Instagram Lately: Balancing Acts & Buckwheat Pancakes

September 2014

Lots of people talk about unwinding, detaching, disconnecting, etc. These notions are admirable and inspiring in their own right, but every now and then, it’s refreshing to curl up with the internet and be amazed by the inspiration and beauty you can behold.

The Queen and the Farmer

I recently took a night to disengage from people, from conversation, from the public, and I lost myself completely to watercolor backdrops, layers of chocolate, wide plank wooden floors in minimalist rooms, endless lace dresses and florals all dressed up as ice creams. With just a dash of focus and a dose of carelessness, these rabbit holes can feed conversations, start brainstorms and sometimes become a moment worth capturing and preserving. It’s all about balance… or balancing acts… however it is that balance happens.

Drying Flowers

Beyond my rabbit hole, Queens appeared (certainly a good oman), I savored my last corn popsicle on a super hot day, farm stand purchases blossomed into perfect Sunday pancakes, dogs, dudes and felines stretched lazily in summer breezes and blades of grass, and the Floral King returned, which means… I gotta get back to work! There is a LOT on the horizon!

Single-Grain

Happy Balancing Acts!
-Quelcy

p.s: You can follow all my Instagram adventures here.
p.p.s: You can follow my inspiration here.

A CSA Inspired Cake: Chocolate Zucchini Layer Cake with Gooseberries

August 2014

Back when the corn was barely knee-high, the Urban Farmer and his truck were stranded beyond the urban limits awaiting a mechanic’s touch. The con of this scenario was waiting a week for that boy. The pro of this scenario was scoring that boy’s CSA basket of summer goodness! Many a recipe developer may have seized this opportunity to create a savory plate, but I saw a zucchini and gooseberries, and my mind went straight to layer cake.

Cake Stand

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Lemon Rosette

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Zucchini Layer Cake with Gooseberries

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoons instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup organic, unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 large organic eggs

1 cup organic whole-fat yogurt

3 cups shredded zucchini

1/2 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chips

Local Gooseberries, tossed in organic cane sugar
Raspberries, tossed in organic cane sugar
Local Mint or Fresh Herbs
Lemon Peel
Organic powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan with butter or olive oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Alternately, stir in the flour mixture and the yogurt, starting and stopping with the flour.

Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.

Allow cake to cool completely before removing from the springform pan. Use a serrated knife and a lazy susan to cut the cake into two layers.

Spread an even layer of the whipped cream (recipe below) over the base layer of cake. Top with the remaining layer. Add more whipped cream to the center, and top with berries and lemon garnish. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Single-Grain

Whipped Cream Filling

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1 cup mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 lemons, zested

Directions

In the chilled bowl of a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream until it thickens slightly. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Single-Grain

Here’s to Community Sponsored Cakes!
-Quelcy

#TBT: Craving the Comforts of Fall

August 2014

Last night I had pumpkin for dinner.

PUMPKIN FOR DINNER!

I’m digitally shouting this statement, not because of pure pumpkin excitement (though making pumpkin & sage gnocchi for the first time is shout worthy!), but because I had pumpkin for dinner in August! This was a real pumpkin, from a local garden, not from a can. There it was, making its spherical, orange August debut while kids were heading back to school, pools were being drained, and I was reaching for a hoodie at night.

Though I am attempting to cling to August and hold to the last moments of summer ever so tightly, that first taste of pumpkin has me craving the comforts of a constantly warm oven. High on that list of craved comforts is fresh baked bread, so before too long, maybe I’ll be pulling one of these varieties from the warm oven…

IMG_0754_bread varieties

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

Single-Grain

Happy Summer to Fall!
-Quelcy

Wedding Whimsy: Almond Vanilla Layer Cake with Lavender & Dried Flowers

August 2014

Every now and then, I delude myself into thinking I’m not an extremely opinionated person. On one such delusional bout, I arrived at our floral studio space with my blank canvas of a cake. Triumphantly, I passed the proverbial torch to my styling partner, ie: the Floral King, ie: #thommyoftoday.

Cake and Florals

“OK, add flower magic,” I said.
“Do you have any visions?” he inquired.
“I defer to your expertise,” I conceded, and with that, he began to gather dried flowers and approach the cake.
“Oooh…but what about this wine color? Maybe it could cascade a bit?” With that, my comments began to flow quite freely.
“‘I defer to your expertise,'” the Floral King repeated sarcastically.

Layer Cake

Fiiiiiiiiiiiiine. I’m opinionated. I can’t help but add my two cents, but that’s why our collaborations work so well! This we know. This cake collaboration in particular was for a whimsical wedding shoot for Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, with a floral crown and bouquet by lady Roxanne herself.

Cake Top View

Whole-Wheat Almond Layer Cake with Whipped Cream

Note: If you’re adding dried florals to your cake, make sure you’re using food grade florals (ie: edible/organic), or line the top of the cake with a coffee filter, cut to size, to make flower removal easier when the time comes to dig in.
 In this case, the lavender added a lovely faint flavor to the cake, so I recommend a sprinkling if you can source an organic variety.

