Tag Archives: Pancakes

Whole-Wheat Pancakes w/ Homemade Nutella & Homemade Whipped Cream

April 2014

What do you prioritize in a significant other?

Physical attraction? Intelligence? A sense of humor?

Brunch for Two

Those qualities are important, but I ask, what about brunch?

Beautiful Pancakes and Nutella

When brunching at a restaurant, will this Sig Fig candidate order strategically so as to maximize menu potential? Will we share and strike my desired balance of sweet and savory? When staying home, will brunch be a main item on our agenda? When it comes time for pancakes, will he take command of a skillet and flip that flapjack confidently? When it comes time for maple syrup, so help me god, if there is a plastic bottle shaped like a woman with racist undertones…NEXT!

Nutella Pancake Stack

However, when you find that guy who goes to bed thinking about bacon from the local butcher, shares wholeheartedly, and flips pancakes like a pro, well, even the brunch plate smiles in approval…

Happy Pancake Face

This brunch combination gives lots of reasons to smile! Whole-wheat pancakes are a more wholesome way to enjoy a lazy breakfast, and when you make the Nutella yourself, you eliminate some of those longer, questionable words from the ingredient list. You’ll feel free to lick the spoon, fork, knife, plate, container…all of it…with less guilt and more contentment.

Isn’t contentment what brunch is all about?

Homemade Nutella
Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces dark, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons hazelnut oil
1-2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt, more or less depending upon your preference

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until fragrant and the skins are blistered a little.

Wrap the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much loose skin as possible, some will remain. Let cool completely.

Melt the chocolate using a Maria bath. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.

In a food processor (or in a Vitamix!), grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible-or as smooth as you like. Add the melted chocolate, blend well, and then strain the mixture to remove any chunks of hazelnut that remain. The resulting homemade Nutella will be thin and somewhat runny and maybe even a little warm but it will thicken as it cools.

Store in an airtight container, and let it cool to room temperature.

Note: If your city insists on clinging to winter, and your apartment insists on letting all heat escape, your Nutella might solidify. You can put the glass container in a saucepan of gently simmering water (water level should not surpass the container height) or if you’re one of those microwave owning folks, you can nuke it for a bit, but be sure to watch it. Burnt Nutella would be really sad.

Nutella Spoon

Whole-Wheat Pancakes
Yield: ~ 10-12 thin pancakes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2-2 cups organic whole milk
1 large organic egg
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and the salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

Warm the milk until lukewarm, not hot (you should be able to keep your finger submerged for 10 seconds).

Whisk milk, butter, egg and the vanilla together until blended.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour milk mixture into the well and stir with a fork until mixed and only small clumps of flour remain. Do not over mix batter.

Heat a large skillet (or use griddle) over medium heat, and lightly brush skillet with melted butter.

Spoon a 1/4-cup of the batter onto the skillet and gently spread into a 4-inch circle.

When edges look dry and bubbles start to appear and pop on the top surfaces of the pancakes, turn over, about 2 minutes. Once flipped, cook 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked in the middle.

Nutella Pancake and Banana

Rum Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons spiced rum

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 and maple syrup.

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

Add the rum, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

May your brunches be filled with smiles!
-Quelcy

Pancakes, Plaids & Plums

February/March 2014

Snow be damned.
Schedules be damned.
Saturdays and Sundays are made for pancakes… and plaids and plums and perfectly alliterative, relaxing mornings. When the plaid bearer is a flapjack-flipping professional, the result is a most lovely stack of buckwheat wholesomeness. Though I do love maple syrup more than most people, sometimes a stack of pancakes calls for a dollop or two of something fancy.

Pancakes and Plaid

In my world, these weekend ‘cakes paired perfectly with a bright red, roasted plum sauce leftover from a Valentine’s Day festivity and a hearty spoonful of rum-whipped cream, but I bring these recipes to you just in time for National Pancake Day.

Pancakes and Plums

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes w/ Orange-Cranberry Roasted Plums & Rum Whipped Cream

Orange-Cranberry Sugar
(to be used on the roasted plums)

Ingredients

2 organic oranges, zested
2 cups organic evaporated cane juice sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries, chopped

Directions

Combine all ingredients together in a jar, and stir to combine.

Single-Grain

Roasted Plums

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
*2/3 cup orange-cranberry sugar (recipe below)
2/3 cup orange juice
8 large purple or red plums, (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved and pitted

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in a 3-quart shallow baking dish; melt in preheating oven, about 3 minutes.

Add honey and orange juice to dish; stir until combined.

Arrange plums, cut side down, in baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan, and flip plums. Spoon juices over plums, and then sprinkle with orange-cranberry sugar.

Return to oven for 10 minutes more, or until tender and juicy. If needed, add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water to dish to prevent scorching.

Single-Grain

Rum Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons spiced rum

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 and maple syrup.

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

Add the rum, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes
Makes 14 to 15 4-inch pancakes, serves 2-3

Ingredients

Olive oil for coating the pan

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted

1 organic egg
2 cups organic buttermilk

Directions

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and start stirring.

Beat the egg with a fork and stir it into half of the buttermilk.

Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients, then slowly add in the rest of the buttermilk as needed to get to the right consistency for your batter (you may not need all of the buttermilk, depending on what type of buttermilk you are using and the brand of flour).

Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

Heat a well-seasoned griddle, cast iron skillet, or stick-free pan on medium heat. Put a small amount (a half teaspoon) of olive oil on the pan or griddle and swirl it around to coat the pan.

Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide.

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. Spread more oil on the pan as needed between batches of pancakes.

Serve with roasted plums and whipped cream.

Single-Grain

Happy Feasting (if that’s your Tuesday night thing)!
-Quelcy

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!

Chocolate-Hazelnut & Jam Pancakes

June 2012

Though my body was back in Pittsburgh, my mind was still pleasantly enjoying this brunch at Talula’s Garden in Philadelphia. As a happy medium to where I was and where my mind was, I channeled Talula’s donuts for a pancake brunch.  I also discovered if I put a movie close to the skillet, my special one is more patient about flipping through an entire batter’s worth of pancakes, and if that movie is all about Paris, we’re both pretty happy. This was a momentous discovery!

Look at the beautiful coppery color and light texture of the pancakes! The movie miracle!

Red Currant Pancakes with Fruit Topping & Whipped Cream

Ingredients

St. Vincent Pancake Mix (unbleached flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt)
3 Tablespoons organic lemon juice
2 cups organic whole milk
1 local, free-range egg
4 Tablespoons goat butter, browned
½ teaspoon organic almond extract
1 cup red currant jam

Directions

Empty contents of pancake mix into a mixing bowl.

Stir together the milk and lemon juice. Once the milk has thickened, add the egg, and mix well.

Slowly stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Gradually add the browned butter, stirring well.

Add the almond extract and jam, stirring to combine.

For each pancake, pour ¼ cup of batter onto a hot, lightly greased skillet.

Cook until tops of pancakes are covered with bubbles and edges appear slightly dry.

Turn and continue cooking until bottom sides are browned.

Serve with chocolate hazelnut spread and whipped cream.

Chocolate Hazelnut Topping

Ingredients

1/2 – 3/4 cup Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Nutbutter
Pure Maple Syrup, to taste

Directions

Heat the nutbutter and syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat to combine and thin. Do not boil. Serve warm.

Whipped Topping

1 cup organic heavy cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Honey, to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve and eat abundantly.

Top with sliced strawberries and cherries.

Enjoy!

Talula’s Garden

May 2012

When in Philly, two lovelies rank highly on my list of friends to visit, and brunch ranks highly on our collective list of what to do when we gather.  On this particularly pleasant Sunday, we found an enchanting garden offering delectables to suit our fancy.

Talula’s Garden
210 W Washington Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Neighborhoods: Washington Square West, Market East

Those warm colors on that rustic wood, the iron and ivy blocking the city while offering glimpses into the magical garden…we had arrived, and I fell in love with Talula’s Garden almost immediately after stepping beyond the front gate. I didn’t know it again, but Philly Restaurant Emperor Steven Starr had lured me in again!

At first there were just colors, but there were so many more rustic charms to discover.

Ordering from the cocktail menu became a very delicious and tipsy game of “What Does Your Drink Say About You?”

