Tag Archives: cheese

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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Slow Food Cheese Event in Bra Italy 2019

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Ciao Tutti! As you may have seen from the complete coverage on my instagram feed, Philip Meeker our chef, and Rachel Ritchie our guest liaison, and I headed to the region of the Piedmont, known for delicious wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. Our destination was Bra, Italy, the Slow Food capital of the world. We wanted a little R&R and lots of cheese, wine and truffles.

As a girl from Wisconsin, you can imagine my pure joy. I was excited to share cheese with the team and few truffles as well. We stayed in Alba, the truffle capital of the world, so with all the food groups covered, we relaxed and treated ourselves to endless aisles of cheese, cheese talks and local makers’ booths. We stayed in an Agriturismo by a local wine maker who had a few rooms to rent on the top floor. In truth, the entire foyer smelled of wine-no complaints from me. The location was great and staying at a working winery was kind of fun.

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We got in around 5 pm in time to do a little aperitivo, but not before stopping at my favorite truffle store, Tartufi Ponzio, to load up on Truffle potato chips. Yes, really, truffle potato chips. They are truly the crack of the potato chip family. You can’t eat just one. The owner was there Gianfranco, a very energetic, and enthusiastic man, especially about truffles. He’s a hoot! He’s taken over the family business, and from what I can see, he has brought it into the 21st century with the utmost care.

There will be a documentary coming out on truffle hunting early next year, so keep your eyes peeled for “The Hunt” and look out for Gianfranco. It will be shown for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival 2020.

Gianfranco showed us all his new products, improved both inside and out. We bought a few more staples to bring back to La Fortezza to share with our guests. As I always do, I asked him where he liked to eat. He immediately told us and picked up the phone to make us a reservation for that night. All set, we said our goodbyes, and told him we hoped he would stop by after closing the store and join us for dessert. The meal was impeccable, more truffles and butter than you could imagine. Divine. GF, as we call him, stopped by for dessert and told us a few stories about truffles and hunting and his family business. All in all, he was quite amusing. Great food, great stories and a great night.

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The next day, we headed to see and eat more cheese than we could have imagined. The festival was huge and would take days to see. We tried cheese from all over the world, all kinds, to the point that we could not eat anymore. Our bellies were full and our feet were hurting which surely means we had an amazing day.

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I will say, most people would say you can’t have enough cheese. Oh but you can. I still cannot think about eating cheese. Vegetables? Yes. Although I never get my fill of truffles. We ate, we drank and we walked and walked all weekend. It was a great little break and mini vaca with the team, but now it’s time to get back to the business of taking care of our workshop attendees. Of course, there will be cheese and there will be truffles, as we love to share.

I highly recommend the slow food cheese festival! It’s in one of my favorite regions in Italy. Piedmont is not to be missed. Tutto il Formaggio. (all the cheese)

xx Annette

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Spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween

SpookyCharcuterie4 I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches' fingers.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am taking over the blog today to bring you a spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween. Annette and I both love Halloween, and every year, I am lucky enough to get to put together a festive post for the blog. You might remember my skull floral arrangement from last year (and if you missed it, go check it out!). Basically, I love any excuse to get a little creative in October.

One of the things that I enjoy doing every year is hosting my friends for a Halloween gathering. My birthday is just two days before Halloween, so it’s perfect timing for a soiree. Here’s the thing about my friends: every party we have, big or small, involves a charcuterie of some sort, and with Halloween right around the corner, I decided to put an eerie twist on this classic appetizer.

Over the years, Annette has done some pretty phenomenal charcuterie spreads, and she even has a step-by-step guide to creating one yourself. I used her post as a starting point for my grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to make a shopping list directly from her post.

SpookyCharcuterie1 The "cauldrons" are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the "witches broom" breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

To add a spooky spin, I picked up a few treats from World Market. When I saw this piece of slate, I knew it would be the perfect creepy base for my meats and cheeses. From there, I settled on a copper, chrome, and black color scheme. I grabbed a few tiny bamboo utensils because they reminded me of bones. I also picked up a few Halloween-inspired containers to hold all of the goodies, and a few little decorative pieces like the skull, rat, and tiny spiders to add some pizzazz.

One pro tip is to make sure that you get food-safe containers for your own spooky charcuterie spread. The “cauldrons” are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the “witches broom” breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

SpookyCharcuterie3 The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party!

As I shopped for remaining accoutrements, I kept the Halloween theme in mind. I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches’ fingers. I added dried apricots (a tip from Annette’s post) because they are a lovely shade of orange. I decided on prosciutto because it’s so fatty and veiny.

The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party! If you really want to carry the theme throughout, add some festive bottles of red wine. Prisoner is one of my favorites and quite on-theme, too!

Thanks for having me, Annette, and Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

xo, Nicole

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The Cheese ladies of Metro, Lunigiana, Italy

C H E E S E !!! … full disclosure I could live on it. In our region, we have many local cheese makers. Goat cheese and cows milk as well. Sydney and I (if you read the last post you know Sydney is our son’s girlfriend; she’s studying nutrition here in Italy for the summer as she gets her degree to become a registered dietitian) traveled high above the mountains of Metro to meet and try local cheese made by a mother daughter team of cheese ladies. The Mama is about 90 and still works actively in the processing kitchen. In her white wellies, she scoops the whey and makes the pecorino, the ricotta, and the mozzarella. We had the pleasure of touring their tiny but immaculate facility in the back of their small but well-stocked cheese and salumi store.

The aging room was my favorite part. Neatly stacked cheese just waiting to be picked from the shelves to be enjoyed.

We went home with a new pecorino, aged for 4 months, and a more pungent pecorino aged for 2 years. Mama tossed in a mozzarella ball as a gift to be discovered when we unpacked everything for lunch at noon. What a enormous treat, and you know I will be back to buy more….once we’ve polished off the wedges that we took home.

Thanks to my friend Davide for taking a minute to show us this delicious place.

xx Annette

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