Garden Plate: Fourth of July recipes to try from all corners of America – Jersey’s Best

Happy Birthday, America!

The United States is truly a melting pot from the far-reaching corners to our varied center. We have representations of just about every culture’s cuisine across our culinary landscape. In true American fashion, we have adopted them as part of our own. This Fourth of July’s celebration, try out some of them.

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California cuisine has always been at the forefront of combining tasty recipes with healthy foods — it is, after all, the birthplace of the avocado toast. This appetizer will make the most of our Jersey tomatoes, too.


Servings: 10

2 loaves baguette or Italian or French bread, sliced on the bias into 1/2-inch slices, toasted

2 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped coarsely

1 lemon, juice only

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 large tomatoes, cored and chopped coarsely

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ sweet onion (such as Vidalia)

1 small bunch basil, chopped coarsely



Balsamic glaze to garnish

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the topping. Just before serving, spoon onto bread toasts. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

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Our southeastern corner boasts one of the most iconic New Orleans dishes: gumbo! Packed with flavor, versatile (add just about any protein or combo) and a crowdpleaser, what better way to salute America.


Servings: 10

1 cup canola oil

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 pounds andouille sausage (or chorizo, if not available), cut into 1½-inch slices

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 green bell peppers, ribs removed, chopped

3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼ teaspoon cayenne powder

2 quarts chicken stock

2 bay leaves

3 springs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (large or jumbo works best) (optional)

¾ teaspoon file powder (available in spice section, Tony Chachere’s brand is commonly found in most markets)

Cooked rice to serve (about 1 cup per person)

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced to garnish

Hot sauce to serve (Crystal is a great brand)

In a large Dutch oven, heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Brown chicken in batches, about 4 minutes per side and remove to a platter. Brown sausage in batches and remove to same platter. Add remaining oil to the Dutch oven and the flour. With a wooden or other heatproof spoon, combine. Lower the heat to low and continue to stir, almost continuously so that it doesn’t burn. Continue to cook until it is dark brown, darker than peanut butter but lighter than milk chocolate. Making the roux will take about 1 hour so make sure to alternate stirring arms. Add vegetables and garlic. Stir frequently, so again, the roux doesn’t burn, and the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add cayenne and stir for 1 minute. Add stock, bay leaves, thyme and black pepper. Add chicken and sausage. Allow to simmer over medium low heat for 1½ hours. Add shrimp and simmer for 20 minutes more. Remove from heat and add file powder. Serve along with rice, scallions and hot sauce.

The southwest corner of our great country has its cuisine rooted in Native American and Mexican flavors. Here is a great vegetarian option that will wow even the carnivores at your Fourth of July celebration.


Servings: 10

For the filling:

2 tablespoon canola oil

2 onions, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed

One 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes and jalapenos (RO-TEL is a popular brand)

One 15-ounce can bean (pinto, black, kidney, etc.), drained and rinsed well

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

For the topping:

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup ground cornmeal

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 large egg

½ cup sour cream

2 teaspoons butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 375°F

Make the filling:

In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cumin and chili powder. Stir and sauté another 2 minutes. Add corn, tomatoes, and beans. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour into a 6-cup casserole dish. Top with cheese and jalapeno.

Make the topping:

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk. Add egg, sour cream and melted butter. Spoon over filling.

Bake until filling is brown and tests clean, about 25 minutes.

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Enjoying the day on “The Fourth” is key. Use this super duper easy hack to make a dessert to please everyone. The best part is that it can be assembled the night before.


Servings: 24

For the cake:

1 box yellow cake mix

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2-3 eggs (depending on mix recipe)


Vegetable oil

Nonstick spray

For the pudding:

1 box vanilla instant pudding mix

1 cup whole or low fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate topping:

½ heavy cream

One 11-ounce bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, prepare cake mix as directed but add vanilla as well.

Spray two 12- or one 24-cupcake tin with nonstick spray. Distribute cake batter among the cups evenly, taking care not to fill over ¾ of the way. Bake according to package directions, until a cake tester tests clean. Cool completely and refrigerate 1 hour uncovered.

Prepare the pudding by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until thick, about 2-3 minutes (just think of those stellar arms you’ll develop). Chill for 2 hours.

To fill the cupcakes, split them in half (using a super sharp pairing knife works well). Spread the thick pudding on the bottom half. Replace the top half and place on a serving tray. Chill about 30 minutes.

To make the topping, heat the cream in a large microwave safe bowl on high for 1 minute. Add the chips and stir until melted. Drizzle (or slather) on the tops of the cupcakes. Return to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.