Category Archives: Brunch

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.

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

Pancakes, Plaids & Plums

February/March 2014

Snow be damned.
Schedules be damned.
Saturdays and Sundays are made for pancakes… and plaids and plums and perfectly alliterative, relaxing mornings. When the plaid bearer is a flapjack-flipping professional, the result is a most lovely stack of buckwheat wholesomeness. Though I do love maple syrup more than most people, sometimes a stack of pancakes calls for a dollop or two of something fancy.

Pancakes and Plaid

In my world, these weekend ‘cakes paired perfectly with a bright red, roasted plum sauce leftover from a Valentine’s Day festivity and a hearty spoonful of rum-whipped cream, but I bring these recipes to you just in time for National Pancake Day.

Pancakes and Plums

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes w/ Orange-Cranberry Roasted Plums & Rum Whipped Cream

Orange-Cranberry Sugar
(to be used on the roasted plums)

Ingredients

2 organic oranges, zested
2 cups organic evaporated cane juice sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries, chopped

Directions

Combine all ingredients together in a jar, and stir to combine.

Single-Grain

Roasted Plums

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
*2/3 cup orange-cranberry sugar (recipe below)
2/3 cup orange juice
8 large purple or red plums, (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved and pitted

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in a 3-quart shallow baking dish; melt in preheating oven, about 3 minutes.

Add honey and orange juice to dish; stir until combined.

Arrange plums, cut side down, in baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan, and flip plums. Spoon juices over plums, and then sprinkle with orange-cranberry sugar.

Return to oven for 10 minutes more, or until tender and juicy. If needed, add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water to dish to prevent scorching.

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

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes
Makes 14 to 15 4-inch pancakes, serves 2-3

Ingredients

Olive oil for coating the pan

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted

1 organic egg
2 cups organic buttermilk

Directions

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and start stirring.

Beat the egg with a fork and stir it into half of the buttermilk.

Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients, then slowly add in the rest of the buttermilk as needed to get to the right consistency for your batter (you may not need all of the buttermilk, depending on what type of buttermilk you are using and the brand of flour).

Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Heat a well-seasoned griddle, cast iron skillet, or stick-free pan on medium heat. Put a small amount (a half teaspoon) of olive oil on the pan or griddle and swirl it around to coat the pan.

Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Allow the pancake to cook for 2-3 minutes on this first side. Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake. When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Keep your pancakes warm on a rack in the oven set on “warm,” or stack them on a plate and cover with a towel as you make more. Spread more oil on the pan as needed between batches of pancakes.

Serve with roasted plums and whipped cream.

Single-Grain

Happy Feasting (if that’s your Tuesday night thing)!
-Quelcy

Whole-Wheat Honey Almond Cake

December 2013

A Fun Fact About Honey: 
Honey is a humectant, which means it provides and retains moisture in a variety of dishes and can even extend the shelf life of baked goods.

Honey and Honey Cake

A Fun Fact About This Honey Cake:
This Whole-Wheat Honey Almond Cake won’t last long enough to test the shelf-life extending properties of honey, but it does fit well in a Brunch By The Bees.

Honey Slice

Tempted to title this a honey-drenched cake, I feared “drenched” might give an impression of sogginess. Far from soggy, this wholesome cake absorbs a honey glaze in the final minutes of baking, followed by a toasted almond layer and yet another layer of glaze.

Drizzled Mascarpone

Served with honey-whipped mascarpone, you can easily justify a breakfast slice, but you’ll also crave a second slice by dessert. I have faith in the powers of baking with honey, but I also have faith this cake will disappear long before testing any shelf-life theories.

Whole-Wheat Honey Almond Cake

Ingredients

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

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
3/4 cup organic pure cane sugar

1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract

2 organic eggs
1 organic egg yolk
3/4 cup organic buttermilk

Glaze

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed, organic brown sugar
1/4 cup organic, unsalted butter

1/2 cup of sliced almonds, toasted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9″x3″ non-stick spring form or cake pan by greasing the pan with butter and lining it with parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set it aside.

In the Kitchen-Aid mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the honey, then the vanilla and almond extracts. Gradually increase the mixer speed to high and cream the mixture until fluffy.

Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time mixing well after each addition.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

Spread the batter into the pan evenly. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester will come out of them middle mostly clean but for a few moist crumbs.

