Revved Up for the 4th!


Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

No doubt this weather makes you think of a blazin’ 4th of July. Let’s get started planning now so the day itself leaves time for mostly playing. Ready or not here we go with a very fruity, refreshing iced tea, sides and a do ahead festive finish which would look grand sporting some sparklers.

About the iced tea: I found the Rishi Organic Blueberry Rooibos tea at Whole Foods (in the coffee bean department) as a nice gal there was serving chilled samples. It was delish! Although pricey, the tea literally contains tiny dehydrated blueberries. Imagine the health value here with each sip. The tea doesn’t need any sweetener for my liking, but others may want to lighten it with honey.

In next weeks Seasonal Local Cooking, we’ll give some irresistible designer ideas for the entree.


Blueberry Iced Tea

Spicy Black Baked Beans– (add your own flamin’ rum)

Peanut Mango ‘Slaw

Red, Blue and White Tart (Seasonal Berry and Ricotta Tart)

Peanut Mango ‘Slaw

Serves 8

The textures of this snazzy ‘slaw are enticing; there are just enough variances to keep it from being boring.

  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground roasted cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • One medium head (approx. one pound) of green cabbage, shredded
  • One small head (about.1 1/2 pounds ) of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 large mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Whisk the honey, lime juice, soy sauce and spices together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in enough extra-virgin olive oil to emulsify the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Combine the cabbage, carrot, mango and peanuts in a large serving bowl. Add the dressing and toss well. Let rest 30 minutes in the refrigerator to season before serving.


Spicy Black Baked Beans

Serves 8

Baked beans are a natural for the 4th and segueing to a “pueblo” style is a crowd pleaser. I saw a recipe using rum with the beans, Now that’s your choice if young ones won’t be eating them. How about heating that rum on the side after the beans are finished; just pour it-blazing hot over the finished beans.



If you’re not able to use the Cuban-style black beans with the yummy sauce, drain regular black beans and add an additional 3/4 cup of chicken stock.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large cubanelle chili pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chile sauce (near catsup in the supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly toasted ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, (Trader Joe Cuban Style)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the, onion, carrot, celery, cubanelle chili, garlic and jalapeno. Cook 6 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.

Reduce the heat to low and mustard, chile sauce, cider vinegar ground cumin seed and oregano; stir. Add the black beans with the juices (if using Cuban black beans) and stir to coat.

Transfer the beans to the greased casserole. Bake uncovered 40 minutes until a nice crust forms on the top. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Alternate Heating: If the grill ifs hot and ready to go, wrap the outside of the casserole with heavy foil to protect it. Place the casserole on the INDIRECT heat side of the grill.

Red, Blue and White Tart (Seasonal Berry and Ricotta Tart)

Serves 8-10

Ricotta and fresh berries are a fantasy dessert when the berries are locally grown and enrobed within a rich flaky crust.

  •  1 recipe Short Dough (of your choice), baked at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes in 10-inch by a 1-inch tall fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, cooled
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 dry pints (6 cups) combination of your choice of berries-strawberries, hulled, and halved if large, blueberries, blackberries
  • 1/2 cup berry jam (I used lingonberry)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the ricotta, sugar, salt, nutmeg and vanilla on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Pour the filling into the prebaked tart shell and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges have puffed up but the middle not firm. (As the tart cools, the center will firm up.) Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Just before serving, place all of the berries in an attractive pattern on top of the ricotta filling. Warm the jam in a small sauce pan over low heat, then spoon or brush over berries to coat.

Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Storage: The tart can be made a day in advance, and should be refrigerated before the berries are added. Top with the berries and jam just before serving. Covered with plastic wrap, any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.