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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Medical Scrubs Are Stylish and Comfortable Now

Medical uniforms are not what they once were. Have you noticed how they have become actually fashionable. Of course that could be because the selection of companies out there providing them has expanded so. They are everywhere. But for a busy medical professional who most likely does not have the time to spend a day driving around looking and looking for scrubs in fashion there are now online ordering possibilities. What better way to pick out fashionbable medical scrubs then in the comfort of your own home or desk, and ordering in a non-harried way. And even though there are fashionable medical scrub choices out there, they are not always easy to find.

And if comfort is also on your mind when looking for your medical scrubs then look no further than
dickies medical uniform. Comfort, quality, style all can be part of medical wear. A long day at work, on your feet most of the time, you must consider comfort as well as style. Quality of the material also insures comfort. But when you can also get something stylish as well as comfortable. No more white and hospital greens, you now have bright and beautiful choices of colors and styles.  And you nca enjoy your day off at home, not driving around trying to find the perfect medical scrub. Just think of the possibilities!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eggnog: That Little Taste of Christmas

By: Karly Berezowsky

Eggnog is a worldwide holiday beverage, but its' ingredients vary from place to place. Some historians believe that the eggnog that we know today came from a British drink known as posset, which was made out of wine, milk and eggs. Posset was served hot and sometimes people even added figs to it for the sweetened taste it added. It is was not until much later until eggnog became a drink that was traditionally served cold.

Europeans also had a concoction that consisted of ale and milk that was similar; while in United States Eggnog is made using rum and milk. The drink became popular amongst the rebellious colonists in the cold winter times because it kept people warm due to the alcohol and it was tasty due to its'spices. The spices were imported through trade in addition to the rum that was most likely a result of trading in the Caribbean.

During the earlier years Eggnog was made with milk, eggs, and some kind of alcohol, which was usually brandy or sherry. Brandy was an ingredient that was added later on in the 1800's. It became a drink that was associated with socializing at parties around the holiday season.

Some farmers used to drink eggnog at their leisure because it was common for them to have a few cows and chicken, in addition to some liquor stored in the house; it was a relatively quick drink to make.

All in all, eggnog is a wintery pleasure to all of those that are of drinking age. However, not to worry there are also non-alcoholic versions in the Holiday book "The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition" that can be enjoyed by everyone at any time of the year.

For more Holiday tips, recipes and decorating tips get your copy of the book selected as the Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA- The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays Special Occasions-2nd edition

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be Prepared

Yesterday I met a woman that survived the Katrina Floods of New Orleans, she told me a heart wrenching tale of surviving during and after the storm. It made me think about Emergency Preparedness. As the saying goes ‘one can never be too prepared’ and in this age of many a natural disaster a saying can never ring truer.

Today it is easy to prepare for emergencies with the many choices of Emergency Kits that have been developed for these very types of emergencies. And it’s no wonder, having an emergency kit on hand makes one less thing to worry about. When disaster strikes there are too many other things to think about and if you are prepared with a food supply on hand, bandages, water supply, you will have the confidence to pull you through. There are many options out there with long lasting,dehydrated food supplies, kits in backpacks available just for these situations. So the work has already been done for you. All you need to do is find a place to store your emergency supplies

And who knows, maybe you will be fortunate enough to never experience a natural disaster, like the woman that survived Katrina did, but if you do you will have the peace of mind knowing that you will be prepared for an emergency with everything you and your family may need to make it through.
 Emergency Preparedness is one of the keys to surviving one of the many natural disasters of today and it couldn’t be any easier today than to do as the Boy Scouts profess-‘Be Prepared’

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Beginnings of Pizza

Guest Writer: Karly Berezowsky

The origins of pizza, the infamous crowd favorite, date all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, and other areas in the Middle East, way before the Greeks and Romans had it. Archeological historians believe that many Middle Eastern people of ancient times had a type of flat, un-raised dough that they put various sauces on. However neither the Egyptians, nor the Indians had toppings on their “pizza” but the Persians may have. Both the Greeks and Romans had a culinary creation that consisted of a type of flat bread adorned with some oil and spices . This goes totally against the common notion that the Italians were the ones to invent pizza.

This legend is derived from a story from around 1889 which stated that King Umberto I and Queen Margherita ate the food of the commoners which was a form of pizza and loved it. A man by the name of Raphaelle Esposito was charged with making a pizza for her, the Queen of Italy; he created a pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil; and to this day it is still called the Margherita pizza .

Over the years the pizza phenomenon went global, it became a fan favorite all around the world. It is just as huge in America as it was in Italy. In 1905 a man named, Gennaro Lombardi was the first to ever obtain a license to sell pizza in the United States. He opened up shop in New York City . Eventually people caught on to the idea that this was a profitable business so people began opening up pizzerias all over New York and then up in Connecticut and further north. It then spread down the coast. Traditionally New York style pizza has a very thin and crunchy crust. Pizza became extremely popular in the United States after World War II because many soldiers ate it when they were overseas and enjoyed it. The establishment of pizzerias across the United States began between the late 1940s-1950s.The deep dish Chicago pizza was supposedly created by Ike Sewell in 1943 . It took a while for the pizza makers to move out west; it was not until 1973 when Alice Waters started making veggie pizzas out in California.

 Do you love Pizza??, get the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition. Selected as the best Italian cuisine Book in the USA

Visit The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Espresso- a Fast Food

Guest Blogger: Karly  Berezowsky

The word 'espresso' translated from Italian into English literally means fast. The first espresso machine was invented in France in 1822 . A man named Luigi Bezzera experimented with ways to speed up the brewing process of coffee. In 1903 is when he discovered that by increasing the pressure, directly causes the brewing time to be significantly shorter. He invented the Fast Coffee Machine. However, despite his best efforts he did not have the money or financial backing that was needed to market his machine.

In 1905 Luigi Bezzera sold the rights and patent to the machine to a man named Desidero Pavoni. It was Pavoni that successfully launched espresso and the espresso machine to the Italian people. In Italy alone there are currently well over 220,000 coffee bars.

