2020 What can I say…

Screen Shot 2020-12-18 at 11.56.01 AM

When we welcomed 2020, we had no idea what the year had in store, nor could we have imagined it. As always, we celebrated with our family at a restaurant, but little did we know it would probably be the last restaurant visit all together of the entire year.

Frank and I went to our home in Italy as we always do in February, although the Corona Virus had already taken hold in Italy, we were blissfully unaware of how devastating it would be—how deadly how frightening 2020 would be. Frank left early, and I was 2 days behind leaving behind any notion of working on La Fortezza Cookbook winter chapter photoshoot.

As I write this blog post, help is on the way. The FDA has just authorized the use of a vaccine and is distributing it. I watched as the Vice President, his wife and the Surgeon General took the vaccine on live television. I am hoping that people will take it as well and this nightmare will be behind us. In the meantime we still have to pay close attention and alter our behavior until we are all vaccinated. I have always worn a mask, and distanced. I am a germophobe, so I wash my hands constantly. Of course, I am lucky to work at home, so I have very little contact with people in general. The only thing that’s changed is no restaurants, no dinner parties, and sadly, no workshops.

I am looking forward to heading back to Italy in February to continue photographing my latest book, La Fortezza Cookbook with David Loftus and our tiny EU, British crew. Since the US is still not allowed into Italy, for now, we will stick to a local group of pros. We have Rosie Scott a food-stylist from London, along with our Italian chef Leo. They will make up the food prep and styling team. Barbara Pederzini will continue as prop mistress, and production advisor once again.

IMG_4363

I am excited to finally get the winter chapter under my belt. I will stay to shoot the spring chapter in June, and IIwill be staying Italy until late fall. Frank will come back and forth since he’s a medical worker, a doctor, he will be vaccinated early. I am relieved that he will be safe.

I am pretty sure things will be looking up in the fall and all of our scheduled Workshops and Retreats will go on. It is going to be an amazing workshop roster. Bill Abranowicz will be back along with Ros Atkinson Her Dark Materials, and Our Slow Food Experience, if you’re interested in joining us, hurry because it’s almost sold out. An Olive Eccentric Experience will be once again on the schedule. I can’t wait to welcome our groups.

From my family to yours and from the La Fortezza team.

Happy Healthy 2021, see you at La Fortezza, see you in Italia! Speriamo. XO

All behind the scenes Events italy Personal The Fortress Travel Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My Hanukkah Latkes

201111-xl-killer-potato-latkes

I make homemade sweet potato + Yukon potato latkes with homemade applesauce every year for Hanukkah. This year might look a little different from the usual holiday celebrations, but that doesn’t make them any less special. If you’re celebrating Hanukkah this year, give my yellow and gold latkes recipe a try. Actually, give these a try regardless of your celebrations; everyone loves latkes!

Yellow and Gold Latkes
serves 4 to 6
You will need:

– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal
– 1 small yellow onion diced
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup olive oil
To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel-lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop-in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce, sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

xx Annette

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

All behind the scenes cooking Entertaining Events hanukkah Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday recipes Holidays homemadeapplesauce Recipes : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Florentine holiday lights in 2020

IMG_9214 I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my friend Alexandra Lawrence, when we visit with guests in Florence she is my go to tour guide. She’s one to put into your contacts and make sure to book her early.

I know we all miss travel to Italy, so today I am taking you all to Florence to tour the Holiday Lights in Florence. I’ve invited Florentine Alexandra to join me on the blog as a guest contributor to tell you all about the lights this year. The Holidays lights of Florence are always an exciting subject. In fact she will take us on a virtual tour on Wed. Dec. 9th at Noon ET on my IG LIVE so mark your calendar and be whisked away to Florence to see this year’s holiday lights in Florence.

Take a moment to read as Alexandra explains the meaning behind 2020’s holiday lights.

Take it away Alexandra:

It’s no secret that Italians love to commemorate things. Ceremonies, exhibitions, and conferences are constantly being dedicated to an artist’s 500th birthday or to the 1000th anniversary of a church consecration. Some of the commemorations come and go without much notice (there are a rather lot of them), but others are rightfully treated as a ‘big deal’.

The upcoming celebrations surrounding 700 years of Dante Alighieri are of the latter variety.

Born in 1265 in Florence, the great poet was exiled from the city in a particularly explosive moment of political drama at age 27. Already quite famous for his verses—mostly love poetry—Dante spent the rest of his life wandering the Italian peninsula serving various noble courts. He brought them prestige, and they let him use their libraries.

It was there, in those libraries, where he wrote his epic poem—a journey he claims he actually took down through the underworld, up the mountain of purgatory, and straight-up through the heavens. He called the poem the Comedy. (Another Florentine author one generation removed, Giovanni Boccaccio, would add the superlative ‘Divine’ to the title.)

The Comedy was an immediate smash—copied and recopied, read and re-read out loud for all to hear and to enjoy. As the first epic poem since antiquity to be written in the vernacular, Dante’s journey was meant to be understood by everyone, not just scholars and nobles.

IMG_9036

graphic by Betty Soldi

Dante fills his tale with well-known names from history, from The Bible, from Greek and Roman mythology, but also with contemporary figures—ones that would raise eyebrows and elicit both hidden smiles and out-loud-gasps from readers. It is just one way he ensures that we are there with him, adventuring along with the poet-pilgrim on this terrifying and exhilarating ride.

