Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fourth of July Preparations

We are having guests for the 4th of July, and I am once again planning a few days of meals. In advance prep, I made some Balsamic Onions and Dried Cherries, a Spicy Rub for Chicken, a new Barbecue Sauce and some Pickled Mustard Seeds, just because I wanted to see what they are like. I am like that. I see a new thing I never heard of before and just have to try it. 

The Balsamic Onions and Dried Cherries is an expansion on an older recipe for Balsamic Pearl Onions. For the older version, simply omit the cherries and halve the amounts for the Balsamic vinegar, butter, oil, thyme. pepper and salt. The remainder is the same.

I used a both red and white pearl onions plus a bag of dried Montmorency cherries. The Balsamic Pearl Onions are an excellent condiment or side dish as onions are sweet when cooked anyway, and with the balsamic vinegar they are just fabulous. I just wanted a bit of color and an extra note, so I added in the cherries to absorb more of that wonderful glaze. I will be serving them with grilled steaks on Saturday. For dessert that day I am making Blackberry Cobbler with whipped cream or ice cream on the side.

Balsamic Onions and Dried Cherries

Balsamic Onions with Dried Cherries

serves 6 to 8

2 pounds pearl onions
5 ounces dried Montmorency cherries
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 on Convection Bake).

Prepare the pearl onions one of 2 ways: 1) Bring a pot of water to a boil and pour in the onions. boil for 1 minute and drain; rinse in cold water. Trim off root end and slip off outer skins. 2) trim root ends and peel off outer skins.

In a saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar, butter, olive oil, thyme, pepper and salt. Heat just until the butter is completely melted. Combine this sauce with the prepared onions and the package of dried cherries and toss to combine. Pour into a wide casserole that will accommodate all the onions in one layer (9 x 13-inch pan should work). Bake the onions for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until cooked through. Serve warm.

For the 4th of July, I am planning to make grilled chicken. I mixed up both a spice rub to apply the night before and a new barbecue sauce recipe to apply when the grilling is almost done. I am planning to grill the chicken low and slow, with only one side of the grill heated to keep down the temperature and the chicken set over the unlit side of the grill. I am going to periodically brush the chicken with orange juice while it cooks to add another layer of flavor. To go with the chicken, my sister-in-law is bringing cole slaw and I am going to make a Ramen Noodle Salad. That recipe will come later on, once i make it and get some photos. I am going to make a Chocolate Mousse Pie in a Chocolate Pastry shell with Mascarpone Whipped Cream for dessert.

BBQ Chicken Rub

BBQ Chicken Rub

makes enough for 2 chickens, cut up

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dried sage leaves, or <1 teaspoon ground
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves. or 1/2 teaspoon powdered
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
1 teaspoon ground sumac, optional
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle powder

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a spice grinder or coffee grinder used only for spices and grind to a powder. Combine these with all the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Use this rub to coat two whole chickens, cut up the night before grilling. Set them in a single layer on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Refrigerate until 1 hour before grilling.

BBQ Dry Rub and Barbecue Sauce 2

Barbecue Sauce 2

makes about 3 cups

2 cups ketchup
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons yellow mustard

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes/dried minced onion
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chipotle powder, optional 

In a medium saucepan with lid, combine the first 3 ingredients. Separately, if using whole spices, place the onion flakes, black peppercorns, cumin and celery seeds into a spice grinder or coffee grinder used only for spices and grind to a powder. Add these along with the remaining dry spices to the saucepan and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Be very careful, as the mixture will splatter alarmingly. Lower the temperature to a simmer, cover tightly with the lid and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, carefully lifting the lid about every 7 to 10 minutes to stir the mixture and prevent sticking to the pan. Once time is elapsed, remove from heat and remove the lid. Add in the butter, about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring well until it is completely incorporated before adding in the next piece of butter, until all the butter has been added. 

Use this barbecue sauce at the very end of grilling time to coat the chicken, and pass the rest at table.

Tomorrow night I am going to make Sloppy Joes and Mustard Potato Salad, as it will not matter if the Sloppy Joes are in the pan for a while and the Potato Salad will keep just fine in the fridge. The point being, I don't know what time my guests will be arriving. I am going to make Andes mint chip cookies as a dessert. Once our guests leave, I will be back with more of the recipes I am creating! Happy 4th of July!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.