Update on La Fortezza, Tuscany Italy

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I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how we’ve been doing at La Fortezza during these challenging times.

As some of you might know, I was in Italy March 1-7th working on my next cookbook, the La Fortezza Cookbook, (Rizzoli,NY)  fall- 2021. I had all intentions of staying until March 23rd, but COVID-19 had other plans for all of us. After talking to with family, I made the difficult decision to postpone the shoot and head back to the US. I self-quarantined for 14 days, and I am happy to report at this time, I am healthy. We are continuing to stay home. My husband, Frank, a doctor, is starting to televisit with patients, and it’s working well.

We continue to communicate with the staff in Italy. They check on our property, and they work on the property following the work and lockdown guidelines when possible. Last week, our vintner worked in our vineyard. Our gardener is preparing our garden to plant. We continue slowed down progress on the swimming pool. Everything should amp-up towards the end of April and in May as people are able to work outside and leave the lockdown in Italy. We continue to pay our staff and help them however we can in these challenging times in Italy. The good news is that our staff is well and healthy, and our friends like us are doing the best they can during the lockdown. I text or talk to everyone at least once a week. We can only hope that the cases in Italy continue to decline.

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Workshop Updates:

We have made the decision to cancel the “How to Publish Your Cookbook” workshop in June. We will also postpone the “Mark Making with Nature” until late August

All of our fall workshops remain the same as we believe that most of this will pass by late spring or early summer, and we continue to stay optimistic. As of this moment, we intend to conduct all of our fall La Fortezza workshops and experiences. We are hopeful that this will pass, and slowly, we will be back to the new normal. Just know that we always have the best interest of our instructors and attendees in mind, and if anything changes, we will let you know.

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New Cancellation Policy:  

Our current policy is on our website. It states no refunds on deposits. However, because of these unprecedented circumstances, we have decided to issue credits to all attendees that decide to pass on fall 2020. This credit can be redeemed at any time and for any future workshop. You may also transfer or sell your spot if you wish. We will honor your credit however you choose to redeem it.

Once again, we feel strongly that we will be able to conduct fall La Fortezza workshops, and we are confident because of our remote location and secluded compound, everyone will feel safe.

We think that La Fortezza (a medieval fortress) has seen many rough times, some worse than this, most likely. We wholeheartedly feel one thing is for sure: Italians (and all of us) are resilient, and we will get through this and again enjoy aperitivo on the terrace at La Fortezza.

In the meantime: Our La Fortezza workshop Chef Philip and I will be doing some online cooking lessons on Instagram stories. So keep an eye out for that! It will be a fun thing until you can all join us in Italy and cook with us in person. I know that Betty Soldi has been doing some online art courses as well.

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Just know that we are eager to see you in Italy and have faith that this will happen soon. Please email me with any questions annettejoseph@mac.com. Keep the faith, stay home, and stay well.

xx, Annette

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Asparagus Quiche: It’s what’s for dinner

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If you ask me, quiche is perfect anytime of day and for any occasion. It makes a lovely breakfast, especially for a crowd, but it also makes an incredible dinner. Serve it with a light salad for a complete meal.

This asparagus quiche recipe would be a great addition to any Easter menu, too, which is only a few weeks away. You can easily make it ahead of time and pop it into the oven before heading out the door or before people arrive! There’s nothing better than a simple dish that packs a lot of punch. Enjoy this seasonal spring dish!

Asparagus Quiche
Makes 1- 8″ round Quiche serves 8-10
For the filling you will need:

– 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
– 8 eggs
– 1 cup shredded mozzarella
– 1 cup half and half
– 1/2 teaspoon salt


To prepare:

In a large bowl whisk eggs and cream and cheese and salt. Reserve 5 spears of asparagus for the top of the quiche. Cut the remainder into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the egg mixture. Combine and set aside make the crust.

For the crust you will need:

– 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 stick of butter chilled and cut into 1/2 cubes
– 1/4 cup chilled water
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the flour and the butter and salt. Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the butter and flour until it resembles pebble size crumbs. Next add water until mixture comes together into a ball. *(note you may need to add more water to combine)

Roll the ball of dough out on a floured board into a 10″ disk about 1/8 thick. Place into an 8 inch ceramic quiche pan. With a paring knife, cut the overhanging dough edge around the perimeter of the dish so there is a clean edge all the way around. Use the excess dough you cut off the edge to make the make the decorative scallop border. Use a 1 inch round scallop cutter, place the scallop rounds on the edge of the shell, over-lapping all the way around the outer edge.

