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Fresh Tomato Pannino Recipe

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc./Maria Liberati

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”

Lewis Grizzard (American Columnist 1946-1994)

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……an easy tomato pannino for those luscious, home grown tomatoes…..

Basic Italian Pannino

Ingredients:

*2 red ripe tomatoes

*4 slices crusty Italian bread

*1 tablespoon extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil

*small handful fresh basil leaves, washed, and dried gently with paper towels (leaves only, no stems)

*Pinch of salt to taste

Directions:

Drizzle olive oil on bread slices. Cut mozzarella into 1/4 thick slices. Place on top of bread slices. Place tomato slices on top of cheese. Tear basil leaves by hand into small pieces, place on top of tomato slices, add a pinch of salt, another quick drizzle of olive oil and top with the other slice. You can also grill this for a few minutes on each side or eat cold.

For more great recipes get your copy of one of the books from the award winning book series

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking

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The Basic Art of Italiam Cooking:Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition

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The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style

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Top Ten Tips for Growing Tomatoes…

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

(excerpted from The Basic Art of …Tomatoes by Maria Liberati)

 

Top 10 Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

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Who doesn’t love the sweet richness of a freshly picked tomato? Whether they’re small red cherries, yellow pear tomatoes or the “Big Beef” variety, nothing compares to the way a garden-grown tomato melts in your mouth. Avoid the disappointment of drooping leaves, bug infestations and cracked fruit by following these tips for a delightful crop:

1) There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes. Many modern hybrids have been developed to be resistant to certain diseases that can plague your plants. Choose

cultivars that will have a better chance of thriving in your area.

2) When planning your garden, do not plant tomatoes where potatoes, peppers or eggplants have grown in the past 3 or 4 years. These species share a common blight that can live in the soil for several years and you will increase the chances for healthy tomato plants by keeping them far away from each other.

3) Mulch your tomato plants. Place straw, leaves, grass clippings or a store-bought organic-based mulch around the tomato plants on top of the soil. Mulch is a great way to keep the earth from drying out quickly, plus it keeps the weeds down.

4) Stake your tomato plants. Sticks or tomato cages work well. Use a soft piece of material to gently tie your plants to the stakes. Gardening centers sell ties of all sorts, though if recycling is your aim, sections of old nylons work well.

5) Take advantage of companion planting. Plant a few garlic cloves, basil seeds or borage close to your tomato plants. These are some of tomato’s best friends! They repel some of the most damaging insects that feast upon your precious plants.

6) Trimming is always a good thing. This really isn’t as tricky as it sounds. When tomato plants are growing, little “suckers” sprout up out of the crevices between the main stem and the leaf axils. With a sharp pair of scissors or simply your thumb and finger, just pinch these little leaves off, allowing the plant to focus its energy on the existing leaves and flowers (soon-to-be fruit).

7) Water your tomatoes directly at the base of your plants. When the leaves are wet, they are more susceptible to disease.

8) Tomatoes thrive in an averagely warm climate. Not too hot; not too cold. Not too wet; not too dry. They benefit from a deep watering about once a week more than light daily doses. However, take your type of soil into account: if you have sandy soil and no mulch, you will have to water more often than a clay-based soil with mulch. Evenly watering your tomatoes will help to avoid cracked fruit at harvest time.

9) Feed your little guys. Spread some rich compost around the base of your flowering plants. The nutrients will give an extra boost to your healthy tomatoes.

10) Don’t allow your tomatoes to get too cold or too hot. If you live in a very hot climate, try planting something like peas or cucumbers directly south of your tomatoes-something that climbs-to offer them a bit of extra shade. Conversely, if a cold front blows into your area and thermometer starts dipping down below 50˚F (10˚C), cover them up with sheets, as the fruit won’t set properly if they get too cold.

Whether you are planting a garden-full or you have a pot or two on your deck, add a bit of extra sweetness to your tomato plants and you will reap the benefits at harvest time, for they will give you plenty of sweetness in return… 

 

“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation”.
Phyllis Theroux, American essayist and former columnist for House Beautiful

 

For recipes get your copy of  these award winning books:

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking

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The Basic Art of Italian Cooking:Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition

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The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style

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Celebrating Spring ..Almond Cake Recipe

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

No mater how long the winter, Spring is sure to follow!

Spring is synonymous with colorful Holidays filled with  beautiful pastel hues of the rainbow…and so is this almond cake, especially used to celebrate Passover….or any Spring Day……

Almond  Passover Cake

 

6 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 cup finely chopped almonds

2 teaspoons of maraschino liqueur

juice of one fresh lemon

With an electric mixer, blend sugar with egg yolks till well blended,then add in first the chopped almonds and then liqueur and lemon juice.  In separate bowl,whip egg whites till firm with a pinch of salt. With a wooden spoon, blend in the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture,gently. When blended in, place batter  in pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool and serve. Happy Passover! Happy Easter! and let me know about any other Spring Holiday we should be celebrating!

