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Monday, November 30, 2009

Herb Cheese Muffins

One of my favorite recipes for winter menus are these herbed cheese muffins..great to accompany dishes or serve as an appetizer or alongside cheese or a salad for a light meal.
This weekend was spent shopping at some of the local farmers stylish shopping bags were great..I could be stylish and help the environment at the same time. Get $25 off any purchase use coupon code :maria2509 when shopping/ minimum purchase required
Herb Cheese Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ scallion

4 ounces of fontina cheese (can substitute provolone or asiago cheese also)

tsp of fresh thyme

tsp of freshly chopped parsley

2 tblsps of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

4 ounces unsalted butter

1 tsp of baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

3 eggs

dash of white pepper

dash of slat

Chop parsley and thyme together. Chop finely. Chop scallion finely and add to the herbs.

In a bowl place in flour, baking powder, soda, grated parmigiano cheese, white pepper ,salt. Mix with wooden spoon. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs with a wire whisk. Add to that melted butter, milk. Add in chopped herbs and blend with wooden spoon. Add in the fontina cheese cut into small cubes. Blend with wooden spoon.

Pour flour mixture into egg mixture and blend lightly with wooden spoon. Butter muffin cups and place 2-3 tblsps of muffin mix in muffin cups. Cook for 25 minutes at a preheated oven of 400 degrees.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy National Leftover Day & Recipes

If you are wondering how to use those Thanksgiving leftovers, here are some ideas:
Make soup with those leftovers and use a homemade Bouquet garni for flavor
Use those leftovers to make great Italian dishes


Recieve the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking FREE today -Nov 27th only if you place an order for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking :Holidays &Special Occasions at

This offer expires at 12 midnight Nov 27,2009. When you order
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking:Holidays and Special Occasions  on Nov 27th from 12 AM to12 PM you will automatically recieve a free copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. with your order. This offer is not posted at the store it is only for Blog readers and subscribers.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Fall Picnic Salad and a Lazy Autumn Day...

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
What is it about the beginning of Fall that makes me feel lazy?? but not the same lazy I feel in the 'dog days' of August..that is an extremely 'wear your flip flops' and enjoy the summer sun relax. No it is more of a realxed because it seems as if everything is beginning to take its' course for the Fall. The weather is a Fall weather, offices are back to their normal schedules,schools are filled and on their schedules..everyone is back to their normal Fall yes  I guess that is a reason to relax.

Relaxing as this weekend is I opted for something light for dinner tonight..a Tuscna Picnic slad made with the Sempre Sapori spice blend I developed to create easy Tuscan style dishes in a 'flash'. We have been getting so many calls and orders and re-orders from those of you that tried it that I had a 'voglio' to use it on something as well. Here it is a salad for a light dinner on a relaxing Fall evening.

 Tuscan Picnic Salad with  Sempre Sapori

1 lb romaine salad (or 1 pre-cut package)

2 avocados, pitted and peeledTuscan

and cut into 1” chunks

1 lb plum tomatoes cut into wedges

½ lb fresh mozzarella cut into small chunks

2 tsp of Sempre Sapori (Tuscan Picnic Blend)

Wash, clean, cut salad ingredients. Place in large bowl. Combine salad dressing ingredients in small bowl and mix with wire whisk or place in bottle and shake to mix. Refrigerate dressing for 30 minutes before placing dressing on salad. Dressing can be refrigerated for up to two weeks

Get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking:Holidays and Special Occasions  before the mad Holiday rush great for a gift for someone special or for yourself. Filled with 140+ recipes, menus, wine pairing tips and short stories of Holidays spent in Italy.

Oct 2nd- Join me for a book singing in Collngswood, NJ at the Collingswood Book Festival from 11-1 PM

October 5th-Join me for a cooking demo/sampler dinner and book signing at Horsham Library in Horsham PA. Email for reservations. Spaces limited..4 course sampler dinner and more..

October 16th-18th.. join me at the Philadelphia Food  and Wine signing, cooking demo on stage on Sunday at 3:30. Phhiladelphia Expo center, King of Prussia, Pa

Nov5-7-Christmas in Italy weekend at Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast. Join me for a weekend of coking classes, wine pairings, in Lancaster, Pa using fresh produce from Lancaster at this beautiful bed and brakfst..just as we do at my cooking school in Italy.Email : Carl at Harvest Moon for reservations at  

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Pumpkin..the Magic Gourd

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
Summer is over and the Great Pumpklin is starting to make an appearance at farmer;'s markets, supermarkets and fresh produce stores. As I had  made my first pumpkin sighting this week at my local farmer's market, I was tempted to get some to create some recipes for in The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Kitchen. But upon further look, I noticed that the pumpkins I could find are really best for decoration and not pumpkins to cook with. But when I find one I am ready and here is some simple info on the magic gourd and some simple ways to use them in your cooking.
Pumpkin seeds provide an excellent source of potassium and many other essential nutrients- potassium, manganese, copper, zinc ,selenium, copper, chromium and molybdenum. They are also a great source of fiber and healthy unsaturated fats. To roast pumplin seeds, roast at a low oven temperature (250 to 300 degrees) to protect their good fats. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, tossing about halfway through.

Or toss seeds in olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite spices. Try cumin, coriander, rosemary, cayenne, garlic salt. Fro a sweeter taste, try tossing with melted butter the nsprinkle with cinnmaon,nutmeg and ginger.

Beta carotene is abundant in the pumpkin's flesh. This antioxidant which converts to Vitamin A in the body has bee nlinked to lower cancer rated,reduced heart disease and enhanced immunity. Research also indicates that consuming orange fruits and vegetables which are high in the pigment beta-cryptoxanthin, may lower the odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

But pumpkins can be used for more than just pumpkin pie. Roast pumpkin by peeling and cutting pumpkin into wedges and roast with sliced garlic, onions, potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary.

