Picnic on Nantucket
Island Cooking

Feast for the Fourth

• by Leah Mojer •

The 4th of July on Nantucket is about as good as it gets anywhere on earth. A beach day, yes, but anything but the usual, with picnics packed to the gills with strawberry shortcake, hotdogs, hamburgers, ice cold beer, and lemonade. The senses are bombarded with joyful sights and smells! Sailboats glide over the shimmering harbor. Charcoal smoke hangs in the air, reminding of the feast to come. In the evening, town bursts with activity, crisp cotton adorning newly tanned families out for down town stroll. When night falls, the migration begins, as every man, woman and child head to Jetties Beach for the legendary fireworks we are graced with each year. It is as beloved a tradition as any we know, the blasts lighting up the sky and our fixed gaze at the heavens. We are reminded of how we came to be, what has been sacrificed, and what we are truly thankful for. Freedom to uphold these beloved traditions is the true essence of Independence day.

Lemon Basil-Aid

A nice freshing twist to a seasoned independence day staple

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, plus 6 basil sprigs for garnish
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
  1. Bring basil leaves, sugar, and 2 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and bruise basil leaves. Simmer 5 minutes without stirring. Strain, pressing on basil to remove liquid. Cool.
  2. Pour 2 cups basil syrup into large pitcher. Stir in lemon juice and 4 cups water. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill well. Serve over ice. Spike with Gin or Vodka for the adults.

Sesame Glazed Wings

These are great hot off the grill or room temp, making them a great addition to your 4th of July celebration

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T Asian chili paste
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, cut apart at joint
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1 1/2 t hoisin sauce
  • 2 T toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, trimmed and chopped
  1. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Add chicken and let marinate for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Set up a gas or charcoal grill for medium heat (350° to 400°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above the cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds). Put chicken on grill and cover with lid. Cook, turning often until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine honey and hoisin sauce. Using a pastry brush, generously baste chicken wings with honey glaze. Cover grill with lid and cook till honey glaze starts to caramelize, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn chicken wings over and baste again, using the remaining honey glaze. Cook 3 minutes more, being careful not to let the glaze burn, removing pieces from the grill as they’re done.
  5. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve any remaining honey glaze on the side.

Flat Iron Steaks with Balsamic Onions & Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese

  • 1 Flat Iron Steak, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 2 Vidalia Onions, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
  • 1/4 cup balsamic glaze
  • 1/4 lb Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese crumbled into larger bits
  1. Place the flat iron steak on a serving tray. Season LIBERALLY with kosher salt and pepper. It is extremely hard to over-season steak so go for it! Refrigerate the steak for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours. You can cut the flat iron into individual steaks if you like. Let the meat come up to room temp before you grill.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the steak on the grill and cook about 6-7 minutes on one side or until it has nice grill marks. Turn over and move to a cooler (medium heat) part of the grill and finish cooking, about another 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Flat iron steaks are typically no more than 1/2- to 1-inch thick at their thickest part, so they cook quickly.
  3. Meanwhile, grill onion rings until nice and charred, a few minutes on each side.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest 10 minutes tented with foil. Cut the steak into thin slices across the grain and arrange on a serving platter. Top with charred onion and bayley Hazen crumbles. Drizzle with your nicest olive oil and the balsamic glaze and serve!

Balsamic Glaze:

Take a bottle of the vinegar, pour the contents into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and continue cooking the vinegar so it reduces down to a thick consistency. You need to keep an eye on the vinegar while it reduces. If it cooks down too quickly or too much, it can burn — and then you’d have to toss it and start over.

One bottle (16 to 17 ounces) should reduce to about a 1/2 cup.

Sweet Potato, Grilled Corn Salad

This is my go to Summer Salad, appropriate right through the season with everything from Grilled Steaks to Fish Tacos.

  • 4 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into large dice
  • 4 ears Sweet Corn
  • 1 C Red Onion, julienned
  • 1 Bunch Radishes, shaved on a mandolin or truffle shaver
  • 1/2 C Honey
  • 2 T Smoked Paprika
  • 2 T Cumin
  • Fresh Cilantro leaves
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lime Juice and Zest of 1 Lime
  • Olive Oil, for roasting and dressing
  • Kosher and fresh pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with non stick foil or parchment, toss sweet potatoes liberally with cumin, smoked paprika, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan around to prevent sticking. We are looking for some blackened bits, this is flavor! Don’t be afraid to really let the edges get dark. Let cool to room temp.
  2. Meanwhile, grill shucked corn 1 to 2 minutes just until charred but not cooked completely. Cut kernels off when cool and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, corn, red onion, and radish coins. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and vinegar just into the mixture is nice and moist. Toss GENTLY so not to smush the sweet potato cubes. Sprinkle lime zest and juice into the mix along with the cilantro and season to taste. Serve with that Flat Iron steak above!

Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes

I love how the “red” in these cupcakes come from roasted beets! What a refreshing change!

  • 6 small roasted beets
  • 1/4 C Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 C Buttermilk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 4 large Eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 C Cake flour
  • 1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1 1/2 t Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners, or spray with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Add the roasted beets and oil into a food processor. Turn to the highest setting and puree until the mixture becomes a thick liquid. Add the buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract, and eggs and pulse to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until well incorporated.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and pulse until there are no lumps and the two are combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and place into the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a rack.
  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 C confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 C reduced-fat sour cream
  • Zest of 1 orange, reserve some for topping
  1. For the Icing: With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl until very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. On low speed, beat in the confectioners’ sugar, sour cream, and some of the orange zest until blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Frost each cupcake with about 2 tablespoons of the frosting. Top frosted cupcakes with fresh blueberries and orange zest.

Articles by Date from 2012