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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ciao..Chef Tell & Kugelhopf !

Today, I want to post a tribute to a truly talented chef- one of the first 'chef entertainers' as the newswire has called him.

His passing took us all by surprise. But I was fortunate enough to have interviewed him for a magazine column a few years ago. When contacted for an interview I was quickly invited for dessert and coffee and what a wonderful chocolate pastry it was-reminiscent of desserts I have had at Austrian coffee bars

We had a wonderful conversation of his life in Europe and his favorite places in Italy, his past restaurants, recipes for some of my favorite German desserts and life in general.

he took me through the restaurant kitchen and what a European inspired kitchen it was- reminded me of the kitchens in some of the top hotel restaurants in Europe. He couldn't believe that I knew what Kugelhopf is ( a dessert bread that Marie Antoinette took with her from Austria to France). It is popular in Europe especially during the Holidays-he shared his favorite Kugelhopf recipe with me. And I couldn't believe that he was so familiar with certain parts of Italy-like Lake Garda-where he told me he vacationed a lot with his family!

He was certainly bigger than life-his personality, his pursuits-he owned many well known restaurants and undertook them all with the same passion. he truly had a zest for life and food.

My interview with him began with conversation and note taking for the article but then went on and on. he had such an interesting sense of humor and such a colorful take on life. It was one of the longest interviews I spent interviewing a chef, but seemed like the shortest since it was so interesting. But I remember very vividly how when the interview ended I had told him that I was writing my first book- a recipe novel about Italian Food. This was a subject he told me he was very fond of. I asked if I could send him a copy before it was published for his opinion and suggestions. And he encouraged me nad wished me luck and told me to send a opy to the restaurant. Ciao- he said--it is usually the word of choice for many Europeans to say Goodbye!

And he kept to his word. After sending him my book , I got a phone call early one morning-about 8 PM- in that distinct German accent- "Is Maria there, this is Chef Tell?" how could it have been anyone else- with that distinctive accent.

And he spent a few minutes discussing things he liked about my book but also asked if he could write something for me to include with the book-how could I say no.

After emailing back and forth -he sent me what he wanted to appear in the book-

"a memory about Italian food that makes a perfect gift, But the recipes are so delicious , you'll want to try it first yourself!!"


small cube of fresh yeast ( if you can't find fresh used 1 package of dry)
cup granulated sugar
cup warm water
cups all-purpose flour
cup softened unsalted butter
tablespoon salt
cup light raisins

cup sliced almonds
Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in the warm water and let it proof.
Sift the flour, putting 2 cups in each of two bowls.
Set one bowl aside.
Work together 2 cups of flour and the soft butter (this may be done in the electric mixer).
Mix in the salt and the eggs, one at a time, beating until very thoroughly incorporated.
In alternate batches, add the remaining 2 cups flour and the yeast mixture.
Mix in the electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended and elastic, then stir in the raisins.
Put in a large, lightly floured bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch the dough down.
Heavily butter a standard 10-inch Kugelhopf mold or a 10-inch tube pan and sprinkle half the sliced almonds around the bottom of the mold (the butter will make them adhere).
Pour or spoon half the dough into the mold, sprinkle in the rest of the almonds, and add the remaining dough.
Let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Bake in a preheated oven at 475 degrees F.
for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until nicely browned, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 3 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Italian Style Brownies and Therapy!!

(copyright, Maria Liberati, 2005,2006,2007, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking)

Have you ever thought of food as a relationship builder? Cooking together can help bond relationships with family, friends, and significant other. If you don’t have a lot of time to cook together with family or friends –try to reserve a Sunday during the month as a day to spend some time to prepare a dish or a whole meal from scratch or make it together with someone special in your life.
Here is one of my favorite recipes to make with special friends or family. It is an Italian version of the American brownies:

Tortini di Cioccolato
(Italian Style Brownies)
serves 4

¼ cup European butter
¼ cup dark chocolate pieces
1 whole egg
1/2 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 fresh orange
2 tblsps butter to butter pan
2 tblsps plain breadcrumbs