Or try this, pour puree of pumpkin into ice cube trays and then store in zip-lock bags in your freezer. Add the cubes to soups and stews throughout the winter for a flavorful and nutritious boost.

*Get your copy in time for the Holidays..The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions
with over 140 recipes, menus, wine pairing tips and short stories about Holidays spent in Italy

More programs and event coming up..
Sept 23rd. Big  Blend Radio Show

October 3rd- Book Signing at Collingswood Book Festival, Collingswood, NJ 11AM to 1 PM
October 5th- Horsham Library, Horsham Pa.. book signing and cooking demo
October 21-Book Signing, cooking demo, Lower Southampton Library, Feasterville, Pa 19053

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fusilli Pasta Cooking in the Country Kitchen

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati

Wanted to share a recipe from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Kitchen in Italy. We had a scrumptious lunch in the country with this..... and find more at

Fusili  Pasta & Sauce with a Touch of Balsamic Vinegar
Ingredients for 4 people:
  1 lb grams of fusilli pasta curls
  2lbs grams of  red, ripe plum tomatoes or tomatoes grown on the vine
  1 small onion or scallion
  fresh tyme
  olive oil
  salt and pepper
 Balsamic Vinegar

Scald the tomatoes, then drain, peel and remove the seeds.

Cut into cubes. 

Put the tomatoes into a casserole with the chopped parsley, a bit of fresh h, and the peeled and finely cut scallion. 

Add salt and pepper to taste, a few spoons of olive oil,  and 2 teaspoons of  Balsamic Vinegar . 

Cover and let rest for half an hour. 

Boil  lightly salted water for the pasta, and cook until just done. 

Place pasta  in sauce and saute for a few seconds over high heat. 

Serve immediately in heated plates.

**Just in time for the Holidays, get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking :Holidays & Special Occasions Occasions with over 140 recipes, menus, wine pairing tips, short stories of  Holidays spent in a charming mountain town in Italy

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara Makes a Comeback

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati

Spaghetti alla Carbonara has made a comeback in popularity. It was one of the dishes that I had not paid too much attention to. However on a recent visit to Italy many people began asking me about this dish and a few people requested learning the recipe at some of the culinary tours I hosted. I was somewhat perplexed, as if , almost out of nowhere, this recipe was experiencing a renaissance of interest. What was the real reason for this?

The 'rebirth' of the popularity of this dish began happening during and after the Presidential elections. And so was my answer uncovered, the newly elected President Barack Obama, began expressing his fondness for this dish to the media while in Italy.. As proud as the Italians are of any of their dishes, it was an honor for them to know that an American President was so fond of one of their dishes and thence began the rebirth of the popularity of this dish. The media would proclaim that even Barack Obama had a fondness for Italian cuisine, especially one of their traditional dishes.

The origins of this recipe are uncertain. There are 3 main theories, one is that it is called 'carbonara' because it was invented by the 'carbonai' the men who worked with carbone (coal). The other is that this dish was invented by a chef who was part of a group known as the 'carbonari' that is the men who fought in the war against the Austrian occupation of Northern Italy and for Italian independence.

The 3rd appears in 1945, when the American soldiers occupied Rome at the end of the Second World War they would ask for a breakfast of 'eggs, bacon and noodles'. They would be served these items separately on a large plate. For convenience sake they began mixing everything together and unknowingly created this dish.

The 4th theory is that it was invented by Ippolito Cavalcanti of Naples in 1837. He wrote a cookbook and it includes a recipe that is very similar.

One thing remains true, many people are passionate about their Spaghetti alla Carbonara. There are a few minor differences in the recipes that exist. Some prefer to add cream, some prefer no cream, some prefer to add more egg yolks and less egg whites, some prefer smoked bacon to regular bacon, some prefer pecorino-romano cheese,others prefer parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Either way it joins the ranks of one of Italy's delicious artisan dishes.
Stay tuned for a recipe for this wonderfu ldish in one of ny upcoming blog posts

Mangia bene, Vivi Bene,

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gastronomy + Astronaut=Gastronaut

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati

I have begun to use a term that "I think'decribes more perfectly what I am

(combine the words gastronomy + astronaut= gastronaut)
 Journeying to obscure towns and places,discovering flavors and guiding to find special foods and flavors that may have been easy to find in the past but now are rare and considered gourmet. Why settle for the everyday tastes at your big box supermarket when you can excite your tastebuds with real flavor..

My favorite tastes for this past week were discovered  in  the town of Offida in the province of Le Marche where they make an excellent, refreshing Pecorino wine  and  a town called Pescasseroli in the national park of Abruzzo where you can find the best Pecorino cheese because the sheep that produce the milk to make this cheese feed off the greens in the unadulterated park there...

More 'gastronautic' adventures to come..

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Dream of a Meal or Linguine at the Beach....

What a dream..the sea will do that to you and a visit to the local seafood market.. had to wake up early and begin working on this recipe before my day started..Fresh fish, delicious pasta, some local produce and what a dish!!

Dinner will be great, I thought to myself..not that dinner in our seaside home has ever been less than that. A mad rush through our wine cabinet and there is was a bottle of a locally produced Pecorino wine-made in the town of Offida in the province of Le Marche (only about 45 minutes from us) .'this will be great to use as an ingredient in the dish..”

Okay, so one of the most important ingredients what should the dish be...

