The Twisted Soul Cookbook

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Dare I say that Chef Deborah VanTrece is my Rizzoli soul sister?!  Well heck, I am going to say it. I am so excited for the latest Rizzoli NY cookbook from a local Atlanta chef. This cookbook is not only a visual treat, but it is also an amazing collection of recipes that infuse Deborah’s vast travel culinary experiences and her Southern soul. Her restaurant, The Twisted House Cookhouse and Pours is a landmark in the community. I was excited to meet her in person at her cookbook photo-shoot in Atlanta last January. We share the same Rizzoli NY cookbook editor, which makes us sisters for sure, right? I was invited to meet her and appear in her cookbook while enjoying a meal. Needless to say, trying a multitude of her recipes all in one sitting was a treat.

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My 5 questions for Deborah:

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Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?

There’s no particular recipe I favor more than another in this book. Each recipe has a personal meaning to me.

Tell me a bit about the inspiration for the book, and the recipe.

This book is inspired by the great soul food cooks of the past and present. It expounds on old traditions by exploring new combinations of ingredients by interchanging cultures and techniques. It is intended to uplift the idea of “comfort food” across all cultures and showcase the impact of the humblest cuisines in our souls and our hearts. 

When did cooking become a passion and then a profession? Was this your path, or was it different? 

As far back as I can remember, I have always been intrigued by food and the fellowship around it.  Being an only child, sometimes I felt so alone.  It was always celebrations, that included food and drink, that erased my feelings of loneliness and created an atmosphere of joy that I wanted to last forever.  Because of this, I developed a passion for cooking, often sharing my creations with friends and family.  I became an international flight attendant, and the exposure to other cultures only increased my hunger for learning how to create new dishes. I finally enrolled in culinary school and my professional journey in the food world began.

How have you been able to pivot your restaurant during Covid?

My pivots with Covid are an entire book within itself. I have adjusted my business model several times to keep in line with safety protocols, as well as government mandates. It hasn’t been easy, but we are still standing, and for that, I am grateful.

Who most influenced you in your cooking?

My family has been most influential in my cooking. From my mother and father to my aunts, uncles and cousins, they have all helped in constructing my culinary foundation. Good food is a part of my history and recipes handed down through generations are so important to my story. These recipes showcase the existence of my ancestors and motivate me to continue the story by adding recipes of my own.


Thanks so much, Deborah! xx


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Valentine’s Day Sweet:: Chocolate Crepes


Crepes are an excellent choice for Valentine’s Day treats because they can be made ahead of time. Fill them with chocolate mousse, and they’re even better. This recipe is from the archives, and I know you’ll love seeing it with fresh eyes. Make a batch on Friday and enjoy them all weekend long! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Basic Crepes
Yield: 12 to 15 crepes, 4-6 servings
You will need:

– 1 ½ cups whole milk
– 2 large eggs
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt

additional unsalted butter, for coating the pan

To Make ahead
Refrigerate the batter for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the crepe batter from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook the crepes.

To prepare
Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter to the pan and swirl the melting butter around the pan into a thin, even coat. Pour two tablespoons of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds or until the edges begin to dry and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a warm oven if serving immediately or to a plate to cool completely for storing. Continue cooking the batter as above – coating the pan with butter every after every 2 or 3 crepes.

*Note: Cooled crepes can be stacked, and stored in zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Thaw frozen crepes at room temperature at least an hour before reheating. Reheat stored crepes in warm oven or a microwave just before serving.

**Note: Lore holds that the first crepe is always a flop. Think of it as a test of your pans heat and adjust the heat accordingly.

Easy Chocolate Mousse
Yield: 8 servings
You will need:

– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
– 2 cups chilled heavy cream

To prepare:

Fill a small saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile find a small heat-proof bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the small bowl over the simmering water, stirring frequently with a spatula. Once melted add the espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Remove the chocolate from the heat to cool while the cream is whipped.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Add the warm chocolate to the lightly whipped cream and continue whipping on medium speed until the cream achieves soft peak – approximately 1 minute longer.

Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Art direction + Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes + food styling by Meghan Splawn
Florals by Victory Blooms

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Truffle Pasta

After Monday’s post all about truffles, I’ve been dreaming about this truffle pasta from the archives. It’s delicious and a great way to enjoy the flavors of truffles. You can sub zucchini for any other seasonal squash, or another veggie of your choice. Get creative with it, and let the truffles take center stage!

Truffle Pasta
serves 4

You will need:
– – Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound whole-wheat dried spaghettini
– 3/4 pound zucchini sliced into coins
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tablespoons minced garlic (NOTE: I always use a micro planer to grate the fresh garlic into the oil)
– 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
– 3 tablespoons truffle oil

To prepare:
Cut the zucchini into thin coins then put oil and grate fresh garlic into a skillet. Heat oil and garlic and add zucchini, saute on high heat until the zucchini is evenly browned. In the meantime, boil the pasta on high, until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the zucchini, and toss with cheese.
Pull off heat and put pasta into a bowl, finish with the truffle oil, salt and pepper. I also like adding truffle salt if you have it. Serve hot with a nice salad.

Serve and enjoy!

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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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Soup’s on:: Tomato Basil Soup


Can you believe we are in our final week of Juice January (well, healthy habits January)?! It has honestly flown by for me, and I hope it has for you as well. For our last week, I am sharing a couple of fun recipes, and this soup is one of them. Winter is a wonderful time to warm-up with a bowl of soup, plus soup is an excellent way to sneak in those extra servings of veggies. Today, it’s all about cream of tomato basil soup because honestly, is there anything better?

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 stockpot, 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.
xx, Annette
Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash
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