Today, espresso machines transfer the water at an increased pressure level through the espresso grinds, thereby forcing it through the metal filter and into a person’s cup. Some believe that espresso should be consumed very quickly after being made because shortly afterwards it begins to break down, thus explaining why it is served in small quantities in short cups.

Espresso quickly spread throughout the globe. It was then incorporated as the main ingredient of numerous coffee drinks such as the macchiato, cappuccino, mocha, various lattes, as well as other blended drinks.

Espresso has a unique taste that is both bittersweet and rich. If one dislikes the strong taste of the shot it can be combined with any type of creamer to create a lighter taste.

One of the problems facing coffee marketers today is that many people are choosing to buy coffee that is of less quality because it is less expensive instead of opting to buy the high quality brands due to the poor economic situation, therefore the sales of expensive coffee beans has been slightly declining over the last few decades.

In addition to this, much of the younger population, especially in the United States are so entrenched in drinking overtly milk/crème based blended medleys from coffee chains that produce a lesser quality brew, presumably because of the sweeter taste, that they have developed a misconception of what real coffee or espresso is supposed to taste like.

So if you want to know what a real espresso should taste like venture to one of Italy's famous coffee bars-even if only once- to find out what a real espresso was meant to be.

For great info and recipes get your copy of the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking : Holidays & Special Occasions

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Year of Caravaggio

copyright 2010 art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc.

Guest Post by : Karly Berezowsky
This is the year of Caravaggio, the famed Italian artist.. Here are some interesting facts about one of the many geniuses of Italian art..Recently, a Caravaggio painting has been recovered in Berlin, Germany, after being pilfered in 2008 in Odessa, Ukraine. The stolen piece was actually a modern replica of Caravaggio’s Taking of Christ. It has been proclaimed by art historians that the Taking of Christ was not painted by Caravaggio due to distinct differences in the painted figures. It may have been painted by one of his students; despite being manifested as an original Caravaggio by the Soviets in 1950.

But to understand how it was contrived a fake one must understand how immensely avant-garde Caravaggio truly was during the Italian Baroque period. Caravaggio was wholeheartedly innovative and anarchistic because he is taking off the blindfold and showing real issues like murder and squalor. This painting portrays an extremely traumatic murder.

Caravaggio was an Italian Baroque painter. He lived a rough life, he was arrested multiple times. He used ordinary common folk such as people in the streets as his models. He painted down-to-earth, real earthly people with real problems. The subject matter for the majority of his works was religious scenes. He committed a murder and there was a price on his head to bring him in alive or dead. His temper caused him to get into many fights and upset a lot of townspeople which forced him to flee to various areas of Europe. But a life on the run could only last so long.

Caravaggio was an innovator that used techniques called tenebrism and chiaroscuro throughout his work. Many of his pieces are considered to be Shock Theater because they are so dramatic and have theatrical elements to them. For instance, some of his paintings have spotlight lighting and drawn red curtains.

Caravaggio painted what he saw, using people on the streets as models. The Calling of St. Matthew depicted Jesus Christ pointing at Matthew in a dim dive of a tavern. The action starts to the left and then flies off to the right; this makes the composition dynamic because it forces your eyes to move with the unfolding scene.

Caravaggio had an interesting take on classical art which can be seen in his painting, Boy with a Basket of Fruit. In which he makes the God Baccus look sickly due to his greenish skin color, when he is supposed to be the god of wine and merriment. Caravaggio made the God Baccus look more earthly and unkempt. Caravaggio is in a way rejecting the classical form of art by making it more seedy and run-down.

Caravaggio was rejected after he painted The Death of the Virgin. One of Caravaggio’s most famous pieces was Death of the Virgin. It was commissioned for the Church of Santa Maria. His patrons hated it so much they actually returned it to him, totally rejecting his art and skill. It depicts the death of the Virgin Mary. Mary actually looks dead, her flesh is green and the body appears bloated; much like the dead deer do on the side of the road in the summer heat, limbs outstretched and fat. Caravaggio was totally radical painting the Virgin Mary like inflated road kill. It is rumored that he used a drowned whore from the morgue as the model for the Virgin Mary. Just imagine the riot that would ensue if someone painted her like a prostitute today and then plastered it onto the wall of the Vatican. And it is because of all of these clandestine features of the painting that the patron nuns returned it to him. They reasonably objected to the painting because they thought it was too unorthodox because she looks like a corpse which is an indecent image when she is supposed to be an icon of light, heaven and hope.

For recipes and charmingstories on life in Italy get your copy of the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baba Ganoush-a Healthy Dip

copyright 2010 art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc
Guest Post By: Karly Berezowsky

Baba Ganoush is an old world dish made predominately out of eggplant is a refreshing and simple dish to make with origins in the Middle East. It is still eaten today by the Turkish, Armenian, Greek, Romanian people, along with many of Mediterranean origin. Eggplant or aubergine is a popular ingredient in many Italian dishes as well, so this might be something worth trying out. This dish is especially superb for a vegetarian or for someone who is just trying to eat a little healthier.

One may describe it as an eggplant dip. Some people pair it with pita bread; but it is good enough to eat right off of the plate.

The list of ingredients is as follows:

1 pound of eggplant

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 handful fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, for approximately 20 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid. Scoop out the pulp and place into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl. On a cutting board, mince garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in the parsley, tahini, and lemon juice. Season with more salt, to taste. Garnish with additional parsley.

For more great recipes get your copy of the Award Winning Book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition winner of the Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati & The Basic Art of Italian Cooking are touring the USA and Canada, upcoming appearances schedule:
Sept 11 & 12-Hudson Valley Wine Fest-Rhinebeck, NY, Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Maria will take center stage at 2 PM on both days and share recipes, stories from her new award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition recipes. Maria will be signing copies of the latest book throughout the weekend event.
For more info email:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eating Seasonally with an Herb Garden

copyright 2010, art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc

Guest Blogger: Rachel Floyd

We all appreciate a delicious and well-seasoned dinner dish. Herbs, usually used to season dishes, refer to any plant that provides its flavor and scent to prepared recipes, in addition to their medicinal, decorative, or aromatic value. Herbs and spices are necessary to so many dinner preparations, providing that extra boost of flavor for your family’s satisfaction or to make your dinner party dish that much more memorable on a special occasion.

