Fancy Grilled Cheese

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Earlier this week, I shared my white bean chili recipe, so it’s only fair that I share a recipe for the most incredible grilled cheese: my fancy grilled cheese. This is another recipe from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and it’s one I bring back year after year because it’s just that good. Enjoy!

Fancy Grilled Cheese
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.

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Easy Nibbles:: Marinated Olives

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With social distancing in full effect still, I’m finding that it’s just as fulfilling to put together fun snacks for one or two as it is for a full dinner party. These marinated olives fit that bill. They’re easy to put together, but really kick the humble olive up a notch.

This recipe also makes the perfect addition to a charcuterie platter. Trust me, though, once you have one, you’ll dig in for more!

Marinated Olives

You will need:
– 4 cups mixed olives
– 3 whole cloves of garlic, smashed
– ¼ cup of olive oil
– 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
– 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

To prepare:

In a saute pan, warm the olives, garlic, peppers, and oil. Toss in the herbs with the olive mixture. Serve warm.

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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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S’mores with a twist!

Is there anything more quintessentially summer than s’mores? S’mores are one of those gooey foods that are as fun as they are messy. Seriously. Have you ever NOT had fun making s’mores? I didn’t think so.

These fire and ice s’mores are a twist on the traditional. I’m adding homemade vanilla ice cream to mix things up. Of course, you can stick with the original ingredients, or you can give this one a try.

Fire and Ice S’mores

You will need:

– Marshmallows
– Quality chocolate (try dark chocolate for extra indulgence)
– Healthy graham crackers – available at specialty markets like Whole Foods
– Sea Salt
– Olive Oil
– Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe below!)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
You will need:
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 3 vanilla beans – split lengthwise
– 2 large eggs
To prepare ice cream:

Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Heat cream mixture just to a boil. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, while whisking. Pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer.

To Prepare S’mores:

Have guests assemble their S’mores outside by the fire.

In the meantime prepare individual bowls or glasses with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with a teaspoon on Olive Oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

Have guests grab a bowl and dip their s’more into the ice cream.

*Cooks’ notes: ·To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. ·Custard can be chilled up to 24 hours.

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Cocktail:: Watermelon Salty Dog

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My Dad used to eat chilled watermelon wedges with salt in the summertime, and this watermelon salty dog cocktail reminds me of that childhood memory. It’s absolutely refreshing and delicious!  I like the little melons for this recipe (pass chunks of watermelon through a fine sieve for fresh juice). Don’t forget to salt the rim! That’s the trick. Try it and let me know how you like it.

Watermelon Salty Dog
Serves 1

You will need:

– 1 cup fresh watermelon juice.
– 2 oz tequila
– Juice of 1 lime
– Sea salt for the rim

To prepare:

In a shaker, place ice, watermelon juice, tequila and lime juice. Shake until fully combined and chilled, about 1 minute.

Strain into a glass, rim the glass with lime half, and sprinkle the rim with sea salt. It’s okay if some of the salt falls into the glass.

Cheers! xx

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