Easy Make Ahead Meal

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m pretty tired of cooking, and I am ready for a bit of a break. I’ve been thinking about what I can make ahead to last me a few days and give me some much-needed downtime, and it dawned on me that there is nothing better than make-ahead lasagna. And lucky for me, I have Annette’s archives right at my fingertips.

She has shared the below recipe for meatless lasagna before. Let us know if you give it a try.

Meatless Lasagna
Serves 12-14

You will need:
– 1 package lasagna noodles (you will need 12 noodles)
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– 2 cups mushrooms cut into thin slices
– 6 cups Spinach
– 1 16.oz ricotta ( low fat is fine)
– 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for the topping)
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (reserve ½ cup for the topping)
– 1 16 oz jar prepared marinara sauce (or your own sauce recipe)

To prepare noodles:

Preheat Oven 400 degrees F

Prepare noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: once the noodles are cooked, I like to rinse them in cool water and then leave them in the water until I am ready to layer the pan, this makes them not stick together.

To prepare filling:

Combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, and the 1 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano and egg in a bowl and combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a saute pan, add oil, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until browned, then toss in the spinach and saute the spinach and mushrooms until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated. You want the mixture as dry as possible.

To layer:

Separate the noodles in the water some of them may have stuck together, then drain in a colander. I like to line up my fillings and the noodles.

In a lasagna pan (9”x13)” lay in the layer of noodles, 3 to 4 is perfect. Then add the sauce about (1/2 cup), the spinach mushroom filling, and then dollops of the ricotta filling (about 3 tablespoon dollops), finishing off the layer with a sprinkle of shredded Mozzarella ( about 1/2 cup). Repeat this process 3 times, each time starting with the noodle layer. The top layer should be the noodles, sauce and the 1 cup of Mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan make sure to cover the entire top layer.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let it set up for 15-20 minutes before serving.

xx Annette

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Annette’s Latkes

Hi everyone! It’s Annette’s web manager and friend, Nicole. Yesterday, I met two fellow writer friends (hi Lia and Caroline!) for brunch. When we started tossing around ideas of where to meet, I immediately suggested The General Muir, an Atlanta New York-style Jewish delicatessen. Mostly because I had one request: latkes.

While it *is* Hanukkah, I love any excuse for latkes. The General Muir has excellent ones (ask for their Hanukkah menu if you visit this week! They also have jelly doughnuts…), and Trader Joe’s even has a frozen variety that I have on good authority are also worth their weight. However, there’s never going to be anything like homemade latkes. Today, I’m sharing Annette’s recipe. Take her advice and serve them alongside homemade applesauce, sour cream, or nonfat plain greek yogurt. You can also add caviar for a luxurious bite!

Yellow and Gold Latkes

serves 4 to 6

You will need:
– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal or All purpose flour
– 1 small yellow onion diced– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 cup canola oil, add more as needed for frying

To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel-lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop-in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce, sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

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AJS Gift Guide 2021

Every year, I look forward to putting together my annual holiday gift guide for you. I spend the months leading up to the holidays making notes of my favorite products across the web, from small businesses to big-box retailers. I think this year’s guide is one of my best yet!

Since Hanukkah begins on November 28 this year, I wanted to go ahead and get this year’s guide published. Plus, it’s always easiest to do shopping early, especially this year. Keep in mind shipping might take longer than usual, so give yourself plenty of time to get things in and wrapped.

From left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Midnight Vine Percy Jacket from Pink City Prints, where everything is handblocked and handmade.
  2. Ghia, a non-alcoholic aperitif!
  3. Miklos Reading Glasses by Caddis, you know I love fun frames for glasses, and Caddis has loads of chic options.
  4. Ooni Pizza Oven, if you’ve ever dreamed of your own pizza oven, this one is for you. It’s a great price-point too!
  5. Wood Oiling Wax, a great stocking stuffer! Wax will keep your wooden utensils and charcuterie boards in excellent shape.
  6. Hello Dahlias Puzzle, we are big puzzle people, and this one is beautiful.
  7. Curio Spice Chef’s Pack, everything you need for a tasty spice cabinent.
  8. Boy Smells Iris Fantome Candle, you can never go wrong with a great-smelling candle.
  9. Sezane Beanie, practical yet cool (or should I say, warm?!).

xx Anette

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What is biodynamic wine?

