Parades, Barbecues, Fireworks, a couple of meals enjoyed at local restaurants each seem standard fare for enjoying a long Fourth of July weekend and a spirited way to enjoy the national celebration. Happy 240th Birthday America!
Parades tend to grip at my emotions, including the annual Skippack Parade a few towns over, lending me this feeling of pride and happiness, a sense that all is well after all, and will continue to be, for no matter what the political scene of the time, thousands of Americans along with their families and friends don their red white and blue and for as far as the eyes can see line up along Main Street USA collectively cheering on everything from antique cars, motorcycles, streams of fire engines and emergency vehicles, to marching bands, Mummers string bands dancing in fancy clothing, floats, and, a glorious respectful tribute of tradition when everyone purposely stands up from their seats waving flags and extending huge cheers of thanks to our veterans, young and old, as they march on by. God Bless America.
I did host one barbecue for friends over the weekend and was tremendously grateful on their insistence to photograph the food before eating. Even with leisurely courses in between, I’m always hesitant to do so feeling like it breaks up the timing of things, but I hurriedly grabbed my camera making a quick shot of today’s ‘Summer Seafood Salad’ just above, the second course of the meal or third, if you count the hors d oeuvres, in my haste turned out a bit blurred leaving me later additionally grateful for today’s feature photo at the very top credited to Patie Lampe.
Patie also took a better shot of the medley roasted tomatoes with goat cheese and basil bruschetta served alongside some smoked shrimp with a nuoc nam sauce for the hors’ d oeuvres, but then I already had my earlier pic ready to roll and wanted to alternatively share at least one photo of the traditional John Deer tractor gracing the parade pulling along a flat bed lined with flag waving patriots…
followed by a flat bed truck float displaying a Land Preservation promotion that many of us agree on: No Farms No Food. The slogan says it all. Well, besides, Support Your Local Farmer.
The weather being temperate and comfortable with unusually low humidity for a Fourth of July weekend, I prepared a chilled Vichyssoise served in glasses topped with some fresh clipped chives off my deck for a first course. You can fill the glasses ahead of time set on a tray simply sprinkling the tops with some of the cut chive clippings just before table delivery.
Due to the lovely weather this was also the first time I ever served a summer barbecue to a small crowd in courses, which by the way, turned out to be so much more relaxing and so much fun, including providing for a nice flow of conversation throughout the extended pop-up deck picnic.
We also had some watermelon and the sweetest honey dew melon ever from the local DeKalb Produce Market served alongside the final course which was: Bob’s smoked Barbecue Ribs whose technique insures the meat falling off the bone, and really, with the rub flavor adhered, no barbecue sauce even needed.
One of the evenings kept us closer to home but with a late enough dinner to catch local fireworks eating at the home town namesake, The Blue Bell Inn, which strangely even sometimes has people from other parts of the country identifying the Pennsylvania location by the restaurant. One of my evening favorites included the fried oysters which are not typically my choice, but now they are. Crispy and juicy they were so absolutely delightful. Since I am an old school believer that restaurant reviewing requires a specific type of writing, one I do not do on Spiced Peach Blog, though tempting to go on about dinner, I’ll stop right there.
Well, all except to share a bit of history about the Blue Bell Inn that I think you might enjoy learning about, quoted directly from their site if you happen to be visiting in the Philadelphia region:
“The Blue Bell Inn has a rich history of welcoming guests since 1743. One of the original patrons was George Washington himself. The Inn was marked as the “White Horse Inn” on military maps that led his troops to the historic Battle of Germantown. The room Washington slept in was later used to display military memorabilia from the Revolutionary War. In 1796, the Inn’s name was changed to “Blue Bell Inn” when a distinctive bell was hung outside the building so all would be able to recognize the famous Inn. In 1840, the surrounding area once known as Pigeontown, was renamed Blue Bell because the Inn had become so renowned. The original bell is still prominently displayed.”
Fittingly, I just have to share with you the masterful driveway chalk art of the flag created early 4th of July morning by the young grandchildren of our next door neighbors who were in town visiting from Boston over the weekend. Isn’t it just fantastic?