For more great recipes get your copy of:

 

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition
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Ravino..The New Ravioli on the Table..

copyright 2016 Art of Living, Prima Media,Inc/Maria Liberati

 

The internet is populated with poems and stories expressing love for this beloved Italian staple!

For me… special Sunday dinners were always filled with the aroma of sauce bubbling and a pot filled with boiling water and homemade ravioli…but it was more than the ravioli that made those dinners special…besides the long hours and love and fresh ingedients that went into making the meal…our lives were shaped by those ravioli dinners..they were truly a culinary opera..fresh food, opera music in the background, sharing stories and photos of family that were far away in Italy..It was perhaps an un-ordinary way that my grandparents and parents taught us about culture and our family history….But ravioli was always the special ingredient..the delicious conduit that seemed to bring us all together.

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Ravino.. is the new ravioli in town. Fresh, artisan handmade pasta filled with luscious ingredients including that ultra creamy old world style ricotta  in your choice of spinach and ricotta, ricotta, mushroom and fontina cheese and chickpea and kale. They are as healthy as this dish was meant to  be and truly light as a feather averaging approximately 130 calories for 4 ravioli.

Use them as a healthy snack for mid afternoon or for after school snacks..Ravino is the versatile ravioli..

Tyr them..so light you won’t feel guilty eating them for dinner…

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For recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition

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Happy Easter Monday..Buona Pasquetta..

copyright 2016 Art of Living/PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati ..e dolce far niente...one of my favorite Holidays of all times is Pasquetta..a Holiday that is not about giving presents or sending cards or  flowers..but just really enjoying the day..and I mean truly enjoying every last drop of relaxation and fun and pleasure the day has to offer...godere..another of my favorite Italian words to express this Holiday…So whether you are going for a hike in the mountains or a picnic or a trip to the beach..or just spending a lazy, quiet day at home..this is a fun day to spend with friends and family to recharge for the Spring and Summer coming!

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(photo by Sofia Liberati)

picnics are lots of  fun….yeah! and a hot air balloon makes it even more fun!

Tramezzini are my favorite picnic food……

 

Tramezzini al Prosciutto

8 thin slices Swiss cheese

8 lettuce leaves-romaine or spring mix or baby spinach

3 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tomatoes

8 thin slices of prosciutto

3 tablespoons of sliced black sliced olives

8 slices of American style bread, crusts removed

Prepare the ingredients by washing and drying the lettuce, and tomatoes. Separate the lettuce leaves. Slice tomatoes. Set aside. Slice black olives. Prepare 4 sets of sandwiches by first cutting off crusts of bread. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each slice of bread. Begin by layering ingredients on 4 slices this way. First a slice of prosciutto, then 2 lettuce leaves for each sandwich, then tomato slices, another layer of prosciutto, slice of cheese, sliced black olives. Top with slice of bread, mayonnaise side down. Wrap tramezzini in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Then slice sandwich in half first in triangular shape then cut that into half , so you then have 4 triangle shaped sandwiches.

For more recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition

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Happy Easter..Buona Pasqua…2016

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

Easter.. Pasqua 2016..is now a memory..a delicious one…filled with freshly made ravioli and sugo (sauce) and a big bowl of macedonia and (what else) lots of chocolate..thanks to the Easter Bunny!  Sofia asked me if she could pay homage to  him for being so generous… and if I may quote ….. my 6 year old niece,,”Easter is special because it is about family and  friends yes….  thank you”….
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The macedonia (fruit salad) always has a special place at our Holiday table because our grandmother used to always end a family holiday dinner with a big bowl of seasonal fresh fruits marinated in freshly squeezed lemon juice with  dash of sugar.. Our Easter Macedonia included fresh pineapple chunks, fresh kiwi, grapes, pears, bananas…freshly squeezed lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

 

For more recipes for Holidays or recipes to make anyday a Holiday get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition

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Happy National Ravioli Day with Ravino…

March 20th is National Ravioli Day……Celebrate with Ravino Pasta

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 Ravino Pasta is making a name for itself in the frozen ravioli category. What sets Ravino ravioli apart from other brands is the superior filling and paper-thin dough.  Ravino’s cheese ravioli are filled with the finest Impastata Ricotta and Parmesan cheese while all other fillings are composed primarily of fresh, nutrient-rich produce.  In these ravioli the cheese is used only to highlight the natural flavors of the vegetables, making the Ravino brand a wholesome, healthy and delectable choice.

 

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Now food lovers can indulge in more delicious pasta-based meals, packed with natural, healthy ingredients. Ravino never uses any fillers unlike many other brands. Founder and CEO of Ravino, Diane DePalma is passionate about her products, stating “We’re committed to continue providing unique and healthy products that people are proud to serve to their family and friends!”

Ravino products can now be found in many quality stores in the New York metropolitan area (NY, NJ, MA and PA). Click here to find a store near you.

