Tag Archives: annette joseph

Serving Stylish Pasta


Pasta is one of the easiest dishes to serve for a crowd. And, let’s be honest: everyone loves pasta! While it’s one of the easiest things to prepare, it’s easily one of the most difficult things to serve (or shoot!) stylishly.

I almost shudder when I think of having to style something like macaroni and cheese for a photo shoot. The cheese sets-up quickly, and it’s just hard to make it look appetizing. Pasta has great texture in photographs, but without the appropriate styling, it’s simply not pleasant to look at.

Even though you might not be styling for a photo shoot, there are a few tricks to serving stylish pasta at a dinner party. In fact, the number one thing you can do to improve a pasta course is the dish in which its served. The vessel you choose to serve pasta in is the most important element in making pasta look delicious.

Here are a few stylist tricks to use to serve stylish pasta is on your menu:

Ditch the glass casserole dish. In fact I don’t even own one. Instead, think about something earthy to present your pasta, like mac and cheese, in. An iron skillet is perfect! I own lots of iron skillets in all sizes. Not only are they great looking, great to bake in, but they make awesome presentation vessels. The photo above was a pretty cover shot for Southern Living that I styled a couple years ago. I still think it’s so yummy looking. It’s one of my favorites.

Use glasses in unexpected ways. Pesto pasta is pretty, so seeing all the bits of basil in the clear glass is great, plus it’s easy to serve. I love these brandy snifters. They are the perfect size for one serving. Think of all your tableware in different ways. Glasses can be used for more than just drinks!


Look for interesting shapes in your serving dishes. Here the scallop edged bowl really makes a difference. It’s a nod to the sea, and it looks a bit like a sea shell. You will never go wrong with a seafood presentation if you introduce the sea in some form. Even the serving spoon looks like something you would find along the beach.


I hope that this has helped you look at how you serve your pasta dishes. Like I said above, the key is to always think about the vessel options you have. Plus it gives you an excuse to pull out your very best, most fun props!

xx Annette

Photo credit: Jennifer Davick, Lauren Rubinstein, Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyen

Seafood Pasta Dish from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties


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How to Style a Coffee Table like a Pro


When I enter a home to style it for a photo-shoot, I always bring accessories for a coffee table. I have a big collection of coffee table books in my studio and tons of bits and bobs in my prop stash for this specific purpose. However, you don’t have to be a stylist to achieve a similar look. In fact, your coffee table can look just as amazing as any magazine with the right tools.

To get you thinking in the right direction, here’s a video I did with Ballard Designs that shows you how to style a coffee table. It breaks down different steps, so you can practice and style until you have the perfect set-up.

Here are a few highlights from the video:

  1. Start with what you have. There’s no need to go out and buy a ton of props. Instead, shop your own home or your own prop closet.
  2. Anchor the corners with large objects. Repeat after me: trays are my BFF. Trays are my BFF. A tray will provide a place to corral smaller objects while creating visual interest and helping you organize.
  3. Repeat shapes and colors. If you add pink flowers, add another pop of pink in a book on a different spot. If you incorporate blue, add a ginger jar, too. Repeating colors helps the eye move seamlessly around the table.
  4. Have fun! Don’t be afraid to change-up your coffee table style season to season. If you find a special object while out antiquing, or “treasure hunting” as I like to call it, add it to your coffee table vignette.

If you’d like even more help styling your home for photographs or for fun, come along on my Strictly Styling Workshop this summer in Italy! I’d love to have you.

Do you have any tried and true coffee table tips? Share them in the comments!

xx Annette

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Beautiful Briny Sea Salt meets Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Unicorn Salt

Full disclosure, I am a big lover of salt. As most chef’s will tell you, a dish that is not seasoned perfectly, that’s salt and pepper, is kind of not worth serving. A few weeks back I received an unexpected surprise: a box chock-full of salty and sweet treats from local Atlanta artisan food purveyor Beautiful Briny Sea, along with sugars that I will be using for baking, but most importantly be using for cocktails (watch out for these new recipes on the blog soon).