It is a salvation story and a hero’s journey all rolled into one. It is, Dante tells us, also our story—if we want it to be. Offering a sort of existential road map to a happy ending, the Comedy is proof, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that the best way out is through.

All of us who have lived through this incredibly trying pandemic year know a little something about that kind of resiliency now. It is a truly glorious thing that we can read Dante’s Divine Comedy 700 years after it was written and find that universal truth inside. And that alone is worth celebrating.

1

We hope you will join us on Wednesday, December 9th at 12 PM EST, 6 PM CET for on my IG Live for walk through of the Florentine holiday lights, which are dedicated to Dante Alighieri for the very first time.

Alexandra Lawrence is an expert in the language and art of Italy. She has lived in Florence for over 20 years, where she is a lecturer of art history and contemporary Italian cultural studies. While completing her graduate work in Italian Language and Literature, Alexandra concentrated primarily on writers and poets and their relationship to the visual arts—a subject that continues to inform her work.

IMG_9213

Alexandra is an accredited guide for Italian museums and archeological sites, and has worked with several high-profile clients including England’s royal family. Her walks are featured in Condé Nast Traveler as one of the ‘Best 16 Things to Do in Florence’.

In 2020, she founded Forma Sideris, a space to have guided conversations about Italy and its art, literature, culture, and history. She is currently offering a virtual 6-week course on the Divine Comedy which will begin in January 2021. For more on ‘Divine Dante’, please see the course page here.

All celebration Christmas Holiday Decor Events Holiday Holiday Decor holiday guide Holidays Instagram italy Notes from Italy photography Travel Tuscany Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

THE BEST Thanksgiving stuffing:: Pear Walnut Crispy Bacon Stuffing

Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

Saying a recipe is the best is a bold statement, I know. But this stuffing really is a game changer. Give it a try and let me know what you think. And if you’re looking for more Thanksgiving inspiration, tis’ the season for my book Picture Perfect Parties. If you want to pull off an amazing holiday soiree, grab a copy!

Pear Walnut Crispy Bacon Stuffing
Serves 8-10

 

You will need:
– 5 slices of bacon
– 1 yellow onion chopped
– 2 stalks of celery chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic minced
– 1 cup toasted walnut halves
– 3 pears cored and cubed
– 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
– 4 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 3 links of Italian sausage, out of the casing and crumbled
– 1 loaf of country bread cubed
– 3 cups of turkey stock

To Prepare:

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy, drain, and set aside. Reserving about a ¼ cup of the bacon drippings in the pan (discard the rest) sauté the onion, garlic and celery in the bacon drippings, when translucent, add the sausage and sage and rosemary walnuts, pears remove from heat. In a large bowl place the bread cubes and the turkey stock, add the mixture from the sauté pan, and crumble the bacon into the bread bowl combine thoroughly.

Grease a casserole dish pour the stuffing into the dish. Set aside until ready to bake

*Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, serve warm

 

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

All celebration cookbook collection cooking dinner party Entertaining Events Fall Food fall menus Holiday Holiday Entertaining kids table Picture Perfect Parties Recipes Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

IMG_5070

Ciao from Italy everyone. I wanted to share a delicious autumn recipe with you today. I will be here until the end of October, and then I’ll head back to the US to vote in person. I have had a great time here, and I was able to shoot two chapters of my new cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook. See the recap of the summer shoot here and the autumn shoot here.

We bought all sorts of lovely fall props including a selection of amazing pumpkins. Italians love pumpkins. Who knew? I love pumpkins, too. I have an amazing pumpkin recipe coming in the new book.

But until then, I wanted to share my Italian pumpkin soup recipe. I have tons of sage in the garden, so whenever I can use it in a recipe, I do. I happen to love the taste of sage, it just says autumn to me.

It’s an easy recipe, and perfect as a Thanksgiving starter. Plus you can make it a couple of days in advance which lightens the workload on the day. Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 4-6

You will need:
– 4-5 cups pumpkin cut into wedges, skin on (I use a small, 2-3 lb. Cinderella pumpkin or baking pumpkin)
– 3 carrots sliced
– 1 cup celery
– 1 cup chopped onion (*Note all the vegetables can be rough chunks as you will be blending them)
– 1 smashed garlic clove
– 3 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons for the pumpkin
– 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the pumpkin
– 2 sage leaves
– 3 cups water, or Vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, roughly 3-4 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft with pierced. While the pumpkin is roasting, Place olive oil and carrots, celery, onion and garlic, sage, and salt into a Dutch oven. Over medium heat saute the vegetables until soft, add the water or stock. simmer about 20 minutes. Once the pumpkin is roasted, scrap the soft pumpkin flesh from the skin. Place the roasted pumpkin into the pot and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend the vegetables, add the nutmeg and the cream and juice of 1 lemon, blend until smooth. Place over heat for another 10 minutes on low heat. This can be made 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Fried Sage Leaves

You will need:

– 1 cup fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
– 1 cup of olive oil

Preparation:

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the oil to 325 degrees F, drop the dry leaves into the pot, fry for 2 minutes, place on a paper towel. These should be made as you warm the soup. Place the soup into bowls and garnish warm soup with 3-4 leaves.

All behind the scenes Butternut squash cookbook collection cooking dinner party Entertaining Events Fall Food fall menus gardening Halloween treats for kids Halloween italian cooking italy juice january kitchen Parties Recipes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipes The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized vegetarian soup :