Tag Archives: Holiday

The First Brunch in 2013!

January 2013

Happy-Healthy-2013

There’s still so much of 2012 that has yet to sink in! I styled my first wedding, and I made my first wedding cake for very dear friends (pictures still to come)! I played with chocolate for four days which transformed into this catalog. There were brunches with the best of friends, travels for new ideas and inspiration and many a moment shared with my special one. This past year was a good one, but I have a clearer direction and a new zeal for a new year! May the fruits of 2012 and the lessons learned become the raised glasses and toasts of 2013!

First Brunch Beverages

I was so privileged this year to make a big journey right before the holidays (more on that soon!!). The very distanced time away relaxed my mind and invigorated my spirit, a perfect combination for reflection. The goals unfurled from there. Goals or resolutions, whatever you may call them, this year I am all about them! I’m not talking the generic, “lose weight” types of New Year’s resolutions which are abandoned long before February 1st. I’m talking focused, outlined goals, with defined actions, which will push me from all angles- health & wellbeing, relationships, education, creativity and so on.

First Mimosas

In 2013, I will be a more positive and grateful person who draws and paints and wraps her brain around subjunctive verb forms while leafing through Spanish and French dictionaries. I will continue to educate myself. I will have a portfolio. I will tell the people who matter to me why they matter to me! I will tell those who have inspired me how they have inspired me. I will make mistakes along the way, but I will practice discipline to overcome my fears of failure. I will continue on this route I have mapped, and that my friends, is quite an exciting prospect!

Whipped Cream for Coffee

Homemade whipped cream + French Pressed Coffee =

Whipped Cream Plus Coffee

Poor girl’s cappuccino? A fancy girl’s cappuccino!

First Brunch 2013 is Served

Happy-New-Year-2013

Much like the transition I am hoping to see from 2012 to 2013, New Year’s Eve dinner was good, but New Year’s Day Brunch was even better! Our New Year’s Eve menu featured roasted salmon and bacon sliders, with avocado and blue cheese, served with roasted sweet potato fries, steamed artichokes, salad and red wine. The leftover salmon and avocado transformed into a delicious egg scramble the following year. (Donut recipes to come in subsequent posts).

First Brunch Plate

Here’s to a brand new year of beautiful brunches and positive changes! What are your resolutions?

p.s: This is a great collection of creative resolutions.
p.p.s: Here are some more positive words for shaping a brand new year!

Happy New Year’s Eve To Everyone!

December 31, 2012

I’m sure cashiers and retailers will hear this hundreds of times today, “where did 2012 go? It went by sooo fast!” It may seem trite, but yet, here I am repeating the same small talk because it’s sooo true. I still need to acknowledge life’s pace, step back and give 2012 the proper reflection it deserves. I still need to form my thoughts for 2013 into actionable plans. Somewhere between the reflections and resolutions, there is this: a mocktail! “But it’s New Year’s Eve!” you say, “Why a “mocktail?”

Serve Your Mocktails

This is a mocktail post because we who use our hearts and hands to nourish those we love need to remember those who commit to keeping our nearest and dearest safe! These cherished ones deserve more than water or soda. They deserve some attention too! This is a mocktail post because this drink puts my mind and spirit back on an Indian journey (more on that to come). This is a mocktail post because the start of a great cocktail should be a great mocktail! Those staying put or being chauffeured around the town can add whiskey or gin or the spirit of their choice, but here’s wishing a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve to EVERYONE!

Lemon Ginger Soda w/ Basil & Mint

Lemons and Ginger

To reiterate, I am very much of the Grandmother School of Thought when it comes to food & drink preparation, so this “recipe” is all about your taste, your guests’ tastes and approximations. As such, you will need…

Lemons (I used 3 lemons for 4 of us, so go crazy depending on your party list)
*Ginger Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
Seltzer Water
Fresh Basil
Fresh mint
Salt

Ginger and Sucre

*Ginger Simple Syrup

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
1 thick piece of gnarly, fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

Directions

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add ginger; bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat, and let steep 30 minutes.

Pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Ginger Syrup

Resolve to be more resourceful! Instead of just discarding the ginger, as many recipes would suggest, I challenge you to find new ways of using it. My mom is planning to use the ginger remains in her morning smoothie. You could also use its final flavors in a stir fry or add a little spike of flavor to your morning espresso. Leave me a note if you have more ideas!

Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Add Fresh Lemon Juice

Salted Rims and Garnishes

A recent trip in a warm land taught me how refreshing a little bit of salt and citrus can be. I suggest dipping your cocktail glasses in lemon juice and then in salt. You could do the same with extra raw sugar for a sweeter version.

Get Sloshy

To Each His or Her Own Ratios…

Some like it tart, some like it sweet, some just won’t like it. Such is life, but the basic guideline for this is…

1 part fresh, pulpy lemon juice + 1 part seltzer water + ginger syrup to taste + Basil & Mint galore!

If you have all your mixolgoy tools with you (I did not, as I was concocting in my mom’s kitchen), I’d suggest muddling extra basil and mint in each glass for more flavor.

Final Mocktails

Happy New Year’s Eve!

ps: If you live in the Pittsburgh area, the face from the bilboards has lots of info on cabs, designated drivers and smart party hosting, including some coupons and freebies, so venture to the Edgar Snyder Facebook page for more details.

Merry Christmas To All and To All Chocolate Cake!

December 2012

Wouldn’t it be convenient if all family disconnects and misunderstandings could be resolved in the time it takes a television family to reach the moral of the episode? Factoring in commercial breaks, the route from the heartbreaking to the heartwarming moments would be a mere twenty minutes. But life is not a conveniently timed sitcom, and despite emulating her dance moves, I am no Stephanie Tanner.

Cake and Fixings

The longer route very well may be the difficult route and the route dampened by tears, but it may also be the route that leads to growth and change. Sometimes the bitter tears of sadness give way to the sweeter tears of happiness. If that transformation lasted only twenty minutes, would we cherish the change in the same way? Would long awaited words have the same treasured ring?

Snowy Whipped Cream

The holidays can be difficult. We do not choose our families, but we can choose to fight with them or fight for them. This holiday was bittersweet for me. I shed many tears of sorrow before feeling inklings of hope and seeing glimmers of change in all of us. While the sadness swirled inside me, I swirled chocolate into a rich liquid. I separated eggs and watched with wonder as the clear, viscous egg whites began to form snowy mountain peaks. I listened for the popping of cranberries. I whipped cream until it too formed beautiful snowy trails around the chilled mixer blades. While all my emotions stirred, I stirred a batter to share with the ones I sought to love in a more meaningful way.

Christmas Cake Slices

Much like taking the long routes for growth and change, taking the long route in baking delivers a more treasured reward. There isn’t a fast track to opening someone’s guarded heart, nor is there a fast track to a dessert prepared by heart and hand. Should you be crying with sadness or crying for joy, I hope the layers of this dessert, each lovingly prepared, will remind you of this- the journey may be long, but the dedication will make the culminating bite all the richer, all the sweeter and all the more satisfying! Merry Christmas to all and to all chocolate cake!

Christmas Night

Flourless Chocolate Sunken Souffle Cake
With Cranberry-Orange Compote & Whipped Cream & Toasted Coconut

Ingredients

8 Tablespoons coconut oil
12 oz dark chocolate (68 – 72%), chopped
1 1/4 cup raw sugar
6 large local/free-range eggs, separated
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease one 9-inch round springform pan with coconut oil.

Combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted.

Remove from heat and set aside to let cool briefly.

Whisk together the egg yolks.

Once the chocolate mixture is about room temperature or just barely warm, gradually pour the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, whisking continuously.

Stir in 3/4 cup sugar, the orange zest, ground cinnamon and salt.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to whip just until stiff peaks form. Do not overmix or lose your sense of wonder when watching the peaks form.

Stir a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then, fold in the remainder of the egg whites just until there are no more visible streaks. Be careful not to overmix.

Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top of the cake is dry, but do not let the cake crack. Remove the cake from the oven. The middle should still be a bit underbaked, but the cake will continue to set as it cools.

Place the cake on a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before unmolding.

Cranberry-Orange Compote

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon orange zest
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 cup local wildflower honey
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Combine zest, cranberries, honey, juice, and vanilla in a medium saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce has thickened, 5–10 minutes.

Serve the sauce warm over the cake.

Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla
Swirls of honey and maple syrup to taste

Directions

User a mixer to beat the cream. As it starts to thicken, add the vanilla, honey and maple syrup. Continue to mix until soft peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Putting It All Together
Last but not least… toast up some shredded coconut. Slice a piece of the cake, top with a spoonful of the warm cranberry-orange compote and a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted coconut! Serve with a glass of this egg nog and a cinnamon stick stirrer for a flavorful measure!

Kindle the Fire & Sip Some ‘Nog! Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2012

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. -Washington Irving

Merry Xmas Egg nog

…and a season for sharing eggnog with your nearest and dearest in front of an Amish fireplace. Since you’re sharing the ‘nog with your nearest and dearest, why not make it yourself? This version is lightened by the use of 2% milk, which spurred the following post-sip review, “I don’t typically like egg nog, but this is really good! It doesn’t taste like you’re drinking pancake batter!” As they taught us on Reading Rainbow, you don’t have to take my word for it…

Homemade Eggnog
yield: 6-7 cups

4 free-range/local eggs, separated
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 pint organic 2% milk
1 cup organic heavy cream
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
*Christmas spirits

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color.

Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved.

Add the milk and cream and stir to combine.

Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture.

Chill and serve.

*If you’re serving to adults, then I suggest taking this route to add the Christmas spirit to your festivities.

Happy Holidays from With The Grains!

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

Happy Mother’s Day: An Ode To The Mothers in My Life!

May 2012

When I try to gauge, just for the sake of gauging, whether or not I could take that giant leap toward motherhood, I ask myself, “would I give up that last bit of bright cherry pie or mint chocolate chip ice cream or mashed potatoes with a pool of rich gravy?”  I ask that question because of a childhood moment, when my mom gave me the last of her mashed potatoes (which I probably drowned in gravy).  From the naive perspective of little me, that sacrifice was HUGE!

I couldn’t imagine giving up my last mashed potatoes.  No way!  Years later, I know this was merely a snowflake on the iceberg of sacrifices my mother made for me.  The question of “would I give up my mashed potatoes?” may seem too simple.  However, it’s really a question of “would I devote myself to motherhood the way my mom did?”  Of all the roles I may one day have, the role of mother is the one I will take the most seriously, and it’s because I am so fortunate to have a mother who gave herself 100% to her children!

There are so many questions I have for Regina the woman.  There are so many aspects and stories from her life I do not know, but as her daughter, I know her well.  Regina the mother is the most patient listening ear.  She is the most generous and thoughtful person. She makes everyone feel special on their birthdays.  She trusted and supported me to make decisions for myself, only wanting what was best for me, never wanting to control me.

For that freedom, I am immensely grateful… ever more grateful by the day when I hear friends tell of the ways their mothers imposed their choices.  My mother is creative and humble. Her strength has been tested, but I have never seen her cower.  Her petite frame cannot hide her fortitude.  As her daughter, there are not enough words in the world or languages in which to say them, but I humbly offer my graciousness on this day devoted to mothers like her!  Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  

I once looked into the old eyes of a devoted sheepdog, and the love inside me welled beyond belief.  I wanted to make the world a better place for that dog.  At that moment, I tried to imagine the insurmountable feeling of love from mother to child, and it brought tears to my eyes.  It may be the passage of time or the effects of biology, but that love amazes, inspires and humbles me more and more!  I am one of the lucky ones.  My mother changed the world by investing in my family.  I am convinced we all need to honor and reinstate the importance of that role if we are to make major positive changes.

