Poached Pears in Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Poached fruit is a simple yet sophisticated dessert that will wow your guests this holiday season. It is, in fact, a little trick I use when I don’t want to make a complicated dessert. It’s so easy to just grab apples or pears and poach them in wine which is something I always have on had.

These mulled wine poached pears are the perfect classic dessert for fall and winter. Your guests will be impressed with the presentation, and the flavor is subtle and light which after a heavy meal can be just the perfect finish. Top them with homemade whipped cream for a festive end of meal treat.

Mulled Wine Poached Pears
Serves 8

You will need:
– 8 pears
– 1 bottle of Red Wine (I like to use a Merlot, or a Pinot Noir)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 3 star anise
– 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar

To prepare:

Peel the whole pears leaving the stem in tact.

In a large cast iron pot, empty the bottle of wine, add the sugar, cinnamon, star anise.

Place the peeled pears on their side, then simmer them in the wine for about 15 minutes, occasionally with a large spoon roll the pears to evenly cook them. Turn off the heat, and leave the pears to macerate in the wine (this literally can be all day). Again occasionally turning them to evenly coat the pears. The pears will become a beautiful pink color from the mulled red wine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, add the whipping cream and sugar whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes.

To serve:

Warm the pears through about 3 minutes and place the warm pears in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the mulled wine. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve.

NOTE: This is the perfect make ahead dessert, and it will truly impress your guests! 

xx Annette

 

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Last Minute Recipe:: Kumquat Cranberry Sauce

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you’re spending today surrounded by friends and family eating an incredible meal.

A staple at our Thanksgiving table is cranberry sauce, but I always like to put my own twist on it. Cranberry sauce is a perfect complement to Thanksgiving turkey, but instead of opening a can, give this easy recipe a try instead. Even though the end product is luscious and luxurious, cranberry sauce can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, and this kumquat cranberry sauce is perfection.

Everyone will love the citrus flavors paired with the tart cranberries, and you’ll be the star of the meal. This cranberry sauce is especially good once the flavors come together which makes it perfect for leftovers. I like to serve mine from a jar; it gives it a wonderful homemade quality and is a pretty look for the table. Let me know if you give it a try and what everyone thinks!

Kumquat Cranberry Sauce
You will need:
– 2  cups water
– 1 cup sugar
– 12 kumquats cut into circle slices (cut the kumquat across to create pinwheel like slices)
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon cloves
– 2 12-ounce bags fresh or frozen cranberries

 

To prepare:

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, kumquat slices and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat. Simmer 4 minutes to blend flavors.

Add cinnamon, salt and clove and simmer 2 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer until berries burst and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated)

Photo by Stefania Crudeli on Unsplash

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Picture Perfect Thanksgiving:: Turkey and Gravy

Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is here! If you’re prepping the main event this year, give my Picture Perfect Turkey and Gravy a try. The recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and it’s truly a show stopper. You’ll end up with a beautiful, flawless bird that will make your friends and family ooh and ahh. Be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Picture Perfect Turkey and Gravy
Serves 8-10

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

You will need:
– 20 lb. Organic Turkey
– 2 teaspoons flake salt
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
– 4 cloves garlic minced
– 1 lemon

Ingredients for the *mirepoix mixture for the bottom of the roaster:
– 1 carrot diced
– 2 celery stalks dices
– 1 yellow onion diced
– 2 cups turkey stock (I use store bought)

To prepare:
In the bottom of a roasting pan place carrots, celery, onion and stock. Put a rack into the roasting pan. Place turkey on the rack.

Combine salt, oil, rosemary, and garlic, rub the entire turkey with the mixture, place whole lemon into the cavity of the turkey. Place in the oven with an aluminum foil tent on the top of the turkey for 4 hours, basting every half hour. Remove the tent for the last hour of baking, and bake until meat thermometer reads 150 degrees F

Pull from the oven and let rest.

*Reserve the mirepoix for the gravy.

 

 

Gravy

You will need:
– Mirepoix, defatted
– 2 cups turkey stock
– 2 tablespoons corn starch

To prepare:
Place the mirepoix into a saucepan, heat, and add turkey stock, and warm.

In a small bowl place cornstarch.  Add 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture to the cornstarch, mix with a small spoon until a paste forms. Add the paste to the gravy mixture to thicken. Stir until reduced. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Serve on the side with turkey and stuffing.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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…leaving Italy 2018

 

2018 has been the year of renovation. We switched into full gear this year, renovating the rest of our fortress. We added a kitchen, a lounge area next to the kitchen, 6 guest rooms, a kitchenette and a new outdoor seating area outside the dependence (the out building that serves as 3 guest rooms).

It was challenging in a way I have never been challenged. That is saying a lot as I have built and renovated many residential and commercial spaces, but this one was a beast. It was challenging but not why you think. Our contractor, project manager and geometra (the architect/engineer, that is required for any construction in Italy) were incredible. The electrician, painter, plumber and marble guy were top notch. Mostly, everyone working on the project was really efficient. However, the mere  scope of the project was daunting. Resurrecting a medieval fortress is not for the faint of heart.