Obviously, most kitchens have been equipped with a well-stocked spice cabinet. In addition, many of us scour specialty shops searching for the freshest possible spices, and, perhaps, those that are the least common. However, why spend the extra dollars when you can grow herbs in your own home. These days, all of us are trying to cut back on supermarket costs, and, in addition to growing fruits and vegetables in your garden, growing your own herbs at a very minimal cost is an easy way save.

You can plant your herb garden in either a small garden patch outside, or, for an easy way to bring some greenery inside your home, you can attach a small windowbox to your kitchen windows. Even individually potted herbs work well. Wherever you decide to plant your herb garden, the most important principle is that the area should be able to receive a lot of sun!

If you decide to grow your herb garden from seeds, focus on giving them the required amount of sun, well-drained soil, and water them regularly. Some great herbs to start with are thyme, bay leaf, basil, and parsley. Some other herbs are oregano, rosemary, and mint. You can even create a trend among your friends: by exchanging cuttings of your plants, you and your friends’ herb gardens can grow in variety (you can all save some more money, too!). There are certainly good reasons to invest in a herb garden: you will save money, partake in a fun gardening activity, and, best of all, have fresh and delicious herbs that will make your seasoned dishes even more excellent. And what could be better than that?

Want great recipes to go with your herbs ,get your copy of the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition-selected as Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA
Share the Joy!- do you have a special Holiday food memory to share that you woudl like to see published. Share the Joy with our readers
Sept 9-12- Hudson Valley Wine Festival..Join Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking as they take the stage for cooking demos and book signings.Rhinebeck, NY at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. For more info or to sponsor the appearances email:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cuisine of Bologna, Italy: No Baloney Here!

Guest Blogger: Emily Whalen

copyright 2010 art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc

To the American public, the word “B-O-L-O-G-N-A” will conjure up pictures of sausages and hot dog commercials. But long, long before Oscar Mayer was a gleam in his mother’s eye – and even now, the word “Bologna” means something very different and bigger in regards to food than just an American sausage. It refers to a city – a city long renowned for its' cuisine, hospitality, and culinary tradition. So much is this the case that one of its nicknames is “la grassa” or Bologna the Fat. Bologna is a prosperous and ancient city in Northern Italy, nestled between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains. Even before the Romans, ancient Celtic tribes and Etruscans began to settle here, build home for their families – and grow food and cook.

The fertile valley it’s located in makes it the ideal spot for fresh delicious foods. The surrounding fields are lush with grains, vegetables, and of course grapes to make Italian wine. For centuries, visitors have remarked on the produce that has flourished here and the abundance of fowl and meat. Sausages are only one of the many foods Bologna is known for – and in fact- there is no sausage going by the name of “bologna” or “baloney.” That name is an American invention, and the sausage is a refined version of mortadella – a ground-pork sausage that originated in Bologna. Cured pork meats are an important local industry in Bologna and the surrounding area of Emilia-Romagna. In addition to mortadella, you’ll find prosciutto and salame.

Ready to hear about some mouth watering foods? Bologna recipes and culinary practices have been passed down through families through the ages, making for some delicious eats! For snacking, there’s crescentine – fried pizza dough that goes perfectly with those local sausages or some cheese. The meats are also used in the famous meat-based Bolognese sauce – which is usually just called “ragu” in the city. You’ll see spaghetti Bolognese all over Italy, but don’t be fooled! Residents of the city claim the sauce actually makes a tastier pairing with other pastas, especially tagliatele. The cooks of Bologna are expert in rolling out perfectly even, smooth dough for this rolled pasta. The pasta is a truly local dish – it’s said to have been created five hundred years ago at the wedding celebration for the Lord of Bologna’s daughter!

But what some say are the best symbols of Bologna’s cuisine are the tortellino and lasagna. With these dishes you have the flavorful fillings, the delicious pasta, and the history and the legends – tortellino is said to have been inspired by a beautiful lady’s bellybutton! In fact, these three ingredients do seem to represent what’s best about Bologna cuisine – fresh, rich, and local ingredients; skillfully rolled pasta, where that skill has been passed down through the years; and the rich history and long tradition which has kept Bolognese food as renowned today as it was five hundred years ago.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Eating Seasonal & Local

copyright 2010, art of living, PrimaMedia,inc.
Guest Blogger: Rachel Floyd

Numerous articles, messages, and trends advise us on how to eat nutritiously yet deliciously while also maintaining a “green,” environmental-conscience at the same time. But, out of all the various sources claiming precedence over the next, what advice should a good cook really pay attention to in order to fulfill this twenty-first century culinary criteria? Well, it may be as simple as pay a little more attention to certain trends—nature’s trends.

Typically, society has very specific connotations attached to the conception of the distinctly separate seasons. Shorts and tee shirts in the summer time, blooming flower buds in the spring, the white landscape of winter, and the leafy patterns of fall. However, one would not find it enjoyable or ideal to embrace the winter season with summer time’s shorts, tee shirt, and sneakers. The discomfort and lack of satisfaction of such a situation is blatantly obvious to all of us.

Each and every kind of plant, as with the typically associations with the various seasons, also has certain period of time and specific conditions that make it optimal growing. Similar to the way in which no one wants to wear summertime clothes during the dead of winter, each plant also carries a seasonal preference. For ecologists, seasons are considered a natural source of diversity and they also compromise the backdrop of cooking and eating. Changes in growing conditions throughout the seasons of the year are considered essential for balancing the earth’s resources.

And what might be the greater benefit of seasonal eating for you and your families? Well, more than you might have assumed. First of all, the taste of any food and the flavorful edge that it can add to any recipe is the main reason that most enjoy certain foods over others. At most large supermarkets, suppliers grow produce in a hothouse or ship it around the world. Crops are harvested prematurely and then refrigerated so that they will not rot during transportation and before being sold. Therefore, this produce does not ripen to full nutritional value as well as it would in its natural environment and is unable to fully develop flavor. Locally harvested food does not undergo such a process, and, as result, has its full, fresh flavors intact. Also important is the avoidance of pesticides and other chemicals usually added to aid the enhanced growth of crops for large suppliers. By eating seasonally and locally, you and your family can cut down ingestion of harmful growth substances.