Recently, I found inspiration in Drew Dudley’s TEDx Toronto talk on Everyday Leadership (it’s a short video, give it a watch!).  Dudley offers, “we celebrate birthdays where are all have to do is not die for 365 days, and yet we let people who have made our lives better walk around without knowing it.”  In that vein, there are other mothers who have made a difference in my life, and they deserve to know it too!         

To my own sisters, I applaud you!

This past Christmas, Tosha creatively foiled her children with joke presents- boxes filled with heavy, noisy items to keep them guessing.  The kids grumbled a bit as we all laughed, but that creativity was really special.  I know years from now, her kids will gather around a Christmas tree and recall the time they opened boxes of erasers or toys they already owned.  That same Christmas, my niece gave my sister coupons for hugs.  While hugging my sister, my niece said, “I made a lot of the coupons, but I don’t really care if you use them.  I’ll hug you for free!”  My heart welled with love and pride for my sister, and I blinked away the tears.  Tosha, your devotion to your children is palpable, and I deeply respect you for it!

To Tonya, I am filled with awe and respect.  I have admired your perseverance in a male dominated field and your examples of female independence. I have also watched with awe as you devoted your life to your daughter.  The results may speak for themselves, but it bears saying anyway.  You’ve raised a smart, thoughtful, polite daughter who has the entire world ahead of her!

To my oldest sister, you showed me so much of the world when I was little.  You fostered my grammar obsessions with your speech lessons.  You introduced me to the theater and art museums and secret gardens.  My childhood was a richer place because of our magical adventures, and I am grateful for it!

To the “village,” you indeed helped raise me!  I am grateful to those neighbors who treated me like one of their own, even caring for me when I was sick.

To the mommas-to-be who faithfully attend Bikram Yoga classes as their bodies change in miraculous ways, you are truly inspiring!  How can I doubt my own physical potential when you exemplify such fierce focus?!?

To my dear friend Rumbi, I have felt mothered by your wisdom on many occasions.  You are an old soul housed in a beautiful, youthful glow.  Your strength is unfathomable, and there no words to fully describe the unfettered dedication to your twin boys (can we all just pause to imagine the energy required for twin boys?!?!).  You inspire me!

To the mother of my special one, thank you!  A smart, thoughtful, sensitive, optimistic man set on saving the world?!?  Those men are few and far between, and I owe you many a thanks for bringing such a man into the world!  Beyond raising such a gent, you welcomed me so sincerely into your home, and for that, I am truly grateful.

To My Mother and the Mothers in My Life,

I wish I could gather us all at a beautiful, rustic, wooden table, topped with dainty delicacies and gingery muffins.  We would toast teacups to your sacrifice, devotion and love!  For now, please accept my most humble gratitude for the lifelong role you all have exemplified.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Most Sincerely,

Quelcy Trenae Kogel

Ginger, Pear, White Chocolate Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients

2 cups finely ground chestnut flour
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

4 eggs (local/free-range)
1/2 cup organic unsalted butter, browned
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon organic almond extract
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3 organic pears (2 overripe, 1 ripe), cut into chunks

1 cup chopped organic white chocolate
1 cup slivered almonds
Candied Ginger
Cinnamon

Directions

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

Whip the eggs in a mixing bowl and then add the remaining wet ingredients.

Combine wet and dry mixes until well incorporated (the batter will be really thick).

Stir in the overripe pears (the batter will thin as the pears mush with stirring).

Gently mix in the firmer pear chunks, the white chocolate and 1/2 cup of the slivered almonds.

Pour the batter into lined muffin tins.

Place a slice of candied ginger on top of each muffin. Sprinkle each top with the remaining almonds and a dash of cinnamon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 F (or until golden brown).

Cool on a wire rack before removing from the muffin tin.

Serve warm with drizzles of honey, and share with the important women and mothers in your life!

Easter Dinner (Part II)

April 2012

The air was crisp, but the sky was brilliant blue!  It was the perfect Sunday afternoon for an Easter meal.

Two handsome gents arrived, and they had put a lot of effort into meticulous matching, right down to their identical socks (yes, you read it correctly- identical socks!).

Fortunately, I had set an Easter table worthy of such fastidiously fashionable fellas.

It was time to eat, but joining my table usually includes a rite of passage.  I’ll give you a hint- it rhymes with “if tile”… (please pardon my laser beam death stare!  Where did that come from?!?!)

The Easter Menu Breakdown…

Easter Ham Glaze

~2 1/2 cups Turkish apricots (all natural)
~ 1/2 cup Rum (Kraken)
1/2 cup organic orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup Bonne Maman peach preserves

Directions

Slice the dried apricots into fourths and soak in rum overnight.

Heat the apricots and rum in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling.

Reduce to a simmer and add orange juice concentrate, maple and peach preserves. Stir until well combined.

Add to black forest ham slices and bake in oven to warm the ham.

Pommes Anna
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Review

Pommes Anna

Ingredients

3lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16 to ⅛ inch thick
5 Tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
⅓ cup peanut oil
Salt and pepper
Grated pecorino romano cheese
Fresh thyme

Directions

Toss the potato slices with melted butter in a large bowl until the potatoes are evenly coated.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Pour the oil into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Swirl to coat the skillet bottom, and set the skillet over medium-low heat.

Begin timing, and arrange the potato slices in skillet, starting in the center to form the first layer.

Sprinkle evenly with approximately ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the second layer of potatoes, working in the opposite direction of the first layer; sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper as in previous step.

