Category Archives: Main Course

Heirloom Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi with Browned Sage Butter, Cranberries, Pecans & Goat Cheese

October 2014

I had a roommate who lived off gnocchi alone, well almost anyways. She was the first person to introduce this foreign pasta pillow to me. Based on her description, I held these doughy nubbins on a pedestal of complication, thinking they contained a filling much like ravioli. How could one roll such a small encasement? It seemed impossible! When I finally ate one, I learned she was far better at architecture than she was at food descriptions. However, in some part of my brain, I maintained the idea gnocchi making would be laborious.

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Then I went to a farm dinner, and I watched several chefs roll out dough at their makeshift prep table. Granted, that prep table surely cost more than most of my kitchen accoutrements combined, but still. There they were, far from their commercial kitchen comforts, pumping out dough pillows, and making it look approachable.

Pumpkin Gnocchi and wine

At long last, I made the gnocchi leap for myself, and much like making mayo for the first time, I now question why I waited so long. These little pillows are so, so, so easy, and the ROI, if you will business jargon friends, is high!

Gnocchi Bowl

This bowl of pumpkin gnocchi exudes fall’s traditional flavors. I used a real pumpkin à la the Urban Farmer’s harvest and a special grainy gift from a friend- Heirloom Sonora Variety Whole Wheat Flour grown in Pescadero, California. However, if you don’t have farmers and wandering, wheat-gathering friends, feel free to use an organic canned pumpkin and an organic whole-wheat pastry flour. Be creative with your toppings too. This is not a recipe of the precise persuasion.

Let your autumn cravings be your guide!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree, from a roasted pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heirloom whole wheat flour
1 large, organic, cage-free egg
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Using your hands, mix everything together to form dough. The dough will be sticky.

Divide the dough into four sections. Roll each section on a lightly floured surface until about 1/2″ thick.

Cut the long rolled out sections into 1″ chunks. Dust the pillows with just a little bit of flour to help prevent sticking.

If you want the traditional gnocchi indentation, gently press the pillows into the prongs of a fork.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and ad the gnocchi. Cook in batches if necessary.

When the gnocchi begins to rise to the surface, it is cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and let cool slightly.

Single-Grain

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter, Cranberry, Pecan & Goat Cheese

Note: Remember, this part is all very ad-libbed and imprecise, so follow your instincts and tastes. I highly recommend adding Speck or Prosciutto, which are not shown in the photo, or forgo the cured meats and make your vegetarian friends happy.

Ingredients

Irish butter (or another high quality butter)
A bundle of fresh local sage, chopped
Organic kale
Dried cranberries
Pecans, some chopped, some left whole
Goat Cheese
*Speck (Not shown in the photo but highly recommended)

Directions

Heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add a few Tablespoons of sliced butter, and whisk frequently. Continue to cook the butter.

Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further and perhaps burning.

Pour the browned butter into a small bowl or ramekin with the chopped sage, and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the kale, and stir frequently.

As the kale begins to crisp, add the pecans and cranberries, stirring frequently. Once the pecans begin to toast, add the cooked gnocchi. Add extra butter if need be. Stir everything to combine.

Remove from heat and stir in the sage butter with the chopped sage. Add in goat cheese crumbles and slices of speck.

Serve immediately with extra goat cheese crumbles, a pecan garnish, and a steady flow of red wine on the side.

Single-Grain

You can do it!
-Quelcy

The Makings of a Banh Mi

September 2014

Let’s talk Wikipedia food history for a moment:

Bánh Mì, a combination of the Vietnamese words for bread/cake and wheat respectively, is a term used to describe bread. Most commonly the phrase refers to the baguette style bread introduced by the Frenchies during their “vacances” there, ie: colonialism. The term, my fellow word nerds, is often metonymically used to describe the sandwiches commonly found in Vietnamese bakeries (or if you live in Pittsburgh, commonly found outside one of the finer drinking establishments).

The Makings of a Banh Mi

Typical Bánh MÌ fillings include steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, spreadable pork liver pâté, chicken, head cheese, fried eggs, and tofu. In short, good things! Given my new obsession with the many Carrot Daikon Slaw possibilities and my indifference for historical accuracy, I took the liberty of combining some key Bánh MÌ elements with some new twists to make one very memorable sandwich.

The Makings of a Bánh MÌ à la With The Grains

Soy & Gyoza Roasted Salmon
Baguette
Homemade Mayo
Havarti Dill Cheese
All Natural Hot Sauce
Jalapeño Peppers
Cucumber Slices
Avocado
Carrot & Daikon Slaw
Fresh Cilantro

Stack ‘em up every which way and however you please, but if I may, a few recommendations:

Mix the hot sauce and the mayo into one zinger of a creamy sauce (then commence using it on everything from oven baked fries to burgers). Then slather the combo on the baguette, followed by mashed avocado. The mashed avocado will be easier to bite, since this sandwich will not lack for height or messy bites.

