Fish on the Grill:: Smoked Rosemary Branzino

Why not take your grilling to a new level and try your hand at grilled Branzino?

Branzino is flaky and subtle, and it takes on flavors quite well. I love to smoke it with rosemary from our garden. The results are a buttery smokey flavor with a soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture. It’s a great summer recipe and the flavors could be translated to other fish types as well. A meal like this will really wow guests. Let me know if you give it a try!

Smoked Rosemary Branzino
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3  whole cleaned Branzino about 2 lbs
– 3 lemons
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary on the stems
– 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped coarsely
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 3 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare:

Have your fishmonger gut and clean the fish. Rinse under cold water, pat dry and set aside.

In a glass dish place fish and coat with thyme, rosemary, salt and oil, squeeze 1 lemon over the fish and massage into the fish. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Start the fire, after coals are white, (about 1 hour) pull the fish from the fridge place on the grill, place the large bunch of rosemary next to the fish and close the lid of the grill. Smoke should start forming, do not open the grill for 5 minutes. This will ensure the smoky flavor permeates the fish.

After 5 minutes, gently turn the fish to cook the other side. Add more rosemary if the rosemary has burned. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Watching to make sure the fish doesn’t burn.

Remove and garnish with lemon slices and serve warm.

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Fireside Paella Party

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I have always been intrigued by cooking over an open fire. There’s nothing like burning wood to infuse every dish with a lovely smoky flavor. A few years ago, when I was the entertaining editor of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, I hosted a fireside paella party that was featured in the magazine, and I thought that with people itching to get outdoors, it would be a great time to revive the recipe.

While paella is a labor-intensive dish, prep time accounts for most of the work, making the dish relatively easy for the host to assemble once guests arrive. I love giving even the most casual event an exotic flair. Low-slung tables on top of layered Moroccan rugs transported guests to another place. I gathered arty props, including golden Moorish lanterns with delicate filigree cutouts, to decorate the table. A collection of colorful Moroccan tea glasses with votives added twinkle, and for a pop of color, I snipped bright flower heads and scattered them down the table’s center. Hot pink peonies were especially dramatic.

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As the fire pit blazed and the sun went down, we sipped pink sangria and watched the flames lick the bubbling paella pan. If you are looking for an excuse to gather an intimate crowd without the fuss of a big meal, paella is your answer.

Annette’s Fireside Paella
Serves 8

You will need:
• 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
• Olive oil
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 red bell pepper
• 1 green bell pepper
• 2 tablespoons saffron
• 1 pound chorizo, cut into 3-inch pieces
• ½ onion, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 4 cups Bomba rice (a specialty Spanish rice)
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup crushed tomatoes
• 2 cups haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
• 1 pound calamari, cleaned and cut crosswise into ½-inch rings
• 16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
• 1 dozen mussels, scrubbed
• ½ package frozen lima beans
• 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
• 2 lemons

To prepare:

Place chicken in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with paprika and ½ teaspoon salt; turn chicken to coat. Cover chicken and let marinate, refrigerated, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Remove stems, seeds, and ribs from peppers and cut into quarters. Cut quarters crosswise into ¼-inch strips; set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind saffron. Put saffron mixture in a medium bowl and add 2 cups of warm water. Whisk until well combined; set aside.

If using a charcoal grill, make a fire in your grill. When the briquettes are completely covered in gray ash, hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill grid and count how many seconds you can comfortably leave it there. When you can only hold it there for a second or two, you have high heat and are ready to cook. (Alternatively, you can cook paella on a stove over high heat.)

Place a 20-inch paella pan with 3-inch sides over heat source. Coat bottom of pan with olive oil and heat until pan is very hot, about 5 minutes. Add chicken thighs and cook, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add chorizo and cook, turning, until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.

Add onions and garlic to pan, and saute until onions are caramelized.

Add rice and saffron water to onion-garlic mixture and stir to coat; cook about 1 minute. Add 3 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, peppers, and haricots verts. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken, sausage, calamari, and shrimp, and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes more. Add clams and mussels. Cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes, adding more stock as necessary.

Add lima beans and peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes more. Season with salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice; serve immediately.

Photography by Sarah Dorio

First appeared in Atlanta Magazine’s HOME

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Leg of Lamb: A Family Favorite Recipe

Leg of Lamb Sprinkled in Salt

One of our family favorites from Picture Perfect Parties is the stuffed leg of lamb, generously filled with Meyer lemons, green olives, rosemary and garlic. I liberally used my favorite salt, Magic Unicorn (it is indeed magically delicious) on the outside of the lamb. It is always spectacular.

Since Easter and Passover are likely small gatherings this year, use this recipe as a treat to yourself.

I used about 1 tablespoon (plus a little more:-) and massaged the salt into the lamb before stuffing and tying it up. Let me know if you give it a try. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Roast Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Lemon and Herbs
Serves 6-8

For the lamb, you will need:
– 1- 4 Pound boneless leg of lamb +kitchen string. Note: Some stores sell this already rolled and secured in a netting. You need to remove this if so.

To prepare the lamb before stuffing:
Liberally sprinkle then rub the outside of the lamb with Magic Unicorn salt, about 1 tablespoon, plus a little extra. Set aside and prepare the stuffing.

Lemon and Herb Stuffing

You will need:
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 4 cloves chopped garlic
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– ½ cup green olives chopped
– ½ cup raisins *optional
– 2 small lemons cut into small wedges, toss the lemon wedges in ½ teaspoon sea salt *note Meyer lemons , should be used if available
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– ½ cup chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon pepper to finish stuffed lamb

To prepare stuffing:

Heat oil and butter add garlic sauté until lightly browned medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and sauté for 5 minutes until combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Place the leg of lamb on a cutting board lined with butcher or parchment paper lie the lamb flat top side down.

Place the stuffing into the middle of the roast mounding it into the middle.

Wrap the sides of the lamb around the stuffing tuck in the ends and tie the lamb with kitchen string, sealing the stuffing.

Place the stuffed lamb on a rack in a roasting pan fattest side up.  Roast at 425 for 15 min. Reduce heat to 325 and roast 30 to 45 minutes or until desired degree of doneness., for medium rare it should read 130 degrees to 135 degree F. Once it’s reached this temperature, remove it from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Carve into slices and serve.

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Seasonal Delight:: Fig Croistini

Esporao & Annette Joseph
If you’ve meandered through your local farmer’s market or grocery store recently, you might have noticed that we are officially in the thick of fig season. Nicole, my web-manager, even has a fig tree in her backyard. She asked me what else to do with figs that wouldn’t heat-up the kitchen too much (it’s still very hot in Atlanta, after all!).

I passed along this quick and easy appetizer for fig and goat cheese crostini. She assured me it was a fantastic recommendation. While this snack makes an incredible appetizer or even breakfast, I also love the idea of serving this as a light, unexpected dessert at the end of a meal. It’s a tried and true recipe perfect for any occasion.

Goat Cheese and Fig Crostini
Serves 10

You will need:
– 20 small figs cut in half, lengthwise
– 1 loaf of French bread sliced into 1/2 in slices (makes about 20 slices)
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 8 oz. soft artisan goat cheese, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup lemon honey
– 40 Marcona Almonds
– 1 teaspoon cracked pepper

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Crostini: Lay the bread slices on to a cookie sheet with a brush coat the top of the slices with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the slices are golden brown. Cool the crostini.  Spread 2 tablespoons of goat cheese on the crostini, top with 2 half figs, and add 2 almonds on either side of the figs. Place on a platter and repeat with the rest of the crostinis.

Once all the crostinis are on the platter, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with cracked pepper and serve.

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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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