In honor of National Ravioli Day, Ravino Pasta wants to share some interesting bites about this increasingly popular pasta!

  1. The name “ravioli” is derived from the old Italian word riavvolgere (to wrap).
  2. This meal time favorite was traditionally served in a vegetarian form on Fridays throughout Italy

Did we whet your appetite? For more fun facts about ravioli (like the Guiness World Record’s longest ravioli EVER), visit our facebook page.

 

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Happy Father’s Day in Italy-Recipe for Zeppole

 

 Today is a feast for St. Patrick’s Day and Happy St.Patrick’s Day… but more popular here in Italy is Father’s Day- (March 19th) in Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Lichtenstein, is celebrated annually on the feast day of St. Joseph. This feast has many ancient origins that began as the vigil of the spring equinox, in ancient times.

The courses consist of bitter orange slices drizzled with local olive oil, freshly baked bread, sweet and sour giardinera, chickpeas, beans, peas, rice, baccalà (cod), cicherchie beans, maccheroni baked with breadcrumbs, fruit, and dessert. Dessert for this meal is usually a traditional zeppole or bignè, or even a St. Joseph fritter. The bignè and zeppole are very similar and called different names in different regions of Italy.

Directions

For the Italian pastry cream

Place the sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a saucepan and place over low heat. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the flour, making sure no lumps form. In another saucepan, scald the milk; a skin will be formed on top and mixture will be just about to reach a boil but not quite boiling. Remove from the heat.

Add the scalded milk to the other saucepan, stirring constantly with a wire whisk so the mixture remains smooth. Stir until the mixture is ready to boil, but do not let boil. Reduce the heat, add the lemon zest and vanilla extract, and continue stirring over low heat until cooled, for 4 minutes. (The cream should be the consistency of a pudding.)

Remove from the heat, and place a layer of waxed paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool at room temperature for 3-4 hours.

For the zeppole

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the water in a saucepan over low heat. Add the butter and salt, and increase the heat to medium. When it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and add the flour, baking soda, and sugar all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Return to the stove over medium-high heat and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides. Remove from the heat and add the eggs one at time, mixing each one in well with wooden spoon before adding in another.

Then, add the vanilla extract and blend in with a spoon. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop the mixture by tablespoons (forming into a cream puff shell) onto the paper and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the puffs from the oven when done and let cool. Cut a small slit in the side of each puff to release steam so they do not become soggy. Let cool on a baking rack. When cool, cut off the tops, fill each with 2 teaspoons pastry cream, jam, or jelly and dust with powdered sugar, and replace the tops.

For more recipes, get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

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Slow Food and Local Beans,Wheat from Abruzzo

Know your food and its’ producers..thus the philosophy of Slow Food!

Grano Solina wheat from the Apenine Mountains of Abruzzo. This wheat and its’ flour have a close relationship with the people of Abruzzo and share thir history. It is a sturdy wheat and makes great bread, focaccia as well as screpelle ( a type of crepes served in broth) This wheat was first planted  here  in the 14th century.

Lentils grown in Santo Stefano do Sessanio-delicate and fragrant are the only way to describe these little gems. Grown 1000 meters above the sea aslo in this town in the Gran Sasso mountains. These lentils are grown in an uncontaminted are designated in the Nartional park fo Abruzzo. They are especially known for their delicate nature since they do not have to be soaked overnight before cooking. And of course are used in the traditional lentil soup made in Abriuzzo.

Chick Peas grown in Navelli- Navelli is a medieval neighborhood in the Gran Sasso mountains. The countryside here is a purple color thanks to the saffron grown here. But chick peas also share a hitory with this liitle town. They are red, white and black.

All of these products are from the region of Abruzzo..I know exactly where they are produced, and I have met the producers of these products….they are grown in locations that are rich with minerals hence when you consume these products you will also benefit from these minerals and vitamins.

Abruzzo has a long history in using beans in their dishes from first courses to desserts. From minesre di ceci and castagne (chick pea and chestnut soup) to a sweet ravioli made with mashed chick peas and honey.

If you would like more info on these products or would like to purchase these products, send an email to us at [email protected]

 

For recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition  recipes for Holidays but recipes that can used to turn any day into a Special Day!

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A Dairy Free Sicilian Cannoli Recipe…

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

Sicily’s most famous export..the cannolo..can also be made wtih a dairy free filling..that is a ricotta made from soy milk..and gluten free..here is the dairy free filling, stay tuned for the gluten free shell recipe next week..

For the vegetarian ricotta you will need 1 lemon and 1/2 cup soymilk

Juice the lemon and then filter the juice. In a pan, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat and place in lemon juice. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Then place in a colander and let liquid drain out and discard. Place remaining thickened milk in a bowl and let stay in refrigerator for 12 hours at 39 to 40 degrees.

Fill cannoli shells with ricotta and top with shaved chocolate or chopped almonds, pistachios or orange marmelade or chopped candied fruits.

For more recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd ediiton

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