I decided to try these flavor salts, thoughtfully infused with herbs and spices on a few of my favorite recipes. Last weekend for Sunday supper I made one of our family favorites from Picture Perfect Parties: 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. 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.

salts sugars





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Sunday Supper Recipe:: Buckwheat Crepes


A few years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Sinskey wines and belonging to their wine club. Each month I received wine along with a recipe for a unique meal. One of my favorites was Golden Wild Rice Buckwheat Crepes with Mushrooms and Taleggio Cheese. It’s the perfect Sunday supper recipe, especially this time of year.

Golden Wild Rice Buckwheat Crepes with Mushrooms & Taleggio Cheese
Serves: 10 to 12

You will need:
1 recipe crepes
– 1 recipe mushrooms
– 1 recipe bechamel
– 12 ounces Italian Taleggio or Fontina, pulled apart or cut into small pieces
– 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 cup finely chopped cooked Swiss chard or Spinach
– Kosher salt
– Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Toss the pieces of Teleggio with ½ cup of Parmesan in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms and greens and toss well to combine. Add 1 cup of béchamel and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil a 15” x 10” baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1 cup of béchamel evenly in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of Parmesan.

Lay the crepes flat and place about ⅓ cup of the filling in bottom third of the crepe and roll the crepe up. Place the crepes side by side in the prepared baking dish then repeat until all of the crepes are filled.

Pour the remaining béchamel evenly over the top of the filled crepes. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan over the top.

Place the crepes in the preheated oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Buckwheat Wild Rice Crepe Batter
Yield: 16 crepes

You will need:
– 1½ cups all-purpose flour
– ¼ cup buckwheat flour
– 2 teaspoons kosher salt
– 3 cups water, divided
– 6 large eggs
– Extra virgin olive oil
– 2 cups wild rice

To prepare:

Mix flour, buckwheat and salt. Mix eggs, 2½ cups water and ¼ cup olive oil and slowly beat into flour mixture. Beat until smooth.

Add the wild rice. Let rest for 20 minutes covered at room temperature. Batter to should be thin enough to easily coat the bottom of a pan when swirled. Add more water to thin if necessary.

Heat a 10” nonstick pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot brush lightly with olive oil.

Use a scant 4 ounce ladle or ½ cup measure to pour batter into pan and roll around to thinly cover bottom. Stir the batter well before scooping to make sure you get wild rice in the scoop.

Cook on one side over medium heat until batter is set and edges start to brown. Flip over and cook for a few seconds on the other side.

Use a spatula to remove the crepe to a plate or simply flip the pan over and let the crepe land on the plate. Smooth the crepe so it flat for stacking. If you will be freezing the crepes separate each crepe with squares of parchment paper. Let cool.

Note: Crepes can be stored at room temperature overnight, tightly wrapped after cooling or frozen up to 2 months tightly sealed.

Sauteed Mushrooms
Yields: 4 cups

These delicious and fragrant mushrooms can be used to stuff omelets, top pizzas, or accompany a nice grilled steak.

You will need:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 2 pounds thinly sliced crimini mushrooms
– Kosher salt
– Freshly ground black pepper
– 2 teaspoons thyme
– 1 teaspoon minced garlic
– 3 tablespoons minced shallots

To prepare:

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot add the olive oil and then the mushrooms.

Cook for 10 to 12 minutes stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are golden and the pan juices are almost dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to medium, fold in the thyme, garlic and shallots and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Turn out onto a sheet pan to cool before using.


Béchamel Sauce
Yield: 4 cups

You will need:

– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 5 cups whole milk
– 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
– 1 small bay leaf, dried or fresh
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until the butter and the flour are thoroughly combined. Continue to cook the mixture over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the milk 1 cup at a time. Whisk until the paste is smooth than add another cup of milk and repeat the process until the milk is finished. The milk and flour should be smooth and slightly thickened.

