Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Layer Cake with Roasted Plums

August 2014

My name is Quelcy, and I am prone to perfectionism.

I fully admit this is a problem, but rather than acknowledge a higher power and 12-step my way through this issue, I just seek constructive friends to indulge my need for critiques. I am also prone to perfectionist tantrums, in which I want to hide my work and/or start over.

Chocolate Cake Layers

This cake was one of those tantrums. I set out to impress, obviously. One doesn’t just layer cake for the sake of any ol’ Monday. I wanted to contribute to a group and announce, “oh hey, did I mention I bake?” I did not want to announce, “Oh hey, did I mention I bake, but the texture of my baking is a complete failure?”

Roasted Plums

My decision to be amenable to a crowd, and therefore gluten free, resulted in a grittier texture (second issue with this batch of almond flour, so maybe it was a milling fluke?). Perhaps I was rushing as well, and I didn’t allow the cake to bake or cool long enough. As always, there are several factors and several ways to beat yourself up.

The result was a very rich, chocolatey fail in my mind. However, the cake was chocolatey enough, and I had all the right toppings to gussy it enough, so I just decided to offer my cake with a humble apology for the texture, and you know what happened?

That friendly crowd ate every last morsel, and in the words of Life cereal, they liked it! They really liked it!

Is there a moral to this cake? Sure. The moral of this cake story is: eat more chocolate and don’t hate on yourself too much.

Chocolate Plum Cake

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Layer Cake with Roasted Plums

Ingredients

2 cups organic almond flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups organic raw cane sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened, pure cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup organic, unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
1 cup red wine

2 large organic, cage-free eggs
1/2 cup organic ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 350º F. Butter two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and red wine, and bring to a boil. Add to the flour mixture and, using an electric mixer, mix until combined.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the ricotta and vanilla.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Whipped Cream Topping
Note: I typically use maple syrup for my whipped cream sweetener, but I wanted this topping to have a little more structure, so I used powdered sugar. 

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar

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.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the powdered sugar, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Single-Grain

Balsamic Roasted Plums

Ingredients

4-5 organic plums
organic unsalted butter
balsamic vinegar
organic light brown sugar
cinnamon
nutmeg
cardamom

Directions

Cut plums in half and remove pits.

Arrange in a baking dish, cut side up. Brush each plum surface with melted butter and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sugar and spices.

Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

Single-Grain

Assembly

Transfer one of the cakes to a platter and spread with ¾ cup of the whipped topping.

Top with the remaining cake, and spread with the remaining whipped topping.

Top with roasted plums (I threw in some gooseberries also). Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with thyme or the fresh herb of your choice.

Single-Grain

Here’s to Chocolate Failures!
Quelcy

Instagram Lately: What Color(s) Was Your Week?

August 2014

In a fiery blaze of American rock glory, the Floral King left me for the foggy beauty of rolling Irish hills and the remnant charms of the Romanian nightlife. While the wanderlust whirled inside me, I had no choice but to play with leaves and lovelies on my own. As I did, the week transpired as if inspired by color swatches. 

This Week in Reds

A Revival of Reds

A year ago, I barely thought about flowers. Then my perfectionist neurosis and the Floral King’s perfectionist neurosis’ powers combined in the form of Harvest & Gather, which has me bundling lemon leaves into the wee hours of the night, painting them shades of gold and red to render them anew, and hoarding Italian cans for farm flowers. Life is rosy red, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How many ways can you slice a pig?
So many delicious ways! Too much time had passed since I found revival in the form of food at Cure, so the Urban Farmer and I went to indulge in the type of meal that demands slow, savoring bites and inspires the gears of food creation to turn- corn custard, lime aioli, a bursting fruit cobbler topped with a perfect whipped cream football… time to start adapting these flavor profiles into my own repertoire! I’ll hold off on butchering for the time being though. Maybe one day. 

Minty Hair and Fish

Bucolic Blues & Greens for Bright Times

Under layers and long sleeves, I had an itch to embrace summer in the form of spontaneous, wild fun. The result was a minty green swoop across my face and a blonde that shocks me each and every time I see my reflection. These types of toss ups are so inspiring in the way they trickle to fashion and persona. Who is this punky face staring back at me, and does she possibly need to buy some more black and deep violet ensembles? The answer is most likely yes, indeed!

The same gray skies that motivated long sleeves opened to reveal an intense sun and new tan lines. Way below that bright blue sky, we ate, drank and made merry for hours on a farm, where the rainbow chard was just as beautiful as the florals I had arranged. A full Sunday on a farm with a fire pit, crazy creative chefs, sunshine, amazing food, wine and one handsome Urban Farmer equals one happy, minty green, blonde, brunette girl. 

What color(s) was your week?

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

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

 

Lemon Curd

August 2014

The following dialogue is based on a conversation from my real life, the retelling of which will probably result in me being called “a shit,” but… Worth it!

The Urban Farmer: I’m supposed to bring something to this beekeepers’ potluck, so I need to think of something between here and the North Side.

Me: [Long pause] … Of course the entire neighborhood of food distribution conveniently between here and the North Side is closed for the day… [long pause]

The Urban Farmer: [said with confidence and enthusiasm] I could bring a pizza!