*Soften butter in bowl until it cuts into small pieces
*Break egg, separating the white and egg yolk in 2 different bowls
*Break chocolate into pieces and place in glass bowl
*Place glass bowl in microwave for 30 seconds, or until melted (all microwave times vary, so leave on for 15-30 seconds first.
*place softened butter and sugar in another bowl. Mix until comes to a smooth mixture. Add in egg yolk and continue to mix. Add in melted chocolate, a little at a time until totally mixed in.
Add in flour a small spoonful at a time, continually mixing until totally blended in.
*Grate ½ of orange and add in peel and chopped nuts. Mix well.
*beat egg white until peaks have formed and gently fold into chocolate mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Butter round cake pan or cover with baking paper. Dust bottom with plain breadcrumbs. Pour in batter. Cook in oven for 30 minutes. To be sure it is done, place toothpick in center, it must come out dry. If necessary cook for 5 minutes more.
When done remove from oven. Dust serving plates with powdered cocoa. Cut cake into squares; serve with thin slice of orange
for more recipes , free newsletter go to
Order a copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking online and get $5 off retail price. Proceeds go to Gilda's Club,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta, part 3

I want to thank everyone for coming out to my Healthy Cooking demo at the 10K Run at the Ellis Athletic Center compound yesterday (Saturday, Oct 20th). The event benefited the Women's Resource Center. It was so nice to see everyone and the weather could not have been better. It's always fun for me to get to appear with other chefs and this one was no exception- Dan Funk- a chef well known for his New Orleans style cooking added a great touch and it is always nice working with such a talented chef as well.

But , all the while on my mind was making a fresh tomato sugo from the ripe red tomatoes I got from a farm on Friday. And I was finally able to do that for Sunday afternoon dinner. It was well worth the wait. In honor of my tomato sugo, I wanted to continue with my 'pasta saga' and give you some history on combining pasta and tomatoes. Also check below for my tomato sugo recipe. it's from my book The Basic art of Italian Cooking. (You can get it online at: All this month you can order this bestselling book and get $5 off purchase price and an autographed copy, And don't forget portions of proceeds go towards Gilda's Club)

While it may seem hard to believe, pasta existed and was consumed all this time without the accompaniment of its contemporary companion, the tomato! In fact, this pairing did not occur until the 19th century. Even though tomatoes were introduced to Europe in the 16th century by Spanish explorers, they were actually considered poisonous. They were originally referred to as “golden apples” (pomo d'oro), which suggests that they may have been of a more pale variety than the tomatoes we consume today. Because people were suspicious about eating them, tomatoes were largely used for decorative purposes. Luckily, the confusion concerning their safety was eventually overcome, and pasta and tomatoes have complemented each other ever since. The first documented recipe for tomatoes and pasta emerged in 1839 by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the Duke of Buonvicino, for ‘vermicelli co le pommodoro.’
It did not take long for the trend to catch on, and the next 30 years served up an abundance of variety, including soups, purées, and sauces for meats, veal, chicken and, of course, pasta.

Tomato Sugo

(copyright 2005,2006 from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati)

1 lb. of fresh, ripe, plum tomatoes or tomatoes ripened on the vine

2 tbsps of Extra Virgin, cold pressed olive oil or Virgin olive oil.

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 slice of onion

3 basil leaves

Pinch of fine salt to taste

Filet the tomatoes cutting them into thin wedges and eliminating the seeds.
Place 2 tbsps of olive oil in large saucepan. Add garlic cloves, slice of onion, lightly saute- careful not to burn the onion or garlic. Garlic and onion should start to be a light golden color in 1-2 minutes. Then add tomato wedges. Let tomatoes and their liquid simmer down until not’ liquidy‘- approximately 15-30 minutes. Once cooked to a good consistency add basil. Take off burner. Sauce is ready to have pasta added to it.

Ciao for now !


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta, part 2

(copyright, 2005.2006.2007. Maria Liberati)

Still winding down from my appearances at the National Italian American Foundation Gala ( and the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival with Morimoto, Guy Fieri and Robert Irvine and yes.. we will be posting some photos as promised.

But as promised here is the second installment on the history of pasta som of my pasta secrets.... shh! don't tell anyone)

When pasta was in its infant stage, the manufacture of the dried variety was a daunting task. In fact, the word ‘macaroni’ is derived from the Sicilian word for making dough in a forceful manner. The process, which could take an entire day, involved a pasta maker kneading the dough with his feet. Clearly not the most hygienic or desirable way to go about preparing food, the King of Naples, Ferdinand II, was the first to publicly disapprove of this method of production. In an effort to fix the problem, he hired a famous engineer, Cesare Spadaccini, whose task was to come up with a machine to replace the footwork. Spadaccini successfully devised a bronze machine that did just that, after boiling water was added to newly-ground flour. Once invented, this machine allowed Naples to become Italy’s pasta center.
Innovations continued, however, and in 1740 the first pasta factory was opened in Venice by Paolo Adami. The modest apparatus consisted of an iron press that was operated by hand. In 1763, a 10 year monopoly of the pasta business was granted in the city of Parma by the Duke, Don Ferdinando of Bourbon. The Duke granted this monopoly to Stefano Lucciardi of Sarzana, which allowed him sole production rights of “Genoa-style” (dried) pasta.

