Rhubarb Compote

June 2014

I know I still have approximately two months to savor, but in this city where gray and precipitation all too frequently prevail, the summer never seems long enough. There are so many elements of summer I would like to preserve and stretch into the next season(s):

- the ease of slipping on my worn out Toms and taking my Julep for a walk in the sunshine, or on late night strolls when the air is just a tad cooler, and the city glows.
-garden dinners
-tan lines
-the way tomatoes never make it to the stove or oven because I consume their summer sweetness straight from the container
-open windows, fluttering curtains
-waking up to natural light flooding through said open windows
-taking pictures late into the evening with the abundance of natural light

Rhubarb Compote

In lieu of stretching summer far into fall, and fall far into winter, I made an attempt to stretch the season of one of summer’s greatest gifts: rhubarb!

Rhubarb Compote in Jars

What began as an unexpected prize for arriving late at the farmers market (“sure, I’ll take those wilty looking stalks!”), transpired into a layer in a baked French toast, a pairing for cheese and baguette slices, a slathering on morning toast, muffins for a morning meeting, a fruitful accent to scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, and so on and so forth. The potential for rhubarb compote, unlike the season in which it grows, is quite endless!

Local Rhubarb Compote

Ingredients

1 3/4 pounds local rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups or 12-15 long stalks)
1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar

1 piece (1 inch) fresh, peeled ginger, finely grated
1/3 cup red wine (I used Malbec)

Directions

Stir together rhubarb and sugar in a large saucepan (off heat); let stand until rhubarb releases some liquid, about 10 minutes.

Bring rhubarb mixture, grated ginger, and red wine to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let sauce cool completely before serving.

Single-Grain

Here’s to Savoring & Stretching the Tart Sweetness of the Season!
-Quelcy

#TBT: A Table in Montmartre

August 2014

While I’m feeling nostalgic for all things Parisian, I couldn’t help but fixate on this page of Sauces, from The French Cookbook. The tipsy perspective evokes the feeling of walking the hills of Montmartre, the arrondisement where my favorite movie took place. Unlike my walks though, in which I relied heavily upon my imagination [and a dash of wistful voyeurism], Velvet Sauce truly puts us in Montmartre. We see the famous Sacré Coeur from our very own window, where wine surely flows generously, and the chairs straddle the line between comfort and formality. It’s the perfect venue for serving such a sauce!

IMG_0930_Montmartre

IMG_0931_montmartre

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

Single-Grain

À bientôt!
-Quelcy

A Wednesday Wander: Coffee in Paris

From A Wander in Paris, in December 2011

Lately, a few friends and I have been having some in depth conversations about coffee- why we drink it, when we drink it, how it’s sourced, when did latte art become a thing…? What I’m not telling you is I have an exciting coffee project in the works, but what I am telling you is all this coffee talk has me missing Paris [to be fair, almost everything has me missing Paris because I could happily spend all of my days there as cliché as that might be]. Until I can sip a café noisette dans la rue, I am vicariously sitting at an outward facing table, sipping something strong and judging everything passing before me.

Red and White Stripes

Brightly Colored Empty Chairs

Facing Out

Espresso and Wine

Coffee and Smokes

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Single-Grain

Santé!
Quelcy

From the Farmers Market

June/August 2014

I haven’t plodded along on what one would call a “career path” by any means, and for a span of time, this approach meant not having a full-time job. During one glorious summer of job juggling, I had plenty of time for summer bicycle adventuring to farmers markets. I practically hit one every day, a habit that took my blue bicyclette and me all over the city in search of perfectly sweet, juicy tomatoes. When engaged in a conversation about promoting local foods, I rather scoffed at someone who told me local foods needed to be more convenient. “But there’s a farmers market every day!” I practically shouted.

Snap Peas

Fast forward to present day, and step aside as I humbly put my foot in my mouth. Making a commitment to local foods is just that- a commitment. Between forgetting what day of the week it is and the alarming rate at which summer seems to be passing me, I nearly missed this commitment. Fortunately, I can buy a fair share of local foods at the grocery store, but there is something fulfilling about mingling with the grower of your food.

Raspberries

So it was on a sunny Saturday in June, I made the effort to mingle, to visually scan summer’s yield and to be inspired by that moment in the growing season.