Me: You can’t bring a piiiiiiiiiiizza [dramatically drawn out]

The Urban Farmer: Why not? Everyone loves pizza! What’s wrong with a pizza? Not everything has to be so faaancy.

Me: Listen, pizza is a show stealer! There are parties named after pizza. You can’t just waltz in and plop your pizza on a table of homemade contributions.

While continuing to mock the idea of a pizza (maybe you should cut it into fancy bites and serve it with toothpicks), I spooned lemon curd into a jam jar and sent The Urban Farmer to the only grocery store en route, the ghetto grocery store if you will, for berries and a baguette.

“Pizza,” I muttered again to myself in disbelief.

Lemon Curd and Cinnamon Toast

Lemons might be my spirit animal. Much like yours truly, this lemon curd is sweet and tart and has a sassy answer for almost everything you throw at it. Hungry for breakfast? Spread it on toast or add a pucker to your parfait. Feeding a few for brunch? Bake it in a French toast or in your pancake batter. Having a wine night? Pair it with cheese and fruit. Entering the dining and wine-ing hours of the night? Be bold and figure out how to use it in a cocktail and as a sweet accent to a meat or fish. There are many possibilities, but above all, use it when you might otherwise be tempted to contribute a pizza.

Lemon Curd Breakfast

Lemon Curd

yield: 3 cups

Ingredients

3 organic lemons, finely grated

1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar

1 stick organic, unsalted butter, room temperature

4 extra-large, free-range eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice (from 3 to 4 organic lemons)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Use a food processor fitted with a steel blade to cream together the lemon zest, sugar, and butter.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time.

Add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer.

Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Single-Grain

Stay Sassy!

-Quelcy

A Wednesday Wander: Copper & Keyholes in Paris

From A Wander in Paris, in December 2011

My eyes. My stomach.

These were my guiding navigational forces when I returned to Paris after a long gap since my nannying stint, and these forces failed me not. Though I recommend the museums and cultural icons of Paris, what I truly loved most were my long wanders with my camera and my appetite for all things amandine.

Copper Cookware

Green Doors

Keys

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

À bientôt!
Quelcy

Rhubarb Compote Muffins

August 2014

Two tons of bricks in a one ton bag.

Is that how the expression goes?

If not, it conveys the idea I want to express. On one hand, this notion of exceeding capacity is negative- shit will break! On the other hand, life is short, and if you have the possibility of stuffing an extra ton of bricks into said receptacle, why not risk it? Within reason, the latter is how I approach creative projects, socializing and my output in general- more, More, MORE!

Rhubarb Compote Muffins

What is the important take away from this?

If you invite me to a morning meeting in your home, I’ll probably bring breakfast too! Sure, I have to take my dog through her morning routine and finalize the meeting’s agenda, but why not just wake up earlier and crank the oven on a summer day?

Rhubarb Compote Muffins

Note: The rhubarb flavor was very light in these muffins, so I recommend serving with extra rhubarb compote, or increasing the rhubarb in the recipe. 

Ingredients

Muffin Batter

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup rhubarb compote
3/4 cup organic turbinado sugar
1 organic egg
1/2 cup organic, unsalted butter, browned

Crumble Topping

1/3 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon organic unsalted butter, cold

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease 11-12 small to medium muffin cups, or line with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, beat together rhubarb compote, sugar, egg, and melted butter.

Stir the rhubarb compote mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them 3/4 full.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in 1 Tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle crumble topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, being sure to rotate the muffins half way through their baking time. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Single-Grain

Here’s to too many bricks & cobbled idioms!
-Quelcy

My Favorite Healthy Eats for “Fittsburgh”

August 2014

For a city known for infusing salads and sandwiches with french fries and cole slaw, “dining out” and “healthy” are very rarely synonymous. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the tables of greasy foods are turning, and there are plenty of healthier options. I recently added my two cents on this topic, and dorked out about whole grain rice, as part of a Fittsburgh blog post.

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 9.10.11 AM

Check out the full story-
4 Pittsburgh Food Writers Spill it on Their Favorite Healthy Eats in the ‘Burgh

If you happen to be dining in Pittsburgh, check out my recommendation and enjoy a serene dinner at Pusadee’s Garden.

Single-Grain

Here’s to Health!
-Quelcy

Instagram Lately: August Messes & Lyricism

August 2014

Bánh Mì messes in the making.
Frigid waters to contrast the hot sun.
A focused breath and a bit of zen.
Playing make believe with cake, florals and flowing hair.

Downward Dog and Banh Mi

Fluttering pages à faire.
An inspired oven, a table full of desserts, and a plate of clouds stacked to the heavens.
Raspy impassioned vocals, intense moves and poetic lyrics from the islands I play on repeat

Concert and Dessert

A DREAM OF YOU AND ME
by Future Islands

I wrestled by the sea
A loneliness in me
I asked myself for peace
And found it at my feet

Staring at the sea…

All that glitters is gold
Don’t believe what you’ve been told
People lie, people love, people go
But beauty lies, in every soul…

I wrestled by the sea
A dream of you and me
I let it go from me
It washed up at my feet
Staring at the sea…

If you wait, if you wait for the morning
-
How long, how long
-
I asked myself for peace
-
I asked myself for peace
And found a piece of me
Staring at the sea…

Single-Grain

Here’s to August’s Messes & Lyricism!
-Quelcy

P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.