamon to make dressing. Add halved tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, mint and Feta to rice. Add dressing. Toss to blend. Garnish with grated orange zest and lemon zest.

Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans

Here’s what you need:
1 lb. great northern beans, soaked overnight
4 oz. red onion, finely diced
½ Anaheim (or jalapeño) small dice
3 oz. molasses
3 oz. brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce to taste
2 or 3 thick slices of bacon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how to make it:
Simmer the beans in water until almost tender, about 45 minutes. Drain well.

Combine remaining ingredients (except bacon) and blend well. Add the mixture to the beans and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Pour the beans into a baking dish, place bacon slices on top if using, cover with foil and bake in a 350º oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Flank Steak Pinwheels with Spinach and Bacon

Here’s what you need:
8 bacon slices
1 1/2 lbs. Flank steak, trimmed of fat
3/4 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning (divided use)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and chopped
3 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

Here’s how to make it:
Cook the bacon until just done, but not crisp and set aside.

Pound the flank steak to an even thickness, about 1/4-inch, while helping the meat form into a rectangle. Sprinkle 2/3 of the lemon pepper and salt over one side of the steak. Arrange bacon lengthwise on steak. Mix together the spinach, breadcrumbs, thyme, the remaining lemon pepper, garlic and a dash of salt. Spread the mixture evenly over the bacon.

Carefully roll the meat up starting at the end closest to you. Secure with toothpicks at 1 to 1-1/2 inch intervals to achieve 8 equal sized pieces. Arrange 2 or 3 on metal skewers and grill or broil until meat is done to desired temperature.

Apple Fritters
Here’s what you need:
2 large firm, tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4″ rings
1 Tbsp. apple cider
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. apple brandy (or apple cider)
1/4 cup buttermilk at room temp.
1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
vegetable oil for frying

Here’s how to make it:
In a large bowl, toss apple rings with apple cider and lemon juice. Let stand for at least an hour.

To make the batter, whisk egg, sugar, lemon zest in a small bowl until it forms a ribbon when you lift your whisk. Beat in apple brandy (you can substitute apple cider), then buttermilk and then the melted butter. Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt and fold it into the buttermilk mixture until you have a smooth batter. If the batter is too thick, add more buttermilk.

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep fryer or pot with deep sides. Drain apple slices and pat dry. Dip slices into batter, letting excess drip off and place gently in hot oil. Fry until the bottom is deep golden brown and the coating puffs, about 2 minutes or so. Carefully turn slices and fry the other side until golden. Drain on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar.