Autumn + Apples:: Apple Cheddar Souffle

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Autumn is officially here, and it is full-fledged apple season. Apple picking is a common fall activity that lends itself especially well to socially-distant fall activities. I can imagine many of you are going apple picking and are finding yourself with an abundance of fruit, so today I’m sharing the first of many recipes that will help you put it to delicious use. Up first is my apple cheddar souffle.

I like to call this recipe fool-proof because it truly is. It’s from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. (Can you believe I’m onto book four now?!). Let me know if you give it a try! It’s perfect for fall.

Apple Cheddar Soufflés
Makes 24
You will need:
– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 tsp. pepper
– 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
– 1 peeled and grated honey crisp apple
– 6 large eggs, separated
– 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375. Generously butter 24 oven-safe espresso cups. Arrange them 2-inches apart on baking pans. In a 2 to 3 quart pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add flour and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Stir in milk and next rosemary, salt and pepper and continue stirring until sauce boils and thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add apples and egg yolks and stir until the mixture is blended and smooth. In a bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until medium peaks form. With a flexible spatula, fold a third of the cheese sauce into whites until well blended. Add remaining sauce and gently fold in until just blended. Divide batter into the prepared cups filling about ¾ full.

*Cups can be frozen up to 3 days ahead at this point. If frozen do not thaw, bake immediately in preheated oven as directed.

Bake for 12 minutes or until puffed and top is golden brown. Serve.

xx Annette

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Summer Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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As you all know, I am back in Italy. Mainly for 2 reasons:

1. Check on our house, La Fortezza.
2. Shoot the summer and autumn chapters of my next cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, Spring 2022.

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This project, for me, is a passion project. The book will be an epic and a beautiful depiction of the region we live in, in northern Tuscany. The book will be filled with local recipes and delicacies, gorgeous travel shots, typical local flavor, and purveyor portraits.

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These photographs will all be captured by the incredibly talented British Photographer David Loftus. I have been an admirer of David’s work for many years, as he has shot for some of the most famous chefs in the world; Jamie Oliver just to name one. His work is insanely beautiful. His discerning eye and recognizable style sets him apart as one of the world’s most respected food photographers. I was thrilled when he agreed to photograph my book.

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My sweet friend and producer, stylist Barbara Pederzini, agreed to help me with the prop styling. She brought all sorts of amazing serving pieces and plates to play with. I used a local chef to help prepare the dishes. It really was a magical team.

Without giving too much away, I believe that this book will take you on a journey and leave you with the lasting memory of a trip to our little piece of heaven. We will be shooting the autumn chapter starting October 5th, so be sure to follow the journey on my insta-stories. I can only tell you this is one of the best projects I have ever worked on. The love I have for this place, La Fortezza will shine through on every page and you will taste the love in every bite.

Until October, stay well x

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From the Archives:: Tortellini with Squash and Pesto

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Since I’ve been blogging and sharing recipes for so many years, there are tons of wonderful recipes in the depth of my archives. Every now and then, I do a quick search and discover a recipe that I’d forgotten about. This recipe for tortellini with squash and pesto is one of them.

I first discovered this recipe years ago when I was living in New York, so you know it’s a good one. The beauty of a dish like this is that it’s the perfect marriage of summer and fall. You might be left with an abundance of basil, squash, or even zucchini from your garden. If so, this is the recipe for you.

It’s quick yet decadent and delicious. Let me know if you give it a try!

Tortellini with Squash and Pesto 

You will need:
– 3 yellow squash cut into cubes
– 3 cloves garlic minced
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 16 oz. box tortellini pasta, either dried or fresh work great
– 1 cup toasted pine nuts
– 1 cup pesto, this can be also be prepared; I like the Cibo brand
– 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
– salt and pepper

In a large skillet, add minced garlic, oil, and cubed squash and saute until the squash is a golden brown. Meanwhile, in a large pot filled with water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the pasta water, then drain. In a large serving bowl add the cooked squash, the pesto and toasted nuts, add about 4 tablespoons of the pasta water, then add the pasta, and cheese and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and serve with extra grated cheese.

Enjoy!

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Caramel Two Ways

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Today I’m sharing two recipes using caramel. The first one is my recipe for espresso caramel sauce; It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!

The second recipe is for my gluten-free Linzer cookies. In this recipe, you thicken up the caramel just a little, so it sits oh-so-delicately inside of the cookies. Give them a try over the next few weeks! There’s nothing like baking to take your mind off of things, especially when the result is a sweet treat!

Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8
You will need:

– 1 cup of sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream

To prepare:

Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.

Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.

To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.

Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.

Rosemary + Salted Caramel Linzer Cookies

You will need:

For the cookies:

– 1 cup hazelnut meal (or nut meal of your choice)
– 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour or substitute Cup 4 Cup
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 sticks (1 cup or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary (up to 1 tsp for a stronger flavor)

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for the caramel filling:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 1 tbsp unsalted butter
– 6 tbsp creme fraiche (or heavy whipping cream)
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

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Preparation:

Whisk together the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat vigorously until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and chopped rosemary, then beat again until well-blended, another 30 seconds. Finally, fold in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Divide dough into two or three balls, pat them into discs, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll out a disc of dough to about 1/8- or 1/4-inch thick, depending on your preference. Unlike pie crusts, which I generally roll out between sheets of parchment, I found this to be easiest on a well-floured surface, sprinkling flour over the top and lifting the bottom to re-flour as needed. (The latter makes cutting and removing the cookie rounds much easier.) Cut out cookie rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter of your choice. For half the rounds, use a smaller cookie cutter (around 3/4 inch) to cut patterned holes — these are the windows for the cookie “lids.” Save the minis to make miniature cookie sandwiches (or just to nosh!). If the dough becomes too soft as you’re using it, just pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up again.

Place the “lids” and cookie holes on one baking sheet and the whole cookies on another, since the whole cookies may take a little longer to bake. Bake both sheets of cookies until golden at the edges, about 10 minutes for the bottoms and 8-9 for the lids. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough; you can re-chill and re-roll cookie scraps as many times as needed.

If powdering the lids, arrange the lids (or all the cookies, if you prefer) on a baking rack with a tray or paper underneath to catch the excess sugar. Sift powdered sugar over top as desired.

While the cookies are cooling, make the caramel. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside within easy reach. Combine sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir just until sugar dissolves, then let simmer, without stirring, until the mixture just turns golden. Remove immediately from heat and add butter (be careful, as it may sputter). Swirl until the butter is dissolved, then add the creme fraiche or heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Return to heat, reduce heat to low and stir until the heavy cream is fully dissolved. Drop a small spoonful of the caramel into the ice water and touch it — if you can form it into a pliable ball, it’s done.

Working quickly, while the caramel is still soft, drop about a teaspoon of caramel onto each of the bottoms of the cookies, then place a lid on top and press gently to seal. Sprinkle a bit of flaky salt over top if you like. Enjoy once the caramel is cool. Cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

xx Annette

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Summer recipe:: Fried Green Tomatoes

While it's not quite green tomato season yet, tomato season will be here before we know it. Put this recipe in your spring appetizer arsenal.

Fried green tomatoes are a traditional Southern recipe but are absolutely perfect for this time of year. It’s such a fun addition to any meal, especially with the goat cheese and coulis addition. Make sure to put this recipe in your appetizer arsenal and enjoy them!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Coulis 
Serves 6

You will need:
– 1 cup goat cheese
– 4 green tomatoes, sliced 1⁄2-inch thick
– 2 eggs
– 1⁄2 cup milk
– 1 cup whole wheat flour
– 1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs
– 1⁄4 cup yellow cornmeal
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 cup vegetable oil
– Feta and fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

To prepare:

Spread a small amount of goat cheese onto one side of each tomato slice. Arrange on a sheet pan, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Whisk eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and salt. One by one, dip each tomato slice into the egg mixture, then the crumb mixture; shake off any excess.

Pour oil into a deep frying pan and place over medium heat until a thermometer registers 350°F. Working in batches, fry tomatoes until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per batch. Garnish with feta and basil, if using, and serve immediately with red pepper coulis.

Red Pepper Coulis

You will need:
– 7 ounces roasted red peppers from a jar
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 clove garlic
– 1⁄4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup fresh basil leaves
– 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:
Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

xx Annette

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