About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the glaze.

Combine the honey, sugar, and butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, whisking to combine and keep it from burning.

When the cake is done remove it from the oven but leave the cake in the pan. With a skewer or slender wooden spoon handle, poke holes in the top of the cake.

Pour 1/2 half of the glaze on the cake, spreading it with a pastry brush to evenly soak the top.

Sprinkle the almonds on top and then pour the last of glaze over the cake.

Bake the cake another five minutes, then let it cool on a wire rack. Gently remove from pan to a serving plate.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Honey-Glazed Baked Ricotta

December 2013

Leaning against the reddish-orange brick of the elementary school walls, we sat on the pavement conjecturing and chortling. Our recess antics had been interrupted when our friend fled to the nurse in a frenzy of tears, and we suspected a bee was to blame. We weren’t the mean girls of movie and tv fame, so why were we giggling while piecing together the puzzle?

Baked Honey Ricotta

Deductive reasoning put us at the precipice of compassion and the banality of adolescent humor. Evidence pointed to our friend sitting on a bee, meaning the little guy had stung her right in the bum! At least she couldn’t hear the sound of laughter drowning out compassion.

Bee-Boy-Honey-Quote

Wrath found me some time later, while playing on my cousins’ swingset. A sharp pain met my reach toward the ladder. What wounded me the most wasn’t the sting, but the occurrence  Until that moment, I was a clean slate. That stinger, though I suspect it was from a wasp, tarnished my record, and being the perfectionist I was, I was demoralized.

IMG_1944edit

For such a tiny creature, the bee has the power to create visceral memories, but the humble bumble bee also has the power to create the amber sweetness we love. Like a rose and thorns, we wouldn’t have honey without a few stings along the way.

Single-Grain

Falling somewhere between cheesecake and a spread, this honey-glazed baked ricotta is light enough for breakfast, sweet enough for dessert and versatile enough to pair with biscotti, graham crackers or various toppings. It’s also quite fitting for a Brunch By The Bees.

Honey Glazed Baked Ricotta

Ingredients
(Makes 4-6 servings)

2 cups part ricotta cheese
1/3 cup of honey, divided
3 organic eggs
1/2 cup of organic pure cane sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Toasted pecans for garnishing

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Put a shallow bowl of water on the bottom rack.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, 1/4 cup of honey, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.

Pour mixture into a parchment-lined, 8-inch springform pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is starting to get solid.

Pour the remaining honey on top in a swirl pattern. Return to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and springs back to the touch.

Let cool. Take a knife and gently run it along the sides of the dish and turn out onto a plate.

Top with toasted pecans.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

BeeBoy Honey & A Brunch By The Bees

December 2013

How many beekeepers do you know?

Honey Brunch

Broiled Grapefruit with Honey, Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Cardamom

Prior to October, I would have answered that question with, “Precisely? …none.” I might have offered the Kevin Bacon equivalent- my grandparents used to let beekeepers keep hives on their farm in exchange for honey, honey which I would wholeheartedly stockpile in my suitcase with each visit and ration stringently until the following year.

Gingerbread Twig

However, after participating in a pop-up farmers market at Anthropologie in October, I can now say I know one beekeeper! Appropriately enough, he operates under the moniker BeeBoy.

Honey and Honey Cake

Whole-Wheat Honey Almond Cake with Honey Glaze

Discussing this rare vocation was captivating, but what inspired me most about meeting the BeeBoy was the way his urban honeys tasted like the season in which they were harvested. Summer’s honey was light in color and lightly floral, whereas fall conjured warm chai and spices in both flavor and hue.

Bee Boy Honey

Fall Harvest Honey

My mind started racing with recipes to harness the harvested seasons, so I proposed a brainstorm and an overlap of our endeavors.

Baked Ricotta

What better way to brainstorm than over brunch- a honey themed brunch!

Baked Honey Ricotta

Honey Glazed Baked Ricotta

If you want to taste BeeBoy honey for yourself, you’ll have to spot it on a menu, since he currently sells directly to restaurants. On the bright side, you now have an excuse to visit Salt of the Earth, Union Pig & Chicken, and Eden, or you might get lucky and sample a sweet spoonful as part of a Harvest & Gather menu.

Stay tuned for these honey inspired recipes!

