My Life in Photos, April

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Can you believe that April is almost over? It’s been a busy month, but I’ve loved every second of it. April has been full of wrapping-up phase one of our Italian renovation, whipping-up spring recipes using veggies from my garden, and putting the finishing touches on book two.

I’m both exhausted and excited thinking about it all.

As most of you know, I adore Instagram. It’s truly a place where I can share all of my goings on with you. However, I know some of you like to visit the blog instead, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos from April with you here. There’s so much color, beauty, and of course, memories in these photos. Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Our master bath door waiting to be installed at our renovation.

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Many people ask me how long it takes to put a book together. When I hand in the final manuscript plus all the photos, it will be 3 years.

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How cute was Vivi as a puppy? We brought her home 5 years ago.

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This torta pasqualina was featured on City Sage a few weeks ago.

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Props, props, and more props for Cocktail Italiano.

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That’s a wrap on photographing book 2! Love this mash-up of the wrap party for Picture Perfect Parties 5 years ago.

 

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Tomato Basil Soup Recipe: An Easy Winter Meal

Chilly winter months are the perfect time to whip-up a batch of tomato basil soup. This tomato basil soup pairs well with a grilled cheese, too.

At last weekend’s L.A. style+photo workshop, I whipped up a quick batch of this cream of tomato basil soup for our attendees. They were able to capture the cooking process and style their bowls, too. After all, the best part of a food photoshoot is actually eating the food.

This tomato basil soup pairs wonderfully with a grilled cheese. At the workshop we made grilled cheeses with fig and prosciutto, but any sort of grilled cheese would be perfect. Use whatever is in your fridge and embrace an opportunity to be creative with it! There’s no such thing as a bad grilled cheese.

I love soup during chilly months, and since according to the groundhog, there is still a lot of winter ahead of us, store this recipe in your arsenal to pull out when you need a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

Cream of Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 8
You will need:
– 1/2 medium onion sliced thin
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper
– 2  28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
– 4 cups vegetable stock
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 cup fresh basil chopped
To prepare:
In a large stock pot, heat butter and oil, add onions, salt and pepper.
Sauté until onions are lightly caramelized. Add tomatoes, vegetable stock, cream and basil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish with basil. Serve warm.
Note: The soup may be made creamy by placing it in a blender or using a hand blender if desired. I personally like it a little chunky.
Enjoy!
xx, Annette
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10 things I love about Italy…

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Many people ask me why I love Italy so much. The truth is if I ask myself this question, there’s no one answer, really.

So here’s a list of 10 things I love about Italy. Some of these may surprise you, and of course, some are very obvious.

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1. Espresso with a brioche, from the right bar is the best way to start the day. Lucky for me in our little village, 3 sisters own the best bar in town complete with homemade pastries. The crowds throwing down espresso and scarfing down pastries in the early morning at the bar gives me such joy. It’s like watching some strange and other worldly ritual.

2. Small cars. I love the idea that my Fiat 500 is not considered a tiny car in Italy.

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3. Pop-up markets. All over Italy, markets in the square are a common thing featuring everything from winter coats and antiques to porchetta sandwiches.

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4. Nonni (grandmas and grandpas) sitting in the square. One thing about Italy is that they love their elders.

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5. Church candles, always lit inside. I love stepping into a church anytime of day.

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6.Everything opens early. I love that everything is open in the morning and the bustle of daily chores.

7. The Butcher. One thing I miss when I am back in Atlanta is a proper butcher shop.

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8. The train. The train to anywhere in Italy is exciting. I love the discussions and the polite behavior in a first class cabin. So old world.

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9. Toast at the Autogrill, my guilty pleasure. Whenever I can, I have a grilled sandwich at the Autogrill.

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10. Aperitivo, the cocktail ritual that is the best time of the day. It’s so fun. In fact, my next book is based on the subject.

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xx, Annette

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The Perfect Appetizer!

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These lovely little two-bite morsels are savory and salty with a crunch—perfect to serve with a chilled citrus-y glass of Prosecco during the holiday season or even a sparkling Rose in the summertime.

