Preserving Italy Workshop:: the slow food experience

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We just wrapped up the Slow Food Experience workshop, and I must say it was a wonderful experience not only for our attendees but for me too. We visited food artisans in the area and sampled local food like panigacci and chestnut fritters, and with the help of my foodie friends, I think we represented the region of the Lunigiana proudly.

There are so many interesting and different local foods here. It’s so different, in fcct, that I am writing my next cookbook about it (keep your eyes peeled for the La Fortezza Cookbook, due out in 2021). It is a region rich in history and food history with many kitchens born out of need and lack of funds; the “poor kitchen,” or as they call it, “cucina povere” was creative and inspired.

We made pasta with Chef Philip using jarred tomato sauce, (passata) from our kitchen garden tomatoes. We made grape jam with my friend and slow food ambassador, Giovanna, and sampled bread from the local bread maker Fabio

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We enjoyed chestnut fritters with chestnut honey and dined on all the products from around the area breakfast lunch and dinner, and of course many aperitivos…

This workshop will be available next year. All workshops for 2020 will post in November. We would love for you to join us and sample all the local food products and meet all the lovely people that work so hard to preserve the traditions of this beautiful region.

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Thanks to all the attended and we really loved meeting your eating with all of you. See you next year.x

Some imagery is from our team photographer Kate Blohm

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Summer Dessert:: Fig Tart

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Hey everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m excited to share an end of summer recipe with you.

A few years ago, my grandparents gifted my husband and me a fig tree. After nursing it inside during a harsh winter, we eagerly planted it and have watched it grow from a sapling to a fruit-bearing tree. This year is the first year we’ve been able to harvest any figs which has me on the lookout for all the fig recipes I can get my hands on.

Of course, that meant turning to Annette’s trusty and knowledgable blog. The funny thing about figs is that their season is very short, and once you’ve plucked them from a tree, you have to eat them pretty quickly. That’s why something like jam or a tart, like I’m sharing today, is such an effective way to use your figs!

Below, find Annette’s fig advice along with her incredible recipe for a fig tart!

Choose your figs by looking for ones that are slightly soft and give to a little pressure, but aren’t mushy. Store them in the fridge, but be sure not to wash them until you’re ready to use them.

Figs are incredibly delicate, so be careful when you wash them. Never scrub figs or use anything harsher than your fingers. Instead, gently rub any dirt you see away from the fig’s surface. Remove the stems by twisting gently until they come off. Pat them to dry.

I have to say, this tart is wonderful; it actually tastes like a gourmet fig newton!

Fig Tart
serves 8

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

For the crust:
– 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon sugar + 2 tablespoons sugar
– 4 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1 inch cubes + 1 tablespoon butter
– 1/4 cup olive oil ( I got mine from a local press, 2 blocks away, gotta love Italy)
– pinch salt
– 1/2 cup ice water

To prepare: 

In a Cuisnart or Kitchenaid, put in flour, sugar, salt and 4 tablespoons butter + oil. mix on medium speed until it becomes a crumby mixture.

Slowly add ice water until the dough pulls together. Place in the fridge and start on the figs.

For the fig filling:

Slice the figs into quarters, roll out the dough, and place into the tart pan, arrange fig quarters on the dough in a fan pattern.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon cubed butter on top of the fig arrangement.

Put into a 400 degree oven for 1 hour, or until the figs and dough are nicely browned, they should be a nice shade of caramel.

Cool and serve.

Enjoy xx

Photos by Annette

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Summer Tomato Pie

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We are all still recovering from an amazing end to our Artist in Residence program, and I’m excited to share a recap of the past few weeks with you soon (including a post from intern extraordinaire, Adri!).

In the meantime, it’s the thick of tomato season, so I wanted to put a classic recipe on your radar: a summer tomato pie. The trick is to find heirloom tomatoes at your local market. Trust me, they make all the difference for this recipe. Get a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes for the perfect pie.

Summer Tomato Pie
Serves 6-8

For the Crust:

You will need:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 1/2 tablespoon salt
– 1/4 cups ice water

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Make crust in a food processor. Put flour in the bowl and add oil and salt. Pulse until pebble-sized crumbs appear, and as you pulse, add water through the chute until dough comes together.

Note: You may need to add a little more water to the dough; it should form a soft ball of dough. Set the dough aside and make the filling.

Note: This is a very fragile crust; handle it with care.

For the Filling:

You will need:
– 1 lb heirloom tomatoes (8 cups sliced)
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
– 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

To prepare:

Roll out the crust and place into a 9″ pie tin. Place the parmesan on the bottom of the crust.

Toss the tomatoes with the shallots, basil, salt and olive oil and place into the pie crust.

Bake at 375F for 1 hour.

This pie can be served warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Lavender Ice Cream

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You might have noticed in the recent blueberry pie post a certain yummy dollop on top: lavender ice cream. This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and is absolutely divine.

If you haven’t cooked with lavender, it’s actually such a fun addition to many dishes.  Be sure to use culinary lavender for this recipe which can be found any number of places. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so spending a pinch more on a high-quality ingredient would be a good idea here.

I know you’ll love the floral notes paired with the blueberry pie. It’s truly a delightful and delicious flavor marriage!

 Lavender Ice Cream

You will need:
– 3 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole milk
– 2 tablespoons dried lavender
– 6 eggs + 2 yolks
– ½ cup sugar
-¼ tsp salt
– ¼ cup honey
– 1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare:

Simmer cream, milk and lavender in a saucepan until milk is scalded about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat pour into a bowl and let lavender steep for 30 minutes.

Strain cooled lavender milk mixture back into the saucepan and bring back up to heat. In a bowl whisk egg and sugar, salt and vanilla until creamy. Pull the hot milk off heat and pour about ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking while pouring.

Pour warmed egg mixture into the sauce pan with hot milk and put back on heat (medium) simmer until custard is formed and coats the back of a metal spoon about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk in honey and place into fridge chill until very cold.

Put into an ice cream maker follow manufacturers instruction.

Place ice cream into low pan with plastic wrap on the bottom. Freeze until ready to serve.

Photo Credit : Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Berry Week:: Blueberry Pie

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If you are ever in need of an excellent dessert filled with succulent berries, I recommend this delicious blueberry pie from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

This is the most delicious blueberry pie recipe ever and is wonderful this time of year when blueberres are plentiful. I love to serve pie in vintage pie tins. Sometimes I slice a large piece and serve it to a couple with 2 forks. It’s a great way to mix it up.

Blueberry Pie
Serves 6-8

You will need:

Pie Crust Ingredients * pie crust can be made up to 2 days ahead
– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 4 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar for the top crust of the pie
– 2 sticks butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water
– 3 tablespoons whole milk

Garnish: fresh lavender sprigs

To prepare:

Pie crust Preparation

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt for 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse into pea-size pieces about 3 minutes. Drizzle cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse just until evenly moistened and pulls away form the sides and forms a ball about 3 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning dough to combine any dry crumbs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, then press into a disk about 1 in. thick. Chill dough at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For the filling, you will need:

– 4 cups blueberries
– ¾ cups sugar
– 3 tablespoons cornstarch
– 2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

To prepare:

Pour blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle sugar, corn starch and salt over the blueberries, and toss lightly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Cut crust into 2 pieces form 2 disks and roll out each pie crusts to about an 11-inch circle. Place 1 dough circle into a pie plate, add blueberry mixture, dot the top with butter and cover with top crust. Trim excess dough and Crimp edges with your fingers all around and cut slits in pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with a teaspoon sugar. Bake on the bottom rack for 45 to 50 minutes until bubbly (shielding with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes or until golden) let cool and serve.

xx Annette

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