Freedom of the Grills

Red, white and blue recipes for your July 4th Weekend
Webster Chang Webster Chang
June 30, 2015
Freedom of the Grills
Photo by Kenneth Dundas

A few years ago, my friend Ben threw a party to celebrate something that I can't remember anymore without looking it up (hold this thought). It was a hipster-themed party, and Ben's coup de maître: home-brewed kale moonshine.

Home-brewed kale moonshine, in case you thought there was a typo.

Once again, home-brewed kale moonshine. Ben is an American hero and a crazy person.

Anyways, I gingerly tried several shots in quick succession (and that's why my memories of that day remain hazy), and you know what? While number one was a shock to the system, shots two through room-tilt has its charms. And also, it was kale, so I'm sure there were health benefits somewhere.

I bring this up because what better way to celebrate this weekend than with some fresh, un-ironic grub? Allow me to present America's Birthday with these Red, White and Blue variations for some of Amy Pennington's recipes from Fresh Pantry

Red Rhubarb Ribs:


  • 3 to 4 pounds pork ribs, racked or precut
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 pound rhubarb (about 3 to 4 stalks), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

Place the ribs in a large baking pan. Sprinkle the cumin, coriander seeds, cinnamon, fennel, salt, and pepper over the ribs. Using your hands, press to coat the ribs, working the spices evenly across each rib until most of the spices are absorbed. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Roast the ribs for 2 to 21/2 hours, until the meat is tender and easily comes away from the bone.

While the ribs are roasting, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, pour in the sugar and shake gently, so it forms an even layer along the bottom of the pan. Set this over medium-high heat—the sugar will start melting after a few minutes. Do not stir the sugar, but monitor it closely. It will begin to brown at the edges. Swirl the pan slightly to distribute the heat and hot caramel, making sure to keep the sugar level so it does not coat the sides of the saucepan. The caramel will turn dark brown and amber at the edges. Continue swirling gently until all of the sugar is dark amber, about 5 to 7 minutes, and smells of burned sugar. Pour in the warm water and stir.

Be careful: The caramelized sugar will sputter and pop. Cook until the caramelized sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and allow the rhubarb to simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Once it’s cooled, add the rhubarb sauce to a blender and purée until perfectly smooth. Pour the rhubarb sauce into a small bowl and set aside. When the ribs are cooked through, remove them from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Brush the ribs with half of the rhubarb sauce. Return to the oven and let the sauce caramelize and bubble, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve the ribs alongside a small bowl of the remaining rhubarb sauce.

Burnt White Cauliflower with Whipped Feta:

  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Lemon wedges, for drizzling

Put the feta and yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine, about 15 to 20 pulses. Add the olive oil and lemon zest and blend to combine, about 1 minute. Add the basil and pulse until just mixed in and coarse, about 10 times. Remove the whipped feta from the food processor and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. To prep the cauliflower, cut the head into quarters. Lay each quarter on its side and cut out the stem and core. Chop the stem and core into 3-inch pieces and place them on a large baking sheet. Break up the cauliflower head into florets, using your knife or hands, and add them to the baking sheet. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss to combine, making sure all the cauliflower is glossy and coated. Spread the cauliflower evenly across the pan, making sure no pieces overlap.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the edges are charred and crispy, turning and redistributing once or twice, for about 15 to 17 minutes total. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool slightly.

To serve, dollop the whipped feta onto a serving platter and, using the back of a spoon, spread it out into a thin layer. Pile the cauliflower over this evenly, and squeeze some lemon juice over it before serving.

Blueberry Drop Donuts:

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cardamom
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted and cooled) or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 to 1 cup powdered or granulated sugar, for dusting

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and cardamom. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg, lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined. Fold the blueberries into the batter until just combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To fry up the donuts, set the vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. The oil is ready when it hits 375 degrees F, or when a small bit of batter dropped into it bubbles quickly and floats. Using a dessert-sized spoon, drop the batter into the hot oil (be careful not to overcrowd the pan) and cook on one side until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, then turn over. Cook the other side until golden brown, another 2 minutes or so.

When the donuts are brown, drain any excess oil by setting the donuts on a paper bag, and let them cool slightly. Once the donuts are cool enough to handle, put them inside another bag, add sugar, shake, and serve while still warm.

Original and not-as-freedom recipes can be found on Amy Pennington's Fresh Pantry

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