Fire Up the Grill:: Lamb Burger

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Every now and then, I’m reminded of recipes from my previous books that are old favorites. One of them is this lamb burger. I don’t know about you, but I love burgers and I love lamb, so it seemed natural to add a lamb burger to my cookbook,  Picture Perfect Parties. What makes this burger even more unique is that is has a delicious Greek twist.

As our grilling days of summer get fewer and fewer, consider mixing things up with this lamb burger recipe. If you’re looking for a great recipe to include on your menu, look no further!

As an added stylist tip, I thought I’d share a little secret with you: I love serving burgers in a pita. It makes for a really pretty presentation and a clever twist to something that is perceived as a ho-hum burger. Plus, it contains all of the messy burger goodness to one neat little pocket. Genius!

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Photo from Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

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Watermelon Feta Salad

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Did you know Georgia is among the top four states for watermelon production in the U.S.? Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California produce nearly 70% of our watermelon crop each year. Watermelon season is right now, and local watermelon is likely plentiful at your local markets.

It also happens to be the perfect summer treat for a variety of recipes because it is naturally hydrating. After all, there’s a reason it’s called watermelon. The fruit is made up of 92% water. Perfect for scorching summer days!

Sweet watermelon pairs beautifully with tangy cheeses such as feta. This watermelon feta salad is a winner and a crowd-pleaser. Try it this weekend paired with grilled chicken or fish. It will be a light yet satisfying summer meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Serves 6
You will need:

– 4 cups cold cubed watermelon
– 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves cut in chiffonade
– 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
– 4 tablespoons Saba
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Arrange the cubed cold watermelon in a shallow platter. Sprinkle with basil, feta, saba, salt and olive oil. Serve immediately.

I prepare this salad right before we sit down to eat, so it stays cold, crisp, and fresh. If prepared in advance, be sure to keep it chilled until ready to serve.

Enjoy xx

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Quick Make Ahead Meal:: Parchment Fish

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You know how much I love make-ahead dishes. My golden rule in Picture Perfect Parties, is to always do “one or two make-ahead dishes—one in the oven and one on the cooktop. This makes for a relaxed host!”

When perusing my archives recently, I stumbled upon this post from almost six years ago for parchment fish. My daughter Alex calls it fish in a bag which is essentially what it is. You use parchment to create little pouches of flavor.

The best part about this is that it’s a great “make-ahead” meal. When you’re having guests for a dinner party, just put these together in the morning, pop them into the fridge and pull them out right before guests arrive. Bring them to room temp and pop them into the oven for 20 minutes and voila… dinner is in the bag!

Parchment Fish with Black Bean, Coconut, and Lime Sauce
Serves 4
You will need:

– 4 1/2 lb. pieces of wild salmon (or other fish of your choice; I also like Sea Bass)
– 2 cups snow peas
– 1 red pepper – cut into thin strips about 1/8 ” wide X 4″ long
– 3/4 cup Chinese black bean sauce, available in most markets.
– 1 lime 1/2 for juice and 1/2 for slices
– 1 garlic clove minced
– 1 teaspoon soy sauce
– 1/4 cup coconut milk
– 4 parchment squares 16″x16″
– 1/2 cup cilantro leaves as garnish

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Wash and clean the salmon. Pat dry and remove the skin (you can have the fish monger do this for you if you like).

In a small bowl combine black bean sauce, lime juice from 1/2 lime, and minced garlic, soy sauce, coconut milk. Whisk until combined.

Lay a bed for the fish of 5-6  snow peas, and 5-6 strips of pepper in the middle of the parchment. Lay the salmon on top of the veggies, and spoon 4 tablespoons over the salmon, garnish with a lime slice.

To make a package, fold 2 flaps on either side of the fish over the fish while holding the flaps shut in the middle of the fish, pull the opposite 2 flaps over and hold on top and roll together so the fold rolls over the fish forming a package. Squeeze the roll tightly and wrap ends of the roll under itself into the ends of the roll, securing it shut.

Place the packages into a ceramic baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

I like to serve this over brown rice.

When you pull these out of the oven, place rice on the plate and open the package and carefully pour the fish with veggies and sauce over the rice, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve warm.

 

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Summer Recipe:: Olive Oil Poached Shrimp

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 salad. Poached shrimp, rice salads, and fried calamari are some of my favorites.

Here is a recipe for olive oil poached shrimp, inspired by the tradition of aperitivo. This recipe serves up a true summer delicacy!

Olive Oil Poached Shrimp

You will need:
– 3 cups olive oil
– 3 large fresh rosemary sprigs
– 18 uncooked large shrimp, 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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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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