Thursday, April 29, 2021
Baking Bread
Many of us began the shelter-in-place by learning new bread baking skills. Now that the city is opening up and beginning to return to normal, what will we do with this expertise? At Piedmont Grocery, we are committed to continue baking and sharing our recipes and staff picks to encourage our customers to keep baking bread.

This issue is filled with great recipes for bread as well as some of our favorite products—from interesting flours, to mixes, to things to spread on bread, and finally some delicious sweetbreads.
Bread Flours and Mixes
We have repeatedly sung the praises of King Arthur Flour because of their high quality and consistency. Yet, sometimes it is good to mix it up to vary the flavor of the bread. Bob's Red Mill Dark Rye Flour has a hearty and distinctive flavor. The traditional flour for rye bred, it is also delicious added to the flour blend for cookies, pancakes, crackers, and pizza crusts.

Blends by Orly Tuscany Bread Flour mix makes some of the best Gluten-Free bread we have tested. Orly recognizes that there is no such thing as an all-purpose GF flour. This flour is specifically blended for breads: pizza crust, sandwich bread, pasta, focaccia, bread sticks, burger buns, etc. And, it is made from healthy, whole grains.

Mount Pizzuti Easy Bread makes a fast and easy, flavorful homemade bread. This ready-to-use bread mix has everything you need including the sourdough starter—just add water. We have both their bread and pizza mixes.
Clover Sonoma Sweet Cream Butter in both unsalted and salted is our go-to spread. We love Clover Sonoma and find all their products to be dependable and delicious. They are local, steward the land, treat their cows humanely, and farm sustainably. 

Miyokos European Style Cultured Vegan Butter is the perfect spread for those of us who don't (or can't) do dairy. It 100% organic, has the tang of true butter, plus a hint of sea salt. It melts, browns, bakes, and spreads beautifully. Miyokos is the best vegan butter we have tasted.

OHB Chico Honey Company Pure and Raw California Wildflower Honey is mellow and golden. This honey has a flavor that's complex but smooth. Fruit and floral overtones mingle with notes of fresh grass and sun-dried hay, layered over a sweetness that's rich but not overpowering. From hives set at various elevations in Northern California the flavor varies from year to year.

Elki Gourmet's Artichoke Bruschettas are versatile Mediterranean-inspired dips are perfect on toast and for adding to your favorite sandwich or burger. They are made with tender, meaty, marinated artichokes. We carry both their Artichoke and Artichoke Tomato Bruschetta Spread and Dip.

Asaro Organic Castelvetrano Olive Spread is made from rare, bright green Sicilian olives that are known for their unique buttery-sweet flavor. Castelvetrano Olive Spread is blended with garlic and EVOO for a smooth sweetness that you can spread on toast, sandwiches, eggs, salad, or pasta

O Olive Oil crafts flavored oils that are perfect for dipping your favorite bread. Family farmed California olives are grown with love and blended with exceptional flavor. We carry their Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon, Fresh Basil, and Roasted Garlic.
Sweet Breads
We are not going to be baking bread every day. So here are a few favorites that are both sweet and satisfying.

Semifreddi's Cinnamon Twist is a classic egg bread, swirled with cinnamon. Enjoy it toasted or just as it is. It also makes fabulous French toast or bread pudding.

Taste of Denmark Pound Cake is technically cake, but it is also amazing toasted. And, if you want to be decadent top it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. We have the plain and marble pound cake.

And, we love Taste of Denmark's Banana Nut Bread for days when you just don't have the time or capacity to bake our Banana Bread recipe. Taste of Denmark is a wonderful, cooperative bakery located nearby in Oakland.
A Staff Favorite

A spread for Marionberry lovers.
With its rich, earthy flavor and deep purple color Oh! Berries Fruit Spread tastes just like a Marionberry fruit spread should. You’ll want to eat this right out of the jar, but you can also put it on pancakes, a sandwich, on yogurt, or in your baked goods. (And, by the way, Marion Berries are blackberry variety originally from Oregon.)

Oh! Berries has about 1/3 of the seeds removed, meaning there are seeds in this fruit spread. But, that’s a good thing because they’re loaded with bioactive components that are good for you.
Our friends at Mountain Fruit Company are pumping out some serious jams that remind us of Grandmas homemade fruit spreads.
Mountain Fruit Co. spreads are thick with ripe flavorful fruit (about 70% high-quality fruit) cooked down with about half the amount of sugar of most jams. It’s a labor-intensive process but it’s one we appreciate because it gives a far superior taste and less need for added sugar.