I had the pleasure of visiting the Podere Concori winery in the Garfagnana region of Italy. This region is the mountainous region just south of where we live, as you drive towards Lucca. Our driver Andrea, who owns Tuscan Drivers, did a fabulous job driving us up and through the mountains; he even stopped to show us where he grew up near, Viagli Sotto high up in the mountains. It was gorgeous. Let’s face it we live in one of the most beautiful regions in Italy! We even stopped off at a national park, which once was a stop-over point for shepherds as they crossed the mountain range. It definitely had an alpine vibe and some pretty weird marble statues.

This David Bowie Stature was erected after he was in an Italian movie that used this place as a location.

Okay back to biodynamic wine. Essentially biodynamic wine is grown hyper naturally, using not only natural pesticides but also using the phases of the moon.

The official definition of biodynamic farming according to the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association is “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition.” Biodynamic wine is made with a set of farming practices that views the farm or vineyard as one solid organism. The ecosystem functions as a whole with each portion of the farm or vineyard contributing to the next. The idea is to create a self-sustaining system. Natural materials, soils, and composts are used to sustain the vineyard. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are forbidden for the sake of soil fertility. A range of animals from ducks to horses to sheep live on the soil and fertilize it, creating a rich, fertile environment for the vines to grow in. Biodynamic farming also seeks sustainability or leaving the land in as good or better shape as they found it for future generations.

This vineyard also uses ancient methods to rid the grapes of pests and fertilize using sheep and horses and a crazy donkey as well. The wine we tasted was delicious. Although some of the wines, like the white had a funky flavor, which took some getting used to. The owner is committed to growing grapes in this way, but it’s an amazing amount of work. I did take pause and think that maybe we should convert our vineyard in the coming years to a bio-dynamic vineyard? Right now we are organic, so taking the next step might not be a big leap. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I highly encourage you to taste some biodynamic wine, let me know what you think. Thank you to our amazing driver Andrea and Tuscan Drivers, our preferred La Fortezza Workshop/Retreat drivers.

xx Annette

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ORANGE OLIVE OIL CAKE with Licorice Ice Cream

This recipe for orange olive oil cake with black licorice ice cream is a fun way to spoof on spooky season. It’s from my archives, and I know you’ll enjoy the unique flavors. Pop it onto a pretty cake plate for presentation and don’t skip the licorice ice cream!

Enjoy!

Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

You will need:
– 1 cup fresh orange juice + zest of 1 orange about 1/4 cup
– 1 teaspoon fine salt
– 3 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 1/4 cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar
– ¼  cup orange liqueur, rum, brandy or whisky
– 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pans
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest
– 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 6 tablespoons lemon or orange marmalade
– 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish

To Prepare: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 10” Bundt pan

In a nonreactive saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to 1/4 cup. Add salt orange zest and rosemary, stir, and let cool.

Lightly beat eggs with a paddle attachment in standing mixer on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add sugar beat until fluffy add milk, liqueur, olive oil, reduced orange juice mixture, lemon zest. Mix for 1 minute until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until well blended and smooth.

* Note that the batter will appear very soupy this is the way it’s supposed to look.

Pour the mixture into the oiled cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes -1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate. While the cake is still warm, smooth 3 tablespoons of marmalade onto the top of the cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary evenly over cake. Garnish center with rosemary sprig.

Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello

Licorice Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1/2 ounces black licorice sticks, chopped, 1/2 cup of water.
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 2 egg yolks
– 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine or granulated sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Prepare: 

Put the licorice in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and place over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the licorice has melted. I use ready-made Licorice syrup. I find it’s more concentrated and salty.

Meanwhile, pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.

Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until pale and slightly fluffy. Gradually and slowly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan, place over low heat, and heat until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.

Strain back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature.

Once cooled, cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight, but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 40°F). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When the churning is complete, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a loaf pan, drizzle with the licorice syrup and swirl, careful not to combine it to much leaving nice ribbons of the licorice to appear all over the ice cream. Cover with clear plastic wrap. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours).

xx, Annette

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