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:: 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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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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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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Watermelon Feta Salad

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Did you know Georgia is among the top four states for watermelon production in the U.S.? Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California produce nearly 70% of our watermelon crop each year. Watermelon season is right now, and local watermelon is likely plentiful at your local markets.

It also happens to be the perfect summer treat for a variety of recipes because it is naturally hydrating. After all, there’s a reason it’s called watermelon. The fruit is made up of 92% water. Perfect for scorching summer days!

Sweet watermelon pairs beautifully with tangy cheeses such as feta. This watermelon feta salad is a winner and a crowd-pleaser. Try it this weekend paired with grilled chicken or fish. It will be a light yet satisfying summer meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Serves 6
You will need:

– 4 cups cold cubed watermelon
– 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves cut in chiffonade
– 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
– 4 tablespoons Saba
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Arrange the cubed cold watermelon in a shallow platter. Sprinkle with basil, feta, saba, salt and olive oil. Serve immediately.

I prepare this salad right before we sit down to eat, so it stays cold, crisp, and fresh. If prepared in advance, be sure to keep it chilled until ready to serve.

Enjoy xx

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