Though not at all “outdoorsy,” Heather has been known to head to sunnier regions like Atlantic City (where the sun reflects off gamblin’ money) or Jamaica most recently.  She is most comfortable in a sundress, beams in bright colors, sees the sweeter side of scenarios and always welcomes a bit of bubbly.  If Heather were a cocktail in Talula’s Garden, she’d be…

The Suncatcher 
“Champagne” Cocktail…Bubbles, Strawberry, and Fresh Mint

Quelcy [yours truly] fell in love with the oak barrel, gun slingin’ flavors of bourbon while road tripping through the American south, en route to the outdoor musical festival known to Jesus-sandle-wearing free spirits as “Bonnaroo.”  Though free of her dreaded locks, this full timer is no suit.  Put on her a fast train to a big city, and she’ll be a happy urban hippy.    If Quelcy were a cocktail in Talula’s Garden, she’d be…

The Treehugger
Maple Manhattan… Rye Whiskey, Maple, and Black Walnut

Jess may be petite, but her personality packs a punch!  She’s spicy, feisty, and she’s all style.  She’s a little bit saucy and sassy, and she’s the cure for what ails you.  If Jess were growing behind the bar in Talula’s Garden, she’d be…

The Butcher [Jess]
Spicy Bloody… Tito’s Vodka and Fresh Horseradish

Little Sweet Ricotta Doughnuts, Apricot Jam, and Chocolate-Hazelnut Sauce

Even the waiter knew he was giving us something special as he offered the platter of donuts and its description.  There was pride and expectation in his voice. He was expecting us to be impressed by the flavorful and colorful contrasts at play, the dedication implied by “housemade nutella,” the burst of fresh blackberries and ultimately, the sweet doughy, slightly dense little donuts!  He was expecting a reaction, but more importantly, he deserved a reaction!  The baby donuts were, in fact, so delicious, the plate began to make a sad face as we finished them…

Maryland Crab “Benedict”, Poached Farm Fresh Eggs, Wilted Romaine, and Tomato-Chive Bearnaise

The toast round was nearly impossible to cut.  That was my only complaint, and it’s really difficult to complain when a mouth is savoring every aspect of an entree.  Even the potatoes were masterfully prepared- just lightly crisped.

Berkshire pork sausage patties with roasted apricot, garlic flowers and polenta

This was a special menu item for the morning.  I was quite sold at “Berkshire,” and then the beautiful garlic flowers and fruit accent arrived and dazzled my eye. The floral and fruit notes balanced with the extra spice of the sausage, and the polenta packed more cornmeal texture than the average heap o’ maize mush.

Whole Wheat Pancakes, Lancaster Maple, Sweet Cream Butter, Pecans, and Brûlée Banana

I kid you not when I posit these pancakes may have been the best pancakes I have eaten to date (don’t tell my mom because I really like her pancakes)!  To date!  The texture was so light and fluffy, especially for a whole-wheat pancake.  The inclusion of brûlée in the description was no misnomer.  The bananas and pecans had an extra sweet and crisp exterior, accented by the brown sugar crumble and sweet syrups served in adorably petite jam jars.

Crispy Truffle Scented Duck Confit and Potato Hash, Sunny Side Egg, Sweet Peas, and Duck Hollandaise

What a decadent way to start the morning- smoky, tender duck…I repeat… smoky, tender duck in drizzles of egg yolk accented by the crisp, fresh, sweet flavor of peas.

Apparently my Vietnamese companions were strictly raised to clean plates.  A national value? Jess whispered to me (so the waitress wouldn’t here?), “Quelcy, can you finish these pancakes? I literally can’t.”  Of course she couldn’t!  We had so much delicious food!  It just wasn’t necessary to eat every morsel.  Nor was I willing to be the sacrificial glutton, but I was obviously willing to flaunt their fullness.  Silly little friends.

The horse and carriage awaited should you desire a more romantic getaway after such a beautiful, bountiful brunch.

Pancakes & Purples (Berry Port Wine Sauce, Round III)

May 2012

I like pancakes as much, if not more than, the next brunch-loving lady, but I especially like our partnership of pancakes.  I make the batter, and he flips the ‘cakes.  On this gluten-free Sunday morning, we took our partnership of pancakes into the sunshine for a perfectly relaxing, coffee-accompanied start of a sunny day.  Then we drizzled our griddle stacks with the berry bursts of flavor leftover from a special birthday dessert.

“To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others.”

Chestnut Flour & Berry Pancakes

Note:  Depending on the origin of yours oats, this recipe is gluten free.  For more on oats in a gluten free diet, here’s an intro to the issues.  

Ingredients

1 cup chestnut flour (more if fruit is watery)
1/2 cup organic quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 Tablespoons honey
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 Tablespoons goat butter, browned
1 1/4 cup frozen cherries, thawed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees or the lowest temperature available.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest.

Next, whisk the egg in a bowl and add it to the dry mix.

Add the honey, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and browned butter. Stir to combine.

Heat a cast iron griddle or skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with oil.