Pork & Pancakes: A Brunch at Stagioni

November 2013

Recently, on a blistery South Side Sunday, my friend and I attempted to try a new brunch nook, but a harsh reality confronted us. A note on the door announced the previous Sunday had marked the last brunch service. Plan B? Not yet ready to admit defeat and go vegan [sorry vegans, but this friend and I appreciate the nuances of butter and bacon on a gray morn], we racked our brains. As we drove the same route from whence we came, I remembered a restaurant I had yet to try, and I had a hopeful thought…

Stagioni Facade

… and fortunately for us, my hopes came true! Stagioni’s beautiful, autumnal facade boasted just the words I wanted to read, “Now serving brunch!”

Stagioni Logo

I first experienced Stagioni as part of the Italian BBQ on the Farm hosted by Cure. Having been wowed by Chef/Owner Stephen Felder’s cooking in a field, I was excited to try his seasonal approach within the context of his restaurant.

Stagioni Autumn Tree

Stagioni Place Setting

Biscuits and Coffee Cake

Complimentary biscuits & coffee cake with fig butter, apple butter & regular butter.

Porkchop and pancakes

Pork Chop with butternut squash, apples, fennel, potato, pancetta, brown butter & sage
Ricotta pancakes with maple mascarpone

One Bite of Porkchop

I’m a sucker for complimentary baked goods, syrupy pancakes and a fall flavored pork chop! The light-filled dining room made the morning feel brighter and warmer despite the escalating winds and dropping temperatures. What began with a brunch fail transformed into a Sunday success.

Stagioni Reflections

Furthermore, I am quite satisfied to add another locale to my Pittsburgh brunch repertoire!

Stagioni
2104 EAST CARSON STREET
PITTSBURGH, PA 15203

A Fall Flavored Brunch: Pumpkin & Cranberry French Toast with Cranberry Sauce

October 2013

Walking the hills of my neighborhood with my growing pup has made me acutely aware of seasonal changes: bright reds peeking under the lingering greens, spindly branches strewn across the sidewalks, crunching, crisp leaves underfoot and an increasing chill in the air. Mentally and physically, I retreat into hibernation mode, preferring to curl up under furry blankets rather than face the weather that gusts between nightlife and me.

Brunch Table for Two

My main defense against hibernation mode is to embrace and share the wonderful flavors the colder months bring. This defense isn’t fool proof. I still want people to come to my den, but at least it pulls me away from the cozy couch and ensures social interaction.

Foraged Florals

Foraged florals

Floral Table

Between the sunlight and the oven warmth, brunch is the perfect time to feature pumpkin, cranberry, maple, brown sugar and the spices so commonly linked to fall. Here’s to facing the increasing darkness, the colder winds and all the beautiful colors and flavors of the changing seasons!

Cranberries and Champagne

Organic Sparkling Cranberry Juice & Champagne with an Orange & Cranberry Twist

Honey and Cheese

Local Pears, Bellavitano Raspberry Wisconsin Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Raw Honey

Fall French Toast

Fall Flavored French Toast with Cranberry Cider Sauce & Snap Whipped Cream

Fall Flavored French Toast

Ingredients

~10 slices stale bread (I used Seedless Rye + Sourdough)
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
8 oz organic Neufchatel cheese
3/4 cup organic pumpkin puree
1 cup organic dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

6 large organic eggs
2 cups local whole milk
1/3 cup organic heavy cream
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon organic brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract

Directions

Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish.

Arrange half of the bread slices in a base layer. Use smaller chunks to fill in any gaps.

Dollop and then spread the cream cheese over the base layer of the bread. Next spread on the pumpkin puree, then sprinkle with the various spices.

Add the dried cranberries and walnuts.

Cover with remaining slices of bread. Use smaller chunks to fill in any gaps.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, heavy cream, brown sugar and extracts. Use a hand mixer to blend.

Pour the liquid over the bread layers, making sure it seeps into the top layer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

*****

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Top with 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar.

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown. Cover with foil or parchment if the top starts to burn early.

Serve warm with cranberry sauce and homemade whipped cream.

Single-Grain

Cranberry & Cider Sauce

Ingredients

1 1/12 cups apple cider
1 cup pure cane sugar (raw sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of ground cardamom
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg

12 ounces fresh cranberries (or thawed frozen cranberries)
1 cup dried cranberries

zest of 1 organic orange (~1-2 Tablespoons)

Directions

Pour the cider, sugar, salt and spices into a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in the fresh cranberries and dried cranberries. Bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add orange zest.

Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Single-Grain

Snap Whipped Cream

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
dash of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Art in the Age Snap

Directions

Combine the cream, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low until soft peaks form. Add the Snap and continue to beat until desired texture.

Voila. C’est tout! Bon appétit!

A Sneak Peek of Square Cafe’s New Menu

October 2013

Within the confines of twitter brevity, Square Cafe describes itself as such, “There are omelet people; there are pancake people. The choice defines you. Both will find something to love at Square Cafe in Regent Square.”

Square Cafe Front Window

The choice does define me. I want the sweet, and I want the savory. More than an omelete person, more than a pancake person, I’m of the brunch people persuasion.

Square Smoothies

Twice a year, Square Cafe invests a lot of time and tinkering into releasing a new menu featuring as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. In order for the team to be fully acquainted with all the new menu’s nuances, the group gathered in the kitchen to experience the menu in plate form, and I was fortunate enough to be invited!

Corned Beef Benedict

Corned Beef Benedict

After listening to the chef’s descriptions, this invite meant I had the opportunity to sample a whole lot of brunch. People who know me well, and even people who may not know me at all, know that brunch is my favorite meal. This was an entire new menu’s worth of brunch and for dinner no less!

Breakfast Lunch

Brussels Sprout Hash; Succotash & Black Bean Skillet

As a guest at the kitchen table, my excitement was expected, but even the longtime Square employees were wide-eyed and eager to dig in, which is a good sign indeed!

Forget Chik Filet

Vegan and Vegetarian

Jerk Tofu Sandwich (vegan) & Tahini Chickpea Burger (vegetarian)

Steak for Brunch

Steak & Eggs: 6 oz filet cooked the way you like it. Served with two eggs any style, succotash and toast.

Shrimp and Chips

Shrimp Salad; Huevos Rojos: Three eggs any style on top of house-made tortilla chips, spicy rojo chili sauce, cilantro, onions and black beans.

Apple Salad

Spinach Salad: fresh spinach topped with tomatoes, onions, shredded asiago cheese, raisins, toasted almonds and sliced apples.

Gluten Free Pancakes

Gluten Free Pancakes: caramelized apples, butter, powdered sugar and whipped cream.

Pancakes Galore

Vegan pancakes with warm fig compote and powdered sugar. Pumpkin walnut pancakes with butter, powdered sugar and whipped cream.

As we all rotated around the table and passed plates to combat the traffic jams, our feeding frenzy felt like that proverbial dinner table described by those who had to walk uphill both ways in the snow. “In my day, there were so many mouths to feed, you had to fight for your share.”

Feeding Frenzy

Pulled Pork & Cheddar Crepe

Luckily, we were all just excited about food and still maintained our manners.

Salmon Crepe

Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Crepe

If there is one lesson I learned from this sneak peek, it’s this: Yes, there are omelette people. Yes, there are pancake people, but you want to go to Square Cafe with your brunch people. You know who they are. They are the ones who want to get a plate of pancakes for the table, and they want to try what’s on your plate in exchange for what’s on their plate. With Square’s variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free items, everyone can share. You’re definitely going to want to invite your brunch people because you are going to want a little bit of everything!

From A Maine Inspired Meal: Blueberry Schlumpf

September 2013

Blue skies.
Blue waters.
Blueberries!

These are the things of a Maine summer!

Maine boats

While I was breathing in that fresh air and watching boats rock back and forth, my little Julep enjoyed the comforts of home thanks to a puppy-watching pal. As a souvenir of sorts and a way of saying thanks, I made him a Maine inspired meal. To channel the blues of Maine, we ate a bit of dessert for brunch (or lunch depending on your timeframe) with this Blueberry Schlumpf.

Blueberries

As for the name? I guess it’s a Maine thing?

Blueberries and Sugar

As for the taste? It’s a quickly gone sort of thing!

Blueberry Schlompf Baked

Blueberry Schlumpf

Berry Mess

Blueberry Schlumpf
Recipe adapted from food52
Makes two 8×8″ pans

For the filling
1 lb blueberries
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup raw cane sugar

For the Topping
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 °F.

Mix the filling ingredients and put in two 8 x 8 baking dishes.

