"I love having summer parties but it's gotten harder to plan a menu now that it feels like everyone is on a special diet," Ina Garten wrote on Instagram just before Memorial Day. "Dessert can be especially tricky, but I always try to make one that everyone can eat."
A little over a month later, she's posted her always-anticipated July 4 menu and — thank goodness! — it includes a delicious gluten-free dessert option too. (Actually, there are two gluten-free dessert options, if you can find or make your own graham crackers, sans gluten).
Although dessert is clearly the most important part of any menu — whether or not you're entertaining — the other details are exactly what you'd expect for this mid-summer holiday, focusing on fresh ingredients and an entrée you can theoretically eat with your hands, and creating a brightly colored table.
Garten's Independence Day menu starts with guacamole, which gets a little kick from a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. (Her recipe makes three cups, which should cover the amount that I'll eat before any of my guests arrive.) The main course is oven-fried chicken, which will spend the night before marinating in buttermilk.
"My Oven-Fried Chicken is the best of all worlds. I marinate the chicken in buttermilk so it's moist, then fry it quickly on the stove so it's crispy, and finally, I roast it in the oven so it's not at all greasy," she explains. "Even better, I can do the messy part (the dipping and frying!!) before guests arrive and just throw the chicken in the oven to finish cooking before dinner."
The accompanying tomato feta salad can also be assembled well in advance, and you can do all of the prep for the sautéed fresh corn the night before too — it just needs eight to 10 minutes of cook time before it's ready to go on the table.
So, about those desserts … the only part of this menu that she's rated as "intermediate" is the massive blueberry and raspberry flag cake, either because it requires the ability to create small icing stars in the blueberry-covered upper-left corner or because she trusts that intermediate home chefs won't squeeze the entire bag into their own mouths.
The other dessert choice is s'mores with homemade toasted coconut marshmallows and, yes, that means you're making those 'mallows completely from scratch. It also gives you something to casually mention while you're watching the fireworks. "Oh these? Yes, I made them this afternoon."
Happy 4th of July, everyone! Be safe, and no one is judging you for eating all of that icing. At least that's what I'm telling myself.