Flavorful Beet Salad

Beets

When you venture to your local market or grocery store, you’re bound to find a wide variety of beets available. There are so many colors, flavors, and types.

As we head closer and closer to fall, I’m beginning to be more and more inspired by the dark, rich colors of the season. This beet salad dish would create a wonderful start to a fall harvest supper. I love beets and marrying beets with goat cheese is one of my favorite flavor combinations. This salad showcases those ingredients beautifully.

Goat Cheese and Beet Salad with Thyme Lime Dressing
Serves 6-8

You will need:
– 6 large red beets, roasted
– 8 tablespoons plain goat cheese
– 6 cups arugula

To prepare beets:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast beets in skin in the oven for 45 minutes

Let the beets cool, then peel the beets and slice into ½ inch disks

* I use gloves or a knife and fork to peel my beets; it’s much less messy this way.

For the Dressing

You will need:
– ¼ cup lime olive oil like O&CO
– ¼ cup lime juice
– ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
– 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
– 3 tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves
– 1 teaspoon lime zest

To prepare salad: 

Place all dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar, close the lid and shake until combined

Assembly of the salad: Arrange beets on platter or a plate on top of arugula, dollop with teaspoons of goat cheese, pour dressing over the salad.

Photo Credit : Helen Norman (Maryland Starbright Farm Style + Photo Workshop Photography instructor)

xx

All color cooking dinner party Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Food styling gardening photostyling Recipes : Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer soup? Why not!

DSC01245

Even in the summer, I love soup because of all of the readily available, delicious summer veggies. Summer produce is some of the best we get all year, so why not indulge in soup in the summer?

Pistou is essentially the French equivalent of pesto, and with a bounty of basil, there’s no time like now to whip up a batch. Marry your pistou with a variety of summer vegetables like sweet peas, sweet onions, fresh corn, and zucchini. Then bring it all together in a big pot of irresistible soup. Adding Pistou to this summer soup makes it a yummy seasonal treat. You’ll love it!

Easy to make and easy to serve?! That’s my kind of meal!

Summer Soup with Pistou

You will need: 

– 1 large onion, chopped
– 6 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 1 lb small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
– 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
– 1 lb kale, cut into ribbons
– 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
– 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, in juice
– 1 15 oz can of kidney beans
– 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 cup thin spaghetti broken into 1 inch pieces
– 10 cups vegetable stock

To prepare:

Using a heavy pot, saute onion and garlic until transparent. Add vegetables and saute for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, and stock. Add thyme and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat for about 2 hours. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with a dollop of pistou on top of each bowl.

For Pistou:

– 3 garlic cloves
– 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To prepare: 

Finely chop garlic in processor. Add basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until basil is finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. With machine running, gradually blend in oil. Add cheese; process to blend well. Transfer to bowl. *Can be made 2 days ahead , store in a sealed container and refrigerate.

xx Annette

All cooking Fall Food gardening great easy menus italian cooking Recipes vegetarian soup : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Visit to the Enchanted Valley through the Palette of Steve McKenzie

Today I have a special treat for you. One of our guest instructors and one of my dear friends, Steve McKenzie, is sharing a bit about his experience in May at La Fortezza. Steve is a brilliant interior designer, artist, and textile designer in Atlanta. His workshop here in Italy with us is in September, and I cannot wait to welcome him and his students. Enjoy today’s post from Steve, and be sure to sign-up for one of the very few remaining spots for his workshop. Take it away Steve:

My wife, Jill, and I recently had the chance to visit Annette at her magical Fortress in a verdant valley in Northern Tuscany. I wanted to see everything as I prepare for the abstract painting class I will be leading there in September. Inspiration is everywhere, and I cannot wait to return.

The magic begins as you approach her home, and up on the mountain sits her Fortress. They have created beautifully appointed living and working spaces as well as incredibly comfortable guest quarters for the students that are unparalleled. It feels a little like a visit to a monastery where the furnishings and the views take you to a place of contemplation and inspiration.

These cozy places, coupled with a superb cocktail, encourage congregation and conversation.

We were greeted in typical Annette fashion with a delicious, as well as beautiful, Aperitivo of Negroni and nibbles, taken straight out of her new book, Cocktail Italiano. A delicious dinner of pasta and salad followed, reminding me of what a talented cook Annette is.  I am excited that a cooking lesson in the commercial kitchen will be part of our fall workshop.

