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Innamorata..with a Pear and Dark Chocolate Torta……..


copyright, 2010, Maria Liberati

I am in love with the sun … it gives me warmth

I am in love with the wind… it caresses me

I am in love with life… it makes me laugh

I am in love with flowers.. they make my mind drunk with beauty


A blistery day in NYC yesterday too cold to stay I decided to visit  the Arthur Avenue Market in the Bronx..

and I found my favorite  pear ..called made in Blu from Emilia Romagna..perfect for the recipe ..

Torta Di Pere, that mixes dark chocolate and fresh pears for a scrumptious taste experience!  One bite of this and you can not help but utter  the Italian word  ‘innamorata’ from your lips..or you may want to serenade the torta with a rendition of the song Innamorata..


Torta Di Pere

(from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions, publisher/copyright  Art of Living/PrimaMedia,Inc

2 fresh pears-peeled, cored and cut into small cubes

5 dried dates chopped

2 tablespoons of Cognac

2 tblsps of unsalted butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 -1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 egg yolks

3 egg whites beaten or whisked till soft peaks form

16 ounces baking or dark chocolate (minimum 65 % cocoa)

For decoration

1 fresh pear ,peeled and sliced thinly

1 tablespoon butter melted

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons of pear or apple jelly

In a food processor place in the chopped dates and pears, and Cognac, blend well. In a bowl, place in  2 tablespoons of unsalted butter,sugar,flour, baking powder,egg yolks, fruit from food processor with liquid and whipped egg whites. Blend well. Butter and flour an 8 ” cake pan and pour in the mixture. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 45 minutes. remove from oven and let cool

Melt baking or dark cocoa in double boiler and use this to  glaze  top of cake. Measure butter and melt, add in sugar. Dip thinly sliced pear in butter and sugar  and  then dip one side of pear slice  in pear jelly  and arrange as a  decoration on outside of cake with pear slices placed all around, stuck to border of cake. Place chocolate glaze on top. Put in fridge till chocolate  glaze is hardened…. and become……. innamorata …..

Get more recipes to make any day a Special Occasion in The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions

Get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning Book

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Celebrate Roman Festival of Terminalia with a Caffe Principessa Cocktail

February 23rd marks  the Roman  festival- Terminalia- celebrated in honor of the God Terminus, who presided over property/land boundaries. February 23rd also happened to be the last day of the Roman Calendar Year .

(Your neighbor may think you are crazy)..but to truly celebrate this festival like ancient times you need to place a statue of the God Terminus on your property line (the border between you and your neighbor) and place a garland of flowers around the neck of  of Terminus…but  if you invite your neighbor over for a  hot caffe principessa  to celebrate  instead, he/she may be more willing to take part in this ancient ritual and  Festival….


Caffe Principessa (Princess Coffee)

excerpted from The Basic Art of…Cocktails


*1/2 cup hot espresso

*1 tblsp rum

*2 tblsps water

*1 tblsp brown sugar

*pinch of powdered sugar

*1 dried orange peel

*pinch of powdered cinnamon

*whipped cream

In a small sauce pan, pour in water,orange peel, sugar, rum. Heat and stir, Remove from heat, filter or pour through cheesecloth into a tempered glass. Add in hot  coffee and powdered sugar,stir. Top with whipped cream and pinch of powdered sugar on top.


(Not all princesses can be awakened by a handsome prince only, some need a cup of coffee also!)


For more recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of olidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition  winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

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A Valentines’ Day Trip to Terni..Where the Holiday Began..a Red Cocktail..

Join my Valentine’s day Webinar at, webinar is scheduled for Friday, February 14th at

2 PM EST-see you then!


I claim there ain’t
Another Saint
As great as Valentine.
~Ogden Nash


copyright 2014 Maria Liberati/Art of Living,PrimaMedia,inc

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, memories of visits  to the  town known of Terni, in the region of Umbria, come to mind…the town of the patron of Valentine’s Day-the bishop known as St.Valentine.. besides the chocolates and flowers and be truly connected to this day..a day trip to Terni with my Valentine is  my favorite way to experience the day..

Terni  evokes memories of not only the city where the legend of this heart filled Holiday originated and the Basilica of St Valentine-where the patron Saint himself officiated..but mostly memories of discovering the  city  many times over trying to get back on the autostrada and finding our  way back to wherever I need to get to…..

..a circle around the city 3 or 4 times to figure a way out seems to be something I can always count on when visiting Terni or even passing through. The indication  signs for the Baslica of St Valentine  make that the easiest thing  to find, in fact driving around the city many times to find my way out I spot the directional signs to the Basilica many times….

