Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grilled Pastrami and Swiss

I made these when I got home from Santa Rosa today. Grilled Salami & Pastrami and Swiss on Roasted Garlic Sourdough. Also, TJ's dijon mustard and homemade mayo with paprika and saffron. Awesome.

Monday, March 29, 2010

First Loaf of Bread Sale

I sold my first loaf of bread last Saturday (3/27/10). I had been asked more than a month ago by my neighbor, if she could buy bread from me. Well I kinda lagged and never really got back to her. In the meantime, I had been told by a bakery owner, during a job interview, that I couldn't legally make and sell bread out of my home kitchen. The reason being is that when you are commercially selling food products, you cannot make them in a kitchen that is exposed to the public, so to speak. Meaning that I would have to make my bread in a commercial kitchen. Finding that out was quite a bummer, as you might imagine. Luckily though, Mel recently talked to a lady in her physical therapy, who works for the health department and she said that I can sell my bread out of my kitchen because at the level that I'm doing it, it is considered bartering. Awesome. If I had several 25 or 50lb bags of flour around, then it would seem that I was mass producing bread. However, since I generally only have one 25lb bag of flour, then it falls under bartering. Also, I can advertise by word of mouth or I could say that my neighbors stumbled upon my craft through the scent of fresh bread in the air. Awesome!

Since I never got back to my neighbor, Rachael, her boyfriend, John, approached me about it, last week. Great, I thought, I just started another sourdough starter because my previous one went bad and now I have a reason to make bread on a more or less regular basis. I've decided to sell each loaf, for now, at $3. $5 for larger loafs. Pictured above is a 3 dollar loaf, however John, nor I had change, so he just gave me a 5-er. Yeah, Rad. I should have another customer coming by tonight and at least 1 more the next day. I am also looking into Farmer's Market as another avenue. It won't turn me into a millionaire just yet, but it's a start!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

2 Days 120 Miles, Con't

After leaving Big Basin, there was some concern on whether or not we would make it to Boulder Creek to get gas. Luckily BC was on only 12 miles from where we were at. I think Andrew actually went through his reserve and had to coast into the gas station. For some reason on our way up to Big Basin, we skipped stopping in Saratoga to get gas. I think it might have been because it was getting late in the day and we still had a long way to go before BB.

Once our tanks were filled we rode the rest of the way into Santa Cruz. I've done this ride a couple of times before, on fast bikes even, but this day I just couldn't shake my anxiety. Much of the road was still wet from the storms just a few days ago. I was on a bike that I was not use to, but also had very little tread on the back tire. It wasn't until we rolled into SC on River St. that I finally relaxed a little bit.

We stopped at Caffe Pergolesi for some coffee and then headed down W. Cliff Dr. to Natural Bridges. I remember when Iused to live in Santa Cruz and I would often go to the beaches along this street to relax and have fun. The view and ocean, I think are the best in the state. Now that I think about it, I really do miss being a hop skip and a jump from the ocean. From there we
cruised back down W. Cliff to E. Cliff and rode almost to Capitola. On the way back into SC, we stopped again on Water St. to fill up, then headed over to the Santa Cruz Mission.

This lumber yard is down on River St. The mission is on top of a hill and from the parking lot you can see out pretty far. I just though the lumber yard looked cool anyway. I was checking out their forklifts and started reminiscing about when I used to work for a plumbing supply warehouse. Lots of fun..
The way back was pretty smooth most of the way. By this time the roads had dried out significantly since the morning. I had a few problems around the summit of Hwy 9. For some reason, if you fall off the pipe on Felix, especially on an incline, the bike would has a real hard time. Perhaps all the times this happened on this trip was a prelude to something worse. At the time though, I still didn't think much of it. After all, I was Andy's bike, and he's a pretty solid mechanic, so I just figured it had something to do with the kit and the pipe.
Another milestone. The top of 9, on the way back. Yay, we were almost home. These rides always turn out to be pretty grueling. At this point it was getting, hell it was already cold again. And the sun was about to go down. Rad.. Oh yeah and the road was wet here still. Coming down 9 into Saratoga is kinda hectic. But I blasted nonetheless. I was probably hitting between 35-45 in some parts, freezing and to scared to pull over and let 6+ cars pass me. Oh well I figured that I was riding at least the limit if not over, so hopefully I wasn't holding anyone up. I always get paranoid when I have a cars behind me. It makes me really nervous, of course that's somewhat normal. People in cars are always trying to punk us mopeders. Fuckers..

