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TASTE AMERICA

The Fourth of July is celebrated in the US with a national holiday and families gathering together to enjoy the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776.

Food plays an important part. And there’s mothing more American than ‘fruit’ pie. When immigrants arrived in America, they were amazed at the abundance of fruits. Using them in pies was both nourishing and filling. During the 1800s the pie craze cooled due to health professionals advocating for less carbohydrate. However, in the early 1980s, pies were rediscovered as Americans explored their culinary roots. And one of the most popular days for enjoying pies is the fourth of July.

The Caesar salad is also an American treat. The salad's creation is generally attributed to restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico and San Diego.

Traditional Caesar salad ingredients are garlic, olive oil, croutons, cos lettuce, salt, mustard, pepper, anchovies, vinegar or lemon juice, egg and Parmesan cheese. Nowadays cooks like to add their own specialties such as grilled chicken, salmon and hardboiled eggs but it remains an American favourite.

Although carbohydrate is a main ingredient in many American recipes, huge salads also play a leading role.

MILE HIGH CRANBERRY PIE

Frozen cranberries are available from supermarkets.

Pastry: 1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
pinch salt
125g butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg, separated (reserve the white)
1 tablespoon iced water
Filling: 4 cups frozen cranberries
1 cup each: sugar, water
1 star anise
Topping: 4 egg whites plus the reserved white|
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup caster sugar

To make the pastry, place the flour, icing sugar and salt in a food processor and whizz briefly. Add the butter. Process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and iced water. Process for a few seconds more. Gather into a ball and wrap in film. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Roll the pastry to about 5-7mm thickness. Line into a 23cm-24cm flan or pie dish. Lightly press a sheet of foil on top. Bake for 12 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for another 5 minutes, until golden. Cool. 

To make the filling, combine the cranberries, sugar, water and star anise in a saucepan. Bring to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Cool. Remove the star anise. This can be prepared a day ahead.

as can the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spoon the cranberry filling into the pie shell.

To prepare the topping, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar adding the caster sugar a little at a time, until the sugar is dissolved, peaks form and the mixture is shiny. 

Spread the meringue over the filling sealing to the edge of the pastry. Place low in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the meringue is set and lightly golden. Serves 6-8.

TEXAS BURGERS

Make your own meat patties or buy ready-prepared lean Angus beef patties.

Sauce: 1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons each: sriracha sauce, smooth mustard
Filling: 1 tablespoon canola oil
4 medium mushrooms, sliced
4 rashers bacon
1 large onion, thickly sliced
4 each: lean beef hamburger patties, burger buns
4 slices melty cheese eg Swiss
1 tomato sliced
4-8 crisp lettuce leaves

Combine the sauce ingredients and place aside.

Heat the oil and pan-fry the mushrooms, bacon and onions individually and place aside.  

Pan-fry the burger patties about 2-3 minutes each side, until cooked.

Meanwhile, halve the burger buns and lightly toast.

Top the bases with the beef patties then add the cheese, mushrooms, tomato, onions, bacon, sauce and lettuce. Crown with the bun tops and secure with a skewer. Makes 4.

HEALTHY GREENS SALAD

Salad: 1 cup broccoli florets
1 medium (raw) beetroot, peeled and julienned
1 cup each: diced cucumber, cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons each: sliced mint, Italian parsley, coriander
120g packet baby leaf kale
2 teaspoons each: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Dressing: 1/2-3/4 cup good vinaigrette

Blanch the broccoli, until crisp tender. Refresh in icy water. Drain well. 

Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Mix well. Serves 2-4.



 

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