Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

~In the south and around the world.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Slow Semifreddo

The recipe for our Sunday Slow Bakers this week is a Semifreddo di Cioccolato e Mandarino, which is kind of like a chocolate ice cream cake. This is made with bittersweet chocolate and a hint of orange~ my favorite flavors together.

My trip to Piggley Wiggley was very simple this week... Other than the fact that there are no tangerines this time of year in Alabama. Some of the other Slow Bakers had trouble finding the Nabisco Chocolate cookies~ they are the kind of thin cookies you layer with cool whip to take to a covered dish supper. They were right on the cookie shelf at the Pig.

Typical of many of these recipes from 'Dolce Italiano', there is a very involved process to get to a simple result. Cindy Ruth at Baked Alaska posted the whole process~ incase you're interested. It involves zesting of oranges, whipping egg yolks, cream and mascarpone, and folding in a melted chocolate sauce. The cakey part is crumbled chocolate wafer cookies. The taste is well worth the work.
Bill pronounced it fit to eat.

6 hours in the freezer before it can be served. It can either be plated like a cake or scooped like ice cream, and covered with a creamy chocolate- orange sauce.
Y'all enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Summertime~ and livin' is easy.
I have been busy re-doing our back porch. I hope my decorating BF (blog-friends) will be proud! We picked up two new cozy chairs to replace the tall table and chairs that we had there before. Now we have a place out of the sun to relax and listen to the sound of the water fountain.

This will be my new favorite corner to chill out, read a book, and humm a little Gershwin.

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll fly to the sky.

Now if we could do something about this Alabama heat!

Y'all enjoy!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fry those Tomatoes

I think it is time to weigh in on the latest pandemonium that is sweeping the country... not the gas crisis (although Bill has a solution for that as well)
I am talking about the recent salmonella scare in tomatoes.
We have a solution...

Fry those tomatoes before they turn red!

I don't think Salmonella will survive in a bath of 400° grease. Here is our best recipe.
Fried Green Tomatoes
3-4 green tomatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
vegetable oil

Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt & pepper. Add enough milk to create a thick batter. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large skillet. Batter each tomato slice, and wipe off excess. Carefully place in hot oil, browning on both sides. (may or may not need turning, depending on the amount of oil)
To cool, drain in a colander to keep tomatoes from becoming soggy. Salt to taste.

If you want your batter to be perfect every time, pick up some WhistleStop fried green tomato batter mix. If you can't find it at your local market, you can pick it up on our web site.

Y'all enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strawberries~ Italiano

The fun part about our Sunday Slow Baking group is that it forces me to do something that I never would try.
Strawberries and ricotta cheese with black pepper?

That has 'bleack' written all over it!

This weeks recipe from Gina DePalma's cookbook 'Dolce Italiano' is Strawberries in Chianti with Black Pepper Ricotta Cream. Strawberries are in season and fresh from Chilton County, I had some ricotta that I was planning to use in a lasagna latter in the week.

Here goes nothing...

Strawberries with Black Pepper Cream
2 pints strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Chianti wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups ricotta
2 tsp black peppercorns

2 hours before serving, slice the strawberries and cover with 2 tbs sugar. Pour the wine on top of the berries and give them a stir. Place in the fridge to chill and marinate.

Mix the heavy cream and 6 Tbs of sugar on medium until soft peaks form. Add the ricotta and cracked black pepper, beat briefly until smooth.

To serve place a generous spoonful of the strawberries in a glass and cover with cream.
This was such a treat! The sweetness of the wine soaked strawberries and the creaminess of the ricotta with a twang of black pepper. It really is a delightful summertime dessert.
It went perfectly with our grilled chicken and veggies, and we didn't even have to heat up the kitchen!

Y'all enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More Poppies

Hmmmm~ I've been looking at these pictures of beautiful poppies and guess what??
It flung a craving on me...

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tsp lemon extract
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine dry ingredients and poppy seeds. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix eggs with yogurt. Add oil, extract, and lemon zest. Stir in dry ingredients, only enough to blend well. Pour into prepared muffin pan. Bake at 350° for 20-23 minutes.

These will be perfect for breakfast this weekend!

Y'all enjoy~

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fields of Poppies

There is NOTHING that says 'Italy in the spring time' like poppies.
We were lucky enough to be in Tuscany as the poppies were blooming.
There were fields of the red/orange blooms, softly blowing in the wind.As we flew over in the hot air balloon, the hills were colored with flowers.Just the thought makes me smile!Don't y'all agree?~ bellissima!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Slow Sunday CheeseCake

Our task this week for the Sunday Slow Bakers was Torta di Ricotta. It was my week to choose and I am a little nutty about cheesecake. Gina DePalma calls it Obsessive Ricotta Cheesecake in her cookbook 'Dolce Italiano'.
Rather than list the entire recipe (it's on page 96) I'll describe the process. It is a ricotta based cheesecake with 8 oz of cream cheese. The addition of amaretto and candied orange and lemon adds a nice citrusy flavor, but changes the texture. The base of the cheesecake is a yummy crust of crushed sliced almonds with a touch of vanilla. The thin nutty crust is a perfect compliment to the cheesecake.
As I said, I am obsessive about cheesecake. I have posted a couple of recipes Lemoncello Cheesecake , and Orange Cheesecake. This is usually my dessert of choice to take to any event. With a lot of practice, I have learned to make a cheesecake without cracks~ stirring gently, tapping out air bubbles, baking slowly in a water bath, cooling gently in the oven.
Even with all those tricks, this cheesecake wasn't 'perfect'. I was a little disappointed with the texture and the huge crack in the top. It was still good with a cup of coffee.
G-daddy will love it when I take it for our Father's Day lunch.

