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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Southern Cooking

Bill and I are excited to be doing a cooking demo at Birmingham Bake and Cook Co. Susan Green and I have been waiting for tomato season... and now we are ready. We will be showing how simple it is to fry up a mess of green tomatoes using our Fried Green Tomato Batter Mix . We are also going to marinate and grill chicken and vegetables, then finish the evening with a cobbler using fresh berries and local peaches. If you haven't been by Birmingham Bake and Cook, it is a cooking store and much More! Susan offers all kinds of cooking classes and demos. I am planning on signing up for the pizza classes on August 27th.

Our southern cooking class is August 12th. Click on the classes link if you want to join us! It will be fun... Bill is full of stories about the cafe and that novel Fannie Flagg wrote. There will be good food for everyone.

See y'all there~

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Do you ever have one of those days when you wonder 'why bother blogging'?
I have had one of those months.

In the movie Julie & Julia, Julie the blogger becomes a little obsessed about posting recipes, cooking and keeping up. It is all for her 'bleaders'... those people we assume are reading.

Well, I got this comment last week from an anonymous bleader...
"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Fried Green Tomatoes":
I could just hug your neck for all of these wonderful recipes! I am just now learning to cook. I had a lengthy list of recipes I wanted to find, and you had them all!
You're a lifesaver!
Wish me luck!"
That comment just brightened my day! Anytime someone wants to 'hug your neck'~ that is high praise indeed.

I also won a giveaway from Jonita The Book Chic, and guess what... It is Julie &Julia! I will read it, then pass it on to my friends. The movie is great. It will make you bloggers laugh, bleaders smile, and cooks will just want to flip something. So maybe I will keep this up for a bit longer.

Thanks y'all,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dessert to go~

This is a great 'dessert to go'.
I had offered to bring dessert; so I took this when we went to a friends the other night. It is so simple to pack it up... all the dry ingredients in a plastic tub, with the butter on top. Grab some bananas, a pint of ice cream and a mini of rum.

Bananas Foster
¼ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
4 bananas
1 mini of rum
1 pint vanilla ice cream

When it is time for dessert~ borrow the kitchen for 10 minutes.

Melt butter, cinnamon and sugar in a skillet. Add bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and allow to caramelize over 5 minutes. Peel the bananas and slice them in half. Place them in the melted butter and heat through. Pour the rum into the pan. Flambe to burn off the alcohol or simmer for a couple of minutes. Scoop vanilla ice cream into 4 bowls. Spoon hot bananas and sauce over the ice cream.
Sorry~ I forgot to get picture. We were to busy eating!

Y'all enjoy!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spicy Sunday Salad

This week's Sunday Salad Samples a little Spice! It is just like the Yam Neua we get at Surin West here in Birmingham.
Maria brought us a recipe for a Spicy Thai Beef Salad from her family. Here is her blog My Place in the Sun.

Thai Beef Salad
1 lb tender beef steak, such as top sirloin.
For the salad:
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1 cucumber, peeled, cut lengthwise in half and thinly sliced
1-2 Thai bird’s-eye chilies or according to taste (I use 1-2 serrano chilies)
For the sauce:
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Grill beef until medium. Slice thinly on the bias and set aside.
Combine all the salad ingredients and add the sliced beef. Make the sauce by mixing together all the ingredients and toss with the salad.
Serve over a bed of green lettuce (e.g. Romaine) whole or chopped, or place individual servings over a large lettuce leaf.
This salad uses many of the same ingredients in Jerry's Thai Chicken Salad, so the same seasoning guidelines posted for his recipe can be followed for this salad:
**Adjust the seasonings – there should be a balance of hot, sour, and salt. To adjust seasonings in Thai food follow these rough guidelines . . . if it is too sweet add more fish sauce . . . too salty add more sugar . . . not tangy enough - add more lime juice . . . not hot enough - add more chili .

Rules to cook by~

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Photohunt~ Utensils

The photohunt for this week is 'utensils'.
This was a tough decision... because I have a lot of favorites.
I love the idea of using scissors to cut your pizza. Only in Italy!