Repeat layering potatoes and sprinkling with salt and pepper, until no slices remain.

Continue to cook over medium-low heat until 30 minutes elapse from the time you began arranging the potatoes in the skillet.

Use a 9-inch cake pan or a metal spatula to press down the potatoes firmly to compact them.

Cover the skillet, and place it in the oven.

Bake until the potatoes begin to soften, about 15 minutes.

Uncover the skillet, and continue to bake until the potatoes are tender when a paring knife is inserted in the center, and the potatoes near the edge of the skillet are browned, about 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, line a rimless cookie sheet or the back of a baking sheet with foil and coat it very lightly with oil.

Drain off the excess fat from the potatoes by pressing the potatoes into the skillet with the bottom of the cake pan or metal spatula while tilting the skillet to pour off the fat.

Set the foil-lined cookie sheet on top of the skillet. With hands protected by oven mitts or potholders, hold the cookie sheet in place with one hand and carefully invert the skillet and cookie sheet together.

Remove the skillet carefully.

Carefully slide the potatoes onto a platter.

Cut into wedges and serve with pecorino romano cheese and a thyme garnish.

Roasted Champagne Mangoes

Ingredients

1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
3 tablespoons organic agave syrup
4 champagne mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into long slices

Garnish

1/4 cup crème fraîche or yogurt
1/3 cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°.

Stir first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.

Add mango chunks; toss to coat. Let marinate, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Place mango in a cast iron skillet; reserve marinade.

Roast mangoes for 15 minutes. Turn, brush with marinade, and roast until tender and caramelized, 10–15 minutes. Drizzle remaining marinade over; let cool slightly.

Eat plain or garnish with greek yogurt and pistachios.

Sauteed Asparagus with Sesame Lime Dressing

Ingredients

juice from 1 honey tangerine
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1/4c low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1Tbs. black sesame seeds

You remember that cake!  I already talked about that lovely little layer cake.

The Cake Comes First (Easter, Part I)

April 2012

Around these parts, dessert is a priority, so when it comes to planning a meal, the finale very often comes first! Thus Easter scheming began with this friendly carrot face and a bright orange cakeventure!

I have a love affair with the color orange (as does Pantone this year!), especially when orange comes undiluted from nature.  Easter was the perfect occasion to use my juicing powers for good [cake coloring]!

Easter inspired the carrots.  My chocolate cravings inspired the chocolate.  The beautifully rendered video for Snap inspired the blackstrap molasses, and lastly, the special occasion inspired the layers! There you have it…

Chocolate Gingerbread Carrot Cake!

Chocolate Gingerbread Carrot Cake
w/ Snappy Frosting 

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamum
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup turbinado sugar
5 large eggs (local/free-range)

3/4 cup organic frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
3/4 cup organic sour cream
1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups carrot pulp from juicing (or shredded carrot)

1/2 cup all natural, unsweetened raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Filling

Chopped walnuts, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and line a 13x9x2-inch glass baking pan.

Combine cup whole-wheat pastry flour, almond meal, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, ground cardamum, ground cloves, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.

Use an electric mixer to beat the turbinado sugar and eggs until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Add the orange juice concentrate, honey, molasses, sour cream and olive oil in large bowl until smooth.

Beat in dry ingredients.

Stir in carrots, raisins, walnuts and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Cool cake completely in pan.

Snappy Frosting

1 8-ounce package Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (2 stick) organic unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
4 Tablespoons AITA Snap
1/4 cup fresh carrot juice
1/4 cup organic powdered sugar

For the Frosting

Use an electric mixer to whip the Neufchatel cheese and butter until creamy. Add the vanilla, honey, Snap, carrot juice and powdered sugar. Continue to beat until all blended and creamy.  *If you want to have a similar two toned cake, reserve some frosting before adding the carrot juice.

Top with a natural sour gummy from your local Whole Foods or natural grocer.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Easter fête!

Post Patty’s Brunch (Frittata & French Toast)

March 2012

While Pittsburgh beer enthusiasts and/or the local “Irish” were clumping into green colored herds to commence daytime drinking and revelry, I was clad in red and very soberly intent on avoiding them. Am I against the holiday?  No, I just have a hard time relating to festivities that revolve solely around intoxication.  Thus I came to celebrate in my own way, which meant a green inspired Post Patty’s Day brunch.  Though there was plenty of Jameson, our holiday acknowledgement notably lacked the debauchery of the previous night’s full fledged festivities.

On the menu for the celebration…

Irish Coffee Baked French Toast
Cheddar & Greens Frittata
Cake in the case of the Birthday Girl
Kiwi & Lime Bellinis (Kiliminis?)

Irish Coffee French Toast

Ingredients

multi-grain baguette
organic challah rolls (4)
1/2 cup organic sour cream
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup Bourbon Berries
2 cups organic buttermilk
1 cup Organic Valley hazelnut half & half
1 cup brewed and cooled (such as One Village Coffee)
2 eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Jameson whiskey
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground cinnamon
ground nutmeg
ground ginger

Directions

Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish.

Use slices of the challah rolls to create a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Use pieces of the multigrain baguette to fill in any spaces.

In a pourable, glass measuring bowl, combine the sour cream, ricotta cheese and maple syrup.

Pour the mixture over the bread layer.

Spread the bourbon berries over the cheese layer and follow with another layer of challah and more multigrain bread chunks as needed.

In a mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, half & half, coffee, eggs, vanilla, Jameson, brown sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure to saturate the top layer.

Sprinkle with the spices. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Serve with Irish Whipped Cream and pure maple syrup.

Irish Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
4-5 Tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream, to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.

