Ciao from Italy! As you might already know, I arrived in Italy last week. Since then, I’ve been welcoming guests, preparing our commercial kitchen and guests quarters, and getting ready for a summer of workshops. Needless to say, it’s been a bit crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend back in the states. Memorial Day weekend often marks the unofficial start to summer. I’m sure many of you will be spending the weekend enjoying cookouts with friends and family.
If you’re entertaining, I’ve got a wonderful festive summer cocktail for you: the Negroni Fizz. Not only is this drink a bold red (perfect for Memorial Day), but it’s a crowd pleaser too.
Mix-up a big batch without the rose and put it in a cute drink dispenser. Then, allow guests to fill their glasses at will. Leave ice buckets of rose nearby for attendees to top their drinks. This will keep the bubbles fresh and add a fun little DIY to the party.
To really make a statement, find some cute blue and white paper straws, too. Super festive and fun.
You will need:
– 1 ounce Gin
– 1 ounce Martini Sweet Vermouth
– 1 ounce Campari
– 1 1/2 slice of orange for garnish
– Ice cubes
– Martini Sparkling Rose
Combine Martini Rosso and Campari Gin in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into an ice filled tumbler 3/4 full and top off with the Martini Sparkling Rose. Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy.
While summer doesn’t technically start for a few more weeks, I always think of Memorial Day as the unofficial launch of the summer season. 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. No matter what, make s’mores a part of your Memorial Day Weekend gatherings.
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.
This recipe for Ligurian pesto pasta with green beans and red potatoes is a fantastic dinner that’s perfectly suited for feeding a crowd. If you have leftovers, it also makes a great lunch the next day. Pesto is one of those easy sauces that people often forget about, but not this Italian girl! Basil grows freely in my garden, so you can be sure I’ll be whipping-up this easy pesto pasta this summer.
Something you may not know about me…I love beer, so when I discovered this Italian summer cocktail, you can imagine I was quite thrilled. Beer combined with 2 of my favorite Italian spirits = mind blown. I think you will love adding this to your summer cocktail arsenal. Try it; you’ll like it. Of course it pairs perfectly with the salty goodness of potato chips. Look for this and other amazing summer cocktails in my new book Cocktail Italiano!
Beer Americano Serves 1
This is a cocktail that has become very popular all along the Riviera. Substituting beer for the soda makes this a very refreshing summer choice. It was created in Milan for the opening of the Trussardi Flagship Store by resident bartender Tommaso Cecca. Perfect for a sweltering summer evening. I love it.
You will need: – 1 ½ ounces Campari
– 1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth
– 3 ounces lager beer
– lemon zest, for garnish
Combine Campari, vermouth and ices cubes in a tall tumbler, stir to combine. Pour the beer into another glass, stir to create a stiff foam, reserve the foam with a spoon top the cocktiail with the beer foam, about 3 ounces.
**Note: For a lighter Americano feel free to pour 2 ounces of the beer in to the cocktail as well. However, this should be done before you top the cocktail with the foam.
If you’ve received your copy of Cocktail Italiano, you now know that it’s not only filled with cocktails but also delicious appetizers. In the section on Imperia, an industrial town along the coast, you’ll find three classic cocktails and several nibble recipes. This eggplant camponata is one of them. Camponata is one of my favorite, stand by appetizers. It’s creamy, spicy, salty, and of course, eggplant-y. It’s divine.
I like to serve mine with thin crackers or crostini, along with arugula and grape tomatoes. Plate it all with a touch of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the best olive oil you have. Enjoy!
This has been my favorite tried-and-true apero recipe for many years. I make a lot, and I keep it in the fridge for unexpected guests. It’s also an amazing topping for pizza, another great aperitivo snack!
You will need:
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped
– 4 cups of cubed eggplant, skin on (1″ cubes)
– 1 cup chopped tomatoes
– 1 cup chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup capers
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 cup tomato sauce (from a jar is fine, unless you have homemade hanging around)
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste
– Parmesan cheese for garnish
– Crispy crackers or flat crostini (find this recipe in Cocktail Italiano, too!)
In a large pan, saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add all other ingredients, except Parmesan cheese. Cover and stir frequently, so camponata does not stick. Saute on low heat until combined and soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Serve as a warm appetizer on crisp crackers and plate with arugula and tomatoes. Enjoy alongside cold white or sparkling wine with friends.