Fresh Homemade Pasta

Fresh Homemade PastaKeep Calm And Cook On
When you have been in business for 118 years you see a lot of things. When our store first opened in 1902, we were the only supply option for the people who had “country homes” in Piedmont. The situation changed dramatically in 1906 when people escaping the destruction of the earthquake crossed the bay to Oakland and they all needed groceries. But we survived that and will get through this too. We survived the depression and two world wars. We’ve survived fires and even more earthquakes. And we weathered the uncertain times after the 9/11 attacks. This time will be no different and we will do it because of our people.

To say we broke some records in the last week would be an incredible understatement. Through it all, our amazing employees have remained steadfast and dedicated to the community they serve. Some even volunteering to come in on their day off to help keep whatever stock we had on the shelves. It was exhausting and stressful but their commitment to our neighbors is awe-inspiring. And, I am personally humbled and beyond grateful to work with this extraordinary group of people.

I would also like to thank our surrounding community for making it easy to serve you in these past days. Through all the hysteria of long lines and empty shelves, our community remained patient and calm—even when we had technical difficulties with our pin pads. Every person who came through our check stands made it a point to thank our checkers and baggers for being there to help. Their gratitude and support made it that much easier to get through those crazy shifts.

Now we focus on learning our new normal. Here at the store, we have new business hours. We have signs posted all over the store but in case you missed it, they are listed on our website.

We will be closed tomorrow March 19th to give our staff a rest and to get the store cleaned and stocked. We will be open again on Friday at our normal time of 9 AM. We are hoping to be able to fill all of those holes I mentioned as we should be getting a big truckload in on Thursday…but we can’t be certain. The vendor warehouses are just as depleted as we are so we may not get everything we requested. We ask for your patience with us as well as them.

Since we don’t know for sure what will arrive on the truck, right now is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill like, say, making your own pasta. Making fresh pasta is not really as difficult as you might believe. It requires only a few ingredients. Though, I will concede that flour could be an issue. (Cross your fingers for Thursday). If you are lucky to have all the ingredients, give it a shot. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect the first time around. Keep in mind that Italians have been making pasta for centuries without fancy equipment. Just elbow grease and time—which is something we have a lot more of right now. Clean wire hangers are great for drying your pasta. Give it a try or better yet make it a family activity to get people off the screens.

Let’s everyone just take a deep breath. Remember we’re in this together and we’ll get through this. Hopefully while learning new skills and, frankly, eating pretty well… Read more…

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Bread Pudding with Bourbon SauceBourbon Legend
My life for the past week has been bourbon-infused. During a random Sunday search of TV listings to veg out on, I came across a program devoted to Kentucky Bourbon. I have always been a fan of good bourbon and after watching 30 seconds of the show, I was hooked. By the end of it, I was way more educated and informed. And also, rather thirsty.

Though I do have a thing for bourbon, it is not something I drink often. This is mostly because to really enjoy a good bourbon, you need to take your time and savor it. It’s rare that I have the time to do it right. And, this week is no different. But still, I haven’t been able to get bourbon off my mind.

On top of that, Mardi Gras is this coming Tuesday. So, I have been thinking of a way to combine the two. What should I make? Is the classic Bread Pudding with Whisky Sauce, a New Orleans staple, too obvious a choice? And, there are plenty of bourbon BBQ recipes to choose from. But, that doesn’t scream Bourbon street to me…

Ultimately, I couldn’t find anything better to celebrate both Mardi Gras and bourbon than the bread pudding. Not that it is exactly a hardship to eat it. Bread pudding is one of life’s greatest indulgences.

A traditional recipe for Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is feature below. And, if you’re feeling a little rebellious, you can try this recipe for Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Carmel Sauce from our archives.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
Yields 8 servings Read more…

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry FillingBig Gestures
Valentine’s Day is Friday. And, this year things are a little bit different. This year Valentine’s Day will not only contain chocolate and conversation hearts but also a prom-posal.

About a week or so ago my son brought up the fact that his girlfriend who is a junior (he’s a sophomore) definitely wants to go to prom. They have already discussed this, but she would kinda like to actually be asked. She doesn’t want anything big—no flash mobs or skywriting. She just wants something that requires minimal effort but still shows he understands that, to her, it’s a big deal. I am all for this. I feel my son needs to learn to be better at showing his appreciation. I also know that I will be involved with this caper because, sigh, he’s a fifteen-year-old dude.

