Easy Appetizer:: Eggplant Camponata

 

If you have your copy of Cocktail Italiano, you know that it’s not only filled with cocktails but also delicious appetizers. In the section on Imperia, an industrial town along the coast, you’ll find three classic cocktails and several nibble recipes. This eggplant camponata is one of them. Camponata is one of my favorite, stand by appetizers. It’s creamy, spicy, salty, and of course, eggplant-y. It’s divine.

I like to serve mine with thin crackers or crostini, along with arugula and grape tomatoes. Plate it all with a touch of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the best olive oil you have. Enjoy!

Eggplant Camponata

You will need:

– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped
– 4 cups of cubed eggplant, skin on (1″ cubes)
– 1 cup chopped tomatoes
– 1 cup chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup capers
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 cup tomato sauce (from a jar is fine, unless you have homemade hanging around)
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste
– Parmesan cheese for garnish
– Crispy crackers or flat crostini (find this recipe in Cocktail Italiano, too!)

To prepare:

In a large pan, saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add all other ingredients, except Parmesan cheese. Cover and stir frequently, so camponata does not stick. Saute on low heat until combined and soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Serve as a warm appetizer on crisp crackers and plate with arugula and tomatoes. Enjoy alongside cold white or sparkling wine with friends.

xx Annette

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4th of July Cocktail:: American Shakerato

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Today I’ve got a fun summer cocktail for you just in time for July 4th, the Americano Shakerato. Shakerato simply means “shaken.” Shaken vigorously. The agitation of drinks forms a desired foam, and this technique is used in many classic drinks to add a little foam. Almost anything can be a shakerato!

Give it a try, or any other recipes from Cocktail Italiano, and let me know what you think!

American Shakerato
serves 1

You will need:

1.5 ounces sweet vermouth
1.5 ounces campari
– 1 orange peel

To prepare:

Chill a martini glass with ice, then discard the ice.

Place the vermouth and Campari into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake, and strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

xx Annette

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Grill Masters:: Smoked Branzino

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It’s officially grilling season, and with Fourth of July this weekend, why not take your grilling to a new level and try your hand at grilled Branzino?

Branzino is flaky and subtle, and it takes on flavors quite well. I love to smoke it with rosemary from our garden. The results are a buttery smokey flavor with a soft and melt in your mouth texture. It’s a great summer recipe and the flavors could be translated to other fish types as well. Let me know if you give it a try!

Smoked Branzino
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3  whole cleaned Branzino about 2 lbs
– 3 lemons
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary on the stems
– 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped coarsely
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 3 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare:

Have your fishmonger gut and clean the fish. Rinse under cold water, pat dry and set aside.

In a glass dish place fish and coat with thyme, rosemary, salt and oil, squeeze 1 lemon over the fish and massage into the fish. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Start the fire, after coals are white, (about 1 hour) pull the fish from the fridge place on the grill, place the large bunch of rosemary next to the fish and close the lid of the grill. Smoke should start forming, do not open the grill for 5 minutes. This will ensure the smoky flavor permeates the fish.

After 5 minutes, gently turn the fish to cook the other side. Add more rosemary if the rosemary has burned. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Watching to make sure the fish doesn’t burn.

Remove and garnish with lemon slices and serve warm.

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The Negroni Sbagliato

I am always asked what my favorite cocktail is, and without hesitation, I say the classic Negroni or the Negroni Sbagliato from Bar Basso, they make it best.

I am a Campari girl and always will be. Since we cannot get to Italy anytime soon, do yourself a favor and make one of these cocktails at home. Sit on the terrace or patio or porch, listen to some Italian hits on spotify and create your own apero-o-clock at home.

Negroni Sbagliato – Bar Basso
serves 1

You will need:
– 1 ounce sweet vermouth
– 1 ounce Campari
– 1 ounce lightly sparkling wine
– Orange slice

To prepare:

Combine vermouth and Campari in an ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling wine, stir to combine and garnish.

Photo credit: Moi

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Aperitivo Recipe:: Parmesan Crisps

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If you follow along on Instagram, you know that I’ve been meeting a few friends weekly via ZOOM for a virtual aperitivo. We nosh on nibbles and sip on drinks and catch up.

These lovely little two-bite parmesan crisps are savory and salty with a crunch—perfect to serve with a chilled citrus-y glass of prosecco or rose and ideal for aperitivo. In my book, I serve them with a tomato jam and mozzarella (seen above), but they really are lovely alone, too!

Two Bite Parmesan Crisps
Makes about 32

You will need:
– 8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
– Place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on a cookie sheet fitted with a silpat.
– Arrange the spoonfuls about 3 inches apart as they will spread to form round crisps.

To prepare:
Place in a 350 F degree oven for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before enjoying.

 

From my book Picture Perfect Parties RIzzoli NY

 

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