Wow, what a stunning day in Connecticut today- mid 70’s, dry with a slight breeze - just perfect! Summer weather has us thinking about the beach, picnics, outdoor games, vacations, and spending time with friends and family, and at the heart of all these activities is food! At Piper and Dune we have some great turkish towels and quick dry towels that are really great for the beach, pool or many other occasions. Men will want to pick up an Orvis swim suit and ladies - we have lots of pareos and other beach cover ups along with our hats. Our outdoor dining and games will surely get the party started.
To begin, we have to think about food and beverages. First on your list should be to infuse a couple of our Camp Craft Cocktails with your favorite spirits 3 days prior to your gathering so they are ready to go. Grab one of our Silipint drinkware cups and Tarhong melamine dishes for your outdoor dining experience and will make your table look amazing. Food is always at the top of the list when I think of a summer picnic or the next big party, the 4th of July, I can smell the BBQalready!
When you smell something cooking on the grill, does it trigger personal memories for you? You know, like the smoky aroma of BBQ ribs on the grill, does it remind you of anything special? Perhaps your dad is standing at the grill in his apron sweating, but with a smile on his face, patiently rotating the meat to perfection. Others might beam with pride when they serve their Grandma’s favorite pie recipe- you know, the one that is at every single family picnic and it’s not the 4th of July without it?
Food can be a really strong stimulus for some of us. Take a minute to think of something you grew up having and that gives you fond memories… make it for the 4th of July this year. Try to recreate your family’s recipe, and even if you don’t have the exact recipe you will come close to carrying on the tradition. In some cases you might be introducing it to a whole new generation that will learn to appreciate the history and stories behind the food. Even just attempting to make the recipe will make you smile.
If you can’t think of a recipe, then start your own new tradition. It can be a twist on an old favorite like this tasty New England Burger; it’s actually from a cookbook we sell called “New England Open House” by Sarah Leah Chase. I promise you that this book does not disappoint, it has the most amazing recipes as even Ina Garten will attest. This recipe serves 4, so if your crew has an appetite, you may want to double it so everyone can go back for seconds later.
New England Burger Recipe
6 slices of apple wood-smoked bacon
1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds 80% lean ground beef
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or melted bacon fat (this is my Mom’s preference)
2 Teaspoons Dijon mustard, preferably imported
1 ½ Teaspoons crunchy sea salt, such as fleur de sel
¾ Teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
Vegetable Oil, for oiling the grill grate
4 ounces extra-sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, thinly slices
2 Sandwich-size English muffins, split with a fork and toast (we like Thomas’ English Muffins)
Ketchup, for serving
- Set up charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling and preheat it to medium high.
- Place bacon in a heavy skillet and cook it 7-9 minutes until nicely crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and drain it; meanwhile set the bacon fat aside, if you choose to use it.
- Place the grounded beef with the olive oil or bacon fat in a large mixing bowl with the mustard, crunchy salt, cracked peppercorns and mix it together with your hands. Divide it into four equal patties.
- When it is time to grill, brush the grate with vegetable oil, place burgers on the grill over the heat until they are done. Medium rare is usually about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Move the burgers so they are not above the heat and top each of them with the sliced cheddar until they melt, about a minute.
- Cut the bacon slice in half crosswise. Perch each burger on top of a toasted english muffin half, top it with 3 pieces of bacon and add the ketchup. Serve these burgers with a knife and fork and savor the flavor!
Another good idea... We love our seafood in New England and I have been craving a good lobster roll, so that will definitely be on my menu on Independence Day. The same cookbook author, Sarah Leah Chase, has loads of lobster recipes, including lobster rolls. Be sure to pick up some tools from our Toadfish Outfitters collection to make shucking and eating seafood easy.
Eating which type of lobster rolls is a hotly contested subject in New England. While I like the traditional mayonnaise version of a New England Lobster Roll, my favorite is the Connecticut-Style which is made with butter and served with Cape Cod kettle-cooked potato chips on the side. Here’s a recipe for the CT style:
Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls
This recipe serves 4 people as well, again, you may want to double this if you want some later. It’s so easy to prepare, but having fresh lobster makes all the difference.
10 Tablespoons butter ( 1 ¼ sticks), preferably Kate’s salted butter, at room temperature
1 generous pound cooked Lobster meat, freshly picked from the shell and cut into meaty chunks (2 cups)
Pinch of Paprika
4- New England style, split-top hot dog buns
4- Lemon wedges (optional) for serving
- Melt 8 Tablespoons of the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the lobster meat, stir gently to coat it with the butter. Let the lobster meat cook until it is heated through 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with a light dusting of paprika.
- While the lobster meat is heating, smear the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter over the outside of the hot dog buns and then brown them in another medium skillet, one side at a time (and not the bottom or insides), over medium heat turning them once until both sides of the buns are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.
- Divide the hot buttered lobster meat among the 4 toasted buns, mounding the meat down the center of the buns. Serve the lobster rolls at once with a lemon wedge to spritze over the lobster rolls, if desired.
I hope you choose to make a family recipe that you enjoy sharing on Independence Day; if you are looking for other great picnic ideas, check out our hand-picked cookbooks which are packed with delicious new ideas. Check out our website and don’t forget to shop our American Pride Collection for everything red, white and blue!
Have a very Happy 4th of July!
Explore What Excites You!
Chris and the Piper and Dune Family
P.S. Connecticut folks - we are closed July 4 & 5 for the Independence day holiday, however piperanddune.com is always open!