"Peacocks on my Porch"

Some little known benefits to having a husband who spends the equivalent of a part time job every week on a bike.

1. He has sexier legs than me. Actually that's not great when we're both wearing shorts.

2. After spending lots of money on a new bike, new equipment, or a race entry fee, he feels guilty and surprises me with a new bed, sofa, or that cherry red dutch oven I’ve had my eye on.

3. I became a cycling widow.

What? Number three doesn't sound like a perk, you say? Let me explain. Yes, I may lose my husband for 15-20 hours every week, but I have gained the friendship and support of some incredible women. These "cycling widows"…we form a club.

We are the women who bond together while chatting on the sidelines of countless criterium races. We are the friends who bundle up their kids in snow gear so we can watch a great cyclocross race in December. We are the women who pile into a rented Suburban and spend a full day in the car, girl talking, and following our bikers on narrow (not always paved) roads from Logan, UT to Jackson Hole, all the while assembling PB&J’s and partially peeled bananas to quickly hand off to the men at bustling feed zones. And we are the ones with tears in our eyes when our husbands cross the finish line.

Through all of this, dear friendships are born and I have met some exceptional women.

A few years ago, a group of these women decided to compile a cookbook of their favorite tried and true recipes, and I was invited to participate. The result: "Peacocks on My Porch", one of my favorite cookbooks. It's a beautiful, hard bound cookbook, filled with all kinds of wonderful recipes, including decadent desserts and hands down some of THE BEST salad recipes I have ever tried.

When we originally published it, I ordered 25 books. I gave a few copies to the women in my family for Christmas gifts that year. They all loved it. Word got out and I sold out my stash before the end of the year. We ordered a second printing, and again it sold out within weeks. I have since been approached by several people who want a copy.

A few months ago, we decided to do one final order, but since we were going to make this the last printing, we went all out and added over 300 new recipes, bringing the total to around 700.

If you would like to purchase a copy, leave me a comment with your email address, or send me an email at bradleykitchen@comcast.net

Homemade Bagels and Cream Cheese, or "The one where the Bake-aholic accepts a challenge from the Cyclist"

Periodically I get an urge to make something from scratch that most people (including myself) would normally just buy at the store.
I made flour tortillas once. For all the time and effort, I expected them to taste as yummy as the ones at Cafe Rio. Mine didn't.
One valentines day, after watching Martha Stewart, I was inspired to make homemade marshmallows. These were cute and pink and I cut them into heart shapes. But why spend 12 minutes beating gelatin and corn syrup to get something that tastes identical to the Kraft marshmallows from the grocery store? Plus the grocery store variety have an indefinite shelf life. Mine went moldy within 3 days.

But some things are just really super good when they are homemade.
For instance:
While skimming through a favorite cookbook, I came across a recipe for Vegetable Cream Cheese. "I know what to do for brunch next Sunday", I told the Cyclist. "How about you pick up some bagels from Rich's and I'll whip up some flavored cream cheese?"
"How about you make the bagels?" he challenged.
So I started scouring cook books and found a recipe that I could handle (I am only now starting to feel confident making yeast breads).

These were a little time consuming (I started boiling the water for the potato at 10:00 and we were eating them by 12:15), but that includes 1 hour of rising time that one might utilize to, let's say, take a shower and blow dry 4 blond bobs (that includes me). As soon as #4 grows hair, and there are 5 blond bobs, I'm going to have to either talk a couple of the girls into buzz cuts, or these Sunday breakfasts might become a thing of the past.

Anyhow, these bagels were REALLY good. Think Rich's. You should all make them. I challenge you.

Egg Bagels
from Baking Bread, Old and New Traditions by Beth Hensperger

My batch made 2 dozen

1 large russet potato (about 3/4 lb)
2 1/2 c water
2 T active dry yeast
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T salt
7-7 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/4 c vegetable oil (I used canola)
4 eggs
3-4 quarts water
2 T salt or sugar
2 egg whites
2 T water
assorted toppings: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt and rosemary, etc. (our two favorites were Asiago Cheese and Cinnamon Sugar)

1. Peel the potato and cut into large chunks. Place in a small saucepan and cover with the 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until the potato is soft. Drain the potato (use for other purposes), reserving 2 cups of the potato water. Let cool to 120 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, using a whisk, or in the workbowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour.
3. Add the potato water and the oil. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour and the eggs. Beat again for 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time to form a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl, switching to a wooden spoon when necessary if mixing by hand. (I ended up adding just under 7 cups).
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until a smooth, firm, and springy dough is formed, about 3 minutes, adding flour 1 Tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 425 and grease or line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpat liners. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 Tablespoons salt or sugar to the boiling water, depending on the flavor you want the crust to have. (We used two pots, one with sugar and one with salt). Maintain a gentle low boil over medium heat.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 equal portions. To form bagels: Shape each ball of dough into a smooth round, tucking the excess dough underneath. Flatten with your palm. Poke a floured finger through the middle of the ball. Stretch the hole with your fingers to make it about 1 inch in diameter. Spin the dough around your finger. The hole will be quite large as you spin, but will shrink slightly when you stop. Set aside on a lightly floured surface while forming the other bagels. Once you get the hang of this, it goes really fast. The bagels will need no further rising at this point.
7. With a slotted spoon, lower 3 to 4 bagels at a time into the gently boiling water.
They will drop to the bottom and then rise to the surface. As they come to the surface, turn each bagel and boil it for 3 minutes on the other side. This goes very quickly.
8. Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. When all the bagels have been boiled, brush with an egg wash (combine 2 egg whites and 2 T water) and top how you wish. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes rotating pan halfway through, or until deep golden. Remove from baking sheets and cool on racks.

