Mary Ann's Blog

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Summer Veggies

The best way to use summer veggies from your garden is to grill them and I often do but when I need the grill for other things like meat or fish and I want veggies too, I toss them in olive oil and seasonings and oven roast them; takes just about 20 minutes. While they ar…

Got Swiss Chard?

Swiss chard is coming in like crazy in my garden and I like it sauteed with garlic and hot red pepper flakes but sometimes I use it as a filing for an open face one crust free form pie. It is a great way to use up an abundance of  it; two big bunches will cook down t…

Basil, King of Herbs

My basil is coming along nicely now and it will not be long before I make pesto. In Liguria from where this sauce is king, it is traditionally made with a mortar and a pestle and is where the name basil comes from, from the word to pound down, pestare. Coarse salt, a garl…

Scrumptious Strawberries

It is almost the 4th of July and it is strawberry season at its peak right now. Yesterday we picked twenty pounds of berries to make into pies and tarts and stuffed strawberries. To stuff strawberries, pick the biggest ones you can find, then cut off the stem end but save…

My Favorite Garden Tool? A Food Dehydrator!

If you buy just one garden kitchen apparatus this season, let it be a dehydrator. It will pay for itself with just one use when you make your own dried tomatoes in olive oil. You can find the recipe right here on ciaoitalia.com. I use the dehydrator not only for plum tom…

Picnic In A Jar

Dragging stuff to the beach or park for a picnic can be a big job but I have a solution; how about summer salad in a jar instead of burgers and dogs for your picnic? Better for you too. Here is how it works: Just fill mason quart jars with salad ingredients; start by addi…

Fresh Tomato Dressing

Want the taste of summer well into fall? How about making this quick and delicious tomato dressing when tomatoes are at their peak. Use it on green salads, mix it into potato salad and cobb salads. Give your lobster roll a boost by adding a couple of tablespoons. Cole sla…

Mini Grilled Eggplant Parmigiano

All of a sudden, bright shiny domestic eggplant is everywhere! And even though my plants have just gone into the ground and I will not be harvesting the purple beauties until late July and early August, I could not resist buying one. The trick is to get a really fresh on…

Swordfish Steaks & Tomato Succotash

Memorial Day is coming and that means bringing out the grill for the season. Wild swordfish was in the market so I decided to grill it and serve it with a tarragon butter sauce laid over a bed of tomato succotash made with cocktail tomatoes grown by my friends at Backyard…

Tomato Time!

By now you know that I shoot two episodes of the series in my home garden, the Ciao Italia garden which is lovingly cared for by my husband Guy who has maintained the garden since the show’s inception and who has been gardening all his life. He is the head gardener …