La Fortezza Tomato Sauce

I know you have all been watching me deal with our incredible tomato harvest in our La Fortezza garden this year. Let’s just say we will have tomato sauce for every pizza party until October. Today I am sharing one of the recipes from my upcoming new cookbook, based on the region I live in La Lunigiana, located in the northwest corner of Tuscany. My cookbook, La Fortezza Cookbook, will feature the local cuisine, as well as the house specialties we serve during our workshops and retreats on the property. It will be released in fall 2022, by Rizzoli NY, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you. This is a recipe you can jar or simply bag up and put in the freezer to enjoy a little taste of summer in the winter months. Let me know how it goes. xx

Our tomato plants are very prolific; we make about 3 batches of this simple tomato sauce recipe every season. We jar it and enjoy it through the fall, winter, and spring. It is a very simple recipe that highlights the sweetness of the tomatoes. It is used in so many dishes, you will be amazed at how easy and versatile it is. The only piece of equipment needed is a food mill, which is something that is a fixture in Italian kitchens mainly used for “the sauce”.

La Fortezza Tomato Sauce
Makes about 4 quarts 8-16 oz jars

*equipment food mill


You will need:

– ½  cup extra-virgin olive oil

– 1 ½ cups finely chopped yellow onion

– 4 pounds tomatoes, chopped

– 3 clove garlic, lightly crushed

– 1 tablespoon  salt1 tablespoon dried oregano

To prepare:

Place the onion and olive oil in a large saucepan and set it over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often until the oil starts to sizzle. Cook for 5 minutes, to soften the onion. Add the tomato and the minced garlic to the onions, add the salt and oregano. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer, then lower the heat to low. Allow to simmer gently, stirring from time to time, for 40 to 50 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Run it through the food mill and store in the freezer or jar according to the directions below.

For jarring your sauce these are the directions:

Step 1: Glass jars can also be put through a hot cycle in your dishwasher.

Step 2: Sterilize metal seals in boiling water for 5 minutes and then leave in water.

Step 3: Once you fill the jars, top with lids, put the filled jars into the boiling water for 10 minutes, remove with rubber tipped tongs place on the counter to cool. The lids are sealed when the middle of the lid has an indentation. Note if all the jars do not have a proper intentdation, store in the refrigerator.

  • Note if you don’t want to jar your sauce it is good in the freezer for 6 months.
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Happy Birthday to my baby Italy is My Boyfriend!

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On May 26, 2020, my memoir, Italy is my Boyfriend, was born. It was a monumental moment for me. It complies all of my experiences in Italy, including finding our home here, all in one place.

It was a strange year to be releasing a book. No book signings. Everything was via Zoom or Instagram stories and lives. Different, but necessary. I had a wonderful interview to kick off the virtual book tour with The Florentine and at The Atlanta History Center via Zoom, with my great friend and Editor and Chief Betsy Riley. I also did a fun podcast with Bit by a Fox. But to be honest, I would rather have been on the road meeting people and signing books. Having said this, the response was amazing. I had so many people reach out that had read my book, and tell me that in some small way, my book gave them a little reprieve from what was happening in the world.

To celebrate it’s one-year birthday, I will be giving away lots of books and one very large prize. Of course, there will be some surprises, too, so make sure to follow me on Instagram  to keep up with all the birthday celebration events.

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The celebration will kick off the week before the birthday with all sorts of announcements, Instagram lives and much more. On May 18th, I will be chatting with my friend Thea Duncan of Doing Italy about buying a home in Italy and writing my book. I will be giving away books live during the interview, so you won’t want to miss it. May 21st, I will be on IG live answering questions and giving books away live again. We also will be doing TWO major book basket giveaways: one to an individual and one to a book club. You will not want to miss it. Come and join me as I celebrate one-year with Italy is my Boyfriend.

See you on the gram x

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My Seasonal Vegetable Grain Bowl

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Ciao everyone! As you know, I am in Italy. Every Tuesday, we have a lovely little outdoor market in our village. I try to go every week and load up on what’s seasonal in the veggie department. I try to eat at least one veggie grain bowl per week, sometimes two.

One thing I always have in the fridge are my pickled red onions from my book Picture Perfect Parties *(recipe included below). They add a nice tangy flavor to any salad or grain bowl. The grain I used here is Farro. It’s grown locally, and I use it in soups and all sorts of dishes. It will also be featured in my upcoming cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, releases Spring 2022. The cookbook is about the Lunigiana, the region we live in. It’s a really delicious grain.

These grain bowls, like the one pictured above, are a great way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your diet. Try this bowl and let me know how you like it in the comments below. No need to stick to the vegetables I used in my bowl. Be creative and try your own versions.