But wait time to wake up for the morning cappu and's 6:30 am and I know my better half will insist we go now or we won't have a selection of cornetti to choose from. The coffee bar makes their own production of cornetti., so there are not that many of each type..there are the ones filled with chocolate cream, the nones with apricot marmelade ,then plain with nothing inside, integrale with miele (whole wheat with honey), mandorlata (topped with thinly slivered almonds and a bit buttery ( I remember these on our trip to the South of France where they are very buttery as per French cuisine).

Anyway my favorite is the whole wheat with honey, his is the mandorlata...but get there past 8 AM and those are all gone...

Throw on something for another hot sunny day. It is almost like a gamble when you arrive at the cofee bar, the first thing you do is step up to the front counter to see if you can find your favorite cornetti..when found stop for a minute and smile from ear to ear..knowing that today you will be able to begin your day your favorite way.... that light, flaky morsel complements the cappuccino to make for the perfect jolt to start your day..

When you arrive you feel listless..but when you leave eveything looks rosy and the day begins to have a meaning and now you are ready to start..

And I was stop..the loical fresh fish market..morning is best time to get there and get the freshest pick...and there I found what would be tonight's dish..the small tiny clams that make llinguine alla vongole a well as other fresh fish fro a grilled seafood entree (our second course).

Find my recipe for linguine alla vongole at the beach here

Friday, August 28, 2009

Suitcase Full of Flavors

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati

Getting ready for a weekend at the beach. A suitcase full of flavors is what I am many tastes and foods to cook with at the sea and I don't want to miss any. So I bring some flavors form home to cook rosemary from our garden..some golden potatoes grown locally..a few preserving jars in case it rains and I decide to preserve tomatoes
The tomatoes of Francavilla..ugly but are perfect for sugo (sauce).. the fresh fish market near home (at the beach) makes any seafood dish possible..

Menu for the weekend will be pasta asciutta (pasta with a freshly made tomato sauce) served with locally produced Pecorino wine. Linguine allla vongole (spaghetti with clams) tiny sweet clams from our local fish market....and served with a locally produced Trebbiano wine...bruschetta for dinner with locally produced mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil..side dish of the potatoes from home roasted with organic rosemary...and a weekend at the beach in the summer always means fresh watermelon for dessert and an evening passeggiata for gelato at our neighborhood gelato bar..can't substitute anything else..

Back to packing..and to make a quick run to our neighborhood forno (oven) to get some locally produced potato bread for a panino to take along for the ride..Not a fan of fast food 'on the road ' places.. A presto enjoy the end of summer weekend......
Get your copy of  the just released....The Basic Art of Holidays & Special Occasions
over 140 recipes ,menus, tips for the Holidays and more...

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spaghetti in Rome

copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite pasta dishes..brought to mind because I just enjoyed a dish at one of my favorite restaurants in Rome-
Serve with Chianti wine in recipe, dine al fresco as we did in Rome-for an added touch..

La Matriciana

for 4 people

*1 lb of pasta (spaghetti, bucatini,rigatoni)
½ onion
1 clove of garlic
¼ pound bacon (optional), cut into thin strips
3 tblsps of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of dry white wine (Chianti)
½ tblsp of white wine vinegar
5-6 leaves of fresh basil
¼ of a dry, hot ,red pepper
a pinch of black pepper
2 lbs of ripe red plum tomatoes
¼ cup of pecorino romano cheese freshly grated

Place olive oil in saute pan and warm, place in bacon and chopped onion, hot red pepper, garlic .Saute until onion begins to become golden. Pour in wine and let liquid evaporate. Then add in the tomatoes that have been fileted (seeds removed) and fresh basil leaves.
Saute on medium heat for approx 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Cook the pasta till al dente. Drain and place in sauce, toss and place in half of the grated cheese, toss. Serve each portion with a pinch of black pepper and more grated cheese.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Time is Only Ingredient in Short Supply,,,

Even though time is spent at such a slow pace here, it is in short supply. Before I know it it is 1 PM or a Holiday and all stores close down. So if you need any ingredients that you may have forgotten you can't get them until the re-opening of the store which can be in 3 hours or a day or two-depending on time of year and date of year.
Yesterday for instance -the 15th of August and a big Holiday here in Italy. I planned on making a chocolate ricotta cheesecake- so Friday ingredients were purchased-well all ingredients- but the dark chocolate pieces needed to mix into the ricotta. But someone must have chocolate bars-perhaps a coffee bar or small grocery store?
The difficult part was first to find something that was open on the 15th of August. Next did they have chocolate. Found 2 coffee bars that were (surprisingly) open. But they told us that even though they normally carry chocolate bars throughout the year, they don't have them this time of the year for fear that they may melt..

So the chocolate cheesecake would have to wait for one more day and it was a ciambellone classico for dessert. And yes, was able to find a small, local, candy store open today that did have the Dark chocolate bars. And the cheesecake will have to wait until tomorrow. Here is the recipe for the ciambellone and stay tuned for the cheesecake recipe in the next few days.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spicy, Spicier, Spiciest....

By: Eliza Chute
Spicy food seems to be one of those things that you either love or you hate. Depending on how spicy it can make you hot, and sweaty and even induce labor in some cases…only if you are pregnant that is. Many cultures have spicy hot food, for example the Si Chuan province of China is known for such types of foods. In addition Indian foods always tended to be very spicy. I used to absolutely despise spicy food, absolutely!! But I think the reason for that was that I never got used to it, because I never ate it. In college I was determined to expand my horizons, and started eating spicy food. I had Indian food for the first time in college, and that was my first snippet of real spice. The spiciest food I have ever had was in Belize. I was staying at a bamboo farm run by a lovely young married couple. The culprit was a salad. I’m serious. The lettuce was so spicy for some reason and I couldn’t tell why, but I didn’t want to insult them by not eating, so I kept eating it and I was miserable and sweaty and they gave me water in this tiny little cup and I ran out of it so fast, and I kept tearing and there was nothing I could do about it, but now…I can chow down on the spiciest of foods..thanks to this situation.