The benefits do not stop there. With each fruit or vegetable comes a particular time of year for its harvest, a time most optimal to enjoy the food’s full nourishment. Generally, these guidelines can determine what’s best and most ripe during the four seasons. In the summer, light, cooling fruits like peaches,blueberries,watermelon, strawberries, pears, plums as well as vegetables like broccoli, corn, and cauliflower. In the fall, harvest foods such as garlic, sweet potato, onions, and carrots are in season. In the winter season, foods that take longer to grow typically fall into this category, like all of animal foods (fish, chicken, beef, lamb, and venison), apples,as well as many root vegetables including carrots, onions, and potatoes. For spring, leafy and tender vegetables are in season such as lettuce, fresh parsley, and basil. With the seasonal harvesting of plants at their prime, the additional benefit of a wider variety within a healthy diet is only one of many different benefits that seasonal eating can provide.

Finally, eating seasonally can help the environment as a whole. During the transport of produce, at times, farmers will use irradiation, or, the zapping of the produce with a burst of radiation in order to kill germs, and preservatives, such as waxs, to protect the refrigerated produce. Local eating is simply a better option. Because locally harvested, seasonal fruits and vegetables are not transported as widely as those being transported to large distributers, pollution can be cut down and local economies can benefit.

But where to start? First, visit a local farmers market or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm that makes fresh, local produce available to members on a regular basis. Of course, growing fruits and vegetables in your own garden allow you to grow and pick your own food—and gives you the satisfaction of cultivating it yourself. By paying attention to what is in season and buying locally, you and your family will be rewarded with high quality, nutritious produce at a lower price.

Eating Seasonal
For recipes to eat seasonal and local gt your copy of the book selected as The Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA- The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saint Anna Di Stazzema-A Pillar of Remembrance

copyright 2010 art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc

Laying on the outskirts of the Apaun Alps, the village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema stands as a pillar of remembrance in Italy. The whole village now stands as a nobly divine memorial of an infamous World War II massacre in early August of 1944.

More than 560 people died in martyrdom at the hands of Nazi soldiers. The people, mostly women, children, and the elderly, were shot point blank in the town square, lined up against a church. The brutality of the attack struck fear, anger, and shock throughout the Italian people.

Today, Sant’Anna di Stazzema is a mended wound on the spine of the mountains, visited by many to see the memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives in the hatred. Although there are long-lasting scars among the family of those murdered, stitches are being threaded as an investigation takes hold. Up until 2004, the Nazi soldiers involved in the genocide of Sant’Anna were remained nameless. Investigations are surfacing, and the disrupted families of those lost are becoming content with the increasing justice.

Although the subject of the Sant’Anna di Stazzema massacre is a thick, horrific subject, tourists visit the village to marinate in its history, and its recovery. The village is making amends and friends of the Germans, as they gradually embrace forgiveness.

The village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema is an illustration of the metamorphosis of past to present, and a mark of Tuscany that will always be the bold mark on the map

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Please Don't Take Away My Salt...

 copyright 2010, art of living, PrimaMedia, Inc.
Guest Blogger: Emily Brauchle

Since the recession, Americans have been forced to give up small luxuries in order to sustain themselves and their budgets. Small luxuries may be cutting down on the grocery list, limiting vacation time, or conserving energy to shrink the electricity bill. There are plenty of comforts Americans have slowly begun to live without, but the fine treat of salt is something Americans could not go without. Tuscans, however, are a different story.

In Tuscany, Roman soldiers were paid in salt for its high value and cost. Salt was extremely expensive in that era due to the high tax placed on it. Salt, or sale in Italian, is where the English language gets the word salary and the expression ‘worth your salt’. With the tax on salt, Tuscans learned to live without the delicacy and adjusted their recipes and cuisine, most significantly their bread making.

At present, Tuscan bread is still, as it has been forever, perceived as simple and satisfying. Now it is also known to be salt-free, as the change in tradition carried over from century to century unto the present day. Nowadays, Italians claim that they prefer their salt-free carbs, and wouldn’t have it any other way, as it acts as a host to its accompanying food and it’s spices.

Bread is served, not as a main dish or entrée, but as a side accompanying. The unadorned bread accentuates the flavor of the food it is served next to, and does not counterbalance any flavor or taste of the important part of the dish. Tuscans have mastered the balance between too little and too much, making absolutely sure the consumer is never smothered, but always satisfied.

Sept 9-12-Hudson Valley WIne Festival, Rhinebeck, NY, Maria Liberati & The Basic Art of Italian Cooking will be onstage doing cooking demos from the newly released  award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking:  Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd Edition

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

When in Tuscany...

copyright 2010, art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc
Guest Blogger: Emily Brauchle

In the beautiful utopia of Tuscany, thousands of places call out your name. You know that you can leave your boredom on the plane and release yourself into the paradise of Tuscany. You have countless places in Tuscany you’re just dying to see for the first time and breathe in all the artistry, history, and shopping. However, there are three places you must see during your holiday in Tuscany.

One is the beautiful city of Florence, or Firenze, where tourists flock to -like ants to a watermelon. Florence is the capital region of Tuscany, as well as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Being known as the ‘Athens of the Middle Ages’, Florence has a vast amount of architecture, music, art, culture, and cuisine wrapped up in the center of Tuscany like a gift. Florence was home to famous artists like Michelangelo, Dante, Botticelli, and da Vinci in older times, and is now home to the best modern art, courtesy of Prada, Cavalli, and Gucci. With one museum after another, and market after the next, no wonder it’s considered the art capital of Italy, and one of the most visited cities in the world. It’s an artist’s realm, and a shopper’s heaven.

Another gem to visit under the Tuscan sun is the famous Pisa. Yes, home to the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’. All of those pictures you see with a person looking like a giant holding up a tall bell tower on an incline? Yes. That would be the Tower of Pisa. Not that you would travel half way around the world to see a falling building that is. The tower is company to the Duomo (neighboring cathedral rich in artistic works), the Baptistery of San Giovanni (which is rumored to cause bad luck among surrounding underclassmen who visit it), and the Camposanto (a monumental cemetery that is simple on the outside, and magnificently designed on the inside) in a beautiful square set apart form the rest of the town. Pisa is a pillar of necessity when visiting Tuscany.

Last, but not least, is Siena. Siena, along with it’s obviously desired cuisine, architecture, landscapes, and art, is widely known for its Palio di Siena. The Palio di Siena is a horse race held twice a year during the summer that attracts thousands to the city. The race has ten horses (symbolizing ten city regions in Siena) racing against each other, ridden bareback by jockeys. What makes this race unique is the requirement for winning. The only thing that needs to cross the finish line is the district’s horse, not the jockey! The excitement of the race is only amplified by the intensity of the jockey’s fate, as well as the fate of the district’s pride.

When in Tuscany, time can be passed by the years easily. The beauty of it is ravishing and divine, as well as its history and art. World-weariness is in short supply, so have fun! See everything, but be absolutely sure you see the three centered provinces of Florence, Pisa, and Siena.

For more Italian travel stories and recipe get your copy of the Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Slow Food Journey to Florence

copyright 2010, art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc
Guest Blogger: Daniel Dorr

Let's  start our Slow Food journey  in the beautiful city of Florence. This cultural mecca has the hustle and bustle of New York City, but with thousands of years of high culture engrained in the historic marble lain structures that gleam in the Mediterranean sun. Generations of Florence citizens have been perfecting art, architecture, literature and of course, cooking. Exploring the streets of this art laden city can literally entrance residents and visitors alike in its beauty and aromas.

Since 1973 Fabio Picchi has helped maintain but established his own niche in Florence as a cultural institution, reviving traditional Italian dining. The exuberant reaction to his first restaurant, Cibrèo Restaurante, has allowed him to continue cultivating taste-buds throughout the region. Picchi expanded his presence in the city and has been esteemed by patrons from all over the globe – so much so that people wanted more. He decided to open three more locations, all bearing the name Cibrèo. One of these is a dinner theatre Teatro del Sale, in which his wife Maria Cassi performs for those who really want to experience an “old world” meal in an original Florentine theater. Each restaurant varies in theme and price range, but never leaves the customer with a bad taste in their mouth, as they consume fresh, organic and locally grown ingredients --- a standard kept in high regards to the Slow Food alliance.

Walking into the restaurant one will usually find a long line of anxiously awaiting patrons. Those who frequent the location will not be found muttering impatient gripes but absorbing the ambiance of an old Italian dining room with the sophistication of a 21st century tourist destination.

The waiting staff is multi-lingual, since there is no written menu -- Signor Picchi being too well-versed in Italian cuisine to limit his talents to a select few dishes. The entrees, while being traditionally inspired Tuscan dishes, are improved under the scrupulating hands of the owner/chef extraordinaire. There are no pasta dishes on the menu because traditional Tuscan meals did not include this. The customary Tuscan dishes are unsalted breads baked in garlic and dipped in homemade virgin olive oil, as well as a course of meat – the staple being wild boar, and a tomato dish infused with herbs and mushrooms. The native Florentine is making famous these and dishes that he grew up eating, such as stuffed rabbit, and calamari casseroles.

For recipes and more info on special places in Italy get yoru copy of the book selected as The Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA-
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

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Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati will be making an appearance at the Hudson Valley Wine Fest Sept 9th-12th in Rhinebeck, NY for info on attending and/or sponsoring Maria's appearance email:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slow Food..Slow Living & a Sunflower Field

Guest Author: Daniel Dorr
copyright 2010, art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc

Imagine sitting down to dinner in the warm Mediterranean air around a table with your extended family for hours, as the sun is setting on a filed of  sunflowers  A waiter comes to fill your already stained red wine glasses, while an accordion player is sounding their last heart throbbing note. This picturesque moment may seem dream-like, but it doesn’t have to be if you know where to go while travelling the Italian Peninsula.

The international Slow Food Movement was started in Italy to preserve this type of dining experience. Since then its recognition has spanned around the globe, and their establishments have even started to arrive in metropolitan areas of the US. Mediterranean life is described as being a much more laid back style of living compared to most Western societies. The organization’s intent was to protect Italy’s dining habits from expanding Western companies, such as McDonalds. To embody their message protestors armed with penne pasta pelted the first Roman fast-food establishment showing their disapproval. Now if you’re not feeling as radical as these food lovers, you can align yourself with their cause by enjoying a meal at a Slow Food restaurant.

The Slow Food manifesto was written to preserve the traditional values of Italian dining – urging people to literally slow down their lifestyles. Who wouldn’t love for your boss to say, ‘take two hours for lunch and relax about that up-coming deadline’? Founder Carlo Petrirni suggests in the official statement, “suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.” It is a proven anthropological fact that the best time of the day to create meaningful conversation is during a shared meal. Slow Food advocates are intending to prove this.

As well as creating a stimulating, relaxing environment for people to dine they are also very concerned with the type of foods they serve. Slow Food advocates are highly concerned that while food species have begun to be homogenized by agribusinesses that their local strains of vegetables and produce will be left extinct. In order to combat this, slow food restaurateurs have established relationships with environmentally conscious farmers (who use neither pesticides nor growth hormones), also trying to maintain their foot holes in the local produce market.

It’s all too easy while travelling in a new country, or any new place for that matter to fall back into your normal eating habits. You can “grab a quick bite” anywhere in the world, but to really experience a foreign land you must eat like an Egyptian – or however that old saying goes. No matter how many tourist attractions you see you can never really get a feel for a new culture without indulging in local cuisine and restaurants. One of the most prominent restaurateurs in Italy for Slow Food is Fabrio Picchi. His restaurants are world renowned and located in Florence, which I will characterize in my next article in this series, A Slow Stroll from Milano to Palermo.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Five Tenors of Italian Cooking....

copyright 2919 art of living, PrimaMedia, Inc.
By: Emily Brauchle

The five major herbs used in Italian cooking have made just as much history as in the kitchen but sjust as much history outside the kitchen.. These herbs, basil, fennel, oregano, rosemary, and sage, have spiced up the history books from Greek and Roman empires to Italian cookbooks present day. The difference, however, is the uses. Herbs were prominently used for medicines, superstitions, and perfumes in the first years of human existence. Now, it would be seen as odd for someone to rub a leaf of a fragrant herb on themselves to smell better.

Basil represents a complete spectrum of things, from love and courting to hatred and scorpions, throughout different cultures. Basil originated in India, and its leaves were used to swear oaths upon in court rulings. As it was introduced to Italy however, it gained a softer respect, as basil was used for courting and represented love. Basil leaves have many medicinal uses you can use. Basil is most commonly used for digestive problems, from clearing gas to stomach cramps, to constipation. Basil can be ingested as basil tea, as well as herbal capsules, where the leaves are ground and dried.

Fennel originated in India, Egypt and China. It symbolizes flattery and heroism in Roman societies, while in medieval times it was kept in rafters and keyholes to keep out ghosts and spirits. In 812, Charlemagne declared it essential in all gardens due to its healing powers, which popularized fennel in Europe for fighting diseases. Fennel also has a reputation for weight loss, as it means marathon in Greek, which means ‘to grow thin’. It is known to promote digestion and jumpstart your appetite.

Oregano, probably the most commonly thought of Italian herb, actually originated in the Mediterranean. The goddess Aphrodite was said to have created oregano, giving it its fragrance and flavor for men to enjoy. In medieval times, oregano was chewed to cure rheumatism, toothaches, indigestion, and coughs. Oregano contains acid, which has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-viral properties, making oregano the most potent plant-derived antiseptic, according to studies at Delaware State University. Who would’ve known? You can be curing toothaches while flavoring you favorite dish or olive oil.

Rosemary just reeks of superstition along the ages. A rosemary twig under your pillows keeps away the nightmares, but a rosemary necklace attracts elves. Rosemary is the emblem of fidelity for lovers. Sicilians believed that youthful faeries hid along rosemary branches. Burning rosemary will keep away everything and anything, from evil ghost and spirits to illnesses. Nowadays, rosemary can be used to treat symptoms of nervousness and improve memory by burning it as incense.

Sage was known as the herb of the mind, as it improved mental acuteness, wisdom, and psychic powers. Sage was said to have come from satyrs, half-man, half-goat creatures who loved parties, wine, and sex, so who knows what affects this magical herb can have on someone? Sage tea is beneficial for sore throats.

Who would have known that the same spices sprinkled on your food, were created by gods, fought evil spirits, and cured sicknesses? The next time you pop a forkful of pasta into your mouth and wonder how someone could achieve such perfection, remember the magic of the herbs, because apparently, there’s a lot of mojo mixed up in them all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Herbs: Economical, Extravagant & Efficient

copyright 2010, art of living,PrimaMedia,Inc

Guest Author: Emily Brauchle

It’s been a long day at work, and a luxurious Italian dish sounds welcoming. You pull out the needed ingredients of your favorite red sauce recipe from the pantry and spice cabinet. Wait. The spice cabinet? Could that sound any more predictable? I think not.

Instead, picture yourself walking to an aromatic balcony blooming with fresh herbs from decorative planting pots, and plucking a perfect basil or oregano stem from its place. These fragrant herbs are free from pesticides and chemicals, and they’re costing you about a fourth of the money you would have normally spent to buy fresh herbs at any farmers’ market. These herbs could make your favorite red sauce all the more special.

As the season metamorphosis into spring, the perfect opportunity for planting waggles it’s eyebrows at you as you read this. Yes, planting a garden can be hard work. No, you really don’t have time for all that sweat and weeding, nor do you have space on your lawn to flip into a construction site. It’s just too bad, because you would really love all of those fresh herbs, right?

Well, here’s a secret. Anyone and everyone can easily manage an herb garden. You don’t even need a lawn. Herbs can be effortlessly grown and managed in planting pots (the same planting pots you glanced at in your favorite store few weeks ago to notice the cute color schemes). Seeds cost no more than a few cents, and all you have to do is plant, water, and repeat. If you were to plant some of the basic Italian herbs (such as sage, oregano, basil, fennel, and rosemary for example), the whole garden would cost you about $50-$60 to create.

Mind you, there are a few precautions when dealing with herb gardens. For instance, herbs need soil that is well managed. Don’t freak out. All you would need is a planting pot that has drainage holes in the bottom to let excess water leak. Make sure the herbs get plenty of sun, as most herbs reach a fuller plumage with sunlight. Most herbs are also sensitive to cold weather, so if you’re expecting a frost, just place the pots in your kitchen or foyer for the night.

Come on. You know you want to. Herb gardens are beneficial and economical, as well as a great way to make your food taste better. Go for it and better yourself, as well as your favorite dish.

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Get recipes for your herbs in the Award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions
 **Special Appearance: May 25th, 11 AM, Book Expo America, Javits Convention Center, NY, NY, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions pre-release of second edition with Maria Liberati. First 100 visitors receive a free mini  version of the book

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Greek Crostini & the Healthy Mediterranean Diet

We are honored to have as our guest author today-Felicia Mcclinton of with a deliciously healthy recipe for Greek Style Crostini

Greek Style Crostini
8 servings
288 calories per serving


1 lb   of  crusty bread

1 cup  of Greek Kalamata Olives

4 ounces  Greek Feta Cheese

4 tablespoons  Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 clove Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

This recipe is perfect for 8 persons and you can prepare it in 35 minutes. It is a very flavorful and sumptuous dish inspired by the Greek feta croutons and black olives. This is also one of the easiest recipes to prepare.


Make 1.5-inch thick slices of bread. Place the sliced bread in the oven or toaster. Rub garlic on each slice of bread after toasting.

Meanwhile, cut the feta cheese into small cubes. Cut the olives into quarters or halves. In a separate mixing bowl, mix the cubed feta cheese and olives and season with olive oil. Make sure the toasted breads are still hot before sprinkling the cheese and olive mixture. Serve and Enjoy.

***About the Author - Felicia Mcclinton writes for the blog , her personal hobby blog she uses to help people learn how to make Mediterranean recipes to eat healthy to prevent diseases.

For more great recipes get your copy of the award winning book
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions
*See you on May 25th at Javits Convention Ctr in NYC at 11 for a pre- book release book signing
*See you at Borders on May 8th at 2 PM for a book signing
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Mussels & the South of France

copyright 2010 art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc

The thought of a dish of Mussels always brings back my memories of  summer trips to the South of  France, where many restaurants serve them fresh from the sea..the thought of eating a plate of mussels in tomato sauce outside on a warm summer day in the hot summer sun brings me to a special place..  ..and maybe it is anticipation but with Spring just popping by it seems that summer can't be far off...but doesn't have to be summer to enjoy this.... it is from my latest book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions

Tagliolini Pasta with Mussels

(Tagliolini are egg noodle pasta traditional to the Region of Emilia-Romagna but are sold all over the world)

½ lb of egg noodles (tagliolini pasta)

1 lb of zucchini

1 ½ pounds fresh mussels

¼ cup chopped onion

1 scallion

6 tablespoons of extra virgin oilive oil

1 handful of fresh basil

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves


freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop onion and scallion. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan.Saute on medium low heat for 5 minutes, do nor brown. Wash and slice zucchini into small sticks. In another saucepan,place in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, warm for 1 minute and place in zucchini, saute for 5 minutes,season with salt and pepper to taste. In another sauce pan place in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, place in washed mussels and chopped parsley. Cover and when mussels have opened their shells, remove from heat. Set aside. Remove mussels from pan and shell. Filter the water from cooking mussels and set aside. Place shelled mussels, cooking water , sauteed zucchini, in saute pan with onion.Saute together for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Place in chopped basil and remaining olive oil. Cover and set aside. Cook noodles. Drain. Place into saute pan with mussels, place over moderate low heat for one minute, toss gently. Serve

Booksigning at Free Library of Philadelphia-April 14

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Leftovers Again??

All blogs copyright art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc 2008,2009,2010

What’s for dinner tonight? The answer is simple once you’ve mastered the quickstep approach in meal preparation, transforming tiresome leftovers into rock star dinners. Even if you can’t cook, have fun with it because these ideas are easy enough from start to finish. There’s nothing worse than finally sitting down after a long strenuous workday than to a repeat-offender of last night’s meal. Practically willing it to disappear, those Houdini techniques at dinnertime sometimes fall short due to rushing lifestyles and little time. You certainly don’t have to juggle yet another bag of groceries to achieve creative-greatness in the kitchen. So relax… open the refrigerator, allow its contents to inspire your inner-chef, and reinvent those weary leftovers. Everyone will think you’ve spent the entire day cooking, and only you will be the wiser.

Like many, the thought of food lingering from previous meals stirs visual doldrums that need not be recurring. With gas prices on the rise, ordinary provisions can become extraordinary cuisine without spending another dime at the local supermarket. Growing up, there were certainly times when money was sparse, and the invaluable lesson instilled was always the same, 'waste not want not'. When it comes to leftovers, anyone can present a versatile delicacy of options for turning just about anything into a forgivable next day feast. Sounds strange… but, in most cases, it’s actually true. Need proof? An American culinary staple is and will forever remain the hamburger, and while employing leftovers may seem a difficult task… those burgers can easily become a savory meat sauce for any pasta dish.

Pasta Surprise

Ingredients yield approximately 4 servings depending on ‘leftover’ amounts.

1 16 oz package of durum wheat or whole wheat spaghetti

Leftover hamburgers

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 -16 oz cans plum tomatoes

1 medium tomato, diced

1 tsp freshly chopped parsley

1 tsp freshly chopped oregano

¼ tsp garlic

3 basil leaves, chopped

Salt/pepper (to taste)

Grated Romano cheese (to taste)

Shred hamburger and place in a large skillet, stirring in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to remoisten meat. Cook on medium heat setting for 3-5 minutes or long enough to heat. Add plum tomatoes and diced tomatoes while blending in herbs/seasonings to enhance flavor. (This easy recipe is still ideal no matter what spices you have in your refrigerator and pantry.)

Bring meat sauce to boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer, allowing flavors to meld. Stir occasionally while preparing spaghetti. After draining al dente (firm) noodles. Place spaghetti in saute pan with sauce and toss, place on large serving platter, and sprinkle with grated Romano cheese. Voila, you’ve just reinvented your leftover hamburgers into a delectable Italian dish.

Still hungry?

Be sure to visit for more great recipes, and get your copy of, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, by Maria Liberati.
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Get a copy of the book that was selected The Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Strawberries...the Tears of Venus

Spring is almost here and that means the appearance of this beautiful red fruit.

Legend has it that when Adonis died, Venus shed tears that turned into strawberries..for this reason they  were  enjoyed by Romans at feasts held in his name. Shakespeare called strawberries food worthy of  fairies..and King Louis XIV had them planted in the gardens of  Versailles...

Anticipation..anticipation..for Spring and Strawberry season..
Here is a recipe from the Gourmand World Cookbook Award winner The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays &Special Occasions

Risotto alla Fragole (risotto with strawberries)

4 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks chopped finely

1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice

1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)

pinch of salt

1 cup Prosecco, Spumante or dry white wine

10 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and cut in half

Heat vegetable broth till boiling. Place olive oil in large saute pan. Place in chopped leeks and saute till leeks are just about golden. Place in rice and toast till rice is coated with oil and all liquid is evaporated. Add in wine or Prosecco. Stir till all liquid is evaporated. Place in ½ cup of vegetable broth and stir till all liquid is evaporated and repeat placing in ½ cup liquid til evaporated till rice is al dente (approximately 15 minutes).

Puree strawberries. When rice is almost done, place in strawberry puree. Stir in well. Remove from heat. Let stand for 2 minutes. Place 1 tablespon of butter on top and stir till melted. Serve ,top with grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese. Decorate plates with strawberry garnish.