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Breaking Bread
If you like to bake bread, are just learning, or are trying to master a particular technique, chances are you have found yourself with extra bread that goes stale. Fresh, homemade bread is one of life’s great pleasures. But, it doesn’t last very long. So, you either have to eat it all immediately (not a totally awful idea) or find different ways to use it. Throwing all of your hard work away is just not an option.

There are plenty of ways to use stale bread. You can make fantastic croutons for your salad. French Toast is always delicious—depending on the type of bread. Though, I have been known to make French Toast out of anything that will hold its shape after dunking. Also, never underestimate the power of good bread crumbs when making some meatballs.

Now that we are heading into the warmer months where the tomatoes get better and the idea of a big heavy dinner is unappealing, my mind starts to turn towards meals that are light, don’t require heat to prepare them and still have a lot of flavor. And, if they use up any ingredients like say, stale bread, then so much the better. Panzanella is one of those options.

Panzanella is a classic Italian bread salad that comes in many iterations. I recently found the recipe below and my family is excited about it. Good tomatoes are the key to this recipe. So look for the best ones you can find.

A Staff Favorite

Home bakers and professions chefs swear by Saf.
We have been doing a lot of baking this year, and Saf-instant is hands down our first choice. Saf-instant Yeast is one of the top selling yeasts in the world. It is absolutely reliable. It is fast-acting and long-lasting. This means it will continue to work for hours longer than a "rapid" yeast. (Not to mention it is far more economical than those little packages.)

Over the years, Saf-instant has become a brand which is appreciated all over the world. It is the leading product in the international dried yeast market. Thousands of professionals and household bakers, with vastly different backgrounds, culture, and areas of expertise, rely on Saf-instant every day. This is pretty amazing.

Saf-instant Yeast comes in a one-pound hard brick with an airtight vacuum seal. This guarantees freshness. The brick softens so you can scoop once the package is opened and air is introduced. We recommend storing the yeast in an airtight container in the freezer and using it right out of the freezer. You will find that it will last that way for at least a year.

And if you were wondering, the difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast is the instant yeast has smaller particles that activate more quickly, and thus dough rises more rapidly, sometimes cutting rise times up to fifty percent.

News & Events

Lunch is coming back to life with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Lunchtime Pop-Up Series—featuring intimate, informal performances with solo and duo artists. Passersby can enjoy art during their lunch break or afternoon walk through Yerba Buena Gardens. All Free, Outdoors and Fresh.

You can pick up your lunch to-go from one of Metreon’s lovely eateries and enjoy your lunch outdoors!

Performances will continue to be announced as they are confirmed. Prioritizing public safety, capacity is monitored and limited to 50 people and all visitors are required to wear a mask and maintain physical distance.

Here are some scheduled upcoming shows:

April 29th—Will Magid & Ziek McCarter
Oakland-based Trumpet Player/DJ Will Magid and sensational soul singer Ziek McCarter of Con Brio blend the joy of live performance with sampled sounds from across the globe.

May 13th—Aireene Espiritu
Aireene Espiritu is a singer/songwriter playing stompin’, swayin’, timeless Americana.

May 27th—Sang Matiz
Guitarists Yuriza Jared and Eddie Cabezas of Sang Matiz bring World, Funk and Afro-Latin rhythms to your lunchtime.

A Cookbook Recommendation
By Chad Robertson

The most beautiful bread book yet published...
—The New York Times

If you have every had the chance to purchase a Tartine loaf hot out of their oven, you will understand the promise of how precious this book is.

Tartine is a bread bible for the home baker or professional bread-maker It comes from Chad Robertson, a man many consider to be the best bread baker in the United States, and co-owner with Elizabeth Prueitt of San Francisco's Tartine Bakery. At 5 P.M., Chad Robertson's rugged, magnificent Tartine loaves are drawn from the oven. The bread at San Francisco's legendary Tartine Bakery sells out within an hour almost every day.

Only a handful of bakers have learned the bread science techniques Chad Robertson has developed: To Chad Robertson, bread is the foundation of a meal, the center of daily life, and each loaf tells the story of the baker who shaped it. Chad Robertson developed his unique bread over two decades of apprenticeship with the finest artisan bakers in France and the United States, as well as experimentation in his own ovens. Readers will be astonished at how elemental it is.