For recipes and articles and to get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking go t o

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our Woman of the Week...

Woman of the Week: Michelle Obama
by;ELiza Chute
As always, there is a lot of media attention, especially now considering the milestone that our 44th president represents. That is why our woman of the week this week is our, very own first lady: Michelle Obama. Like president Obama she is from Chicago. She graduated from Princeton University Undergraduate and also, like the president, went to Harvard Law School. However the two met at working in Chicago after graduating from Law School working for the law firm Sidley Austin. She has done a variety of different things, job-wise, but they have mostly been geared towards the social services sector.
She was blessed with great intellect. After she skipped the second grade, she joined the gifted class in sixth grade. In high school, she was on the national honor society and the honor role all four years. Which was clearly enough for her to get into an Ivy League University. She graduated from Princeton cum laude, with a double major in sociology and African-American studies. Having always been an advocate for minorities, she participated in demonstrations that advocated for the hiring of more minority professors. After law school , she worked with the, then, future president. The two were married in 1992, and now have two daughters Sasha (born Natasha) and Malia.
Michelle is really well known as a very well dressed woman, but she does so much more than put great clothes on her back. After Sidley Austin she held many public sector positions in Chicago. A year after she married Barrack she became Executive Director of a non profit that encouraged young adults to get involved in issues, a group called Chicago office for Public Allies. After that she developed the Service Center at the University of Chicago while working as Associate Dean of Student Services. In 2002, she started working for University of Chicago Hospital, which she continued to work for part time while Obama was running. According to wikipedia, “Although Obama has campaigned on her husband's behalf since early in his political career by handshaking and fund-raising, she did not relish the activity at first. When she campaigned during her husband's 2000 run for U.S. House of Representatives, her boss at the University of Chicago asked if there was any single thing about campaigning that she enjoyed; after some thought, she replied visiting so many living rooms had given her some new decorating ideas.” Apparently she had reservations about her husband running for president, but cut a deal in which he would stop smoking. In the campaign she always discussed aspects of race and education from the perspective of a mother.

Don't forget to get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Make Your Own Sushi

By Eliza Chute: blog contributor

This semi-recent Japanese food craze is getting more and more popular as more and more sushi restaurants are popping up all over. More and more people are warming up to the idea of eating raw fish. And why shouldn’t they? It’s tasty. If you haven’t had the privilege of going to a sushi restaurant where you can watch them make the sushi, you maybe haven’t had the chance to look at it and say… “I can do that myself!” Well, you can. It is quite easy, once you get over the idea that you will be handling raw fish. Sushi is pretty good for you considering the main ingredients are raw fish and rice which are low in fat and high in protein, vitamins minerals, but also carbohydrates. And one should always be cautious of eating in addition to the fact that tuna can contain mercury.

There are over 7 types of sushi, some of which are harder to make than others. There’s Nigirizushi, Makizushi, Fotomaki, Temarizushi and a whole slew of others all equally as difficult to pronounce. The most typically made type is hand rolled sushi, which is rolled with a bamboo mat. The key ingredients are nori and rice. The rice is more specifically a sticky-type rice, so that it will stay attached to the nori which is the seaweed wrap in which the sushi is wrapped. You can wrap specifically the fish, which is normally salmon, tuna, yellowtail and eel. Avocado is also commonly used in sushi. The way to make it is to spread the sticky rice on the nori, all on top of the bamboo mat. You can choose to cover one or both sides of the nori, but if you cover only one side then typically the rice goes on the outside which would be on the bottom. Then you can fill it with the fish, some avocado, celery or whatever you choose, get some wasabi ginger and soy sauce and you are good to go.

Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati was busy this weekend on stage at Bally's Casino in Atlantic City.Also there was Emeril,Guy Fieri, Ted Allen, Ingrid Hoffman, Cat Cora. Read about it in her blog at

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Great Flavors with Quinoa!

By :Eliza Chute, blog contributor

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is what we might call a “super-grain”. It has a lot of additional benefits as opposed to rice or other grains. “Compared to other grains, quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.” According to the same article on those benefits include:

“Complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles.
Magnesium helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. Quinoa contains high levels of the vital nutrient.
Quinoa is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber that eases elimination and tones your colon.
Manganese and copper. Quinoa is a good source of these minerals that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances.”

So we get it Quinoa is great for you, but like a lot of things that are good for you we are tempted to think that it tastes bad. Fortunately, it is quite delicious and there are a variety of different things you can do with it. The first and most important step in using quinoa is soaking it in water for about 8 hours. This will remove the phytic acid and makes it easier to digest (bodyecology), then there is a bunch of great things you can do with it.

Looking inside my kitchen pantry I decided to make a quinoa salad with celery and dried cranberries. And then it dawned on me that this is really a versatile grain so you can make a great dish with it by adding in almost anything else you might like to add. You can make a large quantity of it and keep it in your fridge for quite a while and not have to make another batch. In addition quinoa itself makes a great addition to soups or salads (great source of protein for vegetarians). Also, quinoa van be used like rice and you can follow any sort of risotto recipe to make risotto with a 'twist'.