Ingredients

2-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

4 organic, cage-free eggs
2 cups organic cane sugar

1 cup organic almond milk
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Add milk, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Add the flour mixture. Don’t over beat.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan(s).

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean. (A single rectangular pan will take longer to bake than two round ones.)

Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin knife, then turn out onto a rack and peel off the paper. Let cool completely before assembling.

Single-Grain

Whipped Topping

Note: I typically use maple syrup for my whipped cream sweetener, but I wanted this topping to have a little more structure, so I used powdered sugar.

Ingredients

1.5 pints heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic powdered sugar

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.

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

Add the powdered sugar, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Single-Grain

Assembly

To assemble the cake, cut each cake in half (preferably using a long, serrated knife and a lazy susan).

Place the first layer on your serving plate. Scoop a large spoonful of whipped cream onto the cake, and use an offset spatula to smooth into an even covering.

Add the next layer of cake and repeat until you reach the top layer. Add a smaller quantity of whipped cream to the top layer, just enough to cover the center.

Top with decorative flowers if so inclined (see note above about flower selection).

Single-Grain

Opinionatedly Yours,
Quelcy

P.S: You can see the full Summer Wedding Story here.

Instagram Lately: Be Good To Each Other

August 2014

With each sunny, sandaled walk I take with Julep, I feel one step closer to sherpa-lined boots and layers upon layers. Is this a glass half empty sort of approach? Maybe. Does the fading daylight motivate me to eat pizza outside with a best friend? Yes. Does the idea of cold motivate me to hike through a park chasing the flickers of light through the thick greens?  Yes. Does the evening chill motivate a feast followed by a fire pit sit? Yes.

Italiana

Let’s cling to August and eek out all the summer we can!

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

Baked Almond French Toast with Lemon Curd & Rhubarb Compote

August 2014

“Verily, the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.” -Kahlil Gibran

I wrote down these words in the midst of a to-do list. I nearly buried them, but in leafing through the little book, they stopped me in my tracks once more. In order not to lose them again, I wrote them on their own page, bigger, harder to miss…

“VERILY, THE LUST FOR COMFORT MURDERS THE PASSION OF THE SOUL, AND THEN WALKS GRINNING IN THE FUNERAL.”

Cocktails and Syrup

Comfort is that steady paycheck I once had, the one that afforded travels and frequent dinner outings. However, that comfort came at the price of dreading each and every day and the mind-numbing tasks ahead of me. It came at the cost of supporting others’ passion while I struggled to determine my own. Then life intervened, uprooted my path, and I went with it.

Brunch on the Deck

I took a very deep-dive plunge into uncertainty. I chose the gamble of pursuing beauty, and in doing so, I stress, I frenzy, I freak. I also brainstorm, ideate, debate and create. Somewhere in between stress and satisfaction is the ideal sort of comfort, the earned comfort, the much needed, Sunday-brunch-on-a-deck-with-good-friends sort of comfort.

Baked Rhubarb French Toast

These Sunday brunch comforts include:

Muddled mint tipsiness.
The scent and taste of bacon.
The happiness of my pup when she scores a piece of said bacon.
Kitschy pinks and turquoises.
Helping a friend embrace his sweet tooth.
The emphatic praises from my friend as she takes her first bite.
LAYERED French toast.
Feasting, Feasting, Feasting!

Whipped Cream

Final French Toast with Whipped Cream

Baked French Toast with Lemon Curd & Rhubarb Compote

Ingredients

6 slices of stale country wheat bread + 6 stale brioche hot dog buns

Lemon Curd
Rhubarb Compote

3 cups plain coconut milk
3 large, organic eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
50 mL Disaronno Liqueur (amaretto)
1-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste

sliced almonds

Directions

Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with unsalted butter or coconut oil.

Arrange bread in a tightly packed layer in the pan. Use chunks from an extra piece to fill any gaps.

Spread an even layer of lemon curd over the bread, followed by an even layer of rhubarb compote.

Arrange remaining bread in a top layer, using smaller chunks to fill in any gaps. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt, Disaronno and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the bread layers, being sure it seeps into the top.

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight in order for the bread to absorb the liquid.

Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup (optional, this French toast is good on its own) and homemade whipped cream.

Single-Grain

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

Here’s to the Necessary Comforts & Passions!
-Quelcy

#TBT: A Perfectly Styled Picnic

August 2014

As one who has had to add salt to beer and stir like crazy, I humbly bow not only to the notion of this picnic, but to the perfect layers of foam atop those icy deck beers. This scene harkens from the days of film no less! Meanwhile I bask in the the luxury of digital forgiveness.

IMG_0790_picnic 01

I could contemplate this scene and its story for hours!

IMG_0791_picnic 02

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

Single-Grain

Digitally Yours,
Quelcy