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Happy 4th of July!!!

Time do bring out all the red/white/blue, stars and stripes you can find in the house. No need to be modest. Go big for this holiday!

This is of course an American celebration, but I know that Americans abroad celebrate it just as much as a Swede living here in the States ( I wonder who I am thinking of…) would celebrate Swedish events and holidays.

We are making it simple for this holiday. Too much to do, too little time. Don’t I say that all the time?? Perhaps I am a very stressed individual since I always want to cook simple food. Who knows.

My priority this weekend is to relax, spend time with family and friends. Just enjoy myself. We will go to the beach, go to my mother-in-law’s for Curry Goat, BBQ in the garden, so many different things are going on for these 4 days… If I am really lucky, there will also be some time left over for me to have a date with a good book. I haven’t read a book in a very long time. What a shame.

So, we are doing easy stuff for the 4th. Basic BBQ food like , marinated chicken & pork tenderloin, burgers & hotdogs. Corn & salsa.

I will make my Mini Pies filled with strawberries, blueberries and apples. Basic desserts. A little bit of “comfort” food desserts. Well known and familiar but perhaps with a little twist at times.

It is very nice to make a whole bunch of small mini pies instead of making just one big one. This way you can pick and choose what you want.

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Mini Fruit & Berry Pies.

The rule is to use any fruit or berries of your choice. Besides that, there are no rules.

There are no real recipes for this. Since I like to be able to taste the actual produce, I keep it as fresh as possible.

So just make a pie crust or even buy ready made pie crust. For these ones, I use a basic pie crust.

I choose little nice looking ramekins. Since it is 4th of July, I used my star shaped ones.

Add the rolled out pie crust to the ramekins. Well pressed down into the bottom edges.

Add the fruit or berries. Keep them separate or mix them together.

Different combinations;

Blueberries– Use a splash of your favorite liquor.

Strawberries– Add finely chopped candied ginger.

Apples– Add your favorite liquor and some ground cinnamon. (And perhaps a little granulated sugar if you need for it to be a little sweeter).

Peaches– Toasted nuts and a pinch of brown sugar.

These are just some suggestions, you can really combine anything you like.

If you use hard fruits like apples, cut them finer and fry them in a skillet for about 15 minutes or so until soft. Add a little water so that they get some help from the water to soften up. Keep a lid on so that they really cook down faster.

Directions;

When you have added the pie crust to the ramekins pack down the filling well. Cut little stripes of the crust and add about 3 stripes per pie.

Brush some egg wash onto the crust and sprinkle some granulate sugar on top of it.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown.

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Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

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You can serve some fresh berries on the side and also whip up some heavy cream spiked with some of your favorite liquor.

Add about 2-3 tbsp. per cup of heavy cream. Fold in some candied ginger.

Enjoy!!!

And again, have a great and happy 4th of July!!!

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I am an “Honorary S:t Lucian.”

My husband and his family are from S:t Lucia, (The Lesser Antilles-West Indies). They have given me the title “honorary S:t Lucian.” Even though my mother in law says I am more West Indian than my husband. He prefers Swedish meatballs while I rather have Jerked chicken and Curried goat.

Labor day is the day for the West Indian parade. A carnival parades down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. It usually attracts millions of people. It is really a vibrant & exciting event. All West Indians in New York come together. People have been making floats and costumes for months. There are “bands/floats” representing countries, companies and events. People follow the floats and dance around them. It is like a “mini Rio” . Well, a very small version but the colors are explosive and people are in a festive mode. Food vendors are lining the parade route. The smell of peppers and spices, BBQ’s and jerks fills the air.

There is a mini version of the parade taking place early (6am) in the morning. It is called “Jouvet”. The parade is the same, except, everybody is throwing colored talc and powders at each other. It is a really crazy tradition. Don’t go if you are protective of your clothes.

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Jerked Pulled Pork.

1 pork shoulder or pork but.

Jerked seasoning. Store bought or home-made.

(Jerked seasoning;

2-3 tbsp. minced/finely chopped onion.

2-3 tbsp. dry thyme.