Day two we had a chance to visit the charming local village, Fivizzano, on market day. It is charming and again, inspiration is around every corner. Following our visit to the market, we visited some of Annette’s favorite vintage and antique dealers. These are a must during the workshop on our free day.

I also strolled over to the La Fortezza vineyards with Annette and Jill. The beauty of this location really spoke to me and inspired me to paint en plein air.  During the workshop, we will take a picnic lunch out here and paint, eat and drink. The colors and vistas are one of the most inspirational places I have visited.

On the journey back to the house, I filled a market basket with wild flowers from the property as well as colorful roses from her rose garden. The most beautiful arrangement quickly came together in a beautiful pitcher from Annette’s copper collection. We will incorporate a quick floral arranging lesson during my workshop as well.

I can’t wait to return and share all the fabulous experiences with my students during the workshop September 19-24, 2018.

There are only a few spaces left, so register now

Thank you for guest posting today, Steve! As always, if you have questions about our workshop, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment below.

xx Annette

All behind the scenes dream home Entertaining gardening italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro renovation in italy Styling The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized videos Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recipe:: Easy Pesto Pasta for a Crowd

This recipe for Ligurian pesto pasta with green beans and red potatoes is a fantastic dinner that’s perfectly suited for feeding a crowd. If you have leftovers, it also makes a great lunch the next day. Pesto is one of those easy sauces that people often forget about, but not this Italian girl! Basil grows freely in my garden, so you can be sure I’ll be whipping-up this easy pesto pasta this summer.
Easy Pesto Pasta for a Crowd
You will need: 
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
– 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
– 2 cups green beans cut into 2″ pieces
– 6 small red potatoes cut into quarters, skin on
– 1 box of dry mini penne pasta (or pen shaped pasta)
To prepare:
Cook pasta until al dente, about 15 minutes.
Add the beans and potatoes after pasta has cooked and cook for 5 minutes until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water to lighten the pesto sauce consistency. Drain and pour into a large bowl.
Toss pasta, beans, and potatoes in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add reserved water to the pesto in a separate bowl.
(Note: pesto should be fluid, but not runny). Add pesto to the pasta and toss until incorporated. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
All cooking dinner party Entertaining gardening italian cooking italy Recipes Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

All About Olives Workshop Recap

IMG_1226 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What can I say? Our All About Olives Workshop went off without a hitch. Perfect group, perfect weather, and perfect instructors, Emily Followill and Alisa Barry.

FullSizeRender

This is Emily’s second time teaching with us in Italy, and it will not be the last time. She’s an amazing teacher and mentor, and most of all, she’s a just a wonderful person to be around. She had many lessons for our attendees and was most importantly loads of fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We enjoyed hiking through the olive grove and seeing the olive harvest in full swing. Our picnic in the olive grove after a long morning trekking was picture perfect. It included the ever popular brown butter chocolate chip cookies, Teri’s super secret recipe. Let’s just say they are the best cookie I have every tasted, and our attendees agreed. A beautiful vegetable torta baked by Alisa was a special treat while we enjoyed the sunshine on our faces. We also stuffed ourselves with homemade focaccia sandwiches, so thanks to Teri, we could barely get up to go to our cooking lesson that afternoon with Alisa. I think we would have all loved a nice nap under the olive trees.

IMG_1224 IMG_1225

Saturday we all went to see the olives pressed. We had tastes of the fresh press and of course, stocked up on fresh olive oil to take home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In a tiny village, we enjoyed a tour of a small family winery and then an amazing lunch in the family owned restaurant where 2 sisters run the show. We had crepes filled with nettles and pasta with sausage and greens, housemade wine, and delicate desserts with strong espresso to wash it down. It was the most incredible little lunch stop for our group.

IMG_1234

The workshop was a smashing success. I made new friends and reconnected with old friends as we had several attendees who had returned. It really makes me happy that people want to join us again and again. I love welcoming everyone, and I love leisurely suppers where everyone shares stories and dreams and goals. My goal next season is to have everyone join us and experience our tiny piece of heaven here in the Italian countryside. Until then, ci vediamo spero a presto xx

IMG_1227

All behind the scenes cooking dream home Entertaining Events Fall Food fall menus Food styling gardening how to be a stylist italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Styling stylist tips The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,