The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Florida Recipes to Celebrate the Fourth

by | Jul 4, 2016

Happy 240th birthday, America! To help celebrate the Fourth of July, we asked some friends around the state to share some of their favorite recipes. Hope you enjoy.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – Florida Watermelon & Blueberry Salad

The Florida Department of Agriculture’s website has many delicious recipes made with Sunshine State ingredients, including this simple fruit salad. With just two ingredients, this inexpensive and easy recipe would be a great one to let the kids help make.

florida watermelon and blueberry saladIngredients:
½ Florida watermelon, peeled
1 pint Florida blueberries, rinsed

Cut peeled watermelon into 1-inch cubes.
Place cubed watermelon on a platter and garnish with blueberries.
Serve chilled.

We’d consider adding some mini-marshmallows to make it a true red-white-and-blue treat. (Brush your teeth afterwards!)

The Agriculture Department’s website also has a recipe for a blueberry cheesecake that could easily be given some patriotic flair by adding some strawberries or raspberries along with the blueberries.

Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli – Grilled Quail

For the hunters, here is Speaker Crisafulli’s favorite way to prepare quail. We’d imagine the flavorings would be pretty tasty with doves or cornish game hens too.

  • Toss in soy sauce
  • Sprinkle with preferred seasonings (Crisafulli recommends char crust, roasted garlic, and cracked black pepper)
  • Spray with cooking spray
  • Grill over high heat until just charred
  • Baste with sauce
  • Cook in oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes


  • 1 part butter
  • 1 part creole mustard
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 2 parts brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Bring to a boil, then remove from heat

Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn – Egg Salad

In the unending Mayo vs. Miracle Whip debate, Mayor Bruhn is on Team Miracle Whip. He sent along his favorite egg salad recipe with the instructions, “No fancy mustard and no mayo!”

  • 4 to 6 boiled eggs
  • 2 to 3 healthy squirts of French’s yellow mustard
  • A sprinkle of salt, 2 dashes of pepper
  • Enough Miracle Whip to make it creamy

Val Prieto – “American Pork of Cuban Descent”

When I asked Val, the founding editor of Babalú Blog, for a contribution to this article, I knew I was going to get a wonderful traditional Cuban recipe. “Pork. Definitely pork,” was the initial reply to my request, followed by this part story/part recipe that soon arrived in my email inbox from Val.


Cubans celebrate almost every occasion with pork. Birthdays? Pork. Christmas? Major pork. Thanksgiving? Turkey and a pork leg on the side. Whether it’s broiled in the oven or grilled outside in a pit or on a spit, we almost always serve pork on special days. No matter how it’s prepped, the main ingredient is always the same: Mojo. Cuban marinade, an addictive mixture of sour orange, garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt.

We’re celebrating the 4th of July with a more Americanized version of our holiday staple this year. Call it an American pork of Cuban descent: Smoked pork loin with a tropical rub in a guava glaze, hold the mojo.


Remove as much of the fat from the pork loin as you prefer (I like to leave a bit on for extra flavor) and mix one packet of the Sazon Goya with enough of the Badia seasoning to ensure even coverage. Give the pork loin a good rub and set in refrigerator overnight.

cuban pork loin

Photo credit: Val Prieto.

Remove the pork loin from refrigerator right before you start your smoker. Make sure you control the smoker temp to a 225 to 250 degree range and no higher. Meat like a pork loin should be water smoked and I like to use a red wine instead of water in the pan.

Once your smoker temp is set and your wine pan is in place, give the pork loin a light brushing with the guava marmalade and place in the smoker directly on the grill. Toss your wood chips in (whether you use the foil method or the moist wood method) and smoke for at least two hours or until the pork loin has reached 140 degrees internal temp. Give it another quick guava marmalade basting and smoke some more until the internal temp reaches 145. (Pork loin will dry out if overcooked, thus its important to remove from heat once it’s reached 145.)

Remove from heat, let it set for a minute or three and then cut into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices. Serve with a dollop of guava marmalade and whatever sides you prefer.

Two things I should note: If you like a little tang on your pork, you can saute one part of your favorite barbecue sauce with two or three parts guava marmalade. The wood chips you use make a huge difference in taste as well. Ideally, you want chips from a fruit tree. I have a guava tree and thus I use guava chips and chunks, but apple chips work really well with pork, too.