My First Frittata Ever…

Cheddar & Greens Frittata

Ingredients

7 large eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons organic heavy cream

Olive oil
1 medium sized red onion, chopped
1 organic parsnip, sliced
4-5 brussels sprouts, sliced
1 small organic leek, sliced
Freshly ground smoked black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Yakima Applewood Smoked Sea Salt
organic spinach (eye it)
1/2 cup Irish Cheddar, grated
Danish blue cheese, crumbled

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a pourable measuring bowl, mix the eggs and heavy cream. Set aside.

Pour a few Tablespoons of olive oil into a 10-inch skillet, over medium-high heat. As the oil starts to shimmer, add the chopped onion.

Once the onion has softened (about 2-3 minutes), add the sliced parsnip and brussels sprouts. Stir frequently.

Once the brussels sprouts have begun to brown slightly, add the sliced leek, and continue to stir.

Add the salt and pepper, and continue to stir. Once the vegetables are stir fried (still slightly crisp), remove the skillet from heat.

Stir in spinach leaves to your liking. The remaining heat will be sufficient to wilt the greens slightly. Add the cheese, and stir to combine.

Pour the egg and cream mixture over the vegetables in the skillet.

Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.

Slice and serve directly from the skillet, warm or at room temperature.

It didn’t dawn on me fully until this Post Patty’s Sunday, but there is a place where I can find inspiration, creativity, humor, craziness, encouragement, passion, advice, knowledge, exploration, activism, insight and so much more!  It’s the brunching table!

Over glasses of green juices and plates of food, Dana commended Nina for her actualization of the venue Dana had once wanted to create.  Assemble is a place where one can engage his or her intrigue through hands on activities about art and technology, through film screenings, happenings, workshops, lectures, and community activities.

Meanwhile, Dana was inspiring both of us with the story of channeling her own powerful cancer survival story into fighting for environmental initiatives and anti-fracking campaigns.  These environmental discussions circled back to a need for more educational programs a la Nina’s involvement with this amazing program to promote girls in math and science.

Those accomplishments certainly merited another toast!

Dana’s response to my request for something green to drink:
Fresh Pressed Kiwi Juice + Lime Juice + Simple syrup (from pure cane sugar) + Prosseco

Nina’s garnish addition:
Green grapes + Fresh Mint

Go team!

Another Nina brunch plate interpretation.  It looks like an army tank?!?  Knowing Nina’s artistic inclinations, it’s probably something on the phallic side of the sculptural world.

Turn a good cup of coffee into an even better cup of coffee with a dollop of the Irish Whipped Cream (recipe above).  Even the coffee cup will be smiling when the coffee is gone.

Nina zipped away in her greenest display of the day- her new mini!  I’m still waiting for my inaugural ride!

As I took a moment to take in the remains of the table, the true power and potential of these friends of mine hit me in the most marvelous way, and I felt truly honored to have brought them together!

Never underestimate the power of brunch!

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Valentine’s Day Observed: The Finale

February 2012

From the dinner, we settled onto the couch, to put my birthday present projector to use. You see, part of the present was a video, to him, from me!  (Did you catch that wee little rhyme?)

ps:  I really like almond croissants!

p.p.s:  That J.R.M is pretty special! On the grossest, grayest, NJ-spitting-upon-us day, he helped make my mecca come true even though this is how he feels about New Jersey. Why?  He knew how much that giant, lovable elephant meant to me!

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Valentine’s Day Observed: The Dinner With My Valentine!

February 2012

It was time to put all the Valentine’s Day plans onto one table, for one meal, with one special Valentine!

I washed off the beet stains [as best I could], dusted off the flour, crafted some skewers, set the table in a brand new way and somehow managed to shower and put on a dress before the designated dinner time. Our Valentine’s Day Observed was about to begin!

The Menu

Heart Beet Ravioli
Charcuterie Plate
Heirloom Wheat Bread 
Heart Beets Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut & Cherry Cakewich

Lots of wine!

Beets Are Red & Cheese Are Blue:  A Charcuterie Plate 

Danish Blue Cheese Hearts
Roasted Beet [Heart]
Speck & Honey Maple Ham
Fig Hearts
Cranberry Orange Chèvre
Raspberries

*The fig, blue cheese and raspberry combined best with a drizzle of honey on a slice of the heirloom wheat bread.

Heart Beets Salad

Roasted Red Beets
Endive
Radicchio
Blood Orange Segments
Honey Toasted Pecans
Raspberries
Fresh Mint
(play it be ear…or by heart… or by bad puns?)

Dressing
Olive Oil
Dijon Mustard
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Maple Syrup
(mix to taste)

Remember I said “Lots of Wine?”  I wasn’t kidding!  We first gave a proper toast and a “sip”…

Then we gave proper attention to the food on the table.  We both really appreciate good food, and that shared interest means a lot to me!

Then we just acted weird because we do that a lot… (I guess the photo only makes me look a little weird, but don’t let him fool ya…look at that stare)!

The libations theme for the night was wine, but the theme for Valentine’s Day gift giving was Let’s Learn To Mix More!  I couldn’t resist throwing in a little Black Velvet and that cool southern style (via Canada), plus an infographic to teach us much, much, more mixology  I’m looking forward to a wee baby cocktail in one of those little chocolate cups.

There’s just one more element to this Valentine’s Day Observed series- a very special finale.

Stay tuned (and please excuse my handwriting… I had a lot going on)!

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Valentine’s Day Observed: We Finish Each Other’s…

February 2012

My Valentine speaks a special second language.  Instead of words, this language is made of phrases, sentences and dialogues from Arrested Development.  One of the more frequently applicable dialogues is the following between Michael and Lindsey (from the episode Family Ties):

Michael: [about Nellie] It’s like we finish each other’s…
Lindsay Bluth Fünke: Sandwiches?
Michael: Sentences. Why would I say…
Lindsay Bluth Fünke: Sandwiches?

When I saw this sandwich shaped cake mould, I knew it would come in handy!  My brand new Cakewich made its debut as part of the Valentine’s Day Observed dinner.

