Hanukkah is here! Time for Latkes!

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Every year my kids look forward to our Hanukkah meal. We light the candles, say a prayer, open little gifts and then sit down together for our traditional meal. I roast free range chicken, and I make homemade sweet potato + yukon potato latkes with homemade applesauce. I also usually toss together a sweet and savory salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a meal that incorporates all the flavors while bringing back warm memories from the years we’ve enjoyed this celebration of light together.

If you’re celebrating Hanukkah this year, give my yellow and gold latkes recipe a try, and don’t skip the apple sauce. It might be the best part.

Yellow and Gold Latkes
serves 4 to 6
You will need:

– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal
– 1 small yellow onion diced
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup olive oil
To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce and sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

Homemade Applesauce
You will need:
– 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
– 4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
– Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
– 3 inches of cinnamon stick
– 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
– Up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
– 1 cup of water
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt

 

To prepare:

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels.

Mash with potato masher.  Place in the fridge. It should last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine 
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2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again – time for annual holiday gift guides! It’s always fun to round-up a few of my favorite items from across the web that I think would make excellent gifts for just about anyone on your list. This year, I’m touching on a few items that I’d love to receive as well as a few items that I’d definitely give to someone else. I’ve even included gifts for pups!

No matter who you’re shopping for this season, enjoy the spirit of giving and the process of finding the perfect gifts for those you love. And don’t forget to put a little effort into wrapping your gift, too. I love this Alpine Ski paper from Dixie Design. Enjoy my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide!

xx Annette HolidayGG2018

Beech Round Pizza Board

Greek Pepper Mills

Pommed Slippers

Stonewashed Linen Napkins

Anatomy of a Bike Kit

HP Portable Photo Printer

Cocktail Italiano

Workshop Gift Card

Leather Bow Tie Dog Collar

photo by me

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…leaving Italy 2018

 

2018 has been the year of renovation. We switched into full gear this year, renovating the rest of our fortress. We added a kitchen, a lounge area next to the kitchen, 6 guest rooms, a kitchenette and a new outdoor seating area outside the dependence (the out building that serves as 3 guest rooms).

It was challenging in a way I have never been challenged. That is saying a lot as I have built and renovated many residential and commercial spaces, but this one was a beast. It was challenging but not why you think. Our contractor, project manager and geometra (the architect/engineer, that is required for any construction in Italy) were incredible. The electrician, painter, plumber and marble guy were top notch. Mostly, everyone working on the project was really efficient. However, the mere  scope of the project was daunting. Resurrecting a medieval fortress is not for the faint of heart.

I am happy to say that it’s all behind us. It is finished. We still have many projects ahead, but the idea that the majority of the renovation is history is quite frankly the best feeling in the world.

I loved all the workshops this year. The privates were fulfilling, and everyone who attended this year had a special point of view. I loved doing our wedding shoot; it was fun to imagine a wedding at La Fortezza. Frank and I really had a blast with all of our guests and loved showing everyone our little part of Italy.

La Fortezza guest rooms were a hit with all of our guests, too which was especially rewarding after all of our hard work. Everyone loved all the special touches, and it was really fun hosting everyone. All the aperitivi and all the suppers and discussions around the table were exactly how I imagined it would be. It warms my heart that I made so many new friends and got visit with old friends as well. I hope everyone comes to visit us again. Such precious memories make all the work the past 2 1/2 years so worth it!

Many ask if I am sad to leave Italy. I am sad, but being back in the US with my family and friends is great. I will be back next spring and in the meantime, I am enjoying all the peace of not making renovation decisions every day, but I will miss all the group dinners under the stars and the moon. Until next year…

xx I will miss you Italy. cin cin

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Last of the La Fortezza Workshops, end of the season

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I must admit the last 2 workshops in October were amazing. The first workshop was a private group. All I can say is that it was the most amazing group of friends. It was comprised of four ladies that really supported each other and enjoyed each other’s company. I have never seen anything like it.

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Philip and Suzanne prepared a pizza lunch for the group.

We tried a new chef, Philip Meeker, a classically trained chef with tons of restaurant and teaching experience. He was a fantastic addition to the La Fortezza workshop team. He was genuinely enthusiastic about our garden and local vendors like the dairy and the various butcher shops. He loved shopping at the Tuesday local market in the square in Fivizzano, and he became quite the local celebrity as he speaks great Italian and is quite charming, not to mention easy on the eyes.

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His food was absolutely delicious, creative and seasonal. His high regard for great ingredients is exactly what we look for in the meals we serve at La Fortezza – high quality, beautiful and delicious.