Maybe the city should also consider having well placed signs to direct you to the major highways..oh well..maybe just a way to be sure you don’t leave without a visit to the has forced us to discover many times over the many works of art scattered around the city.. or maybe the city has it planned that is as if they are saying “don’t leave without seeing our remarkable sights” and indeed they have forced me to  discover them…

The city is characterized by the wide streets lined with trees and an interesting center filled with monuments and works of art. The Romans left an ampitheatre, and from the Renaissance are many palaces of the noble families who made Terni their home, Palazzo Spada, Palazzo Magoni, Palazzo Mazzancollo, Palazzo Fabrizi, and Palazzo Rosci and the 2 medieval towers. Then there are some examples of neo-classic architecture like the Teatro Communale built in 1849.Some other points of interest are the Piazza Tacito which is built in the typical architecture used during Italy’s Fascism period. In the center is an ornate fountain adorned with mosaics that represent the zodiac signs. And if you decide to do the Nature Tour of Terni you can do a green filled walk on the spiraling hills that culminate in the Cascate Marmore which are considered one of the highest (and most beautiful –in my opinion) waterfalls in Europe.



Now ..ready for a Rossini Cocktail.. to experience this Holiday in red

Recipe for the cocktail ( :

1/3 fresh strawberry puree to 2/3 cold Prosecco or Champagne. The preparation consists of the simple union of the ingredients in a glass with some ice.

The most complicated part of this (if you can call it that) is making the strawberry puree. The only way to do this is to put washed, cleaned strawberries in a blender or small food processor. Once pureed, mix with a few drops of lemon juice and some sugar syrup (made by mixing water and sugar over low heat till sugar is melted


So what do you have planned for Valentine’s Day? Share with us here…


To get more recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning Book-The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

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*Join my Valentine’s Day Webinar at  scheduled for Friday Feb 14th at 2 PM..see you then!

A Lasagna with Eggplant and LOVE..the Best Ingredient

copyright 2014 Maria Liberati/Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc.

“A torta (cake) made with love always bakes perfect and delicious!”.. one of our dinner  guests  recounted how she made a cake for her young son. Anxiously awaiting the freshly baked torta, sitting at the kitchen table and upon tasting the still warm, freshly baked sweet, he exclaimed “Mamma, the torta is ‘perfetta’ (perfect)!

..the secret ingredient in Italian cooking.LOVE…

As we dined  on the meal I made of Lasagne Melanzane (Lasagne with Eggplant), Zuppa di Pesce (Fish Soup), Insalata (salad), Macedonia (Fresh Fruit salad), Torta di Principe Eugenio ( Prince Eugenio Cake-chocolate and raspberries)..with dinner guests from not only Italy but Russia, Slovakia, France, Spain and other parts of the World…

The unanimous vote about the best ingredient for a recipe..from our United Nations confab of  ‘foodie’ dinner guests was always LOVE..

So here is one of the recipes from the dinner, but remember the only ingredient that you must put in that is not listed here is LOVE…….

Lasagne alla Melanzane ( lasagna with eggplant)


(excerpted from the Gourmand World Award Winning Book-  The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions, second edition)

1 pound of fresh pasta for lasagna

2 lbs fresh eggplant- sliced and grilled

1 lb fresh mozzarella or scamorza

1handful of fresh basil

1 tsp dried oregano

2 lbs fresh tomatoes or 2-16 ounce cans of plum tomatoes

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

4 tblsps of grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese

2 cloves garlic-whole

In a  saute pan,  place in olive oil, 2 cloves garlic. Saute for 1 minute or until garlic is just turning golden. Remove garlic. Add in tomatoes and oregano. Stir and cook for 20 minutes.

In baking pan, place thin layer of sauce, one layer of pasta, one layer of eggplant slices, then thinly sliced mozzarella, sauce, freshly chopped basil. Repeat until ingredients are finished, ending with slices of eggplant,mozzarella, sauce on top.  Bake in oven preheated to 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle grated parmigiana cheese on top and bake for another 20 minutes. Put under broiler for last 5 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Serve hot.

After this course serve a plate of fresh fruit and nuts and some dark chocolate and espresso.

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene



Thanks to Kristyn for the mention my Tuscan Picnic Spice Blend:

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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You’ll have exclusive access to Maria’s webinars based on her award winning book series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. It will be where food meets, art, travel and life!

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Sign up before the first webinar on Wednesday, January 29th at 10AMEastern Standard Time (USA)

My How Things Change..How They Stay the Same.. for Sunday Dinner..Flan Recipe

copyright 2014 Maria Liberati/Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc


A house is at its’ most beautiful when filled with guests’s Sunday dinner, with a house full of people reminded me of the classic Italian  movie Il Gattopardo (The Leopard)..some of the film’s most beautiful scenes take place at the table of this royal Sicilian Family filled  with guests and their consorts..meals of many courses were well choreographed with banter as guests supped  and interacted together….


