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Sunday, March 30, 2008

copyright, Maria Liberati, 2008

Enjoy Spring & Asparagus is one of my favorite Spring recipes for Asparagus. This is from my upcoming book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Holidays and Special Occasions

Crespelle agli Asparagi

(Asparagus Crepes)
For 4
For the crespelle:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup milk
4 eggs
Pinch of salt to taste
1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
1 lb of fresh asparagus steamed
1 egg and 2 egg whites
1/3 cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Pinch of salt to taste

Wash, clean and steam aspargus. Cut off tips. In bowl, place in ricotta, yogurt, grated cheese, 1 egg and 1 egg white, asparagus tips. Blend with wooden spoon and set aside.
In another bowl place all ingredients in for crespelle (Italian version of crepes). Belnd with wire whisk. Heat non-stick crepe pan and cook crespelle, like crepes. Use one tablespoon per crepe. When finished with batter, stuff crespelle with ricotta mixture. Lightly butter a casserole dish, Place filled crespelle in casserole dish when filled. Top with freshly grated cheese. Bake 10 minutes or until top of crespelle are golden.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eggplant Arrostite ...and oh those herbs!!

I do love my eggplant and am always coming up with more ways than the typical eggplant parmigiano to serve it. It is so healthy for you so why not come up with some different ways to enjoy this 'purple jewel of the earth'. This recipe also combines some of my favorite fresh herbs to make this so naturally tasty.

Hope you enjoy this recipe we have come up with from my new book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking -Holidays and Special Occasions, copyright 2008, Maria Liberati
(release date -2009)

Arrostite alle Erbe (Herbed Roasted Eggplant)

copyright, 2008 Maria Liberati
1 lb of fresh eggplant
1 fresh hot red pepper
1 small handful of each of these fresh herbs-thyme,basil,marjoram
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
Pinch of salt
Wash eggplant, cut off both ends. Then slice thinly
Prepare a marinade using 1 tblsp olive oil, half of the herbs chopped finely,half of the red pepper cut into small cubes.
Place eggplant in plate and marinate with oil mixture.
Slice garlic clove in half lengthwise, in a separate bowl place remaining olive oil with sliced garlic and remaining chopped herbs, remaining hot pepper chopped into small cubes. Blend, cover bowl with plastic wrap, set aside
Heat electric grill. Grill eggplant on both sides.
Arrange eggplant slices on plate. Remove garlic from olive oil mixture and pour on top of grilled eggplant slices. Salt to taste. Serve eggplant slices on grilled slices of crusty bread.

Ciao for now,


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring is here..ahh Primavera

copyright, Maria Liberati, 2008, Editor Lauren Scheller

Ahh... it is beginning to feel like 'Primavera' ..if not in the air at least in my mind.. Nothing makes you feel like Spring more than a special dish or treat in the kitchen....

Fast Forward to Spring With this Sea Inspired Salad

Spring is in the air, but, while we patiently wait for it to arrive, here’s a great recipe to beat the winter blues and combat cabin fever. If you scroll down the list of ingredients for Insalata Profumata di Mare, you can’t help thinking of a warm, beach breeze and summer sun. While this salad is actually a traditional Italian dish on Christmas Eve, the presence of the shrimp, mussels, and calamari make it perfect reminder of seaside flavor and fun anytime of the year. Combine these fresh ingredients to create a light, tasty insalata that is sure to make your spring arrive a little faster!
Insalata Profumata di Mare
(Flavors of the Sea Salad)
*1 lb of steamed, cleaned shrimp
*1/4 pound cleaned, steamed mussels-shelled
*1/3 lb of calamari-cleaned and cooked
*1 red onion
*2 red, ripe tomatoes
*4 parsley sprigs chopped finely
*1 tablespoon of olive oil
*1 fresh lemon
*salt and white pepper to taste
Clean and slice the onion into round slices. Separate slices into separate rings. Wash and clean the tomatoes, cut in slices. Clean and chop parsley finely. Wash and cut lemon in half. Squeeze lemon with juice squeezer, remove seeds. Place fish in bowl and dress with lemon juice olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes in refrigerator.

On a large plate, arrange tomato slices. Place marinated fish on top and then top off with onion rings.
~ For this delicious recipe, and many others, be sure to check out Maria Liberati’s The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and one of her newest cookbooks-Holidays and Special Occasions from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking... Coming to you soon! Go to to order your copy now..

Monday, March 17, 2008

A special gift...

I am sending a special continuing tribute to my special aunt that passed away last week..she was one of my inspirations for discovering and loving Italian cooking.. It is so hard not to think of special things that she made for us everyday..especially now that St Joseph's Day and Easter and Passover Holidays are here.

