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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bethesda Row & Bella Italia

If you missed my Bethesda Row appearance at Bella Italia- Karen from Bethesda Magazine captured some of it on her fashionable blog at

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene

Monday, May 25, 2009

Asparagus- the fleeting vegetable!

One of the greatest summer vegetables is also one of the most fleeting. Asparagus is available year round if you know where to look and are willing to pay the price, but the season for fresh asparagus in the northeast is a 6-7 week window that must be taken advantage of if not missed entirely. Asparagus is not only delicious but packed with nutrients like potassium, fiber, vitamins B6, A, and C. A perfect side dish or accompaniment to almost any summer dish, these green spears beg to be cooked simply, seasoned well and eaten outside at a summer barbecue.

Green asparagus is the most familiar type to the average supermarket cart pusher, but seeking out farmers markets can yield interesting if not colorful results. Asparagus also comes in white and purple forms which provide even more uses for the summer perennial. Purple asparagus derives its color from additional anthrocyanin which also give color to beets, blackberries and eggplant. Purple asparagus also has a higher sugar content giving it a sweeter taste.

White asparagus is known as a delicacy and is a great deal more expensive than its green and purple cousins. Grown in the dark, the lack of sunlight stops photosynthesis and blocks chlorophyll from forming. Farmers used to just cover the spears with dirt when they first began to pop out of the ground, but this resulted in a sort of blind harvesting that would damage the asparagus. Now they are grown in black polyhouses which allow minimal light through to the actual plant.

My favorite way to enjoy asparagus are simply grilled over charcoal or wood, covered in olive oil, seasoned liberally with salt and topped with parmigiano-reggiano cheese. I use the leftovers the next day for a delicious asparagus frittata.

Grilled asparagus

You will need:
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup freshly ggrated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Begin by cleaning the asparagus. Take each spear in your hand and snap off the root end gently where it naturally breaks. This removes the tough, fibrous part of the plant while leaving the entire edible spear intact. Toss spears in olive oil and place across the grates of a hot grill so they don’t fall between the cracks. Close the lid for two minutes. Take the spears off the grill once they have turned a bright shade of green and are tender but still have a little bit of bite to them. Season with salt, fresh cracked black pepper and top with parmigiano -reggiano cheese.

Asparagus Frittata

You will need:

Last night’s leftover asparagus, approx 1/2 bunch cooked and cooled
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 white onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves minced
6 eggs beaten
Salt and pepper
Parmiginao-reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut asparagus spears down into 1/2” chunks reserving six whole spears. Melt butter in an oven proof skillet over medium heat and add onion and garlic and sweat until tender, about five minutes. Add the eggs and asparagus. Season with salt, pepper and cheese and bake in the oven for ten minutes or until the eggs are almost set. Place the six whole spears on top of the frittata in a star shape and top with more parmigiano cheese. Finish baking until eggs are completely set, cheese is melted and asparagus on top is hot.

Hope to see you all on June 4th at Foster's Gourmet in Philadelphia for The Basic Art of Italian COoking Shcool Tuscan Picnic dinner. Email for info

Jume 2nd The Basic Art of Italian COoking School goes to the Kenilworth Library in Kenilworth, NJ for a class on Cooking on a Budget with The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. For more info email:

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer's Here-Eat Healthy Tuscan style

Now that summer is officially here and fresh veggies are aplenty, here is a health yand delicious recipe, easy too. A great way to eat healthy and delicious, it also uses the Tuscan Picnic spice product I developed in Tuscany, it has been sold in limited markets in the US but has developed quite a following..will soon be in your local market.

Vegetable Ragu-Tuscan style

*6 medium eggplants
*1 red onion
*2 carrots
*3 potatoes
*4 ounces fresh string beans
*4 red ripe tomatoes
*1-2 tsps Tuscan Picnic
*4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Clean and cut all vegetables into chunks, except for string beans. Clean and cut string beans in half.
Place olive oil in bottom of large soup pot with a clove of garlic. Heat for 1 minute, then place in vegetables and Tuscan picnic. Stir. Pour in 1 cup water. Cover. Cook mixture for 45 minutes, uncover every 10-15m inutes, stir and pour in more liquid if necessary. This can also be cooked in crock pot.
This can be served as a Vegetarian second course or as a side dish.

Hope to see you on June 4th at Foster's Gourmet store in Philadelphia for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Tuscan Picnic class. Email to register or for more info.

ALso I wil be onstage at the Horsham Days event in Deep Meadow Park in Horsham PA. Look forward to seeing you all. Email for info

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

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grilling For Your Health

Grilling for Your Health

Done right, grilling can be one of the healthiest ways to cook. While there has been some talk in recent years associating grilling with cancer causing agents, there are steps that can be taken to reduce that risk. The risk is actually associated with the formation of certain cancer causing substances on food exposed to high heat and flame, which can occur with other cooking methods as well.

