Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's Get Patriotic: Happy 4th of July

What a great time of year.  Summer - which means picnics, summer soirees, pool time and beach days.  July 4th is just around the corner....there's no better excuse for a fun barbeque, a time to make patriotic crafts with your children, or eat some delectible desserts while you watch fireworks.

Here are some of our favorite acitivites and recipes to get festive this holiday....

American Flag Tart (From: http://www.marthastewart.com/)

Makes two 4-by-14-inch tarts

2 recipes Pate Sucree

Creme Fraiche Filling

4 ounces semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup apricot jam, for glazing blueberries

1/2 cup raspberry jam, for glazing raspberries

2 tablespoons water

2 pints red raspberries

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1 pint blueberries, picked over


1.On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disc of pate sucree 1/8 inch thick to fit a 3 3/4-by-13 1/4-inch fluted, rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom. Brush off excess flour with a dry pastry brush. Carefully transfer dough to tart pan, tuck dough into the edges, gently pressing along sides, and allow excess dough to overhang the edges. Trim the dough by running your rolling pin over the dough against the edges. Gently shape the edges by pressing the length of your forefinger against each flute along the sides. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork. Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill for 1 hour.

2.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove chilled tart shells from refrigerator, and line each with a piece of parchment paper that overhangs the edges by at least 2 inches. Fill parchment with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until just starting to color, about 20 minutes. Remove parchment and weights from tart shells, and return tart shells to oven. Continue baking until tart bottom is golden, about 20 minutes more. Transfer tart shells to a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely. Carefully remove tart shells from pan.

3.In a small bowl in the microwave or set over a pan of simmering water, heat chocolate until it is just melted, about 1 1/2 minutes; stir until smooth. Using the back of a spoon, line each tart shell with chocolate. Refrigerate to set, at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat apricot and raspberry jams in two separate saucepans with about 1 tablespoon water in each; strain into separate small bowls.

4.Make top tart: Remove one lined tart shell from refrigerator and spread 1/3 of the creme fraiche filling over the bottom. Arrange 3 rows of unglazed raspberries 2/3 the length of the tart, leaving space between each row and at the top and bottom edges for 4 more rows. Dust with confectioners' sugar until raspberries are completely coated. Toss blueberries in a bowl with strained apricot jam. Fill left third of tart shell with a layer of glazed blueberries arranged snugly in rows; top with another layer of blueberries. Toss half the remaining raspberries with the strained raspberry jam, and carefully fill empty rows with some of the glazed raspberries, rinsing your hands as needed.

5.Make bottom tart: Remove remaining tart shell from refrigerator, and spread a third of the creme fraiche filling over the bottom. Arrange 3 rows of remaining unglazed raspberries, starting at the top edge and leaving space between each and at the bottom edge for 4 more rows. Dust with confectioners' sugar until raspberries are completely coated. Fill empty rows with remaining glazed raspberries.

6.Arrange tarts on a large board or tray to resemble the flag, and serve with remaining creme fraiche filling on the side. Finished tarts will hold at room temperature for several hours.
I have also made this as a cake with vanilla frosting and used strawberries and blueberries to make the stars and stripes!

Fireworks Centerpieces (From http://www.marthastewart.com/)

To make pom-poms, fold a 3-by-15-inch piece of vellum in half twice lengthwise. Cut slits every 1/8 inch, leaving inch at the top uncut. Unfold the paper, and attach a 1-inch piece of double-sided tape to one uncut corner; adhere to a bamboo skewer, and wrap the paper around several times. Once you reach the other end, use another piece of double-sided tape to secure. Curl the lower strips with the edge of a scissor blade, as you would a ribbon.

For the napkins and runner, dip the bristles of a kitchen scrub brush into fabric paint from a crafts store. Press bristles firmly onto fabric. Use smaller bottle brushes to create patterns on paper place cards; then handwrite names with a white pen.

Get creative with your table displays...decorate boxes in patriotic papers and use them as risers to create a multi-level look on your table.

Here's the how to: ( From http://www.celebrations.com/)


Sturdy boxes (such as a Fed Ex boxes)

4 to 6 sheets each of 5 different types patriotic-patterned paper all in the same color tones

Sheets each white cardstock

A roll of white grosgrain ribbon

Double-stick tape



Believe it or not, the most challenging items to find on this list will probably be the boxes, especially if you are sizing them up to be stacked for a centerpiece like the Cupcake Tower.

To give your party table a "balanced" look, try to find pairs of boxes that are the same size. For example, the photo of the party table shows a box that is a riser for the hamburgers and a box containing the chip cones, which are both the same size to give the table symmetry amid a variety of patterns. So, find your sturdy boxes and let the crafting begin!

Cover all sides of the box that will be visible with scrapbook paper, trimming and matching up the patterns as shown in the photo where the stars and stripes all line up. Use double-stick tape to adhere the paper to the boxes.

For a box that is going to be a container, like the chip cone box, line the inside bottom and sides with white cardstock and use double-stick tape to keep it in place.

Trim the top perimeter of the box with white grosgrain ribbon. Use double-stick tape to secure it.

Place your boxes on the 4th of July party table and arrange food on top of them or inside them!

Happy 4th!