Saturday, January 30, 2010

Food for Thought: Part II of Bringing Tuscany Home by Frances Mayes

When snow is forecast for the Mid-South, I always think, Right. Mmmhum, when donkeys fly. This morning we awoke to blinding white light and great drifts of snow...but no flying beasts.
The first thing I did was pull out Frances Mayes' Bringing Tuscany Home. It's part book, part hot water bottle, just the thing for a frost-bit outlook.
Come away with me for a few minutes
and warm up at Bramasole.

Let's have a meal on the terrace. What about pasta juxtaposed on daisies as a starter?

Oops, overturned my wine glass, Frances. Please may I have another?

For our main course, fiery red pasta to heat the soul and the belly.

Dessert is a mint green dream, visions of spring, it's just around the corner.

Oh, Frances, you knew we were coming!

Bramasole has a shrine outside its door...
we can have one, too.

If you're not quite ready to return home, you are just a click away from foodie adventures, sunlight, warmth.
Please celebrate the written word with Jain at "Food for Thought."

Bringing Tuscany Home by Frances Mayes, Broadway Books. Photography by Steven Rothfeld.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Foodie Friday: Sinful Desserts

Look what Bandwidth and Dr. G brought home.
Oh, they shouldn't have.
Because you can't eat just one.
Well, not me.
They're sprinkled with fairy dust,
which cancels the calories, right?
No need to buy a bigger dress size.
Now that we've settled that, let's dig in.

Mr. Linky awaits your Foodie Friday recipe:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Foodie Friday: A Trifling Matter

Welcome to the umpteenth Foodie Friday.
Trifle: (try-full) Verb: 1. to play mind games with another person (as in "That mean boy is trifling with her heart!") 2. wasting time. Noun: 1. an insignificant matter. 2. tiny quantity or small amount. 3. a poofy, layered dessert.
Definitely dessert.

10 Minute Trifle
1 loaf cake (bakery)
2 bags frozen fruit (or fresh)
1 box Jell-o vanilla instant pudding
2 c milk
Extra creamy Cool Whip
Vincent Van Gogh chocolate liqueur
Find a deep glass container, preferably with straight sides. Cut cake into squares and arrange along sides of bowl. If you have time, arrange the "crusty sides" facing away from glass, toward the middle. It's supposed to be prettier. But in my case, it didn't make a difference.
Fill center with remaining cake. I did two layers.
Now pour chocolate liqueur (it's clear) over cake.
Add a layer of berries.
Make pudding. When it thickens, pour over fruit.
Spoon Cool Whip over pudding.

Simple. Elegant. Perfect for over-extended people who crave something sweet and fluffy, yet have zero time to make everything from scratch.

Do not explain. Do not feel guilty. Serve in a crystal wine glass and enjoy.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Level of difficulty: beginner

I'm revising the book and will be a little slow in visiting, but this is a foodie joy I can't give up. I'm looking forward to seeing what y'all have cooked up this week.
Mr. Linky awaits your Foodie Friday post:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Introducing Bandwidth's New Cooking Blog

I'd like to introduce Bandwidth and his new blog, Cooking With Bandwidth.
His focus is simple, flavorful food that won't break the bank. I'm hoping he'll join us on Foodie Friday.
Stop by his blog and say hello to Bandwidth. He'll be happy to meet you. Here's his blog:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food for Thought: Part I of Bringing Tuscany Home by Francis Mayes

"Like the Tuscans, I want pasta every day," Francis Mayes wrote in Bringing Tuscany Home.
Whenever I open this book, I not only dream of pasta, I dream of being at Bramasole, talking about food and writing with the Mayes.
Above, you can see Bramasole peeking through the trees.

Since this is an epic review, I had to divide it into two parts, so I'll do a complete summary next week. But I can't tamp down my excitement. Let me just say that all 226 pages are filled with Mayes' poetic images and achingly beautiful photography by Steven Rothfeld.
The recipes celebrate Tuscan cuisine, but you don't have to be in Italy to cook them. For instance, homemade tomato sauce calls for canned, whole tomatoes.
Although I wouldn't mind being in Cortona right now, eating tomatoes and gelato.

Francis writes about secret places, antiques, Tuscan design--and food, of course. She is a true foodie. But I wouldn't expect anything less from her since she is a native Southerner.

I pulled out my Italian china, and guess what? The dinner plate matched every photograph in the book.

Each time I read Frances' first book, Under the Tuscan Sun, or this one, Bringing Tuscany Home, I feel cozy and cheerful. Francis is a poet, and her words capture the bright slant of sun, the smell of rosemary, and the feel of grainy, warm soil as she plants a garden.

Since Francis lives in California part-time, she wrote this book as a way of infusing Tuscany in San Francisco--or wherever she happens to find herself. She shows us how "place" isn't entirely geographical but a state of mind.

I'm joining Jain in her inaugural "Food for Thought," which celebrates the written word and food (my two favorite things other than Mister). Everyone is invited to join the party. To check out this visual treat, visit Jain at .

5 Stars *****
Bringing Tuscany Home by Francis Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun. Photography by Steven Rothfeld. Broadway Books, 2004; 225 pages. Available at fine bookstores everywhere. To find an "indy" near you, visit:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bandwidth's Low-Carb, Low-Cal Portobello Burgers Plus the Versatility of White Dishes

Welcome to Foodie Friday.

If you are into cooking, you may own quite a few dishes. You may own several sets of white tableware. If not, never fear. It is the cook's destiny to own white dishes.

One day you will find yourself looking at a creamy white dish, and you'll fall in love. You may fall for many, many dishes in your life, but you will always remember your first white plate.

In a culinary way, it's like a first love.
A white plate is never boring, adapts to any color scheme, and best of all, food looks great on it. So do napkins.

I love mixing and matching, then building layers. Even though I adore patterned tableware (actually, I've never seen a dish I didn't like), my white plates are the most versatile. I've bought pieces at Big Lots, the Dollar Store, Horchow, Goodwill, consignment shops, garage sales, auctions.

White looks crisp and fresh with aqua.

You can't go wrong with a classic blue-and-white tablescape.

Get blingy with black and gold.

With Valentine's Day approaching, white pottery is my first choice to layer with whimsical red patterns.

Here, I've used checks and polka dots.

The possibilities are endless with floral napkins.

Green glassware with white pottery is an antidote for the dim days of winter.

Bandwidth's Low-Carb, Low-Cal Portobello Burger
2 lbs ground round
1/2 red onion, chopped
portobello mushrooms
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1T catsup (we used a low carb brand)
1 t grainy mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
white American cheese
roasted tomatoes (see below)
low carb bread (grocery), 6 net carbs per slice

Mix beef with onion, egg, and seasonings. Shape into patties. Grease grill with Pam or oil to prevent sticking. Cook 3 minutes on each side (high heat). Brush olive oil over sliced mushrooms and grill till tender.
Build your burger, adding mayonnaise, sliced roasted tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, and cheese.

Roasted Tomatoes


olive oil
salt and pepper
Place on baking pan and drizzle with oil. Dust with salt & pepper. Bake at 220 degrees for 30 minutes.

This burger really hit the spot. It was pure comfort food.

Why don't you join me while I visit some of the best cooks in blogland?
Grab a pencil because you'll want to take notes.

If you are participating in this week's Foodie Friday, Mr. Linky awaits your recipe and blog link: