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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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Happy International Woman’s Day, Torta Mimosa to Celebrate

Our favorite way to celebrate International Woman’s Day is with a tradiitonal Mimosa Cake.. ..the mimosa is the traditional flower associated with this day because the yellow of the mimosa symbolizes  vitality,warmth, joy and wisdom..here are some quotes to inspire you from women who have inspired me….

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa (Philanthropist/Charity Worker)

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington (AOL/Editor In Chief of Huffington Post)

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”Ayn Rand (Novelist/Philosopher)

Please share any of your inspiring quotes with us here in comments!

Now onto the recipe….the smell and taste of the Italian cream brought me back to the days of making this with my grandmother,mom, aunts and  and cousins… in the kitchen..I would always get to lick the cream off the long strips of lemon peel as they were removed from the cream…….here’s the recipe

Torte Mimosa

for the sponge cake

5 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons of potato starch

rest of the cake

16 ounces of pineapples in syrup

3 egg yolks

1 cup milk

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons of flour

peel of 1 fresh lemon

1 vanilla bean

1 cup of fresh whipping cream

1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

for the sponge cake- sift flour and potato starch together twice, set aside, then beat eggs and sugar together in one bowl. You must beat the egg mixture for at least 15 minutes. Then, fold the flour into the egg mixture a little at a time. Place in an 8 inch cake pan that has been covered with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees

For the  Italian cream, place milk in saucepan with lemon peel, vanilla bean, bring to a boil, remove from heat, set aside. In a bowl, whip egg yokls with sugar, add in flour that has been sifted.  Place in milk that has been boiled, then place this mixture back over heat to boil and thicken, stirring constantly, once thick (like pudding)  remove from heat. . Remove lemon peel and vanilla bean and refrigerate,

Whip cream with powdered sugar. Add in cooled Italian cream  mixture by folding in and refrigerate.

When cake has cooled, cut into 3 layers. cut the top layer into small cubes for decoration. Put second layer in  a cake plate, wet with pineapple syrup, then spread cream that has cooled on layer and top with pineapple that has been cut into cubes. Top with 3rd layer, cover third layer with pineapple juice  and totally cover with remaining cream . Decorate with small cubes of sponge cake and a mimosa in the center and serve!

 

 

For more 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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Don’t Toss that Piece of Bread..Make a Cinnamon Sericaia

Peace goes into the making of a poem as flour goes into the making of bread. Pablo Neruda

In Italy bread has a history of being something of value, so much so that an expression to describe a person that is ‘worth his weight in gold’ is to say that person is a ‘pezzo di pane’ or a piece of bread. No wonder titles of books like Il Bacio Del Pane and film titles like  Pane, Amore, e…  abound..making of bread, breaking bread with someone is love!

When you buy a loaf of crusty, artisan, hand made  bread think of all that went in to making that loaf..from the farmers that grow and harvest the wheat to the mill that grinds the wheat into a flour and then the person that kneads the bread and places it into the oven..

My philosophy is to never throw away a valuable piece of bread, as long as it is still use-able. I  make use of it in every way possible….

Here is a delicious way to use that leftover bread.. a  cake called Sericaia- a Portuguese dessert

Sericaia

5 slices of crusty Italian style bread (day old or put in toaster)

2 cups of milk

5 eggs

1 cinnamon stick

3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Line a casserole dish with baking paper, Place in sliced bread, cover with some of the milk till saturated. Let rest for 30 minutes. In a pan bil milk with cinnamon stick. When boiling ,remove  cinnamon stick and remove  from heat and let cool.  Place eggs in a bowl with sugar and beat till frothy and well blended. Place in cooled milk mixture and pour over bread slices, Sprinkle cinnamon on top  andbake in oven preheated to 375  degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, preserves, or other topping.

 

For more 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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A Day Without Pasta.. A Creamy Casserole Pasta Recipe..

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

 

Life is a combination of magic and pasta

Federico Fellini

and a day without pasta feels like a day without magic….

Timballo di Pasta and Verza (Pasta and cabbage casserole)

1 lb of rigatoni pasta (durum semolina wheat)

1 1/2 lbs of cabbage

3 tablespoons of  butter

4 eggs

4 ounces of provolone cut into small cubes

3 tablespoons of cream or whole milk

salt and pepper to taste

Wash the cabbage and cut into thin strips. Cook cabbage in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain the cabbage ,dry. In a bowl beat eggs with cream, salt and pepper. In a sauce pan, melt butter and saute the cabbage, add in the provolone, saute for 2 more minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water for time indicated on package. Drain pasta, place in bowl and pour eggs mixture on pasta, stir to mix gently. Butter a casserole dish, place in a bed of cabbage strips, then layer in pasta, then another layer of cabbage then pasta and so on,end with a layer of pasta. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees of 20 minutes. Put under broiler for a few minutes to make top crispy. Serve

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

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Flowers to Brighten a Rainy Day, Frittata with Zucchini Flowers

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

 

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Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into. ~Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 18

 

Flowers to brighten up a dreary,rainy day in the mountains .. of Italy… a bunch of zucchini flowers that is..and a frittata make the day a little brighter!

 

Saute  zucchini flowers in a tablespoon of heated olive oil for 3 minutes, pour on top 4 beaten eggs and top with freshly chopped parsley. Saute on one side, then turn over, Serve with sliced crusty bread and sliced tomato salad….yum!!

 

For more great recipes and culinary travel stories get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition at www.marialiberati.com

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