Easter Meal::Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Unicorn Salt

Full disclosure, I am a big lover of salt. As most chefs will tell you, a dish that is not seasoned perfectly (that’s salt and pepper) is kind of not worth serving.

One of our family favorites from Picture Perfect Parties is 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.

Since Easter and Passover are likely small gatherings this year with just immediate family (if not even smaller than that), use this recipe as a treat to yourself during these difficult times.

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.

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Winter Staple: Chicken Noodle Soup

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While spring is just around the corner, we are still receiving our fair share of cold, blustery and rainy days in Atlanta. I mean, I have seriously never seen so much rain! This chicken noodle soup recipe is the perfect exclamation point for a chilly winter day. It’s bound to warm you up from the inside out.

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, it’s from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. Can you believe that I’m actually in Italy as we speak working on my third cookbook and my fourth book overall? Life is a dream.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves  8
 You will need:

– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 clove garlic minced
– 1 small yellow onion chopped
– 1 cup celery chopped
– 2 cups peeled carrots cut into coins
– 1 cup chopped parsley
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon pepper
– 6 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups of water
– 1 3-4 lb roasted chicken (speed up this recipe and use a rotisserie chicken!)
– 2 cups egg noodles

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, place olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat until translucent. Add stock, water, and entire chicken.

Simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Once the broth is golden, remove the pot from heat, and with a slotted spoon pull the chicken out of the soup. Pull all the meat off with a fork and tongs (careful not to burn yourself on the hot meat) place all the meat into the soup, add more stock if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes with noodles.

Serve warm

*This can be made a couple of days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Photograph from Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

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Savory Baking: Olive Bread

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Have you ever felt intimidated by baking bread? I feel like it’s one of those foods that worry people. However, fear not! There are some awesome bread recipes out there that make baking a breeze, and this is one of them!

Let me know if you tackle your bread fears by baking this olive bread. It makes the most delicious late afternoon snack.

Olive Bread
makes 4 small loaves or 1 large one

You will need:
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1/2 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil  (available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets), reserving 2 tablespoons of the oil
– 2 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cups milk
– 1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives
– 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leaved)
– 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
To prepare:

Into a bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, the salt, and the sugar.

In a small skillet cook the garlic with the rosemary and the pepper in the reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened and fragrant but not brown.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, butter, and the garlic mixture, add the flour mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives, the parsley, and the Parmesan. Divide the batter among 4 buttered and floured loaf pans, each 5 3/4 by 3 1/4 by 2 inches, and bake the breads in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove the breads from the pans and let them cool, right sides up, on a rack. The breads keep, wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil, chilled for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

(Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

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The Best Winter Dessert:: Affogato

Panforte Ice Cream Affogato with Italian Almond Cake | http://annettejosephstyle.com/

If I haven’t yet convinced you to love Italian cuisine, specifically desserts, I am almost certain today’s post about affogato will change your mind.

Traditionally, affogato is a scoop or two of vanilla, chocolate, or coffee gelato topped with a shot of espresso. While you can always buy high-quality ice cream from your local market, there’s nothing like making it yourself, especially with this Italian twist: panforte affogato.

Panforte is an Italian fruitcake of sorts. You can make it yourself, scoop it up online, or you can often find it at stores like Trader Joe’s. You’ll need just a pinch of panforte to make this dessert, but trust me, it makes all the difference.

This recipe comes from my friend, Alisa Barry. Give it a try. You’ll love it!

Panforte Ice Cream Affogato
serves 8

You will need:
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
– 1 cup of sugar
– 5 egg yolks
– 2 cups of cream
– 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
– 4 ounces panforte (an Italian sweet dessert “bread” found in specialty stores or online)
– 8 ounces espresso

To prepare:

In a small saucepan, warm the milk, sugar and vanilla bean over medium low heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove a ¼ cup of the milk and sugar mixture and add to the egg yolks to temper, so the eggs don’t curdle. Add the egg mixture back to the milk and continue to cook, while stirring, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the mixture into the cream, scraping any bits of vanilla bean into the mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and chill until ready to churn. This recipe can be made a day ahead.

In a food processor, chop 4 ounces of panforte until ground, but not pulverized. (Reserve a tablespoon for garnish)

Churn the ice cream, adding the chopped panforte and continuing to churn until evenly distributed into the ice cream. Freeze until ready to serve.

To make the affogato, scoop the ice cream into glasses. Pour strong, freshly brewed coffee or espresso over the ice cream. Garnish with a sprinkling of the chopped panforte.

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Fresh Artichoke Salad

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This recipe for fresh artichoke salad is zesty and delicious. I also love how surprising the ingredients are. It makes an excellent side for Juice January, and more details about the salad and its origins can be found in my book, Cocktail Italiano! Tip: make sure that the artichokes are very fresh and tender.

Roberto’s Fresh Artichoke Salad
Serves 8

You will need:
– 2 pounds (about 20) tender baby artichokes Note: you may substitute the interior soft leaves and heart of larger artichokes, but do not use the tough outer leaves
– 2 lemons, halved
– 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
– 2 ounces Parmesan

To prepare:

Trim away any tough outer leaves of the artichokes to expose their tender pale green interior. Using a knife with a serrated blade, cut off the spiky top 1/3 of the artichokes. (Note: baby artichokes will not have the spikes.) Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layers around the base and stem.

Using a mandolin, slice the artichokes paper-thin and transfer to a medium bowl.

Squeeze the lemon halves over the artichokes, and toss with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, and use a potato peeler to shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve in small bowls.

 

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