Seasonal Vegetable Grain Bowl
Makes 2 bowls

You will need:

– 1/2 avocado sliced
– 1/4 cup Pickled Onions
– 2 cups Kale, I use Cavalo Nero *I bake this and it adds a lovely crunch to the bowl.
– 2 cups sweet potato peeled
– 2 cups Cauliflower
– 1 cup Arugula
-1 teaspoon Maldon Salt
– 2 tablespoons Balsamico
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 hard boiled eggs
– 1 cup Farro
– 1 1/2 cups Water

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Cut the cauliflower and the peeled sweet potato into bite size pieces, sprinkle with oil and salt, place into the oven for 45 minutes, until fork tender. Cut the Kale into bite size pieces and add to the baking sheet of sweet potatoes and cauliflower 30 minutes into baking time. The Kale will become crisp. Remove and cool. While the vegetables are baking. In a small sauce pan place water and Farro. Let simmer stirring a few times to prevent sticking, cook until all the water is absorbed about 30 minutes, set aside to cool.

To Assemble:

In a large bowl, add Farro, then Arugula, kale, sweet potatoes, then cauliflower into quadrants of the bowl. Add avacado slices, then pickled onion, and 1 egg sliced in half, then drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with Maldon salt. To eat toss everything together in the bowl and enjoy!

Pickled Red Onions

You will need:

– 1 large red onion sliced thin
– 1 cup red wine vinegar
– 2 tablespoons salt
– 1 teaspoon celery seed or peppercorns
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– ½ cup water

To prepare:

In a sauce pan put all the ingredients, and bring to a boil allow about 1 minute to cook. Turn off heat and let steep until cool. Put into a mason jar and place in the refrigerator for 2 days before using. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

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The Ultimate Italian Shopping Experience: What to expect

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We held our first shopping retreat in 2019, and it was such a smashing success, I couldn’t wait to do it again. I announced the retreat last week, but I thought you might want a glimpse into what we do every day. Here’s a recap of my post from 2019, a few days after our first retreat. Give it a read and then head over to the workshop site to sign-up. Trust me, you’re going to want to be there!

You can register here! Take a look at a behind-the-scenes peek at what to expect:

 

From our 2019 trip…

Every day there were new destinations and some surprises. We could not have asked for a more fun group of ladies. Even though they did not know each other before, I think some solid bonds were formed. We danced, drank, made pasta, and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on the terrace.

Of course, there was a pizza party where a few of our attendees tried their hand at making pizza in the pizza oven. We loved sharing information about how and why we choose certain props, discussed searching for antiques and loved shopping at my super-secret locations.

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We only have 8 spots available for this trip, so this shopping experience is very limited. I have so much to show you, and I cannot express how wonderful it is to meet like-minded shoppers, who share the love of beautiful things.

Let’s shop ’til we drop in 2022! 

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

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La Fortezza Cookbook, Winter photoshoot in the Spring

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Rosie Scott, our foodstylist, adding her final touches to the Chickpea Soup recipe on set

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Monitor showing the recipe for Bavette with Spicy Anchovy

Hi there. As you all know, I am working on my latest cookbook, La Fortezza Cookbook. It will be a cookbook based on my time here in the Lunigiana region in Italy. Obviously, this has been a challenging time to work on anything that involves a location.

We last shot the fall chapter in October of 2020 which was honestly less challenging. Now with all the rules, regulations, and protocols, it has been extra stressful. Our team is from London, so the lock-down in England postponed the shoot until last week.

I’ve been so worried since it is a seasonal book, and it is already full-on spring here, and we were shooting the winter chapter. But the gods smiled on us, and it felt like winter here last week: dark, grey and miserable. In all my of years of styling, I have never prayed for bad weather, but lucky for me my prayers were answered, and we managed to replicate winter to the fullest.

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David and Rosie needed a Covid Test for their flight back to London. It was quite easy.

Three out of 5 of us are fully vaccinated (including me), so it was easy to distance and much less stressful. Although we did not travel around as much to shoot the countryside this time or photograph portraits, it was really a nice week, even with all the extra precautions. Everyone had to get a Covid test to fly back to London, but even that was pretty seamless.

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The best part of the shoot, which was not actually part of the shoot, was the delivery of David Loftus Rosé. I had been working on it all winter, and it finally arrived with a beautiful label designed by David himself. David loves a good rosé, so I asked him last fall during the harvest if he’d like to develop one with me. Of course, he was totally on board. It seemed fitting to name the wine for this Rosé enthusiast. What a thrill to have him taste it for the first time. We agree that it has definite notes of strawberry, and he even tasted vanilla. It’s bright, not sweet, and quite enjoyable. We will be enjoying many icy cold glasses, the way David likes it, at the pool this summer.

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One more chapter to go which is spring. Then, we will be finished with the photography. La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, releases spring 2022. As you can imagine, there is plenty to do before it goes to the printer. I will never forget putting this book together in the middle of a pandemic. Who could forget?! Stay tuned for more BTS at the end of June with our fabulous crew. xx

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