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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My Life in Photos, October

Between teaching workshops and teaching college students, October has been full of educational opportunities, and I leave for Italy for our Olive Workshop next week. More teaching! I’m thrilled. I’ve found a passion in sharing what I do with other people, and it’s so rewarding.

This month, I’ve enjoyed taking a break from our renovation and getting rejuvenated about our plans and getting started again. I am excited to see the progress when I am back in Italy. I’ve shared a few sneak peeks over the past month, but if you haven’t seen them all, there are a few in the roundup below.

My life in photos for October has been full of teaching, renovating, and of course, cooking. Follow along with my adventures and get an idea of what the month has held below:

My life in photos for October has been full of teaching, renovating, and of course, cooking. Get an idea of what the month has held in today's post.

A glimpse at food styling like what our attendees can learn at next summer’s workshops.

Now available on our site! - G I F T C A R D S :: head to the workshop page in the link, and gift someone a creative retreat in Italy next summer. Brills, right?!

Now available on our site! – G I F T C A R D S :: head to the workshop page in the link, and gift someone a creative retreat in Italy next summer. Brills, right?!

Up-cycling these lovelies in our gust quarters currently being renovated.

Up-cycling these lovelies in our gust quarters currently being renovated.

Fall in the Lunigiana is for work! Pictured here our amazing gardener chopping and stacking our firewood. We will need it in the winter for fireplaces and in the summer for our outdoor oven called a forno.

Fall in the Lunigiana is for work! Pictured here our amazing gardener chopping and stacking our firewood. We will need it in the winter for fireplaces and in the summer for our outdoor oven called a forno.

Teaching students has proven to be very satisfying.

Teaching students has proven to be very satisfying.

Dinner party vibes.

Dinner party vibes.

Meringues filled with strawberries and cream.

Meringues filled with strawberries and cream.

 

 

 

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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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A Decadent Demonic Dessert

My Devil's Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They're a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s so festive and fun, and it’s essentially the start of the holiday season. There’s so much fun to look forward to from now on.

My Devil’s Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They’re a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Devil’s Food Cake is an alternative to a basic chocolate cake that is absolutely delicious. Get kids involved by encouraging them to add cute toppers like gummy worms or tombstones made with cookies. Halloween cupcake wrappers make them extra fun for kids of all ages.

A few years ago, Design Sponge used the recipe for a full-blown Halloween shin dig, and it turned out so cute.

dinnerparty_ppp_1

Find this recipe and other fabulous party ideas in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

Devils Food Cup Cakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

You will need:

For the cupcakes:
– ½ cup water
– 1 cup high quality cocoa powder
– 3 sticks butter softened (1 ½ cups)
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs beaten
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– ¼ cup canola oil
– 1 cup sour cream
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Frosting:
– 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 7 tablespoons high quality cocoa
– 1 stick of butter softened
– 6 tablespoons evaporated milk

Cake Preparation:

In the microwave, place water, then place cocoa powder in hot water, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle blade place butter and sugar combine until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and oil and sour cream add cocoa mixture, beat on medium speed until combined.

In a bowl mix flour and baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture on slow speed until combined, and add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins, lined with cupcake liners fill liner until ¾ full. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a pick is inserted and comes out clean. Cool and then frost.

Frosting Preparation:

Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, add sugar cocoa mixture slowly to the butter alternately with the evaporated milk, until fluffy.

xx, Annette

Photos via Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn & Design Sponge

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Scary Good Halloween Cocktail

The Bloody Monday Cocktail is a sweet spooky Halloween cocktail that would be a huge hit at any Halloween parties you have coming up.

Sometimes, a Monday calls for a cocktail. A Monday a few weeks before Halloween calls for a Bloody Monday Cocktail. This sweet spooky Halloween cocktail would be a huge hit at any Halloween parties you have coming up. Print the recipe and place it near your bar cart, so guests can Monster Mash with drinks in hand all night long.

Bloody Monday Cocktail
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 oz Campari
– 1 oz Blood Orange Maraschino Cherry Syrup
– 1 oz Cinzano Rosso
– splash of club soda
– slice of blood orange for garnish

To prepare simple syrup & cocktail:

Combine the juice of one blood orange, 1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice, and 1/2 cup of water. In a small pot, bring the ingredients to a boil about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

In a shaker filled with ice, place all ingredients and shake vigorously until completely chilled and mixed. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a slice of blood orange.

xx Annette

Photo credit: Moi

 

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