Rhubarb and Julep

The market rewarded my effort with plump raspberries, bright green snow peas, and an abundance of rhubarb, which tickled the nose of my four-legged kitchen assistant.

Rhubarb

The berries and peas barely stood a chance of survival past pecking and pawing, but the rhubarb inspired several recipes.

The Little Bean

On that note of summer passing all too quickly, I realize I am sharing these musings past these lovelies’ seasons, but nevertheless, I would have been remiss not to celebrate the way they inspired words, images, recipes and gatherings. Stay tuned for recipes to bookmark for their prime next year.

In the meantime, how is your farmers market inspiring you?

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

Instagram Lately: Boredom at Bay

August 2014

Boredom and loneliness are choices. This is what I tell myself, and this is what I believe.

However, that doesn’t mean boredom and loneliness don’t lurk around me every now and then, but just as they do, ideas pop into my head. Next thing I know, a motorcycle appears, and I’m zipping around the twinkling city, with the wind whipping in my face, in pursuit of a perfect burger and fries, or…

Myths and Pizza

…or, I’m listening to the myth of the Shrine of the Virgin Mary, while a heavenly glow illuminates my orator. Little did I know about this hilltop saint until the garden party took a stroll.

…or, I am eating brick-oven pizza while potters pick at banjos and mandolins.

…or, I am crying real tears. I’m feeling my entire chest well with warmth, after eating an all too monstrous bite of hot pepper, in my first ever bánh mì from Lucy’s. That woman is famous. That pepper is infamous.

…or, I am finally savoring the tiniest bites of expensive macarons. Try though I might, I do not taste the gold they must contain to cost so much.

Banh Mi Moto Babe

How do you keep your boredom at bay?

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

p.s: You can follow more of my Instagram adventures here.

Simple Foods For A Summer Garden Party

July 2014

I recently prepared the food spreads for a backyard garden party at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, where I spend many of my daytime hours playing with dried arrangements, my camera and photoshop. The party concept was to inspire attendees to host their own backyard gatherings, with the goal of spending more time enjoying summer and less time stressing over food and decor. As one obsessed with food, my challenge was to demonstrate how presentation and thoughtful pairings render visually appealing and appetizing foods without excessive effort. On that note, I bring you these very loose “recipes” for your own summer socials…

Garden Party Food Ideas

Watermelon (seedless)
Cantaloupe
Cucumber
Garden Fresh Basil
Fresh Mozzarella in Olive Oil & Herbs
Variations: Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Zest, Flaky Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper

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Garden Party Spread

Zucchini Spread with Cucumber Slices & Garden Fresh Basil (Recipe Below)

Cheese and Melons

Brie with Berries & A Honey Drizzle
Grapes
Cheddar
Garden Fresh Flowering Herbs for aroma & presentation

Blueberry Crostinia

French Baguette
Chèvre
Blueberries
Garden Fresh Mint
Variations: Honey, Jam, Fig, Raspberries, Sage, Verbena, 

IMG_2933edit

Zucchini Crostini

IMG_3049

In the vein of grandmother style cooking and approximated proportions, this loose recipe is a great way to take advantage of summer’s abundance of zucchini and herbs. You can very simply feed many a friend from your garden or local farm stand. I sourced the zucchini and onions from Garfield Community Farm, and the fresh herb and green pepper garnishes came from Roxanne’s home garden.

Farm Fresh Zucchini Spread for Crostini
Yield: Party Size

Ingredients

3 small-medium, local yellow onions, sliced

2 large local zucchinis, grated

3-4 Tablespoons organic Lemon Zest
1/2 cup organic Lemon Juice
1-2 cups organic ricotta cheese

salt and fresh crushed pepper to taste

Garnish
local cucumber
local green pepper
local basil

Directions

Coat the bottom of a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions. If the onions appear to be drying too quickly, add water.

Once the onions are caramelized, add the grated zucchini and stir. The mixture will become very liquidy. Continue to simmer until liquid reduces, 20-30 minutes (this time will be drastically reduced if you’re not making the party portion of this recipe).

Remove from heat. Drain off excess liquids if need be. Cool to room temperature (can cool in the refrigerator if need be).

Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and ricotta cheese to your desired creaminess.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on baguette slices with fresh cucumber and garden fresh green pepper slices.

