Ramp Up Your Fourth of July with Recipes from Holland America Line’s Master Chef

Fourth of July in the United States is coming up, and it’s a holiday where many people come together for a barbecue or festive meal. Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin has an array of recipes, including a tasty sangria, that will elevate your cookout and add a some culinary excitement to your celebration.

As Rudi says, “It will be hard to tell who enjoyed the finger-licking Baby Back Ribs and Blueberry Cobbler more — those with the napkins on their laps or those with sauce on their face.”

I have found myself in all corners of the globe on Independence Day, and no matter which port of call I’ve been in on the Fourth of July, I feel the excitement of this American holiday as profoundly as if I were at home in Florida. It is such a great holiday – basically, an entire day devoted to fun and spectacle.

On the Fourth of July, everyone is American and celebrates the very notion of freedom as a fundamental human need and right. To me, Independence Day represents and celebrates fun itself. Adults and children alike enjoy with equal enthusiasm simple pleasures like parades and picnics, as well as the star-spangled spectacular of a midsummer night’s firework display. — Master Chef Rudi Sodamin


Delicious baby back ribs.

Delicious baby back ribs.

4 servings

6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 (2-2 1/4 pound) racks baby back pork ribs
1 1/4 cups apple cider or unfiltered apple juice, divided
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup apple brandy, brandy or dark rum
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large onion, sliced

1. Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the salt and spices in a small bowl. With a small, sharp knife, loosen the membrane from the underside of each rib rack. Use your fingers or a pair of pliers to pull off the membrane from the rack. (Alternatively, leave the membrane on the rack but carefully score it with a knife.)

2. Rub 1 tablespoon of seasoning mix into each side of each rack. Place the ribs in a large roasting pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours. (The ribs can be stored this way for up to 1 day.)

3. Heat the oven to 325°F. In a glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the cider, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the apple butter, brandy, vinegar and mustard. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and lift them up so you can scatter the onion slices under them. Pour the remaining 1 cup apple cider in the pan and arrange the ribs meat side down on the onions. Cover the pan with foil and roast the ribs until the meat is tender and begins to pull away from the bones, about 2 hours. Uncover; allow to cool at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

5. Heat a grill to medium-high. Grill the ribs until heated through and slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. Brush the ribs on all sides with the basting sauce, then grill the ribs about 3 minutes longer per side. Transfer the racks to a cutting board and cut between the bones to separate the ribs. Arrange on a platter and present any remaining sauce on the side.

Note: These ribs can also be finished under the broiler instead of the grill, making them a year-round treat!


6 servings

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 to 6 medium peaches, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the melted butter into the bottom of a 9-inch-square baking dish or divide it among six ramekins placed on a baking sheet. Add the peaches and blueberries to the butter and toss gently. Bake for 20 minutes, until the fruit begins to bubble. Maintain the oven temperature.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the milk until just combined. (Do not overmix.) Spoon the batter over the fruit.

3. Return the cobbler to the oven and bake for 25 more minutes (20 minutes for the ramekins) or until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream.


Try this summer pudding this July 4!

Try this summer pudding this July 4!

4 to 6 servings

4 pints mixed ripe summer berries (such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, black or red currants), gently rinsed and dried, and strawberries hulled and sliced
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices good-quality white bread, challah or brioche, left out overnight to stale
Whipped cream, for serving
Mint sprigs, for garnish

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water. Gently cook, stirring until the berries have released their juice and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Lightly grease cereal bowls with butter and line them with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap lies flat against the surface of the bowl, leaving no air space (the butter helps the wrap stay in place). Remove the crusts from the bread and line each bowl with the bread slices, trimming them to fit and ensuring there are no gaps. Spoon some fruit and juices into each bowl, add a layer of bread, add more fruit, and finish with a slice of bread trimmed to completely cover the top.

3. Loosely cover each bowl with plastic wrap and place a saucer and a weight (like a can of beans) on top. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. To serve, remove the weight, saucer, and plastic wrap and unmold onto individual plates. Serve with whipped cream and garnish with mint sprigs.

Notes: This British-style “pudding” isn’t steamed like its wintertime counterpart. Instead it depends solely on the oozing juice of fresh, ripe fruit for its moisture. Quick and easy, it is the perfect dessert to toss together after a morning of berry picking.


Try making this refreshing sangria.

Try making this refreshing sangria.

4 to 6 servings

2 large oranges, well washed
1 large lemon, well washed and sliced
¼ cup superfine sugar
2 red apples, well washed, cored and chopped
¼ cup triple sec
¼ cup brandy, or a mixture of half brandy and half Grand Marnier
1 (750 milliliter) bottle inexpensive fry red wine (such as roja), chilled
½ cup sparkling water, chilled (optional)
6 ice cubes

1. Slice one orange and juice the other; set them aside separately.

2. In a large pitcher, combine the orange slices, lemon slices and sugar. With a wooden spoon, mash the fruit gently until some juice is released and the sugar dissolves but the fruit isn’t totally crushed. Stir in the apples, the reserved fresh orange juice, triple sec, brandy and wine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

3. Right before serving, stir in the sparking water (if using) and the ice cubes, making sure to reach the fruit that has settled on the bottom. Divide the sangria among the glasses – let a few pieces of fruit pour into each one – and serve immediately.

Notes: I’ve suggested that you add a touch of Grand Marnier if you’ve got it on hand; it will impact a subtle citrusy flavor and aroma. The option of adding sparkling water is there because it will also help lift the aromas to the nose, though it can be omitted completely if you’d prefer. In addition to citrus fruits, almost any fresh fruit except bananas can be added to sangria. Try pitted cherries, slices peaches, or diced pears and plums. Stir in softer fruits right before serving so they remain intact.

Happy Fourth of July!


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