Instagram Lately: Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes & Counting Beautiful Things

April 2014

Much like the crotchety, old Muppet men, my friends and I sat on the balcony of Carnegie Music Hall, leaning into the low rails grandfathered by time. Below us, a man emerged, as if from a mountain hideaway, with a well worn sweater, a cap, an unruly, graying beard and a guitar. He began to strum and sing purposefully, as if rushed to share the song’s message before the funeral dirge surrounded him. Cymbals, brass instruments, a selection of saws, a glowing plastic lamb, an oriental rug… it was Neutral Milk Hotel, and from my balcony seat, I tried to preserve the performance, the words, my friends, all the tiny pieces of my life that overlapped with the music filling that theater….all of it!

Instagram_Antiques and Easter

As I embraced the rarity of hearing the live performance, these lyrics in particular struck a chord…

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me

Instagram Lately_Easter

In the wintry months, I spoke about seeking and embracing the merits of beauty, but the gravity of Mangums’ voice and the weight of his lyrics were a wonderful reminder to slow down, lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing like curiosities in colorful hues, the slow process of preserving memories, art in a mug, the beauty of food enjoyed with friends, bowls made by hand, edible logos and blossoming baked goods.

Easter Pancakes

His were the words to remind me on some Sundays, the only goal should be to soak up the sunshine and eat pancakes. If that Sunday happens to be Easter, why not soak up the sun and eat carrot pancakes?

Note: If you’re an avid juicer, save some of the carrot pulp from your weekly juicing to make this scrumptious stack and feel better about wasting not, wanting not. If Jack LaLanne means nothing to you, go ahead and shred some whole carrots for this Easter inspired, syrupy goodness!

Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes
makes approximately 10-12 thin pancakes

Ingredients

butter or olive oil, for griddle

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
A dash of ground cinnamon
A dash of Chinese 5 spice

1 organic egg
3 Tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
2 Tablespoons pure cane sugar
3/4 cup organic coconut milk
1 cup organic whole milk

2 cups carrot pulp from juicing (or about 6 big carrots, finely grated)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you can keep the pancakes warm before serving.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and five spice.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, cane sugar, coconut milk, and whole milk.

Stir in the carrot pulp, then add the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once. Stir just until incorporated.

Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes and preheat your griddle/skillet. Add more whole milk if the mixture is too thick.

Over medium heat, melt a thick slice of butter or a Tablespoon or two of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Pour a scant ¼ cup batter into the hot pan, using the measuring cup to pat the batter down and out a bit. Cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides.

Place pancakes on an ovenproof plate and keep in the oven while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

Serve with cardamom brown butter, chopped walnuts and a healthy pour of pure maple syrup!

Single-Grain

May you count all the beautiful things you can see (and eat) & maybe Instagram them too!
-Quelcy

p.s: Easter Sundays are just made for wanderings.
p.p.s: You can find the rest of my Instagram adventures here.

Midweek Romance: Whole Wheat Rosewater Cookies

April 2014

The attentive barista placed two cold-brew coffees in front of the customer, whose mix of jet black and bright pink hair contrasted sharply with the minimalist aesthetic of the space.

“These are actually both for me,” she said, demanding shock. “This night job is killllling me.”

“Oh wow!” the barista complied. “What’s your night job?”

“Stripping.”

There was nothing but a solid, conclusive period on the end of that statement. No joke. Without hesitation or judgment, the very attentive barista replied, “that is a really tough job!”

“It is! The other night I fell off the pole!”

Rosweater Cookies and Florals

Flowers by Thommy Conroy.

Maybe you fell off a stripper pole earlier this week. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’re looking for a picker upper after a tough night on the job. Maybe you’re seeking just a little note of romance, how about a simple, delicate cookie to get you past the hump day?

Rosewater Hearts

These buttery hearts have a hint of refreshing rose in each bite. Eat them simply, or pair them with a smearing of jam, a drizzle of honey, a dunking’s worth of melted chocolate, a dollop of rosewater whipped cream (recipe below), a dusting of powdered sugar or with two cold-brew coffees. The possibilities, much like a pole routine [I imagine?], are pretty endless.

Whole Wheat Rosewater Cookies

Ingredients

1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) organic unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup organic confectioners’ sugar

3 Tablespoons rose water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and confectioner’s sugar with an electric mixer on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add rose water, and mix until combined scraping down side of bowl.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; mix until just combined.

