Introducing:: The La Fortezza Collection by Kate Blohm

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Today, I am thrilled to be among the first to announce Kate Blohm’s latest project her La Fortezza Collection, a series of postcards featuring our home in Italy. Below, Kate tells all about the inspiration for the series, how it came to be, and when it will be available for purchase. Take it away, Kate! 

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Annette Joseph has really created something special with her Italian fortress, La Fortezza. My favorite moments are in the details and Annette has a fine-tuned eye. She pays close attention to every element, which makes it a lot of fun for me to capture.

The first time I visited La Fortezza in 2018, I was a student. I was awarded the Les Dames d’Escoffier Continuing Education Grant. I chose to attend the Slow Food Styling Workshop with Angie Mosier and Chef Rebecca Wilcomb. Throughout the week we visited a local cheese shop, a specialty baker, a truffle hunter, an olive oil producer, and a digestiv factory. Authentic food and immersive experiences are the focus of this story.

Shooting in Europe was something I knew I wanted to do, especially involving food and small food producers. The story for La Fortezza continued after Annette hired me back in Atlanta for a magazine article. Throughout my first visit to La Fortezza, I wanted to capture everything in stills and in motion. Utilizing this footage I put together a small film for Annette, to share my perspective of the amazing experience that I had. She invited me back on the spot, followed up the next day, and sent me to dates to come the next year as the On-Staff Photographer.

La Fortezza is my favorite subject to photograph and I’ve had the pleasure of photographing it twice. Every moment is a photographic moment. Fresh bouquets being clipped and arranged, freshly picked tomatoes being prepped for sauce and the sun setting with every shade of lavender. I’m excited to see these in print and in spaces. Where escapism meets function. This collection will feature postcards and high-quality prints of various sizes.

Available November 10th!

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Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

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Ciao from Italy everyone. I wanted to share a delicious autumn recipe with you today. I will be here until the end of October, and then I’ll head back to the US to vote in person. I have had a great time here, and I was able to shoot two chapters of my new cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook. See the recap of the summer shoot here and the autumn shoot here.

We bought all sorts of lovely fall props including a selection of amazing pumpkins. Italians love pumpkins. Who knew? I love pumpkins, too. I have an amazing pumpkin recipe coming in the new book.

But until then, I wanted to share my Italian pumpkin soup recipe. I have tons of sage in the garden, so whenever I can use it in a recipe, I do. I happen to love the taste of sage, it just says autumn to me.

It’s an easy recipe, and perfect as a Thanksgiving starter. Plus you can make it a couple of days in advance which lightens the workload on the day. Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 4-6

You will need:
– 4-5 cups pumpkin cut into wedges, skin on (I use a small, 2-3 lb. Cinderella pumpkin or baking pumpkin)
– 3 carrots sliced
– 1 cup celery
– 1 cup chopped onion (*Note all the vegetables can be rough chunks as you will be blending them)
– 1 smashed garlic clove
– 3 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons for the pumpkin
– 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the pumpkin
– 2 sage leaves
– 3 cups water, or Vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, roughly 3-4 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft with pierced. While the pumpkin is roasting, Place olive oil and carrots, celery, onion and garlic, sage, and salt into a Dutch oven. Over medium heat saute the vegetables until soft, add the water or stock. simmer about 20 minutes. Once the pumpkin is roasted, scrap the soft pumpkin flesh from the skin. Place the roasted pumpkin into the pot and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend the vegetables, add the nutmeg and the cream and juice of 1 lemon, blend until smooth. Place over heat for another 10 minutes on low heat. This can be made 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Fried Sage Leaves

You will need:

– 1 cup fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
– 1 cup of olive oil

Preparation:

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the oil to 325 degrees F, drop the dry leaves into the pot, fry for 2 minutes, place on a paper towel. These should be made as you warm the soup. Place the soup into bowls and garnish warm soup with 3-4 leaves.

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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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