For me, the Fourth of July is both a public and personal celebration. In Atlanta—once you accept the heat and humidity—summertime in the South is like nowhere else. It’s hot and muggy. It screams for frozen treats, iced tea and lemonade. There is a constant buzz in the air (or maybe that’s just the sound of my beloved bees; I have an apiary both at work and home). And at night, the sound of crickets lulls my daughter to sleep. I love being down here—in my mind, there’s just no better place to eat, cook and enjoy my family.
Even though I am originally from Canada, I like show my American pride and watch my friends and neighbors do the same. We mark the holiday by displaying an American flag starting in late June. We start planning the day’s festivities with neighbors weeks in advance.
On July 4th, you can find me in my backyard serving up homemade sangría, grilling burgers and making pizzas baked in the outdoor brick oven I built myself. Once we’re all full and happy, our neighbors provide a front-row seat to a fireworks show that lasts well into the night. The Fourth of July? It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that just sort of puts everyone in a great mood.
Try my Turkey Burger (light and flavorful) with Grilled Corn Salad—it tastes like summer! Corn is so sweet in the summertime—kids gobble it up without even realizing it’s “healthy.”
We serve this turkey burger regularly at our in-kitchen Burger Bar at Park 75 restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. It’s also great when hosting family or friends for a causal summer lunch or dinner. Add some refreshing peach frozen yogurt for dessert. I like it any time when I can use peaches… this is Georgia!
And if you want more tips, here’s a video of me cooking at home and my thoughts on the key elements: “sweet, salty and sour.” Happy 4th!
Everyone seems to like burgers. And this one is very healthy, so you can feel good about serving it to your children. Plus, kids love to get their hands messy, and making patties can certainly be fun for the whole family. I like to sneak ingredients that people are sometimes uncomfortable or unfamiliar with (i.e., tofu) into burgers. In this dish, the tofu adds moisture: a necessity when working with a meat as lean as turkey.
Make it as a build-your-own Burger Bar—with onions, tomatoes, pickles, avocado, bacon, slices of cheese, whatever you have on hand—and let your guests personalize it.
1. Form into hamburger patties (approximately ½-pound each or slightly smaller, depending on number of burgers desired).
2. Grill until cooked to desired degree of doneness.
3. Serve on a Kaiser bun with your choice of toppings. Makes four to six burgers.
This makes a nice salad accented with a few slices of avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime, ideal for a casual summer get-together or potluck picnic dish. And since it’s mayonnaise-free, it can sit outside as needed. It’s really very simple: just a few ingredients. It can be made and stored for days, and works as a relish, salad or simple side dish.
1. Grill the ears of corn until nicely charred. Once the corn has cooled carefully remove the kernels from the cob and set aside.
2. Prepare the vinaigrette: in a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cut the avocado into pieces. Lightly toss with the corn, onions and vinaigrette.
4. Sprinkle the goat cheese and cilantro on top. Finish with a pinch of salt.
Serves four to six.
This dish takes the guilt out of dessert! And caps off a summertime BBQ perfectly. Making ice cream with the family is always a fun process. You can start in the afternoon when everyone is “bored” and then after dinner, you all get to enjoy this wonderful cool treat.
My wife and I actually started making this yogurt out of necessity. We have a beautiful peach tree in our yard and this year the yield of peaches was crazy. We’ve made jams, chutneys, relishes, and this was another way we could enjoy a “true taste of Georgia.” My daughter absolutely can’t get enough—and really, because it’s so healthy, we feel great about her eating it.
2. Cover and process until blended; set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk; let stand for 1 minute.
4. Heat over low, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.
5. Remove from the heat; stir in sugar and salt until sugar dissolves.
6. Add the yogurt, vanilla and reserved peaches.
7. Fill your freezer cylinder of ice cream two-thirds full; freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
8. When ice cream is frozen, transfer to a freezer container; freeze for two to four hours before enjoying.
9. Serves four to six. Grab a spoon!
Read more on Atlanta in Four Seasons Magazine.
See our Facebook post about that other American favorite, hamburgers (and shakes).
A 20-year veteran of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Robert Gerstenecker joined Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta’s Park 75 restaurant as executive chef in 2004, a promotion he considers a culinary dream come true. A native of Ontario, Canada, Robert gained an appreciation for food through his mother: “She would send me out on the family farm to gather everything from produce to meat and vegetables that were pickled, canned and used year-round.” Today, one of his favorite pastimes is harvesting his own crops. He has created a produce garden and bee apiary on the hotel’s fifth-floor terrace for the restaurant’s acclaimed menu. In his spare time, the chef… cooks! Gerstenecker and wife Brooke are parents to daughter Heidi Rose, born in November 2010.
View all posts from Robert
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