Be careful with those jalapeño seeds! They’ll knock the wind out of you, make your heart jump a bit and fill your eyes with tears- like all the stages of a tumultuous love affair in one bite!

Now that you’re full on sandwich, imagine all the other Bánh MÌ inspired wonders you can make, like this hot dog par example.

Single-Grain

Go Forth & Bánh MÌ!
-Quelcy

Simple Soy & Gyoza Roasted Salmon

September 2014

You can relate to this scenario:

You unwrap a rectangular present, and “SURPRISE,” it’s a book! It’s not a book you’ve been dying to have, nor is the cover particularly compelling, but it’s a book that vaguely pertains to your interests and will add enough value to your life should you one day skim it. In short, it’s worth having in your repertoire. You toss aside the lingering wrapping paper and flip through the pages to feign how grateful and interested you are, and then…actual surprise…a gift card slips from chapter 12! It’s a gift card to the new restaurant you’ve been dying to try, and now that rather formulaic book makes waaaay more sense.

Roasted Salmon

Let’s just say this roasted fish is the book, and the gift card will follow in a subsequent post, so stay tuned! I won’t keep you waiting too long. I promise.

Soy & Gyoza Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

2 (~5-oz) pieces of salmon fillet with skin
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
Soy Sauce
Gyoza Dipping Sauce (or a similar ginger sauce)

Directions

Place the salmon in a bowl or pan. Rub salmon all over with 1 teaspoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover in soy sauce and Gyoza sauce. Set aside for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a cast-iron skillet with parchment paper that is double the diameter of the skillet, letting the excess hang over one side only. Transfer the salmon to a parchment-lined skillet, skin side down.

Pour the remaining marinade over the salmon, and fold the excess parchment over the salmon and twist it with the other edge, so the parchment forms a tent around the salmon.

Roast until fish is just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to serve. Discard skin when eating.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

A Garden Hot Dog & Dessert Party

September 2014

Often mocked for its mysterious components, the hot dog is an institution even I can’t deny. Mind you, the idea of leathery dogs rolling repeatedly on a lamp-heated conveyor makes me sincrely nauseous (ie: on the verge of dry-heaving while typing), but the idea of a quality link, grilled to perfection, is garden party worthy! Thus, some good friends and I gathered in the Floral King’s garden on a summer night to celebrate the good ol’ hot dog in new ways.

Hot Dog Party Table

Watermelon Salad

Friends arrived with plenty of wine, and we put them to work adding the finishing touches to the apps and sides! Bess added mint from Thommy’s garden to this watermelon, black olive and feta salad. Don’t skimp on olive quality here- good olives make all the difference! Meanwhile, other willing workers prepared the prosciutto-wrapped, melon skewers destined for the grill.

Prosciutto and melon

Thommy (ie: The Floral King) picked fresh herbs and hibiscus from his garden, which we mixed with various wines, vinegars, peaches and strawberries. We left the fruit to marinade while we ate, and after the hotdog feast, we grilled the fruit in the garden-inspired marinades.

Hibiscus

Bess

Hotdogs

The key to a good hotdog party? In our book, the crucial elements are quality meats (sans weird, unpronounceable preservatives and the like) and corn-syrup-free buns. Yours truly might have forced a grainier bun, but I was willing to respect certain traditions. Being the controlling curators we are though, we divided the table into three hot dog flavor profiles. Being the drama queens/kweens we are, we theatrically demonstrated the assembly of each style:

The Picnic

The Picnic Dog
A Thommy Conroy creation

Potato Salad
Salt

(I like to make my potato salad with Greek Yogurt, but the Floral King insists the classic store-bought potato salad is the key to this combo)

Banh Mi Fixins

Bánh mì (3)

The Bánh Mì Dog

Sriracha + Mayo (organic versions of both preferably)
Cucumber Slices
Daikon Carrot Slaw (Recipe coming soon)
Jalapeño Pepper Slices
Cilantro
Ginger Sauce or the Asian Condiment of your choice (ex: Hoisin)

Assembly and Decor

The Garden

The Garden Dog

Blue Cheese
Garden Fresh Tomato
Garden Fresh Arugula
(hot dog link not shown but definitely included)

Dessert

Hot dogs and a fancy, excessive dessert spread go hand-in-hand in this garden world. Layers of almond, vanilla cake paired deliciously with the varieties of stewed fruits, homemade whipped cream and a special frozen coffee dessert (recipe coming soon).