Information on Quinoa found at:

July 31-August 2-Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival- Bally's Casino Email for more info

For more recipes get yoru copy of the best selling book at

Register to receive recipes and travle tips and stories from Italy at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm BLOG at

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

3 Cups of Tea

Book Review by Eliza Chute:
copyright 2009, art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc
Greg Mortenson believes in changing the world and creating peace through education. His book Three Cups of Tea is about an actual life changing experience he had which inspired him to start the Central Asia Institute, and organization that builds schools in the middle east. The story starts with him climbing K2, but he gets lost and winds up in a small village in Pakistan starving and Exhausted. The villagers took him in and fed him, where he learns the significance of the three cups of tea. It was then that he made a promise that would change his life forever. He promised to return to the village and build them a school. When he returns to the States he starts raising money for his school, teaching climbing lessons while living out of his car. When he finally returns to Pakistan to build the village he is met with a surprise. The village head has decided instead of a school they first need a bridge, so that they do not have to walk miles around to be able to trade goods and such. Mortenson agrees and they build that bridge. As the story progresses, he comes to learn the value of education in creating peace in how that if children are learning to think for themselves, they are not being taught that killing is necessary. He goes on to tell the story of the hardships in raising money for the CAI, and in actually building schools and getting the materials. He also faces protests from fellow Americans especially after September 11th, receiving hate mail and even death threats for his work in the middle east. I really reveals the ignorance of blind hatred after a tragedy.
The book itself is heartwarming and inspiring, and gives a highly involved American’s view on issues in the middle eat, and promotes a way of using education to disarm hatred, a definite must read.

Hope to see you at a The Basic Art of Italian Cooking school event with Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati. Here are some coming up:
July 16th- Whole Foods Market-Annapolis Md, 7 PM, A Tuscan Picnic Cla lstore or for more info

July 18th Whole Foods Market, Fair Lakes/Fairfax, Va. A Tuscan Picnic with wine pairing, 1PM. Must pre -registe. Call store or email:

July 31-August 2-Atlantic City Food & Wine Show, Bally's Casino.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Memories of Julia Child

Written by :Eliza Chute

Julie Powel’s Julie and Julia, is a book about how a 30 year old woman who “recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.” It is based on Powel’s actual life, where at the age of 30 she finds herself in a dilapidated apartment and a dead end job. She, then decides to drastically change her life, by cooking all of the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the span of a year. She starts off with potato soup, easy enough, but it turns out to be a much harder task than she expects but in the process of finishing her task she learns more than just the art of cooking.
A well written and delightful story, truly inspiring to anyone who has ever wondered if they are going down the right path, the book becomes an invitation for spontaneity. Powell’s deeply personal and honest account of her life makes it even more appealing. And the story itself becomes a great example of what a person can do if they set their mind to it.
The movie, set to come out August 7 is based on two memories this one, and Julia Child’s own “My Life in France”, intermittently following the two women, in different times and places. Julie Powell is played by Amy Adams, while Julia Child is played by Meryl Streep. After the success of their last movie together, Doubt, it seems like it can’t go wrong. Although it is quite a shift from the drama of doubt, with the comedic power of the book, the movie does seem quite promising.

Hope to see you at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking events:
July 9th-Whole Foods, Jemkintown, pa, the outdoor kitchen. cell the store at 215-481-0800 to register or email

July 11th- Chestnut Hill Book Festival at Magarity's Showroom at Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Pa. Email

July 16th, Whole Foods Market, Annapolis Md, A Tuscan Picnic, 7PM. Call store or email:
July 18th, Whole Foods Market, Fairfax, Virginia A Tuscan Picnic and wine pairing

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Written by: Eliza Chute
Summer time means one thing, grilling. It is the best form of cooking in the hot heat of the season. Nothing is better than sitting around a picnic table in the warm sun, and waiting for those burgers to cook. Then waiting an hour before you can jump in a pool, or some sort of body of water. But what’s the best way to grill? Can you just throw some stuff on and leave it there until you smell burning? Well, not if you want to eat something that tastes good. There are two books that have served my family well when it comes to grilling. First is Williams Sonoma’s Complete Grilling Cookbook and the second is the less conventional Steven Raichlen’s How To Grill. But let me give them some individual attention.

1.Wiliams Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook
Let me first say that this book sure is complete, from vegetables to meat to even dessert, it doesn’t miss a beat. And, as most of their cookbooks are they are not without an array of beautiful pictures of what the food should look like, but doesn’t often, especially if the person making it isn’t a professional chef. But nonetheless is a great and useful tool to help you out on that perfect summer day when you just gotta grill.

2.Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill
Raichlin’s is also very complete, but seems to have a greater emphasis on the meat aspect, as shown by the cover (just check it out) . This guide doesn’t just show you reipes, but has a 30 page intro on the art of grilling. In addition it outlays your rubs sauces and condiments, as well as the gear. So not only does it have great recipes, but it provides you with all the necessary knowledge to really look like you know what you’re doing and sound like you know what you are talking about.

But the best grilling recipe that I have found, and by found I mean the much more experienced chef that is my mother showed me is in the Food Editor’s Hometown Favorites Cookbook. It is called Delmarva Barbecued Chicken, and it is delicious. I can’t give you the full recipe, because I think that might be illegal or copyright infringement or something but I can tell you that it involves an egg, and vinegar cider and you should pick up a copy of this recipe book if you have a chance.
Join me for The Basic Art of Italian cooking Programs at:
July 9th- WHole Foods Markte, Jenkintown, Pa- The Outdoor Kitchen, recipes for the beach, a picnic or dining al fresco. 6:15 PM call store at 215-481-0800 to register or
July 11th-Chestnut Hill Book Festival, 2PM at Magarity's Warehouse at Germantown Avenue,Chetnut Hill, Pa. Email for more info

July 16th-Whole Foods, Annapolis Md. A Tuscan Picnic, call store or email

July 18th- Whole Foods, Fairfax, Va., A Tuscan Picnic and wine pairing. 1:30 PM Cal lstore or email

July 25th- book signing and tasting, Whole Foods, Devon, Pa 1 PM Email for more info

