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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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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Miss American Pie:: Blueberry Pie, that is

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Happy [almost] Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I hope you’re planning on relaxing with friends and family and enjoying it the best you can. Maybe you’re even headed to a cookout or hosting one yourself? If you are and need to prepare a dish, I recommend this delicious blueberry pie and lavender ice cream from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

This is the most delicious blueberry pie recipe, and the lavender ice cream is a beautiful combination. I love to serve pie in vintage pie tins. Sometimes I slice a large piece and serve it to a couple with 2 forks. It’s a great way to mix it up.

Have a great holiday!  xx

Blueberry Pie with Lavender Ice cream
Serves 6-8

You will need:

Pie Crust Ingredients * pie crust can be made up to 2 days ahead
– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 4 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar for the top crust of the pie
– 2 sticks butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water
– 3 tablespoons whole milk

Garnish: fresh lavender sprigs

To prepare:

Pie crust Preparation

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt for 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse into pea-size pieces about 3 minutes. Drizzle cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse just until evenly moistened and pulls away form the sides and forms a ball about 3 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning dough to combine any dry crumbs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, then press into a disk about 1 in. thick. Chill dough at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For the filling, you will need:

– 4 cups blueberries
– ¾ cups sugar
– 3 tablespoons cornstarch
– 2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

To prepare:

Pour blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle sugar, corn starch and salt over the blueberries, and toss lightly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Cut crust into 2 pieces form 2 disks and roll out each pie crusts to about an 11-inch circle. Place 1 dough circle into a pie plate, add blueberry mixture, dot the top with butter and cover with top crust. Trim excess dough and Crimp edges with your fingers all around and cut slits in pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with a teaspoon sugar. Bake on the bottom rack for 45 to 50 minutes until bubbly (shielding with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes or until golden) let cool and serve with lavender ice cream.

 Lavender Ice Cream

You will need:
– 3 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole Milk
– 2 tablespoons dried lavender
– 6 eggs + 2 yolks
– ½ cup sugar
-¼ tsp salt
– ¼ cup honey
– 1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare:

Simmer cream, milk and lavender in a saucepan until milk is scalded about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat pour into a bowl and let lavender steep for 30 minutes.

Strain cooled lavender milk mixture back into the saucepan and bring back up to heat. In a bowl whisk egg and sugar, salt and vanilla until creamy. Pull the hot milk off heat and pour about ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking while pouring.

Pour warmed egg mixture into the sauce pan with hot milk and put back on heat (medium) simmer until custard is formed and coats the back of a metal spoon about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk in honey and place into fridge chill until very cold.

Put into an ice cream maker follow manufacturers instruction.

Place ice cream into low pan with plastic wrap on the bottom. Freeze until ready to serve.

Photo Credit : Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Simple Cake for Any Occasion

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Did you hear? It’s my book’s first birthday this week. That’s right; Italy is My Boyfriend came out one year ago, and what a year it’s been! I’ve been celebrating on Instagram with various giveaways (make sure you check them out!).

I thought today would be a fun day to post a simple cake recipe: olive oil cake. Olive oil cake is something Italians serve their children since it’s a mild, sweet, soft cake. Children and adults alike will love this cake. I tested a few versions, but this one was the winner!

Olive Oil Cake
Serves 12

You will need:
– 
2 large eggs, room temperature
– 1  cup sugar
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon fine salt
*1/2 teaspoon flour and 1 teaspoon butter, to butter then flour the pan
*1 teaspoon powdered sugar for dusting

To Prepare: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10” spring-form ring pan.

Lightly beat eggs with a paddle attachment in standing mixer on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add sugar beat until fluffy, and add milk, add olive oil, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix for 1 minute until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and salt until well blended and smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Place on a rack to cool upside down. Remove spring pan. About 5 minutes into cooling the cake will drop, let cool. Invert on to a cake plate and dust with powdered sugar.

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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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