A Main Street USA Parade, a Barbecue with friends, including a colorful Summer Seafood Salad, Fireworks, a couple of meals enjoyed at local restaurants, even the delight of driveway chalk art shared by young children, each part of a national tradition for enjoying a long Fourth of July weekend. Hope you too enjoyed your own spirited ways of celebration. Happy 240th Birthday America!
- 8 cups small assorted fresh lettuce leaves
- 5-6 stems fresh parsley, leaves picked, lightly torn in half
- 4 stems fresh mint, leaves picked, lightly torn in half
- 1-2 pinches sugar
- 1-2 pinches coarse kosher salt
- a few grinds cracked black pepper
- juice from 1 lemon, strained
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil, approximately, more or less to taste
- Note: seasonings from the seafood and corn salsa will blend with the lettuce so greens should only be very lightly coated when assembling
- 5 pounds mussels, cleaned, beards removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes for mussels, plus one tablespoon for blanching squid
- 3 cups white wine
- 1 lemon
- 1 pound squid, cleaned, sliced, head removed from tentacles
- 1 pound bay scallops, dried with paper toweling
- 6 -8 pieces of cleaned, peeled, roasted or grilled shrimp for garnish, optional
- 1/8 cup or less reserved chilled mussel liquor
- 1 lemon, juiced and strained
- couple pinches coarse kosher salt, more according to taste
- 5 fresh ears corn on the cob, husked and cleaned of silk
- couple pinches sugar
- 1 medium sized red pepper, seeded, pith removed, chopped
- 1 medium sized red onion, peeled, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, pith removed, chopped
- 1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 12 basil leaves, rolled up in stacks, thinly sliced
- juice from 1-2 limes
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 good pinches coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Carefully wash lettuce leaves, parsley and mint. Spin clean greens in a salad spinner a couple handfuls at a time then line greens on a long platter lightly covered, chill until assembly time. Add sugar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar into a bowl drizzle in the olive oil whisking vigorously until emulsified, cover and set aside until serving.
- Heat a large pot with a fitted lid on low heat, pour in olive oil, add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for two to three minutes until garlic has softened, pour in white wine, increase heat to high, once wine boils carefully tumble in the mussels, gently stirring the mixture throughout the mussels, cover with lid, cook for three to four minutes, remove lid, stir mussels, again cover with lid and cook for another three to five minutes until shells have completely opened, discard any mussels that remain firmly shut. Remove mussels from shells reserving a half dozen open mussels in their shells for garnish. Place mussels into a lidded glass dish, pour a quarter cup of the mussel liquor over the mussels, stir, refrigerate. Separately reserve 1/8 cup of the mussel liquid, chill until serving. Reheat the remaining mussel liquor in the pot, once boiling, drop in the bay scallops and cook for two minutes until no longer translucent, immediately remove bay scallops with a slotted spoon, place into a glass dish with just a few tablespoons of the mussel liquor and the juice of half a lemon, stir, chill. Boil some water in a large sized saute pan with remaining tablespoon hot pepper flakes, drop in the squid, stir, cook in the boiling water no longer than 1 minute, drain, rinse with cool water, transfer to a glass bowl, squeeze in the juice of remaining half lemon, stir, cover, refrigerate.
- Drop corn into a large pot of boiling water with sugar, cook for three to four minutes, remove corn from pot, rinse with cool water, pat dry with paper toweling, then using a chefs knife with the pointed side of the corn up, slice off kernels, transferring to a large bowl. Stir red pepper, onion, and jalapeno into corn, cover and chill until assembly.
- Using a slotted spoon, add bay scallops and squid to mussels, squeeze in the seeded juice of one lemon plus a few tablespoons of the chilled reserved mussel liquor, sprinkle in a good pinch coarse kosher salt, stir, check seasoning adding in a bit more mussel liquor or salt if desired. Pour the juice of the lemon and lime and the olive oil into the corn salsa, stir, add salt, stir, check seasoning, stir through the chopped fresh parsley and basil leaves. Toss together the seafood with the corn salsa. Toss lettuce leaves lightly coating with dressing, line a long wide platter with dressed greens. Top greens with seafood and corn salsa decoratively arranging seafood all around topping with squid tentacles. Place mussels left in shells all around with grilled or roasted shrimp. Serve straight away.