July 31 -August 2nd- Atlantic City Food And Wine SHow, email for more info
Get your copy of the best sellling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fourth of July and Happy Birthday USA

Written by :Eliza Chute

If you find yourself in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the USA this summer or for a fitting Fourth of July Holiday here is a 'delicious' place to visit:

You can find everything you need at Reading Terminal Market. It is quite the melting pot of delicious food. You can find everything from crepes to soul food, vegetarian restaurants to meat by the pound. This indoor market takes up an entire city block.
There is even the unique opportunity of getting freshly grown Pennsylvania Dutch made foods. There are eleven Pennsylvania Dutch owned shops. If you are craving chocolate, Chocolate by Mueller is the place to. All chocolates are hand-made on site. They even have a display kitchen, so you can watch them make their chocolates, as your mouth waters in front of the window. Looking for something a little more nutritious? Try the Dutch Eating Place. They serve breakfast and lunch, including their famous blueberry pancakes and apple dumplings. These delicious pancakes are fluffy and served by Pennsylvania Dutch in full garb, making it a tasty and fun experience. Or try Hatville Deli for some great deli food. However, don’t forget to bring cash, because the last two only accept cash and gift certificates.

For more Information on Reading Terminal Market

List of Pennsylvania Dutch Shoppes
AJ Pickel Patch & Salads
Beiler's Bakery
Dienner's Bar-B-Q
Dutch Eating Place
Hatville Deli
Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce
L. Halteman Family
Lancaster Co. Dairy
Miller's Twist
Rib Stand
Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe

For more recipes for the 4th

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rescue A Pet Today

Written: by Eliza Chute

It seems that lately pets have become the new accessory. It is no longer an uncommon sight to see a woman walk by you with a little Chihuahua head peeking out of her purse. The pet industry is thriving. You can buy everything from clothes for your pet to health insurance. If I want to ensure Whiskers my one year old hypothetical cat with routine coverage it would cost me about twenty dollars a month. If I want the works it would cost me 40. Rex, my non existent dog would run me 25 dollars a month for common problems and 47 per month if I want everything covered.
It’s not really a surprise that people want to take such good care of their pets. They are adorable and cuddly and provide unconditional love. They are personified and become almost like a member of the family. And everyone seems to want their dogs purebred. They are coming up with new breeds every day, including cockapoos (cocker spaniel poodle mix) and labradoodles (Labrador-poodle mix). Pure bred dogs these days can run up to well over a thousand dollars.
While some people are paying 600 dollars annually on pet insurance plans, others are abandoning their animals. There are many loving pets in need of homes all over the country. In January of 2009 the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (Paws) they saved 263 homeless animals, and that’s not including animal rescue’s statistics. Of those, they found homes for 186 animals, and foster homes for 71. So, instead of paying for an overpriced purebred, try heading down to the local pound and seeing if there are any furry friends to your liking. Though they may not be pure-bred, they are just a cuddley and just as loving and even more in need of someone to take care of them.

Insurance information from:

For more information on Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society:

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meatless or With Meat..My Dilemma!!

Written by Elizabeth Chute

Remember the energy flow diagram we learned in middle school biology? About how plants turn the sun’s energy into nutrients through photosynthesis, then when they get eaten, only 10 percent of that energy gets passed on, then when that animal gets eaten only 10 percent of that energy gets passed on, but since it’s only 10 percent of the original 10 percent, its really only 1 percent of the original nutrients. Moral of the story: shouldn’t we always be eating vegetables? Well, that I’m not sure about, we do need the protein, but there are other ways to get it, like beans lentils and tofu. The official government food pyramid recommends to eat more fish beans peas nuts and seeds, and when eating meat to eat more lean meats and protein. So we all do know that red meat is not very healthy, but what about the taste? It is delicious. There is always fake meat, but does it really taste like the real thing? I went to find out.
First thing I discovered: for my tastebuds... nothing will taste like a hamburger that isn’t a hamburger. It doesn’t matter how many boca or veggie burgers I eat, or what I put on them. For my palate nothing replaces the taste of biting into a slightly red, juicy burger. So, sorry heart, but you’re just going to have to deal with that bit of red meat. Meatballs however are a little more replaceable. Gimme Lean beef comes in a tube, and while perhaps looking unappealing can be cooked so that they taste just like meatballs, especially when smothered in sauce and cheese. I cooked dinner for a friend the other night, giving him fake meatballs, and telling him they were real. He couldn’t even tell the difference.
When eating saucy dishes, I have some to find that tofu is better than other meat options. If you have a good sauce, tofu does the best job absorbing it, and with no other competing flavors, because tofu is the blandest thing on the planet, you get pure curry or teriyaki or whatever you decide to put on it.
Ok, but what about sausage? Who doesn’t love their morning sausage? Well I’ve found the solution. Veggie patch sausages are quite delicious. They even come in flavors, my favorite: jalapeƱo cheddar. The trick to making these sausages taste just right is slicing them up and cooking them in some olive oil. Although the texture of meat cannot be mimicked, you can find something that tastes just as good as red meat, and maybe a little better on the arteries.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Are You a Coffee or Tea Person?

