We all have our customs for the traditional holidays, but as I am sure many of you are not surprised to learn, I like thinking outside the box. When it comes to holidays, I like celebrating the rare and whimsical ones — some you may have heard of and some you may have not. Here are some of my dinner ideas for these not-so-celebrated holidays.
National Television Day — Nov. 21: For those of you who didn’t know, Nov. 21 is National Television Day. What better way to celebrate television than by sprucing up your TV dinner with some duck meatloaf. I love to use cornbread instead of regular breadcrumbs, with red pepper flakes for a little heat. It’s also fun to play around with the shape. I like to pack it into a funnel and remove for a cone shape, then I fry a quail egg and place on the peak to pop the yolk — there you have it, a meatloaf volcano.
Martin Luther King —Jan. 21: My menu for this holiday is a salute to Dr. King, for his love for Southern cuisine and to the South. My crackling Pork Shank with Firecracker Applesauce is the perfect nod to the South, and I’d serve a warm pecan pie with Breckenridge bourbon whipped cream for dessert.
Ground Hog Day — Feb. 2: I love celebrating this holiday, because it gets me excited for spring. While ground hog isn’t widely available, rabbit is pretty darn close and makes a nice stand-in on the holiday.
Earth Day — April 22: What could be considered earthier than mushrooms? You can practically see the dirt on them when you buy them at the store. I always make a batch of mushroom soup on Earth Day to celebrate the holiday.
National Flag Day — June 14: For flag day, I like to pay a nod to the American flag and our traditions and cook up a barbecue. For a little zip or pop of flavor to your barbecue sauce, add ingredients such as your favorite coffee grinds, ginger, lemon peel, or peach purée — these will give your barbecue some depth.
Bastille Day — July 14: On this French holiday I’d cook two of my favorite French dishes: coq au vin and a Gruyère omelette with fresh chives.
National Tequila Day — July 24: Ceviche is the perfect way to celebrate National Tequila Day, seeing as it is the main ingredient for the dish. Or of course, you could just enjoy it in the form of a good old-fashioned margarita and pair it with my Tuna Tacos.
Labor Day — Sept. 2: While it’s just passed, I hope this will give you some inspiration for next year. In honor of the American workers' achievement, what better than to cook some hearty steak and potatoes on the grill. Instead of regular old potatoes, run rosemary branches through them and wrap them with foil — place directly on the coals on the grill and bake for the amount of time it takes to cook the steaks or until soft. Late summer is also the best time to take advantage of the surplus of rip tomatoes, which I like to use for my Gazpacho with Crabmeat Salad recipe.