Mix the topping roughly (so that it’s still lumpy) and sprinkle over top.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (spiked with a bit o’ bourbon too!).

A Maine Inspired Meal: Lobster Salad & Blueberry Schlumpf

August 2013

In addition to sharing in a really special moment, a wedding often provides a chance to experience a place in a unique and very personal way. This is how I came to experience Maine for the first time. I arrived ready to help a wedding come together, and I left ready to return as soon as possible!

Maine Seaside

I couldn’t have asked for bluer skies or more perfect days. I couldn’t have asked for better hosts and all around hospitality from the wedding family. I befriended Mainers, breathed fresh air, swam in a lake, and ate local specialties (including lobster rolls!).

Maine Harbor

The wedding meal was as local as local can be. Chickens were butchered , and roots were unearthed just a day prior to the ceremony. The meal could have been from a revered local restaurant, but instead, we were eating and celebrating, in an historical barn, as two newlyweds twirled and danced in love. It was all perfect!

Maine Barn

One of the many personal touches to the wedding was the flower design. The seeds were a gift from the bride’s sister, and her mom grew, picked and arranged all the flowers for the wedding.

Maine Flower Cart

While I was away enjoying flowers, food and friends far from home, my little Julep went about her normal routines. She slept in her own bed and walked the same hills all thanks to a helpful friend with a big place in his heart for my little one. As a thank you to him, I set the table Maine style.

Maine Inspired Table

August in Maine is a time for blueberries and corn, and of course, it’s a time for lobster!

Blueberry Schlompf Eaten

My Maine meal featured an avocado and lobster salad and the oddly named Blueberry Schlumpf. I wonder where my next wanderings will take me and what the next puppy-watching payback meal will feature?

Maine Inspired Plate

These Maine inspired recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

Stay tuned!

ps: Being welcomed home by a puppy is one of the best feelings in the world!

Coca Cafe By Day

September 2013

Do you think Parisians push the Eiffel Tower to their periphery? Do they take it for granted?

When traveling, time limits act as deadlines and incentivize bursts of energy in an attempt to see and do as much as possible. Living in one place for a longer duration falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. Local bucket lists are often pushed to the back burner, and familiar places are taken for granted. It’s often a visitor who puts the everyday into perspective again.

Coca Brunch

When my sister and her kids came to visit me this summer, they provided a perfectly fresh perspective on my city. We walked downtown, visited landmarks, and ate brunch at Coca Cafe. Having worked just around the corner from Coca for 3.5 years [having lunched at Coca frequently for 3.5 years], I never really thought to bring my camera and share any of the many meals. However, a place that serves delicious breakfast all day definitely deserved a post on my corner of the blogosphere.

Challah French Toast

Challah French Toast
Melted brie, fig jam & fresh berries

Once you’ve eaten this, it’s challenging to stray from it and explore more of the menu, but once you’ve eaten this again, you’ll feel confident in your relapse.

Chicken Sandwich on Challah

Chicken Sandwich
Grilled local chicken, melted brie, granny smith apple, fig jam, toasted challah
(because sometimes you just want to find a way to turn brunch into a lunch sandwich)

Brunch, lunch and even catered affairs- Coca has come through for me on many occasions. Recently, they expanded into the dinner hours with small plates, so stay tuned for Coca by Night!

Brunch With Bess & Dane (Baked Blueberry & Nectarine French Toast)

July 2013

I will in no way pretend to bear the same burdens as a new mother, but in many ways, taking on the responsibility of a puppy is a lot like adjusting to a newborn: I lament her rapid growth; I rework my schedule around hers; I had bags under my eyes for at least a few weeks after her arrival, and I am prone to stupid voices and silly nicknames. The main advantage to my scenario is I can put my “baby” in her “crib,” leave home, and I won’t return to find Child Services has plucked away my little one.

Table Setting

For new parents, reclaiming a few pre-child habits might mean dining at a restaurant without talking about diapers (at least that’s how sitcoms portray these milestones). In my puppy world, I was due to reclaim dining room brunching, and I had just the girls in mind for my first attempt at juggling a little one’s schedule and hosting.

Champagne Pop

Fortunately, Bess and Dane know a thing or two about juggling. These talented ladies are all about balancing day jobs, über creative side projects and social lives. Bess is a cofounder of the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer (ie: an extended feeling of Christmas morning for vintage lovers) and gleans the best of goods. Dane is all over the design world with her blog Steeltown Anthem and her latest illustration project Pittsburgh Digs. Most importantly though, both of these girls are there when I need them, and they add a generous share of laughter to my life!

Fig Goat Cheese and Garnish

Fresh fig slices + Blueberry chevre
Blueberries & Nectarines for Apricot Juice Mimosas

Champagne Toast

Whether you’re juggling a puppy, a baby or just plain ol’ busy schedules, there’s no need to skip hosting for fear of overly complicated preparations. This brunch reaffirmed everything I love about a good, baked French toast (ie: breakfast bread pudding): most of the prep work happens the night before the brunch; the bread is a blank canvas for creativity, and it’s deliciously sweet way to start the morning with friends!

Brunch Plate

Baked Blueberry & Nectarine French Toast
makes a 9 x 13 pan

Ingredients 

Butter for greasing pan

1 loaf stale, multigrain bread

8 large, local eggs
2 cups whole milk (or the milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

4-8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 nectarines, sliced

2 Tablespoons organic, dark brown sugar

Directions

Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.

Arrange half the slices of bread in a single layer in the baking pan.

Add a dollop or mascarpone cheese to each slice of bread and then use a spatula to smooth into an even layer.

Top the mascarpone with nectarine slices and blueberries.

Arrange the remaining slices of bread to form a top layer. Use any extra bread to form chunks and fill in gaps.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup, bourbon, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, spreading it around so the liquid saturates the bread.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the baking pan, sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream and pure maple syrup.

Homemade Whipped Cream

For a basic whipped cream, follow the recipe below. For a little extra flavor, use this Lemon-Rosemary infused whipped cream. Add a little dollop to your coffee too to make your own Poor Girl’s Cappuccino!

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup Directions

In a chilled bowl, use chilled mixers to beat the heavy cream until soft peaks begin to form. Add the vanilla and maple syrup and mix until just incorporated. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Strawberry & Pecan Buckwheat Pancakes

July 2013

In light of recent, sunrise, housebreaking, puppy routines, I have made a few observations:

Strawberry Times

1. Having met minimal sleep quotas for so long, I could easily have denied any cranky characteristics, but come 5:30 am, with the occasional puppy antics, any ounce of denial would be in vain.
2. The opportunity to return to bed after early a.m. puppy routines, is a rare moment to be seized!
3. A nap, followed by a great cup of coffee, is the universe’s gift of revival.
4. A nap, followed by a great cup of coffee and pancakes…too good to be true!

Strawberry Pancakes Stack

… but maybe one of these days very soon, my morning will flow seamlessly from a nap, to a strong coffee and to pancakes. One of these days indeed!

Add Butter and Syrup

Strawberry & Pecan Buckwheat Pancakes
Makes 6-7, 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

Butter for coating the pan

3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon golden, roasted flax seeds

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large, organic egg
1 cup Organic Valley French Vanilla Half & Half (I like the taste of this better in my pancakes than I did in my coffee, but you can use regular milk or buttermilk instead)

1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and flax in a large bowl.

Pour the olive oil over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.

Add the egg and the half & half. Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Fold in the pecans and then the strawberries.

Heat a well-seasoned griddle or cast iron skillet on medium heat.

Put a small amount (a half teaspoon) of butter on the pan or griddle and spread it around to coat.

Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide. (A 1/4 cup measure will ladle about a 4-inch pancake.) Reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the pancake to cook for 2-3 minutes on this first side. Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake.

When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Serve with organic or Irish butter and pure maple syrup.

Pancakes & Ponderings with Cherries & Apricots

June 2013

The creaky, spring-loaded sound of the syrup dispenser… The metal reverberations from the sway of the dining room table…

Cherry Pancakes Apricot Topping 01

The din of the fork on the plate, and the sliding sound of the silverware swirling the syrup… An unexpected bite of wayward bacon amidst a pancake forkful…

Syrup mess

The saturated reshaping of pancake after the weight of the fork is lifted….a tart cherry…a slurp of coffee…Sunday Pancakes!

Cherry Pancakes Apricot Topping

Sunday pancakes are quickly becoming a tradition and a delicious declaration of independence, since I’ve never been very good at flippin’ the flapjack myself. These stacks have become a lesson of patience and persistance, and after all that, I truly appreciate the entire sensory, eating experience. Best of all, Sunday pancakes usually means Monday lunch pancakes too!