Written by :Eliza Chute

There is an age old question, and the answer is usually based on preference. Are you a coffee person or a tea person? But which one is better for you? People love having pearly white teeth. That is why there is a multi-million dollar industry dedicated to teeth whitening, and brushing making sure those pearly whites stay white. Coffee and Tea can stain teeth but does one do it more than the other ? Although it isn’t scientific research, I scoured the internet for answers, because I didn’t have two friends with the exact same whiteness who were willing to sacrifice their teeth for science. Though there were no official press releases from the American Dental Association, the general consensus of the web-sites I looked at, was that tea stains teeth more, more specifically dark tea. I mean just look at your mug after you drink either of them and the tea cup will be stained more. Thus, one point for coffee.
The question I really thought I would be answering was: which is worse for you; coffee or tea. For years people have been talking about the downfalls of the two. That both are really bad for you, but recent studies have shown that there are actually health benefits to both. An article in ABC news that came out in 2006 reveals that there are benefits to both the drinks, more than just the extra boos of alertness. Apparently anti-oxidants in tea and coffee “can prevent inflammation of the blood vessels, and it has been linked to reduced risk for cancer.” In terms of what has the most, the list, in order, goes white tea, green tea, black tea then coffee. So, a point for tea. In addition, “Daily cups of coffee have been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease, liver cancer, gallstones and type 2 diabetes. In addition, green tea and white tea have been touted for their health benefits”. However, they do not recommend more than four eight ounce cups a day.
At the end of the day, most people choose their drinks based on the taste. I personally choose chocolaty coffee drinks, even though I know that that is one of the worst things for me. And even though I know it is bad for me, I always think, “just this once,” but when “just this once” starts to become every day, I’m going to need to make a change.

For more information on the benefits of coffee and tea:

July 9th- Whole Foods Market, Jenkintown, Pa The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School and The Outdoor Kitchen, recipes perfect for the picnic, the beach and dining al fresco.. Call store at 215-481-0800 to register or email:

July 16th, Whole Foods Annapolis Maryland
July 18th- Whole Foods Fairfax/ Fair Lakes, Virginia
July 31-August 2-Atlantic City food and wine festival

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Get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Place for Foodies in Philadelphia

Written by: Eliza Chute

If you are looking for an interesting food experience in the USA... you can find everything you need at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pa. It is quite the melting pot of delicious food. You can find everything from crepes to soul food, vegetarian restaurants to meat by the pound. This indoor market takes up an entire city block.
There is even the unique opportunity of getting freshly grown Pennsylvania Dutch made foods. There are eleven Pennsylvania Dutch owned shops. If you are craving chocolate, Chocolate by Mueller is the place to. All chocolates are hand-made on site. They even have a display kitchen, so you can watch them make their chocolates, as your mouth waters in front of the window. Looking for something a little more nutritious? Try the Dutch Eating Place. They serve breakfast and lunch, including their famous blueberry pancakes and apple dumplings. These delicious pancakes are fluffy and served by Pennsylvania Dutch in full garb, making it a tasty and fun experience. Or try Hatville Deli for some great deli food. However, don’t forget to bring cash, because the last two only accept cash and gift certificates.

For more Information on Reading Terminal Market of Pennsylvania Dutch Shoppes
AJ Pickel Patch & Salads
Beiler's Bakery
Dienner's Bar-B-Q
Dutch Eating Place
Hatville Deli
Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce
L. Halteman Family
Lancaster Co. Dairy
Miller's Twist
Rib Stand
Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe

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For more info and recipes go to

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Know Where Your Produce Comes From!

Written by: Eliza Chute

When you go to pick out apples at a grocery store you have no idea where they came from, but when you go to a farmer’s market you can rest assured you are buying locally grown products, that are often also organically grown with little to no pesticides. Venture into Clarke Park in Philadelphia on a Thursday from 3-7 p.m. in the summer and you will find their own Farmer’s Market. When approaching 45th from the North or South, it looks as if there are only one tent, but when you get closer you will see an array of vendors lining the street, their unmarked and unbranded vans and trucks sitting behind them. In front of them lies their particular array of produce. This Farmer’s Market was set up by The Food Trust, which now operates 29 other Farmer’s markets in the Philadelphia region. These markets were set up in order to provide an outlet for local farmers as well as nutritious foods for local people. Something you might not guess about these farmer’s markets is that they all accept food stamps and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program vouchers. After all, the Food Trust’s Motto is “Ensuring That Everyone Has Access To Affordable, Nutritious Food”. They have a variety of different programs to ensure this mission, including both community-based and school based. In the past year, the food trust has expanded it’s farmers market programs to include the now 30 they operate, enlarged their school programs to now include 100 schools in SE Pennsylvania, and has begun work to expand their efforts to other states, in addition to other recognitions and accomplishments.
This particular Farmer’s Market is the Largest in the city, and has been in operations for 10 years. The Project Associate, Jon Glyn told me that come July there will be fruit vendors lining 45th along with the current ones. The vendors on Thursday June 11th had a variety of different produce with vendors like Big Sky Bread Company and Mountain View Produce. Urban Girl’s Produce, a one-woman run vendor, also joins the line of other tents, selling delicious sweet potatoes, and even the Asian vegetable Poc Choi. Alongside her is Country Meadows, who sell delicious smelling chicken, cooked right there, with an interesting marketing strategy. Along there table are pictures of live chicken, a helpful reminder of
where your food is coming from. The Park itself is home to more than just farmer’s markets. This popular city park in West Philadelphia, also has an extensive playground in addition to hosting flea markets, arts and music festivals, movie screenings in the summer, Youth Expos and more, bringing the greater community together one activity at a time.

For more information on The Food Trust go to:
More information on Clark Park can be found at:
A Review of Urban Girl’s Produce can be found at this site:

July 11th- Chestnut Hill Book Festival- Celebrity Chef Maris Liberati will be signing books and on a panel discussion for writing about food

July 16th- Annapolis, MD, Whole Foods Market Culinary Center-The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Program & Sampling with book signing.

