Surprisingly Simple Summer Dessert:: Cherries on Ice

Cherries on Ice

Ciao from Italy! I’ve had the best time hosting workshops this summer and dreaming-up new ways to entertain our guests. As you know, part of being a good hostess is developing a menu that is fresh and fun while encouraging guests to chat and have a good time.

As you also know, I like to think and work smarter, not harder. There’s no need to make a dinner party or gathering with friends complicated. The goal is for everyone to have a great evening, including the host.

Just last week, I served the most delicious surprisingly simple summer dessert, cherries on ice. Even though cherry season is wrapping-up in Italy, chances are you’re still finding plenty of them at your local markets and grocery stores. This simple dessert makes a fun, light end to a meal. Let me know if you give it a try and what you think!

Cherries on Ice

You will need:
– cherries, rinsed and drained
– ice water

To prepare:

Thoroughly rinse cherries and set aside.

Fill a large bowl with ice and cover it completely with water. Place cherries into the ice bath.

Replace ice as needed and serve cherries directly from the ice bath. Be sure to place a pretty bowl nearby (or give one to each guest) for stems and pits.

xx Annette

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Quick trip to Pietrasanta

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Ciao tutti! Recently, I wanted to check out a flea market and new upcoming design neighborhood in Pietrasanta. A little background first, Pietrasanta is a seaside town. It lines the coast of Tuscany which is about 40 minutes from our house.

Full disclosure: it is one of my favorite places in Italy. It’s a small town where the streets are narrow and are home to galleries, bespoke fashion houses, and quaint home furnishing stores. The main square has towering churches and art installations, and in the summertime there are always people sitting in the quad of cafes. It’s my happy place where artists and socialites converge in the most unlikely and amazing way. Sculptors covered in marble dust and fancy ladies all having an apero in one happy place. Did I mention that it is nestled near Cararra, and therefore the place to work and play?

Check out our finds including an incredible design studio we stumbled into.

I was hosting my One on One styling course during this visit. It was great to discover this new flea market with a student in tow. Of course I found some amazing things I will be using for styling in upcoming workshops here. The life of a stylist is always hunting, always looking, and always shopping.

 

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Baking in Italy:: Delicious Focaccia

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 4.30.43 PM If you follow along on Instagram, you might have noticed that I have made a lot of focaccia this summer. Focaccia is the perfect marriage of fluffiness and crispiness. It’s such a delicious part of meals here in Italy and is versatile too. You can use it for sandwiches or keep it simple. I love to use focaccia as an appetizer with olive spread, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, and a crisp summer rose wine. It’s the perfect start to a perfect evening.

You can find the story behind focaccia, along with several yummy cocktails to serve with it, in Cocktail Italiano.

Focaccia
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3 cups double zero flour (super fine flour)
– 1 package dry yeast
– 1/3 cup warm water
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for the cookie sheet + 3 tablespoons for finishing before baking, 1 tablespoon to finish after baking
– 2 tablespoons coarse salt + 1 teaspoon for finishing

To prepare:

Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/3 cups water and let proof in a large bowl. put flour and oil and salt and water, combine until it forms a sticky dough, it should be very sticky. Flour your surface and turn the dough onto floured surface. knead gently for a minute until dough forms a soft dough.

On an oiled cookie sheet with a lip, spread the dough out to fit the cookie sheet. With your index fingers poke dimples into the top of the dough.

Let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Before placing in the oven, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil cool and eat warm or at room temperature. The key is to let the oil soak in as the focaccia cools.

 

 

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aPOPitivo:: An Aperitivo Recipe Perfect for Summer

IMG_4170Boozy popsicles are such a fun twist on typical summer desserts, especially since they’re a dessert and a cocktail in one!

Typically, I make this recipe as a gelato, but a few years ago, I tested turning it into a refreshing summer popsicle aperitivo, and it worked! While I haven’t revived the recipe this summer, I think it’s about time to do so.

When you serve them, pour a thumbs height of Campari in a pretty glass and place the pop into the glass. The melty pop mingles with the Campari to create a delicious and very Italian Apero. Divine!

Cantaloupe Campari Pops
Makes 10 pops
Ingredients:

– 1 Cantaloupe, cut into pieces*
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup Campari

*Note: you can substitute 3-4 cups of passion fruit (about 15 passion fruits)

Preparation:

Make a simple syrup combining the sugar and the water using a small sauce pan on medium heat. Turn off the heat once it starts to boil and set aside to cool.

Blend the cantaloupe and the syrup in a bowl using a hand blender, or blender. Add the campari and put into popsicle molds*.

*Note: I like to pour the puree into the molds using a pitcher; it’s easier.

Freeze for at least 5 hours. Place into warm bath for about 30 seconds to unmold and wrap individually in parchment and place back into the freezer. They can be stored for up to a month, although ours are gone in a week.

Cin cin!

Annette

Recipe adapted from: People’s Pops

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It’s July so where are we now? Renovation Italy update

IMG_0771 Ciao everyone!

With a couple of workshops under our belts, and a photo shoot with Casa Facile checked off, I am here to give you the update on our La Fortezza renovation. I am happy to report we are heading to the finish line with the building renovations.

The student lounge and commercial kitchen work like a dream. Our attendees are enjoying cooking lessons and hanging out in the student lounge. Our guest rooms are a delight, too. I personally have taken showers in each bathroom in our guest quarters, and they are lovely. The kitchenette is getting plenty of use, and the terrace as always is such a super place to dine and to hang out and read a book or just visit with an aperol spritz in hand. And that view! It takes my breath away every time. We added a seating area in the kitchen garden, and it’s been a great place to have aperitivo as well as breakfast and lunch. I love the idea that we have choices.

Benny the boar greets everyone to the student lounge

Benny the boar greets everyone to the student lounge.

everyone loves cooking on the big beautiful Lacanche

Everyone loves cooking on the big beautiful Lacanche.

We always have plenty of freshly laundered towels for guests and custom biodegradable soaps made just for us.

We always have plenty of freshly laundered towels for guests and custom biodegradable soaps made just for us.

This month we began the renovations to the last building, an out building that will have 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms a big patio, and it will be a fun gathering place overlooking the vineyard. Of course, we are building a big grill right next to the pizza oven.

We call this building the “dependance.” This building was the biggest wreck of all and needed a lot of reinforcement! Forrest and I have come up with a very good plan that will involve a rain shower and antique bathtub in the middle of one of the bathrooms.

We had to be extra clever designing the spaces since it once was a barn like stone building that housed farm equipment.

My intention is to leave it as rustic as possible. Forrest and I have based the design on a 17th century wooden bed we purchase last year for the space, I can’t wait to share it with you since it’s the most awesome piece of furniture on the property. I love this bed. There’s also rustic lighting and modern bathrooms that we are now calling wet rooms since they are completely waterproofed.

Here it’s not odd that there are wet rooms due to the lack of space in these old homes. It’s a great solution. I personally love it. It’s so…well, freeing. So all our guest rooms have this wet room feature. Easy to use easy to clean up.

We are terribly happy with our renovation choices, and our crew is the best. Renovating in Italy is daunting and expensive, but honestly with our team it has been a thrill. Don’t forget to follow along on my instagram for the latest updates. I hope you will consider joining us for one of our many workshops and retreats. We still have a few spots left in our October workshop, but stay tuned for next year’s workshops. They are amazing and varied. There is something for everyone, and a few surprises as well!

 

 

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