Happy Hunting y'all!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Presto~ its pasta

The heart of Tuscan cooking is fresh, fresh, fresh. The thing I enjoyed most about my time cooking in Montisi was being able to go into the garden and pick the ingredients. Pasta does not have to be difficult or elaborate with heavy creamy sauces.
The best part of this dish is the fresh pop of tomatoes and basil with a crunch of pine nuts.
Roasted Tomato Pasta
2 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 shallots, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fusilli pasta
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Coat the tomatoes and garlic with olive oil and a bit of fresh basil, place on a roasting pan. Roast at 450° until tomatoes are soft and the skins begin to pop, about 5 minutes. In a skillet, lightly brown pine nuts and set aside. Next, brown shallots with 1 tbs olive oil. Scrape tomatoes and juices into the pan. Add remaining basil and oregano, heat through.

Meanwhile cook the spindle pasta till just tender. Drain and toss with grated parmesan cheese. Add tomato mixture. Top with shreds of parmesan and more fresh basil.
This could be served as a side dish or as the main meatless entree. Either way, it is about as simple as it can get. Presto~ its pasta!

My friend Pam at Sidewalk Shoes is hosting Presto Pasta night this week. I think I'll send her a link!

Y'all enjoy~
This post has been featured on Photograzing!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Salad~ Fresh!

This week's salad is from Terry from Philadelphia. She first had this salad in Israel, and now is sharing it with us!

Israeli Salad
1 large English cucumber, or 2 6" regular ones (the English cucumbers have fewer seeds)
2-3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
12 radishes
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
2 scallions
1 large Kosher pickle
1 medium green pepper
3/4 cup (packed) fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 large lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cut the cucumber and tomatoes into small cubes and place in large bowl. In your food processor, place the radishes and olives; pulse until roughly chopped. Add to the large bowl.
Place the scallions, pickle, and green pepper in the food processor and mince. Add to the large bowl.Mince the parsley in the food processor; add to large bowl.Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to your salad, and toss everything together gently. Chill.
Optional additions: feta cheese on top, or you can serve with yogurt or sour cream or little cubes of cream cheese on top.
I didn't use a food processor, but I did blend the parsley, lemon juice and oil in my bullet.
I really enjoyed the combination of fresh ingredients in this salad. I served it on a bed of cous cous.
The perfect blend of freshness for summer!
Y'all enjoy~

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Photohunt~ Rocks

The photohunt for this week is 'rock'.I love Rocks!
Rocks like these make some fabulous jewelry.

Happy Hunting y'all!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Novel Food~ Julie & Julia

Lisa at Champaign Taste is hosting her Novel Food~ the 2009 Summer edition. I have been meaning to get this done.

Now I have a reason... 2 reasons in fact!

I was lucky enough to see the sneak Premier of the new movie Julie & Julia just last night. This is from the book Julie Powell wrote on her experience blogging about Julia Child. So, I am able to do double duty by posting my Novel Food... and a review of the movie that is coming out next month. Splendid!
The movie is so fun... so US! Julie's story of blogging is so real~ do you remember when you got your first real comment on the blog ? Have your ever said 'I just have to get this on the blog... people are waiting?' Has your husband ever wondered why he was eating something he can't even pronounce?
Then, there is Julia Child... Was there ever a more endearing cook? Someone who just loved to cook, and even more loved to taste wonderful foods? About cooking she says 'I want to turn it, smell it, poke it, stir it about and hover over it's every state.' In the movie she is a beautifully awkward woman who loves her husband, and wants to do something well.

So... My novel food is a Julia Child recipe.
Lemon Sherbet
4-6 large lemons, enough to make 1/2 cup of zests
1 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 cup sugar
4 cup water
2 egg whites, beaten into a foam with
1/8 tsp salt
Candied lemon peel (optional)
Zest the lemons then pulverize the zests 2 minutes with 1 cup of sugar, add 1 1/2 cups of water and pulse 2 minutes more.
Pour into a saucepan, add the rest of the sugar and bring to a simmer. Swirl the pan until you are sure the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Pour in the lemon juice and the rest of the water. Stir for several minutes over the ice cubes until chilled.
Whisk in the egg whites and freeze according to your machine directions.
"It is lemon sherbet in a party dress when you serve it in balloon shaped goblets, top it with julienne of home-candied lemon peel and pour around it a shallow pool of aquavit."~Julia Child
I used limoncello with my party dress~

Bon appétit Y'all~

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making Mascarpone~ the process

The process for making mascarpone cheese is really very simple. The hard part was finding the right ingredients. There is no tartaric acid in Birmingham, and it is NOT the same as cream of tarter! (you can order it here) The cream has to be pasturized, rather than the more common ultra-pasturized.