Bread making the Tartine Way: Now it's your turn to make this bread with your own hands. Clear instructions and hundreds of step-by-step photos put you by Chad's side as he shows you how to make exceptional and elemental bread using just flour, water, and salt.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Pandemic Patty’s Day
I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day over the weekend because I decided to corn my own beef this year. And, since the cooking time is measured in hours, there was no way I would be able to make it on a Wednesday night. Hence the Saturday night celebration.

We had all the fixin’s: Corned beef, Champ (a.k.a. mashed potatoes with fresh chives), Irish butter, cabbage, and of course, the Guinness—which was in the cake as well as a pint glass. I also made Irish soda bread. But, here’s where things got sideways.

Soda bread is probably the easiest bread product you could possibly make. And, warm out of the oven with a generous smear of Irish butter…it's heaven. I feel compelled to say that the soda bread you often see with the currents and/or caraway is not authentic Irish soda bread. Neither is the sweeter scone-like version. Tasty? Yes. Authentic? No. Traditionally soda bread is made with half wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. Last Saturday, this is where everything went wrong.

Like thousands of other people, I stocked up last year with ingredients for my pantry that were rapidly disappearing. Because of the lockdown I used a lot of those items. But, there were some that I didn’t use as much as I thought I would. I still have a significant collection of dried beans. Another example? My White Whole Wheat flour from King Arthur.

I knew the bag I had in the cupboard was old and I even bought a new one and had it on the shelf ready to go. For the life of me I can’t explain why I didn’t throw the old one out. I didn’t and I used the old one by mistake. Needless to say, the soda bread tasted stale right out of the oven—not a good experience to be sure and a big disappointment for me personally. I was looking forward to the bread.

Tonight I will be making another batch, this time with fresh flour. I have also started what I call the Pandemic Purge and have been going through my canned goods and everything else I stocked up on to see what’s expired. Thankfully, the Guinness is just fine.

News and Events

Instead of hosting their annual rummage sale in the warehouse, the Oakland Museum Women’s Board is bringing the sale to you online. They have over 6000 wonderful items at the same great prices you know and love. And, you can choose from the safety and comfort of your own home without facing crowds or long checkout lines.

This annual warehouse sale is an Oakland institution, inspiring lifelong devotion from fans around the Bay. This year they have selected the very best items to offer online shoppers.

The sale is running 24/7 through May 23rd at 6 PM.

Please note that while you can shop from home, all items purchased must be picked up curbside at the OMCA warehouse at 333 Lancaster Street in Oakland on a date and time that you arrange. And all sales are final.

From our blog, The Cocktail Post

By Wylie, Piedmont Grocery's resident mixologist.
Spring is here! This herbaceous rosemary cocktail will help you stay cool as you enjoy that warm sunshine we’ve been getting in the East Bay.

The ingredients are minimal so that you can better appreciate the simple flavor of each component. Fresh lemon, fresh rosemary, clean gin— this cocktail is like the essence of spring distilled into a divine liquid.

A Staff Favorite

Organic, sprouted, whole-grain sweetness.
Sprouted USA organic malting barley is kiln roasted, water extracted, and then reduced to a thick, nutritious sweetener. This ancient process uses only the grain's sprouting enzymes to create a delicious syrup. However you use it, Eden Barley Malt Syrup enhances flavor without adulterating the quality of your food, because it is a wholesome food in itself.

We use Eden Barley Malt Syrup to make bagels. And, it is also a versatile sweetener with hundreds of uses. It's great over cereal and on pancakes, in popcorn balls and caramel corn, makes moist spice cakes, gingerbread and muffins, dark breads like pumpernickel, baked beans and is delicious with roasted or baked sweet potatoes and winter squash. This non-diastatic sweetener can also be used in home brewing and has half the sweetness of refined sugar.

The only ingredients in Eden Barley Malt Syrup are USA family farm organically grown barley and water.

News & Events

Live Opera has returned to the Bay Area with a performance of SF Opera's Drive-In Barber of Seville.

With the region beginning to open up to in-person concerts, we are getting excited about live music once again. However, while waiting for the roll-out, we still need to exhibit patience.