I am happy to say that it’s all behind us. It is finished. We still have many projects ahead, but the idea that the majority of the renovation is history is quite frankly the best feeling in the world.

I loved all the workshops this year. The privates were fulfilling, and everyone who attended this year had a special point of view. I loved doing our wedding shoot; it was fun to imagine a wedding at La Fortezza. Frank and I really had a blast with all of our guests and loved showing everyone our little part of Italy.

La Fortezza guest rooms were a hit with all of our guests, too which was especially rewarding after all of our hard work. Everyone loved all the special touches, and it was really fun hosting everyone. All the aperitivi and all the suppers and discussions around the table were exactly how I imagined it would be. It warms my heart that I made so many new friends and got visit with old friends as well. I hope everyone comes to visit us again. Such precious memories make all the work the past 2 1/2 years so worth it!

Many ask if I am sad to leave Italy. I am sad, but being back in the US with my family and friends is great. I will be back next spring and in the meantime, I am enjoying all the peace of not making renovation decisions every day, but I will miss all the group dinners under the stars and the moon. Until next year…

xx I will miss you Italy. cin cin

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Last of the La Fortezza Workshops, end of the season

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I must admit the last 2 workshops in October were amazing. The first workshop was a private group. All I can say is that it was the most amazing group of friends. It was comprised of four ladies that really supported each other and enjoyed each other’s company. I have never seen anything like it.

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Philip and Suzanne prepared a pizza lunch for the group.

We tried a new chef, Philip Meeker, a classically trained chef with tons of restaurant and teaching experience. He was a fantastic addition to the La Fortezza workshop team. He was genuinely enthusiastic about our garden and local vendors like the dairy and the various butcher shops. He loved shopping at the Tuesday local market in the square in Fivizzano, and he became quite the local celebrity as he speaks great Italian and is quite charming, not to mention easy on the eyes.

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His food was absolutely delicious, creative and seasonal. His high regard for great ingredients is exactly what we look for in the meals we serve at La Fortezza – high quality, beautiful and delicious.

Our private group’s organizer, Suzanne Vizethann , is the Executive Chef and Owner of Buttermilk Kitchen. She brought all her best friends with her, and we had an amazing time touring Modena with my sweet friend and stylist/editor Barbara Pederzini. She even gave us the VIP tour of her hometown. As an aside, Barbara will be joining me next year for a couple days to teach the Italian side of styling during my Strictly Styling Workshop 2019; we have lots of surprises up our sleeves, so stay tuned.

We stopped for a bit of power shooppingat Oro Nero a custom design shop in Modena

We stopped for a bit of power shopping at Oro Nero a custom design shop in Modena

We began the workshop with Suzanne’s group with truffle hunting. It was a gorgeous morning trekking through the forest.

Truffle huntiing followed by a 4 course truffle lunch, left us stuffed and sleepy.

Truffle huntiing followed by a 4 course truffle lunch, left us stuffed and sleepy.

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Suzanne treated all of us to her Nonna’s sauce and meatballs at our Sunday supper. Philip rounded out the meal with amazing handmade pasta noodles along with sides and dessert. Private workshops have been very exciting and so fulfilling.T hanks to Katie, Janie and Kristy for joining the adventure and making the dance party so fun.

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For our final workshop of the year, Angie Mosier brought an amazing group of photographers to La Fortezza. We had a wonderful time touring and photographing. Angie is a gifted teacher, and she brought so much energy and expertise to her workshop. Chef Rebecca Wilcomb joined her friend Angie, and we all visited local food purveyors and introduced Philip, Angie and Rebecca to local fare, like panigacci and testoroli. My Italian girlfriends, helped introduce them to all things local in food stuffs. Thanks to Giovanna, local food ambassador, and Federica of China Clementi. We had professional barman Simone join us one night to create cocktails with China Clementi a locally produced Amaro, created in Fivizzano by the family.

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Panigacci made the traditional way on the open fire.

Testaroli being made

Testaroli being made

Me with Giovanna

Me with Giovanna

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Testaroli

Testaroli

Testaroli tasting

Testaroli tasting

We toured the China Clementi Amaro factory earlier in the day, so it was such fun to do a cocktail tasting later that evening for aperitivo with Angie’s group.

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Philip was enamored with our outdoor pizza oven (il forno). He and Rebecca opted to cook a few of our meals in it as well as a pizza lunch for our attendees. It was really an honor to have Rebecca cook in our kitchen, and she and Philip had a blast using fresh local ingredients. Phillip taught handmade pasta to many of our attendees. His charm and ease in the kitchen made him an instant hit with our guests. He’ll be back next year in June to create more exciting meals in our kitchen.

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Roasted in the forno

Roasted in the forno

Wrapping up the workshops with such great people was so rewarding, I am back in the US for a few months. I’ll be on book tour and of course producing a few editorial stories. I will be back to Italy next year. A heartfelt thanks to all who attended. I loved meeting you all and showing you my Italy.

xx Annette

 

 

 

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