To the one who finishes my… sandwiches…. Happy Valentine’s Day!  

There might be some stickage, but not to fret!  You need to cut off the surface anyway to create the sliced bread look.  The use of almond flour and whole-wheat pastry flour meant my Cakewich looked more like slices of whole-wheat bread, which is fine by me, since I am… With the Grains!

Sandwich filling…

Almond Cakewich

Cake Ingredients

1 cup almond flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup organic, unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons organic almond extract
7 egg whites (local/free-range)
¾ cup organic whole milk

Filling Ingredients

Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F.

Grease and flour the inner bottom surface of the Cakewich pan.

Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk well.

Whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat vigorously.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add one-quarter of the flour, then one-third of the flour, then one-third of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined, scraping down the bowl with a spatula and then repeating.

Scrape down the bowl well with a spatula. Pour the batter into the Cakewich pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for one hour, then unmold it to finish cooling right side up.

To Assemble The Cakewich

Use a bread knife to slice off the top and create an even surface. Then slice through the center. Carefully remove the top half of the cake. Spread an even layer of hazelnut spread on the cake, followed by the preserves. Top with the other half of cake.

OR

Just watch the GIF version!
(click on the assembly photo below to see the action version)

serve with…

Hazelnut Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons organic chocolate hazelnut spread
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon honey

For the Whipped Cream

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

♥,

With The Grains

ps:  Next time, I’d use the whipped cream version of the chocolate hazelnut spread as a sandwich filling.  On its own, the spread was delicious but just a tad heavy in combination with an almond based cake.

Valentine’s Day Observed: Heart Beet Ravioli

February 2012

Heart Beet Ravioli
Ricotta & Chèvre Filling w/ Lemon, Basil & Mint
(part of my Valentine’s Day Observed Menu)

A few things to know about me:

♥  I used to watch in awe as my mom would make pasta.  I can still see the sun shining through the kitchen window, onto those egg noodles, and I remember thinking how she was really making the soup, down to the very noodles most people would simply buy and boil!

♥  I had never made pasta myself.

♥  I did have a goal to make pasta myself.

♥ I have an affinity for beets, and I also got me a fella who shares my affinity.  Thankfully!

♥  I saw this recipe for beet pasta, and I thought, I could do that, and I bet I could even one up that Martha!

♥  (I’m actually not that into hearts, but I am super into themes!)

♥  I MADE PASTA!!!  Turns out, it was not as intimidating as I had perceived.  Granted, this was just me dipping my toe in the proverbial pool of pasta.  I acknowledge other varieties probably entail their own challenges, but I have been inspired nonetheless!

♥  I may relish the spotlight, but I dare say I don’t usually toot my own horn too much in the kitchen.  I was nervous until the very first bite of beet ravioli, but I am going to say this: Take this (↓) Martha…!!! (I’m also pretty competitive…all in good fun?)

Valentine’s Day Observed: Hear Beet Ravioli

♥ Ingredients

1 medium sized red beet, without greens
1 large egg (local/free-range)
1 large egg yolk (local/free-range)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon Yakima Applewood smoked sea salt
Flour for dusting

3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces), drained 30 minutes
3/4 cup fresh goat cheese (about 5 ounces), room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus a few leaves for serving
Coarse salt
freshly ground smoked pepper

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coarse salt

1 stick organic, unsalted butter
grated pecorino cheese, for serving

♥ Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wrap beets tightly in a piece of foil, and place on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool. Use a peeler to remove skins.

Meanwhile make the filling: Stir together cheeses, lemon juice, ginger and herbs; season with salt and pepper. Keep chilled. Allow to come to room temperature before stuffing ravioli.

Puree peeled beets in a food processor.

Add eggs and yolk to puree in food processor, and process until combined.

Pour the beet puree into a large bowl. Add the flour and salt. Use a spatula to combine until dough comes together, about 20 seconds.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is sticky. Use a rolling pin to form a sheet, about 1/8in thick.

Cut pasta dough into desired shape, using more flour as needed.

Spoon a dollop of filling onto one dough heart. Cover with another heart and pinch edges. Use water to seal the seam and pinch once more.

Transfer ravioli to an airtight container lined with parchment paper. Use additional parchment paper in between layers if the container is smaller.

To store, lightly dust ravioli with flour, and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Alternatively, freeze ravioli in a single layer on a baking sheet, about 15 minutes, and then pack as described above; freeze for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add olive oil, salt and the ravioli. Cook, stirring occasionally to separate, until edges are just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain.

While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add extra mint and basil.

Combine the pasta and browned butter and herbs in a bowl.

♥ Serve with grated pecorino cheese to someone special! ♥

Stay tuned to the rest of this Valentine’s Day Observed series for the final ravioli picture.

♥,

With The Grains

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Valentine’s Day Observed: The Menu

February 2012

I obsess over detail when it comes to making a special holiday dinner for a significant someone. Whereas some see February 14th as a commercial holiday, I see it as an extra opportunity for thematic, sentimental expression coated in tones of my favorite hue.  I also see it as a flexible date when it falls on a weekday, hence… Valentine’s Day Observed.

The Menu

Heart Beet Ravioli
Charcuterie Plate
Heirloom Wheat Bread 
Heart Beets Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut & Cherry Cakewich

Lots of wine!

The menu breakdown and recipes will ensue.  Stay tuned.

World Nutella Day Commemorative Brunch

February 5, 2012

Someday I’ll have a calendar marked with all the quirky, commemorative food “holidays” (does that calendar already exist somewhere?).  Last year, I discovered I had just missed World Nutella Day, but I did what any modern girl on a mission might do:  I marked my Google calendar and let technology take care of the rest for me!  Last year, I also discovered what I had always thought was the result of a flash of French brilliance was actually an Italian invention.

