Donatella Arpaia, the former lawyer-turned-culinary-mogul and Food Network star, shares her love of cooking and entertaining with us, bringing fun, drama and personality to your table.
I have lived in New York City forever, so I never thought I would fall in love with grilling. When I got married and we purchased our lake house, outdoor cooking became an integral part of my life. At first I let my husband do the grilling, but being a chef and (dare I say) slightly controlling in the kitchen, I slowly took over and fell in love! Here are my top tips for grilling.
Charcoal or Gas?
This question always sparks the great grilling debate, but as a busy working mom, I love the convenience, ease and clean up of a gas grill. The grill I use at home is a Lynx. It’s made in America and is “mom friendly and dad ready.” What more could I ask for?
Remember the Holy Grilling Trilogy: extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
Often in life – and in cooking – less is more, and the Grilling Trilogy is the epitome of that philosophy. I love using freshly ground pepper and a variety of high quality salts from all around the world. They add flavor and color that really enhances the grilling experience. As for extra virgin olive oil, what can I say? The ones from Italy are the best!
Keep an eye on the temperature
An instant-read thermometer is your best grilling friend. Use it to check the internal temperature of your meat. Grilling is much more of an art than a science, and cooking times will vary slightly based on many factors, including wind, thickness of food, starting temperature of food (refrigerator cold vs. room temperature), grill preheating time, and temperature of the fire. But don’t worry; the more you do it, the more you will get the hang of it!
Build a better burger
For each burger, take about six ounces of beef and pack it gently into a patty. Using your thumb, make a well in the center of the patty to keep your burger from forming into a football. Be sure you have a minimum 20% percent fat content to prevent a dry burger. Let a crust form, then flip the burger. And remember, your spatula is for flipping, not for flattening.
2 lbs. mixed beef brisket, skirt steak and sirloin steak (20% fat)
4 slices fresh mozzarella
1 sliced tomato
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hamburger Buns
Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Form meat into four 1-inch thick patties. Season generously with coarsely ground salt and pepper.
Lightly coat tomatoes and arugula with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Arrange patties on the grill and cover. Cook over moderately high heat for 3–4 minutes. Flip the patties and cook covered for 2 minutes longer. Top patties with mozzarella and cook for 1 minute covered until cheese melts lightly.
Brush King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hamburger Buns with extra virgin olive oil and grill for 20 seconds on each side. Place patties on bun and top with arugula and tomatoes.
Pay attention to your bun!
My go-to choice for buns is King’s Hawaiian. It’s a chef’s favorite because it’s made with real butter. I think the taste and the texture of buns are best when they are lightly toasted. To toast, simply split the bun open, brush lightly with olive oil, place it cut side down on the grill, and toast until light golden brown, about 10–20 seconds.
Go to the dogs
For a unique grilled hot dog, try my recipe for a bacon-wrapped hot dog!
4 hot dogs
4 slices center-cut bacon
Toppings of your choice; mustard, ketchup, relish
King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hot Dog Buns
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Wrap each hot dog in a strip of bacon, and secure with a toothpick. Place on the grill and cook until bacon is fully cooked and hot dog is warm inside, rotating the hot dog often so bacon cooks evenly.
Nestle hot dog in a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hot Dog Bun, and top with mustard, ketchup and relish.
Pair your burger or hot dog with a sangria!
The perfect accompaniment while preparing and eating burgers and hot dogs on a hot summer day is my husband Allan’s white sangria. For a little fun, go exotic with star fruit!
3 bottles white wine (Chile or Spain)
9 oz. decent brandy (VSOP)
6 oz. triple sec
6 oz. simple sugar
9 oz. peach purée
3 cups pineapple juice
3 cups orange juice
Slices of star fruit, green apple, kiwi and a handful of grapes
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy!
For another refreshing cocktail, try our Elderflower-Berry Sangria, a sangria as golden as the sun.
Follow more of Donatella’s grilling adventures on Instagram @donatellaarpaia.
Christena Bender is a garden designer at The Good Earth Designs, where she has been designing beautiful gardens in Atlanta for more than 5 years. She’s worked with celebrity designers such as Chip Wade on projects such as the 2015 Atlanta Decorators’ Show House and Elbow Room on HGTV. We were so impressed with her work at the Show House that we asked her to be a guest blogger.
When it comes to making a first impression, your home’s entry makes more of an impact than you can imagine.