Once you have finished the decorative edge, place the egg mixture into the shell. Add the reserved whole asparagus spears on top and place into the oven. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Photographs by: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Prop and food styling by: Me

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Fill it with Spinach:: Serve a Delicious Frittata or Quiche

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With Passover and Easter right around the corner, I thought this Spinach Ricotta Quiche would be a fabulous recipe for today’s blog post. Not only is this recipe something that you can easily bake ahead, but it’s also a beautiful presentation filled with vibrant colors for spring. Prepare it completely and then bake it at your destination, or pop it in the oven just before your guests arrive.

One note: if you don’t have time for making your own crust (which I highly recommend, but I know life happens), a frozen crust works just fine. Just check out the crust directions before you get started.

The beauty of this recipe is it works great for either a quiche OR a frittata. Simply leave off the crust for a frittata (and for Passover), or add the crust for a quiche. The result is delicious either way!

Spinach Ricotta Quiche
Serves 8

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Note: If you’re using store-bought crust, skip the directions for Pate Brisee. 

For Pate Brisee:

You will need:
– 2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 stick butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water

To prepare:

Place flour, sugar, butter, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a mixing blade. Mix on medium until small crumbs form, add ice water until the dough pulls together and away from the side of the bowl.

The dough should be a soft consistency.

Place dough in the fridge to rest.

For the Filling:

You will need:
– 6 eggs
– 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
– 4 cups of fresh spinach
– 1/4 sliced red onion
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup of cubed speck ham
– 1 cup cubed buffalo mozzerella
– 1 Pate Brisee (recipe below)

To prepare:

Whisk eggs in a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt, set aside.

In a frying pan, add the speck ham and saute for 10 minutes until the ham becomes crispy. Pour off any excess fat and set aside.

In a saute pan, add olive oil and saute spinach and onion until spinach is wilted, about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Once the spinach is cooled, in batches squeeze the excess liquid in your hands into the sink. Place into the bowl of eggs and cheeses, add speck, and combine completely. Your filling should be green.

Roll out the Pate Brisee into a disk, and fit into a 9-inch quiche pan, add the filling. You may also blind bake the crust if you wish; it’s definitely an option.

Bake for 45-50 minutes in a 375 degree F oven.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

xx Annette

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Vegetable Chermoula Soup

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I love making soup, especially during winter (and yes, it’s winter. Spring doesn’t start until March 19!). This vegetable chermoula soup is very hearty. The white beans and faro make it completely satisfying while the chermoula takes it over the edge in flavor. I put chermoula, a garlicky, herby sauce, on everything. It’s divine.

This recipe was taken from my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties. I know when people think of parties, they tend to think of really decadent food, but there are actually many healthy recipes in my book. People want to leave full and satisfied, and belly-warming soup is a great way to achieve just that.

Vegetable Chermoula Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 2 garlic cloves minced
– 1/2 medium onion
– 1 cup diced carrot
– 1/2 cup diced celery
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup diced zucchini
– 1 cup diced sweet potato
– 1/2 cup red peppers *optional
– 2 cups chopped kale
– 8 cups vegetable stock + water as needed
– 1 can white beans or 1 cup soaked overnight, then rinsed
– 1 cup farro
– 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, saute garlic, onion, carrots and celery in olive oil, over medium heat until tender.
Add the vegetables and saute for 2 minutes. Next add stock, beans and water if needed, salt and pepper and chopped herbs. Simmer for 3 hours and add faro for the last 30 minutes.

Charmoula
You will need:

– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2 inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce, about 1 minute.

 

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Homemade Bloody Mary for Mardi Gras

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Hi everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I am sharing an excellent recipe of Annette’s, of course, that’s perfect for Mardi Gras festivities tomorrow: a classic bloody mary!

I grew up in Atlanta, but my grandparents lived in Mobile, Alabama which if you don’t know, is actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S. Yes, you read that right; Mobile not New Orleans. As a result, I spent my childhood watching many parades and eating scores of moon pies and king cake. Now that I’m older, I like to enjoy Mardi Gras a little differently, and that’s with a Bloody Mary in hand!

As a Bloody Mary connoisseur, I am always on the hunt for the next great Bloody Mary mix, but being around Annette and learning from her has encouraged me to try my hand at making my own mix. She has an awesome recipe that I’m sharing with you guys today. Add your inebriant of choice (for me, it’s GIN!), and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Bloody Mary
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 cup tomato
– 1 carrot
– small sliver of beet (mostly for color)
– 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
– 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup ice
– 1/4 cup spinach
– 1 tablespoon parsley
– 1 oz gin or vodka

Place all ingredients into your blender, process for 30 seconds, and serve with your choice of accouterments.

xo, Nicole

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