Cheers to Watermelon

Watermelon is ripe and ready this time of year which means it’s time for Keith Robinson’s delicious batched cocktail recipe, the watermelon spritzer. It’s perfect for spring and summer. Try it this weekend with friends, and let me know what you think, or just make the entire batch for a weekend of easy refreshments for two.

Watermelon Spritzer
Serves 12

You will need:
– 6 cups watermelon juice
– 1 cups fresh lime juice
– 1 cups mint simple syrup
– 1 bottle white Bordeaux or white burgundy wine
– 1/2 bottle club soda
– Fresh mint, lime slices as garnish

To prepare:
In a pitcher combine all the ingredients and ice and stir. To serve add fresh mint and slice of lime as garnish to each glass.

Photo: The Raftermen

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Cherries on Ice:: A Sweet & Frosty Summer Dessert

Ciao from Italy! As you know, part of being a good hostess is developing a menu that is fresh and fun while encouraging guests to chat and have a good time.

As you also know, I like to think and work smarter, not harder. There’s no need to make a dinner party or gathering with friends complicated. The goal is for everyone to have a great evening, including the host.

One of my favorite things to serve during the summer is a surprisingly simple summer dessert, cherries on ice. Back in the states, you should find plenty of them at your local markets and grocery stores. In fact, did you know it’s full-blown cherry season in the Northwest? Due to the special growing conditions and extended hang time on the tree – where the fruit accumulates sugar – Northwest-grown sweet cherries typically boast the highest fruit sugar content of any cherries. Just look out for ones that have a “cherries from the Northwest” label. This simple dessert makes a fun, light end to a meal. Let me know if you give it a try and what you think!

Cherries on Ice

You will need:
– cherries, rinsed and drained
– ice water

To prepare:

Thoroughly rinse cherries and set aside.

Fill a large bowl with ice and cover it completely with water. Place cherries into the ice bath.

Replace ice as needed and serve cherries directly from the ice bath. Be sure to place a pretty bowl nearby (or give one to each guest) for stems and pits.

xx Annette

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4th of July Recipe Round-up

Hi All! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I am back today to talk about one of my favorite holidays: July 4th. The fourth of July is always such a happy, carefree holiday which is one of the many reasons I enjoy it so much. To me, there’s nothing like a holiday that actually feels relaxing: no pressure and no presents; it’s just plain fun.

We have spent many many many years at the beach with family, but this year, I am delighted to say we will be home with a small group enjoying the day. We live in the heart of Buckhead, and Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race, the biggest 10k in the world, parades right through our neighborhood. We’ll start the day bright and early cheering on all of the runners, joggers, and walkers, hair of the dog cocktail in hand! Then the day will continue with a cookout, and of course, fireworks.

To put together an inspirational menu, I turned to Annette’s archives, and I have a recipe round-up of some of her best 4th of July foods and beverages. You can find each of them below. I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!

Cocktail: American Shakerato

Main menu: Hotdogs with Quick Pickles

Dessert: Festive Pastry Squares

xo, Nicole

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Summer Salad Week:: Fresh English Pea Salad

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Hi All! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m back for our second salad of the week. Here in Atlanta, we have an incredible Tex-Mex restaurant, Taqueria del Sol. They make an incredible English pea salad that I literally dream about. It is a lot like the below version, from an archived issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, but it’s made with jalapenos. The flavor profiles will remind you a lot of Southern staples like deviled eggs and potato salad, but the snap of the peas is exactly the cool crunch you need for a great summer salad.

To be honest, I think this would be excellent served alongside a big scoop of chicken salad, but thanks to the baby arugula that’s included, I think it stands on its own just fine. By the way, 4th of July is just around the corner, and I think this would be an excellent dish to bring to a cookout!

Fresh English Pea Salad
serves 8–10

For the salad, you will need:
– 2 ½ cups fresh English peas, shelled and blanched (or frozen peas defrosted if in a pinch!)
– 1 cup celery with leaves, diced fine
– ½ cup parsley, chopped
– 6–8 medium radishes, sliced very thin
– 4 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and still warm
– 1½ cups Irish cheddar cheese, grated
– ½ cup baby arugula

For the dressing, you will need:
– ½ cup Dukes mayonnaise
– 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
– Juice of one lemon
– Salt and cracked pepper to taste
– 2 tablespoons very fine olive oil

To prepare:
Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients until well blended, and toss. Just before serving, garnish with a ring of baby arugula.

PHOTOGRAPH BY RAFTERMEN

Styling by me

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Summer Salad Week:: Beets & Goat Cheese

Beets

Hi all! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. Have you been following Annette in Italy recently? If so, you know that she’s working hard on her La Fortezza cookbook, so I am running things this week. And it’s all about summer salads.

As of yesterday, it’s officially summer. The days are long and hot, and when I find myself searching for great meals, all I want is something to cool me off. Enter the summer salad.

Of course, when I need some inspo, I turn to Annette’s blog archives. I found this recipe for a beet and goat cheese salad, and I’m adding it to this week’s lunch rotation. I just found my tastebuds for beets in recent years, but when paired with acidity and cheese, I can’t get enough of them. There are so many varieties of beets available at groceries and markets these days, and I love the idea of gathering a few to make the salad extra colorful.

Let’s try this salad together, shall we?! Report back and let Annette know what you think!

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Thyme/Lime Dressing
Serves 6-8

You will need:
– 6 large red beets, roasted
– 8 tablespoons plain goat cheese
– 6 cups arugula

To prepare beets:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast beets in skin in the oven for 45 minutes

Let the beets cool, then peel the beets and slice into ½ inch disks

* I use gloves or a knife and fork to peel my beets; it’s much less messy this way.

Dressing

You will need:
– ¼ cup lime olive oil like O&CO
– ¼ cup lime juice
– ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
– 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
– 3 tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves
– 1 teaspoon lime zest

To prepare salad: 

Place all dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar, close the lid and shake until combined

Assembly of the salad: Arrange beets on platter or a plate on top of arugula, dollop with teaspoons of goat cheese, pour dressing over the salad.

Photo Credit: Helen Norman

xo Nicole

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