Using a ¼-cup scoop, pour the pancake batter onto the skillet and add 6-8 blueberries on top of each pancake.

Cook until browned on each side (they are ready to flip when the tops start to bubble a little).

To keep already made pancakes warm, place them on an ovenproof dish or baking pan in the oven.

Serve with berry port wine whipped topping and extra berry port wine sauce.

Berry Port Wine Whipped Topping

Ingredients

4 oz organic Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup organic whipping cream, chilled
1/2 cup blueberry-cherry sauce (mostly the liquid)
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip until well combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Not An Easy Glass To Fill: Bar Marco

May 2012

On a summery night, I had a hankerin’ for an adult root beer.  “What’s an adult root beer?” you ask? I’m ever so glad you asked because it’s one of my favorites! The adult cocktail is [roughly] a combination of Art in the Age Root and maybe a splash of bourbon and/or bitters, an ice cube specifically fashioned for fancy sippin’ and a curl of orange peel for additional flavor and aroma.  Now that you have those flavors in your mind, imagine biking on a hot, summery night and wanting just one more cocktail, just one specific cocktail- the adult root beer- to cap off the evening.

You’ve cycled joyfully to the corner that introduced you to this delightful adult version of a childhood delight, only to discover a closed sign. It’s not just a closed-for-the evening sign but the type of closed sign with an air of permanence. [I get a little choked up just typing about it.] This, my friends, was the tragic tale of the closing of The Embury, Pittsburgh’s first Prohibition style bar. However, the tragic tale has a happy ending! The Embury shall live again (and I shall surely have more to report on the bar that gave me Root).  In the meantime, I can say with sincerity (and despite my initial skepticism spurred by sadness), if The Embury had to go, I’m pleased with its replacement- Bar Marco.

From “Marco” directly…

Bar Marco serves simple but hearty foods sourced from local purveyors, with a focus on small production and natural wines along with craft cocktails. Located in the Strip District, one of Pittsburgh’s most unique neighborhoods!

Being the tree hugging brand of foodie I am, I was impressed with Bar Marco’s mission to focus on local ingredients. Being the design critic that I am, I would be remiss not to critique the window display. The hand painted window graphics made the place look unfinished. Conversely, the interior exemplified a great deal of consideration. The bar’s creators excavated the building to reveal its bright white bones and a light, open space. Even on a gray and rainy Sunday, the bar filled with light.

The bar features a contrast of industrial elements-stained wood, a sealed concrete floor, metal- with antique whites- the shiny brick tiles, the tin ceiling and the marble bar tops. They completely opened the interior from its past life, and the large, front window and wine bottle reflections illuminate what used to be subdivided and purposefully dark and brooding. They sold me on the refined interior.  As for the brunch…

If an aspect of alcoholism is a constant “craving” for alcohol, Bar Marco may soon be responsible for many alcoholics or at least my own imminent battle with the disease.  The root of this is the Bar Marco Manhattan (seen here in a long, tall, lovely shade of red-orange)- a combination of rye, carpano, aperol, angostura and “bubbles!” That’s right- bubbles! Champagne in a Manhattan?!?! Are you salivating and signing up for AA with me, or am I the only one? I doubt I’m the only one!

The other long tall lovely catching your eye was a Spicy Mango Bloody Mary made from vodka, mango and cilantro, and that was one spicy Mary!!! It was not a cocktail for the faint brunchers (myself included). Luckily, my dining companion is as feisty as they come at the early brunching hours, and she power sipped through the spiciness.

Lastly, that squat fella was an Aperol Spritz bursting with the citrus from fresh oranges.

Just to repeat though, try the BAR MARCO MANHATTAN! While you’re at it, buy one for me too!

Plantain Pancakes w/ Local Honey & Cinnamon Butter

I love a light and thin pancake, and the plantain element lent extra moisture to each bite.

Bone-in Pork Chop w/ Rhubarb Compote & Potato Pancake

Adding a fruit contrast to a pork chop is no secret, but rhubarb! What a splendid idea!

Those who know me, know how much I like to share at meals (even though Phil can recall a time when “family style” baffled me), which explains the multiple plates I am sharing in this post.  However, it is worth noting, Bar Marco’s servings are on the lighter side, a stance I support, but when sharing, it’s worth having a few more options than you might at your average Pittsburgh-portioned brunching nook.

Cranberry French Toast w/ Bourbon Maple Syrup

Bourbon maple syrup. French Toast. Why would I continue to type?

You did it, Bar Marco.  The Embury did not leave an easy glass to fill, but you impressed me with a refined design in both the menu and ambiance.  You convinced me! See you again very soon!

Pancakes & Polaroids

March 2012

That Maple Syrup Festival I mentioned is no ordinary brunch adventure.  As such, it was the prime opportunity for a pairing of pancakes and polaroids (the real deal…not a phone version)….

Continuing The Tradition: The Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival

March 2012

Mention maple syrup to me, and [if I'm not already eating a mouthful of maple saturated pancake] I will more than likely tell you about The Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival in Western Pennsylvania.  I first went as a college student in celebration of one of my best friend’s birthdays. Said best friend [in black hood below] hails from Ecuador, and as her self-proclaimed ambassadors, we thought she needed to experience middle-of-nowhere America…

THEN

[I knew we were dorky, but that photo....wow!  Can you even see me under all that pixelated pink?]

NOW

It’s difficult to explain fully the oddity that is the Maple Syrup Festival, but somehow I managed to convince a rat pack to join me in all the odd glory last year.  The maple syrup festival and I were reunited at long last, and it was every bit as surreal and special as I had remembered. This year, I was really excited to share that surreal oddity with my special one (and a brief overlap with that crazy girl pictured above… oh how time has passed!).

Thus, on a sunny Sunday morn, Monsieur Miniature navigated us from Pittsburgh to Brady’s Run Park.

This signs begs the question… are illegal drugs permitted elsewhere in the park?

Expect to wait.  By this point in the queue, we had already waited patiently for at least 45 minutes!  Waiting in line, however, is more than half the fun because that’s the prime people watching opportunity!

Has no one ever told the troop leaders their faithful followers look a bit like little commies?

This little dude had so many looks, and ALL of them were cool.  He’ll be so misunderstood when he hits first grade.

Alright Twin Peaks fans… who does the Canadian tux (above) remind you of?  Give up? Maybe this guy??!?!  Oh the maple sweetened terror!!!

Waiting in line for the pancakes is a bit of a syrup safari!

After commies, potential supernatural killers, large game and much, much more, the line entered the belly of the maple syrup beast:  the barn!

They’re not messing around!  The Maple Syrup Festival is serious when it comes to pancake preparation and sausage distribution.  From there, a man in a bright, orange, hunting hat directed us to our table.  Upon finishing a plate of pancakes, all one had to do was flag down a faithful boyscout for a refill, but be warned!  Pancakes are quite filling! Take heed!

I stuck to the buckwheat pancakes for my own plate (always an appreciative supporter of the whole grain option), but for the first time in my three years of festival attendance, I snatched a bite or two of the buttermilk option.  A pillowy cloud it was!  A pillowy cloud!

Don’t eat that butter.  It’s not butter, and those pancakes deserve real butter!

As if that were it!  Beyond people watching, pancakes and endless coffee, there’s an entire park for the exploring….

Observe the maple tapping process in action…

Witness teepee living…?!?!?

Marvel at Civil War kitchen utensils…

Take a glimpse into history…

…and remember the importance of preventing forest fires!  All in one place!

The Owls Are Not What They Seem, But The Pancakes Are

February 2012

My special one and I started watching Twin Peaks to keep ourselves busy during the snowy, wintry, gray hibernation months.

We’d heard about the cult classic, but we had no idea into what we were delving!  There were a lot of “what the f&*k, David Lynch?!?” proclamations, as the show lured us into its addictive snare of plot twists, ridiculous melodramas and supernatural oddities set in the pristine, green hills of a fictitious, Washington town.  There we sat, poised in front of the projector while it snowed outside.

A Few Thoughts…

Shots of James on his motorcycle, just being a tough yet sensitive and misunderstood guy with the “masculine” musical theme…makes me laugh everytime!

Donna…honestly…stop being a bitch!

“Who’s that?”
“Oh her?  We call her ‘Log Lady‘”
So glad she became a significant character!

We get it, Lynch, cops like coffee and donuts!

I can’t get this song out of my head, especially since my special one does the perfect impression.  Is that what Lynch thinks teens do on a school night?  Oh wait, they don’t really have “school nights,” since they skip school all the time to tease the emotions of agoraphobic shut ins.

I keep threatening to don an eye patch and scream, “Oh Ed” while running toward my special one at full force.  He says this threat makes me a really weird person.  I’m not convinced.

Next thing you know, we found ourselves repeatedly watching “just one more” episode and rapidly working through the series.  Accordingly, we enjoyed a number of our meals in front of the projector, including a pancake brunch, in which the owls, a prominent Twin Peaks symbol, took the spotlight.

Very, very, very rarely will you find me listing the word “mix” in my recipes.  A pet peeve of mine is seeing “cake mix” as a first “ingredient” in a recipe.  In my purist (and possibly extremist?), self-assigned set of rules, it’s an oh no no’s.  Yet, rules are meant to be broken!  I make an exception for this locally grown mix of flours from a mill I like to visit every now and again, mostly because it comes in a stamped linen bag with a small, colorful ribbon.

In my hypocritical use of a mix, I stuck to my guns about embellishing the recipe.  I went above and beyond the mix’s instructions, so in the end, it was really just rule bending (probably something rule breakers say).

Though I’d like to say these pancakes correlated to flavors in Twin Peaks, they didn’t.  They were simply a delicious, owl accented approach to pancakes, to accompany a snowy morning of viewing.  I ambitiously schemed a more themed meal until I watched the finale.  I won’t spoil it, but the end left me wanting, and that wanting cut my brainstorm quite short.  Thus, these pancakes may be as Twin Peaks as it gets around here… at least for the time being as we try to fill the log sized void in our lives.

Whole-Wheat Pumpkin Cranberry Pancakes
Perfect for Brunch & A Twin Peaks Binge 

Ingredients

Saint Vincent’s Buckwheat Pancake Mix (unbleached flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder and salt)
Dash of Cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg
Dash of Ginger
2 cups organic milk
4-5 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, browned
1 Tablespoon organic almond extract
1 ¾ cup organic pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 cup homemade cranberry sauce (similar to this recipe)

Directions

Empty contents of pancake mix into a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine a scant 2 cups of milk and 1 egg, mixing well.

Slowly stir the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients.

Gradually, add browned butter, stirring well.

Add the almond extract, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and cranberry sauce. Stir to combine.

Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes.

[This is when I pass the batter (a lot like passing the baton) to account for my inability to flip pancakes well]

For each pancake, pour 1/4-1/3 cup of batter onto a hot, lightly greased skillet. Cook until tops of pancakes are covered with bubbles and edges appear slightly dry. Turn and continue cooking until bottom sides are browned.

Serve with butter, lots of maple syrup and perhaps some homemade whipped cream.  Most definitely serve with a mug of chai!

Had I been strictly adhering to my supposed theme, we would have been drinking strong, black coffee.  However, this chai is worth breaking supposed themes!  I highly recommend two mugs of Rishi Masala Chai prepared with a touch of almond milk and a generous squeeze from the honey bear.

Remember…

“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair or two cups of good hot [chai].” – Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks

How Did Valentine’s Dinner Become Plan B The Morning After?

February 2012

I did put a lot of effort into crafting a special Valentine’s Day Observed dinner.

I did not put all the lemony, minty, chèvre and ricotta filling into the heart shaped ravioli shells.

I did have a lot of egg yolks leftover from making the special Valentine’s Day cakewich.

did not see any reason to leave the cozy house the next, wintry morning (at least I think it was wintry…regardless, I was content to stay put).

I did see a reason to use the previous night’s flavor combinations and leftovers in a new way. You don’t come to look like this without a bit of creative resourcefulness!

Plan Brunch…what did you think I meant?!?!

Lemony Leftover Scramble + Strawberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes w/ Whiskey Whipped Cream

You might notice the above egg scramble has quite the bright, golden hue.  It’s not the trick of photo enhancement.  No sir.  No ma’am.  It is the trick of an abundance of egg yolks excluded from a special cake batter.  These eggs might not be the poster child for a low fat lifestyle, but they were incredibly, edibly good, as the branding has taught us!

Egg yolks + a few whole eggs (all local/free-range)
Leftover ravioli filling
Speck (leftover from a certain heart shaped charcuterie spread)

Do you have to make the other recipes first, in order to create this scramble?

Nope!

My point is- use your leftovers creatively!  Trust your instincts and take a few risks!  The result may pleasantly surprise you!  These eggs were a one-of-a-time, delicious whim and maybe even a metaphor for life?

As for the pancakes, we started from scratch with the previous night’s flavors still on our minds.  I’m so lucky to have a Valentine who becomes a pancake flipper in the morning light!

Strawberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
w/ Whiskey Whipped Cream 

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups organic cornmeal (Bob’s Redmill)
2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
zest from one lemon
1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs (local/free-range), separated
1 teaspoon organic almond extract
1/3 cup all natural ricotta cheese
1/2 stick organic, unsalted butter, browned
1 cup strawberries,

extra butter for pan

Directions

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg yolks, and lemon zest to blend.

Stir buttermilk mixture and almond extract into flour mixture until evenly moistened. Gently stir in ricotta cheese.

In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. With a flexible spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter just until they are incorporated.

Stir in the browned butter.

Gently fold in the strawberries.

[This is the part of the recipe I happily ignore and substitute my talented boyfriend to make up for my flipping inabilities]

Place a nonstick griddle or a 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat; when hot, coat lightly with oil and adjust heat to maintain temperature. Drop batter in 1/2-cup portions onto the griddle and cook until pancakes are browned on the bottom and edges begin to look dry, about 2 minutes; turn cakes with a wide spatula and brown other sides, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Coat pan with more oil as necessary to cook remaining pancakes.

Serve pancakes as cooked, or keep warm in a single layer on baking sheets in a 200° oven for up to 15 minutes.

Serve with whiskey whipped cream, sliced strawberries and pools of pure maple syrup!!!

Whiskey Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
Generous splash of Wild Turkey
1-2 Tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup

For the Whiskey Whipped Cream

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl.

Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.

Keep chilled until ready to serve.

As always… Enjoy!

Pancakes, Pals and Peace for Whitney

February 12, 2012

This snowy, cold, gray, pre-Valentine’s Day Sunday was only meant to be a brunch for bringing friends together.  The line up included my special someone (of special pancake flipping importance on this brunching Sunday), the lovelies who gather around my table quite frequently, my old friend and Brazilian host, Thiago, and Omar, my new neighbor/the man who gave me my bakery experience.  That snowy Sunday was only meant to be what most great Sundays are meant to be:  good food, good laughs, good coffee, good friends, good memories.  This Sunday brunch was all of those, but it also took on an historical importance based on the events of Saturday afternoon/evening.

Nina texted me a seemingly random question, “can we listen to Whitney [Houston] during brunch tomorrow?”  I hypothesized maybe this choice was the next logical step after my Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou musical selections, but I still asked why she would make such a request.  “She just died a few hours ago.”  Thus this Sunday brunch came to include the pancakes and pals, as planned, and a WHOLE LOT OF WHITNEY!  We literally listened to Whitney for hours, and I had a nagging desire to watch The Bodyguard the entire time.  Rest in peace!

Omar said he was craving pancakes.  I’m always in the mood for brunch foods that absorb maple syrup, but this specific brunch request highlights my odd kitchen flaw:  I suck at flipping!  Luckily, I have a partner in pancakes, and I swear, I do like him for more than his pancake flipping abilities (though, that is a pretty strong reason for liking someone).

Running a bit behind schedule (let’s be real, we were clearly in the all out “lunch” portion of the day, but I stand by the “brunch” categorization) meant whipped cream beaters for the licking.  The pinks and reds were a nod to Valentine’s day, and those bows were an homage to Whitney herself!

The final additions came to the table while the expert flipped the last pancakes.  I made a bright orange side of roasted butternut squash with brown sugar and spices.  The coffee was hot, and the drinks were about to be bubbling.

Appropriately enough, it was Thiago’s aunt who introduce me to the little touch of fancy a cinnamon stick can bring to a coffee.  Gingerbread can bring a little touch of the sentimental if you shape it just right…

A Rosy Salad

Roasted beets
Grapefruit
Blood orange
Fresh sprigs of mint, chopped

Serve with chocolate balsamic dressing, which I first served as part of a Swedish accented brunch and more importantly, that chocolaty sauce also pairs really well with pancakes!

Organic Pomegranate & Cranberry Sparkling Sodas + Prosecco and a slice of lemon because the cocktail is clearly prettier that way.

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Homemade Whipped Cream

Cranberry Sauce Pancake Filling

Ingredients

3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
Fresh juice from 2 small lemons
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
cinnamon
nutmeg

For the Cranberry Sauce

Combine the cranberries, wine, water, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to heat until cranberries begin to pop.

Add the brown sugar and spices.

Continue to simmer until mixture thickens.

Allow to cool.

Drain and reserve liquid. Add cranberry sauce liquid to pure maple syrup to serve with the pancakes.

