Beautiful Briny Sea Salt meets Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Unicorn Salt

Full disclosure, I am a big lover of salt. As most chef’s will tell you, a dish that is not seasoned perfectly, that’s salt and pepper, is kind of not worth serving. A few weeks back I received an unexpected surprise: a box chock-full of salty and sweet treats from local Atlanta artisan food purveyor Beautiful Briny Sea, along with sugars that I will be using for baking, but most importantly be using for cocktails (watch out for these new recipes on the blog soon).

I decided to try these flavor salts, thoughtfully infused with herbs and spices on a few of my favorite recipes. Last weekend for Sunday supper I made one of our family favorites from Picture Perfect Parties: stuffed leg of lamb, generously stuffed with Meyer lemons, green olives, rosemary and garlic. I liberally used my favorite salt, Magic Unicorn (it is indeed magically delicious) on the outside of the lamb. It was spectacular. Here’s the recipe below, I used about 1 tablespoon (plus a little more:-) and massaged the salt into the lamb before stuffing and tying it up.

Unicorn Salt

Roast Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Lemon and Herbs
Serves 6-8

For the lamb, you will need:
– 1- 4 Pound boneless leg of lamb +kitchen string. Note: Some stores sell this already rolled and secured in a netting. You need to remove this if so.

To prepare the lamb before stuffing:
Liberally sprinkle then rub the outside of the lamb with Magic Unicorn salt, about 1 tablespoon, plus a little extra. Set aside and prepare the stuffing.

Lemon and Herb Stuffing

You will need:
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 4 cloves chopped garlic
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– ½ cup green olives chopped
– ½ cup raisins *optional
– 2 small lemons cut into small wedges, toss the lemon wedges in ½ teaspoon sea salt *note Meyer lemons , should be used if available
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– ½ cup chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon pepper to finish stuffed lamb

To prepare stuffing:

Heat oil and butter add garlic sauté until lightly browned medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and sauté for 5 minutes until combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Place the leg of lamb on a cutting board lined with butcher or parchment paper lie the lamb flat top side down.

Place the stuffing into the middle of the roast mounding it into the middle.

Wrap the sides of the lamb around the stuffing tuck in the ends and tie the lamb with kitchen string, sealing the stuffing.

Place the stuffed lamb on a rack in a roasting pan fattest side up.  Roast at 425 for 15 min. Reduce heat to 325 and roast 30 to 45 minutes or until desired degree of doneness., for medium rare it should read 130 degrees to 135 degree F. Once it’s reached this temperature, remove it from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Carve into slices and serve.

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Sunday Supper Recipe:: Buckwheat Crepes

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A few years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Sinskey wines and belonging to their wine club. Each month I received wine along with a recipe for a unique meal. One of my favorites was Golden Wild Rice Buckwheat Crepes with Mushrooms and Taleggio Cheese. It’s the perfect Sunday supper recipe, especially this time of year.

Golden Wild Rice Buckwheat Crepes with Mushrooms & Taleggio Cheese
Serves: 10 to 12

You will need:
1 recipe crepes
– 1 recipe mushrooms
– 1 recipe bechamel
– 12 ounces Italian Taleggio or Fontina, pulled apart or cut into small pieces
– 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 cup finely chopped cooked Swiss chard or Spinach
– Kosher salt
– Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Toss the pieces of Teleggio with ½ cup of Parmesan in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms and greens and toss well to combine. Add 1 cup of béchamel and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil a 15” x 10” baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1 cup of béchamel evenly in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of Parmesan.

Lay the crepes flat and place about ⅓ cup of the filling in bottom third of the crepe and roll the crepe up. Place the crepes side by side in the prepared baking dish then repeat until all of the crepes are filled.

Pour the remaining béchamel evenly over the top of the filled crepes. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan over the top.

Place the crepes in the preheated oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Crepe

Buckwheat Wild Rice Crepe Batter
Yield: 16 crepes

You will need:
– 1½ cups all-purpose flour
– ¼ cup buckwheat flour
– 2 teaspoons kosher salt
– 3 cups water, divided
– 6 large eggs
– Extra virgin olive oil
– 2 cups wild rice

To prepare:

Mix flour, buckwheat and salt. Mix eggs, 2½ cups water and ¼ cup olive oil and slowly beat into flour mixture. Beat until smooth.

