Fresh Italian flavors inspire my Summer solstice dinner party menu. To maximize time spent with guests, all of the food can be made in advance or cooked outdoors on the grill. A buffet of salumi, flatbreads, olives, and store bought spreads will await my guests.

When sliced into triangles grilled mozzarella panini are delightful appetizers. Chicken cooked under a brick is crispy yet succulent. Classic panzanella and balsamic potato salad are delicious served on the side. If these recipes sound tasty, get them now when you


Mozzarella Panini

Mozzarella Panini


  1. 12 slices firm white sandwich bread
  2. 1/4 cup drained bottled capers, chopped
  3. 6 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, at room temperature
  4. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 2 tablespoons milk
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Divide capers among 12 bread slices and spread evenly.
  2. Divide mozzarella among 6 slices and sprinkle with pepper to taste. Make into 6 sandwiches, then cut off and discard crusts to form 3-inch squares.
  3. Coat sandwiches with flour, knocking off excess.
  4. Beat together eggs, milk, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in another small shallow bowl.
  5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides.
  6. Meanwhile, coat 3 sandwiches, 1 at a time, with egg mixture. Fry, turning over once, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then drain on paper towels. Coat and fry remaining 3 sandwiches in same manner.
  7. Cut sandwiches into quarters and serve immediately.

Makes 24 hors d'oeuvres.

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Northern Italian-Style Chicken Under a Brick

Northern Italian-Style Chicken Under a Brick


  1. 1 cup olive oil
  2. 1/2 cup lemon juice
  3. 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  4. 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  5. 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  6. 1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  7. 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
  8. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  10. 1 whole chicken, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
  11. 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  12. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  13. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  14. 2 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil


  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and preheat grill to medium-low.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, thyme, parsley, kosher salt, and crushed red pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.
  3. Place the chicken on a cutting board. With a boning knife and/or poultry scissors, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove. Place the chicken skin side down on a clean work surface and, using a paring or small boning knife, cut underneath and around the breast bone on both sides, cutting the cartilage away from the flesh so that you can work your fingers underneath the bone, and then carefully remove the breast bone. The chicken should lay flat like an open book. Tuck the wing tips behind the joint of the wing that meets the breast. Cut small tips in the skin that hangs beneath the thighs and tuck the tips of the drumstick bones inside.
  4. Place in a 9 by 13-inch, nonreactive baking dish and add the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours, turning occasionally to evenly coat.
  5. Preheat the bricks for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from the marinade and season on both sides with the Essence, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down, on the grill. Place 2 bricks on top of the chicken to cover completely and flatten. Cook until the skin side has nice grill marks, about 20 minutes. Remove the bricks and turn the chicken so that it is skin side up. Cook on the second side for about 15 minutes longer, or until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deep portion of the thigh registers 165 degrees F.
  7. Remove the chicken from the grill, place on a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into quarters and serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

Emeril's Essence Seasoning

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Makes 2/3 cup.

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  1. 1 garlic clove
  2. 2 pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
  3. 1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  4. 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  6. Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 5 one-inch-thick slices day-old Tuscan-style bread
  8. 4 (about 12 ounces) Kirby cucumbers, peeled and sliced
  9. 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves


  1. Place garlic on a cutting board; hit it with the side of a large knife to break it open a bit.
  2. Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a large nonreactive bowl. Drizzle oil and vinegar over the vegetable mixture; season with salt and pepper. Toss; let stand, covered, in a cool place, for 1 hour or more.
  3. Place bread on a hot grill or under a heated broiler; toast until both sides are slightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, rub lightly with garlic if desired; tear bread into bite-size chunks. When ready to serve, add cucumbers, basil, and bread to tomatoes.
  4. Toss to coat bread thoroughly with the marinating liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and remove garlic clove.

Serves 6.

Variations: Try adding bocconcini (cubed fresh mozzarella), roasted bell peppers, sliced fresh fennel, or capers. Experiment using other seasonal vegetables.

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Balsamic Potato and Green Bean Salad

Balsamic Potato and Green Bean Salad


  1. 1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
  2. Salt
  3. 10 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
  4. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  7. 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  8. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  9. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  10. 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  11. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus whole sprigs for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, place the potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and let stand.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the olive oil until combined.
  3. Toss the potatoes and beans with the dressing to coat. Using a fork, mash several potatoes. Toss in the scallions and thyme. Season with more salt and pepper to taste and top with thyme sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8.

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