Flower Reflection

Another round of Romanian wine finished the night (check out those floral reflections! That bottle looks like a magical place for bees!)!

Though fall and pumpkin flavors will quickly be upon us, I hope you have the chance to sneak in a hot dog party of your own, maybe even over a campfire!

Single-Grain

Happy Hot Dogging!
-Quelcy

A Perfect Summer Burger

July 2014

If a foreigner were to lump me into the ultra white, New Balance sneaker class of tourist, I would be offended. If a foreigner were to fault me for putting Bush into office, again, I would take offense. If a foreigner were to assume I eat a lot of cheeseburgers, I might just have to shrug and embrace the truth in his or her assumption.

Julep and the Burger

Thus, when the 4th of July rolled around, and my dear friend with a hospitable deck suggested sushi, I humbly objected. Burgers; burgers are American. In the end, I do believe everyone thanked me for it (not to toot my own horn; just to encourage you should you be feeling bullied into sushi).

Mega Burger

What a perfect burger it was: grilled, grass-fed, organic, hand-formed patties, with cheddar, avocado, egg, greens and a toasted bun. Knowing this burger would be the star of the BBQ gathering, I prepared an equally impressive dessert. More on that to come!

Single-Grain

Patriotically yours,
Quelcy

A Pizza Pie for Pi(e) Day

March 14, 2014

Depending on your level of cynicism (here’s looking at yours, Will C.), today is either a day for nerds to enjoy being punny or a day for pun lovers to pretend to be math nerds. Why?

Salad and Pizza

March 14 = 3/14
Pi= 3.14
Pi sounds like Pie and voila! National Pi Day is born [an excuse to eat pie, make pi references and test your ability to recall the endless digits beyond the 4].

Fennel Craisin Salad

Since I like to eat a salad with my pizza, might I suggest:
Spinach, Fennel, Feta, Cranberry & Chia Seeds with Homemade Dijon Vinaigrette

I fall somewhere between nerd and pun lover, but I’m definitely a theme enthusiast, which might explain my exuberant devotion to Pi(e) Day.

Salmon Pesto Pizza

In honor of today, I bring you a super simple method for an individual pizza using one of my favorite flavor combinations. I love sharing a more official version of this pizza with friends and watching their faces savor what’s in their mouths. Then we all ask ourselves, “why isn’t this on pizza menus everywhere?!?”

One Slice

My Favorite Pizza

Whole-wheat pita or a pizza crust
Pesto
Goat Cheese
Smoked Salmon
Black Olives
Capers
Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese, grated
Fresh basil when it’s in season

Arrange the ingredients to your liking. If you’re making the quick pita style, heat it in the toaster oven for an easy, delicious lunch. If you’re making a pizza crust, prepare the crust according to instructions and then bake in the oven at 425 degrees until the goat cheese is melted and softened and crust is warm, about 10-15 minutes.

Single-Grain

Happy Pi(e) Day!
-Quelcy

Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate & Roasted Squash

January 2013

Though I have visually feasted my way through the food magazines strewn across my dining room table, all too often my meal choices remain unaffected by their inspiration. However, life is all too short to fill with the same old routines. One of my [loosely defined] goals for the new year is to eat better balanced, more varied meals (don’t let blogging fool you, I too fall victim to last minute scraping and convenience), so I started simply. I dogeared one recipe to try; I shopped appropriately, and voila…

Wild Rice Salad 01

A healthy bowl full of colors emerged!

Wild Rice Salad 02

I adapted this recipe ever so slightly from one of the Bon Appétit issues in said dining room collection. This rice salad is substantial enough to stand alone, or pair it with a dijon roasted salmon for a more mixed plate. In an effort to be resourceful (and maybe in some subconscious, knee-jerk reaction to being vegetarian?), I roasted my squash in a cast-iron skillet coated with bacon grease leftover from an artisan cajun bacon, and I used the entire squash versus the prescribed half. Though I do not show it above, I recommend a few crumbles of chèvre as well.

Black and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash
adapted from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups black rice
1/2 cup wild rice
Kosher salt

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into pieces
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey

2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup roasted pistachios

organic mixed greens
local chèvre

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook black rice and wild rice in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender, 35–40 minutes; drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Meanwhile, toss squash with 1/4 cup oil on another baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 20–25 minutes; let cool.

Whisk vinegar, honey, and remaining ¼ cup oil in a large bowl.

Add black rice and wild rice, squash, scallions, pomegranate seeds, and pistachios; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Serve over a bed of mixed greens. Add some chunks/crumbles of chèvre.

Make Ahead:
Salad (without mixed greens) can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy