Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring Gremolata

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring GremolataHoled Up for the Holiday
Easter is going to be different this weekend. To be fair, we’ll still do most of the same things we would normally do. There will be Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies (though they may be a bit smaller). There won’t be any fancy clothes, which frankly, won’t upset too many of us. We’ll just put on our “good” pair of sweats. There will be Easter dinner but there will not be the traditional purple goblets that my grandmother always used. Well, at least not at my house. My sister will probably use them while also wearing her “good” sweats.

But what to cook?

During the first full week of the shelter-in-place order, I was thrilled to know that HoneyBaked Ham was still up and running. So I walked up the street and bought a bigger ham than I needed and a couple of their soup and chili mixes. We ate ham for dinner and had sandwiches for days. I used the bone to make a fantastic soup and put the rest of the ham in the freezer for later use. We happily devoured that ham but it left me with a problem for Easter. We normally do ham on Easter but at this point, my family can’t even look at it. And, I agree which means we’re going with door number two…leg of lamb.

Lamb for Easter is a no-brainer. It’s springtime—and few things are more synonymous with springtime than lamb. There are a number of ways you could choose to prepare your lamb. I’m opting for a butterflied leg, to make it easier to slice. Growing up my grandmother would do a full, on the bone, very traditional leg of lamb that she studded with garlic cloves and then roasted in the oven. (Yes, there was mint jelly.) It was fantastic. But, I’m just not feeling it. Maybe I’m bored, maybe I’m rebellious. But, I want something with brighter bolder flavors so I’m throwing mine on the grill.

This recipe has a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor with Aleppo pepper and lemon. Feel free to substitute what you don’t have. I’ve had to do a lot of that lately. Every meal has been a bit of an adventure. The pepper can be swapped for hot paprika or even straight-up red chili flakes. I would encourage you to use as many of the fresh herbs as possible though I get it. They may be hard to come by. If you can find them rejoice. That bright, happy, fresh flavor is something that everyone could use a little of right now!

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring Gremolata
Yields 12 servings
Adapted from NY Times Cooking Read more…

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…