Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

April 2014

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

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

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

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

Cherry Topped Chocolate Cake

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

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

Ingredients

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

2 large organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

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

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

Directions

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

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

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

Beat in the wine and yogurt.

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

Add to wine mixture slowly, mixing until just incorporated.

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

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

Single-Grain

Honey Whipped Mascarpone

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

Directions

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

Single-Grain

Assembly

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

Single-Grain

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

Instagram Lately: Going To See A Man About A Boar

July 2013

Q: How often do you get to play middlelady in a boar transaction?
A: Not often enough!

Wandering around one of my favorite flea markets, I happened to spy a boar’s head, which made me think of this guy! I had hardly finished tagging him in an instagram of said stuffed beauty, when my phone rang and a serious voice said, “I want it. How much?” I’d like to tell you I strong-armed the vendor into a great rate, but… you know what… f*&k it, I am going to tell you I strong-armed the vendor into a great rate because that is a great story! That’s a story for the grandkids.

About a Boar

From flea market to farm dinner, with a boar in between! That was a pretty successful Sunday.

What tall tales have your instagrams told lately?

Peach ‘n Bourbon Pancakes: Goodbye Special One. Hello Little One!

June 2013

Email. Cell phones. Facebook. Twitter. Imagine disconnecting from all of it! A friend of mine just spent a month in rural Germany doing just that. With a fresh notebook in tow, her goal in travel was to work through the baggage of her past, but when she sat to write, her pen was heavy and stationary. Day after day, she tried, but no words would saturate the paper. She was surrounded by beautiful German farmlands, eating fresh food and engaging with kindred spirits. Why stir the waters and tarnish the placid lake?

Just the Pancakes

Feeling as though she had abandoned the intentions of her retreat, she spoke with a German therapist. “Of course the American therapists told you to analyze the past, but why? Why make yourself miserable?” she pushed. “Why not move forward? If those issues from the past arise, deal with them then, when you are healthier, happier and better equipped. Enjoy all the beauty surrounding you now!”

Pancakes and Bourbon

It was as though she had carried those words across the Atlantic just for me! Nearly one month ago, my Special One said the words I never thought I would hear him say, “I’m not ready for ‘this,’” and with that utterance, he left my life. “This” to me was the deepest of friendship and a wholehearted love, so I was devastated. I debated diving into what “this” meant with him, but then I heard the words from Germany, and I knew to move forward. Why dredge up muck and misery when I had truly given my all?

Peach Top

The transatlantic message wasn’t advising me to bury emotions. I will still feel heartbroken, and I will still cry on occasion. I can embrace those emotions, but I won’t seek more sadness. This blog is a collection of snapshots of my life. This isn’t meant to be a passive aggressive jab. This is but another snapshot, another segue. As is usually case, these experiences overlap with meals and memories. He was my batter flipper, but the time has come for me to hone my pancake skills myself. I’m improving because I am moving forward and focusing on joys like this one…

Introducing-Julep

Though I said farewell to my Special One, I welcomed home my Little One at long last! My search for a puppy had felt endless and impossible, but she was exactly the one for me. My little Julep was born on an Amish farm on Earth Day, making us earthy kindred spirits born in conservative places. My precious Australian Shepherd/Lab is smart and loving. Her little puppy eyes could melt your heart, pushing me straight over the cusp from sanity to crazy dog lady. Bringing Julep into my life was one of my best decisions to date, and she is definitely helping me move forward. She is just helping me move in general! Puppies have lots of energy, but they also nap quite a bit. In one of those Julep naps, I managed to whip up these southern/Julep inspired pancakes for me, myself and I!

Boubony Whipped Cream

Peach ‘n Bourbon Buckwheat Pancakes w/ Minty Whipped Cream
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 (I found this to be too sweet for my morning brew, but I love it in pancakes)
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 small peach, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

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, half & half and almond extract. Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Fold in the peaches and pecans.

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.

Serve with fresh peach slices and a big dollop o’ minty whipped cream.

Minty Whipped Cream

Ingredients 

1 cup local heavy whipping cream
2-3 Tablespoons mint simple syrup (made with pure cane sugar), to taste

2-3 Tablespoons bourbon, to taste

Directions

Combine whipping cream and simple syrup in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer (with chilled mixer attachments) to beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the bourbon, and continue to beat until stiffer peaks form. Do not overbeat, or you’ll end up with butter, which would be tasty, but not the idea here.

Bon Appétit!

Juice of the Week: Beets From Tip to Tail

June 2013

Farms and gardens are beginning to brim with life, making my market bag brim with produce to make fresh juice all the fresher. The meandering routes of bold burgundies and rosy hues, through the greens of these local beets, were too beautiful and beneficial to waste.

