Recipes for Fourth of July - what an ex-pat misses

By Monica Shaw •

Our resident American food blogger at Great British ChefsMonica Shaw, is from Chicago, but will be celebrating 4th July in the UK.  We asked her for some thoughts on some of the food she'd be eating in the US and some of her favourite foodie family traditions for the occasion.  She shares her Cabbage Salad recipe, often requested by her UK friends when having a barbecue & bringing back memories of Fourth of July in the US.

Photography & blog post by Monica Shaw

Independence Day, aka the Fourth of July, is less than a week away, and no doubt people across the United States are stocking up on American flags, fireworks and barbecue kit in ready for the celebration. Fourth of July is one of the holidays I miss most since moving from Chicago, and having chosen to settle in the UK, I find it someone ironic that I feel so nostalgic about an occasion that celebrates America's Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. True, the holiday may be all about patriotism, but for me it's more about celebrating family and summertime over an epic feast and a few fireworks.

My family has always celebrated Fourth of July with a big old barbecue and pot-luck. Looking back, I'm amused by how quintessentially American our Fourth of July parties were, and the same traditions seemed to follow year after year: Uncle Jeff cooking burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob on the barbecue; Auntie Jo's crock pot sloppy joes; Grandma Helen's sherbet punch and "crown jewel" Jello mold.

Following that comes the memory of the whole family, stuffed and bursting, lugging lawn chairs into town to watch fireworks under the stars.

As us kids grew up, the dishes became a little more adventurous: tofu kebabs; grilled pineapple; strawberry and spinach salad. But one recipe has stood the test of time and that is my grandma's "Oriental Cabbage Salad", so called because its original incarnation included Ramen noodles, the instant kind you buy in a square packet.

My grandma would add these noodles, uncooked, to the salad, and they'd absorb some of the dressing and get all soft but semi-crispy. I can't deny that it adds a certain amount of joy to the dish, but I now leave them out as my brain has become stubbornly adverse to processed food.  Here is the recipe as I make it now: my friends always request this "cabbage salad" when I have a barbecue. For me, it's a little bit of Fourth of July spirit here in my new home in Britain.   

Oriental Cabbage Salad

1/2 head cabbage, finely sliced or shredded

4 green onions, sliced

1 carrot, shredded

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup of raisins

1/3 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar



Combine the cabbage, onions, carrot, almonds, sesame seeds and raisins in a large bowl.

Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper in a jar with a tight lid.  Shake really well.

Toss the dressing with the cabbage mixture shortly before serving  (You may not need all the dressing, so pour on just enough to suit your tastes).

Photography & blog post by Monica Shaw

If you're looking for recipes for Fourth of July parties, check out Great British Chefs Independence Day recipe collection.

It's relatively easy to keep meat eaters happy at barbecues, but which vegetarian dishes or desserts are your favourites for BBQs? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.


Monica Shaw

Monica Shaw is web consultant working with chefs, restaurants & food producers, to help them make use of the internet to improve their businesses. She's also a freelance writer, her credits include The Daily Telegraph, Chef Magazine and food mag. Monica enjoys experimenting with vegetables & creating delicious & healthy dishes, a topic covered on her blog SmarterFitter.com. She is working on The Healthy Vegan Breakfast Book, due to be published in March 2013

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