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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Under the Tuscan stars

This is the best and most unique restaurant in Montisi...
I think in Tuscany.

The olive oil is made from the local olive trees; the food is made from only the freshest local ingredients. In this restaurant kitchen you wont find a microwave, or a freezer. Care and pride shows in every dish.
One of the very best parts in sitting on the patio with friends and a glass of wine. If you are in or near Montisi... come join us under the Tuscan stars!
Now that eveyone is making their way home~ I'll keep on posting from Italy!
Ciao y'all!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Photohunt ~Memorial

Can you believe I have missed a Photohunt??? and a Friday's Favorites.

I haven't been as good as I should have been on posting. che pallo~

The Photohunt for this week is 'Memorial', how about a memory for all of those who have spent the week with us in Tuscany.
I promise to post more soon~
Ciao y'all,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pomodori e Vino ~ Eggplant and Ricotta Sauce

Ricotta and Eggplant Sauce~ Sicilian Style
This recipe, like all the others in 'The Essentials of Italian Cooking', takes simple ingredients and layers them into a mouthful of flavors. Marcella says she likes using cartwheel pasta 'route di carro'~ it is the perfect way to carry the flavors (you know 'carry', As in "I'm going to carry y'all to the store").
She suggests you use the fresh young eggplant. Dice the eggplant. Place the cubes in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. This will draw off the bitter juices. After an hour rinse and squeeze out the excess moisture.
The eggplant is fried until tender and drained. It is then then combined with onion, garlic, and tomatoes that have been lightly sautéd.
Combine all this with the freshly cooked pasta. Ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano are stirred in to add another layer of flavor.

Serve at once~ Mangia tutto!Simple, with lots of flavor. Another winner!

Ciao y'all,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A true Tuscan kitchen

If you watch HGTV as much as I do... you have seen gazillions of photos of a Tuscan kitchen.
This is a true Tuscan kitchen
Created within the stone walls of a villa, with a wooden pizza oven that could really heat up the eveningPlenty of fabulous Italian serving dishes.
an apron ready to go
...and vases of basil and rosemary fresh from the garden.
ciao y'all~

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Our' villa

I have posted about 'our' villa in Montisi.
Waking to the sounds of the street sweeper in the morning. Coffee at sunrise and watching for Robert's Hot Air Balloon to rise over the village.
It is the most fabulous place to spend time with friends sitting under the jasmine sharing wine and making memories.
ciao y'all~

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Photohunt ~Monthly

The Photohunt for this week is 'Monthly' The selection at the Mercato Centrale will change from Month to Month
Happy Hunting y'all,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

Happy Friday!
It is time to show off our Favorites.
Even if I am not 'home' to remind you!
I am to busy taking pictures of the duomo, Santa Maria Novella, in FlorenceIt will take your breath away.
Now, y'all share your favorites,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Open Doors in Florence

LuLa is flitting around in Florence, looking for the Travelocity Gnome.I have heard that there are doors here that are just her size.

These are small porte del vino.
Little doors in the side of buildings in Florence. They were used for after hours wine bars.
A knock, few coins exchanged and your glass would be filled with the local beverage.

Maybe this is where McDonald's came up with the idea of a drive through...

This is my favorite door in Florence. .. the Hotel Burchianti. It is close to the leather markets... just the place to be!Ciao y'all,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm off~

Italy here I come!

My bags are packed

I'm ready to go...
Next stop Florence.

I'll post as often as I can.
Y'all come along!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lula is busy

After being quiet for several months...Lula has been buzzing around again. She is sooooo excited!
For those of you who may not have met... LuLa is my Travel Fairy. She loves to sneak into my bag, and has been all around the world.

I am going to miss the next several weeks of Sunday Suppers. (Lula doesn't mind missing a few meals for the chance to find the Travelocity Gnome!)


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Photohunt ~ Half

The Photohunt for this week is 'Half'

One of my favorite Pizzeria's in Pienza serve their oven baked pizza with scissors~ that makes it easy to cut in 'Half'. Wanna Share?

