Tag Archives: summer

Easy Appetizer:: Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta

Hi all! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I am having a girlfriend over tonight for bites and beverages, and I’ve been combing Annette’s archives for inspiration for what to serve. I found this recipe for grilled vegetable bruschetta, and I thought I’d remind you all of it.

Being outdoors with family and friends around a grill makes for a casual entertaining vibe. This recipe is from Annette’s first book, Picture Perfect Parties (side note: isn’t it crazy that she is officially wrapping up book FOUR?!) Pair this grilled veggie bruschetta with a cocktail from Cocktail Italiano, and you’ll be left with one fabulous way to kick-off an outdoor soiree.

Grilled Veggie Bruschetta
Serves 8

You will need:
– 1 red onion
– 1 eggplant
– 2 medium-size zucchini
– 2 medium-size yellow squash
– 6 Roma tomatoes
– 2 red peppers
– 2 lemons
– 1 bunch of asparagus
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1 loaf of rustic bread sliced + 3 tablespoons olive oil to coat
– 8 oz. of soft goat cheese

To Prepare:

Coat both sides of the bread with olive oil

Slice eggplant into ¾ inch disks

Slice zucchini down the center lengthwise

Slice yellow down the center lengthwise

Leave red peppers whole

Slice lemons in half

Cut the tough ends off the asparagus

Peel and slice onion, place onion in aluminum foil pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over the onion on top, seal the foil forming a little package

In a separate bowl, place olive oil, and with a micro plane, grate the garlic cloves into the oil, add salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup of the mixture for later.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with a cup of olive oil mixture.

Grill bread slices until nicely toasted. Pull off the grill and set it aside.

Place all vegetables on the grill beginning with the onion. 10 minutes into the onion grilling, add eggplant, zucchini, squash, peppers, and lemons. Grill for about 15 minutes, and finally add asparagus spears. Grill all the vegetables for another 10 minutes.

Pull everything off the grill but the onion. Run the red peppers under cold water until cool to the touch, peel, and pull seeds from inside the peppers under running water. Place on paper towels to drain and then slice the peppers into ribbons and place onto the platter. Remove the onion from the grill. Slice zucchini, squash, and eggplant into bite-size pieces.

Place all of the grilled veggies onto a platter.

Drizzle the remainder of the olive oil mixture and squeeze grilled lemon over the entire platter of grilled vegetables. Serve at room temperature with spreadable goat cheese and rustic bread slices.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw

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Finished… Finito…All Done, the last photoshoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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The Dapper David Loftus, photographer and fashion plate sipping the Rosé named for him.

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Chef Leo, garnishing the local dish, in an authentic Lunigiana cast iron cooking vessel, called a testa.

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Me at my new bar, that was a delivery saga let’s just say I was happy it arrived and was in one piece.

Ciao everyone!  I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am done with La Fortezza Cookbook. The manuscript? Check,. The recipe testing? Check. Edits? Check. Photo-shoots per season? Check.

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La Fortezza, capture by David, his POV is perfection.   92DA59CE-8F04-440C-BA52-740073A6C28D_1_201_a

As you can imagine, shooting a seasonal cookbook in Italy has been a challenge. We had to cancel the very first shoot for the winter Chapter in February 2020. We were finally able to shoot the summer chapter August 2020, and with lots of restrictions and hurdles, we managed to shoot summer with me and my local chef Leo, then in October. I brought our workshop chef from the US which was no small feat. He, unfortunately, was going through some personal issues which did affect the quality of his work and the food which was another challenge on top of the other challenges was a lot for me to process. We soldiered on in March, hiring a new food stylist from England, the incredible Rosie Scott. All the while David Loftus, my photographer, was truly brilliant and consistent and created the most beautiful images. Rosie, our stylist from London, joined the team in March, along with our local chef Leo. We tackled the re-shoots from October’s shoot, as well as the new images for winter (yes, winter at the end of March. We lucked out with some unseasonably cold weather). Rosie and Leo knocked it out of the park. We had the crew back from London last week to shoot the final chapter, spring. With London lockdowns, endless covid 19 tests, daily temperature checks, travel restrictions, and tons of paperwork, we made it happen. My friend and superstar producer Barbara Pederzini was one of the reasons the shoot went so smoothly. She was my rock, to say the least.