I found a recipe for mascarpone that is made with lemon juice... but it didn't work for me. I don't want to lead you astray; So that is not the one I am posting. This recipe calls for tataric acid and it worked perfectly.

Mascarpone with Tartaric Acid
1 quart light cream or half-and-half
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon tartaric acid
In a double boiler, heat the cream to 185 degrees F. Add 1/8 teaspoon of the tartaric acid and stir for several minutes. The mixture will slowly thicken into a cream-of-wheat consistency, with tiny flecks of curd. If the cream does not coagulate, add a speck more of the remaining tartaric acid and stir 5 minutes longer. Be careful not to add too much tartaric acid, or a grainy texture will result.

Line a stainless-steel colander with a double layer of butter muslin. Ladle the curd into the colander and drain for 1 hour. Place the finished cheese in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: about 1 pound

It was really very easy~ I was amazed. I had more than plenty of creamy mascarpone cheese for my tiramisu. Not only that... but I have a bag of tataric acid for many, many more batches.

Y'all enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Making Mascarpone

This post has been in the works for a while. Several months ago my adventurous friends from Slow Travel started making cheese... I decided not to take part~ my plate was full!

Then I saw that they were making mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is a soft Italian cheese with a rich, sweet, smooth flavor. It is used to make tiramisu and other desserts and can be rather expensive. I had just made two large pans and spent $24 just in cheese.

So... if you can't beat em~ join em! They call themselves 'Curds our Whey', and have made all kinds of cheeses: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Feta and Mascarpone. Easy peasy~ I could do it!

There are a couple of different recipes on line, both using pasteurized cream and either tartaric acid or lemon juice. The cream needs to be pasteurized... not ultra-pasteurized.

The biggest problem was finding the tartaric acid that is needed to turn the cream into cheese. I ordered it from The New England Cheese Making Company ... after several attempts with lemon juice that just didn't work for me.

Tomorrow I will post the recipe and the process. Today I have to finish making my tiramisu for Jerry's birthday.
Y'all come back tomorrow!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Whole Foods

Bill and I spent Saturday demo-ing Fried Green Tomatoes at Whole Foods. What a blast we had! One of my new friends was telling me about 'this great southern cooking blog', another about our blog being like a southern magazine... that makes me feel good!
We set up in the floral/produce department... Standing amongst the sunflowers, I almost felt like I was in Italy.
The local Whole Foods is now carrying our WhistleStop Fried Green Tomato Batter. So~ we were happy to show people how easy it is to fry tomatoes at home. They were even featuring a green tomato BLTs at the deli~ they were delish!
Whole Foods is not only a great find anything grocery store, it's a super deli/sushi/bakery event. I can't think of a better way to spend the day.
Y'all pick up some batter mix while you're there. Maybe the cobbler mix will be next (tpyign wiht crossde fnigers) If you don't see any~ it really doesn't hurt to ask.
Thanks for showing the love y'all!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday's Salad~ Ceviche

This Sunday's Salad Sampler comes from Candi. Her SlowTravel blog is Wanderlust and Passions, you have to check it out for the amazing variety of travel and culture.

Candi picked a ceviche salad, which is a popular fish salad in South America and Mexico. Usually the fish is 'cooked' in lime juice (more like pickled). This recipe calls for actually cooking the fish, using lime juice to add flavor. That sounded better to me!
To cook the fish: 3 cups of water or chicken broth
1/2 cups white wine
juice of two limes
1 jalapeno or Serrano chili sliced in half
3 gloves of garlic,crushed
1 Tbs Old Bay seasoning
1/2 lb firm white fish fillet (halibut or the like)
1/2 lb large shrimp,peeled and deveined
Coat the fish and shrimp with old bay. Bring the broth,wine, lime juice, chili and garlic to simmer. Add fish and shrimp and simmer(do not boil) until fish is opaque(about 5 minutes) and shrimp is pink(about 2 minutes). Remove from poaching liquid and cool in the refrigerator.

