Autumn Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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Ciao Guys! If you follow me on Instagram, you know the legendary food photographer David Loftus was back during the first week of October to photograph the autumn chapter of La Fortezza Cookbook.

Autumn is my favorite time of year; I love the color palette. We smoked pumpkins, used the outdoor oven, “the “forno,” and implemented lots of fire and Medieval cooking techniques. We went to local purveyors and had great field trips. The olive harvest is starting, so we were able to witness the first press too. Green gold; it’s so delicious.

Of course, we had our trusty prop mistress and brilliant producer Barbara Pederzini. I flew chef Philip in from the US to work on this chapter. It was a huge effort and stressful to get him into Italy with the travel ban. He quarantined for 2 weeks prior to the shoot and then worked the week of the shoot with the team. We made beautiful images, and I am so excited to share this book with you. Thanks always for the support and lovely DMs on my Instagram. It’s always so wonderful to hear from you.

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Instagram Live Cooking Class from Italy, October 1 Noon EST

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fresh ricotta being made

Ciao!  If you’d like to cook with me in Italy at La Fortezza, I would love to share a recipe from my new cookbook that I am here working on this month, La Fortezza Cookbook. Since we can’t be together in person, we are sharing a recipe with you on Instagram LIVE later this week. Come take this cooking class with us.

IG LIVE October 1 at noon EST.

I will be preparing tiramisu with a twist. Our local dairy supplies us with the most delicate and delicious ricotta cheese. It is handmade every day and is incredibly fresh. The owner of the dairy was kind enough to share her unique recipe for tiramisu using ricotta instead of the traditional mascarpone cheese. This recipe will be featured in my new book which will be released spring 2022 with Rizzoli NY.

If you want to cook along with us, I’d love that! Or, just come and hang out. You can always make the recipe later. In fact, it would be wonderful to add to your menu this holiday season. See below for the necessary ingredients as well as the recipe. I hope to see you on Thursday!

Nadia’s Ricotta Tiramisu
Serves 6

You will need:
– 3 large eggs separated
– ½  cup sugar
– ¼  teaspoon sea salt
– 1 cup whipping cream
– 2 (8 oz.) containers ricotta cheese drained
– 1 ½  cups espresso
– 4  tablespoons Marsala wine, or Rum
– 24 crisp ladyfingers
– 1 cup whipped cream for the topping
– 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (for garnish)

To prepare:
Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment,. Beat on high until soft peaks form. Transfer to a bowl.

Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow about 2 minutes. Add cream and beat 1 minute.  Add the cheese with motor running on low until combined and smooth. Fold egg whites into custard mixture.

Combine espresso and marsala wine.  In a  9”x 13” glass dish place ladyfingers into the bottom of the dish sprinkle with espresso mixture, then spread ½  of the custard mixture on top. Place the ladyfingers on top of the custard until the dish is covered once again drizzle espresso mixture on top of the ladyfingers. Spoon remaining custard on top of lady fingers. Place into the refrigerator until ready to serve. Whip cream 1 cup cream and spread on top then dust with cocoa powder.

Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

xx Annette

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Summer Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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As you all know, I am back in Italy. Mainly for 2 reasons:

1. Check on our house, La Fortezza.
2. Shoot the summer and autumn chapters of my next cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, Spring 2022.

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This project, for me, is a passion project. The book will be an epic and a beautiful depiction of the region we live in, in northern Tuscany. The book will be filled with local recipes and delicacies, gorgeous travel shots, typical local flavor, and purveyor portraits.

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These photographs will all be captured by the incredibly talented British Photographer David Loftus. I have been an admirer of David’s work for many years, as he has shot for some of the most famous chefs in the world; Jamie Oliver just to name one. His work is insanely beautiful. His discerning eye and recognizable style sets him apart as one of the world’s most respected food photographers. I was thrilled when he agreed to photograph my book.

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My sweet friend and producer, stylist Barbara Pederzini, agreed to help me with the prop styling. She brought all sorts of amazing serving pieces and plates to play with. I used a local chef to help prepare the dishes. It really was a magical team.

Without giving too much away, I believe that this book will take you on a journey and leave you with the lasting memory of a trip to our little piece of heaven. We will be shooting the autumn chapter starting October 5th, so be sure to follow the journey on my insta-stories. I can only tell you this is one of the best projects I have ever worked on. The love I have for this place, La Fortezza will shine through on every page and you will taste the love in every bite.

Until October, stay well x

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AJS Team in Quarantine: Kate Blohm

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Hi there, I’m Kate Blohm, the on-staff photographer of La Fortezza. Quarantine has been a mixture of emotions, as I’m sure it has with everyone. I hope that you and yours are staying well and that after reading, you may be inspired to lean into the small joys in this new pace of living. 

When everything started happening, I was already in North Carolina for my niece’s birthday. The numbers in Atlanta started to grow, my jobs were being canceled and then my roommate was diagnosed with the virus (she has thankfully since recovered).

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I ended up staying with my family for a few weeks and at first, I felt really overwhelmed trying to figure out what I could do, how I could help and contribute as much as possible. I realized that I had to transition my thinking to be smaller, actionable items and focus on this day and what I can do next to help others and take care of myself. 

Each night I cooked dinner for my parents (who both work essential jobs), and each day I watched my niece Elliott for my brother and sister-in-law (who also work essential jobs). It was quite the opposite of my life here in Atlanta, so I tried to savor the slowness with that freshly turned two-year-old. We went for walks, baked cookies, danced daily and had pool parties. It was a nice change of pace, and it was very fulfilling for me to be able to spend that kind of time with my family. 