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See you on April 14th at the Free Library of Philadelphia on Locust St at 6:30 PM

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Complete Your Perfect Meal with Perfect Dinnerware

It was  a truly exhilarating experience the first time I remember enjoying a dinner on special dinnerware that I had selected! What a veritable treat combining sensory pleasures of sight and taste together..and so it goes that although we eat with our mouth..we also eat with our eyes..

So when planning a dinner or event be just as attentive to the dinnerware and silverware as you are to selecting the ingredients for your recipes. Make your meal a culinary experience!
Here are some tips for selecting dinnerware:

*Colors do brighten up any table so for a touch of color select plates in colors that can coordinate,they don't have to all be an exact match just an interesting coordination

*Look for quality in your dinnerware, not quantity. Or if you must have more than  one set choose one set  of everyday dinner plates  that are  durable and dishwasher safe and one set that are for special occasions only. This is a great way to create a special occasion of your own and when you feel like making a special meal or want the meal to be a special one-pull out your 'special dinnerware' -it definitely has a psychological effect!

*Remember that the dinnerware you purchase has to have storage space of  its' own in your house. So be sure it will fit somewhere before you purchase it and bring it home.

Silverware.. you can find more interesting facts at Silverware Wikipedia ..but did you know that silverware as we use it today was invented by Leonardo DaVinci??? and introduced to the world by Caterina De Medici when she went to live in France after marrying the King of France she brought her silverware to France and the rest of the world  caught on.

Here are some tips to choosing silverware:
*Choose one set of silverware for everyday dinnerware and another for special occasions.

*Coordinate styles of silverware patterns with dinnerware
Luckily. living in the modern world we can hop over to  Bed Bath & Beyond  and select our dinnerware and silverware in one stop! Not like Caterina De Medici who had to take it all with her!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When A Spoonful of Comfort will Help...

Memories of hot soup and snowy days bring me back to my childhod..that hot soup my mom would always make with little pastene pasta in it...we called ours 'minestre' (which in Italian is usually a soup made with pasta) so soothing to comfort a cold or the flu or any other ailment I had..yes I guess chicken soup is a 'cure' for almost anything!
And it''s nice to know that for those of you that (even though many of my readers are foodies, and make their own great versions of chicken soup) would like to send a boiling hot pot of the elixir to someone that is dear to you but far away but can' can take care of that..They will send a pot of the stuff homemade with homemade oatmeal cookies and bread to whoever you select..and it is homemade so even though they are far from home the y will feel like you just made this..great stuff! check them out spoonfulof  there is also a beautiful story connected with the company and my favorite thing is that they say the soup is 'made with love'...and that is the best ingredient you can put in any recipe..
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cooking with ..Legends In The Kitchen

Betty White at the 1988 Emmy Awards.Image via Wikipedia

My passion for the kitchen and the  culinary arts is well known. But I also have a love of the Silver Screen and especially the talented actors who are part of it all..the legendary actors.. it's a treat when I share a  recipe or cook with a famous chef but  today I can cook along with one of my favorite Legends of the Cinema..
Legends In The Kitchen (Publisher-  also donates a portion of the proceeds to the Motion Picture & TV Fund Foundation has some fun recipes..created by or favorites of some of my favorites like Betty White, Burt Reynolds, Debbie Reynolds, Beau Bridges and many other greats of the Screen..
Fun recipes..especially for a lazy Sunday afternoon..and best of all you can imagine yourself in a Hollywood flick while getting a taste of one of their dishes...
There are many recipes to enjoy...but one of my favorite TV and movie actresses-Betty White contributed a recipe that suits her fun loving personality..easy, fun and she says that 'it is so easy to make, even I can do it' referring to her culinary skills. Here's a reprint of the recipe, but buy the book to have more fun and support a great cause..
Reprinted from Legends In The Kitchen,
Crunchy Pie
a Betty White Recipe
*Beat 3 egg whites till stiff
*Add in 1 tsp baking powder
*Fold in 1 scant cup of granulated powder sugar
*Fold in 11 single graham crackers (crushed)
*Fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts
Put in greased pie plate and bake in 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour. Let cool and top with whipped cream or ice cream.....

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ciambellone & A Trip Back in Time

My visit today to the medieval Abbey of Casamari in the province of Frosinone was a visit back to the medieval  pharmacies where many of the medicinal herbal formulas were discovered by the Benedictine monks here and brought to the world. The liqueurs and honeys also have medicinal properties to them and they are all produced at the Abbey in a traditional way, all fruits,herbs, plants used are all grown organically by the monks there..a virtual trip back in time.. After Sunday mass (said by the monks in Latin), and a visit to the Abbey's pharmacy and store the open air market beckoned.
The fragrance of freshly made (locally) made ciambellone were almost calling my name. These particularly local ciambellone made with anise seeds and boiled then baked (like  a bagel) are a typical product from  this region, but now they are difficult to find.
 They bring back memories of my grandmother (who made her own delicious version of these for breakfast) telling stories of how she would go to her local town bakery ( in the town of Venafro, Italy) in the morning and get them freshly baked for breakfast... my great aunt (her older  sister)  owned the bakery and was the head baker there.... These locally baked treats have been almost impossible to locate this was a real trip back in time..and an unexpected culinary treat..mmm..a piece of local  cheese with a  hot,freshly baked ciambellone..could not have dreamed of a better lunch...can not even describe the was one to be savored....
Here is another version of a classic ciambellone that is like a pound cake, delicious also and a little bit easier to make..while I pull out my recipe for the ciambellone I feasted on today..

Ciambellone Classico

2 cups all purpose flour or cake flour sifted

¾ cup sugar

½ cup melted butter

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

peel of 1 lemon

extra flour and butter for greasing pan

Work together the sugar and eggs. Blend in flour and melted butter. Work the dough till it is asmooth blended dough and add in the baking powder and salt and lemon peel. Butter and flour a cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Should be golden on top. Remove from oven and cool. You can decorate the top with a dusting of powdered sugar or shaved dark chocolate.

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