2-3 tsp. ground all spice. (Typical Jamaican spice)

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper.

1 tsp. ground cinnamon.

1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic.

1/2-1 tsp. salt.

1/2-1 finely chopped hot pepper (optional).

2-3 tbsp. corn oil or vegetable oil.)

1 orange, sliced.

1-2 tbsp. beef stock.

Rub the pork with the jerk seasoning. Use more if you like it spicy.

It is not typically West Indian, but I like to add slices of orange on top of the pork. Put into a dish tightly covered with foil. Put into a 200-250 degree F (100-125 C) oven. Let slowly cook for about 5-8 hours depending on how big the pork shoulder/but is. (You can tell when it is ready by the meat starting to fall off the bones. The bones starting to be exposed.)

Start to shred the pork. I add some of the “juice” to mix into the shredded meat. I also add a little beef stock and if needed more jerk seasoning.

Save the orange slices for decoration.

Traditionally one makes Jerked Chicken. I just think it is a little boring to always make the jerk of chicken. Since we eat lot’s of pork, I make either jerked pulled pork or jerked pork tenderloin. If I use the tenderloin, I let it marinate over night in the fridge (in a zip-lock plastic bag.)

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West Indian Beans, my way.

Dry beans. This time I used pinto beans. 1 small bag.

1 c. coconut milk.

6-8 sprigs of thyme.

1 tbsp. chopped oregano.

1/2 chopped onion.

4-5 sliced spring onions, finely sliced.

1/2-1 thinly sliced fresh hot pepper.

2-5 finely minced garlic cloves. (I love garlic so I actually use about 5-8 cloves.)

Water.

Directions;

Soak the beans in cold water over night.

Next day, start to fry the onions in a deep pot. Add all the ingredients but the beans & coconut milk. Let fry for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk. Let simmer for a minute. Add the beans. Pour over water so that it just covers the beans. Let simmer/slow cook for an hour or two until the beans are nice and soft. Be sure not to over-cook them. When the beans are done, they look very light in color, not dark as regular baked beans.

Serve with rice.

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Fried plantains.

Make sure to use a very black old-looking plantain. (I used to throw out all the “rotten bananas” my husband, then boy friend, used to keep under the sink. Couldn’t understand why he always had these black rotten bananas in the house. Now I know better.)

Slice on an angle approximately 3/8″ thick. Fry in a skillet in corn or vegetable oil. Make sure the heat is low so that they don’t burn. Fry on both sides. Let rest on a paper towel before serving.

Enjoy.

A tip for plantains. As a snack, fry them as above. Sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon. I can eat a couple ” too many” of this… Yum.

I am really fortunate to be able to learn to cook more Caribbean food from my mother in law. She makes a “mean” Oxtail. People would do anything to get their hands on some of it.

Sorry, It is her secret recipe that she want’s to keep a secret… I can only say it is really fantastic and the key (besides her secret ingredients ) is to boil the Oxtail many times and throw out the old water. “Keep it clean” she says.

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4th of July must be one of, if not the biggest BBQ weekends in the US.

Obviously not everybody knows what the reason for the celebration is, since I have been asked many times if we celebrate 4th of July in Sweden. What does one answer to that???

Anyway, So, I have not been celebrating this holiday more than in the sense of it being a day off from work, a bonus day.

I never liked fireworks. I know someone who blew off a couple of fingers as a kid, trying to make fireworks himself. Really scary but it made a lot of us not really like fireworks. If one looks at the bright side of that, I never have to rush to get a great spot to watch it. I could stand way in the back. No problem.

As I am getting older, 4th of July means something else for me than just a celebration. It reminds me of what it took for this country (America) to become what it has become. When I became a citizen, we had to study the history of the country and it made me more aware of things. I feel very lucky. Lucky that I am here, lucky that I was born in Sweden, lucky that I live now and not way back when…

This 4th of July we are going to BBQ. Our neighbourhood goes bananas for any opportunity to be out in the backyard and get those grills going.

I am breaking the holy rule of this weekend. I am making salmon/Mango burgers. My husband said “No, we should have real burgers, ribs and hot dogs and things.” Lucky for me, he changed his mind. We are going with the Salmon/Mango burgers.

