Nothing says Americana like hot dogs, burgers and lemonade. But mid-way through summer, one begins craving a little variation…so we asked a few area chefs for twists on July Fourth classics.
Top your hot dogs
Cooking in restaurants since 1976, chef Mike Andrzejewski (owner of Cantina Loco and Seabar) knows his way around a kitchen, creating everything from sushi to tacos and dozens of dishes in between. But Andrzejewski likes the simplicity of a hot dog with mustard and onion when he’s not working.
“I don’t make anything fancy when I’m at home,” he said. “But when I’m cooking for guests, I make a hot dog with bacon and onion jam, which is sweet, salty and smoky all at once,” Andrzejewski said. “I like Spar’s hot dogs because they have a nice bite and crunch, especially when they’re grilled.”
Bacon and onion hot dog jam
- 2 cups diced Spanish onions
- 1 lb. bacon, diced
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp barbecue sauce
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt, to taste
Fry bacon until just crispy and drain fat. Cook onions in a separate pan until carmelized. Add onions to bacon and simmer, then add remaining ingredients to make jam. Serve on your favorite sausage or hot dog.
Raise your rib game
Adrian Bylewski, chef and owner of Loose Cannon Food Truck, says ribs are a staple at his summer soirees. “When I hear July Fourth, I automatically think about grilling. I believe barbecue is an art form,” Bylewski said. “It takes dedication to master grilled, smoked or pit-roasted meat. “
Bylewski’s baby back ribs are easy enough to prepare even for novice cooks, he said. “The ribs are delicious and they come with a twist.”
No-fail baby back ribs with sweet and spicy sesame glaze
For the ribs:
- Baby back ribs (a half-rack per person is a good estimate)
- Dry rub (store-bought is fine)
- Apple cider or red wine vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
For the glaze:
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4-1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Rinse ribs and pat dry with paper towels. Generously coat with dry rub and place in roasting/braising pan. Combine water, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar in a 2:1:1 ratio to create braising liquid. Fill pan with liquid about one inch deep. Cover pan with tin foil as tightly as possible. Place plan in oven preheated to 275 degrees. Cook for four hours, or until meat begins to pull away from the rib bones.
While ribs are cooking, place glaze ingredients in a saucepot and whisk until combined. Gently heat the glaze until brown sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool.
After cooking, remove rib pan from oven. Be very careful when removing foil, as braising creates lots of steam and can cause burns. Let ribs cool completely, or (ideally) place into refrigerator for 24 hours. Cut ribs into sections.
Fire up your grill! Make sure it’s very hot and the slates have been thoroughly cleaned. Ribs tend to stick to the grill, so a clean hot surface is essential. Slather ribs with glaze, place on grill and cook for around 8-10 minutes or until charred to your liking.
Infuse your deviled eggs
Wyoming County native Peter Emborsky recently returned to Buffalo after cooking around the world, including stops in Europe, Japan and Boston. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he’s excited about Buffalo’s burgeoning food scene.
Now the executive chef at D-Tour Martini Bar on West Chippewa, Emborsky’s passion for cooking started when he helped his grandmother around the kitchen. “My parents shooed me over to my grandparents’ because I was a hyperactive kid,” Emborsky recalled. He learned a picnic classic as a young cook: Deviled eggs. True to his creative nature, Emborsky’s kicked-up version is both colorful and delicious.
Beet deviled eggs
- 2 medium red beets
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 12 large eggs
- 2 quarts red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- Salt, to taste
Place 12 eggs in a medium pot and cover with 4 inches of cold water. Cook on high heat for 16 minutes. Take off heat and cover for 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until eggs cool down. Peel chilled eggs and reserve. Juice one of the beets with a juicer or food processor. (Be careful not to stain your clothing.) Strain juice from the pulp and add to a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sugar, salt, red wine vinegar and water, and bring mixture to a boil.
While the liquid is heating, place cool eggs in a sealable plastic container with at least an inch between the eggs and the top of the container. Shave remaining raw beet, red onion and garlic over the top of the eggs, then pour beet liquid from saucepan slowly and carefully over the eggs. Cover in parchment paper and place in fridge overnight.
The next day, remove eggs from liquid and cut in half. Put yokes in a food processor with a pinch of salt and mayonnaise. Blend until smooth. Put yolk mixture into a plastic piping bag (a ziplock bag with the corner cut out will do in a pinch). Pipe egg mixture into each of the whites of the eggs. Garnish with some of the pickled beets and onions and your favorite herb (scallion and cilantro are good options).
Punch up your apple pie
What’s an Independence Day party without dessert? Incomplete, says Jane Cooke, sous chef at This Little Pig in Williamsville.
“I like to add cool twists, especially for a fun summer party, because it’s not as traditional as a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, when people may be nostalgic for desserts their family always makes the same way,“ noted Cooke, who said she grew up baking with her mom.
Apple pie is great a la mode, she said, but this recipe takes it a step further with cool, creamy maple topping and a crunchy caramelized sugar top. “I like to serve this with whipped cream, candied pistachios and whiskey-spiked caramel,” she said.
Maple crème apple pie
- 1 cup flour
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 8 tbsp water
Cut shortening into flour until lumpy; stir in water gradually, just until mixture comes together. Turn onto floured surface and roll out to fit a 10-inch pie pan. Transfer to pan; set aside.
- 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Juice of 1 lemon
Toss apples with other ingredients; add to pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 60-75 minutes (until liquid is bubbling). While it’s baking, make the maple crème.
- 1-1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk sugar, salt and cornstarch together; add heavy cream and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat until boiling; remove from heat and temper in egg yolks. Return to stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat; spread over baked pie and let cool in a refrigerator until set.
Once pie is set, sprinkle granulated sugar over the top and brulée with a blow torch (or carefully in a broiler) until caramelized. Slice and serve immediately.
Spike the lemonade
Jane Cooke need only ask her brother and his wife for a refreshing lemonade accompaniment. Jeff and Mandy Cooke have been at the helm of the Transit Road restaurant since it opened last July.
“I like this recipe because it’s a staple for the holiday. By adding the whiskey, I kick it up a notch and make it different than the usual vodka and lemonades you’ll find at most picnics or gatherings,” explained Mandy Cooke, who’s been crafting cocktails for more than 20 years.
Lemonade Whiskey Sangria
- 1 bottle Rosé wine
- 2 cups pink lemonade
- 1 ounce vanilla simple syrup
- 2 ounces Clementine vodka
- 2 ounces whiskey
Combine all in pitcher. Finish over ice with equal parts Sangria mixture and club soda; garnish with an orange slice.
Story topics: Food + Drink