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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Apple A Day.....

 We have all heard the old adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." 
We all know that fruits and vegetables are essential to good health.  There has
been much talk today about the benefits of antioxidants which include everything
from prevention of certain types of diseases as well as the slowing of the aging
process.  However, besides the antioxidant benefits did you know that apples
have been known to protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and increase
bone density.  Boron, an ingredient in apples strengths bones.  Also apples have
been found to be instrumental in such diseases  as asthma and alzheimers.  There
are many other benefits as well.  Apples have been proven to lower cholesterol,
help to lower your risk of lung cancer as well as colon, breast and liver
cancer.  Besides that they are a quick and delicious snack.  With  peak apple
season now upon us from September to November now is a great time to pile the
family in the car and set off on your apple picking adventure.  Whether you prefer the do it yourself method or the store bought one I'm sure you'll be happy with the many possibilities this fruit lends itself to.
  With over 7,000 varieties of apples available, yes 7,000, one might be in a
quandry as to which variety to choose.  Golden Delicious, and Paula Red are
considered perfect for applesauce as well as canning.  Braeburn, Gala,
Gravenstein, Rome Beauty and York Imperial are best for baked apples.  Granny
Smith, Jonagold, Macintosh, Northern Spy, Romes and Winesap are considered best
for pies.  Other varieties such as Baldwin, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden
Delicious, Red Delicious, Stayman and York Imperial are best eaten as is. 
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Join me this Saturday at WHole Foods Jenkintown, Pa for a book signing and cooking program. Cooking on a Budget with The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. Call the store at 215-481-0800 or for more info email:
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mother's Day & Market Day

Since Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914, tradition suggests that it’s mom’s day off. But a Market Day online survey found that of those families that celebrate Mother’s Day at home, 38 percent of moms will prepare their own family’s Mother’s Day meal this year. The online survey was conducted with more than 945 respondents.

If you think the economy is contributing to the rise in keeping mom in the kitchen to conserve expenses, so far that does not seem to be the case. In fact, 73 percent of respondents indicated that the economy will not affect their Mother’s Day celebration this year at home. However, for the 27 percent who are feeling the economic pinch, 51 percent will not opt for restaurant dining or will go to a less expensive restaurant. This despite the fact that Mother's Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants.

This is not to say that moms will be doing all the food preparation at home themselves since 34 percent will get help from family members, and 19 percent will enjoy their meal prepared by a spouse.

For moms who do prepare Mother’s Day meals, 42 percent prepare dinner, equal to the 42 percent that prepare a lunch/brunch.

A family-oriented trend is that 46 percent of moms indicated that in the past, their kids helped prepare a special meal for them on Mother’s Day. Of these kid-inspired meals, 62 percent served mom breakfast (45 percent were served in bed). Fourteen percent helped make dinner, while seven percent helped make a cake, cupcake or cookies.

Kid-prepared meals for mom seem to be a newer tradition, since only 39 percent of today’s moms say they prepared a meal for their own mothers. Most impressive, is that 73 percent of spouses or partners either played a very involved role or supervised the production of the meal. A brave 27 percent let their kids manage the entire preparation.

Mother’s Day continues to be a special time for women family members as evidenced by the 56 percent who consider the day a time for the women in their family to bond.

About Market Day

Market Day, the Original Fundraising Food Cooperative®, is the nation’s largest food fundraising company. In addition to its flagship monthly food program, Market Day offers a variety of fundraising options including a gift brochure, restaurant-quality desserts, beverages, cookie dough, and a gourmet food catalog. Market Day is dedicated to providing high quality products at a value, and its consultative approach provides custom fundraising solutions for organizations across the country. Since its inception over 30 years ago Market Day has helped raise more than $450 million for kids and communities. For more information visit

Join me on Saturday, March 28th at 11-2 at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia for Gourmet Women & Wine. I will be signing copies of my best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. Look forward to seeing you then..