Fortunately, the SF Opera is putting on a drive-in production of Figaro April 23rd through May 15th, and tickets are on sale.
Rossini's Barber of Seville has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedic opera. And, those of us raised on Bugs Bunny will be familiar with the musical themes (Fiiiiigaro, Figaro, Figaro…)

See the SF Opera turn this masterpiece on its head with an immersive experience that has been specially crafted for the drive-in stage. You can gather with the friends and family in your pod to enjoy an evening under stars framed by iconic Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

News & Events

The U-Pick farms in East Contra Costa County are open for strawberry picking! Harvest time in Brentwood is year-round, but springtime is great—so, get out there and pick your own!

There will be much more produce available as the month goes on.

The best way to find a farm with the produce you want to purchase or pick is through the Harvest For You website.

There are new guidelines for picking during the shelter-in-place, and you can learn everything you need to know here.

From the Kitchen Table

The Vegetable Diaries
Spring break is here—which means it’s time to plant a veggie garden. I’m very excited. I haven’t had a true garden for many years. There have been too many other activities getting in the way of being able to take care of the plants. So, I am beyond motivated.

A few weeks ago I started my seeds. And, we had way too many cubic yards of good planting soil delivered that we used to fill our planter boxes. (I totally over-ordered.)

The waiting has been the hardest part. As a rule, you’re not supposed to plant until the temps stay above 50 degrees—and my patience has been running thin. I tend to jump the gun, usually planting a week or two too early. I showed better restraint this year. I did get the peas in the ground early though, mainly because they like the cold. But, I also chose a variety that is frost-resistant…just in case.

The recent weather has been great. But, the mornings have been a bit chilly. I am crossing my fingers that we are done with the frost. As of this post, all of my tomatoes are in the ground as well as the beans and peppers, both the bells and the spicier versions. I have been growing strawberries in my greenhouse which have recently exploded with so many berries. So, that’s some tastiness to look forward to. My peach tree is also showing significant signs of life.

I am experimenting with grow bags this year and I have to report that so far things are going well. I planted potatoes in them which are super easy to grow. And, from the looks of them, potatoes love grow bags. Grow bags are a great, inexpensive option for those who don’t have the space to have big planters. A friend of mine has had success growing tomatoes in grow bags. So, apartment dwellers take heart, you have options beyond a wine barrel or bulky planters.

With everything in the ground all that is left is the waiting. The peas will probably be the first to produce anything in great numbers. There’s nothing better than fresh peas right out of their pod. Although fresh picked corn on the cob might be a close second…and then there are the tomatoes. It’s great to have options!

From The Butcher's Block

Did you know that Salmon is not the only fish that has a season?
Halibut season runs from mid-March thru early November and is just as anticipated by some people as the wild salmon season—or for those of us in the SF Bay Area, Dungeness crab season.

Halibut is more often than not sold as fillets but every once in a while you get lucky and can find steaks. Your best bet for cooking methods include: panfrying, braising, poaching, and adding to soups and stews. Grilling is not recommended unless you are using steaks because the fillets will fall apart.

There are three different species of Halibut (Family Pleuronectidae).

Atlantic Halibut
The Atlantic Halibut is the largest flatfish in the world. They have been known to reach up to fifteen feet in length. The largest catch ever recorded weighed almost 700 pounds! In the past, the Atlantic halibut population had been considered endangered due to over-fishing. Careful oversight and regulation have now changed that, though population levels are still below target numbers. Nonetheless, Atlantic halibut is considered a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed.

Pacific Halibut
Pacific halibut is not as large as it’s Atlantic cousin but it comes close, reaching lengths of eight feet and up to 500 pounds. Found most commonly in the north Pacific in the waters off the coast of Alaska, Pacific halibut is widely prized for its great tasting meat that stands up to strong ?? It is also a favorite of sport fishermen vacationing in Alaska. Due to careful management, Pacific halibut populations are healthy which makes it a frequent choice of restaurants and consumers alike.

California Halibut
The smallest species of halibut typically only weighing from 6 to 30 pounds although they can grow up to five feet long and weigh up to 72 pounds. Also known as California flounder, it’s mild flavor and large flakes make it a versatile choice for cooking. They are fished commercially year round but recreational fisherman can have their fun from May to November.

If you are planning to try some fresh halibut, below is a link to a favorite recipe.

From our blog, The Cocktail Post

The Cosmopolitan has as many origin stories as the beginning of the world. It is referenced as early as 1934 as the Cosmopolitan Daisy in a book called Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars with the addition of home made raspberry syrup.