Divide dough in half, and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and chill 1 hours.

On parchment, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness; chill 15 minutes.

Cut 1-1/2 inch rounds (or hearts) from dough, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining disk.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until barely golden, about 14 minutes.

Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Rosewater Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons rosewater

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla and honey.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the rosewater, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

May Your Week Be Filled With Romance!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat, Red Wine Chocolate Cake w/ Honey Whipped Mascarpone

April 2014

You know that voice. Even if it’s via text, you know it.

Like a mother recognizing her baby’s cry, you know your best friend’s tipsy tone. You know it, and you love it because you love her and all the memories that slight slur conjures.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

In the case of my wine-sipping friend, those memories span to a time when we didn’t even drink, to celebratory glasses on a 21st birthday (while taking in a spectacular view), to too many cachaças poolside in Argentina, to fancy southern sipping while on a Bonnaroo-bound roadtrip, to wedding toasts!

Cherry Topped Chocolate Cake

As my wine-sipping Sandra put it, our best friend trio is “ride-or-die.” One by one, each of us is hitting the big 3-0, and we’re spending each of those birthdays together, with wine in hand. I couldn’t let Sandra’s 30th pass us without a little something rich and fancy [cake, I am talking cake], and I thought, “why not have our wine and eat it too?”  Here’s to the brilliant woman who is always by our side to listen, to laugh and to love!

Blogpost_Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Honey Whipped Mascarpone
Yield: two 9-inch cake layers

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) organic butter, softened
1 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup organic evaporated cane sugar

2 large organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup organic greek yogurt

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic cornstarch
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch springform pans (or bake, cool, rinse & repeat if you only have one).

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

Beat in the wine and yogurt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add to wine mixture slowly, mixing until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan(s) and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake bounces back slightly.

Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Honey Whipped Mascarpone

1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, whip mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, and honey until soft peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Single-Grain

Assembly

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Add a large spoonful of the mascarpone filling to the surface of the cake. Use an offset spatula and a lazy suzan cake stand [ideally] to spread and smooth the topping, adding more as needed. Top with the other cake layer. Add a dollop of mascarpone topping to the surface. Garnish as desired (I used morello cherries).

Single-Grain

May our lives be filled with many more tipsy phone calls, tear-inducing fits of laughter, and CAKE!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake

April 2014

Sometimes my sweet tooth demands something fast but flavorful. Sometimes I push up my sleeves, don my apron, carve out an afternoon and set my sights on something rich and fancy [I'm not talking gold digging here...baking, people, baking!] …

Ombre Cake on Stand

If you’re in the mood to serve a slice of cake with a wow-factor, this is the type of delicious time commitment for you!

Ombre Cake Florals

Baking Note: This recipe, adapted from Foods of Our Lives, uses an 8″ cake pan to make a 6-layer ombre cake. I was aiming for real height prowess, so I used a smaller cake pan (6″). My caramel and chocolate allocations did not achieve the color distinction for which I had hoped. Nor did I want my mile-high cake to topple, so I decide to make two ombre cakes, which worked out well for a dessert social. Follow the instructions below for the six layers or divide your batter amongst smaller pans to have two impressive color fade cakes.

Ombre Cake Slice

Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake
Recipe adapted from Foods of Our Lives

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

2 cups pure cane sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter
1 cup organic heavy cream, room temperature

Note:

Make the caramel sauce first as it needs to be fairly cool before you can use it and it takes a long time to cool, several hours ideally. If you can make it the day before that is best. You can also speed up the cooling process in the refrigerator.

For the Caramel

Put the sugar in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts, this will take a few minutes.

Once the sugar has all melted start adding the butter one piece at a time. Whisk until the butter is all melted between additions.

Wait about 3 seconds and then slowly add the cream. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.

Let cool in the pan for a bit and then pour, carefully, into a jar to store. Store in the refrigerator to cool.

Vanilla Cake Ingredients

2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar

3 large organic eggs

2 1/4cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups organic half and half (1 cup for high altitude)
3 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon pure cocoa powder

For the Vanilla Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (For high altitude I bake at 300˚)

Butter your 8″ springform cake pans, you will need 3 of them [or bake, cool, rinse, repeat...you see how this can quickly become a time commitment?].

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together half & half and vanilla.

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined.

Divide batter into three even portions, using a kitchen scale is the best way to do this accurately. The first layer is baked as is so go ahead and pour into the pan.

