Spaghetti Carbonara

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Full disclosure: this is not my favorite pasta dish, however, it is quick easy, and most people LOVE it.

You most likely have many of the ingredients for spaghetti carbonara on hand, and I believe that it can be a recipe open to interpretation. It basically involves pasta, cured pork, hard cheese like parmesan or pecorino, black pepper, and eggs. To me, it’s similar, in some ways, to the Roman pasta dish pasta cacio e uova.

Supposedly this dish first burst on the scene in 1950, which I believe, because it smacks of the 20th century. It is absent from my favorite Italian cookbook, Ada Boni’s 1930 La Cucina Romana (her regional cookbook is available on Amazon in English, the Romana is in Italian) one of the best cookbooks of all time. I don’t make it often, but it appeared on the internet recently as “Carbonara Day” on instagram which I found rather humorous. Even funnier was that I actually made it. Talk about being influenced! I am embarrassed to say I was.

So here’s my recipe, I am sure you’ll love it. It’s comforting and creamy, like bowl of mac and cheese tossed with a little crispy bacon. It actually reminds me of breakfast: bacon, eggs and cheese with spaghetti. No wonder people love it.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 4

You will need:
– 1 lb.  dried Spaghetti
– 8 ounces Speck, proscuttio, or bacon. Basically, a cured pork product cut into bite size pieces
– 3 large eggs scrambled
– 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, pecorino, or any hard cheese
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

To prepare:

Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Salt boiling water generously; add a tablespoon of salt to the water. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs and parmesan. Set aside.

Using a spider, remove pasta from the water and place it into the bowl, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add hot pasta to the egg mixture. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (heat from pasta will cook eggs). Serve immediately, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.







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Classic Italian Recipe: Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina 4 Torta Pasqualina 5

A few years ago, when DesignSponge was *the* blog, I contributed a unique classic Italian recipe: the torta pasqualina. This recipe comes from the Liguria region. It will remind you of a decadent quiche. Let me know if you give it a try for Easter.

Torta Pasqualina
Serves 6–8

For the Crust:

You will need:
– 4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup olive oil
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 3/4 cups ice water

To prepare:
Make crust in a food processor. Put flour in the bowl and add oil and salt. Pulse until pebble-sized crumbs appear, and as you pulse, add water through the chute until dough comes together.

*Note: You may need to add a little more water to the dough — it should form a soft ball of dough. Set the dough aside and make the filling.

For the Filling:

You will need:
– 1/2 medium red onion sliced thinly
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 6 cups chopped fresh spinach
– 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
– 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese
– 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
– 1 egg
– salt and pepper to taste
– 4 eggs + 1 for egg wash

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

In a large sauté pan, add olive oil. Slice the red onion into thin slices, sauté with the oil. Once the onions have become transparent, add the spinach. Add salt and pepper.

Sauté mixture until spinach is wilted, about 10 minutes. Cook off as much liquid in the pan as possible. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cheeses, marjoram and 1 egg.

When the spinach mixture has cooled for about 10 minutes, squeeze excess liquid from the mixture and add to the cheese mixture. Combine well and set aside.

Assemble the pie:

Divide crust into two parts, put flour on a board and roll dough out to 1/4 inch disk. Place this disk into a 12” pie form or a ceramic pie dish. Make sure the edges of the dough overlap the side of the dish. Fill with the spinach mixture, smooth the top and make four indentations into the spinach mixture with a spoon. These indentations will hold the eggs. Crack an egg carefully into each indentation.

Roll out the remaining crust and place on top. Pinch all around the edges and finish with egg wash on top.

Bake in a 375ºF oven for 1 hour.

xx Annette

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Dip into spring with whipped ricotta

whipped ricotta dip

Hey everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. Glad to be here again!

Warmer temperatures have become the norm in Atlanta. While I’m not totally convinced they’re here to stay (we always have a late winter freeze), I have been enjoying a few glasses of rose and lots of outdoor dining.

