Recipes for Your July 4th Feast


Tips for Food and Fun From Local Chefs

America’s most iconic holiday is the highlight of summer, and we’ve been busy thinking of a feast your guests will rave about until fall. So we tapped some of our favorite local chefs, plus one creative mixologist, to offer a Fourth of July menu that might even outshine the fireworks.

The Cocktail
Samm Holder, bartender at The Woods, suggests this patriotic libation. All American

The All-American
1 1/2 ounce Old Forester Signature Bourbon
1/2 ounce Art in the Age Root liqueur (available at Total Wine)
1/2 ounce Jack Rudy small batch grenadine (basic grenadine will also work)
1/4 ounce maple syrup
1/4 ounce apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients, shake and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with rosemary for aromatics.

Note: The maple syrup and apple cider vinegar can be combined in advance at a 1:1 portion.

The Grill
John Rivers of 4Rivers Smokehouse and The COOP shares his favorite meaty main from his Southern Cowboy Cookbook.

Cowboy Rib-Eye Steak
1 16- to 18-ounce rib-eye steak, bone in, 2 to 3 inches thick. (Ask your butcher for a French cut if you want to show off a bit.)
4 tablespoons 4R Coffee Rub (recipe below)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided

Coffee Rub
1 cup coarse salt
1 cup coarse black pepper
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground coffee
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano leaves (dried)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Yield: 2.5 cups

Make coffee rub:
Combine all ingredients until well blended. Store in a dry cool place for up to 30 days.

Prepare steak:

1. Rub steak on both sides with coffee rub at least 1 hour (up to 24 hours) before serving. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove 1 hour before grilling and let come to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 325˚F and preheat grill to high.

3. Sauté onion and garlic in ½ cup butter in a large sauté pan (big enough to hold the steak) over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

4. Place steak on grill directly over the hottest area and sear for 4 minutes without moving. Flip once and repeat.

5. Remove steak from grill and place in sauté pan with garlic and onions, covering steak with onions.

6. Divide remaining ½ cup butter into small pats and put on steak. Finish steak in oven for 4 to 7 minutes for medium rare and 7 to 10 minutes for medium, turning once and spooning melted butter over the top of the steak.

7. Remove pan from oven. Remove steak from sauté pan, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

8. Serve with melted butter and onions.

Tip: Ultra-thick, Flintstone-sized, bone-in steaks require a bit of extra care when cooking. Their thick size makes them all too easy to end up with a burnt exterior and cold, raw middle. To protect against this, increase the baking time versus the grill time. Doing so allows the inside a chance to catch up with the charred outer crust.

The Side
Chef Norman Van Aken of NORMAN’S at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando adds panache to fried green tomatoes (pictured above, photo by Penny De Los Santos). Recipe adapted from My Key West Kitchen by Norman & Justin Van Aken.

Fried Green Tomatoes (serves 4)

Make the Vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons Creole mustard
1/3 Cup Champagne vinegar
2/3 Cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
A pinch black pepper

1. Whisk mustard and vinegar in a mixing bowl.
2. Gradually add the oil while still whisking.
3. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

Marinate the Tomatoes

1-2 green tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices, lightly salted

1. Marinate tomato slices in vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes while you make the Pick-a-Peppa Cream Cheese and Seasoned Semolina Flour (recipes below).

Make the Pick-a-Peppa Cream Cheese:
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Pick-a-Peppa sauce
3 tablespoons sour cream
½ each lemon zest
½ teaspoon lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
pinch black pepper

Mix all of the above together and set aside. Can be chilled and re-tempered at room temperature.

Make the seasoned semolina flour:
1 cup semolina flour
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the ingredients and reserve.

Fry the Tomatoes:

½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup seasoned semolina flour
3 cups canola oil, or more as needed for frying
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Pour the excess vinaigrette from the tomatoes. (It can be saved for another use if you like).

2. Mix the buttermilk and Tabasco sauce in a small bowl.

3. Heat oil in large pot until it reaches 350° F. One by one, dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk mixture, then in the seasoned semolina flour.

4. Fry for about 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

5. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a serving platter. Place the hot, just cooked tomatoes on top of the cream cheese and serve.

Note: This can be dressed up with a mix of lettuces on top as well.

Image credit: Penny De Los Santos

Image credit: Penny De Los Santos

The Dessert

Because you can never have too much pie, this recipe makes two. Recipe adapted from My Key West Kitchen by Norman & Justin Van Aken.

 Sunshine’s Key Lime Pie

Make the Crust:

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly pan-toasted

One 4.8-ounce package graham crackers, crushed in the bag

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2⁄3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1. Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pulse until well ground, but not quite dust. The mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week if not using right away.

2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the melted butter to combine. Divide evenly between 2 pie pans. Press the crust firmly onto the bottoms and up the sides of the pans, making a small rim.

3. Bake the crusts at 350F until bubbling and turning from shiny to matte, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pans on a wire rack.

Make the Filling:

Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

One 12-ounce bottle key lime juice

10 extra-large egg yolks

(reserve the clean whites for the meringue)

Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl and stir in the key lime juice. In another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow Add the key lime mixture, stir well and pour into the pie crusts.

Tap the pans on the countertop to remove any air bubbles and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. Let the pies cool to room temperature, then wrap and refrigerate for up to 10 hours.

Make the Meringue

2 cups granulated sugar

reserved egg whites

pinch coarse salt

When you are ready to serve the pies, set a pan of water large enough to fit the bowl of your mixer to a simmer. Add the sugar, egg whites and salt to the bowl and whisk gently by hand over the simmering water until the mixture is room temperature and you can’t feel any sugar granules when you roll the mixture around in your fingertips.

Transfer the bowl to its mixer and whip on high speed until the meringue turns bright white and holds medium peaks. Apply the finished meringue to the chilled pies. Torch at will.