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Daily temperature checks, Rosie and Charlie doing their temperature checks.

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With endless playlists, espressos, market runs, sunshine, heat, rain, and cold days, we had a great time. There were many many challenges, but I am beyond pleased with the recipes, and the images are outrageously gorgeous. This book, as we referred to it, will be “the most beautiful book in the world”. I am delighted that all of our local slow food purveyors’ stories are included, and the rich history of this little-known region of Italy, The Lunigiana, will be the star. I am proud and so excited to share it with all of you. Endless thank yous to David, Rosie, Leo, Barbara and of course, Charlie, Rosie’s lovely and helpful husband, who saved my ass driving to see the Shepherdess in Zeri…that’s another story for another time… dream team does not begin to describe this crew. Fin…xx

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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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Easy, yet Fancy Dinner:: Mussels in Wine

Easy yet elegant entertaining is something I like to think I specialize in. I love serving guests unexpected, unique meals that make them smile. One of my favorite ways to do just that is to serve mussels in wine.

Don’t be intimidated to cook mussels at home. It’s actually quite simple. Plus, you’ll inevitably wow your guests. They’ll be so impressed with your skills, and the presentation can be truly lovely. Just toss everything in a huge white bowl and serve the mussels family style.

This recipe is one of my favorites. Be sure to serve this dish alongside plenty of french bread for soaking up the goodness!

Mussels in Wine

You will need:
– 3 lbs mussels
– 1 small shallot diced
– 1 small clove of garlic minced
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 cups white wine*
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
– 1 cup marinara sauce (jarred sauce is fine, but here’s a pro-tip: leftover homemade sauce from the freezer is perfect for this recipe!)
– 1 cup chopped parsley

*Note: I always choose a cooking wine the same way I choose a drinking wine. If I wouldn’t drink it, I wouldn’t cook with it!

To prepare:
In a large stock pot, place shallots, garlic, oil and salt. Saute until the shallots are translucent. Add mussels, wine and butter. Cook until mussels open, discarding any mussels that have not opened. Add marinara, pepper flakes and parsley. Serve with crusty french bread.

 

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Summer Salad Week:: Fresh English Pea Salad

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Hi All! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m back for our second salad of the week. Here in Atlanta, we have an incredible Tex-Mex restaurant, Taqueria del Sol. They make an incredible English pea salad that I literally dream about. It is a lot like the below version, from an archived issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, but it’s made with jalapenos. The flavor profiles will remind you a lot of Southern staples like deviled eggs and potato salad, but the snap of the peas is exactly the cool crunch you need for a great summer salad.

To be honest, I think this would be excellent served alongside a big scoop of chicken salad, but thanks to the baby arugula that’s included, I think it stands on its own just fine. By the way, 4th of July is just around the corner, and I think this would be an excellent dish to bring to a cookout!

Fresh English Pea Salad
serves 8–10

For the salad, you will need:
– 2 ½ cups fresh English peas, shelled and blanched (or frozen peas defrosted if in a pinch!)
– 1 cup celery with leaves, diced fine
– ½ cup parsley, chopped
– 6–8 medium radishes, sliced very thin
– 4 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and still warm
– 1½ cups Irish cheddar cheese, grated
– ½ cup baby arugula

For the dressing, you will need:
– ½ cup Dukes mayonnaise
– 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
– Juice of one lemon
– Salt and cracked pepper to taste
– 2 tablespoons very fine olive oil

To prepare:
Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients until well blended, and toss. Just before serving, garnish with a ring of baby arugula.

PHOTOGRAPH BY RAFTERMEN

Styling by me

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