He spent years making the desserts for the WhistleStop Cafe. Customers agree that the desserts just haven't been the same since he retired. His specialty was the Mississippi Mud and a Banana Split Pie. Now those are some obsessive desserts!

Happy Father's Day y'all!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A New Centerpiece

My box arrived from Orvieto! There is something about getting a shipment that brings back wonderful memories of a trip. Kind of like when Jerry got the box he mailed home to himself~ full of dirty clothes.

My box was way better than that!

I have a new centerpiece for my kitchen table. Every time I glance that way, I will be filled with memories of my wonderful trip with Gail's Great Escape .

We went shopping with PalmaBella, the queen of Italian ceramics. She took us to her favorite shop in Orvieto. They gave us a special discount and he shipped for free! (which in any language translates to 'you spent plenty and I can afford to throw in a little shipping')

On the internet you are always reading about bad experiences with ceramic shops in Italy that either don't ship, or ship the wrong things... Frauolini's is a small shop across from the Duomo in Orvieto. This shop is FULL of beautiful quality pieces. He was so nice and patient while we debilitated over our decision making. I bet you can guess why I wanted this pattern. These are close-ups of my bowl.

My sister, Holly, also got this beautiful plate.

There were a few other things... but Mrs. Claus may want to keep those a secret for now.

Y'all don't forget to send in your centerpieces this month.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Salmon Patties

By now y'all must think all I do is travel and poor Bill can't get a homemade meal without going to Mom's house.

Well, you are almost right!

I decided that I'd better get in the kitchen and make his favorite salmon patties... before the shipment of ceramic pottery arrives from Orvieto.

Salmon Patties
1 large can salmon
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs creole seasoning
1 sleeve ritz, crushed
olive oil

Drain salmon and pick out the bones (or buy boneless!) Saute onion in butter until tender. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Stirring to blend. Form into large patties.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil. In a hot pan, brown the patties on each side for 3-5 minutes.
Serve with a salad and you will have a quick home cooked meal in minutes.

Y'all know the fastest way to a man's heart!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Slow Sunday Baking

It is time for our Slow Sunday Baking. Once again we are trying a recipe out of 'Dolce Italiano' by Gina De Palma. This cookie recipe combines to great flavors, bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts.

I knew that finding the hazelnuts would not be easy. I had looked at the Piggley Wiggley once before~ no luck there. I headed this time straight to Whole Foods. Bingo! I did use Hershey cocoa... even though Gina suggests 'dutched' cocoa for it's less acidic nature. I'm on a budget~ Hershey's would have to do.
BitterSweet Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Preheat to 325°

In a medium bowl combine flour cocoa, baking powder and salt. Chop the hazelnuts and combine with dry ingredients. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough until firm.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls. then roll each ball in confectioner's sugar to coat. back until puffed and cracking, 8-10 minutes. If desired dust with additional sugar.

These cookies are light, and not to sweet. A nice change from the usual chocolate chip cookies. They were perfect with a cup of coffee.

Y'all enjoy!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Up Up and Away~

Click to play Ballooning in Tuscany
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This was one of the highlights of our trip. The hot air balloon ride with Robert Etherington across the hills and valleys of Tuscany. His wife and assistant Liz, is an artist and author of children's books. They live in an authentic 13th century farm home, just outside of Montisi.

I planned this as a celebration of my 50th birthday year~ and what a commemoration it was. The chance to glide over the Tuscan countryside was magical. The greens of the hills and valleys, the poppy fields and the mustard yellows. We had such a wonderful day...Starting with the inflation of the huge balloon and ending with a champagne toast.

Bella, bella!


Thursday, June 05, 2008


Right about now I am really missing my caffeine. Whether it is a Cafe Americano, a Cappuccino, or an Espresso~ I am missing that European jolt of caffeine.

In the morning~

In the evening~Or in the middle of the afternoon~
My cup of coffee on the way to work in the morning~ just isn't the same.

Ciao y'all~ Sandi

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Centerpiece of the month~ May

Luckily, while I have been living la dolce vita in Italy, my friends have been sending in their centerpieces for the month of May. I am happy to be able to share them with all y'all. First, a centerpiece that appeared on our table in Sienna.

Krista who is In and Out of the Garden posted the most wonderful centerpiece of roses from her garden. She has that green thumb we all yearn for ~ oh, the sweet smell.

At The Bunnies Bungalow DebraK brought her hot pink tulips in from the cold. A gardener at heart.

Rosies Wimsy's posted a lovely centerpiece for Mother's Day, where she say's 'do the things that make you happy, allow joy to overtake you and give you peace.'

Lori Lynn shows us how to Taste With the Eyes. She helped host a tea to celebrate Mothers and Daughters. The centerpieces were on tables outside- overlooking the Pacific. I can't think of a more idyllic setting.

Speaking of the sweet life... at the House In The Woods there is breakfast in the garden. That is how Britt-Arnhild celebrates spring in Norway.
Nature Girl has the most poetic way of looking at everyday things. She wrote... "Allow your imagination to take flight as it never dies no matter how many layers of life and work we pile on top of it"

I think the centerpieces this month all reflect the 'Sweet Life'.
La Dolce Vita!
Ciao y'all~
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