Donatella Arpaia’s passion for food was formed at a young age. Spending summers at her grandfather’s Italian olive farm, growing up in her dad’s restaurants, and learning from her Mama Maria were invaluable foundations of her cooking. Since opening her first restaurant, Bellini, in 1988, Donatella hasn’t stopped. 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.
Summer brings a constant flow of guests to my lake house. While I love to entertain and cook, I also want to relax and join in the fun. That means finding ways to spend less time in the kitchen so I can spend more time swimming.
Tip 1: Don’t neglect presentation
Remember we eat with our eyes first, so ditch the paper goods and plastic cups in favor of real plates, glasses, and gorgeous platters. And don’t be afraid to mix and match. I use fancy platters right alongside wooden cutting boards to create an eclectic look that suits my personality. If you present food beautifully it looks like you spent a lot more time in the kitchen!
Tip 2: Master the art of “food assembly”
By food assembly, I mean quality and variety over quantity. You want light appetizers so your guests save room for the main event. In the summer, I often create beautiful vegetable, cheese and meat platters, so guests can graze at their leisure. To try this on your own, buy three types of bakery breads instead of dinner rolls … perhaps raisin-nut or olive bread, a ciabatta loaf and thin breadsticks for drama. Use the same approach when selecting cheeses. Pick a country and a variety of ages. Italian aged Parmesan and a softer cheese are a fantastic combination.
Tip 3: Master a “go-to” appetizer or side dish
Your go-to dish should be tasty and easy to make … and automatically give you culinary credibility. My fail-safe dish is prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with gorgonzola (see recipe below). I love that I can prepare them ahead of time and simply pop them in the oven or on the grill. These elegant bites are a welcome departure from the usual chips and dip.
Tip 4: Experiment with seasonal veggies
If ever there’s a time to get out of our broccoli and corn rut, it is summer! At market, buy a variety of colorful, in-season vegetables. If you can go to a farmer’s market and try new vegetables, even better! Just brush with extra virgin olive oil, add great quality salt and pepper, and put them on the grill. They’ll look simply irresistible on a more formal platter (see Tip 2 above).
Tip 5: Create a star of the meal
I always like there to be a “star” at an event. For example, buy the best-quality steak that fits your budget. If it’s a lesser-quality cut like hanger or skirt steak, use a marinade to tenderize and add flavor to the meat. If you invested in a gorgeous T-bone steak, then less is more. I love this simple recipe for “bistecca Fiorentina.” Hint: make sure you take the meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling. Bringing it to room temperate ensures that your steak cooks evenly.
Tip 6: Get others to help
Don’t be afraid to enlist friends or family to help, and also don’t be afraid to boss them around like a chef does in the kitchen! Dub them your sous chefs, and make sure they execute exactly what you want. I put my husband in charge of the steak, and he can give it his full attention while I prepare the final touches on the rest of the meal. I would hate to overcook one of those gorgeous babies. Reward any helpers with plenty of kisses and good wine!
Mixed Cheese, Olive, and Bread Appetizer
Grilled Mixed Vegetables
To drink: A big Italian red, like the Tenuta-di-Somaro-Aglianico-Primitivo 2013. This Aglianico-Primitivo blend from Puglia is part of the Frontgate Estate Wine Club. Its ripe, sweet/dark fruit complements the figs and salty/umami qualities of the cheese and cured ham, while the good tannic structure from the Aglianico is perfect for the steak.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 fresh black mission figs
6 ounces gorgonzola
6 slices prosciutto, halved
Salt and pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat a pizza oven, conventional oven or grill to 350°. Make a shallow “x” with a sharp knife into the body of each fig. Gently press 1 ounce gorgonzola into each fig. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each fig 1½ times, leaving the top exposed.
Arrange the figs stem end up on a lightly coated baking sheet or ceramic baker. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12–15 minutes until prosciutto is crispy. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.
3 T-bone steaks, about 1”–2” thick
2–3 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
6 whole garlic cloves, smashed
Zest of one lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Coarse salt (prefer a smoky black salt)
Extra-virgin olive oil
3–4 large rosemary sprigs
Rinse steak and pat dry. Combine rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic with 1 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil to help rub adhere to meat. Rub into both sides of meat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let meat come to room temperature, about 30–60 minutes.
Preheat gas grill. Remove whole smashed garlic from steak, and discard. Place steak on hottest part of grill and lay rosemary sprigs right next to steak. Cover grill and cook until meat is well charred on one side – about 10 minutes. Turn steak and cook on other side for another 10 minutes or until internal temperature registers 120 (for medium-rare).
Set your table apart with outdoor dining inspiration from our Pinterest board.
Just as a scarf can pull an outfit together, tossing a few throw pillows on a sofa or chair can instantly transform a room – indoors or outside.