Before these innovations, pasta had already begun its introduction to the rest of the world by making its rounds on traveling ships in the 14th and 15th centuries. It could be easily stored without spoiling, and thus was an ideal choice for these long voyages. Pasta’s other attributes include versatility and abundance, which earned it a place in the daily diet of Italians by the 17th century.

Here are my secret tips for cooking pasta that is "molto delizioso"! If you need pasta recipes to try out these tips go to my website or my bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. You will find many there!!
The Basic art of Italian Cooking Past Secrets:

*Pasta is best served in a round or oval serving dish. Put only a small amount of sauce on it, then place some extra sauce in a serving dish.

*If you must boil water for pasta quickly- subdivide the water into two pots and when they are both boiling, place together in one. Boil first the water without salt- then salted water next.

*If during the cooking of the pasta you find out that the pasta is too salty tasting. You can fix this in one of two ways-
if pasta is not totally cooked- boil another pot of plain unsalted water. Drain pasta and place in unsalted water for remaining time.
*If pasta is cooked to al dente- drain the pasta but place under hot running water in colander.

*If you taste pasta during cooking and find out that you have not salted enough- then right before draining pasta add a handful of fine salt and take to a full rolling boil for a few seconds before draining.
Next week, let's find out about a most important milestone in the history of pasta, the introduction of pasta with tomatoes..Ahh my favorite combination!!
Ciao for now!!
Don't forget that if you purchase The Basic Art of Italian Cooking on the website you save $5 off retia lprice and portions of the proceeds go to Gilda's Club.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Whew!! I have had a whirlwind of appearances and events the past 4 days!! It is always so exciting for me to meet and work with so many talented people. At the Atlantic City food Festival- Guy Fieri, Robert Irvine and Morimoto himself-from the Food Network- were so inspiring to work with and plain fun as well!

I will be posting photos and memories from both events shortly.

It is also so nice to get chance to see all my fans and followers of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking in the Philadlephia, South Jersey area. I know a lot of you came to taste my new line of spices (Sapori D'Italia by The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati ) and buy another supply of Tuscan Picnic -used to make all kinds of Tuscan recipes quickly and easily. They are tasty but health dishes that anyone can make but tastes like they were made by a professional chef. By the last day of the event we were sold out. For those of you that wanted to buy them you can buy at the website:

I will be back with more info and recipes . For those of you that missed my appearance on stage on Saturday at the event- here is a recipe for Insalata Sapori D'Italia

(healthy ,quick and tasty too).

Insalata Sapori D'Italia

*2 tsps Sapori D'Italia -Tuscan Picnic blend

*2 tsps of crumbled feta cheese

*1/2 cup extra virgin cold pressed olive oil

*4 tsps balsamic vinegar

*1 1/2 tsps water

Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well together with wire whisk. Pour over salad mix of romaine lettuce and freshly sliced tomatoes. Leftover dressing can be stored in a bottle in refrigerator for a week.
Don't forget you can buy Sapori D'Italia-Tuscan Picnic at
Ciao for now!
Maria Liberati
Home of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati, copyright 2005,2006- Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What is EDTA?

Last month, while reading the ingredients on the bottle of French mayonnaise, I encountered the term Ethylene Diamine Tetra acetic Acid (EDTA). I grew curious to know what it is and does in our body. I found about EDTA in Dr. Rodger Murphree’s book Heart Disease: What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You (Harrison and Hampton Inc., Alabama, 2005).

EDTA is a man-made amino acid that is important o cleansing the body from harmful toxic metals which can:

Create free radicals in the body
Oxidize Lipoproteins
Damage the arteries

EDTA binds to these harmful unwanted, toxic heavy metals and helps remove them from the body. EDTA has been in use for chelation therapy for many years. It is administered intravenously and was originally used to treat lead poisoning. Soon the doctors discovered that chelation with EDTA was causing a significant reduction in the Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Disease), or CAD.

Chelation therapy is still in use and is considered safe by most health professionals. While EDTA is now also given orally (in supplements etc.), oral chelation has been found less effective in detoxifying the body. Oral chelation is beneficial for people who want to prevent heart diseases. That is why expert nutritionists suggest a regular intake of EDTA in supplements and foods to which it has been added.