Add the wild rice. Let rest for 20 minutes covered at room temperature. Batter to should be thin enough to easily coat the bottom of a pan when swirled. Add more water to thin if necessary.

Heat a 10” nonstick pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot brush lightly with olive oil.

Use a scant 4 ounce ladle or ½ cup measure to pour batter into pan and roll around to thinly cover bottom. Stir the batter well before scooping to make sure you get wild rice in the scoop.

Cook on one side over medium heat until batter is set and edges start to brown. Flip over and cook for a few seconds on the other side.

Use a spatula to remove the crepe to a plate or simply flip the pan over and let the crepe land on the plate. Smooth the crepe so it flat for stacking. If you will be freezing the crepes separate each crepe with squares of parchment paper. Let cool.

Note: Crepes can be stored at room temperature overnight, tightly wrapped after cooling or frozen up to 2 months tightly sealed.

Sauteed Mushrooms
Yields: 4 cups

These delicious and fragrant mushrooms can be used to stuff omelets, top pizzas, or accompany a nice grilled steak.

You will need:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 2 pounds thinly sliced crimini mushrooms
– Kosher salt
– Freshly ground black pepper
– 2 teaspoons thyme
– 1 teaspoon minced garlic
– 3 tablespoons minced shallots

To prepare:

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot add the olive oil and then the mushrooms.

Cook for 10 to 12 minutes stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are golden and the pan juices are almost dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to medium, fold in the thyme, garlic and shallots and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Turn out onto a sheet pan to cool before using.

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Béchamel Sauce
Yield: 4 cups

You will need:

– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 5 cups whole milk
– 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
– 1 small bay leaf, dried or fresh
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until the butter and the flour are thoroughly combined. Continue to cook the mixture over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the milk 1 cup at a time. Whisk until the paste is smooth than add another cup of milk and repeat the process until the milk is finished. The milk and flour should be smooth and slightly thickened.

Place the pan back over medium heat and add the onion and the bay leaf. Bring the sauce to a boil while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. The sauce will form a crust on the bottom so try not to disturb it with the wooden spoon or you will have brown flecks in your sauce. To avoid this, you can transfer the sauce to a double boiler and continue to cook it for 20 minutes without having to stir.

Strain the sauce into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cool for later use and store well-wrapped in the refrigerator.

Recipe via Maria Sinskey

Photos by Robert Sinskey

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Workshops: Summer 2018 Updates

I cannot believe that we’re just a few months away from embarking on our second summer of workshops at La Fortezza. If you follow along on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that we’re in the thick of renovating our guest quarters. They will hopefully be done soon, just in time for our guests.

If you’re considering coming to Italy this summer, we’d love to have you. There isn’t anything like summer in Italy. While I might be partial, I can assure you that you’ll agree with me. Our location is just a short drive from just about anything you could possibly want: beaches, historic towns, mountains, quaint spots – it’s all at your fingertips.

We have just a few spots left in several of our workshops. While some of our events have already sold out, we do have a few spaces left (and a few surprises, too!) in the following workshops:

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My June 6 – 11, 2018 Strictly Styling Workshop will be the traditional styling workshop we’ve offered over the years and will feature two AWESOME guest instructors and stylists that you are going to love: Joanna Hawley & Eliza Honey.

Joanna Hawley is a Seattle-based blogger, stylist, and digital influencer. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Industrial Design, she worked as a product designer and trend scout for Nordstrom and Anthropologie before turning her keen eye to the online space. Her talent for curation has earned her a Pinterest following that totals 3.8 million, and her frank, funny, and fashion-forward approach to content creation has made her site jojotastic.com a go-to resource for modern yet casual lifestyle inspiration. When she’s not documenting her renovation misadventures, she’s mostly likely sailing the Puget Sound with her wiener dog companions.

An ex-editor at goop (yes, that goop!) and at Elle Decoration UK, Eliza Honey has made the fulfilling switch to floristry at the legendary Harper & Tom’s in London.  Her focus is on arrangements and installations with a wild, naturalistic and joyful feel.