We had hoped that our last planned stop in Saratoga, would actually be our last stop. Probably 3 minutes after leaving the 76 Station, Felix started making a horrid noise and died on me. We pulled the head to find that a chunk of the piston was missing. Well that would explain why Andy had noticed that throughout the trip the engine was losing compression. This was something that was gradually happening until finally a big piece broke loose. From here, we sent Andrew on ahead with some phone numbers to call. Luckily I memorize my friends' numbers. I don't have a cell phone, so I have to memorize most people's numbers, otherwise I have a list at home. I wrote down three numbers to possibly call. Most likely, Gabe would be able to pick me up for some gas money. Luckily Gabe's a nice guy and he has a truck. Thanks for the lift Gabe! I was just gonna try to peddle my way down into Los Gatos, but Andy wouldn't leave my side and actually towed me most of the way into town. I don't like to get towed or tow anyone to much cause one time I was towing Andy while he was on my bike and I was on my ped, and we got pulled over. I try to think and ride smart to avoid any un-necessary hassles. However sometimes, you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

About 45 minutes later, Gabe rolled up and I was able to get a ride back downtown. I can't say that I was bummed about not riding the rest of the trip. I was exhausted, hungry and cold and when Gabe rolled up, it had started to rain, again.

Update: So in the beginning of this epic ride, my moped was having some big enough issues that we ended up not taking it. Since then I found out what the problem was, points. My points were worn all the way down. After getting new points, the bike fired right up.

Since taking this trip, Mopedhead has acquired a group campsite at Big Basin and is already well into the planning of our third rally, Stinko de Junio: Return of the MopedHeads.
For more details, please email me at

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sundried Tomato and Chili'd Beef Pizza

I got tired of my low rising sourdough crusts. Using the sourdough starter for crust works great, however if I want it to rise well, then I have to let it rest for much longer than 30 mins. And that's fine if I forsee myself making pizza at the begining of the day. For spur of the moment pizza with great crust, yeast it is.
Most pizza dough calls for sugar. I try not to add sugar whenever possible, however I do know that sugar is supposed to help the yeast work. So instead of using sugar, I put a drop of honey it it. I also added ground black pepper and ground chili to the crust. After I rolled it out, I
put my sauce (sundried tomato and ricotta cheese topenade) around the edges. Then I rolled edges over to form the crust. One of the reasons I decided to make this pizza was because I had a bunch of beef knuckle steak meat, that I had mistakenly bought. In the dinner I made the night before (raviolis), I had added meat to the menu, and I basically used half of each steak to make meat rolls. Doesn't sound appetizing, I know, but they were really good. With the left over beef, I diced it, seasoned it with salt, pepper and drided chilis (ground) and then browned them in a rum infused oil (something Mel created by mistake) and added diced onions. After that, I added diced jalepenos because I thought the pizza needed more color. Made it taste great too. And later after the pizza came out of the oven, i added lemon zest and a squeeze of a lemon to the pizza, further enhancing the flavors. With this pizza, I felt that I redeemed myself because the last few pizzas I made, didn't live up to my expectations. You are your hardest critic...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Raviolis From Scratch

For a while now I've been planning on making raviolis from scratch. It kinda started with the persimmons. My grandpa gave me a Trader Joe's size bag of persimmons late last year. I ended up making a bunch of persimmon breads, but for the most part I steamed some whole, some quartered and pureed some, all to freeze for later use. Next, I finally aquired a pasta roller and then all I had to do was muster up some motivation and make sure I had time, lots of time.

First I made the dough. I would have to let it rest for at least 30 min, so in the meantime I could make the filling. I doubled up on the reciped thinking that it would be enough. Not only was I wrong there, but I also totally messed up the first round of making pasta dough. I forgot to put a whole cup of flour out, so the well I made couldn't hold the 4 eggs I tried to put into it. The egg went everywhere and when I finally got it all together with the cup of flour I was missing, the dough ended up really hard. So hard that I couldn't even knead it. I tried to save it, but in the end I had to toss it. Bummer. Ok so I had to try again. The next time it came together, however I swore that the next time I make more, that I was using the mixer. For the third batch, I did use the mixer. Not only was it MUCH faster, it was much easier. Finally something was coming together.