To make the whole thing very “4th’y” I am going all out with the stars and stripes…

A little overkill of red, white and blue doesn’t hurt.

So here it is, my healthy and really delicious salmon burger.

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Salmon/Mango Burgers with Stars & Stripes Fries:

About 6-8 burgers, depending on how big you make them.

About 2 lb. fresh salmon.

1 Mango, cut up into small pieces.

2 tbsp. of toasted pine nuts (optional)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs. I used mint, thyme, dill, sage and chives.

1 hot pepper. Any kind. You can also use season pepper/ a mild pepper just to get that pepper taste.

Splash of hot sauce (optional)

1 egg. (to keep it all together since the mixture is very loose.)

Panko crumbs (or other kind of bread crumbs)

Salt & pepper to taste.

Some mango ketchup (optional You boil 1 diced mango, 2 tbsp. of tomato paste, 4 tbsp. of water or pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, salt pepper. Any other kind of herbs and spice you have in the kitchen. Boil it all down to a thicker paste. Taste and make sure you like it. Add anything you feel like. Blend with a hand mixer. Let cool.)

Directions;

Mix the salmon in a blender. Make it some what fine. You can leave a couple of “chunks” out and mix in them later, just to get a more interesting texture.

In a bowl, mix the mango that has been cut up into fine pieces, pine nuts, and all the other ingredients.

Pour Panko crumbs into a deep dish. Season with salt & pepper.

Shape the burgers. Dip into the crumbs. Turn and make sure they are well breaded. When done, place the burgers into the fridge to make them “settle” slightly before frying or bbq’ing.

Note that this mixture is very loose and you might want to fry on top of the stove unless you have a good grill.

Fry the burgers. Build the burgers on top of a good bun . I used an 8 grain bun from my bakery around the corner.

Add lettuce a little mayo if you like, the burger and some mango ketchup or regular ketchup. Top with a few slices of onions.Yum, Yum….

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The Stars & Stripes Fries are so easy to make.

If you have been following my blog, you know by now, that I think it is “wild and crazy” to use cookie cutters to do all sorts of things.

This time it is star-shaped fries and just regular cut fries, baked in the oven with a little salt, pepper and thyme on them.

To make sure for them not to be dried up due to the irregular shapes, I first boiled them for a few minutes.

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Varg tass (Wolf paw) is a very common drink at home. It is really yummy. You just take one part lingonberry juice concentrate (if you can’t find lingonberry juice use cranberry juice), 1 part vodka and fill up with seltzer water. I had to be a little particular for this drink, so I made my own shot glasses in ice. Now that is really overkill. I found these molds in a store and almost fell over of happiness. The Swedish “Ice hotel” serves their drinks in their “Absolute Ice bar” in ice shot glasses and I have always loved them. Now I can make my own. Lucky me.

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I was thinking of making this really crazy dessert, but I ended up making something I love and that is more of a summer thing. Frozen yoghurt. You could just as well make or buy ice cream, but I like to make it a little healthier (some times.)

Frozen Yoghurt with blueberries, strawberries and coconut.

A large container of vanilla yoghurt. I used Greek Vanilla yoghurt. You should use the kind you like best. Plain or Vanilla.

1 c. of mashed fresh Blueberries.

1/2 c. of mashed fresh Strawberries. 1 tbsp. of honey.

1 tbsp. of shredded coconut. I used large flakes that I soaked in water for an hour or so.

A couple of squares of dark chocolate.

Directions;

Use an ice cream maker or just mix it and freeze it.

Mix the yoghurt, berries, honey & coconut.

If you use an ice cream maker, follow the directions for the machine.

if you don’t have that, just put the mixture into the freezer. Keep stirring ever so often to make sure it freezes evenly.

You can make the frozen yoghurt ahead of time.

I used wafer cones from the grocery store. I just printed out an American flag on paper and cut out a “cover” for the cone. Very easy and it looks really cute.

Finally, I shredded a little dark chocolate over the top.

Enjoy and Happy 4th!!!!

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