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We also have a few spots left in our Figurative Photography workshop with renowned photographer, Harriet Leibowitz. We will provide the experience, the models, the location, the instruction and the motivation to make memorable and magnificent images.  With our experienced male and female figurative models, you will have the opportunity to create beautiful and unique work involving the human body.

We’ve been working to create the most amazing experiences imaginable. Our location at La Fortezza in Tuscany offers breathtaking vistas and intimate interiors. Every detail has been created with photo shoots in mind. There will be technical instruction to maximize our creative vision. We will dine on chef created organic food from the garden, drink wine from the vineyards and indulge in all that Italy offers.

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Finally, join me along with premiere Southern wedding and event professionals, Master Florist/Event Designer, Kim Cheney, and Luxury Fine Art Wedding Photographer, Donna Von Bruening at our Tuscan Wedding Workshop. Our exclusive instructors to share their knowledge and insight on storytelling, creating and documenting the perfect celebration or wedding.

This intimate workshop is for creative minds seeking inspiration, world travelers looking for a new experience abroad and wedding and event professionals looking to broaden their palette and build their portfolio. You will enjoy hands-on experience mixed with lively lectures and one-on-one instruction throughout the week. Expand your visual language and hone your artistic voice to tell stories that arouse emotion whether you are setting a table for your own special guests or seeking to enhance your professional portfolio.  For inspiration and fun, you will scour super-secret Italian flea markets for special props, enjoy Italian dinners al fresco while mingling with creative and industry professionals. It’s truly a creative retreat – a picturesque place to recharge and refresh.

We truly have a workshop for everyone this summer. Come along and experience Italy in a creative, life-changing way. We’d love to have you!

xx Annette

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Galentine’s Day Cocktail: Pink Mimosa

mimosa

Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope coined the term “Galentine’s Day” eight years ago, and ever since it’s become just as much a part of Valentine’s Day traditions as chocolates. A few years ago, I teamed-up with a few of my favorite gals for a Galentine’s Day brunch full of festive fun and of course, lots of pink.

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One of my favorite results of that party was a new twist on a classic drink: the pink mimosa. Made with pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and bubbly, this pink mimosa is perfectly ladylike, but I’m sure guys will love it too.

Let me know if you give it a try for Galentine’s Day, or any other event coming up this spring.

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Grapefruit and Pomegranate Mimosas
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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How to Elevate Boxed Cake Mix, Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s friend and web-manager, and I’m back with a fun, festive post for Valentine’s Day. Let’s start at the beginning: I am a pretty good cook! I enjoy putting my own twists on recipes, and my specialties are sauces and condiments. I make a mean aioli.

That said, I am absolutely not a baker. It’s just not my forte. I enjoy adding a dash of this or a pinch of that here and there, so the precision of baking just isn’t my thing. But, since I love chocolate, cookies, and creme brûlée just as much as the next gal, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate baking…kind of. My current favorite trick: elevating boxed cake mix.

While you can elevate boxed cake mix many different ways, there are two no-fail ways to take boxed mix from drab to fab. First, bake it in a fun dish.

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This serves two purposes: one, it instantly makes the cake look like you spent more time on it. Two, you can serve your cake directly from the dish. Presentation is huge!

I picked up these ceramic bakers from HomeGoods for a steal. One thing to remember: if you are baking in ceramic, you have to watch the cooking time. I added 5 minutes to the cooking time of the Godiva boxed mix I picked up, but I kept a keen eye on the cake the entire time it was baking.

Another way to elevate boxed cake mix? Make your own fabulous icing. Icing is so easy. Truly. It requires just a few ingredients (namely butter and sugar). I used a recipe found on Jenny Steffens’ blog for a chocolate glaze. It tastes almost exactly like your grandmother’s Texas sheet cake icing and by the end of the afternoon, I was eating it with a spoon. Whoops! Note: I used 2 cups of powdered sugar when I made mine.

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For even more festive fun, you can add a creative design using sprinkles or chocolate pearls – which will only make it look even LESS like boxed cake (win!).

I love the idea of impressing your significant other or girlfriends with a fun, semi-homemade cake like this one for Valentine’s Day. They’ll all be impressed, and you’ll be stress-free!

xo, Nicole

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