Category Archives: Brunch

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

Birthday Pancakes at the Annual Maple Syrup Festival

April 2014

There is a wooded place that brings me great joy.

Wooded Spot

This elation does not stem from communion with nature or the serenity of the woods. No, my joy stems from the activity stirring in this woodland once a year: the Annual Maple Syrup Festival!

Mullet Love

The festival provides yellow school bus transportation from parking to the site. You might find mullet love along the way!

This year marked my 4th time experiencing the wonder of this festival! Why do I mark my calendar months in advance? What makes pancakes and syrup so much more special in a barn, in the woods? Why do I wake up early on a Sunday to beat the lines?

Words may fail to fully convey the answers, but I keep attempting to articulate the merits anyway…

Best Friends Bus Ride

My crew for this year’s festival rivaled my zeal! Sandra (middle) drove all the way from DC to join us, and Nina (right), who attended as a child, was the girl who introduced us to this magic in the first place. Plus we had Erin and Pam along for the ride. They were newbies, and we were about to show them something unforgettable.

Amurica

The flag and the Civil War reenactments should offer a pretty clear frame of reference, but lest you forget, this festival takes place in America!

Is it worth waiting in line for pancakes? Is it worth waiting in line for an hour? If that line is at the Maple Syrup Festival, then yes, indubitably!

Tickets and Souvenirs

Should you want to commemorate the festival, there are plenty of XXL tshirts, as well as maple syrup and locally milled flours available for purchase. I stuck to buckwheat, wheat & cornmeal in lieu of a new shirt-dress.

Beyond maple syrup and pancakes (which are incentives in and of themselves), the festival features a field of vendors and attendees, ie: my people-watching happy place! Here are just a few of the wonders that transpired around the line and made the long wait pass in the blink of an eye…

Families with matching mohawks
Plenty of “real tree” ensembles
A baby goat
“Arts” & “Crafts”
What we called “narrative sweaters” (fleeces featuring wolves, or eagles, etc)
A face tattoo or two
A jean jacket with a wolf patch (You know she didn’t buy it that way!)
Kitsch and lots of it!
What I presumed to be a Shania Twain cover band
Boy scouts looking like German youth (it’s weird. This aspect is never not weird)
A random regal couple- were they wayward Europeans?!? How did they get there?
A ridiculously attractive Civil War soldier (ALL of us agreed, and our tastes are different to say the least)

Maple Syrup Arrival

OJ and Flapjack Flipping

It’s not every day Boy Scouts and troop leaders make breakfast for you!

The $8 fee covers coffee (but don’t bank on a caffeine boost from this watery java), orange juice, three sausage links (additional links are available in $.50 increments- a real bargain!), all-you-can-eat buttermilk and buckwheat pancakes plus pure maple syrup! Whole grain pancakes and real maple syrup are a fast track to my pancake-loving heart.

Birthday Pancakes

The real reason why this Maple Syrup Festival was magical? It’s tradition! My best friends and I first attended in college as some weird thing to do to escape our stresses and celebrate Sandra’s birthday.

The Real Reason

I bet if we had looked a little harder, we could have found the same boy scouts!

YEARS later, we are still close friends! Celebrating Sandra’s birthday with commemorative, syrupy goodness and a people-watching goldmine was the perfect way to usher in the big 3-0.

Maple Syrup Fest Place Setting

Epic Rat Tail

Likely the least attractive pancake pic I have ever posted, and the MOST EPIC rat tail I have ever seen! My face lit up like Christmas morning when I realized this kid was sitting behind me.

The "Sugar Shack" conveys why maple syrup costs so much money by explaining the process from tree to pancake. The aging, handmade graphics are not to be missed!

The “Sugar Shack” conveys why maple syrup costs so much money by explaining the process from tree to pancake. The aging, handmade graphics are not to be missed!

We ate until we were full, and we laughed until we cried. Much like the festival itself, I can’t fully convey what made us laugh, but when I think of the festival and those moments, I feel as happy as a kid on a merry-go-round!

hoorah

Perhaps I’ll see you at the festival next year?

Single-Grain

May Your Syrup Be Pure & Your Traditions Sweet!
-Quelcy

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