Comfort Food:: Fancy Fall Grilled Cheese

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Is there anything better on a fall day than sitting down to nosh on a grilled cheese? Honestly, I’m not sure there is. Grilled cheese is one of those comfort foods that is always good, but it can be made even better if you gather top notch ingredients. I like to use unexpected cheese and unique condiments. Oh, and bacon…because everything is better with bacon.

This sandwich would be perfect with a bowl of soup or chili on a crisp fall day. If you have guests over, set-up a station allowing them to create their own sandwiches mixing and matching ingredients while you man the grilling station. Interactive foods are always so much fun for a party.

This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and the photo on this post is from a fabulous party that Design Sponge threw a few years ago using Picture Perfect Parties as a guide. Head over there even more recipes and a complete guide to throwing an easy Halloween soiree.

Grilled Cheese with Brie, Crispy Bacon, and Apricot Jam
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

Serve at room temperature.

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A Patriotic Tablescape for July 4th

While we won’t be celebrating the fourth of July in the traditional sense in Italy, I know many of you are gearing-up for a few days of festive fun at home. Whether you’re planning a cook-out at your house or headed to a friend’s home, I wanted to give you a bit of July 4th inspiration.

A few years ago, I created a patriotic tablescape for guests. I used red, white, and blue of course, but I also added a few pops of silver. The silver streamers add the cutest fourth of July flare and mimic sparklers.

The video above covers a few of my other favorite ideas for setting a great table as well as some tips for keeping drinks in order and some ideas for nibbles and treats too. Take a look and let me know what your 4th of July plans are in the comments!

xx Annette

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Fire Up the Grill:: Filets with Herby Charmoula

On Monday, I shared one of my favorite go-to spring appetizers, Grilled Veggie Bruschetta. Let’s imagine you are hosting an outdoor party this weekend. If you start with the veggie appetizer, you can continue the grilling party with everyone’s favorite summer staple, steak. Grab a few filets from your local butcher, grill them to everyone’s liking, and top them with charmoula. Charmoula, is a great herby, spicy sauce that pairs perfectly with meat and fish. It’s one of my go to recipes and is such a crowd pleaser.

Let me know if you give this, or any other of my recent recipes a try. I love hearing from you!

Herby Charmoula

You will need:
– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2 inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce. Serve on the side of any meat or fish.

Note: this sauce is best made ahead. I usually make it in the morning and leave it out all day.

 

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Grilled Veggie Bruschetta

grilled veggies

Now that spring is here, we can all get back to grilling. Being outdoors with family and friends around a grill is such a hallmark of warmer months. There’s nothing like whipping up a beautiful meal outdoors. This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. Pair this grilled veggie bruschetta with a cocktail from Cocktail Italiano, and you’ll be left with one fabulous way to kick-off an outdoor soiree.

Grilled Veggie Bruschetta
Serves 8

You will need:
– 1 red onion
– 1 eggplant
– 2 medium size zucchini
– 2 medium size yellow squash
– 6 Roma tomatoes
– 2 red peppers
– 2 lemons
– 1 bunch asparagus
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1 loaf of rustic bread sliced + 3 tablespoons olive oil to coat
– 8 oz. of soft goat cheese

To Prepare:

Coat both sides of the bread with olive oil

Slice eggplant into ¾ inch disks

Slice zucchini down the center lengthwise

Slice yellow down the center lengthwise

Leave red peppers whole

Slice lemons in half

Cut the tough ends off the asparagus

Peel and slice onion, place onion in aluminum foil pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over the onion on top, seal the foil forming a little package

In a separate bowl, place olive oil, and with a micro plane, grate the garlic cloves into the oil, add salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup of the mixture for later.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with cup of olive oil mixture.

Grill bread slices until nicely toasted. Pull off the grill and set aside.

Place all vegetables on the grill beginning with the onion. 10 minutes into the onion grilling, add eggplant, zucchini, squash, peppers, and lemons. Grill for about 15 minutes, and finally add asparagus spears. Grill all the vegetables for another 10 minutes.

Pull everything off the grill but the onion. Run the red peppers under cold water until cool to the touch, peel, and pull seeds from inside the peppers under running water. Place on paper towels to drain and then slice the peppers into ribbons and place onto the platter. Remove the onion from the grill. Slice zucchini, squash, and eggplant into bite-size pieces.

Place the all of the grilled veggies onto a platter.

Drizzle remainder of the olive oil mixture and squeeze grilled lemon over the entire platter of grilled vegetables. Serve at room temperature with spreadable goat cheese and rustic bread slices.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw

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Epic Summer Grilling Menu

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m back with one epic summer grilling menu. Like most of you, one of the things that I love turning to Annette for is a recipe. She just has a knack for creating something gorgeous and delicious. It’s so inspiring!

Since Wednesday marks the official first day of summer, we’re about to be in the thick of grilling season. We have a Big Green Egg, so we spend a lot of our summer evenings outdoors near the grill. Not only is it a quintessential summer activity, but it also means I don’t have to turn on the oven. Win win.

I thought I’d round-up a few of Annette’s summer grilling recipes from over the years. Not only are these recipes stand-alone favorites, but put them together, and they make up one heck of a summer menu. Invite your friends and family over for an evening of fun and food on the grill!

grilled-veggies

Awesome Appetizer: Grilled Veggie Antipasto

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Main Course: Lamb Burger

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Sensational Side: Watermelon Salad  

As always, I’d love to hear if you give any of these recipes a try! What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

xo, Nicole

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