The 4th of July is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Parades, picnics, a proudly displayed flag, fireworks, and of course, the time when my wonderful wild blueberries are finally ready for picking.
And there’s no better excuse than a 4th of July picnic celebration to have some real fun with your food. In fact, a pallet of healthy hues (of red, white and blue, of course) will let you show your colors at any Independence Day festivity, even if it’s just a family backyard barbeque.
The easiest way to proudly show your colors is with a patriotic-themed parfait or sundae dish. Simply lay blueberries and strawberries within alternating layers of hard vanilla ice cream, or, homemade whipped cream.
Hack alert: Into a lidded Mason jar – or empty mayo jar — pour one cup of whipping or heavy cream, add a couple tablespoons of powdered (not granular) sugar and a couple drops of vanilla extract. Making sure the lid is on tightly, vigorously shake by hand. It took me around two minutes to make a Cool Whip-type consistency topping. I popped the jar in the freezer for a minute between rounds to rest my arms and chill it up a bit. The result was fast and really delicious!
Another way to make an eye-catching patriotic dessert is to top off a cake or pie with blueberry “stars” and banana and strawberry “stripes.”
If you want to take this the gourmet route, you can use Bing or cooking cherries, raspberries, watermelon, or even cranberries in a crunch. The white presence can always be achieved via a thick whipped cream or hard vanilla ice cream or even marshmallows. The blue tones are somewhat restricted to blueberries — or blackberries, in a crunch. However, some creative blue coloring can be added to whipped cream.
But for a quick patriotic presentation, one that kids will have fun with too, try a “flag sandwich.” On a slice of white, wheat or oat bread, place a thick covering of quality strawberry jam (one without high fructose corn syrup) or cream cheese. Next, arrange your blueberry “stars” in the upper left-hand corner. Then create stripes by using either banana slices if you’re using strawberry jam or strawberries if you’ve opted for a cream cheese base.
(Note: when making the above sandwich, be sure and press your blueberries and strawberries down a bit into the cream cheese or they’ll be rolling off your bread).
Or, for an eye-catching patriotic party platter, try this:
Cover a very large platter — or, better yet, a large round serving tray — with wax paper. Place a single slice of banana at the center point. Place a halo of halved strawberries – of similar size – around the banana slice, lining up the strawberries end-to-end, fat end to thin end. Now, carefully place two rows of blueberries around the circle of strawberries, keeping the thickness of the blueberry circle uniform. The circles of fruit should be lightly touching one and other. Now, it’s on to a circle of banana slices. After that, just keep on going with that concentric pattern. Each circle gets larger — and the colors jump out.
Serve with toothpicks and a drizzle of saucy glaze, such as this one from allrecipes.com:
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind (optional)
In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind. Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for two hours.