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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aPOPitivo:: Cantaloupe Campari Pops

IMG_4170Boozy popsicles are such a fun twist on typical summer desserts, especially since they’re a dessert and a cocktail in one!

Typically, I make this recipe as a gelato, but a few years ago, I tested turning it into a refreshing summer popsicle aperitivo, and it worked! While I haven’t revived the recipe this summer, I think it’s about time to do so.

When you serve them, pour a thumbs height of Campari in a pretty glass and place the pop into the glass. The melty pop mingles with the Campari to create a delicious and very Italian Apero. Divine!

Cantaloupe Campari Pops
Makes 10 pops
Ingredients:

– 1 Cantaloupe, cut into pieces*
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup Campari

*Note: you can substitute 3-4 cups of passion fruit (about 15 passion fruits)

Preparation:

Make a simple syrup combining the sugar and the water using a small sauce pan on medium heat. Turn off the heat once it starts to boil and set aside to cool.

Blend the cantaloupe and the syrup in a bowl using a hand blender, or blender. Add the campari and put into popsicle molds*.

*Note: I like to pour the puree into the molds using a pitcher; it’s easier.

Freeze for at least 5 hours. Place into warm bath for about 30 seconds to unmold and wrap individually in parchment and place back into the freezer. They can be stored for up to a month, although ours are gone in a week.

Cin cin!

Annette

Recipe adapted from: People’s Pops

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Strawberry and Mascarpone Tart

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Strawberry season is in full swing, and this strawberry and mascarpone tart is a great way to show off spring berries. It’s from Kieth Robinson’s feature in Atlanta Magazine’s Home from a few years ago when I was the entertaining editor. Trust me, it is as delicious as it looks!

Strawberry and Mascarpone Tart

For the crust, you will need:
– Crust – 2 cups AP flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup unsalted butter softened
– 1/2 cup powdered sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling, you will need:
– 1 pound mascarpone cheese (two cups)
– 1/4 cup powdered sugar
– 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon lemon zest
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– Three cups of fresh berries, cleaned

To prepare:
Mix together the flour and salt in a bowl.  In the bowl of the mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add vanilla. beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated, do not over mix. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Press the chilled dough into a false bottom tart shell, prick the bottom with a fork.  Place it into a 350 degree oven until lightly browned, cool completely in the pan.

Mix together all ingredients for the filling, smooth into the cooled unmolded tart shell. Top with fresh strawberries.

Photo: The Raftermen

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