Happy Hunting y'all,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

It's Friday!
This is time to show off our Favorites.

I wanted to share my 'summertime' mantle.
Off with the remaining Christmas decorations and candles (did I just admit to that in front of God and everyone?) I have surrounded our mantle with sea shells that I have picked up here and there~ if it is a bargain sea shell, it's mine.
I have also included my retirement plans written in chalk on an old copper tray. Can't you almost hear the ocean breezes?
That's My Fav
Y'all join in the linky party~

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pomodori e Vino~ Stuffed Lettuce

We just missed this dish for Easter~ Stuffed Lettuce Soup is the traditional Easter dish on the Italian Riviera. I can't imagine the Mac's kitchen if I had announced I was bringing lettuce soup stuffed with a baby lamb. It is probably just as well...

Luckily, Marcella's version is made with veal and chicken, blended with fresh ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano ~ rolled into tender lettuce leaves.

The meat is cooked in butter then minced.
The minced meat is added to a bowl with tender veggies, herbs and ricotta.
The lettuce leaves are blanched to soften them, then stuffed with the meat mixture.
The lettuce rolls are tightly packed into a large saucepan then covered with meat broth.
The whole pot simmers for 30 minutes.
The lettuce rolls are served over a slice of toasted bread and covered with the thickened broth.

As lovely as this is... I think next Easter we will still have to have sugar ham and sweet potato souflee for Easter. Marcella and Victor are invited to a southern feast!
Ciao y'all,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Each day is a gift

After a beautifully full mother's day, we got the terrible phone call that Bill's dad had died last night. Within minutes he was gone. 1926-2010, 83 years. The dash very simply represents a man's lifetime and his faith represents eternity.

I think it is so wonderful that we had the gift of a perfect cool spring Mother's Day. In the McMichael style it started with Sunday school, church, and then a big Sunday supper. Everyone was there... cooking in the kitchen, babies giggling, dogs barking, and a ball game on the TV. Brooke practiced the Alabama fight song on her piccolo as we looked forward to football season and we watched video of the surprise birthday party Connie gave Brian. Just the kind of day G-Daddy loved. Billy McMichael was a big man, full of passion and of faith. He was known and loved by many from the WhistleStop Cafe and from years on the railroad. People would often come into the cafe looking for his homemade coconut cake and banana split pie.

In a sweet breath... Jesus took him home.
"There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven ~a time to be born and a time to go home" Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Forgive this public outlet... but for those who would want to know the Funeral arrangements are at Jefferson Memorial in Trussville on Hwy 11. Visitation and fellowship is May 12th from 5-7, Funeral May 13th at 2PM with a graveside service following.
Y'all keep this precious family in your prayers.
Sandi & Bill

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers~ BBQ Pizza

This week was Kim's week to pick our Sunday Slow Supper. She suggested a BBQ pizza. I have been looking forward to this as a fun dinner... anything for a party!

Kim's whole process of making the pizza dough and then grilling the Italian sausage and and peppers, then grilling the pizza on the top of a hot grill is missing ONE STEP.
One Giant Step... but I'll get to that later.

Making the dough is really easy... plan time for it to rise. Then the fun begins.
BBQ Pizza
1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 envelope dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups (or more) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Combine water and sugar in a food processor. Sprinkle yeast over; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add oil, then 3 cups flour and salt. Process until dough comes together, about 1 minute.
Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Sprinkle with rosemary. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil large bowl. Add dough; turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic, then towel. Let stand in warm draft-free area until dough doubles, about 1 hour. To test that the dough has risen sufficiently, push two fingers into it. The depressions should remain.