To be fair, he came up with the whole plan on his own but needs my help executing it. She loves cake so he wants to make her a heart-shaped cake that he can decorate with little heart signs on sticks asking her to the prom. Totally cute. The issue is that while he can make a mean quesadilla, his baking skills are lacking. So, that’s where I come in.

After a lengthy discussion, we decided on a chocolate cake with a raspberry filling topped with a shiny chocolate glaze. It might sound complicated, but it’s not. The cake we are making is my go-to for whenever I am craving chocolaty cakeyness. It has all of the moistness of a box cake mix but with much better flavor. The trick is to use good quality cocoa. Do not go for the Hersheys. Splurge on some Valhrona or Scharffen Berger cocoa for this one.

Although I will be using heart-shaped pans this time around, normally I make this cake in a bundt pan for easy slicing and consumption. Sprinkled with some powdered sugar or topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream it’s the perfect dessert for any dinner. Isn’t too bad for breakfast either…

Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is filled big gestures of affection and, hopefully, some cake…

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling
Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Yields 2 8-inch cakes Read more…

Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese

Baked Lobster Mac and CheeseOscar The Grouch
The 92nd Academy Awards are this Sunday…and I am not sure if I am excited about it or not. My plan to see all of the nominated movies fizzled. I’ve only seen one, though I might try to sneak one or two more in during the next couple of days. We’ll see how that goes!

I just have this overall feeling of indifference. Maybe it’s political fatigue. Maybe it’s the hangover from the Super Bowl loss. Or maybe I just need my blanket and a nap.

In my opinion there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hype for the Oscars this year. So, it’s possible I’m not the only one feeling this way. It might be that our attention is elsewhere (considering everything that’s been going on here and abroad). It makes a night of big dresses, big diamonds, and big winners seem somewhat trivial even if, for some, it’s the biggest night of their careers. Or perhaps a night of silliness, heavy satin, and escape is just what the doctor ordered.

So what does one eat for a night of escapism? Good question. You could follow the lead of the Hollywood Foreign press as well as the Academy and go all plant-based. Or you could take one for the team of attendees who didn’t eat anything so they could fit in their dress and go the cheeseburger route. It’s always one of my favorite plays.

After last weekend, I’m burned out on finger foods. I’m thinking the best thing to do is combine everything I am feeling into one satisfying dish. So here goes…

Lobster Mac and Cheese is the perfect solution! It has the glamour of the lobster, heartiness for the hungry, and the comfort food factor to help those of us who are wondering what the world is coming to. Plus it goes well with some lovely champagne and bubbles will always lift your spirits…

Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Ina Garten and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Danish Pebernødder Cookies

Danish Pebernødder CookiesDane Good Cookies
If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I come from a big tribe of Vikings. In one corner of the ring you have my dad’s side of the family, The Swedes. In the other corner you have my mother’s side, the Danes…and there really is no contest. The Danes outnumber the Swedes by a significant amount. Because of our familial makeup, it makes sense that many of our holiday celebrations have Scandinavian roots. This is no more apparent than in our Christmas cookies.

Scandinavians are fantastic bakers. In fact we can trace a lot of tasty treats back to the old country. The Danes even have an entire category of breakfast named after them. Where they really shine, in my opinion, is with their cookies. It wouldn’t be Christmas in my family if there weren’t any Gingie cookies. I have written about them before, and you will be happy to know that I have gone through two batches already. I will be making two more batches this weekend to hand out to friends. Can’t let Sweden have all the glory though. I will be making traditional Danish Pebernødder along with them.

The Danish people love their warming spices especially at Christmas time. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves are wildly popular flavors that are found all through Danish baking recipes. Pebernødder (or Peppernuts) contain all of the above but they take spice one step further by adding white pepper for some kick. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a large Scandinavian population, you might be able to find these spices already mixed in specifically for Pebernødder this time of year but it’s just as easy to do it yourself.

These cookies are tiny little addictive balls of crunchy goodness that you can eat by the handful. The good news is this recipe makes a lot of them. They are great with a hot cup of tea or coffee or even better with a glass of milk for Santa…

Danish Pebernødder
Makes about 200 small cookies
Read more…