Although, there is not any Jewish member of our family...she was fascinated by the foods to celebrate Passover and we would sometimes be invited over to her house to have a Passover dinner cooked totally by her...even when she was 90 yrs old..

A fan of the food network and many of their chefs as well...she was always reading cookbooks and watching TV cooking shows to learn new ways of preparing things..or adding a twist to her age old recipes...But I think she could teach everyone a thing or two..

From Easter Ham to her St Joseph's Day Calzones to her apple pies to her carciofi (artichokes). I never really realized what masterpieces each little treat was that she made for us-her own masterpiece that she made with her own hands using her own special gift that was given to her by the powers above..
And oh how I regret how many times I didn't partake of one of her delights because I was watching my weight. I didn't realize that I missed out on a masterpiece that was only here for a short period of was her way of giving us her love, showing how much she cared, how much she loved us...

These masterpieces were not as famous as a Davinci but more precious....

As time passed and she got older, family members would receive more and more dinner invitations ... some we could accept and other times because of work or time commitments we could not....but what special gatherings we passed up and how we realize now that they were special invitations to her heart and her soul..the thing that made her and her love of it!!

"Eat more, you did not eat enough" those words she would always utter to me and I could not understand why she was not happy if I did not want to eat a lot or not at all..
bit it was her way of telling us she wanted to give us more and more of her love.... of her heart...of her soul

A special life that created special times and special memories.

The oldest female relative on my mom's side- she was what held the whole family together since my grandmother passed away..she always made sure that the whole family was together for Holidays to partake in a family meal.....something that was important to her ....

As time passes, I hope that it does not hurt as much to be without her and the calm feeling that she was always there. That thought that she would always be there was a comforting one that we took for granted..
The hurt may lessen but will always be there and I wish that I could hear those words of hers again.."Maria why don't you eat more, take another piece..."

I can comfort myself by knowing that I was fortunate to have been touched by this special person in my life and one who made my love for food grow even more for I will always think of her with every cookbook I write and every special recipe I make and that is the gift she left for me.....

Ciao zia... tanti tanti baci......ti manchi tanto......xxo


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Special Life, Special Times, Special Recipe...

It wasn’t a life that would impress kings or queens or heads of state but it was a beautiful simple one- filled with children and a husband and grandchildren and food and cooking and lots of it!! I would like to dedicate this blog to a special aunt who passed away yesterday.
She was an inspiration to all of us. At 90 yrs old she was still cooking the Christmas Eve dinner on her own- all 7 fishes. The day before she died she had all her supplies ready to make the ‘calzones’ for a special day that is approaching on March 19th-St Joseph’s Day.

These are a special sweet calzone made with the paste of chickpeas, honey and cinnamon. Each year,my aunt made them with tender loving care-peeling the chickpeas first then mashing them in the food processor. Then mixing, mixing and then comes the dough and the frying and all the time to make these delights.

They were sort of like her recipe for life-simple but yet special and long in the making.

And if she left one special memory on this earth-other than her children and grandchildren- it will be those calzones. Something the family is sure to remember and sorely miss year after year.

Unfortunately, we won’t have any calzones for St. Joseph’s Day this year in my family but in memory of her wonderful life I would like to post the recipe. Hopefully right now St Joseph is thanking her for all the wonderful calzones she made in his honor..

Calzone di San Giuseppe
1 lb flour
3 eggs
water if dough needs more moisture
1/2 cup honey
1 lb of chick peas (pureed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon oil
Oil for frying

Make dough like pasta dough & roll out with rolling pin or in a pasta machine. Place chick pease in processor and puree. Then add in cinnamon oil, sugar, honey. Proceed as usual for preparing calzoni. Cut dough into circles using a the rim of a water glass. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center, fold circle in half. And crimp edges with fork. Fry in hot oil till brown. Remove and dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Year of the Cookie...

Could this be the year of cookies? With so many cookbooks about cookies being released –everyone from Martha Stewart to…. well everybody has been has been talking cookies.
And there is now doubt why. These goodies go back as long as baking has been documented. One reason is because they travel well. Their origins have been traced to 7th century AD Persia, when the use of sugar became common. By the 14th century they were common in all levels of society throughout Europe from royalty to common street vendors.

Most of us have treasured memories of baking cookies in the kitchen with a relative or a special occasion filled with a particular cookie. But today we have gone ‘cookie crazy’. There are so many varieties that cookies have now become upscale. Why the trend now is to give not only gourmet wines and dressings as gifts but also gourmet cookies now make wonderful gifts.
These delights have become special enough to give as a gift. They have also gone organic. Mnay companies ar now offering pre baked cookies with organic flours, sugar adn butter.
Of course, it is nice to bake a batch of someone’s favorite flavor for a gift or to show our appreciation..but who has the time??? and now you can get mail order cookies shipped to someone special.
What a great idea..cookies as gifts. A thank you gift.. a romantic gift, a corporate gift, a birthday gift…a just to say’ your kindness is appreciated’ gift.
A gourmet cookie is a gift for the taste buds but also for your mind-sort of therapy to make you happy!!
In Italy we call cookies- biscotti and here is a recipe for some..
Biscotti alle Nocciole
2egg whites
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ cup ground hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place sugar and egg whites in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add in
‘flour, and egg yolk. Blend all in well with wooden spoon.
Butter a cookie sheet. Drop dough by the spoonful onto cookie sheet with space between each cookie mound .Sprinkle each cookie with ground hazelnuts. Bake for 5 minutes, then raise oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven. Makes 6 servings.

For more recipes go to or get your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at
Ciao for now!!Maria

Friday, March 7, 2008

Slow Food and eating healthy..

Slow food is really a healthy food concept that originated in Italy and now boasts chapters all over the world. It is what the original Mediterranean diet was based on. It is a concept of cooking food and eating food- slow. So as to promote the use of fresh foods and not processed foods when cooking and also to promote sitting down and taking time to eat your food in a slow manner.
I base most of my recipes on this since they follow the Mediterranean diet.
However, as far as low-cal slow food, here are some points to ponder:
*Slow food is recipes that are made in the original way using the original ingredients. So for instance you would not substitute fat free margarine for olive oil to make the recipe lower in calories. Fat free margarine has a lot of preservatives in it and the concept of slow food also promotes eating food in it’s' most original state. But you can use less olive oil in your recipe if it will still work. When I cook 'tomato sugo' (tomato sauce). I tend to use only a light touch of olive oil-1 tblsp. Most people tend to use 3 and 4 or more. This is not necessary as long as the other ingredients you use are first quality-fresh red ripe sweet tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh onions, and garlic. All the flavors complement one another and should be balanced and not be overdone.
*Slow food also promotes using artisan foods- foods that are literally handmade and not machine made or usually made in smaller production-not mass produced in a factory. So you couldn't use fat free mozzarella in a recipe and still consider it really slow food. You would have to use freshly made mozzarella and cut back the portion size or the amount you are using. You would not use fat free lower cal bread that is probably produced in a factory with loads of preservatives but a freshly made loaf of bread cut in thinner slices.
*Of course fresh fruits and vegetables are part of the slow food regimen and are all lower in calories than processed foods and healthy for you.

It is all about keeping true to the origin of the foods and even true to the traditional recipes that originated in the town the recipe originated from. So if you want to stay true to slow food and have lower cal foods- cut back on the ingredients like olive oil, cheeses and pump up the fruits and /or veggies. However you will be altering the recipes so it will not remain true to its origins. But it will give you a lower cal way to experience a version of it.

*Most cheeses in Italy are not extremely fat laden except for mascarpone which is absolutely delicious but loaded with calories and fat. Parmigiano-Reggiano is actually a naturally low fat cheese and is easier to digest because of the artisan way the milk is produced and the grasses that cows eat that produce the milk for this cheese.

*Also eating foods slower does force you to become fuller and you will generally not eat as much as you would if you ate fast. It also is healthier for digestion, so it does have an indirect effect on losing weight as well. Many diet programs teach you to eat slower.

However, also keep in mind that there have been studies done that show that eating less processed foods makes your metabolism work faster and people that do eat less processed foods burn calories quicker.
The slow food diet is a healthier diet not necessarily a low cal diet but natural foods are lower in calories in general than their processed counterparts.

If you would like more info or recipes, let me know. I have added one that is a lower cal version of Tiramisu. It is based on the classic version but lower in calories. Mascarpone cheese is so heavy in calories and fat that I thought it would be best to enjoy this dessert in a healthier way so I substituted fat free cream cheese and yogurt for the mascarpone cheese.

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

*16 ounce package of savoiardi or ladyfingers
*1 cup espresso coffee with 1 tablespoon sugar
* ¼ cup powdered unsweetened cocoa
*1 tsp amaretto or anisette liqueur
*8 ounces of fat free coffee flavored yogurt
*8 ounces fat free cream cheese
*small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

Place espresso coffee with 1 tblsp of sugar or 2 packets of artificial sweetener in shallow bowl. Dip each ladyfinger in the coffee mixture for about 2 seconds. Then arrange biscotti-side by side to on a plate.
Place yogurt and cream cheese in bowl and whip together till well belndedwith hand mixer. Blend in liqueur.. Spread about 3/4 of yogurt mixture on top of ladyfingers. Repeat again and top with ladyfingers and then top with remaining yogurt mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Right before serving, dust with powdered cocoa and shave some dark chocolate on top.

And of course for more recipes go to and purhcase your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati. You will receive $5 off the retail price and free shipping and handling..

Ciao for now..