Archive for October, 2012

Scallops …

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Somebody made me a yummy dinner tonight …

Scallops with Tarragon, Caviar, and Chives

Great Weekend for Cycling!

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Organic Raspberries & Blackberries with Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream and Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chunks

It almost seems unfair, with Hurricane Sandy pounding the East Coast, but we were so fortunate here to have had some gorgeous Fall weather this weekend; it was perfect for cycling. I got in rides with a girlfriend on both Saturday and Sunday.

After a healthy, light dinner last night, we shared a nearly healthy dessert. I came across some gorgeous organic berries in my adventures yesterday, and, well, who could resist?!

As you can see, I was especially motivated to ride again today.

Tonight's addition is grilled avocado.


Tonight’s dinner is more grilling experimentation. I love grilled vegetables, and that’s what’s on the grill again tonight.  This time, there will be enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Mondays should always include something special to look forward to!

Experimenting on the Grill

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Whole Wheat Bread, & Yam

Getting ready for a little experimental grilling ...


This will become …

Grilled Ceasar Salad with Grilled Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and a Roasted Garlic Ceasar Dressing, and Whole Wheat Croutons (somebody ate the day old Pugliese I had planned for the croutons)

Grilled Yams … a healthier twist on sweet potato fries



Relaxing Evening at Home

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Chicken Marinated with Herbs de Provence & Meyer Lemon, and Grilled Romaine Wrapped with Proscuitto

Dinner …

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Mahi Mahi and Green Beans with Pesto

Whole Wheat, Rye, & Oat Bran Bread

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

One dough, three results.

This is a variation on Edward Espe Brown’s The Tassajara Bread Book whole wheat bread. That was my first ever bread book; I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn bread basics. It has easy to follow step-by-step instructions for the beginning baker, and lots of ideas on modifications for the more advanced baker as well. I’ve tried most of bread recipes in this book and have never been disappointed. See:

I used my KitchenAid stand mixer; it’s the large capacity Professional model. If you’ve got a standard KitchenAid, you’ll want to cut this recipe in half; it is probably too much for a standard home mixer to handle.

For the sponge:
½ cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups water (use filtered or bottled)
1 ½ tablespoons yeast
¼ cup honey
1 cup dry milk
½ cup rye flour
½ cup oat bran
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

For the dough:
4 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
1/3 cup oil or butter
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 to 1 cup unbleached bread flour

For kneading:
up to 1 cup all-purpose flour (“bench” flour)

Mise en place.
Assemble all of your ingredients.

Prepare the sponge:
Measure the buttermilk and water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let dissolve. In a separate bowl, stir together the flours and oat bran. When the yeast has dissolved, stir in the honey and dry milk. Then stir in the flour and mix until a thick batter forms. You don’t want to over mix at this point. Proof the sponge 45 minutes.

Just out of the mixer. It was quite sticky!

Mix the dough:
Fold in the salt and oil. I usually use unsalted butter in this recipe, but I used sunflower oil in this batch because that’s what I had. For the salt, whenever possible I use kosher or sea salt. Always use a fine grain salt, never coarse. Fold in the oil and salt for a moment, then begin adding the remaining 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 to 1 cup unbleached bread flour.

If you’re using a stand mixer, mix on low until the ingredients are well incorporated, then turn on high and knead on high for about 2 minutes. This is a sticky dough, so you’ll need to stop the mixer a few times and scrape the dough off the hook. If you’re mixing by hand, you’ll knead this dough about 10 minutes. One thing to remember is that even though the dough feels sticky at this point, you don’t want to add too much more flour because the whole grain flour and oat bran will absorb moisture as the dough rises.

After kneading, before the first rise.

When you’re done kneading, gently shape the dough into a ball and let it rest a moment while you oil a large bowl. Place the dough in smooth side down to lightly coat with the oil, then gently turn the dough over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then cover with a damp towel. Set aside to rise for 50-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

After the first "punch down" ... notice how the dough is folded over itself.