Single-Grain

Happy Garden Gathering!
-Quelcy

The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour: Slow Supper : Big Table

June 2014

My inner control freak avoided the piss-beer phase of college drunkenness, from which most budding beverage aficionados graduated and advanced into the realm of craft beers. Between buying into the antioxidant powers of grapes and discovering the flavor merits of bourbon barrels, I came to associate with the wine and cocktail side of menus. Beer escaped me.

The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour

Explaining these missing leaps in my life to beer drinkers usually garners many a volunteer. Some of you are probably even mentally volunteering as you read this. “Oh, I will teach you to love beer,” says the self-nominated hero of hops. However, somewhere between volunteering and beer drinking, these heroes usually fall to the wayside, and I continue to sip with purple lips. That is until Brooklyn Brewery came to Pittsburgh!

J.Heineman Warehouse

Despite an increase in national attention, Pittsburgh is still like a nerdy kid in gym class, waiting awkwardly while Philly and Chicago easily make the cut. When the Brooklyn Brewery put Pittsburgh on its Mash Tour, it was the equivalent of the coordinated captain picking the gangly nerd to be on his team while other jocks were still available.

Brooklyn Brewery Chef

Welcome Cocktail

Beyond recognition for Pittsburgh as a growing scene for food and culture, this dinner was a milestone for me for a couple of reasons:

1. My styling partner and I had the opportunity to design the event, from the menu illustrations all the way to the suspended floral installation. This was a big step for our venture, Harvest & Gather.

2. Yours truly drank more than a few baby bird sips of beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. With their bourbon barrels and notes of chocolate and orange peel, those Brooklynites might be the first to really push me in the beer direction. Good thing I walked away with some bottles for the sake of drinking practice.

Mulberry Shrub Shandy

Shrub and Shandy

After a live band and a Mulberry Shandy in the parking lot, garage doors of the historical warehouse opened to expose guests to their dinner table. The setting was the J. Heineman company, a wholesale food distribution warehouse, where Civil War ammunitions were once stored. A century and some years later, the high wooden ceilings, natural light, steel beams and concrete floors made the perfect backdrop for the Slow Supper: Big Table.

The Table

The menu was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson and local Chef Kate Romane. Each course featured a different beer variety, as featured on the pallet pedestals with an array of foraged florals.

Pallet Beer Displays

Brooklyn Beer Display

Cuvée Noire was the high note of the night for this novice drinker. Its description boasts coffee, chocolate and citrus, and unlike many pretentious promises of flavor notes, these three winners are legitimately present. Dessert beer might be this baby bird’s wings to the great big sky of craft beer!

Mash Dinner Menu

Greens and Scallops

Snap peas, Pea Puree, Pea Tendrils, Slow Cooked Egg, Mint Oil
Brooklyn Wild Streak (10% ABV): A Belgian-inspired golden ale aged for several months in second-use bourbon barrels, giving it a soft, round character infused with a balanced oak flavors. 100% bottle re-ferment with a blend of priming sugar, Champagne yeast and the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces providing a wonderfully complex earthy funk.

Scallop and Apple Crudo, Roasted Sour Cherries, Apple Jus, Brown Butter Gel
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (7.6% ABV): A classic saison, cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale featuring the rare Sorachi Ace hop. It tastes like sunshine in a glass. 100% bottle re-fermented.

Lamb

Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Turnips, Radish, Rhubarb and Carrot Puree, Citrus Pickled Onions, Charred Onion Emulsion with Family Style Farmer Greens, Champagne Vinaigrette
Brooklyn Local 2 (9.0% ABV): Combines European malt and hops, Belgian dark sugar, and raw wildflower honey from a New York family farm. The beer emerges with a mahogany color, dry fruity palate and complex aromatics. 100% bottle re-fermented.

Dark Beer

Brklyn Brewery Beignets

Ginger Sugar Doughnuts, Spiced Cherries, Apple Caramel
Brooklyn Cuvée Noire (10.6% ABV): A Belgian Stout brewed with Mauritius sugar and orange peel, aged for six months in bourbon barrels, and then 100% bottle re-fermented.

Beer Varieties

Here’s to transforming industrial spaces for one evening only!
Here’s to suspended florals and flickering candles!
Here’s to Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, their bridges, beers and chefs!
Here’s to some serious sips of beer and more to come!

Single-Grain

Cheers!
Quelcy

P.S: Check out my other post about Brooklyn Brewery’s Pittsburgh stop on the Mash Tour.