Fourth of July has always been (and probably will always be) my favorite holiday of the year. Sure, I enjoy the warm merriment of Christmas, the gluttony of Thanksgiving, and the rousing anticipation of the New Year. But there’s just something special about the unity of our melting pot of a population coming together on July 4th to celebrate our country’s pride and freedom during the summer. It’s just American.
It’s also incredible how freedom means different things for so many different people in the U.S., and we each celebrate the 4th in our own unique way – backyard barbecues, mountaintop cookouts, beachside shrimp boils. I opted for the latter this year, mainly because barbecue grills aren’t allowed in our 16th-floor high-rise apartment. (Read: Fire Hazard) It was the first shrimp boil for our family, but everyone enjoyed it so much that we might have to make it a new summer tradition!
Enjoy a photo gallery of the appetizers, lunch sliders and shrimp boil supper we enjoyed while celebrating with family over the holiday weekend. I’ve also included a few recipes for the dishes I made for the gathering – all of which would round out any summer party menu flawlessly. If you’re looking for more summer party ideas, check out last week’s “Sunshine and Summertime” post.
Bacon-Cheddar Deviled Eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
5 slices bacon
2 tablespoon cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 tablespoon mustard
Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove eggs from the heat. Cover and let eggs sit in hot water for 12 minutes. Remove from hot water to cool. (I suggest running the eggs under cool water if you’re in a hurry to cool them.)
Wrap bacon slices in paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and cook in the microwave for about 1 minute per slice. Crumble and set aside. (Reserve one crumbled slice for garnish.)
Peel the hard-cooked eggs and cut in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Remove the yolks to a large bowl. Mash the egg yolks with mayonnaise, crumbled bacon and cheese. Stir in mustard. Arrange egg white halves on a serving platter and then fill them each with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with reserved bacon bits for garnish. Refrigerate until serving.
Caramelized Onion Dip
Makes 3 cups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups sour cream, at room temperature
½ pound cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Potato chips or veggies, for serving
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until golden brown (about 20-25 minutes). Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring constantly, until the water has evaporated (about 3 minutes). Let the onions cool slightly (about 15 minutes).
Transfer the onions to a cutting board and chop them coarsely. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips or veggies.
Note: This onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Cajun Shrimp Boil
For the boil:
3 ½ pounds medium-large shrimp, with shell on (I used Key West pinks)
6 husked corn on the cob, each broken in half
1 (3-pound) sack small red potatoes
2 (14-ounce) packages Andouille sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used American Smokehouse Ragin’ Cajun. If you have sausage fans coming to eat, you might add a link or two – ours went pretty fast!)
4 (12-ounce) bottles Abita Amber lager (Or your favorite lager beer)
Water from the tap
1 (3-ounce) box Zatarain’s Crab Boil in a Bag
2 lemons, quartered
For the table:
Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning
Cocktail sauce (I used a 12-ounce Louisiana bottle)
Hot sauce (Tabasco, Texas Pete or the like)
3 lemons, quartered
Newspaper (for easy table cleanup)
2 large bowls (for scrap shrimp shells)
Wet naps (for greasy hands)
Cajun remoulade sauce (recipe below)
In a large 20-quart stockpot, pour in the beer and then add in some water from the tap until the liquid fills the pot a little more than half-way. Add the crab boil in a bag and the 2 quartered lemons and bring the liquid to a rolling boil over high heat.
Add the corn, potatoes and sausage and cook while boiling for about 10-15 minutes (until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork). Add in the shrimp, stirring well in the liquid, and boil for 1-2 minutes (just until the shrimp turn pink). Take the pot off the heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Strain the shrimp and other ingredients through a colander (discarding the stock) and add them all back in the pot.
To set up the table for supper: Layer newspaper across the dinner table for easy cleanup. Set out hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, quartered lemons (in a serving bowl) and dipping sauces for your guests. Pour the shrimp boil fixings onto the center of the table. (This is a rustic feast, there’s no wrong way to do it!) Dig in using your hands (again, no need for plates here) and discard shrimp shells into large bowls. Only thing else you’ll need is an ice-cold beer to wash it all down!
Aimee’s Cajun Remoulade Sauce
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup ketchup
3-4 dashes worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning (more or less, to taste)
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.