Donut o’ the Month for @Jojotastic: Roasted Beet & Rosewater

February 2015

Fun fact about me: I’m pretty weird.

Some have politely called me “different” or “unique,” but when it comes to dancing around the kitchen like a crazy person, “weird” is probably the most appropriate word. Luckily, I have the Urban Farmer to add lyrics to my songs and moves to my dancing. You say “enabler,” I say “cohort.”

Roasted Beet Donuts by With The Grains 01

When frying donuts, there are timed increments (submerge, wait, flip, wait, remove, repeat). With so many donuts to fry, these increments collectively form a significant period of standing around and waiting. I might fill this period of time with dancing or making up songs about my dog, which I sometimes let slip in public. When it comes to making roasted beet donuts, I may dance and sing this song, pun very much intended!

Roasted Beet Donuts by With The Grains 04

This installment of my kitchen dancing antics and my Donut o’ the Month series for Jojotastic was inspired by lingering Valentine’s sentiments. This holiday, filled with its fair share of clichés, makes me think of rosy hues, roses by the dozen, and red hearts filled with assorted mystery chocolates. Since last month’s donut featured chocolate, I focused on pink tones and roses. Not one for dyes, I channeled the hues and pun power of the beet, which made a most lovely and surprising bright pink crumb au naturel.

Roasted Beet Donuts by With The Grains 02

As for the Valentine’s Day rose cliché, I’ve tiptoed in the realm of rosewater treats, and I thought a rosewater element thematically appropriate. Tastefully, I was a bit skeptical, but the faint floral note is addictively delicious! One bite, and you too will be singing and dancing in your kitchen. We got the beet, we got the beet, go eat the beet….yeaaaah!

Roasted Beet Donuts by With The Grains 03

Roasted Red Beet Donuts with Rosewater Glaze (Gluten Free)

About This Recipe: Since the name of this blog is With The Grains, grains being plural, one of my recent goals is to explore a wider variety of flours. For this recipe, I chose Bob’s Red Mill’s Organic Brown Rice Flour, which makes this bright pink donut one for the gluten-free friends. However, all donut lovers will be happy to know, the crumb was still light and fluffy, so there’s no texture or taste sacrifices. Plus, the brown rice flour packs a lot of nutritional benefits, as do the beets!

Brown rice flour is high in protein, iron, fiber and vitamin B. It’s rich in manganese, which helps in the proper development of bones and cartilage. One serving of brown rice flour supplies more than 20 percent of the recommended amount of magnesium, phosphorus and copper, as well as 11 percent of potassium and more than 100 percent of manganese.

All that from a donut!


Go eat the beet!

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Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Banana Bread with Toasted Coconut

February 23, 2015

Happy National Banana Bread Day, or what I would like to call Regina Kogel Day! Who is Regina Kogel? Arguably, she is a champion of banana bread. Assuredly, she is my mom. When I think of today’s celebrated loaf, I think of her.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread by With The Grains

Looking back, it seems my family was not particularly adept at consuming bananas in a timely manner because brown, squishy bananas equal banana bread, and there always seemed to be a loaf in Regina Kogel’s house. A believer in breakfast, Regina’s morning spread would frequently include a warm loaf of her freshly baked banana bread. A believer in butter, a slice of this bread was not complete until smeared with bright golden butter (though to be fair, the butter champion is my dad). In honor of my mom, and in honor of today, one of the many, weird, quirky, seemingly random food holidays, I bring you this Quelcy style recipe, i.e: if banana bread is good, chocolate banana bread must be even better! This logic has yet to fail me.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread by With The Grains

Whole-Wheat, Double Chocolate Banana Bread with Toasted Coconut

About This Recipe: Like mom’s but more chocolaty! This loaf begins with a whole-wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder and chunks of dark chocolate chips. Topping the very rich and gooey loaf with coconut yields a toasted crunch once baked. It’s sweet enough for dessert, but it’s wholesome enough for breakfast, so have it for both!


Happy National Banana Bread Day!

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Chocolate Layer Cake w/ @BrooklynBrewery Blast! & @Cocanu Craque

February 2015

It’s the early 80s.

For us babies of the 80s, we may have been bumbling around in jellies, little shorts and elasticized tube tops, while our dads grilled and toasted piss beers. Now, jump the pond, and imagine a dimly lit pub in England. The wooden beams and plastered walls probably dated back for a century, if not more. Perhaps a revolution and a strike or two were planned there.

In one of these dimly lit pubs, is Garret Oliver. While taking a break from the rock band he managed, he relaxed with a beer, but this beer was different. It was dark, bitter, complex, and unlike anything he’d had in the U.S of A. This flavorful brew spiraled him into a lifelong obsession and propelled him from stovetop concoctions to the role of brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery. He has been enshrouded in snazzy hats, an air of mystery and international esteem ever since.