Buen provecho and Happy Birthday, USA!

Christian Cámara – Tía Tatica’s Cuban Torrejas

christian camara tia tatica

Christian Cámara with his Great Uncle Mac and Great Aunt Tatica, 1996. Courtesy of the Cámara family.

Christian, R Street’s Florida State Director and contributor at The Capitolist, also enjoys making traditional Cuban recipes passed down through his family, and when he told me he had a recipe for the “Cuban version of french toast,” I was intrigued.

This recipe for torrejas (to-rre-has) comes from Christian’s great aunt, who was nicknamed “Tatica.”  “Every year I insisted that she teach me how to make them, and finally one year she relented,” wrote Christian in his email sending along the recipe.

Tía Tatica would make torrejas for the family every year for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), and they’re a great dessert for any time of year.


  • 1 loaf of Cuban bread (May be substituted with French Bread)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • Frying oil (corn, vegetable, or canola works fine)
  • 3 or 4 eggs
  • 1 can of evaporated milk (or similar amount of egg nog, if available)
  • ½ teaspoon powdered cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons powdered cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • A few cinnamon sticks (for garnish)
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons of anise liqueur (optional, and to taste)



  • Cut loaf of bread into 1-2” slices
  • Add evaporated milk (or egg nog) into a mixing bowl deep enough for bread slices to be individually dunked
  • Whisk-in the powdered cinnamon and nutmeg into the milk bowl
  • In a similar, but separate bowl whisk-in the eggs
  • Add frying oil to a deep skillet or sauce pan enough to cover the bread slices; bring to medium heat
  • Line a cookie sheet or other pan with paper towels to soak up grease


  • These steps must be done individually and quickly so the bread will not fall apart once soaked
  • Individually soak each bread slice in milk mixture, then generously coat it with eggs, and carefully drop into heated oil
  • Repeat step #1 for additional slices of bread until no more bread fits in the heated oil skillet
  • Allow bread slices to fry for about 3-4 minutes; when light golden brown, flip for another 2-3 minutes
  • After both sides are a light golden brown, remove from oil and place on paper towel-lined cookie sheets
  • Repeat for remaining bread slices.


  • Add sugar, water, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks to a saucepan
  • Bring to a high boil for about 5 minutes
  • Reduce heat to medium for about 10-15 minutes (slowly add anise liqueur to taste, if desired)
  • The syrup should be done once it coats the back of a wooden spoon.


Place fried bread slices into a deep dish, and pour syrup solution to allow it to soak. Serve on a flat dessert plate and spoon some syrup over bread slice; garnish with cinnamon stick or two. It is delicious either á la mode (within a few hours of preparation), or cold out of the refrigerator. Do not reheat in microwave. Keeps for about a week refrigerated.


Rick and Molly Wilson – English Pea Salad

This salad has long been a family favorite for Republican strategist Rick Wilson and his wife, art gallery manager Molly, to add variety or as an alternative to potato salad or coleslaw at cookouts. Also, the irony of “English” pea salad for the American independence day is pretty funny, as Molly pointed out when she emailed the recipe.

  • 2 cups canned LeSeur Peas, drained (you can use any peas you want, frozen or fresh, but these are the deep-South favorite)
  • 3 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Combine all ingredients (eggs last)
  • Chill and serve

Rumpf family – Berry Flag Cake

My mom has made several varieties of a flag cake with fresh berries making the flag design, and recommended this Pillsbury version as tasty and easy to make. To avoid getting the Pillsbury lawyers after us, I’ll encourage you to check out the recipe directly on the Pillsbury website.

My family has made this kind of cake before with strawberries instead of raspberries, and it’s fun to let the kids help make the berry flag.

I’ve also seen similar cakes made with pound cake, then whip cream for the frosting, and a similar berry design.

Thank you to all our readers — we’re less than a week old, and the response has been overwhelming. The Capitolist wishes all of you a very happy Fourth of July, and may God bless the men and women of our armed forces and the families that support them.

Photo credit: Fort Bragg via Flickr.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

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