Homemade Bloody Mary for Mardi Gras

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Hi everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I am sharing an excellent recipe of Annette’s, of course, that’s perfect for Mardi Gras festivities tomorrow: a classic bloody mary!

I grew up in Atlanta, but my grandparents lived in Mobile, Alabama which if you don’t know, is actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S. Yes, you read that right; Mobile not New Orleans. As a result, I spent my childhood watching many parades and eating scores of moon pies and king cake. Now that I’m older, I like to enjoy Mardi Gras a little differently, and that’s with a Bloody Mary in hand!

As a Bloody Mary connoisseur, I am always on the hunt for the next great Bloody Mary mix, but being around Annette and learning from her has encouraged me to try my hand at making my own mix. She has an awesome recipe that I’m sharing with you guys today. Add your inebriant of choice (for me, it’s GIN!), and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Bloody Mary
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 cup tomato
– 1 carrot
– small sliver of beet (mostly for color)
– 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
– 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup ice
– 1/4 cup spinach
– 1 tablespoon parsley
– 1 oz gin or vodka

Place all ingredients into your blender, process for 30 seconds, and serve with your choice of accouterments.

xo, Nicole

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Easy Flower Arranging

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While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme like pink or even white. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

However, if you want to give it a go, follow these steps. For this arrangement, I selected a few colors that go well together like pink and lavender.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers. Pro tip: this pitcher from Ikea (one of my favs, as you know) is an ideal flower container!

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Here, that’s ranunculus and hyacinth. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty!

xx Annette

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Everything you need to know about booking a trip to Italy

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It might seem hard to wrap your head around, but the time to book your summer travel for Italy is NOW. As a result, I am reviving an older post which includes everything you need to know about booking a trip to Italy.

I think of this as your go-to Italian travel guide, and a one-stop-shop for all of the information you need to know. It’s a FAQ page of sorts, and you can use it to reference to all of my tips for traveling to Italy for a workshop at La Fortezza:

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How to Get the Best Airfare to Italy 

What to Pack in your Carry-on

What to Pack in your Suitcase 

How to Spend a Layover in Milan 

Why Mother-Daughter Trips to La Fortezza are a MUST

I’ll be in Italy for a few weeks in March checking-in on La Fortezza and readying it for guests. Then, after a short stint home in the States, I’ll head back to Italy for the summer. Our 2020 summer workshops are shaping up to be absolutely spectacular.

There are only a few spots left, so if you’re planning on joining us, grab your spot soon! Don’t miss your opportunity to come to Italy for a once in a lifetime experience!

xx Annette

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Sweet Crepes with Chocolate Mousse

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. Today, I am sharing a fun recipe from Annette’s archives perfect for Valentine’s Day this weekend.

Even though Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, my husband and I have decided to skip the hoopla and stay home instead. However, staying in doesn’t have to be boring and bland, right? I discovered this recipe for sweet crepes, and I thought it would be such a fun way cook something together in the kitchen and get a sweet result in the end.

Here’s a recipe for sweet crepes with chocolate mousse. Let us know if you give it a try!

xo,

Nicole

Basic Crepes
Yield: 12 to 15 crepes, 4-6 servings
For the crepes, you will need:
– 1 ½ cups whole milk
– 2 large eggs
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare:

Combine the milk, eggs and melted butter in a blender and puree for 10 seconds. Add the flour and salt and blend again until smooth.

Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter to the pan and swirl the melting butter around the pan into a thin, even coat. Pour two tablespoons of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds or until the edges begin to dry and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a warm oven if serving immediately or to a plate to cool completely for storing. Continue cooking the batter as above – coating the pan with butter every after every 2 or 3 crepes.

*Note: Cooled crepes can be stacked, and stored in zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Thaw frozen crepes at room temperature at least an hour before reheating. Reheat stored crepes in warm oven or a microwave just before serving.

**Note: Lore holds that the first crepe is always a flop. Think of it as a test of your pans heat and adjust the heat accordingly.

For the mousse, you will need:
– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
– 2 cups chilled heavy cream

To prepare:

Fill a small saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile find a small heat-proof bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the small bowl over the simmering water, stirring frequently with a spatula. Once melted add the espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Remove the chocolate from the heat to cool while the cream is whipped.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Add the warm chocolate to the lightly whipped cream and continue whipping on medium speed until the cream achieves soft peak – approximately 1 minute longer.

Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Art direction + Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes + food styling by Meghan Splawn

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Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

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If you’re joining your girlfriends later this week for a little Galentine’s Day celebration, I wanted to share a quick and festive pomegranate punch for the big day. Think of this sparkling treat like a mimosa, but instead of orange juice, use a yummy mixture of pomegranate and grapefruit juice. The result is a pink mimosa that is perfectly ladylike…but let’s be real, I’m sure guys will love it too.

Let me know if you give it a try for Galentine’s Day, or any other event coming up this spring.

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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