Balsamic Vinegar, Halloween Treats and More: It’s the top 4

4 for October

October’s blog posts have been all about embracing the fall season. I’ve shared some of my favorite fall recipes, some of which are perfect for Halloween.

As you’re reading this, there’s a chance I’m either on a plane, or already in Italy for our next workshop. I am excited to get back and see the progress. Be sure to stay tuned for renovation updates as well as all the details on our very first olive workshop. Follow along on Instagram for the scoop. I cannot wait to meet all of our attendees and enjoy all things olives. It’s going to be a great workshop.

Top 4 for October:

A Special Place for Balsamic Vinegar

Fall Side Dishes

Scary Good Halloween Cocktail

Decadent Demonic Dessert

xx Annette

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Spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween

SpookyCharcuterie4 I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches' fingers.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am taking over the blog today to bring you a spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween. Annette and I both love Halloween, and every year, I am lucky enough to get to put together a festive post for the blog. You might remember my skull floral arrangement from last year (and if you missed it, go check it out!). Basically, I love any excuse to get a little creative in October.

One of the things that I enjoy doing every year is hosting my friends for a Halloween gathering. My birthday is just two days before Halloween, so it’s perfect timing for a soiree. Here’s the thing about my friends: every party we have, big or small, involves a charcuterie of some sort, and with Halloween right around the corner, I decided to put an eerie twist on this classic appetizer.

Over the years, Annette has done some pretty phenomenal charcuterie spreads, and she even has a step-by-step guide to creating one yourself. I used her post as a starting point for my grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to make a shopping list directly from her post.

SpookyCharcuterie1 The "cauldrons" are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the "witches broom" breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

To add a spooky spin, I picked up a few treats from World Market. When I saw this piece of slate, I knew it would be the perfect creepy base for my meats and cheeses. From there, I settled on a copper, chrome, and black color scheme. I grabbed a few tiny bamboo utensils because they reminded me of bones. I also picked up a few Halloween-inspired containers to hold all of the goodies, and a few little decorative pieces like the skull, rat, and tiny spiders to add some pizzazz.

One pro tip is to make sure that you get food-safe containers for your own spooky charcuterie spread. The “cauldrons” are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the “witches broom” breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

SpookyCharcuterie3 The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party!

As I shopped for remaining accoutrements, I kept the Halloween theme in mind. I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches’ fingers. I added dried apricots (a tip from Annette’s post) because they are a lovely shade of orange. I decided on prosciutto because it’s so fatty and veiny.

The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party! If you really want to carry the theme throughout, add some festive bottles of red wine. Prisoner is one of my favorites and quite on-theme, too!

Thanks for having me, Annette, and Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

xo, Nicole

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Pumpkin cake, new 2018 workshops, & more: it’s the top 4

4 for September Now that we’ve officially dipped into October, I’m reflecting back on September. As you now, September marked my last month in Italy. I am here for a few weeks before heading back in early November for our first olive-centric workshop which is going to be incredible if I do say so myself.

In September, I shared sagra festivals, exciting new workshops, scrumptious fall recipes, and more. Fall is a wonderful season, and we saw glimpses of it in Italy. Now, it’s here in Atlanta, and we’re enjoying every bit of it.

Here’s a look at my top 4 for September. Take a look at my favorite posts of the month (including that pumpkin cake). Let me know if you give it a try.

September is Sagra Season

Italy Renovation Update

Great Pumpkin Layer Cake

Announcing Summer 2018 Workshops

xx Annette

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Handmade Charlotte & The Great Pumpkin Layer Cake

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As many of you know, I love a great fall party. When I asked creative guru Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte if I could document her fall themed soiree for Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, she quickly said of course, and we were off and running. Creating a fall party can be fun and mostly easy peasy. Here is one of my favorite recipes from the party:

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The Great Pumpkin Layer Cake
Serves 12

For the cake, you will need: 

– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ground ginger
– 1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
– 1 cup canola oil
– 4 large eggs
– 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Note: 2 fluted bundt pans.

To prepare the cake:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter bundt pans; Butter and dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both sugars and oil until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporatedDivide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks, then turn cakes over on to a platter.

For the frosting, you will need:

– 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
– 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1 tablespoon dark rum
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
– 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To prepare the frosting: 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread).

For the chocolate icing, you will need:

– 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
– ½ cup cream

To prepare the chocolate icing:

In a small sauce pan heat chips and cream whisk until smooth.

To assemble the cake: 

Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, rounded side down, on platter. Spread the of cream cheese frosting over top of cake to edges. Top with second pumpkin half. Drizzle with Chocolate icing using a fork in a zig zag splatter pattern.

  • Note – Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

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For the full feature Atlanta Magazine’s HOME  is on newstands now.

Photos: Raftermen

 

 

 

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A Haunting Centerpiece :: Skull Floral Arrangement

 

skull floral arrangement

halloween floral arrangement

Hi everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s blog manager and friend, and I’m back to bring you a haunting centerpiece for your Halloween table: a skull floral arrangement. In case you don’t know, my absolute favorite holiday is Halloween. Last year, I dressed my mantle for the occasion, and this year, I decided to add a little spook to my table.

One of the things I’ve learned from Annette is to always be looking for vessels that can be used for flowers, food, and more. When I stumbled upon this black skull candy jar at Target, my creative wheels started turning. Take the lid off and voila – the perfect vase (I loved this one, too).

Imagine my excitement when I found seasonal fall flowers in bold, jewel tones including ones that look strikingly similar to brains! I think they’re spot-on.

skull floral arrangement

halloween centerpiece

When it comes to flower arranging, I use floral bricks to keep my flowers in place and fresh. Cut them down to size for your vessel, and follow the directions on the packaging. Make sure you allow your bricks to submerge completely in the water on their own (instead of pressing them down). Then, just have fun arranging the colors and mixing in different textures. I think greenery would have really added another dimension to this particular arrangement, so just use what you have – even if it’s from your yard!

Whatever you use, this easy DIY skull floral arrangement centerpiece will certainly add the right amount of eerie fun to your Halloween holiday table. Happy Halloween!

xo, Nicole

photos via: Nicole Letts

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