But moreover today’s lunch reminded me of one of Don Fabrizio’s( the Prince played by the award winning actor Burt Lancaster)  lines in the film

“If we want things to stay as they are ,things will have to change”

Today’s  Sunday dinner ..

*eaten at a table of 25 dinner guests but filled with new faces, new family and friends

*new twists on traditional recipes…the Sunday ravioli, made with a melt in your mouth pasta  but filled with a creamy pumpkin and amaretti filling not the usual ricotta filling..but the same delicious ravioli (pumpkin ravioli is traditional for the North of Italy not for the South).

*the dinner  was eaten not in my grandparent’s house in the South Philadelphia neighborhood…but in a house located 10 minutes from where my grandfather was born… (Tagliacozzo  Italy)

*same warm banter and feelings  being passed around the table with many of the same courses but different faces…

*an after dinner coffee at a local coffee bar and a passseggiata was enjoyed in the town my grandfather was born in Tagliacozzo…Sunday dinner usually ended  with coffee and my grandfather  sharing stories, photos and songs about that very  town..


My how things stay the how things change..

Here is a recipe for one of today’s second courses


Flan di Pomodoro, Zucchini, e Formaggio (Zucchini, Tomato, Cheese Flan)

from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking:DaVinci Style

6 tablespoons   extra virgin olive oil

1 lb (500 gr) tomatoes pureed- fresh or canned

1 lb (½ kilo) zucchini-sliced

2 leeks

1 onion

4 eggs

6 tablespoons (90 gr) cream

1 whole carrot peeled and cleaned

8 ounces Emmenthal cheese-grated

pinch of oregano

pinch of salt and pepper

Place 2 tblsps olive oil in sauce pan and saute finely chopped onion till golden. Add in sliced zucchini and saute for 3-5 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat, Place zucchini, onion mixture in food processor with 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons (45 gr) cream, grated Emmenthal cheese, pinch of salt and pepper. Blend to a puree. Set aside.

Place 2  tblsps  olive oil in saute pan, heat, place in tomatoes, pinch of oregano, salt and pepper, whole carrot (to sweeten sauce). Let cook for 15 minutes over low heat.

Slice leeks into round slices. Place  2 tblsps  olive oil in saute pan, heat and saute sliced leeks. Saute till golden. Remove from heat. Place leeks in food processor with 2 eggs,remaining cream, pinch of salt and pepper. Blend to a puree.

Oil a loaf pan. Pour in a layer of leek puree. Then on top of that a layer of zucchini puree. Then add in layer of tomato pulp that has been cooked. You can make a zig zag design with the tomato pulp on top. Place loaf pan in another pan that had been half filled with hot water. Bake in oven preheated to 350 F (175C) for 40 to 50 minutes till firm. Remove from oven, serve.


For more recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style


Monte Bianco.. a Literary Experience..a Dessert..a long lost ’ schiacciapatate’

copyright 2014 Maria Liberati/Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc

(photo from

…beginning to look forward to Spring… but some  winter experiences still to be had……



The things that are expected of winter, in the mountains of Italy, are of course snow and lots of skiing, but also a dessert that commemorates the famous settimana bianca (white week) the ‘infamous’ week spent skiing on whatever snow capped mountain you desire, surrounded by  a snow covered mountain….and one of the most romantic mountains to spend your settimana bianca .. is Monte Bianco in the Italian Alps- a winter without seeing Monte Bianco is just not winter…one of the most written about mountains by the likes of Victor Hugo and Shelly….But  if you are not able to visit Monte Bianco you can always experience it as a delicious dessert..( something that splendiferous had to be honored with its’ own luscious  dessert)…. and this one is actually good for you..made with chestnuts, dark chocolate and only a small amount of sugar…

So now I can say that my January is definitely complete..(unfortunately not a visit to) but my annual making of the Monte Bianco….before the chestnuts were all gone… but after I found the chestnuts I had to find a ‘schiacciapatate’ (potato ricer). I love to mash the chestnuts by hand in my schiacciapatate…not many make this dessert at home and even less make it by hand… but for some reason mine was nowhere to be found…so I went from ‘door to door’ asking friends and relatives if they had a schiacciapatate’ to borrow..and luck struck me at the last door…finally a schiacciapatate that was not wanted but in great condition! So, I willingly adopted it and gave it a place in my kitchen..


Do you have a schiacciapatate in your kitchen? you use it or is it just kept as a nostalgic piece??



I would love to hear… send your comments here..

Also look for next email for my webinar on first webinar will be making a montebianco

It is Recipe 16 of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style..but here’s the recipe..

Monte Bianco


(photo credits


Monte Bianco

1lb of chestnuts

4 tablespoons of sugar

1 cup of milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

8 ounces dark chocolate (minimum 80%)

1 cup whipped cream

Boil chestnuts in water for approximately 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat, peel. Place in saucepan, cover with milk, add in vanilla and sugar. Boil until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Place boiled chestnuts while hot in potato ricer and mash into bowl. Melt chocolate in double boiler and place into mashed chestnuts. Blend together. Place mashed chestnuts and chocolate mixture into potato ricer and let the mixture fall onto a plate as you rice the mixture, forming a mountain shape. Cover with whipped cream. Place in fridge for 15 minutes and serve.