We ate ours schmeared with Ina Garten's Vegetable Cream Cheese:

16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 T minced scallions (green onions), white and green parts
2 T finely chopped carrot
2 T finely chopped celery
2 T finely chopped radish (2 radishes)
2-3 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch finely ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in bowl of electric mixer and mix on low speed until blended.

Berry Lime Bundt

1 T Sugar
1 c mixed berries

4 c flour
2 c sugar
6 t baking powder
1 t salt

1/2 Cup Milk
4 Eggs Lightly Beaten
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Teaspoon Grated Lime Rind
1/2 Cup Lime Juice

Preheat oven to 400. Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 T sugar in bottom of pan. Arrange berries evenly in pan.

Sift together the flour sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Combine the milk, eggs, oil rind and juice. Add all at once to the flour mixture, stir lightly with a fork just until moist (batter will be lumpy).

Spoon into Bundt pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden and cake tester comes out clean. Remove cake from pan to a wire rack. Glaze with a lime glaze of powder sugar and lime juice. Serve warm.

juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar

Mix to drizzling consistency.

Raspberry Truffle Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter 

¾ cup best-quality semisweet chocolate chips (I like Guittard)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened (I found this in the gourmet cheese section at Harmon's)
6 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 9x13" pan.

Place chocolate chips in bowl of electric mixer. In small pan, melt the butter. Pour hot butter over chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute. Turn mixer on low and stir until chips are completely melted. Mix in sugar and cocoa powder. Beat in mascarpone, eggs and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer stand. Gently fold in flour and salt with rubber spatula.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Press raspberries into batter at regular intervals. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Raspberry Chocolate Ganache:

1 (12 oz) bag best quality semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 T unsalted butter

Place chocolate chips in large mixing bowl and set aside.
Combine berries and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to break down. Remove seeds by pressing mixture through strainer, catching liquid in small bowl. Discard seeds. Pour liquid over chocolate chips. In separate saucepan, bring cream and butter just to boiling. Pour over chips and let stand 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Pour warm ganache over brownies.

Wait until set before cutting into squares. I made these on an especially warm day, so I had to refrigerate them for a few hours to get the ganache to set.

Pizza on the Grill

We love pizza. It's hard to mess up. Ask the cyclist his pizza philosophy some time. We also love to make pizza. We started when we were dating. Over the past 11 years, the cyclist has learned how to throw a mean pizza dough. We usually make it in the oven with a stone, paddle, cornmeal, etc. Today it is too hot, so we are making it on the grill. Delish!


This will make enough for 4 small thin crust pizzas.
3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (you may need a couple more tablespoons)
2 T olive oil

Stir together flour, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add water and olive oil. Stir mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump entire contents of bowl onto lightly floured surface and knead everything into a soft ball (my dough never comes together enough in the bowl, there is still a lot of loose flour, so I don't add any extra flour to my work surface.)

If dough isn't coming together, leave dough where it is, cover with the bowl (upside down) and let it rest for a few minutes. It should be easier when you come back.

Knead dough for a minute or two. Spray bowl (same one) with cooking spray. Dump dough back in and turn it so all sides are coated with spray. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for one to two hours (until it has doubled in size).

Dump it back on the floured surface and gently press out any bubbles. Fold it back into a ball and let it sit under plastic wrap for about 20 more minutes.

*It is worth it to make dough from scratch and this recipe is quite easy , but if you are intimidated by homemade dough, or in a pinch for time, get refrigerated dough from the supermarket, buy dough from your favorite pizza joint, or use thawed Rhodes dough.

Light up the grill.

Roll out dough to desired thickness. (Not too big, you will have to flip it like a pancake.) Brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Put it right on the grill, oiled side down. Brush second side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Let dough sit on grill until a little color develops. Not too long. With tongs or a LARGE spatula, flip dough. Top cooked side of pizza with desired toppings and shut BBQ lid. It should be ready in about 5 minutes.

Here's how we topped ours:

Fresh mozzarella (the kind that is packed in water)
Fresh Basil
sliced tomatoes
Caramelized onions:
1 large red onion (about 1 lb)
2 T olive oil
large pinch kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar
Cut onion in half from top to bottom. Slice thickly lengthwise. Heat oil in skillet, add onions and saute until golden. Add the salt, sugar and vinegar and cook until onions have caramelized, about 3-5 minutes.
Roasted red peppers:
Preheat grill or gas stove top. Place peppers over flame and cook until the skin blisters and turns black turning periodically. Immediately put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Uncover and peel the charred skin off. Slice peppers open and scrape out cores and seeds. Slice. You can also find jarred, roasted red peppers in most grocery stores

Balsamic Reduction (drizzle on pie after cooked): In small saucepan, cook balsamic vinegar over medium heat until it reduces by about half and thickens to the consistency of corn syrup. (This takes about 10-15 minutes).

We also made some with regular shredded mozzarella and tomato sauce for the girls but #2 actually preferred the gourmet version.