It’s one of my favorite quick appetizers that uses one of my favorite ingredients: Parmesan cheese.

Caprese Salad Crisps with Tomato Jam
Makes about 32

For the Tomato Jam:
You will need:
– 3  tablespoons olive oil
– 1 garlic clove, chopped
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 4 large heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:
Place ingredients into a medium pot over medium heat for 15 minutes, set aside to cool. This step may be done a couple days in advance, and placed in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to use.

For the Parmesan Crisps:
You will need:
– 8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
– Place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on a cookie sheet fitted with a silpat.
– Arrange the spoonfuls about 3 inches apart as they will spread to form round crisps.

To prepare:
Place in a 350 F degree oven for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before assembling the appetizer.

To assemble:
– 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
– 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Place a dollop of  jam on top of the crisp, and add cubes of mozzarella and garnish with a basil leaf.

From my book Picture Perfect Parties RIzzoli NY

 

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Best New Italian Cookbooks for Gift Giving on Cyber Monday

It’s that time of year! Gift giving time, people and it’s Cyber Monday. I must say my favorite gifts are usually cookbooks. Italian cookbooks are even better. Check out my faves and today is the best time to buy them all online at Amazon since it’s Cyber Monday!

As most of you know, I am a bit of an Italiophile (understatement). There are quite a few folks, who like me, adore Italy as their adopted country and write about their favorite Italian recipes. These talented ladies are fanatical Italiofoodiephiles… Here’s a list of some of the best new Italian cookbooks that have come on the scene this year. All of these ladies are obsessed with sharing their favorite Italian recipes, and let’s face it, Italian food is best enjoyed at home. Pick-up a copy for a friend or family member, and of course, don’t forget to gift yourself one or all of these beauties, too.

Happy gift giving. xx

I should add I enjoy following these ladies on Instagram; they have amazing feeds and adventures. I suggest you head over and follow them as well.

Florentine

  1. Emiko Davies runs a super cool blog; she’s a food writer, but she’s now authored a couple books, and this is her latest (and her first), and she has one on the way in March 2017. Can’t wait. She’s a transplant from Australia living her life with her family in Italy. She runs cooking classes, writes form Italian newspapers, and has a vast knowledge of all things Italian. Her book Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence is tremendous and well written. I highly suggest it. Emiko’s Blog : Emiko Davies

Preserving Italy

2. Domenica Marchetti has written the quintessential Italian preserving book, Preserving Italy. Domenica grew up in an American Italian family. She is a writer and with a passion for all things Italian especially food, she has turned her passion into writing about and cooking Italian cuisine. Domenica will be joining me in Italy for a workshop at the Fortress in 2018. Wait for details. In the meantime, pick-up this book; it’s really the perfect gift. Domenica’s Blog: Domenica Cooks

tasting Rome

3. Katie Parla and Kristina Gill are both American transplants in Rome their book Tasting Rome is one of my favorites as the recipes are easy straight forward and delicious. Katie is a food writer, and Kristina is a food writer and photographer (she photographed most of their book). Pick-up a copy and be transported to Rome. Katie’s blog: Katie Parla , Kristina Gill Photography

Five Quarters

4.Rachel Roddy is the author of 2 cookbooks about Rome; either one or both make an excellent gift. Five Quarters is her latest endeavor. I love this book because it highlights Roman neighborhoods. Cooking from each quarter! Would that make a great dinner party theme! Just sayin’… Rachel is a contributor to The Guardian.

Italian Street Food

5.Paola Bacchia is one of Australia’s most popular Italian food bloggers. Her book Italian Street Food is one of my newer acquisitions. I am going to cook from it this holiday season. I think it’s such a clever premise. I will let you know how I like it, but I am pretty sure I am going to love it. Definitely on the radar as a great holiday gift. Paola’s blog:  Italy on My Mind

Let me know which ones you buy, and if you make recipes from these books. I would love to hear about them. Happy Holidays, it’s truly the most delectable time of year. xx

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