The second layer you want a caramel color so add about ⅓ cup caramel to the batter, then turn into the pan.

The third layer also add 1/3 cup caramel too plus one Tablespoon of cocoa powder, then turn into its pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup pure cocoa

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 large organic eggs
1 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup organic sour cream

For the Chocolate Cake

Preheat your oven to 350˚. (300˚ for high altitude. Butter your cake pans again and set aside.

Combine the butter, bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder using a double boiler method. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.

Remove the pan of melted chocolate, and set aside, allowing to cool a bit while you combine the other ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until fluffy.

Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture.

Divide the batter into three even portions again, and add about 2 Tablespoons of the chocolate mixture to one portion. Gauge the color. If you want it darker, add a touch more. Then pour the batter into its pan.

For the next layer, add a little more of the chocolate (about 1/4 cup). Again, gauge the color, and adjust as needed. Pour the batter into its pan.

Add the rest of the chocolate to the last layer. If it is not dark enough add a little more cocoa powder, and pour batter into its pan.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in the pans about 20 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack.

Allow to cool completely before layering.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

24 oz organic semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups organic heavy cream

For the Chocolate Ganache

Place both the milk and the bittersweet chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler and heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Place the heavy cream in a large bowl and pour the melted chocolate into it.

Whisk until smooth and homogenous.

Allow to cool slightly.

To Assemble The Cake

Place the chocolate cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Smooth a layer of caramel over the top. Add the caramel color cake, followed by the caramel. Add the vanilla layer. Pour the warm ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Use a lazy susan cake stand and an offset spatula to smooth the ganache on the sides.

Optional: top with an orange peel rosette for a little something extra.

Single-Grain

Enjoy the chocolatey fruits of your long labors!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat Pancakes w/ Homemade Nutella & Homemade Whipped Cream

April 2014

What do you prioritize in a significant other?

Physical attraction? Intelligence? A sense of humor?

Brunch for Two

Those qualities are important, but I ask, what about brunch?

Beautiful Pancakes and Nutella

When brunching at a restaurant, will this Sig Fig candidate order strategically so as to maximize menu potential? Will we share and strike my desired balance of sweet and savory? When staying home, will brunch be a main item on our agenda? When it comes time for pancakes, will he take command of a skillet and flip that flapjack confidently? When it comes time for maple syrup, so help me god, if there is a plastic bottle shaped like a woman with racist undertones…NEXT!

Nutella Pancake Stack

However, when you find that guy who goes to bed thinking about bacon from the local butcher, shares wholeheartedly, and flips pancakes like a pro, well, even the brunch plate smiles in approval…

Happy Pancake Face

This brunch combination gives lots of reasons to smile! Whole-wheat pancakes are a more wholesome way to enjoy a lazy breakfast, and when you make the Nutella yourself, you eliminate some of those longer, questionable words from the ingredient list. You’ll feel free to lick the spoon, fork, knife, plate, container…all of it…with less guilt and more contentment.

Isn’t contentment what brunch is all about?

Homemade Nutella
Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces dark, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons hazelnut oil
1-2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt, more or less depending upon your preference

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until fragrant and the skins are blistered a little.

Wrap the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much loose skin as possible, some will remain. Let cool completely.

Melt the chocolate using a Maria bath. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.

In a food processor (or in a Vitamix!), grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible-or as smooth as you like. Add the melted chocolate, blend well, and then strain the mixture to remove any chunks of hazelnut that remain. The resulting homemade Nutella will be thin and somewhat runny and maybe even a little warm but it will thicken as it cools.

Store in an airtight container, and let it cool to room temperature.

Note: If your city insists on clinging to winter, and your apartment insists on letting all heat escape, your Nutella might solidify. You can put the glass container in a saucepan of gently simmering water (water level should not surpass the container height) or if you’re one of those microwave owning folks, you can nuke it for a bit, but be sure to watch it. Burnt Nutella would be really sad.

Nutella Spoon

Whole-Wheat Pancakes
Yield: ~ 10-12 thin pancakes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2-2 cups organic whole milk
1 large organic egg
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and the salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

Warm the milk until lukewarm, not hot (you should be able to keep your finger submerged for 10 seconds).

Whisk milk, butter, egg and the vanilla together until blended.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour milk mixture into the well and stir with a fork until mixed and only small clumps of flour remain. Do not over mix batter.

Heat a large skillet (or use griddle) over medium heat, and lightly brush skillet with melted butter.