Cherry Buckwheat Pancakes with Caramelized Apricots
Makes 7-8, 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

Butter for coating the pan

3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large, organic egg
1 cup Organic Valley French Vanilla Half & Half

3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Pour the olive oil over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.

Add the egg and the half & half. Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Fold in the pitted cherries.

Heat a well-seasoned griddle or cast iron skillet on medium heat.

Put a small amount (a half teaspoon) of butter on the pan or griddle and spread it around to coat.

Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide. (A 1/4 cup measure will ladle about a 4-inch pancake.) Reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the pancake to cook for 2-3 minutes on this first side. Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake.

When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Keep your pancakes warm on a rack in the oven set on “warm,” or stack them on a plate and cover with a towel as you make more.

Whipped Cream

Ingredients

Half pint local, heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons booze of your choice (should you want extra flavor)

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.

Apricot Topping

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons butter
4-5 apricots, pitted and sliced
2 teaspoons organic brown sugar

Directions

Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. As it begins to turn amber in color, add the apricot slices. Stir until the apricots are coated in butter. Add the brown sugar and continue to stir until the sugar is dissolved and lightly caramelized. Serve warm over pancakes & whipped cream.

May you savor every sound, sight and taste of these delicious pancakes!

Bon Appétit!

Coconut & Meyer Lemon, Buckwheat Pancakes & A Syrup Mess

May 2013

On the scale, I tend to lean closer to planner/control freak/detail-conscious than not. For better or worse, I might not jump into something if I don’t think I’m qualified enough, but I’m working on that (side note: Read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg for more inspiration on that note)!

With A Cup of Tea

Pancakes have notoriously been a prime example of such a hesitation. For pancake success, I posit, one need not over think the flip. I have notoriously over thought the flip. I have failed in the past and flown into a pancake rage! However, I’m working on it.

Coconut Buckwheat Pancakes

I’ve been spoiled in the past year and change by my Special One’s flapjack flippin’ abilities, but sometimes a boy is out of town, and a girl just wants something off the griddle, so I did it. I turned down the volume of my debbie-doubter brain, and I just went for the flip! Sweet, sweet coconut progress ensued!

The Whipped Cream Descent 01

This is what happens when a dollop of coconut whipped cream encounters a fresh-off-the-skillet, stack o’ pancakes…

The Descent 02

Less tragic than a landslide by a long shot, this slippage just signals it’s time to put the camera down, drizzle a generous amount of maple syrup on the mess and get to eatin’!

Buckwheat Pancake Mess

Now I know this isn’t as epic as raising a family while vying for a promotion, but this bit of doubt-muting results in a very syrupy sweet form of positive reinforcement.

Coconut Lemon Buckwheat Pancakes with Coconut Whipped Cream
makes 6-7, 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

Butter for coating the pan

3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted

1 large, organic egg
1 cup coconut milk

¼ cup organic coconut, sweetened & shredded
2 Meyer lemons, cut into chunks (peel included)

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.

Add the egg and the coconut milk. Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Fold in the shredded coconut and the Meyer lemon pieces.

Heat a well-seasoned griddle or cast iron skillet on medium heat.

Put a small amount (a half teaspoon) of butter on the pan or griddle and spread it around to coat.

Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide. (A 1/4 cup measure will ladle about a 4-inch pancake.) Reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the pancake to cook for 2-3 minutes on this first side. Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake.

When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Keep your pancakes warm on a rack in the oven set on “warm,” or stack them on a plate and cover with a towel as you make more.

Spread more butter around the pan as needed between batches of pancakes.

Coconut Whipped Cream

Half pint local, heavy whipping cream, chilled
2-3 Tablespoons organic coconut cream (I bought this at Trader Joe’s)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.

*If you want even more of an island feel, add a Tablespoon or two of Rum.

To Serve

Pancake + Dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream + Sprinkle of Toasted Coconut Flakes + Pure Maple Syrup

Bon Appétit!

A Brunch With Bess & Cassie (& The 24 Hour Woman)

April 2013

Eventually in small cities, you discover everyone is connected. For dating, this can often be a nuisance, but for friendships, these connections exponentially increase the amazing people in your world and at your table. In this case, I met Bess through vintage wares and Cassie through yoga poses, and then I discovered they both knew each other as well. That chain of connections was just cause for a sunny brunch!