Fast forward to 2012, and my calendar reminded me I had a celebration in store!  When Italy is due kudos, it’s my time to queue Nina, the best gift Italy ever gave me (albeit it via America, but she does have the passaporto)!

I am not one to argue against the flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnut, but I do have a few objections to some other items on the Nutella ingredient list.  Thus, I made my own version…my own “rustic” version (my food processor is a bit on the tired side) and then put it in between layers of panettone bread for a really rich flavor and an additional nod to Italy.

Look what happens when we pretend!!!
(click on the image ↓ below ↓ to see us in action!)

We channeled the best of Italy- the curvaceous women of Fellini films, donned our sunglasses for a spell and proceeded to pretend we were sitting at an Italian cafe.

Little trays with a view certainly help the Sunday morning game of pretend…

Brunch beverages…

One Village Coffee (with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, perhaps?) and a cinnamon swizzle stick for a touch of fancy and spice!

Blood Orange Bellini and a toast… to our inner Sophias!

World Nutella Day Baked French Toast

I had some egg nog approaching its final days.  Being the daughter of invention, I used that egg nog for a really decadent milk source in the custard sauce.  Waste not, eat creatively!  Feel free to use regular milk instead.

World Nutella Day Recipe:  Baked French Toast

Ingredients

Organic, unsalted butter
1 loaf Panetonne bread in 1-inch slices,
1 cup homemade nutella
pure maple syrup
Goat cheese (Soignon), sliced
Mixture of cinnamon, raw sugar and cocoa
3 cups organic egg nog
2 eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Frangelico
1 Tablespoon AITA Root
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Generously grease a 9×9-inch baking dish with butter.

Arrange bread in a tightly-packed layer in the pan.

Smooth a layer of homemade nutella over the bread, followed by maple syrup and the slices of goat cheese.

Use the remaining slices of bread to complete the top layer. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon, raw sugar and cocoa.

Whisk egg nog, eggs, vanilla extract, Frangelico, Root, brown sugar and salt. Pour over the bread. You probably will have extra liquid, but make sure the mixture seeps into the top layer of bread.

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Cut into squares and serve with maple syrup and homemade whipped cream.

Homemade Whipped Topping

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons Kraken Rum

Directions

Step One:  Release the Kraken!

Step Two:  Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl.

Step Three:  Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Step Four:  Heap onto French toast and maybe even add a dollop into your cup of coffee!

Felice festa di Nutella!

[Mi dispiace io non parlo italiano.]

Finale.

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The Importance of Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters

Happy [Belated] Valentine’s Day!
February 2012 

I cry during sentimental movies despite my best efforts (I still try to hide my teary face, though).  Speeches in which lecturers sincerely thank their moms or wives or anyone really…make me weepy (I’ve been binging on some TED Talks these days).

I’m a sap.  It’s true.

When my grandparents danced a polka at their 60th Wedding Anniversary, I could barely hold a camera steady because I was so emotional.

I’m a romantic.  It’s true.

I even nearly teared up when clicking on the Google doodle on Valentine’s Day and watching this animation…!!!

I really love Valentine’s Day.  It’s true!

The holiday may stem from commercial motives, but combined with a dash of creativity or honest intention, it can be a really sincere, sentimental time and a way to tell someone you care, whether it be a friend or a SigFig (I’m also a dork, it’s true) how you feel.  Since I like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a zeal bordering on obsessiveness, I postponed the full fledged celebration for the weekend, but even a Tuesday Valentine’s Day deserves a little sweet flavor and festivity.

Mint Chocolate Cake Hearts + Talenti Roman Raspberry Sorbetto = ♥

Cake Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 large egg yolks (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic mint extract
½ cup organic sour cream
12 ounces organic semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) organic, unsalted butter plus extra for the pan
¾ cup olive oil
¾ cup water
½ cup all natural cocoa powder

For the Cake

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9x13in rimmed baking stone or sheet with parchment.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla, mint extract and sour cream until smooth.

Heat the chocolate, butter, oil, water and cocoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.

Whisk the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated.

Whisk the egg mixture into the batter.

Pour into the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 40-50 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut into hearts.

For the Hearts

Talenti Roman Raspberry Sorbetto

Scoop some sorbetto onto a plate.  Flatten and smooth into a rectangle.

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to punch out a heart.

Keep in freezer until ready to serve.

Happy [Belated] Valentine’s Day to all of you and especially, to my special weirdo too (I’m a wee bit of a poet too; it’s true).

It’s All Fun & Games Until Frosty Gets Run Over by a Honda

December 2011

In between the memory lane emanating from my parent’s house during the holidays and the perfect New Year’s hiatus, there was a brief adventure spell in Quelcadelphia!  It began with a sad, squashed discovery in the City of Brotherly [not snowmanly] Love.  I swear I had nothing to do with the death of these snow people.

Me = Innocent Bystander with Camera

Rest in Sweet Pieces, little snow folks!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part Four)

January 2012!

As I said, the idea first hatched when colored leaves were falling, and I added a splash of Rhuby to a cinnamon roll recipe- what if an entire weekend of meals were dedicated to the Art in the Age herbal elixirs?

What if that weekend took place in a setting removed from everyday routines, frenzies and fits?  What if that weekend ushered in a brand new year?  A special someone and I schemed “Art in the Age of a New Age:  Ushering in 2012.”  With a rustic crate of alcohols and bags of groceries, we escaped to a memory filled cabin.  I dare say, it was pretty close to perfect!  There were gingerbread waffles, Rhuby roasted salmon, roasted Root veggies and an adult Root Beer cake and some cocktails in between!

On Sunday morning, the first Sunday morning of 2012, the sun was shining and the waffle maker was calling.  Waffles were the bookends- the last brunch of 2011 and the first brunch of 2012.

As a baker who somehow does not own a waffle maker, I was eager to put the cabin’s apparatus to use, albeit two days in a row.  Day two’s waffles had a brand new twist:  root vegetables that hadn’t made it to the roasted Root medley of the NYE dinner.

The First Brunch of 2012

Last night’s root vegetables become…

The Next Morning’s Gingerbread & Roots Waffles

Waffle Ingredients

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
*Small Sweet Potato, peeled and sliced
*Small Beet, peeled and sliced
(*enough to make about 1 cup combined when mashed)
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon Snap
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron

Apple Topping Ingredients

2-3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
1 pink lady apple, chopped
A handful of dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons organic apricot fruit spread
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Snap

Whipped Topping Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons Snap

For the Waffles

Preheat waffle iron.

Boil the sweet potato and beet until soft.  Remove from heat.  Drain liquid.  Use a fork to mash the potato and beet together.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy.

Then beat in mashed sweet potato and beet mixture, fresh ginger, buttermilk, molasses, Snap and melted butter.

Stir the wet into dry until just moist.  Do not over stir the waffle batter.

Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook waffles.

For the Apple Cranberry Topping

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add the apples and cranberries, stirring frequently.

As the apples and cranberries soften, add the apricot fruit spread and spices.  Continue to stir.

Right before removing from heat, add the Snap.  Stir to combine.  Remove from heat and serve with waffles fresh off the waffle maker.

For the Whipped Topping

Place a medium-sized bowl in the freezer until chilled.

Combine all of the ingredients in the chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Delicious to the last maple laden crumb!

What’s really going on here…

A Brunch Breakdown

A:  Someone decided to have a little Absinthe cocktail with brunch.  Fortune favors the bold!  Not sure if wormwood does though.  B:  Maps for the days adventuring!  It’s amazing there are maps for some of the “roads” in those parts.  C:  A brand new sketchbook for a brand new year and adventures together.  Part of the cabin companion’s Christmas present handcrafted by yours truly.  D:  Our Art in the Age provisions.  E:  I once made the mistake of thinking I had seen enough of Star Wars to characterize myself as someone who had “seen” the film.  I was wrong.  I’m trying to make up for my great offense through Christmas offerings that shoot out gross candy.  F.  Waffles!  Waffles!  Waffles!  The thrill of having a waffle maker!  G:  Champagne.  Of course!  H:  Only the real maple sweetness for my brunches.  Isn’t it lovely how the label matched the table?!?  I:  That would be the baked applewood smoked bacon in that blue glass dish.  J:  Unprepared for absinthe in the a.m., I chose a brunch staple:  the classic mimosa.  K:  Snap whipped cream.  Lessons from the first batch led to an extra splash of Snap in batch number two.  L:  (as in Lovely view) That window showcases a lovely view of the creek’s flowing waters.  Across the creek is a house I first viewed in its gingerbread iteration (part of why I was craving gingerbread so badly).

M:  (as in Mug) Adding a dollop of Snap Whipped Cream to a mug of good quality coffee is like sipping a divine latte without the expense of an in home espresso machine.  Try it!

N:  (As in fiN!)  It was time to clean up the cleaned plate club dishes and do some more cabin lounging and outdoor exploring…

(Disclaimer: for moderate consumption at a summit, not for drinking while driving)

That’s the road that leads far, far away from reality.  It’s a really wonderful road!

Cheers to brunching in 2012!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part Three)

The Last Bits of 2011 & The First Bits of 2012

The Cakewalk.

“Hey Quelcy, I have an idea of something we could do!  Let’s go check out this bridge.”

[comforting]

“C’mon Quelcy, it will be fun!”

That’s the “bridge?!?!”  That’s not a bridge!!!

Ok, fine.  I’ll cross it.  No big deal…

What do you think the going rate for bridge repairs is?

My guess is $0.00 based on the decrepit tree suspending the bridge from the opposite bank.  Good thing you only see that “secure” system after you’ve gone too far, and the only way back is the bridge again.  Good thing.

A few bucks should do it.

Conquering nature and leaping over mountains.  It’s what we do.  We also wear plaid.

Then we eat cake (on plaid)..!

“Adult Root Beer Cake”
Chocolate Chip Quick Bread/Cake with Root Glaze

Much like the makeshift methods of bridging over bluish-green waters in the center of nowhere, the making of this cake was less than the standard operating pastry procedure.  Without proper measuring cups, this was a grand adventure in Grandmother style baking (my favorite method) and trusting my judgment of proportions.  When in a quiet cabin with a view of a flowing creek, a crackling fire, cocktails and a cakewalk companion for the big countdown, missing measuring cups are the last thing to worry this little fleece-hatted head.  As for nomenclature, people say “quick bread,” but let’s be real, calling a slice of this “bread” is just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  Call this what you’d like. Eat it whenever you’d like.

Cake Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks organic unsalted butter
1 cup turbinado sugar
4 large eggs
2 Tbs bourbon (1792)
2.7 oz Taza Stone Ground Organic Cinnamon Chocolate, chopped

Glaze Ingredients

½ cup turbinado sugar
1 cup Root
1 Tablespoon Orange zest

For the Glaze

Combine the turbinado sugar and Root in a saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolve.

Add the orange peel and continue to simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 9×5 inch glass loaf pan or an 11×7 glass pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Use a mixer to beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating for a couple of minutes in between additions.

Add the bourbon.

Fold in the dry ingredients by hand with a spatula.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake the cake for 40-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot, use a skewer or fork to poke holes into the surface of the cake.  Pour the glaze over the cake.

Let the cake rest for about 15 minutes before you remove it from the pan to transfer to a cooling rack.

Slice it. Eat it.  Enjoy it.  Meet someone new.  Share it!

Happy 2012!