Spoon a 1/4-cup of the batter onto the skillet and gently spread into a 4-inch circle.

When edges look dry and bubbles start to appear and pop on the top surfaces of the pancakes, turn over, about 2 minutes. Once flipped, cook 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked in the middle.

Nutella Pancake and Banana

Rum Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons spiced rum

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla and maple syrup.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the rum, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

May your brunches be filled with smiles!
-Quelcy

Revival in the From of Brunch (e2)

April 2014

What do you do to get your adrenaline pumping?

e2 chalkboard menu

For some, it’s leaping off cliffs or diving from moving airplanes. Not this girl. I prefer the adrenal rush of creative output in the face of a looming deadline. Event design is all about a looming deadline, which is part of why it’s a perfect fit for my passions.

Hot Sauce Beignets

Sriracha zeppoli with blue cheese dressing…the “wings of donuts” if you will

How quickly can I convert a space to make it feel completely different? How many ideas can I execute in the final minutes before guests arrive?

Blood Orange Beignets

Blood orange beignets.

When it came time to turn 30, my birthday party was everything I wanted it to be! I celebrated in the tone of red and commemorated my tradition of 30 little cakes for 30 years. Squeezing in every single detail (none of which would have been possible without my talented partner in crazed event design, Thommy Conroy) was just the type of looming deadline I referenced. Though I enjoyed every bit of planning and execution, the next morning, I was feeling the weight of every single detail.

I was exhausted!

Brussels Sprouts Mash

Bacon & Brussels Hash

I was exhausted, and thoroughly exhausted I would remain until the wonderfully reviving qualities of brunch at e2 began to take hold.

Polenta

Polenta

Mugs upon mugs of coffee, conversation and plates shared with my best friends did wonders for my exhausted self. Years ago, these friends and I had met in architecture school, pumping up this jam and slaving to meet the nearly impossible deadlines. We had met in this black and gold city, but it had been so long since we had shared it all together. How lucky we were to sit to brunch together, at one of my favorite places no less!

Pistachio French Toast Perfection

French toast with homemade nutella and pistachios.

Celebrating the milestone of 30 years had left me exhausted, but brunch revived me! While eating forkfuls from the same plates, our conversations covered several topics we never would have imagined as the 20-something versions of ourselves who first connected. Yet there we were, happy, full, natural and still just as magically young and radiant as those sleepless nights when we slaved over looming deadlines.

Single-Grain

May Your Brunches Be Reviving!
-Quelcy

A Brunch at Franktuary with Brunchburgh!

March 2014

Brunch, how do I love thee? The perfect mix of sweet and savory, the balance of mugs of uppers and bubbly downers doused in orange juice, the slow pace, the revelry, and the reviving effects of food on laziness… Brunch, I love you, and I could count the ways!

Franktuary Bar

Though I spend a lot of time thinking, writing, serving, and blogging about brunch, my passion for this portmanteau meal meets its rival in Brunchburgh, a weekly podcast which asks, “what is it like to have brunch with ______?”

Reflections and Recordings

Each week, founder Mary E. Stewart eats and records brunch with a different Pittsburgh mover and shaker [hence the "burgh" in Brunchburgh]. Listening to the show is a lot like sitting at the table with the interviewee, so don’t listen while hungry. ;)

Franktuary Pews

I was honored when Mary asked me to be a guest on the show (as if I need any extra excuse to eat brunch on a Sunday morning). The choice of “recording studio” was up to me, so I chose Frankutary, a restaurant I love but had yet to experience by morning.

Irish Whiskey Breakfast

Our Brunchburgh session happened to fall on St. Patrick Day Eve (though Pittsburghers seem to drink the entire week prior to the holiday as if every day were the “eve”). In honor of the Irish (or perhaps in honor of those hungover in honor of the Irish?), the chef at Franktuary had crafted a themed menu [fastest way to my heart is through a theme!]. Though many options were appealing, one clearly stood out amongst the rest- the Irish Whiskey Breakfast. It appealed so much, Mary broke gluten rules, and I broke my own rule of not ordering the same thing as a table mate [it's all the better for sampling when everyone has something different].

The Irish Whiskey Breakfast Plate

If you’re curious about the above meal, how I received my name, or what it’s like to have brunch with me in general, give a listen to this episode of Brunchburgh with yours truly.

Single-Grain

Happy Listening!
-Quelcy