Summer is finally upon us. Hallelujah! And with the advent of summer, the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day, follows shortly — a day full of enjoying our freedom through playing outdoor games, observing the commandment of “Thou shalt make red rockets glare,” and eating and drinking with abandon.
Growing up, the Fourth of July was my favoritefavoritefavorite holiday. The family would gather at my aunt and uncle’s house with the pool. My Aunt Mary would have a a pile of prizes to rival a toy store’s — supersoakers, bubblemakers, waterballoons, pool floaties — for the hours upon hours worth of games she had planned. We played bocce, had races in the pool, tossed waterballoons — we even ate whip cream pies competitively once. I looked forward to the Fourth of July like other kids look forward to presents in December.
And boy, could my Aunt Mary cook. It’s entirely possible that I looked forward to the holiday solely for her fruit pizza. Could my mom have made it in the “off-season”? Sure. But she didn’t, and even if she had, my aunt’s would always be the best.
When my aunt died a few years ago, and my uncle sold the house, that was the end of our family’s Fourth of July celebrations as I had known them. Now my husband and I spend time with our siblings and parents at their pool. We see fireworks in their neighborhoods. The holiday is the same, but also evolving. And every year I try to make this fruit pizza as an homage to my aunt, whose amazingness shined brightest at the Fourth of July, brighter than the fireworks and brighter than the sun glaring off the pool.
It’s Jewish to remember, but is it Jewish to remember through food? I think so — but I’m also the one who preaches “praying culinarily,” so I’m probably biased.
Perhaps this recipe will help you create your own Fourth of July memories and traditions. Maybe your niece will remember you as an amazing baker — which might feel like cheating, since this recipe is so unbelievably easy. The crust is a refrigerated sugar cookie dough pressed into a large baking sheet; the “sauce” is cream cheese mixed with pineapple juice and some sugar, and the toppings are whatever fruit you want. How can you go wrong?
1 pkg refrigerated sugar cookie dough (like from Pillsbury)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C sugar
1 C chunk pineapple; drain, reserving juice
Fruit: grapes, berries, cherries, bananas, etc. (blueberries, strawberries, and bananas make a great red-white-and-blue presentation!)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Slice cookie dough (makes it easier to work with) and press into a baking sheet or pizza pan. Double-up the edges to form the “crust” if you want.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack (do not remove cookie crust from pan).
- Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and 2 Tbsp pineapple juice. Spread over cookie evenly.
- Place sliced fruit on top. Drizzle with orange sauce (recipe below).
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into individual pieces (squares work well).
1 C sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 small can frozen orange juice (~8 oz)
1/4 C lemon juice
The rest of the drained pineapple juice
- Combine all ingredients in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
- Boil one minute.
- Pour over fruit.