July 18th- Fairfax, VA- Whole Foods aMarket, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Program and Wine pairing, book signing after. Samples, wine tasting provided. Email:

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Cocktails

Written by: Eliza Chute

In the summer, when it’s hot and humid (when you are in the northeast at least), nothing makes you feel better than a nice cold beverage or perhaps a cocktail. Lemonade has always been the classic summer beverage, but if you are tired of the same old summer drink, there are several variations on it to spice it up a bit. At you can find a multitude of variations on the classic lemonade; from Rico’s Passionate Pink Honey Lemonade, to Pepper-Mint Lemonade. For the more calorie conscious lemonade drinker, I would recommend Vitamin Water Multi-V lemonade. It’s a refreshing, but a little less sweet alternative.
If you are looking for a thicker drink, smoothies are always the way to go, and they are fairly simple to make. Just add ice, yogurt, juice and fruit to your blender and it’s like you just came back from your local smoothie place. For an extra kick, try blending coffee, ice and banana, and some vanilla yogurt, for that morning wake-up or mid-day refresher.
In the quest for a new refreshing summer cocktail, I went and bought a variety of juices. After several hours in the lab (i.e. my kitchen), I finally came up with one. I haven’t picked out the perfect name yet, but to make the drink, you fill a cup one eighth raspberry vodka (if you have a smaller budget Burnett’s works well or if you could splurge on Smirnoff), then three quarters with cran-apple juice and fill the rest up with champagne. It’s a newer, stronger, more dynamically flavored take on an old favorite: the mimosa. Another less complicated, but delicious concoction I created, though less original, was vanilla rum and V8 splash tropical blend. However, I don’t recommend making a lot of it, the sweetness of it makes it difficult to drink more than a glass.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Quick & Yummy Picnic Ideas

Written & Edited by Eliza Chute

Who can have a bad day, when the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky? But better question is, who wants to be inside? Picnics are a great outdoor activity, whether it’s taking lunch in the park nearby your office, or hiking through the mountains to a beautiful peak point, and settling in there. If you are tired of the same old portable food options you have always been bringing, and looking for easy alternatives, try reading The New York Times article by Mark Bittman (link below) that outlines 101 20-minute dishes for picnics. My personal favorite thing to bring on a picnic, is a pesto and mozzarella sandwich. It’s fast and easy to make and even good cold. All you do is spread pesto on toasted bread, add the cheese. I also like to add tomato or sun dried tomato for a little extra flavor. (It also makes a nice pesto grilled cheese if you are at home, in that case it is especially
good with Monterey Jack.)
Although picnics are a great summer activity, picnics on the beach get a little bit more complicated, sandy food is less than desirable. There is nothing worse than the crunch of sand as you bite into a sandwich you’ve been waiting all morning to eat. The key to avoiding such a catastrophe: packaging. First and most common mistake: baskets. Although they are cute and the quintessential picnic accessory, there are holes in them, so sand gets in. Due to the environment of the Beach, I doubt you will be able to have a salad without every bite getting ever more crunchy as it travels from your Tupperware to your mouth. Sandwiches are probably the best way to go, however if you are really craving a salad try putting it in a whole wheat wrap for a healthier lunch.

For more recipes & articles

To get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking go to

June 15th 7 PM-Join Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati at the Cooking Cafe at the Willingboro Library in Wilingboro, NJ for a book signing and cooking demo with sampling. Free and open to the public. Call the library or email:

July 11th- 2PM_Chestnut Hill Book Festival, Maria Wil be on a pane lfo cookbook authors to discuss writing your cookbook.

July 16th- Whole Foods market, Annapolis Md, A Tuscan Picnic, book signing and cooking demo from the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. Open to the public, call the store for info or email

July 18th- Whole Foods Market, Fairfax, Virginia, Tuscan Picnic & wine Pairing will include a cooking demo of recipes from the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and wine pairing with 4 wines and 4 recipes, samples, book signing. Free and open to the public. Call store or email:

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The State of Coffee

Written/Edited by Eliza Chute

I do not claim to be a coffee connoisseur, in fact I am far from it. As a few of my friends put it, I don’t drink coffee, I drink caffeinated sugar milk. Because of this fact I tend to judge a coffee shop by its mocha. The mocha drink of Blue State Coffee on Thayer street, though a little more coffee and a little less sugary than I normally prefer, was quite delicious. However, Blue State coffee has a greater appeal than simply the taste of their coffee. Not only is the coffee both organically grown and fair traded, but after you buy it you are given a voting tablet, where you can then vote for which charity you would like them to donate 5% of their profits to. After purchasing my mocha I took my tab and put it into the Marriage Equality of RI slot, before tasting my drink and deciding not to add an extra packet of sugar.
Blue State Coffee was started by lawyer Marshall Ruben and his son, Drew. These men are on a mission, a mission which is four-pronged. First of all, they deal with only fair trade, organic coffee, and as they put it, “roasted to perfection”. Secondly, they donate 5% of profits that reflect their “progressive values”, some of those in Rhode Island include, Youth in Action, Southside Community Land Trust, RI family life center, and the previously mentioned Marriage Equality RI. According to their web-site they have already donated 78,000 dollars to various causes. If that isn’t noble enough, they also make an effort to “run a zero waste, environmentally sustainable business.” They take various measures to do this, from discounts for people who bring their own mug to their Providence location being completely powered by wind power. O yea, and they are also trying to bring everyone dedicated to bettering the country together through their shops. They say coffee is an acquired taste, one I have yet to acquire, but this is something I can definitely see myself getting used to.

All quotes taken from Blue State website

Get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

Join Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati on June 15th at Willingboro Library for a book signing and cooking program. Free and open to the public call llibrary for info or email

June 13th- Saturday- 5PM hear Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati 's latest interview on Chicago's Restaurant Radio show on AM 560 WIND or listen to it online from anywhere in the world at

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