As an interior designer, Bridgette Boylan knew her home was in need of new plantings to showcase the entrances. After meeting with her and seeing her home, I knew that larger, more elegant planters were essential for showcasing the botanical presentation I had in mind.
Atlanta’s summers are unforgiving – hot and humid with daytime temperatures averaging 90° – so we needed hardy plants to ensure that they lasted the season.
For the side entrance, I chose Frontgate’s Athens Urn, a neoclassical urn with a wide planting area. We brought in gardenia radicans for their amazing fragrance and “kaleidoscope” abelia for its multi-colored foliage. The existing mature crape myrtle became the focal point in this intimate area, and the urns were a perfect complement.
At the front door, we wanted to make a splash. The dipladenia plant produces stunning bright red flowers all summer long. Purple fan flowers are superb in the hot Georgia summers (we’re in the USDA hardiness zone 7b/8a) and will flower non-stop, providing a pop of color against white vinca, as it cascades down the sides of the urn.
Accent plants add lasting depth and interest. I often use creeping Jenny, with its bright chartreuse color, around boulders or as ground cover (though it can be a bit invasive). A stark contrast is the purple heart, intense purple foliage that springs forth pink flowers as it matures through the season. For added drama, silver falls dichondra will drape over the sides adding even more depth and dimension. Lastly, creeping Charlie has a pleasant fragrance, and its green and white foliage is simply adorable.
The end result is simply stunning, transforming two keys areas into grand entrances worthy of Bridgette Boylan’s elegant home.
For more gardening inspiration, visit our Pinterest board.
On July 14th, Baseball brings its All-Star Game to Cincinnati, which is Frontgate’s hometown. It’s a homecoming of sorts for the sport – after all, the first professional team was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, who barnstormed the country and introduced America to the game.
At Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, we proudly sponsor the Frontgate Outdoor Luxury Suite – a great spot to watch sluggers belt a ball toward the Ohio River, which lolls just beyond the right-field wall.
The city remains one of America’s best baseball towns. The Reds have won five world championships, including two in the 1970s by the famed Big Red Machine led by Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan. One of the All-Star Game’s most celebrated moments happened here in 1970, when Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse at home plate to score the winning run in the 12th inning.
This marks the fifth time Cincinnati has hosted the Midsummer Classic, and the first in Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.
The baseball tradition of a hot dog at the ballpark gets a unique twist here. Cincinnati-style chili, a Greek-inspired meat sauce, is famously ladled on hot dogs and topped with cheese – and the chili/cheese combination similarly tops spaghetti in a Queen City staple.
Add in a craft beer from one of Cincinnati’s burgeoning breweries, such as Rhinegeist or MadTree, and you’ve got some Midwest flavor while you celebrate our national pastime.
Adapted from Food.com
The Cincinnati Coney is a specially made steamed hot dog in a bun with mustard and secret recipe chili, topped with onions and shredded cheddar cheese.
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cups chopped onions
4 cups beef stock
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2–3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1⁄2 oz. grated unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp, instant minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground red pepper
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
1 bay leaf
10–12 steamed hot dogs
10–12 hot dog buns
Chopped white onion
Finely shredded cheddar cheese
In a skillet, brown ground beef and onion. Drain.
Add beef stock to beef mixture and simmer 10 minutes. Add remaining 13 ingredients, and simmer uncovered one hour.
Remove bay leaf, and skim off extra fat. Serve over steamed hot dogs in buns for coney dogs. Top with plenty of cheese and onion.
Our favorite new recipe is light-years from your basic steak and salad. Easy, upscale and unexpected, Clams with Chorizo and Couscous makes a delightful summer repast.
Courtesy of Kelly Sterling
Serves 4 as main course or 6 as an appetizer
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1–2 links Spanish Chorizo, small dice (about ½ cup)
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice or unsalted stock
2 lbs. littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
1 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, as needed
Grilled Ciabatta bread or baguette
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic, shallots and chorizo. Saute until the shallots are soft, stirring occasionally. Add the couscous and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add the wine and clam juice, stir and reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 minutes.
Uncover the pot and increase the heat to medium. Add the clams and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Cook until the clams just open (being careful not to overcook them). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parsley. Check for seasoning; add salt and fresh ground pepper if needed.
Serve in large shallow bowls with grilled bread.
To drink, choose a crisp sparkling wine or dry white … you’re certain to find the perfect pairing in Frontgate’s hand-selected wine cases.
Find more recipes and outdoor entertaining tips on Pinterest.