Made to weather the elements, outdoor throw pillows bring the luxe comfort of interior spaces outside. Plus, they’re the easiest way to experiment with color and pattern. Here are three way s to maximize their impact.
If you like symmetry, use an even number of pillows. A pair arranged on either side of the sofa is most traditional. Four allows for more variation of size and color. But even with pairs, you’re not boxed into the corner. With two pillows, you can easily update the look by placing them in the center of the sofa.
For a more eclectic look, the odds are in your favor. Odd numbers can be arranged more artfully – and here’s where you can really be creative with shape, size and pattern. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns, but it’s best to stay in the same color palette.
Layering different shapes and sizes on your outdoor furniture creates a true designer look – and makes you want to sink in and stay awhile. Large square pillows (20″ or 24″) look dynamite when peeking from behind smaller boxy ones. Round tambourine or rectangular lumbar pillows add contrast to these traditional square shapes. Bolsters can be used for arm support or simply for decoration.
The right trim can take a pillow from colorful prop to artful fashion statement. Simple contrast cording finishes a pillow with a tailored look. Playful tassels and delicate eyelash trim bring unexpected touches of luxury outdoors.
Because throw pillows are so easy to swap out, you can update your outdoor look every few months. Selecting colors and patterns that reflect the change in seasons instantly gives your outdoor living space a look and feel.
For more ideas on decorating outdoors, watch the video Create a Beautiful Outdoor Space.
Sometimes, the most meaningful celebrations are the most informal. Take Mother’s Day. Not every mom wants a lot of fanfare. For some, the best way to celebrate is by sleeping in, going for long run or to yoga, and then coming home to a relaxed meal with family on the patio.
Relaxed doesn’t mean unrefined. Set your outdoor dining table with the same attention you would indoors. Start with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Then, use beautiful dinnerware. You could even surprise mom with a few new pieces like a charming elephant pitcher or playful Scalamandré plates. Complete the look with crystal glassware (for a toast, of course) and linen napkins.
And for the meal itself? It should be special, too. Set out an array of fruits and pastries, and then wow her with delicious (and surprisingly simple) brown butter crepes.
A low-key celebration like this is all that’s needed to make Mother’s Day one she’ll truly appreciate and never forget.
Written by: Bob Barnett
If you’re trying hard to eat a balanced diet, getting plenty of exercise and keeping your stress in check, but you’re still not losing weight—or you’re gaining it—there might be a surprising reason why. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis may be the missing ingredient in your weight-control plan. Research has revealed that too little or poor-quality shut-eye can make it easier for you to put on pounds and make it harder for you to lose them.
Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep a night. A 16-year study of 68,000 nurses found that those who got 5 or fewer hours of sleep a night had a 15 percent higher chance of being obese than those who slept 7 or more hours a night. Losing even one night’s good sleep can disrupt the complex harmony of brain chemicals that affect blood-sugar control, body fat, appetite, motivation and energy in ways that make it harder to control weight. Yes, you can catch up on one bad night of sleep, but a pattern of chronic sleep deprivation can make a big difference. Here’s what happens when you don’t get enough quality sleep:
Poor sleep can lead to weight gain, but the converse is true, too: Being overweight can make it hard to get a good night’s rest. “With weight gain, you get a bigger neck, and you crowd your airway, causing what’s known as sleep apnea,” Dr. Dedhia explains. You may fall asleep but, for a moment, actually stop breathing. You wake up with a loud snort and catch your breath, interrupting your rest, and then fall asleep again. It can happen hundreds of times a night without you even knowing it.
Quality rest, night after night, is key to achieving a healthy weight, but improving sleep takes time. “You’ve built up sleep deprivation—you didn’t get there overnight,” Dr. Dedhia says.
Start by exploring habits that may be affecting your sleep. Each drink of alcohol gives you an hour of being relaxed—and then an hour of arousal during sleep. Drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon is another common culprit. “What can wake you up at night? Snoring, apnea, sadness, anxiety, hot flashes or your bladder,” Dr. Dedhia says. Explore your triggers.
Once you address things that disturb your sleep, you can Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine that works for you. “Thirty minutes to an hour before bedtime, dim the lights, shut off the electronic screens, and perhaps take a warm shower or bath,” Dr. Dedhia suggests. These types of soothing tweaks to your nighttime routine can help you get your Zzzzs—and potentially help you control your weight. The gentlest actions, it turns out, are sometimes the most powerful.
If you think sleep apnea could be affecting you (common symptoms are extreme daytime sleepiness, snoring and dry mouth), speak with your doctor. You may benefit from consulting with a sleep specialist.
Continue your journey towards a better night’s sleep – and improved health and wellness – with a visit to Whole Beauty by Canyon Ranch for expert advice, recipes and more. And shop the Canyon Ranch Collection by Frontgate.