When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down. With loose fists, gently press into the center of the dough, then gently press all the way around the dough ball to deflate it. Pick up the dough, and gently fold the sides under. Turn the bowl ¼ turn, then fold the remaining sides under. Recover the bowl with plastic, cover with the damp towel, and set aside for the second rise. The dough will again double in size in about 40-50 minutes.

When the dough has doubled in size again, it’s time to shape it.

Shape the dough:
This recipe makes 2 large loaves, but you can also make other shapes. I made 4-5 ounce buns (for turkey burgers), 1 rustic loaf (about 1 pound), and 1 large loaf (about 1 ½ pounds).

The buns, proofed, egg washed, scored, and ready to go in the oven.

For the buns, I shaped them into rounds then gently pressed them down a bit, put them on an aluminum foil lined sheet pan, sprayed them with a little non-stick spray, covered with plastic, and placed a second sheet pan on top to weight them down. That’s how you get a nice bun shape, rather than a high puffy round. I set these to rise about 30 minutes, then brushed them with a little egg wash, scored them with a sharp knife, and baked them at 350° for about 30 minutes.* They’re done when they turn a nice, golden brown color, and sound hollow when given a gentle thump on the bottom crust.

The miche on the couche, after proofing.

The rustic loaf ready to go into the oven.

For the rustic loaf, I shaped into a “miche” (see below) and proofed in a make-shift couche (say, “coosh”). A couche is the special canvas cloth used by artisan bakers; it’s in part what gives their breads that amazing chewy crust.  I generously sprinkled a flour sack kitchen towel with all-purpose flour and a little whole wheat, and placed the loaf seam up in the center of the towel, then loosely wrapped the cloth around the dough. I set this aside to proof about 45 minutes. Then, baked it at 350° for about 40-45 minutes.*

You want to support the sides of the dough, especially if you have a more delicate dough and normally you’d make more than one loaf this way, but I’ll go more into that another time. I’ve not made this dough using a couche before, so this was an experiment. I was quite pleased with the result, so I’ll certainly be doing this again. The crust was near perfect!

Rustic Loaf ... beautiful crust can be yours at home!

The rustic loaf had a nice, even crumb, and a chewy crust. The couche is worth the little extra effort!

If you’d like some more information on using a couche, here is a pretty good basic video on couching technique:

In the loaf pan, before the final rise.

For the large loaf, I also shaped this into a “miche” and then placed it to rise in a large loaf pan. You’ll probably want to spray the loaf pan with a little non-stick spray first. This took about an hour to rise. I scored the loaf with a razor, then brushed the top with egg wash before baking.   I baked it at 350° for about 45-50 minutes.*  I turned the oven off, left the door open, and allowed the loaf to sit in the oven for about 15-20 while it cooled down. It browned more quickly than I expected, so I wanted to make sure it was cooked thoroughly.

The knife I used to score the rustic loaf wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be, so you can see that the scores are not as nice and even as they really should be. The best tool to do this with is a razor – just be very careful! If you look at the picture at the top of this post, you can see how clean the cuts are in the large loaf. These cuts were made with a razor rather than a knife.

*I’m pretty sure the oven I’m working with right now runs hot, so these cooking times and temps may need to be adjusted. I’ll have to buy an oven thermometer.

Shaping a “Miche”

The miche, just after shaping, before placing in the loaf pan. Notice the seam on the bottom. This one is pretty well sealed, but you can smooth it a little more by gently rolling the loaf, seam side down, on your board.

Gently shape the dough into a rectangle. For this dough, you want to gently press most of the gas out of the dough, but not all of it. Begin rolling towards you, tucking the ends gently with your thumbs when necessary, and pressing along the seam with your thumbs while you roll the dough. When you reach the end, gently push one end in with your thumb, and then press gently with the heel of your hand to seal it. Gently press with the heel of your hand along the seam, while tucking the dough in with the thumb of your other hand. Then, gently roll the dough to smooth out the seam. If you are going to proof this on a couche, then place it seam side up on the couche. If you are proofing this in a loaf pan, place it seam side down in the pan. Proof. Bake. Cool. Enjoy!


Coming Soon … Super Sport Rennovation

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

A special guest blogger will will be sharing details and progress of the renovation.

