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Summer Spritz

Recipes: How to throw an Italian aperitivo party with spritzy cocktails

Quintessential aperitivo cocktails, like the pleasingly dry and bitter negroni and the Aperol spritz, are meant to stimulate the appetite. Here are two cocktail recipes and six dish recipes to throw a summer party to remember.
Burgundian Gougeres

Burgundian Gougères

Whenever I’m having friends over for dinner, I try to avoid spending all of my time cooking. These handy Burgundian gougères come from my home town of Beaune, and the best part is that you can make them ahead of time and freeze them. If you’ve got it, uncork a bottle of bubbly, too.

Provençal tart (Pissaladière)

Whenever my dad travels from Burgundy to visit me here in Atlanta, he insists that I make him this dish that first originated in Southern France. Topped with sweet, caramelized onions, black olives, anchovies, and fresh thyme, this savory, pizza-like tart is pure comfort.

Cheddar-Jalapeno Bites

These tender, cheesy little biscuits are hard to stop eating. My running buddy, Beth Floyd, brought them to a party recently, and when I asked her for the recipe she recited it on the spot. She adapted it from one she got from a cookbook called “Table Talk” compiled by a relative’s bridge club in Macon, Georgia. They're incredibly easy to make and freeze well.

Homemade Italian Grissinis

Recently on a romantic, 3-day trip to Rome, I drank a great, pre-dinner Aperol spritz (aperitivo) while eating some homemade grissinis. These simple Italian breadsticks were crispy and crunchy with a slightly nutty touch and finished with olive oil. Here’s the recipe I learned for them when I lived in Torino 10 years ago. Andiamo nella cucina! (Translation: Let’s go into the kitchen.)
Matthews Cafeteria Biscuits

Technique: Matthews Cafeteria’s Michael Greene on fluffy biscuits

Michael Greene grew up on these old-time fluffy “cat-head biscuits” that have been a Matthews Cafeteria signature for six decades.He learned to make them by watching the cooks mix, roll, cut, and bake some 300 to 500 a day in a sprawling old basement kitchen where he has spent much of his life.

Sweet and Salty Summer Crostini

This quick summer starter comes from our former photography intern, Gabriela Iancu, who had the clever idea to mix finely chopped Kalamata olives into fresh ricotta as the base spread for crostinis. After that, feel free to mix any number of ingredients together as toppings. Iancu suggests Edamame beans with tomatoes and bacon or strawberries with almonds and honey. Quality baguettes are essential so be sure to stop by the bakery at Star Provisions.

Fava bean and parmesan cheese crostinis

As happy as I am to crank out impressive, dinner-party dishes, I’m just as content sitting on the porch drinking rosé and noshing on simple appetizers that come together in minutes. My latest creation...

Greens and Ham Spoon Bread

In their James Beard award-winning tome, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart aptly call spoon bread “the South’s answer to a soufflé.”  This recipe is a very slight adaptation of one of their variations on this cornmeal-based dish, which is more of an airy casserole than a bread. Add a salad, and you have a light but satisfying meal, good for a simple supper or brunch.  –Susan Puckett 

Black-Eyed Pea and Cornmeal Muffins

New Year's Day was last week, but you can still top a bowl of leafy collard greens with these mini cornmeal muffins featuring black-eyes peas. It's a heart-healthy meal for those still going strong on their New Year's resolutions.—Deborah Geering

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