Tag Archives: tips and tricks

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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Pumpkin Bread

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While fall is still a few days away, pumpkin season is upon us. There’s nothing like starting a crisp fall day with an espresso and a slice of pumpkin bread. This pumpkin bread is delicious for all the reasons you can imagine. It’s sweet. It’s seasonal. It’s festive. And it’s gluten-free.

Feel free to use the gluten-free flour of choice. You’ll get the same results no matter your choice.

Try different variations to really up the ante. Think a sprinkle of chocolate chips throughout the batter or try some pumpkin seeds on top. Either way, make it your own.

Pumpkin Bread

You will need:

– 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 cups gluten-free flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 t salt
– 1 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp allspice

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan

Mix flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice together. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time and beat. Alternately add dry ingredients and pumpkin puree to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry).

Pour mixture into greased 9″x 5″ loaf pan. Bake 50-60 min, or until cake tester comes out clean (I look for a few mini moist crumbs).

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then on a baking rack.

Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Easy Nibbles:: Marinated Olives

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With social distancing in full effect still, I’m finding that it’s just as fulfilling to put together fun snacks for one or two as it is for a full dinner party. These marinated olives fit that bill. They’re easy to put together, but really kick the humble olive up a notch.

This recipe also makes the perfect addition to a charcuterie platter. Trust me, though, once you have one, you’ll dig in for more!

Marinated Olives

You will need:
– 4 cups mixed olives
– 3 whole cloves of garlic, smashed
– ¼ cup of olive oil
– 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
– 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

To prepare:

In a saute pan, warm the olives, garlic, peppers, and oil. Toss in the herbs with the olive mixture. Serve warm.

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Caramel Two Ways

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Today I’m sharing two recipes using caramel. The first one is my recipe for espresso caramel sauce; It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!

The second recipe is for my gluten-free Linzer cookies. In this recipe, you thicken up the caramel just a little, so it sits oh-so-delicately inside of the cookies. Give them a try over the next few weeks! There’s nothing like baking to take your mind off of things, especially when the result is a sweet treat!

Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8
You will need:

– 1 cup of sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream

To prepare:

Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.

Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.

To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.

Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.

Rosemary + Salted Caramel Linzer Cookies

You will need:

For the cookies:

– 1 cup hazelnut meal (or nut meal of your choice)
– 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour or substitute Cup 4 Cup
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 sticks (1 cup or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary (up to 1 tsp for a stronger flavor)

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for the caramel filling:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 1 tbsp unsalted butter
– 6 tbsp creme fraiche (or heavy whipping cream)
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

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Preparation:

Whisk together the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat vigorously until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and chopped rosemary, then beat again until well-blended, another 30 seconds. Finally, fold in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Divide dough into two or three balls, pat them into discs, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll out a disc of dough to about 1/8- or 1/4-inch thick, depending on your preference. Unlike pie crusts, which I generally roll out between sheets of parchment, I found this to be easiest on a well-floured surface, sprinkling flour over the top and lifting the bottom to re-flour as needed. (The latter makes cutting and removing the cookie rounds much easier.) Cut out cookie rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter of your choice. For half the rounds, use a smaller cookie cutter (around 3/4 inch) to cut patterned holes — these are the windows for the cookie “lids.” Save the minis to make miniature cookie sandwiches (or just to nosh!). If the dough becomes too soft as you’re using it, just pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up again.

Place the “lids” and cookie holes on one baking sheet and the whole cookies on another, since the whole cookies may take a little longer to bake. Bake both sheets of cookies until golden at the edges, about 10 minutes for the bottoms and 8-9 for the lids. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough; you can re-chill and re-roll cookie scraps as many times as needed.

If powdering the lids, arrange the lids (or all the cookies, if you prefer) on a baking rack with a tray or paper underneath to catch the excess sugar. Sift powdered sugar over top as desired.

While the cookies are cooling, make the caramel. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside within easy reach. Combine sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir just until sugar dissolves, then let simmer, without stirring, until the mixture just turns golden. Remove immediately from heat and add butter (be careful, as it may sputter). Swirl until the butter is dissolved, then add the creme fraiche or heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Return to heat, reduce heat to low and stir until the heavy cream is fully dissolved. Drop a small spoonful of the caramel into the ice water and touch it — if you can form it into a pliable ball, it’s done.

Working quickly, while the caramel is still soft, drop about a teaspoon of caramel onto each of the bottoms of the cookies, then place a lid on top and press gently to seal. Sprinkle a bit of flaky salt over top if you like. Enjoy once the caramel is cool. Cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

xx Annette

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Thyme for a Lime Gimlet


As I’ve said before, I often turn to my archives for inspiration, especially for recipes. It’s like combing through your mother’s recipe index only to rediscover a recipe for a dish long-since forgotten. The best part is remembering a dish (or in this case, a drink) as soon as you find it again. That’s exactly what happened with this recipe for my lime gimlet.

A gimlet is a classic cocktail made with gin and lime. Think of it almost as a gin margarita. In this case, I kick it up a notch by adding a bit of thyme simple syrup and fresh thyme sprigs. It’s a refreshing cocktail for summer nights.

Annette’s Lime Gimlet

You will need:
– 1.25 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
– 1 oz Fresh squeezed Lime Juice
– 1 oz. Thyme Syrup
– 1 thinly sliced lime and a sprig of fresh thyme

For the simple syrup, you will need:
– 1 tablespoons lime zest
– 2 tablespooks lime juice
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 cup water

To prepare simple syrup:
Put all ingredients in a small pot , simmer for 10 minutes let cool. Store in a jar for up to 2 weeks.

To prepare the cocktail:
Pour the gin, lime juice, and thyme syrup into a mixing glass half-filled with ice cubes. Stir well.
Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lime slice and fresh thyme sprig.

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