Place the pan back over medium heat and add the onion and the bay leaf. Bring the sauce to a boil while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. The sauce will form a crust on the bottom so try not to disturb it with the wooden spoon or you will have brown flecks in your sauce. To avoid this, you can transfer the sauce to a double boiler and continue to cook it for 20 minutes without having to stir.

Strain the sauce into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cool for later use and store well-wrapped in the refrigerator.

Recipe via Maria Sinskey

Photos by Robert Sinskey

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Workshops: Summer 2018 Updates

I cannot believe that we’re just a few months away from embarking on our second summer of workshops at La Fortezza. If you follow along on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that we’re in the thick of renovating our guest quarters. They will hopefully be done soon, just in time for our guests.

If you’re considering coming to Italy this summer, we’d love to have you. There isn’t anything like summer in Italy. While I might be partial, I can assure you that you’ll agree with me. Our location is just a short drive from just about anything you could possibly want: beaches, historic towns, mountains, quaint spots – it’s all at your fingertips.

We have just a few spots left in several of our workshops. While some of our events have already sold out, we do have a few spaces left (and a few surprises, too!) in the following workshops:

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My June 6 – 11, 2018 Strictly Styling Workshop will be the traditional styling workshop we’ve offered over the years and will feature two AWESOME guest instructors and stylists that you are going to love: Joanna Hawley & Eliza Honey.

Joanna Hawley is a Seattle-based blogger, stylist, and digital influencer. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Industrial Design, she worked as a product designer and trend scout for Nordstrom and Anthropologie before turning her keen eye to the online space. Her talent for curation has earned her a Pinterest following that totals 3.8 million, and her frank, funny, and fashion-forward approach to content creation has made her site jojotastic.com a go-to resource for modern yet casual lifestyle inspiration. When she’s not documenting her renovation misadventures, she’s mostly likely sailing the Puget Sound with her wiener dog companions.

An ex-editor at goop (yes, that goop!) and at Elle Decoration UK, Eliza Honey has made the fulfilling switch to floristry at the legendary Harper & Tom’s in London.  Her focus is on arrangements and installations with a wild, naturalistic and joyful feel.

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We also have a few spots left in our Figurative Photography workshop with renowned photographer, Harriet Leibowitz. We will provide the experience, the models, the location, the instruction and the motivation to make memorable and magnificent images.  With our experienced male and female figurative models, you will have the opportunity to create beautiful and unique work involving the human body.

We’ve been working to create the most amazing experiences imaginable. Our location at La Fortezza in Tuscany offers breathtaking vistas and intimate interiors. Every detail has been created with photo shoots in mind. There will be technical instruction to maximize our creative vision. We will dine on chef created organic food from the garden, drink wine from the vineyards and indulge in all that Italy offers.

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Finally, join me along with premiere Southern wedding and event professionals, Master Florist/Event Designer, Kim Cheney, and Luxury Fine Art Wedding Photographer, Donna Von Bruening at our Tuscan Wedding Workshop. Our exclusive instructors to share their knowledge and insight on storytelling, creating and documenting the perfect celebration or wedding.

This intimate workshop is for creative minds seeking inspiration, world travelers looking for a new experience abroad and wedding and event professionals looking to broaden their palette and build their portfolio. You will enjoy hands-on experience mixed with lively lectures and one-on-one instruction throughout the week. Expand your visual language and hone your artistic voice to tell stories that arouse emotion whether you are setting a table for your own special guests or seeking to enhance your professional portfolio.  For inspiration and fun, you will scour super-secret Italian flea markets for special props, enjoy Italian dinners al fresco while mingling with creative and industry professionals. It’s truly a creative retreat – a picturesque place to recharge and refresh.

We truly have a workshop for everyone this summer. Come along and experience Italy in a creative, life-changing way. We’d love to have you!

xx Annette

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