The good news is that it has been found that the use of certain herbs, popular in the Mediterranean diet, such as basil, mint, thyme, rosemary, oregano and sage, dramatically reduced the formation of some of these substances. These herbs are also commonly found in marinades, which add flavor and reduce the formation of the free radicals that have been associated with an increased risk of cancer, when the meat is exposed to a high degree of heat.

Of course, selecting healthier foods from the get-go can make grilling an even healthier option for your family, and an enjoyable activity in the warmer months of the year. While experts are now recommending a reduction in the amount of red meat in the diet to no more than 18 ounces per week, leaner meats, such as chicken and fish, are also excellent cooked on the grill. You should trim any excess fat from your meat before cooking (regardless of your cooking method, really). Choose fresh meat over frozen whenever possible (one of the key principles of the Mediterranean diet, remember?), and try to avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or sausage.

We know that fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, those wonderful cholesterol-reducing agents. Eating three meals of fish per week can reduce blood clotting, boost your immune function and help reduce heart disease.

Vegetables are also an excellent choice for a cook-out. As always, fresh local produce is best and richest in nutrients. Try to slice your vegetables so that the most surface area will be in contact with the grill surface. This will cause vegetables to be the most flavorful.

Do you have any great grilling ideas to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

May 15th & 16th- Hope to see you at Bethesda Row's (in Bethesda, Maryland)Stylish Events. I will be discussing my bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and doing a cooking demo eac hday from the book at Bella Italia-the stylish store inside Bethesda Row. Free and open. Email ro go to Bethesda Row for more info..See you then

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4th Flies Free in Telluride Colorado

Are you starting to dream of that summer vacation to a mountain get away... but think it wil never happen because of cost..well think again. Now family and friends can vacation together and on a budget. Vacation in the beautiful town of Telluride, 3 the 4th person flies for free.

Telluride Central Reservations, working with the Montrose/Telluride Regional Air Organization, is offering a free round-trip ticket – up to $350 in value – on any American, Continental or Delta serving nearby Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) with the purchase of three or more tickets on the same itinerary. Good for Sunday through Tuesday flight arrivals, the offer is good for travel completed by October 31.

The special offer requires a minimum stay of four nights at one of 10 participating lodging partners. Accommodations include luxury hotels, affordable inns, and condo and private home vacation rentals. Many of the participating properties are offering a fourth night for free.

In addition, each reservation booked will receive a restaurant gift card ($25 value) to use at Excelsior Café, Blue Point Grill & Noir Bar or X Café – all featuring menus from local celebrity chef Jake Linzinmeir.

“The 4th Flies Free special promotion will help make a Telluride summer vacation more affordable and easier to plan,” says Scott McQuade, CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board. “The great value is perfect for families, as well as groups of friends heading out for one of Telluride’s nearly 20 weekend festivals and events taking place this summer.”

The “4th Flies Free” offer is available while supplies last, and must be booked by June 15, 2009. All air tickets purchased as part of the promotion are non-refundable. To book travel or for more information, contact Telluride Central Reservations at 888.355.7433 or check the “Places to Stay” section at

About Telluride (
Located in Southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Telluride sits at 8,750 feet above sea level and is renowned for its Old West charm, culture and famous festivals, as well as exceptional restaurants and hotels. The entire town has been designated a National Historic Landmark District.

Telluride is connected with neighboring Mountain Village by a free gondola transportation system – the only one of its kind in North America. At an altitude of 9,500 feet, Mountain Village is home to the Telluride Ski Resort headquarters, a world-class golf course, restaurants, lodging and shops.

Image,iD and Identity

Identity is important for any entity..a restaurant, a hotel any type of corporation. The hospitality industry creates its own identity by the look and feel of its' products or services..and that means you need to create a whole identity package. has created the possibility for corporations on any type of a budget to create their identity with their corporate apparel.

Hotels can easily create their brand and identity with hotel uniforms and on a budget. In the hospitality industry an air of profesionalism along with great service is important but just as important is the look of the uniforms of the employees.. what do they do to create and reinforce your identity?

In the restaurant industry of course the food you serve is one of the most important ingredients to establishing your success. But equally important is your identity and how do yoru employees appear and but how do you do that all within budget? now makes it possible to establish a corporate image on a small business budget. Keep yoru employees looking polished and professional all the while establishing your identity with restaurant uniforms by

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day help from Chef Owen

To help make Mother's Day a great event, I have asked Chef Owen Tilley, Executive Chef & Director of Culinary, High Liner Foods, to share some of his tips with my many subscribers for a fun and delicious Mother's Day. Here is what Chef Owen suggests:

This Mother’s Day avoid the crowds at restaurants and set aside time to spend with the people that matter most to you. Whether you’re planning festivities for your own mother or honoring your wife this Mother’s Day, planning a family meal at home can offer a welcome respite to eating out. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to gather with friends and family, and cooking a meal at home will allow you to be the perfect host or hostess without overextending your wallet.
To help make this process as simple as possible, I’ve outlined a few tips and ideas to make a wonderful meal for a memorable Mother’s Day.