Beet Tails and Tips

Beet Leaves

Ginger Carrot

Lots of Celery

Beet Leaf Juice

Beets From Tip to Tail
makes ~2 quarts

Bunch of small beets with greens*
1 bunch of celery*
2 1/2 lbs organic carrots, rinsed
~4oz ginger, peeled

*When I share recipes on this here corner of the blogosphere, I consider the ingredients and directions to be a point of departure. In the case of this beet and celery laden Juice of the Week, consider this recipe a “do as I say/suggest” rather than “do as I did.” Had I planned more and had more produce on hand, I would have balanced the very potent celery with apples or citrus or both. I’ve still been drinking this in the morning, and I’m used to the celery, but it may not be for everyone. Give it a whirl. Change it wildly. Just have fun and be healthy!

Juice of the Week documents my goal to drink fresh juice daily (made in batches weekly).

Cardamom Browned Butter (I’m Really Proud of This One!!!)

January 2013

I usually don’t boast when sharing recipes, but when it comes to this butter experiment, I feel entitled to brag!

Cardamom Browned Butter

I searched a few combinations of “browned butter” and “honey” and “cardamom,” and the most immediate results were recipes for cookies, streusels, cakes, etc, but what I wanted was that flavor combination in a butter. Just butter. I left Google momentarily, and I experimented. Once you try this flavor packed butter, you will understand why I feel entitled to boast about this experiment! After making enough for yourself, this simple, flavorful butter would make a great gift in a little jam jar for someone who deserves a little jam jar of heaven.

Browned Butter with Honey & Cardamom

Ingredients

1 stick organic, unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 Tablespoon clover honey

Directions

Heat a skillet or saucepan on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking 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.

Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further (and to prevent from burning).

Pour the browned butter into a small container.

Add the honey and cardamom and stir to combine.

Set the butter aside to cool and set.

Voila!

Happy Red, White & Blueberry!

July 4th, 2012

This Fourth of July, I’m not responsible for a thing except documenting my special one’s pyro side as he choreographs his spectacle, swimming in a creek, swaying in a hammock and riding through the forest on a zippy scooter.  However, there’s always room for a biteful of thematic eating.

Hopefully the grill sends pleasant aromas your way, and the sun shines on your holiday!

-WTG

Header_new perspective

Pittsburgh: Time To Take Another Look

October 2011

Here is where I should be inserting an embarrassing photo documenting the early days of the friendship that has come to span more than a decade.  However, here is where I am going to display a rare dose of restraint, or rather, I already have posted an “embarrassing” photo documenting earlier days in our friendship.  As I said then, Heather and I have veered wildly from the days that brought us together, and our veers have shaped us into very different people.

Yet, through it all, we have remained very good friends- very good friends with a one sided visiting record.  Granted, I have more reasons to visit Philly than Heather has to visit Pittsburgh.  My family is close to Philly.  I have multiple friends there, and I am drawn to the bigger city.  However, in nearly a decade of living here, I deserve at least one visit.  That fated time finallllllly came in October when Heather and her friend Jess loaded a Honda with clothing, pillows, blankets, enough water to survive a very dramatic flat tire scenario [did not transpire] and God knows what else.  A few cheesy pop albums later, they arrived in the Steel City.

It was time to put on my tour guide hat [sunglasses]) and see the city anew!

Ready to see and learn more about my Pittsburgh?

More to come…

Mustachio Pie and a Sausage Torte Celebration

September 2010

That first day, in the sunny park, when we shared Greek food and laziness, neither of us had foreseen a one-year anniversary.  We had long been saying we’d been “hanging out” for “two weeks,” but the one year  moment was nigh!  When had “two weeks” really turned into one year?  When had we first spent that sunny afternoon together?  When had we both altered our schedules so our work shifts would align?  I found an email I sent to a friend when I was in that gushing state of mind:  August 19, 2009.

For most of those “two weeks,” the dashing carpenter had complied with my mustache request.  He referred to the “caterpillar” on his lip as “your mustache.”  He’d spend his evenings in his armchair, watching the news and combing his mustache with the tip of a metal, mechanical pencil, saving his facial hair frustration and complaints for me.

The month of August was beyond busy with Hothouse preparations, so our official anniversary came and went before I had time to properly commemorate.  This was my first one-year anniversary ever, so I wasn’t about to let it slip away completely unnoticed.  Following the “belated equals bigger surprise” school of thought, I pushed my plans to September.  I had just the present in mind for my gentleman friend and my mustache:  Mustachio Pie and a Mustache Grooming Kit!

Pie Dough Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the Chocolate Pie Dough

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa in a large bowl.

Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter throughout. (Or combine dry ingredients in a food processor, then pulse in butter.)

Drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water at a time (up to 6 tablespoons total), tossing after each addition, and using only enough water to make dough clump together when squeezed. Add vanilla (if using).

Pat dough into a disc, tightly cover with plastic wrap or parchment, and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days (or freeze for up to 3 months).

To Make Pie: Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a rolling pin to press the disc of dough into a circle large enough to cover a 9inch pie plate. Press dough into bottom, sides, and along the rim of pan to uniform thickness. Trim excess dough; embellish edges. Chill 20 minutes.

Cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to avoid crisping or burning. Bake 18-20 minutes until the crust is baked through.  Cool on a rack.

Pie Filling Ingredients

1 1/2 cup(s) half-and-half
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup(s) pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bakers chocolate
3 tablespoons local amish butter
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
zest of one organic orange
pistachios, finely chopped

For the Pie Filling

Whisk half-and-half, yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and bubbles.

Cook 1 minute more and remove from heat.  Stir in the bakers chocolate, butter, and vanilla.

Stir in the orange zest.

Pour into pie shell.

Cool partially and garnish with a pistachio mustache.

Cool completely. Transfer to refrigerator to set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

The Mustachio Pie was my top priority for the evening celebration, but a couple cannot live on pie alone (though, the dashing carpenter might argue otherwise).

Two very important parts of the dinner were ready:  the dessert and the wine.  It was time to add the main course before the arrival of the man.

Sausage Torte

Ingredients
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
1 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 large organic red potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 small organic summer squash, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 links Italian sausage, crumbled and sautéed in olive oil
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Butter rectangular baking dish.

Layer half the potatoes in rows in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly.

Toss cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer half the squash in rows atop potatoes.

Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.

Sprinkle with half the cheese mixture.

Add all the sausage and repeat potato, squash and cheese layer.

Sprinkle onions over top and cover with foil.

Bake about 40 minutes.

Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer.

Add to the anniversary table!

Happy Anniversary Carpenter!

I wonder what the next “two weeks” has in store?!?!

 

When You Are Engulfed in… Cake

April 2009

I will forever be grateful to This American Life.  As I podcasted and knit my way through the extra weeks of winter, Ira Glass introduced me to David Sedaris.  I had met my superior in sarcastic people watching, and I humbly surrendered.  My neighbors probably thought I was losing my mind as the laughter passed through the thin walls.

When David Sedaris came to Pittsburgh, my friend Thiago treated me to a ticket.  From our seats in the sold out theater, we watched the tiny David Sedaris, on the stage far below, awkwardly read previously published works and some new pieces.  Watching someone read on a stage can be and was a strange dynamic, but I was desperate for new material from him after having requested everything possible from the library and combing the internet.  As a thank you note to Thiago, I made us a special dessert to eat after the show.

As David Sedaris is Greek and has several stories stemming from his family’s Greekness, I sought Greek inspiration for our dessert.  As always, I adapted the recipe to my baking/eating habits, and I also took some liberties on the frosting to achieve my “book” cover, but I’ll leave some of the original guidance for more authentic renditions.

In Greek: ραβανί, pronounced rah-vah-NEE

Ravani (also spelled “revani”) has its roots in Asia Minor and is made with a combination of flour and semolina (or farina). In some areas of Greece, Ravani is made with walnuts or rice, and a Lenten version is made with oil instead of butter. This version of Ravani is plain with the option of adding almonds, using a food processor.

Ingredients:

2 cups of fine-ground semolina
1 1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of pure cane sugar
1 cup of butter, softened
6 eggs, separated
1 cup of whole milk
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
2 tablespoons of water

[For the Syrup]

3 1/2 cups of sugar
3 cups of water
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Optional

Decrease flour by 1/2 cup
Add 1/2 cups of crushed blanched almonds

[Topping]

1/2 cup chopped almonds or almond halves

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Sift the flour and whisk with semolina, almonds if using, baking powder, and baking soda. In the processor mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add egg yolks, sugar, and grated orange peel and continue to mix until light and creamy.

Add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the milk, until completely blended.

Remove from processing bowl and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Whip the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of cold water to the stiff peak stage, and with a wooden spoon, stir carefully into the batter until thoroughly distributed.

Transfer the cake batter to a lightly greased and floured large baking pan (11 X 17 X 2-inch or equivalent) and spread evenly with a spatula. (Optional: sprinkle chopped almonds on top, or place almond halves on top before baking.)

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for approximately 30-35 minutes. Cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the baking pan when done.

Remove from the oven and allow cake to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before starting the syrup.

Prepare the syrup: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Boil for 7-8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pour the hot syrup over the lukewarm cake, evenly and very carefully to avoid collapsing the cake, starting at the outside edges. Allow to cool completely before cutting into small square or diamond-shaped pieces.