Super Sport in all its 1972 glory*

I will have one of THE coolest bikes in Bicycle City!

* Source:

English Hills, Vacaville

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Davis to Vacaville, via English Hills, Steiger Hill Road, Gibson Canyon Road … those are all the names I remember … then lunch at Nugget in Vacaville and back to Davis via a bunch of Solano and Yolo County back roads.  A few little climbs, nothing too much. The chain popped off the back gears on Steiger Hill Road on a climb, but that was easily fixed.

Fresh Squeezed Pineapple Juice

I confess that once we hit Gibson Canyon Road, I was looking forward to having the fresh squeezed pineapple juice at Nugget again. At just 90 calories in 8 ounces, loaded with vitamins and bromelain, it’s well worth it!

Ciabatta, Grilled Chicken Breast, Whole Grain Mustard ... and no waiting in line!

Lunch at Nugget was fun. The sandwich line at the deli was (as always) super long. I really didn’t want to stand in line and wait, so I wandered over to the deli case and saw some beautiful chicken breasts.

Hmm … why not just get the ingredients and make our own? I was quite pleased that the team member in the deli was happy to oblige. A grilled chicken breast, a ciabatta roll, and a little cup of whole grain mustard. Voila! Everything we needed for a reasonably light and healthy sandwich.

64.75 miles total. All in all, a good training ride and we kept a steady pace, even with a little headwind coming home. (Repeat after me as I borrow some words of wisdom, “The wind is an excellent training tool. The wind is an excellent training tool.” Smile. Pedal. Repeat.)

Chicken Soup, as Requested

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Chicken Rice Soup

My soup recipe from last Thursday was requested. I rarely ever follow a recipe when I make soup, I just sort of go with what I have on hand. I had a few chicken bones in my freezer left from a chicken I had boned a month or two back. I simmered them in a little water with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, and about 6 peppercorns. I simmered this slowly until I had a very simple, light broth.

Also in the freezer, there were some frozen peas and edamame. I placed these in a colander to thaw and drain.

Normally I would cook the rice in the soup, but since I was starting late, I cooked the rice separately in my rice cooker. I used a Lundberg blend, Black Japanica (, which is what gave this soup such a dark color.  I love using these dark rices. They add a richness and depth of flavor that ordinary rice just can’t touch. As an added bonus, they are nutrient-rich and loaded with antioxidants. My rice cooker takes about 45 minutes to cook a batch, so I started this right after the broth was going.

While the broth and rice were cooking, I chopped one onion into about 1/2 inch cubes, sliced 3 stalks of celery, and about 12 baby carrots (because that’s what I had … normally I would use 2 regular carrots). I sauteed these in about 2 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil, just until a bit softened. While these were sauteing, I diced about a 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger into small cubes (1/8 inch?), and chopped some fresh thyme and rosemary. Set the ginger and herbs aside for now.

When the broth is ready (you’ll just know), add the peas and edamame to the vegetables. Stir in the fresh ginger, herbs, and give a nice grind of fresh peppercorns. Strain the broth into the vegetables, set the bones aside to cool a bit. Add 1 more quart of chicken broth or stock. If you don’t have any bones on hand to make broth, then just use store bought. You’re going to want a total of about 2 quarts stock for this recipe.)When the chicken bones are cool enough to handle, pull off any meat that’s left on the bones and add it to the soup.

When the rice is done, add it to the soup. Heat the soup through, but you don’t want to boil it.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a bit of fresh parsley. A little hot sauce is good, too. Enjoy with some good homemade bread!

This recipe can easily be made vegan by using a vegetable broth and no chicken. It is a good, healthy source of complete protein (rice and peas) as well as the edamame beans.


Just a Quick Ride

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

I got a lot done today and rewarded myself with a quick ride. I just jumped on my bike and started riding. No pack, no camera, just a lip balm & snack in my Gold’s Gym Tour de Cure Jersey, 2 water bottles, and some residual caffeine energy from my espresso. My average mph was about +1 mph from my last ride.

Oh, and I blasted past a “real” cyclist on the one little incline on my ride. Wooooooooo!

Looking forward to a long ride tomorrow!