Some say the Cosmopolitan is the adaptation of the Kamikaze and others say it is was developed to create more options for people to drink out of a martini glass.

Regardless of who started it, the cocktail became trendy in the 1990s and downright famous by being continuously reference on the TV series Sex in the City. The mid-90s brought the variation of using citrus-flavors vodka. But, our classic recipe calls for unflavored vodka.

Bread Recipes from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table

So, apparently we love bread…
We have accumulated some fantastic bread recipes and are sharing our favorites here. There's quick bread, sweet bread, a wonderful rustic loaf, and some great sandwich loaves—as well as other carby delights. We also included some of our favorite sandwich recipes because that's the first place our minds go!
Home Made Bread
This is a lovely, soft, mildly sweet loaf, perfect for both sandwiches and toast.

This recipe only has four ingredients, which makes it impressively quick.

This recipe works well in a bread machine and makes amazing sandwiches

Our recipe makes a fantastic peasant bread for those who want crusty loaf but aren’t big into sourdough.

A classic sweet bread recipe that makes fantastic toast and peanut butter sandwiches. And, it is delicious in French Toast!

Not just for St. Patrick's day. It comes together quickly without having to wait for yeast to rise and makes wonderful toast.
Pizza and Focaccia
Gluten-free flour from King Arthur Flour works surprisingly well.

This is not your typical neighborhood delivery type pie. It’s actually got a crust more like focaccia and is wonderful.
Our biscuits are pleasantly crunchy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.

These really easy biscuits come with a bonus freezer jam recipe. A heavenly match!

Amazing for breakfast or to make small sandwiches for lunch.
Bready Treats Pronounced with a French Accent
Croissants are not a thing you make on a whim. They are a project that requires hours—something you do as much for the process as for the end result. And, they're a great way to spend a day.

If you have never had French Gougères you are missing out. They are essentially cheese puffs that are made everywhere in France.
Bread Pudding and Spoon Bread
This makes an excellent dish for brunch on it’s own or when topped with fried or poached eggs. (Hint: Mother's Day is coming!)

This bread pudding adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home should be illegal (it is so good).

This is one of those down-home recipes reminiscent of our dinners at grandmother’s house. So good served warm with melted butter, and a perfect accompaniment to any BBQ.
Some of Our Favorite Sandwiches
Here's a nod to the things we love to load on top of or in-between our bread.

This is a family favorite recipe with now specific quantities. There has never been a proper recipe. Just throw everything together and mix to taste.

Mashed favas and an exotic mix of spices give the familiar egg salad sandwich a makeover. North African–cookbook author Kitty Morse introduced us to the Tunisian spice blend called tabil, which is easy to make with ingredients that may already be in your pantry.

As the weather warms up, this recipe is a tasty way to enjoy tomatoes—like salad on toast.

A favorite go-to, and the ingredients are often already on hand.

A fantastic spin on the wrap with so many possible variations. And, you can slice them across and serve on a platter.

Here is our recipe for a basic Avocado Toast with countless variations. Be creative!

These Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches are easy to make in advance, have a lot of good protein, and are a nice change from cold cereal. Plus, you can play around with the ingredients.

We recommend doubling the mushroom, poblano, and onion mixture. It makes great quesadillas or tacos for lunch or would be super in an omelet or egg scramble for breakfast.
Vendor of the Month

Alvarado Street Bakery makes a delicious, hearty sandwich loaves that holds up to spreads and piles of fixings. Their bread is wonderful toasted and makes a mean grilled cheese. Plus, their loaves keep well in the freezer.

They have been baking organic breads since the seventies. Located in nearby Petaluma, their mission is to provide the finest quality baked goods by utilizing a worker-owned and managed cooperative business structure. They use whole-grain, organic, and non-GMO ingredients and support sustainable agricultural practices. And, they have been a worker-owned cooperative since 1981. What’s not to love?

Here is the list of the Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted wheat breads that we have at the store: Whole Wheat, California Style, Multigrain, Sourdough, White, Wheat & Oats, Sonoma Seeds, Flax Seed, Rye Seed, Low Glycemic, and No Salt Added. We also have their Hot Dog and Burger Buns.

Store Hours

Monday through Saturday from
9 AM to 8 PM & Sunday from
9 AM to 7 PM.

Free Parking 

4038 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

(510) 653-8181

Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.