To make the salad:
2 large tomatoes,diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 jalapeno,seeded and diced(or more if you wish)
juice of two limes
1/4 cup cilantro, diced
hot sauce to taste
sea salt and cracked black peppers to taste
Mix tomatoes, onion, jalapeno,lime juice and cilantro together. Season to taste with hot sauce,salt and pepper.When the fish is cool, cut shrimp in half and fish into bite-sized pieces. Mix into tomato mixture. Chill for at least one hour and up to four hours.

I loved the freshness of this salad. It was not the least bit 'fishy'.

You need to give it a try!

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Photohunt~ Garbage

The photohunt for this week is 'garbage'.
This is Campo di Fiori in Rome.
After the market closes... but before the nightlife begins.

Happy Hunting y'all,
For anyone in the Birmingham area... Bill & I are hanging out at Whole Foods on 280~ frying up a mess of green tomatoes.
Y'all come by!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Y'all know when I was in Italy last month, I had a chance to spend some time with my watercolors, making art(ish). I finally got my paintings framed~ and I think they look perfect in my kitchen. I am not an artist~ but with Liz's help, I created art! A part of our week with Gail's Great Escape are art lessons with Liz Cochrane . Last year I posted about our lesson's with Liz. She is a well know artist in the Montisi area, and we are lucky to have her spend time with us. Her patience and calming influence are just what we needed to try our hands with watercolors. She guides us with careful suggestions... and is always right! Her sense of humor is delightful, and helps keep everyone at ease. Her stories of being British in a small Italian village are always fun. I am almost embarrassed to show them... My artwork is no reflection of Liz's talents.
It IS a reflection of my warm memories!

Now I have these little paintings to remind me of my time in the kitchen in Montisi. I smile every time I glance that way... That is a better souvenir than anything I could have bought at the Uffizi.

Thanks Liz, mi amici.

Ciao y'all!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

We are in print...

This is soooo us.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fun on the 4th!

We had a fun day on the fourth. The weather held out and it was a beautiful day to share with family and friends.

Our Sunday Salad this week was perfect for the 4th of July party. Nancy at A wine lover's wanderings picked a watermelon salad. She gave us several suggestions for a variety of ingredients, check out her blog for several different recipes. Since my garden overflows with mint and basil... I used those.
Watermelon Salad
1 seedless watermelon
1/4 cup thinly sliced purple onion
1 cup fresh basil and mint leaves
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup feta cheese crumbles.
Make a pesto paste with the olive oil, lemon juice and herbs in the blender- or mince the herbs and whisk together. Pour over the feta and allow it to marinate.
Cut the watermelon into bite sized pieces. Slice the onion very thinly.
Toss everything lightly in a large bowl, garnish with freshly torn mint and basil.
It looks beautiful and the flavors blend so well~ The sweet watermelon, the salty feta, the peppery basil and olive oil.
But... in this southern family, guess which watermelon went first!
Why ruin a perfect thing?
Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Photohunt~ Pink

The photohunt for this week is 'pink'.
I could just see me zipping around Rome on this hot pink vespa.
Happy Hunting y'all,

Friday, July 03, 2009

What's for breakfast?

Are y'all wondering what to have for breakfast on the 4th?

You have to have something hearty... that will hold over until the low country boil is ready. Something that will last through the swimming and hot sunshine.
Bacon and biscuits!
It can still be patriotic!
Happy 4th of July y'all~

Thursday, July 02, 2009

How Time Flies~

How time flies!
Happy Anniversary~

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Have you got some extra mint?

Do you have any extra mint growing in amongst the weeds? Y'all know that here in the south, once you plant a little mint, it goes crazy. You could easily pull up a couple of handfuls.

This is the perfect time to plan to make some mint ice cream for the 4th of July. This is from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop... the best source for ice cream recipes!

Fresh Mint Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups fresh mint leaves
5 egg yolks
Warm the milk, sugar, half the cream, and salt in a small saucepan. Add the mint leaves and stir. Cover, remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour.
Strain the cream, and discard the mint leaves.
Rewarm the mint-infused cream, slowly incorporate the egg yolks after mixing in another bowl. Constantly stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens and reaches 170°. Pour through a strainer into a bowl with the remainder of the cream. Cool thoroughly in the fridge. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the instructions.
I served mine with some fresh strawberries for a light and sweet dessert. Perfect for a hot summer's day!
Y'all enjoy~
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