Aperitivo Nibbles from my new book Cocktail Italiano

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My new book includes lots of great appetizers; I like to call them nibbles.

Whenever you order a cocktail at a bar in Italy, there is always food involved. Simply brilliant. I think it may be my favorite part. Full disclosure: I love seeing what bars choose to serve with their cocktails. Sometimes it’s just olives and the humble potato chip, and sometimes it’s the most lovely fresh focaccia with sublime charcuterie, a veggie frittata or mini salads like the fennel orange salad in this post. Poached scampi, rice salads, and fried calamari are some of my favorites.

Check out my book Cocktail Italiano for all the nibbles recipes, and my fun stories about our time living on the Italian Riviera… oh and of course, there are amazing cocktail recipes as well.

Enjoy the recipes in my book at home with friends, or toss it into your suitcase and do my Aperitivo tour on the Riviera in the back of the book. My book includes all my favorite bars, beach clubs, local joints, fancy hotel bars and classic haunts to enjoy aperitivi. Cin cin. x

Cocktail Italiano

Orange Marinated Fennel with Pecorino Shavings
Serves 4

You will need:
– 4 oranges peeled and sliced in ¼ “ thick slices
– 1 large fennel bulbs sliced into paper thin pieces
– ¼ cup apple balsamic vinegar I like Ritrovo brand or apple vinegar.
– ½ cup orange juice
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– ½ cup small black olives
– 1 cup shaved Pecorino cheese

To prepare:

Slice peeled oranges and fennel into paper thin slices. Combine vinegar, juice, salt, oil in a bowl. Place the oranges and the fennel on a platter pour the vinegar mixture over the oranges and fennel. Sprinkle olives over the oranges and fennel. You can make this in the morning and let sit out all day, serve for aperitivo with small plates with forks.

Scampi Poached in Olive Oil

You will need:
– 3 cups olive oil
– 3 large fresh rosemary sprigs
– 18 uncooked large shrimp or scampi, peeled and deveined
– 4 Lemon wedges

To prepare:

Add 3 cups olive oil into heavy large saucepan, and add rosemary sprigs. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of saucepan and heat oil over medium heat until thermometer registers between 165°F and 180°F. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to hot oil and poach just until shrimp are opaque in center, adjusting heat to maintain temperature between 165°F and 180°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve at room temperature, garnish with lemon wedges.

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Cocktail Italiano :: Book Launch DAY it’s not too late to meet me there!

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I am beyond excited! My Cocktail Italiano launch is TONIGHT! I am thrilled to show everyone my new book. PINCH ME PLEASE!!!

Cocktail Italiano has truly been a labor of love, and a love letter to my favorite time of day in my favorite place on the planet Italy. Better yet, I share all my favorite places to indulge up and down the coastline known as the Italian Riviera. We loved living in the charming seaside vacation town of Alassio for 12 years, sharing our life there with family and friends, and enjoying aperitivo with them all.

We made lovely friends, and of course, met them every evening at the sea for a couple of cocktails and nibbles before dinner known as the charming ritual of Aperitivo.

I can’t wait to see everyone and sign books all night.

Meet me tonight at Switch Modern. Thank you to my dear friends at Liz Lapidus PR, the best PR firm in America. Let’s toast with an Negroni or an Aperol Spritz. See you tonight! A presto. x

RSVP to rsvp@lizlapiduspr.com

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Classic Negroni Recipes from Cocktail Italiano

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My new book, Cocktail Italiano , features over 50 cocktails and 50 nibbles recipes from my time on the Italian Riviera. 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. Today I am giving you my 2 all time favorite Italian cocktails, and of course, Campari is involved. If you get a chance, order one of these Italian classics in Italy. But if you cannot get there anytime soon, make one at home, sit on the terrace or patio or porch, listen to some Italian hits on spotify and create your own apero-clock at home.

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Classic Negroni
serves 1

A very strong cocktail this drink is another classic Italian cocktail.  The Negroni has become very popular in America in the last 5 years.

You will need:
– 1 ounce dry Gin
– 1 ounce Campari
– 1 ounce Italian vermouth

To prepare:

Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled highball glass and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Negroni Sbagliato – Bar Basso
serves 1

What can I say about Bar Basso that has not already been written about? It’s the most classic Italian bar you will set foot it. Its owner is famous for this amazing cocktail. It all started as a mistake, but a happy mistake, and those are the best kind. In my opinion, Bar Basso is what a bar should be like: it’s messy and un-kept though it’s chic décor makes it authentic, warm and friendly but still somewhat chaotic. Great looking people of all ages congregate until late into the night. The blaring neon bar sign beckons you to cross the street and order a drink. Settle in and watch the ultimate sartorialist scene unfold. It’s quintessential Milan.

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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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.

salts sugars

 

 

 

 

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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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