On the weekends, I try to spruce-up our at-home dinners, especially while dining out is a little more limited. One of my favorite things to nibble on is a hearty dip with veggies. I found this recipe for whipped ricotta dip from the archives.

Annette first learned about it after attending a workshop in Medoc, France a few years ago. When Annette returned stateside, she came up with this rendition, an Americanized, healthy version. I think it sounds absolutely perfect for spring! I also think it sounds fabulous for Easter. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Whipped Ricotta Dip

You will need:
– 1 cup whole milk ricotta
– 1/4 cup whipping cream
– 2 garlic cloves minced
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
*(1 cup finely chopped walnuts optional)

In a medium bowl, using a whisk whip all the ingredients until well-blended and whipped. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours and serve with crudite.

It’s the perfect appetizer!

Enjoy xx

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My Tortellini Recipe



Ciao everyone! I hope you were able to join Tina Prestia and me on Friday for our IG Live cooking class. We chatted all things pasta and specifically, tortellini. You can watch the class/interview itself here. Below, you’ll find one of my favorite recipes for tortellini. It’s a staple in my house and is not as hard as it seems to make. Give it a try! Enjoy.

xx Annette

Greens and Ricotta Stuffed Tortellini with Walnut Pesto
Serves 4

Pasta: For Tortelli Pasta, use the Basic Pasta recipe. Find it here.

For the filling, you will need:

– 3 cups baby kale
– 2 cups  baby arugula
– 1 cup baby spinach
– 1 1/2 cups ricotta
– 8 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 eggs

To prepare the filling:

Fill a 4-quart pot 3/4 full with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring water to a boil. Fill a bowl 3/4 full with ice water. Add the kale, arugula, and spinach to the boiling water blanch them quickly about  30 seconds to 1 minute. Pull the greens from the pot and plunge into the ice water.

Drain the greens in a sieve and then squeeze the liquid out of them by pressing into the sieve over the sink to remove excess liquid. In a food processor place chilled greens, ricotta, parmesan, pepper, one teaspoon salt, and nutmeg. Blend until a smooth, about 30 seconds. Add 1 egg, and blend. Place the mixture into the fridge until ready to fill the Tortellini.

For the walnut pesto, you will need:

– 1 cup shelled walnuts, reserve 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts for garnish
– 1 clove of garlic
– 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan, + ¼ cup for topping
– 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1/4 teaspoon of salt

To prepare the walnut sauce:

Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F. Put the whole walnuts on a sheet tray, and put on the middle rack in the oven to lightly roast them to golden brown, about 3-5 minutes watch them so they don’t burn. When the walnuts cool, chop the walnuts *set aside 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts. Combine walnuts and garlic in a food processor, and pulse about 30 seconds. Add  parmesan, olive oil, and salt, and blend for 30 seconds to a minute, until combined, it should be a loose consistency.

To prepare tortellini: 

Use the directions of the pasta recipe, you should have 4 sheets. Using a  2  “ round cutter to cut the pasta cut our rounds.

Place the filling into a pastry bag. Using the pastry bag place a 1 inch dollop of filling into each circle of dough. When all the rounds are filled. With a finger dip into a bowl of water and then brush water around the filling fold in half press gently to seal, then take the 2 points and pull them to connect press together to form the shape of a tortellini.

Cooking tortellini:

Fill a 7 to 8-quart pot 3/4 full with water and add 3 tablespoons salt. Bring to a low boil over high heat, and then reduce to medium-low retaining the gentle boil. Drop tortellini in the water to cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the tortellini using a slotted. Place them in a 4 quart mixing bowl, toss with the Walnut Sauce. Serve immediately.

To serve:

Spoon the Tortelli onto four bowls, top with grated parmesan.

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AJS Tackles the TikTok Wrap


Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. I am excited to introduce today’s post featuring the now-viral TikTok wrap. If you haven’t seen it, the basic concept is to make a 1/4 cut on one side, divide a tortilla into 4 quadrants, fill each quadrant, fold, press on a hot skillet to warm and enjoy. It took off so well that even the New York Times got involved!