Learn more about heart diseases and treatment at

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Atlantic City Wine and Food Festival

Contact: Giovanna Carispat, publicity
art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc
1-800-581-9020 x100

Slow life, slow pace, slow food…

(10/04/07)) According to Cooking Light Magazine (Octber 2007) one of the biggest top trends in foods and eating is ‘slow food’. This refers to doing everything in a slower and healthier way- slow shopping for your foods in the locally grown produce and farmers markets. Slow cooking of fresh natural foods, slow eating-sitting down to enjoy a freshly prepared meal with family and friends.

What could define slow food more than the thought of sitting down to an authentic Italian meal at a rustic villa in the mountains of Italy? Celebrity Chef- Maria Liberati defines this slow style of food in her book and now a trademarked method of cooking The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm.

Risotto parmigiana, Macedonia de frutta, linguine alla vongole, fresh gnocchi with tomato sugo- all coupled with the charming and sometimes romantic stories that help to create an authentic Italian atmosphere. All the ingredients used to create The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, published by art of living ,PrimaMedia,Inc. More info can be found at

This charming recipe novel has been a bestseller and has delighted audiences with not only Ms. Liberati’s recipes but tales of her life in her villa in the mountains of Italy.

Ms. Liberati will be bringing her style and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking to the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival in Atlantic City, NJ on Oct 13-14th. This year she is featured as the only celebrity females chef and is included in a roster of many other celebrity chefs including the food network’s Iron Chef himself. Maria will be on stage on Saturday Oct 13 from 1-2 PM and signing copies of her book throughout the weekend.

The Atlantic City Wine and Food Festival is at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ on Oct 12, 13, 14. from 11 am -5 pm. Tickets are available at the door, $17 for general admission. For more info go to or or call 1-800-581-9020 x100

Portions of proceeds of book sales go to Gilda’s Club www.gildasclubnyc.or

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta...

(Copyright, Maria Liberati, 2006-2007)
Pasta is one of our national treasures (in Italy)- we have even a museum dedicated to pasta in Rome. But there are so many ideas and misconceptions about its' orgins. So with my 3 part series on this wonderful delight, although I am featuring some pasta recipes from my book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking,part I ( the upcoming book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking-Spaghetti at Midnight- I want to first set the record straight on many 'pasta myths'.
When it comes to Italian culture, one cannot offer an accurate description without giving due attention to the plentiful dishes that are tied to the nation’s identity and shared with the rest of the world. However, the Italian menu that is practically synonymous with the nation itself has not always been. While it is difficult to imagine an Italy without its traditional food, such a place did at one time exist. By taking a look at some of the history of what we now consider “Italian food,” we are offered an often overlooked aspect of the beloved cuisine and an opportunity to appreciate it all the more.
An obvious starting point is the origin of pasta, the ultimate staple of Italian cooking. While other traditional Italian favorites such as tomato sauce and pizza have a fairly recent history, pasta has a much older heritage that can be traced back hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years.
A common myth surrounding the introduction of pasta to Italy is that the Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, returned from journeys in China with the dish, thereby introducing it to the nation. However, this belief has been debunked, as records clearly show that pasta was already in existence in Italy at this time. While several theories still exist, the more commonly accepted one today is tied to the Arab invasions of Italy in the 8th century. Pasta was first prepared in Italy in dried form in Sicily. Some Sicilian lasagna dishes today still contain such ingredients as raisins and cinnamon, also Arab contributions, which lends credence to the fact that pasta was indeed introduced by this group. The combination of Italy’s climate, which proved favorable for the harvesting of durum wheat, and the gradual introduction of newtechnology, which made pasta easier to make, allowed the dish to thrive.
Next week we will learn how the making of pasta was transformed from a labor intensive task to a much simpler undertaking through the innovations of several individuals who contributed their ideas and inventions.

Enjoy this first pasta dish! This is a popular Roman dish. Bucatini and perciatelli pasta are thicker versions of spaghetti. If you have any questions, please email and for more recipes, tips, ideas, please visit us at:

(copyright 2007, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, Spaghetti at Midnight by Maria Liberati)
1 lb of perciatelli or bucatini pasta
1 lb of brocoletti (broccoli rabe or you cn use regular broccoli)
2 garlic cloves
1 tblsp pignoli nuts
½ lb plum tomatoes
1 handful parsley
Grated pecorino cheese
5 tblsps of extra virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper to taste

Wash broccoletti and boil in lightly salted water. Take out of water when done, saving the cooking water. In a sauté pan place in the olive oil with finely chopped garlic and onion, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Then add in tomatoes cut into small pieces, pinoli and broccoletti, add pinch of pepper and salt and let cook for 15 minutes.
Boil the water that you used to cook broccoletti and let cook till al dente and drain, Place in pan with sauce and toss to lightly coat. Sprinkle in handful of grated pecorino cheese, toss lightly and serve.