1.Remember, today is her day. For many moms out there, preparing dinner is a daily routine. While you are in the kitchen getting things ready, encourage the mothers in your life to take a few moments to relax in preparation of a great dinner. Make your mother or wife the focus this Mother's day
2.Preparing Mother’s Day dinner doesn’t have to take up your entire day. Plan ahead by buying your groceries the day before. Chop the vegetables in the morning, so it is quick and easy to sauté them in pan with a little olive oil
3.Create atmosphere. Dust off your best dishes and set them on your table with your finest silverware. Pick a few fresh flowers from your garden or buy a bouquet at the store for the center of your table. Encourage your kids to help pick out their favorite flowers for Mom
4.Make the meal a family affair. By doing so, you’re not only spending quality time together, but your children are encouraged to widen their taste preferences. Making the meal interactive allows children to feel as though they’ve truly contributed to the success of dinner, and makes the experience even more special for Mom
5.Go fresh. To give your dinner the best flavor, always try to use real ingredients instead of lower cal substitutes. Believe me, it offers much more taste, flavor and is far healthier to use a bit of real butter versus a butter substitute. Buy fresh vegetables over canned ones to give your mom the restaurant-quality dinner she deserves

By implementing these simple tips, you’ll be able to show the mothers in your life how much you appreciate all they’ve done!

About Chef Owen Tilley, Executive Chef and Director of Culinary, High Liner Foods
Owen’s experience includes tenures working with Robert del Grande of Café Anne in Houston, Dean Ferrin at Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, and Chris Schlesinger of the East Coast Grill in Boston. Between 2005 and 2006, Owen served as the executive chef of Tremont 647, a noted culinary hot spot in Boston. Owen then went on to join the Back Bay Restaurant Group to lead the development of Bouchee Urban Brasserie, another hot Boston concept.

Not only is Owen an accomplished chef, but he is also a successful entrepreneur. Owen has owned either full or partial stake in restaurants such as “Auggie Joes” in Kansas City and two restaurants in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

May 15 & 16th-Join me at a Fashion & Food Event at the Stylish Bethesda Row in Bethesda, Maryland. I will be sharing stories from my best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and doing a cooking demo at the Bella Italia retail store.
On Friday, hours are 5-8 and Saturday 1-4. For more info email or go to

June 4th- The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School takes me to Foster's Gourmet housewares in Philadlephia for a class on creating a Tuscan Picnic. Join me for a cooking demo, book signing, sampling and more $55 fee includes all materials. registration required. Call 215-204-6946 or online at

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Berries, Berries Everywhere

I just went to the out to get a bottle of olive oil and came back with bags full of fresh berries..I couldn't resist passing the local farm market..they are so ripe and fresh this time of year. Here's a recipe I get requests for all year round but now is the perfect time to make this:

A mixture of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries to top a delicious treat
Copyright 2009, Maria Liberati

30 minutes total
15 minutes prep time
Serves 8-10 crepes
16 ounces strawberries or berries, a mixture of wild (black berries, blue berries, raspberries and strawberries)
1tablespoon brown sugar, packed
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup flour, unbleached
2 eggs
1 tablespoon oil, not olive
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups skim milk
Cooking spray

Rinse and slice strawberries into a bowl. Pour lemon juice on top and toss.
Add brown sugar and toss until well coated; set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients together until there are no more lumps.
Over medium heat, heat crepe pan or non-stick frying pan.
When heated, remove from heat and spray with cooking spray
Pour a 1/4 cup of the batter in the pan. Quickly lift pan and tilt and turn until
batter evenly covers the bottom.
Cook over medium heat for 30 - 45 seconds until the edges are dry enough to
get a spatula under to flip.
Cook for another 30 seconds on the other side.
When lightly browned, remove from pan onto a plate.
Spray pan with cooking spray and repeat for the rest of the batter.
Stack crepes with wax paper between so they can be easily separated.
Down the middle 1/3 of the crepe spread one or 2 heaping spoons of berry mixture.
Fold one side of the crepe over the mixture and then the other side over first side.
Top with a spoon of berry mixture.
Can also be frozen wrap first in wax paper then put into plastic bag and then foil.
They stay moist if this is done when still slightly warm.
For more delicious recipes get your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at
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