For more recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Cooking:DaVinci Style


Buona La Befana ..and Quite a Royal Torte for Dessert!

copyright 2014 Maria Liberati/Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc.


La Befana is  here or as tradition goes she did ‘fly in  on her broomstick’ sometime before dawn this morning, the 6th of January. And the streets are bustling with cars and people whizzing by.. under my window here in the center of town. Fireworks can be heard from far and near signaling the last day of a long, (seemingly) never ending 12 day Holiday feast.
Today’s mid day meal will be just as special as the rest of  the Holidays.

La Befana vien di notte (the Befana comes in the night)

con le scarpe tutte rotte (with tattered shoes)

con cappelle  alla Romana (A Roman style hat)

VIVA VIVA LA BEFANA! (Long Live La Befana)



Torta Principe Eugenio (Prince Eugenio’s Cake)



6 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate (containing at least 60% cocoa)

1 1/2 cups crushed almonds

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 tablespoons butter

6 eggs

1 tablespoon rum

1 tablespoon brandy

butter for pan


2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 ounces milk chocolate

½ cup whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

Beat softened butter,sugar and egg yolks until creamy. Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Add the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture,then add in ground almonds,brandy and rum.

Beat egg whites till soft peaks form. Fold into the egg yolk mixture gently till well blended.. Butter and flour an 8″  cake pan and bake for 35 minutes in oven at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven. Leaving a 1 /12 “ border around cake, cut out some of  the interior cake , to make about ¼ cup of crumbs. Place crumbs in oven on cookie sheet  to dry and become crisp, set aside., to use as crumble on topping.

Cook raspberries and sugar over low heat for 2 minutes let sugar melt. Let cool. Place whipping cream and vanilla, sugar in bowl. Whip cream till peaks form, add in grated chocolate. Place cooled raspberry mixture in cavity of cake made from digging out crumbs. Top with whipped cream mixture in center of raspberries. Sprinkle with cake crumbs on top of whipped cream and serve.

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

A Soup with Farro warms the heart and Soul!

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup

Ludwig Von Beethoven


copyright 2014 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

Warm and steaming  hot are  my 2  favorite ways to eat on these cold days in the mountains! But never fear… a warm pot of soup or minestra is always brewing to make the cold a bit more bearable. This is one of my favorite soups it warm up my afternoon


Minestra di Farro

(Minestra of Farro)

*8 ounces of farro

*1/2 cup of speckled beans (dry and soaked in water for 12 hours)

*1 onion

*1 celery stick

*1 carrot

*2 tablespoons of plain tomato sauce

*5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

*2 tablespoons of pecorino cheese grated

*salt & pepper to taste

After soaking the speckled beans overnight, cook them in 4 cups of  boiling water for 1 hour and 3o minutes. Wash carrot, celery and chop onion, celery, carrot.


Drizzle olive oil in saucepan and heat, add in chopped vegetables and saute. After 5 minutes add in tomato sauce and 2 tblsps of hot water, stir and let cook for another 10 minutes. Add sauted chopped vegetables with tomato sauce into beans and boiling water.

Place in farro and let cook for an hour. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and grated pecorino cheese.

And you can also add in a quenelles, which refers to a shape-sort of like a small football – they are usually made of creamy substances and are formed by passing back and forth the mixture with 2 spoons until they take shape…. these are made only with ricotta and finely chopped parsley…

For more Holiday recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd editions

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Happy New Year with Food and Music… From Venice to Vienna…and a Chocolate Salami

Text copyright 2014 Maria Liberati/Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc

A relaxing New Year Celebration as I like it..filled with music and food and music… in the kitchen on  TV -the Concerto for Capodanno (New Year’s Concert) from Venice from the Teatro de la Fenice to serenade us as we prepared the food for today’s dinner and then in the dining room on TV- the Concerto for Capodanno from Vienna, Austria that entertained us as we supped on  our New Year’s Pranzo…it doesn’t get better than that..

And as always… lots of chocolate to get us through the day as visitors drop by after dinner  to bring New Year’s Wishes but also for some espresso, sweets, toasts with the bubbly…. From locally produced chocolate torrone, to gianduia torrone, to a  Panettone dessert I make using leftover Panettone but  filled with chocolate.

But the Raditzky’s March signals the end of another New Year’s Day concert, and the start of another New Year of great food, recipes and places to discover.

Here is one of my   chocolate recipes ..simple but of my Holiday favorites …. A Chocolate Salami..


For more great Holiday recipes, menus for anytime of the year 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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