I got the idea from a Martha Stewart book that my mom emailed me in PDF format. The actual recipe is, I think, somebody else's, but it was a MS book for Thanksgiving recipes. Cool. What it was, was a pumpkin ravioli with a pumpkin veloute. Subsitute persimmons for pumpkin. After making the persimmons insides for the ravioli, I rolled out the dough and began creating raviolis.
After making a bunch of persimmon raviolis, I had to make more dough, for the Italian sausage raviolis, that I was also planning on making. By the time I was done making the meat ones, I was starting to get a method down as to how to press the dough down around the meat to prevent any air bubbles. I haven't made pasta from scratch since I attend "Cooking for Teens" at CCA (SF), when I was 14. I have never made raviolis from scratch, so not only did this seem like a daunting task at first, I also had to develop my own techniques. I actually made quite a few mistakes. Next time, straining the persimmon mixture through cheese cloth, would be ideal, so that the mixture doesn't end up soaking the dough. After making each batch, I lined the raviolis on a sheet tray and put them in the freezer. This way I would be able to put them in a bag, without worrying about them coming apart. The meat ones I made, came out a lot better, both in shape and they were dryer.

Next I had to puree the veloute and strain it, before I could call it quits for this evening. It was almost midnight by this point and my back and feet were really hurting. After straining the veloute, I put it back on the stove to reduce it a little more. I did reduce it a little bit while I was doing dishes, but decided that I would save it and finish it today. Besides, I knew that the flavors would change and intensify over night as the veloute sat in the fridge.

All this work will come to fruition tonight as we host a dinner for our favorite friends and couple, the Mooneyhams. It's really cool that they are coming over. Usually we go to their house and cook dinner. It's cool when they come to our house because we can make the dinners more elaborate, since we have all our tools at hand. For tonights dinner, we will be having Persimmon and Italian Sausage Ravioli with a Persimmon-Curry Veloute, with a side of salad and an Orange Vinegrette and my Peppered Wheat Sourdough. To top it all off, we're all going to see a show afterwards. Boarhunter!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Couple of Dinners

I made this one for dinner tonight (Sunday). I was rearranging the freezer last night and I came across some marinade that I had frozen. Sweet, I thought, because I also pulled out some chicken to thaw too. This morning I combined the chicken with the marinade, which was made up of worcestershire, dijon mustard and thai peppers. While the chicken was cooking in the Flavor Wave, I added turkey stock to the leftover marinade and boiled it before adding bird's eye pasta. When the pasta was finished I added fresh parsley from our herb garden. Delicious! I didn't have a lot of veggies but I came up with something pretty simple but tasty. Zuchini, onions, roasted jalepenos and garlic and spinach (also from our herb garden)

I made this dish a couple of weeks ago. It was a pork loin stuffed with roasted sweet peppers and kale rubbed with salt, pepper and chipotle. The rice was brown and had onions and carrots and was topped with tomatoes. For the salad, just basic stuff with a red wine dijon dressing.

Mixed White-Wheat Serano Sourdough

I baked these sexy loafs this morning. Man they are beautiful! These beautiful loaves are made with white starter and whole wheat flour. I also added roasted serano peppers. Two new things I did with these loaves are that I am trying out distilled vinegar and I am going to start writing my bread recipes and taking note of height, texture and taste.

A few days ago I looked up red velvet cake recipes and used one from the food network. I thought it was strange that it called for distilled vinegar, not because I didn't have any (actually I had just ran out), but because it was vinegar in a cake. Later after I made cupcakes, Mel asked me what I put into them and distilled vinegar came up. Mel told me that distilled vinegar actually helps make things rise.

Whenever I make wheat sourdoughs, I put in a little vinegar in the mix, as I noticed that it helped to cut the "wheaty" taste. So now I'm trying distilled vinegar in the hopes that I can kill to birds with one stone. I have to say that it seems to be working. Starting with these to loaves, I going to on and mixed white-wheat kick and try to find the perfect amount of each ingredient to make the best bread.

The picture to the left is a sandwich I made for a snack earlier today. Last night I made cilantro hummus. Today I went shopping for lettuce and ham. All day I've been craving a sandwich with cilantro hummus. So this is what I came up with. Ham and cheese with cilantro hummus and jalepeno celery mayo on wheat bread. Yum! The thing about always making your own bread is that you're always craving a sandwich. I suppose there could be worse things!