Join Me April 4th at Whole Foods in Jenkintown for a book signing and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Cooking Class-Cooking on A Budget! Email

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tartufi (Truffles) Food of the Gods

Copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
Editor: Katrina Rios

If you are in the city of Umbria in Italy (where The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School Programs are held try some of their delicious black truffles. Umbria is famous for black truffles, which are a specialty of Italian cuisine. They are the most expensive mushrooms in the world and they can be made many different ways. Some of the best truffles come from Norcia, which is a medieval mountain town. They grow in the surrounding countryside, beneath oak and walnut trees. A good time to visit the town is during February when they hold The Black Truffle (Tartufo) Festival. During the festival you have the opportunity to sample both black and white truffles and learn different ways that they can be made. This festival also attracts local and national food producers that look at the truffles as prized possessions. They know that they can use these truffles in sauces, pasta dishes, or in risotto.
The fascination with truffles goes back to ancient history. The ancients believed that the truffles were the food of the gods. They believed that the truffles had aphrodisiac properties that the mythological god Jupiter used very often. In ancient Roman recipes writers would advise mere mortals to cook the truffles under ash and eat them with honey. When the middle ages came along, the truffles came to become mistrusted because people thought that they were poisonous. The truffle only became highly popular in the last two centuries because of its constant use in the high courts of nobility.
Today the truffles are used in so many different recipes and places they are considered the king of cuisine. Because of their popularity they can be used in a variety of dishes to make the dish even more enjoyable. They are a great way to experiment and to surprise friends and family with your newly found cooking skills.

Join Me at Gourmet Women & Wine on March 28th at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, for more info email:

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Slow Food, Slow Living

In the US we call it 'being frugal' but in Italy we call it the Slow Food movement . It is all about appreciating what you have and not wasting anything...a lot of the recipes come from the 'cucina povere' or peasant kitchen of Italy... healthy, authentic foods.
Here is one of my favorite recipes that was invented in Naples during the heyday of the cucina povere..Pizza Margherita 2

Join me at the Gourmet Women & Wine Event on March 28th at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia from 11-2. I will be signing copies of my best selling book and sharing stories of my cooking school in Italy and culinary tours. For more info email us at
Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Raspberries Everywhere & National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month ..a month to remind us to eat more fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains ,nuts, legumes and delicious, nutritious foods.
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Kitchen was filled with the scent of the recipe below..thanks to the folks at Driscoll's and their delicious fresh raspberries. The recipe is courtesy of Driscoll's..tried and tasted here...and delizioso!!
Raspberries are an excellent source of eat them plain or in this recipe but any way you can enjoy so!

Raspberry ­ Orange Muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 Minutes
Cool Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 10 Muffins

1 6 ounce package Driscoll¹s Raspberries
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
Rinse and drain berries. Pat dry with paper towel.
Stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl.
Combine sour cream, brown sugar, oil, zest, juice and egg in a large bowl.
Stir in flour until partially moistened. Add raspberries and stir in gently
until evenly mixed. Do not over-stir.
Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, filling each about 3Ž4 full.
Bake 20 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool in pan 5 minutes.
Serve warm or remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Lighten Up this recipe by replacing the sour cream with the equivalent
amount of fat free sour cream or plain low fat yogurt.

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April 4 at 11:30- Whole Foods Market, Jenkintown, Pa-Join me for a book signing and Cooking on A Budget with The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Class. Email or call the store at 215-481-0800 to reserve your spot.

Join me Sept 23-Oct 6th at
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati Cooking School in Italy.. Experience Italy!! Is 6 nights and 7 days that you will never forget..Filled not only with cooking classes ,but tours to local vineyards, wine tastings, oilve oil tastings, nature walks, a stay at the Villa that houses the school and more. Register with deposit by May 1st and receive $200 off full price. Email us at

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Delicious Wonders of Sicily..

Sicily is famous for many things but the two most delicious things ( In my opinion) are the blood oranges and the cannoli (more on the cannoli later)...

If you have never tasted a blood red orange from Sicily you are really missing out on one of life's wonders. They are worth a trip to Italy just to taste them or savor freshly squeezed juice..nothing like is like eating orange sweet..and now is the season..

I remember the first few times I had breakfast in a coffee bar here and began seeing the barristas squeezing thes oranges for fresh orange juice during the seaason. I decided to try a 'spremuta' (fresh juice) myself one day and became hooked. When assembling The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Kitchen here in Italy-that was one of our first appliances- a stainless steel orange juice that we could use the fresh juice in many recipes.

Everyone seems to be praising them and their virtues...

Here is a recipe to try, if you can't get the blood oranges of Sicily- navel oranges should do.. (certainly won't be the same but can be an acceptable substitute)

Braised lettuce with Oranges
For 4 people

1 head of romaine lettuce (1 pound)

1 can of chick peas

1 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

pinch of red hot pepper

4 fresh oranges

fresh coriander

salt and pepper to taste

Peel oranges and cut or break into sections or slices. Keep the juice that comes out of the oranges while cutting, in a glass.

Wash ,dry and chop the lettuce. Place 1/2 tblsp olive oil in saute pan, heat, place in chopped lettuce, pinch of salt, 2 cloves of garlic and pinch of hot red pepper. Place chick peas in food processor with 1 tsp of olive oil, pinch of salt ,reserved orange juice and blend into a cream. Place cream on a flat dish.

Top with braised lettuce and top with orange slices, coriander leaves, drizzle with remaining olive oil adn a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

Do you have any favorite recipes or foods from Sicily you can share with us..we'd love to hear...

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Here is a recipe for a lower calorie verison of the cannoli

Join me on March 12th at 6-8 PM at the Harleysville Book Shop, 674 Main St, Harleysville, Pa for a special Welcoming Spring Book Signing of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and a cooking demo. Free and open to the public. For more events go to :

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cooking on A Budget & Using Leftovers

Taking a cue from the 'peasant kitchen' or 'cucina povere' of long ago in Italy, there are many delicious authentic Italian recipes that allow you to creatively use leftovers.
Authentic Italian cooking can be done on a budget- 'quality not quantity'. A good quality product that may cost a little more may end up costing less than a lesser quality product. You will only need to use a little of a high quality product and a lot of a lesser quality one..

Day old bread can be transformed into many yummy delights

Join me Sept 23- October 6th for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking school in Umbria Italy. Stay at the villa, enjoy life sightsee, hands on cooking classes ,wine pairings, vineyard tours and more. (all inclusive (does not include airplane ticket) includes all meals, transport from airport to villa and back, hands on cooking classes, local wines with meals, excursions, vineyard tours, 6 night/7day lodging at villa. Limited to 12 participants. Find more info

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Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fragrant Rosemary in Your Garden.

Rosemary is one of, if not my favorite fragrant herb. Of all the plants I miss from my garden in Italy- it is my organic rosemary that I miss the most. It is the herb that adds most flavor to many of my dishes.
Tuscan roasted potatoes and bean soups cooked in terracotta pots with small branches from my rosemary plant are all flavorful memories of our kitchen there.

Here are some tips on growing your rosemary indoors here while the temperatures dip..
Once the fall is over and temperatures begin to dip to 30 degrees or less, it is time to bring your plant indoors.

Successfully growing rosemary indoors requires good sunlight-the more the better- and ideally southern expoure.
If the plant is large, rotate it weekly so all sides of the plant receive sunlight. Wiry growth often indicates inadequate light. And if you can't increase natural light, consider using artificial light. You can also prune plants to encourage bushiness. Sometimes indoor plants develop mildew because of a lack of air circulation. If this happens, run a small fan 3-4 hrs a day.
When rosemary is planted outdoors, insects aren't a problem. But inside spider mites are more likely to cause trouble. If this happens, wash plant with an all natural insecticide soap until plant is healthy. Rosemary grows best at cool indoor temperatures, around 60 degrees

Hope you have good luck with your rosemary plant!
Look through the recipes and find something to add your rosemary to and create flavorful memories