OK, kids, save the burgers and dogs for next weekend and fire up the ambition meter to eleven for the big July 4 to-do. You can make the cobbler and granita ahead of time, you can do the salad in the morning, but you need to do the crispy shallots at the last minute. Then toss the quail on the grill—they only take a few minutes on hot coals and you will be the BBQ legend you always dreamed of becoming.
Summer Tomato and Onion Salad with Buttermilk Blue Cheese dressing
6 ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
12 shallots, sliced paper-thin
1 c. milk
1 c. flour seasoned with paprika, salt, pepper, etc.
2 T. minced chives
Arrange tomatoes and onion on a platter. Pop out the rings of the shallots and soak in milk for 20 minutes. Drain and toss shallots with the flour, kicking off excess by dumping the rings in a mesh strainer. Fry in 350-degree oil until crisp and drain on paper towels. Arrange shallots on top of tomatoes, garnish with chives, and serve with the dressing (see below). Serves 6.
10 oz. Maytag blue cheese
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 t. ground black pepper
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. cream
1/4 c. sour cream
1 T. minced dill
2 scallions, whites only
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. buttermilk
Combine all ingredients in blender, pulsing to prevent over-mixing. Drizzle in some olive oil and buttermilk to taste if you like a looser dressing. Garnish salad with dressing or pass at the table.
Grilled Quail with Hot Peppers, Apricot, and Mustard Glaze
12 boneless quail
1/2 c. brown mustard
3/4 c. apricot jam, jelly, or conserve
3 T. cider vinegar
1 T. ground coriander seed
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground white pepper
2 Serrano chilies, minced fine, seeds and all
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate overnight. Grill on medium direct heat for 5 minutes per side, turning frequently, and serve at a pinkish medium. Combine a few tablespoons of apricot conserve and vinegar as a mop for the quail. This dish is great with cole slaw and corn bread. Serves 4-5.
Strawberry Granita with Balsamic Vinegar
3 pints quartered, cleaned strawberries
1-1/2 c. sugar
3 c. of the best rose champagne you can get your hands on (Don’t use pink champagne. Drink what remains while granita sets up.)
1 T. lemon juice (or more to taste)
Combine half the berries, the sugar, and 1/3 c. water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar. Transfer mixture to a food processor, add reserved berries, and process until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and stir in champagne and lemon juice. Scrape mixture into a shallow metal baking pan (14 inches is fine) and freeze. Every 20 minutes, stir and scrape the granita. After 3-4 hours the granita will be ready to serve (shale-y and roughly frozen).
You can also freeze completely and pulse the frozen granita in a food processor. Or, you can scrape the granita with a spoon instead of processing it. Serve granita with fresh berries and pass a bottle of aged, syrupy balsamic vinegar.
10 ripe, free-stone Colorado peaches, peeled, stoned, and quartered
5 t. cornstarch
2 t. fresh grated ginger
1/2 c. sugar
Toss, place in a buttered baking dish, cover with cobbler topping, and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 until hot and bubbly with a browned top. Serve warm. Serves 6-8.
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. sliced toasted almonds
1/4 c. sweet almond paste
Mix dry ingredients and reserve. Beat butter, almond paste, and sugar until well-blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture and, while stirring, add nuts until just combined. Crumble/dollop over the cobbler.