Since returning to Atlanta, I’ve been working a lot with my friends at Georgia Organics, a non-profit that connects Georgia’s organic farmers to Georgia consumers. Originally we were working on a video project for the G.O. Farmer Champion Campaign, a campaign designed to encourage and celebrate chefs and restaurants who focus their sourcing on buying local. There was an award ceremony planned for May, the video was 90% shot, caterer sourced, flowers budgeted for, the whole shebang, but like many things these days, it’s been canceled until further notice.

However, the work is still moving forward, and we’re transitioning the story to also cover G.O.’s responses to the outbreak, like Food Fight GA, “This new initiative is providing restaurant workers with weekly grocery boxes including ingredients sourced from Georgia farms and freshly baked bread from Root Baking Co.” It’s been really grounding to watch this movement unfold and see how the Atlanta food community is rallying together to support each other in this time of crisis.

At home, I’ve been able to do a lot of the things that I’ve been “too busy” to do. Over the years, I’ve saved recipe videos (mostly Bon Appetit) or bookmarked cookbook pages with the intention to cook it someday. “Someday” always feels like it’s coming but for some things, it never does. I’ve tried to utilize this time to be full of all of the “somedays”.

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For me, it’s things like roasting a whole chicken and not letting any of it go to waste or writing letters on those beautiful postcards that I got in Greece and mailing them out or finally scheduling time to complete Marie Forleo’s B-School. Having to find joy in daily (at-home) life is the new norm, for who knows how long…so I encourage you to reach out to people you care about, do some things that you’ve always wanted to do “someday”, eat nourishing food and support local as much as you can. I promise, it’ll help you feel better. 

Photos by Kate Blohm

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AJS Team in Quarantine:: Valerie Failla

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Today’s post is from our PR guru, Valerie Failla:

I am a publicist.

I have worked in areas of public relations, in almost every specialty—big brands, small brands, in-house, off-site—you name it. For the last two decades, I have primarily focused on the culinary and hospitality industries. Unfortunately, these two are a few the hardest hit industries during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lately, friends and industry cohorts tell me, “Reinvent yourself.”

My response is always “No.”

I want to continue to be who I have always been simply because it is who I truly am. My “job” has never felt like a job in the traditional sense of the word. What I do for clients fuels my creativity, my drive, and my passion. There isn’t anything else that I could–or would–ever aspire to be.

9/11. I lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For weeks, grey smoke hung outside the front windows of my dilapidated, fourth floor, walk-up apartment, although I lived over six miles from the World Trade Center site. I walked seventy-seven blocks and too many avenues to count to work for over two weeks for fear there would be another surprise attack, and I would be crushed underground on the subway. One would think that after surviving the fright of a terrorist attack in your own hometown backyard you could make it through anything. How could life possibly get any worse?

The most difficult difference between that darkest period in America and our current climate is the isolation. My kids can’t go to school. I can’t go to the diner for a cup of coffee and cheese fries. My husband and I cannot now do the work we have so thoroughly enjoyed since my agency, Via Failla PR & Events, launched in 2016. I have read that isolation can play incredibly interesting tricks on the mind, therefore, I will be infinitely grateful for my family who keep me busy, smiling, laughing, and again–very busy.

So what to do? Seek the silver lining.

Planting
As a family we have always planted an assortment of vegetables and herbs on our back deck. While we have been sheltered in place, we have taken the opportunity to create a much larger garden than we have in past years. Part of our newfound excitement is watching the newly potted strawberries and jalapeños bloom for the first time! Gardening is incredibly rewarding!

Play on!
Classic board games including Life, Monopoly, and Operation have been keeping all our minds occupied (as well as laughing!) After playing several nights of each, I have often thought to myself, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, would my kids even know about these iconic games that kept my sister and me so entertained throughout the 80’s?

Cooking
Hands down, our number one favorite activity. Cooking food is therapy. It is an incredibly positive, creative, and simple way to spend time with those we are quarantined with each day and then reap the delicious benefit! My sweet Gen Z children have created time-lapse videos of us cooking and my husband has taken so many photos of our dishes to post socially, that it’s beyond flattering!

Out of extreme circumstances comes learning. We will become tougher, smarter, save more money, and organically be more humble when we finally drive this infectious demon out of society.

Until then, stay home, stay safe, and keep on creating!

Here is one of my husband’s most favorite breakfast foods, egg toast cups. Adults and kids can easily make them and you can add in anything at all from your pantry.

Egg Toast Cups

You will need:
– One, regular size muffin tin
– Olive Oil spray or olive oil
– Bread Slices (Any kind work. However many muffins your tray makes, that’s how many bread slices you need)
– Room temp butter
– Eggs (number is same as how many muffins your tray makes)
– Italian Parsley (minced)
– Minced garlic (or garlic powder if out of fresh garlic)
– Salt and pepper
– Any Italian cured/dried salami “cold cut” that you can easily tear up
– Vegetables or other additions anchovies, roasted peppers, just about anything works!

To prepare:
Either spray the muffin cups or wipe evoo all over each muffin cup to prevent the bread from sticking

Butter both sides of each slice of bread

Push each slice of bread into each muffin cup and form it to stick to the muffin cup to make a bowl

Whisk all eggs and add in S&P, minced garlic (or garlic powder)

Pour egg mixture into each muffin cup and be sure to leave a bit of room at the top b/c egg will rise when cooked

Rip up salami and put a few pieces in each muffin cup (bologna is good too!)

Bake at 400 degrees until the egg is cooked but top is a bit soft (or cooked to your own liking)

Top w/parsley and serve (they easily come out of the muffin cup and they look really pretty!)

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