Punch down dough. Knead dough in bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Stretch out each piece on floured surface to 9-inch round. To prevent the dough from sticking as you stretch it, use flour sparingly; too much will result in a tough crust. (I used Polenta flour) Toppings
3/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound spicy Italian sausages
2 yellow or red bell peppers, cored, lengthwise
1 large red onion, peeled, cut through root end into 1/2-inch thick wedges

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Let vinaigrette stand 15 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Arrange sausages, peppers and onion on baking sheet. Brush with some of vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill sausages until cooked through and peppers and onion until slightly charred and crisp-tender, turning and basting occasionally, about 12 minutes for sausages and 8 minutes for peppers and onion.
Transfer sausages and vegetables to cutting board. Cut sausages into 1/2-inch pieces and peppers into thin strips.
Final preparation
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups crumbled chilled soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet)
4 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup chopped green onion tops Add coals to barbecue if necessary. Place 2 dough rounds on grill. Grill over medium heat until top of dough puffs and underside is crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn rounds over. Grill 1 minute. Transfer to baking sheet with well-grilled side up. This side of the dough becomes the surface that will hold the toppings.

Repeat with the remaining 2 dough rounds. Sprinkle each with 1/4 of mozzarella and Parmesan. Top each with 1/4 of sausage, peppers and onion, then with 1/4 of goat cheese, tomatoes and green onions. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons vinaigrette.
Using large metal spatula, return 2 pizzas to grill. Close grill or cover pizzas loosely with foil. Grill until cheeses melt and dough is cooked through and browned, using tongs to rotate pizzas for Transfer to plates. Repeat grilling for remaining 2 pizzas. The ONE STEP that is missing is to check the grill for gas.
Opps~ The pizza is still fabulous.
We did change our ingredients (especially when I found I wasn't going to be grilling anything) Ham and pineapple and fennel with sweet peppers. They were great and the whole process was fun. minus the empty grill.

We'll be making this one again.
Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Photohunt ~Mom

The Photohunt for this week is 'Mom'
I didn't want to just post an old photo of mom... so instead I will post this quote.
Moms give their children two great gifts—one is roots, the other is wings.

Happy Mother's Day to all of us.

Happy Hunting y'all,

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

Happy Friday!
It is time to show off our Favorites.
My fav this week is SlowTravel. Whether it is planning a trip to Italy, looking for a great restaurant at the beach, or finding out alternatives when a volcano halts air travel... this is the site to go to.
My friends at Slow Travel always make me smile.

My trip to Italy (in one week BTW) is going to be filled with friends, smiles, a little wine, and lots of food.

What makes y'all smile?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A plate of Springtime!

It is springtime! We had a mix of weather this weekend. Sunshine, thunderstorms, sticky humidity, and clear breezes. Springtime in Alabama~ happy May.

This is a perfect recipe for a light dinner, using the fresh tiny asparagus, zesty lemon, and crunchy pine nuts on a plate of linguine.

Linguine with Asparagus
1/2 pound linguine
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 big bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch slices
1 Tbs capers
1 cup shaved parmiginao reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the linguine according to the directions in well salted water.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, stir in the pine nuts and garlic cooking 1-2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the bite sized asparagus, and cook until just tender.
Add the vegetables to the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parmiginao just before serving.
Doesn't that just look like a plate of springtime?

Y'all enjoy!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

You will find us on the patio...

Happy cinco de mayo friends~

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cooking Light Virtual Supper ~ Brunch

I am a part of a fun supper club sponsored by Cooking Light... we get together one evening a month for a virtual supper club. Today for our Virtual Supper Club we are having a brunch for Mother's Day. Since we are spread all over North America, we go to to find our recipes, and everyone brings what they like.
We all know that southerners love a good brunch. This recipe was right up my alley. Grits Casserole with Pesto Butter The grits casserole is different from my standard cheese grits... much lighter and very good. Whipping egg whites to a frenzy creates a light grits soufflee. It is beautiful when it comes out of the oven. I have to admit that the pesto butter was a little over the top and was amazing... but then how can you go wrong with fresh pesto?
Now let's see what everyone else has brought for brunch!
Shelby is bringing Waffles with Double Berry Syrup light style
Jamie has a Mushroom Fritatta
Val has a Sweet Potato and Canadian Bacon Hash that I can't wait to get a scoop of.
Patsy is bringing some Triple Fruit Scones
Y'all enjoy,
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