After giving the concept a try for myself, filling my wraps with everything from eggs to chicken tenders, I recruited Annette and our new La Fortezza chef, Chef Rachel Feinberg, to develop their own recipes. Find both of them below!

Up first, meet Rachel:

Hi Everyone,

My name is Rachel, and I’m excited to share a recipe with you that’s not just easy and affordable but also elevated and flavorful. After nearly a decade in catering and food styling, I’m pursuing a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition, where I’m focused on food justice and health equity.

As you can imagine, the shift from working chef to grad student has impacted the contents of my fridge. This recipe utilizes pantry staples and specialty items I always keep on hand, pleasing both my student budget and my chef palate.


While I’m not on top of what’s “trending” and I don’t have a TikTok, I am a huge fan of leftovers, so this challenge was right up my alley. The four components I used are detailed below:

The main component of this recipe, the tuna salad, has a lot of room for flexibility. You just need a bean, canned fish, and some greens. No chickpeas? Try white northern or cannellini beans. No tuna? Canned salmon or sardines will work beautifully. No arugula? You get the picture. I always have at least one can of tuna, chickpeas, and artichoke hearts in my pantry. This week I had a container of arugula that was on its last leg. Adding it to the salad gives the greens new life, offers a colorful component to the salad, and rounds it out. Add drained chickpeas, tuna, and arugula to a bowl. Mix it with olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, some lemon juice if you have it, and salt and pepper to taste.

Another staple I like to keep in my fridge is marinated artichoke hearts. Simply drain a can of artichoke hearts and put them in a Tupperware or jar, and pour enough olive oil so that the artichoke hearts are covered. Add a garlic clove, some fresh herbs, a lemon rind, or chili pepper if you have it, and there you go. These are an excellent addition to sandwiches, salads, charcuterie boards, and are great on their own straight out of the jar.

I imagine that eggs are a staple on most non-vegan grocery lists. They’re the kind of item that I don’t even need to add; grabbing a fresh carton is instinctive. At any given moment I’ve got two cartons of eggs in my fridge, 12 fresh eggs in one, and a few remaining from the previous carton. The latter goes straight into some boiling water. Not only do I love having some hard-boiled eggs handy (the possibilities are endless), but older eggs are easier to peel. So the cycle of eggs continues.

The last quadrant of the wrap is spread with a hearty helping of Calabrian chili paste. Calabrian chili paste is the “fancy” item I continually splurge on. Simply put, it is my favorite spicy condiment, and I put it on everything. However, this recipe is all about utilizing what’s on hand so any hot sauce you have will add a perfect kick to your wrap.


Rachel’s TikTok Wrap: Calabrian Chili Tuna Salad
You will need:
– Tuna salad (tuna, arugula, chickpea, olive oil, red wine vin, s + p)
– Hard boiled egg, sliced
– Olive oil marinated artichoke hearts
– Calabrian chili paste
To prepare:
Divide your wrap into quadrants and make one cut towards the center.  Top each quadrant with each of the above. Fold each quadrant over the other and place in a hot skillet with oil. Once brown, flip and brown the other side.
Annette’s TikTok Wrap: Kale Pesto with Prosciutto Wrap
Below, I use my kale pesto recipe, a spoof on my basic pesto recipe by substituting kale for the basil. Overall, this recipe is simple and delicious, and perfect for a quick, healthy meal! I hope you enjoy this twist. It was delicious.
You will need:
– 3 tablespoons of kale pesto
– 3 tablespoons baby kale
– 2 tablespoons pickled onion
– 3 slices of prosciutto
– 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
– 1 burrito size flour tortilla
To prepare:
Using a dry skillet, heat the skillet and grill the sandwich for at least 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
The cheese will melt even after you remove it from the skillet, so no need to get the cheese melted.
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