Brooklyn Brewery Blast Cake by With The Grains 02

Garret Oliver’s purpose is to obsess over ingredients, the brewing process and the resulting flavors. Unlike Oliver, I am a baby-bird-sipping novice when it comes to beer, but when it comes to Brooklyn Brewery beer, even this baby bird musters some heartier sips. Brooklyn Brewery could make a beer drinker out of me, which is to say, I respect their flavors.

Brooklyn Brewery Blast Cake by With The Grains 03

Beer consumption differences aside, my guess is Garret Oliver and I share an intense focus on ingredients and flavor, which is why I like to piggy back off his legwork. Incorporating a Brooklyn brew into a cake yields a cake with surprising flavor accents. Keep this ingredient a secret, and your guests/eaters will spend hours trying to pinpoint the source of the unique flavors. Tell them it’s Brooklyn Brewery, and they’ll demand an accompanying libation.

Brooklyn Brewery Blast Cake by With The Grains 01

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Brooklyn Brewery Blast!, Chocolate Blast! Frosting & Cocanú Candied Cacao

About this recipe: In the words of the brewery,  “We use earthy English hops to build the foundation and bright citrusy American hops to bring the noise in the rambunctious IPA we call BLAST! British Maris Otter and German Pilsner malts lends solidity, balance and bready flavors to brace up a beer that’s beautifully hoppy, strangely quaffable and oddly compelling. Minerally hop bitterness is followed by a shock wave of flavor and aroma. You won’t even know what hit you.” Now imagine that blast of flavor in a rich, chocolate cake topped with the crunch of candied cacao. This layered cake is perfect for a beer lover’s birthday treat!



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A Spicy Valentine

February 2015

I’ve celebrated his thoughtfulness, his compassionate heart, his desire to save the world, his sincerity and his intellect, but every now and then, you just need to tell a dude you think he is hot! This Valentine’s Day, it was all about the heat…

A Spicy Valentine by With The Grains

I’ve read the Facebook rants. I know a fair share of my friends and acquaintances hate the way Valentine’s Day diminishes love and sentimentality to one day, but I see it as an extra day for these feelings. It’s only a Hallmark holiday if you make it so, and as a theme-loving and Urban-Farmer-loving girl, I’d be remiss not to express myself in a themed token of adoration.

A Spicy Valentine by With The Grains-02

Maybe I’m selfish, but in my book, the best gifts for a Sig Fig are the ones you share together, so the Urban Farmer and I will be sipping, indulging and maybe burning our tongues a tad too. For his part, my fella took me to a new-to-us place for pig face (how romantic!) and an intricate bay scallop presentation, followed  by two rounds of my favorite cocktail and plenty of people watching. It was perfect!

Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? Any special gifts or creative ideas?


Spice up your life!

Fried Chicken & Butternut Squash Spelt Waffles for Brunch

February 2015

I had a lot on my proverbial plate, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach. The heaps grew, but the flavor diminished. Beautiful foods were pushed aside to cram more and more varieties. Strong flavors weakened as the dishes mixed. My favorites were buried under others’ preferences, and my craved flavors were nearly lost completely. Tried and true dishes were just off- rushed, undercooked, and full of excuses. I didn’t need anything else added to this metaphoric plate.

What I needed was a cold hard assessment.

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-01

January, full of New Year’s resolutions and birthday reflections brought just that- a very snowy and cold reassessment. I realized there comes a point when too much is just too much. When I snap at my dog who just wants to play, too much is too much. When my posture sinks with sadness, too much is too much. When I barely see friends, too much is too much. When my dining room table sees more laptops and paper piles than brunches and guests, too much is too much, so I made some changes, big changes (more on those to come).

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-04

I cleared that proverbial plate. I looked at the menu with new eyes. What’s important to me? What invigorates me? What makes me feel passionate and yields my best work? This space, my own little corner of the blogosphere (thanks for joining me here!), the Urban Farmer, my not-so-little little one, sharing meals, feeding people…all these priorities emerged through the old, mucky heaps, with all the intentional, beautiful drizzles and garnishes of a styled plate at a fancy restaurant.

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-02

The natural thing to do after a cold, hard reassessment is a warm, celebratory brunch with good friends, so as my proverbial plate cleared, my very real plate FILLED in the best possible way- with Spelt Waffles, Quinoa Crusted Fried Chicken, Local Grits with Maple Roasted Root Veggies & Sage, drizzles of pure maple syrup, and a few mugs of a hot coffee.

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-03

Fried Chicken & Waffles is a mouth-watering combination, but it’s a combination I often pass because of chicken sourcing, frying oils, and a general lack of ingredient care. This brunch, however, celebrated this classic combination with love, care and collaboration.

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-09

I wish I could share the recipe for the fried chicken with you, but it was my friend Chris’s doing, and like many a talented cook, his kitchen process is fluid and off-the-cuff. I can give you a few hints. He started with organic, pasture-raised chicken. One of our friends is gluten free, which makes traditional breading problematic. We couldn’t flaunt fried chicken in front of her. That would just be cruel, so Chris used a Quinoa chip as a crust. Additionally, I lent Chris my bottle of organic, non-GMO Safflower oil for a guiltless fry, and the chicken had a stint in the oven for real juiciness. It was a gluten-free gamble, since he puts a lot of pride and practice in his cooking, but it was a crispy win- a win I wish I were still eating!