Drinks and Garnish

There’s something about the bright, tartness of grapefruit that fits the often cold, yet sunny, transition from winter to spring, so this brunch was all about grapefruit!

Goat Cheese and Table

Berry Beet Stackers

Layer The Following:

Slices of Roasted Beet
Slices of Pink Lady Apple
Slices of Blueberry Goat Cheese
Drizzle with Orange Chocolate Balsamic Sauce

Orange Chocolate Balsamic Sauce

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 pure cane sugar
1 bar (3.5 oz) Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate

Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until  sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate. Leave to cool at room temperature.

Broiled Grapefruit

Bruléed Grapefruit
Yields 1-2 servings

Ingredients

1 ripe grapefruit, cut in half
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cardamom

Directions 

Loosen grapefruit segments slightly with a paring knife or spoon, cutting only an inch down. Place grapefruits cut side up onto a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and spices. Spread evenly over the top of the halved grapefruits.

Place the baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven and broil the grapefruits for 4-6 minutes, or until the sugar has completely melted. Watch very closely to prevent burning!

Serve immediately with a dollop of honey-whipped mascarpone cheese or homemade whipped cream for fancier brunch occasions. Serve with a dollop of plain, Greek yogurt for a tangy, delicious, weekday breakfast!

Cake and Cake Table

Whole-wheat, Grapefruit & Basil Olive Oil Cake (recipe to follow in a subsequent post) & sparkling grapefruit soda.

Bess Cassie Quelcy

New friends can often trigger old memories and fill a table with laughter. One of our discussions was about the very memorable and ridiculous punishments we experienced as adolescents. What are yours?

24 Hour Woman

Cassie is the proud owner of the Twenty-Four Hour Woman day calendar, and she thought these dates best represented me. Note to self: bake more pies naked!

On a fully clothed note to self: hang out with these awesome women even more!

An Irish Brunch For Erica (Potato Egg Bake & Sticky Toffee Pudding)

March 2013

St. Patrick’s Day had already passed, but with the gray blanket of cold still stifling the impending spring, there was a tremendous need for more green!

Irish Inspired Table

Erica grew up in a green house. It wasn’t just any green house, but the green house next to my family’s brick house. That makes us longtime childhood friends. With her auburn locks, our distant Irish roots, and our overlapping memories of our mothers decorating our homes in festive greens, brunch with Erica was the perfect occasion to focus on greens, growth, the good ol’ days and sunnier futures.

Irish Brunch With Erica

Green Mimosas

Add a little nutrition and color boost to balance your morning mimosa.

Sticky Toffee Brunch

When a cake is comprised of coffee-soaked dates, it quite easily becomes an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Don’t let the name fool you (I guess this is just another case of American English versus the Queen’s English), this Irish inspired Sticky Toffee Pudding is just that- an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. (Recipe follows in a subsequent post)

Leeks and Potatoes

Irish Potato Egg Bake

Potato & Leek Egg Bake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

1 pound small round potatoes
10 organic, large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
2 small leeks (white and pale-green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise and washed well (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced green onion
1-2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third.

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes, let cool, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, 1 teaspoon salt and1/4 teaspoon pepper until thoroughly combined.

Melt butter in an oven-safe 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek, green onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and cook, stirring gently, 30 seconds.

Reduce heat to medium. Pour egg mixture into skillet and stir once; cook, undisturbed, until edge is set, about 2 minutes. Scatter potatoes evenly over egg mixture. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until edge is puffed and golden brown in places and center is set, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Suggestions for Improvement

Though I was pleased with this dish overall, there are a few tweaks I made and a few more I’d make in the future. Since my skillet is no stranger to bacon, I used a small amount of grease from a high quality, local bacon for sautéing the onions and leeks and consequently for baking the eggs. It added a subtle flavor. The boiled potatoes should be soft enough to eat on the spot. I left mine a little too firm, and they didn’t soften enough with the baking. Additionally, the potatoes were what gave the dish an overall blandness. Next time, I would sauté the potatoes with the leeks and onions and add a bit more salt. This would increase their flavor and add a crisp texture. Play with the recipe, have fun and bon appétite!