Home Bartending:: Aperol Spritz

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The Aperol Spritz is a classic summer cocktail. It’s refreshing and quintessentially Italian – the perfect drink to whet your appetite before a meal. Let me know if you add it to your classic summer cocktail arsenal. I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for making this delicious drink.

Cin Cin!

Aperol Spritz
serves 1

You will need:
– 3 ounces prosecco
– 2 ounces Aperol
– 1 ounce soda
– 1 orange slice

To prepare:
In a glass filled with ice, pour Aperol and prosecco, and finish off with the soda. Serve in a large wine glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.

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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Is your squash blossoming?! Time for fried squash blossoms!

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Last weekend, my friends Steve and Jill McKenzie whipped up a batch of my squash blossoms from my first book,  Picture Perfect Parties (Rizzoli). This time of year, squash blossoms are a fun addition to any menu. The recipe is simple and the results are fabulous. It’s one of my favorite summer staples. The exquisite flavors and crisp texture will make you swoon. You will be planting squash in your garden every year just to yield this cheese-filled treat. Trust me.

After seeing the McKenzies posts on Instagram, I was inspired to share the recipe with you here. Enjoy it!

Ricotta Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 6-8

You will need:

– 12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
– About 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
– 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
– 1 large egg yolk
– 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:

– 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
– 1 large egg yolk
– 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– ½ teaspoon salt

For the batter:

Note* you can make the batter a couple hours before and set aside.

– 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon pepper

To prepare:

Filling the blossoms:

Dry the squash blossoms with a paper towel, do not wash them under the tap, wash them in a bowl of water.

Carefully make a small opening in the top of each blossom. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with a hole cut into the bottom, pipe the filling into the opening filling about half way up the flower. Close end and gently twist flower closed.

Store the stuffed blossoms in the fridge until you are ready to fry.

Frying the squash blossoms:

Heat oil. Test heat by dropping a few drops of the batter, if it crisps up you are ready to go. Dip stuffed blossoms into the batter with a small tongs then drop them carefully into the oil.

Fry the blossoms until crisp and place on a paper towel to drain.  Serve immediately.

 

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn & moi

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AJS Team in Quarantine: Kate Blohm

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Hi there, I’m Kate Blohm, the on-staff photographer of La Fortezza. Quarantine has been a mixture of emotions, as I’m sure it has with everyone. I hope that you and yours are staying well and that after reading, you may be inspired to lean into the small joys in this new pace of living. 

When everything started happening, I was already in North Carolina for my niece’s birthday. The numbers in Atlanta started to grow, my jobs were being canceled and then my roommate was diagnosed with the virus (she has thankfully since recovered).

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I ended up staying with my family for a few weeks and at first, I felt really overwhelmed trying to figure out what I could do, how I could help and contribute as much as possible. I realized that I had to transition my thinking to be smaller, actionable items and focus on this day and what I can do next to help others and take care of myself. 

Each night I cooked dinner for my parents (who both work essential jobs), and each day I watched my niece Elliott for my brother and sister-in-law (who also work essential jobs). It was quite the opposite of my life here in Atlanta, so I tried to savor the slowness with that freshly turned two-year-old. We went for walks, baked cookies, danced daily and had pool parties. It was a nice change of pace, and it was very fulfilling for me to be able to spend that kind of time with my family. 

Since returning to Atlanta, I’ve been working a lot with my friends at Georgia Organics, a non-profit that connects Georgia’s organic farmers to Georgia consumers. Originally we were working on a video project for the G.O. Farmer Champion Campaign, a campaign designed to encourage and celebrate chefs and restaurants who focus their sourcing on buying local. There was an award ceremony planned for May, the video was 90% shot, caterer sourced, flowers budgeted for, the whole shebang, but like many things these days, it’s been canceled until further notice.

However, the work is still moving forward, and we’re transitioning the story to also cover G.O.’s responses to the outbreak, like Food Fight GA, “This new initiative is providing restaurant workers with weekly grocery boxes including ingredients sourced from Georgia farms and freshly baked bread from Root Baking Co.” It’s been really grounding to watch this movement unfold and see how the Atlanta food community is rallying together to support each other in this time of crisis.

At home, I’ve been able to do a lot of the things that I’ve been “too busy” to do. Over the years, I’ve saved recipe videos (mostly Bon Appetit) or bookmarked cookbook pages with the intention to cook it someday. “Someday” always feels like it’s coming but for some things, it never does. I’ve tried to utilize this time to be full of all of the “somedays”.

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For me, it’s things like roasting a whole chicken and not letting any of it go to waste or writing letters on those beautiful postcards that I got in Greece and mailing them out or finally scheduling time to complete Marie Forleo’s B-School. Having to find joy in daily (at-home) life is the new norm, for who knows how long…so I encourage you to reach out to people you care about, do some things that you’ve always wanted to do “someday”, eat nourishing food and support local as much as you can. I promise, it’ll help you feel better. 

Photos by Kate Blohm

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