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-08

The grits were another ad-libbed process. I boiled the local grits from the Urban Farmer’s CSA, and as they thickened, I added bright, golden Irish butter, pure maple syrup and maple roasted sweet potatoes and crispy sage. It was a hit- a hit without measurements or recorded times, so I recommend some grit experimenting of your own.

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-05

I also recommend sharing your brunch with pups for extra enjoyment. Meet Runo. No, I have not added another little companion to our family though he did trigger the part of the brain that results in hours on I’m exercising [some] discipline and resistance and trying simply to relish four-legged brunch guests whenever possible.

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-07

Chicken and Waffle Brunch by With The Grains-06

The one element of this brunch I can share accurately? The waffles! Mixed by yours truly, and flipped by my handsome fella, I recommend you add this recipe to a warm, celebratory brunch of your own! I you happen to have a gluten-free guest in your midst, I recommend this mix from Bob’s Redmill because as much as I love my grains, I’d hate to watch a friend skip waffles.


Happy Brunching!

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Wine Cake with Caramelized Figs

February 2015

In the words of Marissa A. Ross, “Wine times are the times of your lifetimes,” but Marissa is not the only philosopher to wax poetic about the powers of wine. Many greats throughout history have felt that sort of inspiration only fermented grapes can bring. Here are some favorites I picked for your philosophizing and sipping pleasure. With all this wine on the brain, you may as well be sipping too!

“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”  
-Aristophanes, comic & playwright of ancient Athens [But did his audience find him as clever as his drunken self found him to be?]

“Men are like wine- some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” -Pope John XXIII

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” -Benjamin Franklin
[Now we know why Benny was saving all those pennies.]

Whole Wheat Chocolate Wine Cake by With The Grains

“Language is wine upon the lips.” -Virginia Woolf [Virginia was probably puckering her fair share of purple lips]

“Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.” -Ludwig van Beethoven
[But even Beethoven wouldn’t sound so beautiful after too much wine. Keep that in mind, friends.]

“Wine is bottled poetry.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
[In the words of an internet meme, “Roses are red, Wine is Red, and Poetry is hard.]

“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” -Francis Bacon, English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author.

Lastly, in the words of me,

“Have your wine, and eat your cake too!” -Quelcy

Fig and Wine Chocolate Cake by With The Grains

Whole Wheat Chocolate Wine Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Topping & Caramelized Figs

Recipe Notes: If for some reason, you have an open bottle of wine past the drinking point, this recipe is a great way to salvage the wine’s flavors. Though the alcohol content bakes off, you’ll detect the fruity notes and nuances of your wine selection in each bite of this spiced chocolate cake. Like a proper wine & cheese pairing, I alternate the chocolate cake layers with a generous portion of light, whipped mascarpone cheese, and top the whole assembly with honey caramelized figs, which could be a dessert on their own.



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Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies w/ @Cocanu Candied Cacao

February 2015

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways. ~Stephen Vincent Benét

Like a child, I approach bedtime with resistance. I hate to admit the day is through when there were moments squandered and so much more I wanted to do! Rather than ready myself for bed properly and face the next day with more intention, I curl into a ball on the corner of the cozy couch. I burrow under blankets and fall asleep to a program whose ending I will inevitably miss, no matter the length of the show. As with most bad habits, this vicious couch-sleep cycle wrenches me further and further from what I want in the first place: to make the most of each day. I’m working on it.

Craque Brownies by With The Grains-01

As much as my sleep habits fight the looming night, my dessert tendencies celebrate the day’s conclusion. Sure, I like a nib of dark chocolate with an afternoon espresso drink, or a morning pastry here and there, but concluding a day with your sweetest bite is like a firework finale- you saw it coming the whole time, but the awe inspiring display lessens the blow of the show’s end. Ignore the diet guides against eating late with me, bake wholesomely, and allow yourself a moment to delight and relish. Then, hopefully, relax, read, drink tea or do something that proactively transitions into bedtime. Then tell me how to do it.

Craque Brownies by With The Grains-02

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with Cocanú Craque (Candied Cacao)

About this Recipe: 
I recently started reading chocolate labels more carefully, and was disheartened to discover even many of the expensive dark chocolate brands I had been using list Soy Lecithin as their emulsifier (helps fats and liquids to stay blended smoothly). Most of this soy is genetically modified, a practice I do not wish to support. I eagerly discovered Guittard uses a non-gmo sunflower lecithin and real vanilla, in addition to sourcing their beans from small, family-owned cacao farms. Top that responsible chocolate base with the crunch of Cocanú Craque, a candied cacao, and you have one very memorable brownie. Cocanú was founded by Sebastián Cisneros “as a vessel to shake the imagination through tasteful chocolate ideas produced with fine ingredients, technique, and whim.” I’m into it, and I hope you will be too!


Bon Appétit!

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