Our private group’s organizer, Suzanne Vizethann , is the Executive Chef and Owner of Buttermilk Kitchen. She brought all her best friends with her, and we had an amazing time touring Modena with my sweet friend and stylist/editor Barbara Pederzini. She even gave us the VIP tour of her hometown. As an aside, Barbara will be joining me next year for a couple days to teach the Italian side of styling during my Strictly Styling Workshop 2019; we have lots of surprises up our sleeves, so stay tuned.

We stopped for a bit of power shooppingat Oro Nero a custom design shop in Modena

We stopped for a bit of power shopping at Oro Nero a custom design shop in Modena

We began the workshop with Suzanne’s group with truffle hunting. It was a gorgeous morning trekking through the forest.

Truffle huntiing followed by a 4 course truffle lunch, left us stuffed and sleepy.

Truffle huntiing followed by a 4 course truffle lunch, left us stuffed and sleepy.

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Suzanne treated all of us to her Nonna’s sauce and meatballs at our Sunday supper. Philip rounded out the meal with amazing handmade pasta noodles along with sides and dessert. Private workshops have been very exciting and so fulfilling.T hanks to Katie, Janie and Kristy for joining the adventure and making the dance party so fun.

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For our final workshop of the year, Angie Mosier brought an amazing group of photographers to La Fortezza. We had a wonderful time touring and photographing. Angie is a gifted teacher, and she brought so much energy and expertise to her workshop. Chef Rebecca Wilcomb joined her friend Angie, and we all visited local food purveyors and introduced Philip, Angie and Rebecca to local fare, like panigacci and testoroli. My Italian girlfriends, helped introduce them to all things local in food stuffs. Thanks to Giovanna, local food ambassador, and Federica of China Clementi. We had professional barman Simone join us one night to create cocktails with China Clementi a locally produced Amaro, created in Fivizzano by the family.

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Panigacci made the traditional way on the open fire.

Testaroli being made

Testaroli being made

Me with Giovanna

Me with Giovanna

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Testaroli

Testaroli

Testaroli tasting

Testaroli tasting

We toured the China Clementi Amaro factory earlier in the day, so it was such fun to do a cocktail tasting later that evening for aperitivo with Angie’s group.

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Philip was enamored with our outdoor pizza oven (il forno). He and Rebecca opted to cook a few of our meals in it as well as a pizza lunch for our attendees. It was really an honor to have Rebecca cook in our kitchen, and she and Philip had a blast using fresh local ingredients. Phillip taught handmade pasta to many of our attendees. His charm and ease in the kitchen made him an instant hit with our guests. He’ll be back next year in June to create more exciting meals in our kitchen.

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Roasted in the forno

Roasted in the forno

Wrapping up the workshops with such great people was so rewarding, I am back in the US for a few months. I’ll be on book tour and of course producing a few editorial stories. I will be back to Italy next year. A heartfelt thanks to all who attended. I loved meeting you all and showing you my Italy.

xx Annette

 

 

 

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You’re Invited:: Upcoming Book Signings

As you all know, earlier this year I released my second book, Cocktail Italiano: The Definitive Guide to Aperitivo: Drinks, Nibbles, and Tales of the Italian Riviera. We had a wonderful time celebrating the launch last spring, and I enjoyed meeting so many of you.

Because it was so much fun, I’m doing it again! Over the next few weeks, I am making several stops throughout Atlanta (and beyond!) to sign copies of my book, and I’d love for you to meet me there. With the gift giving season just around the corner, now is a great time to grab a few books and cross some names off of your list.

First, on November 9, I’m participating in the Elegant Elf Marketplace.  I’ll be joined by an amazing cast of fellow authors, all of whom I greatly admire. This one is sure to be a great time!

Then later this month, I’m joining my friends at Hudson Grace for a Cocktail Italiano cocktail party. Hudson Grace is a fantastic store for scooping up props or finding gifts for everyone on your list.

December kicks-off with a book signing at one of my absolutely favorite stores, Paris Market in Savannah. You may remember that I’ve hosted several fun events at Paris Market in the past. The store is a dream, and I’m thrilled head back to Savannah to visit. Finally, on December 6th, I’ll be at Ballard Designs for a delightful evening with all of you at one of my favorite Atlanta interior institutions.

Here’s a quick recap, or visit my calendar for even more specifics:

  • Friday, November 9, 10 AM – 12 PM – Elegant Elf, Atlanta
  • Thursday, November 15, 5 – 7 PM, – Hudson Grace, Atlanta
  • Sunday, December 2, time TBD – Paris Market, Savannah
  • Tuesday, December 6, time TBD – Ballard Designs, Atlanta

Find the details for several of the events below. I hope to see you there!

xx Annette

EEBookSigning Cocktail Italiano Book Signing

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