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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End of Summer Dessert::Campari Sorbet

Campari Sorbet

If you love Campari, you must try this recipe. If you don’t like or have never tried Campari (an Italian aperitivo/digestivo), you should!

Campari is bitter and an acquired taste, so that’s why you must try this recipe. It is simply incredible. I have convinced many people to try this and give Campari another chance. The end of summer is near, so this Campari sorbet is the perfect farewell. Make it today, so you can enjoy it tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. Don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Campari Sorbet
Serves 8

You will need: 
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar
– 3 Tbsp. orange zest 3 oranges, I use a microplane
– 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (squeeze it yourself; it’s worth it)
– 3/4 cup Campari

To prepare:

In a sauce pan combine water, sugar and zest, making a simple syrup

Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cool

Add Campari and orange juice to the syrup. You need to chill in the refrigerator at this point, the colder the better before adding it to the ice cream maker

Place into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions, place into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, put into the freezer until ready to serve.

*note this will be a soft sorbet because of the alcohol in the Campari, so chill overnight for best texture.

* this recipe should be made a day ahead

Recipe from : Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

Photo by: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Fire Up the Grill:: Lamb Burger

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Every now and then, I’m reminded of recipes from my previous books that are old favorites. One of them is this lamb burger. I don’t know about you, but I love burgers and I love lamb, so it seemed natural to add a lamb burger to my cookbook,  Picture Perfect Parties. What makes this burger even more unique is that is has a delicious Greek twist.

As our grilling days of summer get fewer and fewer, consider mixing things up with this lamb burger recipe. If you’re looking for a great recipe to include on your menu, look no further!

As an added stylist tip, I thought I’d share a little secret with you: I love serving burgers in a pita. It makes for a really pretty presentation and a clever twist to something that is perceived as a ho-hum burger. Plus, it contains all of the messy burger goodness to one neat little pocket. Genius!

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Photo from Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

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Is your squash blossoming?! Time for fried squash blossoms!

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Last weekend, my friends Steve and Jill McKenzie whipped up a batch of my squash blossoms from my first book,  Picture Perfect Parties (Rizzoli). This time of year, squash blossoms are a fun addition to any menu. The recipe is simple and the results are fabulous. It’s one of my favorite summer staples. The exquisite flavors and crisp texture will make you swoon. You will be planting squash in your garden every year just to yield this cheese-filled treat. Trust me.

After seeing the McKenzies posts on Instagram, I was inspired to share the recipe with you here. Enjoy it!

Ricotta Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 6-8

You will need:

– 12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
– About 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
– 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
– 1 large egg yolk
– 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:

– 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
– 1 large egg yolk
– 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– ½ teaspoon salt

For the batter:

Note* you can make the batter a couple hours before and set aside.

– 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
– 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon pepper

To prepare:

Filling the blossoms:

Dry the squash blossoms with a paper towel, do not wash them under the tap, wash them in a bowl of water.

Carefully make a small opening in the top of each blossom. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with a hole cut into the bottom, pipe the filling into the opening filling about half way up the flower. Close end and gently twist flower closed.

Store the stuffed blossoms in the fridge until you are ready to fry.

Frying the squash blossoms:

Heat oil. Test heat by dropping a few drops of the batter, if it crisps up you are ready to go. Dip stuffed blossoms into the batter with a small tongs then drop them carefully into the oil.

Fry the blossoms until crisp and place on a paper towel to drain.  Serve immediately.

 

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn & moi

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Easter Meal::Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Unicorn Salt

Full disclosure, I am a big lover of salt. As most chefs will tell you, a dish that is not seasoned perfectly (that’s salt and pepper) is kind of not worth serving.

One of our family favorites from Picture Perfect Parties is stuffed leg of lamb, generously stuffed with Meyer lemons, green olives, rosemary and garlic. I liberally used my favorite salt, Magic Unicorn (it is indeed magically delicious) on the outside of the lamb. It was spectacular.

Since Easter and Passover are likely small gatherings this year with just immediate family (if not even smaller than that), use this recipe as a treat to yourself during these difficult times.

Here’s the recipe below, I used about 1 tablespoon (plus a little more:-) and massaged the salt into the lamb before stuffing and tying it up.

Unicorn Salt

Roast Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Lemon and Herbs
Serves 6-8

For the lamb, you will need:
– 1- 4 Pound boneless leg of lamb +kitchen string. Note: Some stores sell this already rolled and secured in a netting. You need to remove this if so.

To prepare the lamb before stuffing:
Liberally sprinkle then rub the outside of the lamb with Magic Unicorn salt, about 1 tablespoon, plus a little extra. Set aside and prepare the stuffing.

Lemon and Herb Stuffing

You will need:
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 4 cloves chopped garlic
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– ½ cup green olives chopped
– ½ cup raisins *optional
– 2 small lemons cut into small wedges, toss the lemon wedges in ½ teaspoon sea salt *note Meyer lemons , should be used if available
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– ½ cup chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon pepper to finish stuffed lamb

To prepare stuffing:

Heat oil and butter add garlic sauté until lightly browned medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and sauté for 5 minutes until combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Place the leg of lamb on a cutting board lined with butcher or parchment paper lie the lamb flat top side down.

Place the stuffing into the middle of the roast mounding it into the middle.

Wrap the sides of the lamb around the stuffing tuck in the ends and tie the lamb with kitchen string, sealing the stuffing.

Place the stuffed lamb on a rack in a roasting pan fattest side up.  Roast at 425 for 15 min. Reduce heat to 325 and roast 30 to 45 minutes or until desired degree of doneness., for medium rare it should read 130 degrees to 135 degree F. Once it’s reached this temperature, remove it from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Carve into slices and serve.

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