Whole-wheat Cranberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups organic yellow cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup organic light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups soured milk*
1 Tablespoon almond extract
1 stick organic, unsalted butter, browned
**Cranberry Sauce (recipe above)
Pure maple syrup + reserved cranberry sauce liquid

*This is another practice I gleaned from my mom.  Rather than waste some milk you wouldn’t drink, bake with it.  In the event you have managed your milk consumption in a timely fashion, you can use regular milk or buttermilk for extra flavor.  

For the Panckaes

Preheat oven to 250°F.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, four, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.

Add milk, almond extract and the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Beat until smooth.

Mix in browned butter, and then stir in the cranberry sauce.

Add 1/2 tablespoon melted butter to large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet, spacing apart.

Cook pancakes until golden brown on bottom and some bubbles begin to break around edges, about 2 minutes.

Turn pancakes over; cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm.

Repeat with remaining batter, adding more melted butter by 1/2 tablespoonfuls to skillet as necessary.

Serve pancakes with cranberry sauce maple syrup and homemade whipped cream.

Whipped Cream
(this goes quickly!) 

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions

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

The Jono Cakes Special (left):  Dollop of Whipped Cream + Chocolate Balsamic Sauce
The Quelcy Cakes Special (right):  Dollop of Whipped Cream + Cranberry Maple Syrup (I am sincerely addicted to excessive quantities of pure maple syrup)

Apparently Nina and Deanna had done extensive Whitney research the night before via youTube.  This led to Nina trying to portray Whitney’s rather emaciated stages.  Without any disrespect, that impression led to quite the comedic outbreak.  Time for Omar and Thiago’s initiation to the With The Grains Brunch Tradition… bring on the GIF FILE!!!  There’s also some magic, since Jono had to leave early and Deanna came a bit late.  GIF Magic!

Another round of coffee, conversation and lots of laughter…

Whitney Houston
We will always love you!
August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012 

Quinoa Cakes

January 2012

Sometimes the kitchen feels like a canvas and a splatter of paint applied without a precise plan.  There’s a goal for exploration and an intended color scheme, but the way two pigments puddle together might propel an alternative theme.  Cleaning the cupboards is akin to the walk that produces the found objects which will accent the piece.  There might be doubts along the way, “am I wasting a canvas?” but as the paint dries into its true color, and the composition comes together, ideally, there’s an unexpected sense of accomplishment and a moment of true satisfaction.  This was a canvas kitchen sort of brunch!

Quinoa Cakes with Cranberry Compote & Whipped Cream

I don’t remember when I bought that box of quinoa flour, but I remember being curious, and admittedly, I am drawn to Q foods.  On a January Sunday, I was on the verge of attempting a Croque Madame when I spotted the same ol’ box of quinoa flour in its same old spot.  New plan!

I was in a time crunch (the fella’s hair appointment was looming), and I was concerned I was going too far…experimenting with different grains, substituting some egg nog I wanted to use for buttermilk and even adding Neufchatel to the batter.  Would these pancakes be heavy messes?!?  However, the final result was kitchen tested and diner approved!  Quinoa cake flipping credit to my fella, who, by the way, left brunch looking quite rugged and then returned later looking like a dapper London bloke!

The Recipes
Quinoa Cakes + Cranberry Compote + Whipped Chai Topping

Quinoa Pancakes

Ingredients

1/3 cup Quinoa flour
1/3 cup local cornmeal (from St. Vincents Gristmill)
1/3 cup organic rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons lemon pulp (from juicer)
1 cup organic egg nog
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg (local/free-range)

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons homemade cranberry compote*
4 oz Neufchatel cheese (rBST free)

+ Extra maple syrup for serving!

Directions

Mix together dry ingredients.

Add egg nog, oil and egg.

Mix in the maple syrup and cranberry compote.

Cut the Neufchatel cheese into chunks and stir into the batter.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto prepared skillet.

Turn cakes as soon as they are puffed and full of bubbles but before the bubbles break.  Serve warm with a dollop of whipped chai topping and cranberry compote!

Whipped Chai Topping

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Tazo chai concentrate
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

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

*Cranberry Cherry Compote
I had leftover cranberry cherry compote from my holiday parcels, but it’s no problem to make the same morning as the quinoa pancakes.  Use some in the batter as well as a few dollops on top of a stack of the pancakes.

Ingredients

1 cup red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup water
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 bag (12 oz.) organic fresh cranberries
1 cup organic dried cherries
4 Tablespoons lemon zest (from juicer)
cinnamon, to taste
nutmeg, to taste
3-4 Tablespoons sage simple syrup

Directions

Bring the wine, water and organic sugar to boil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the cranberries and continue to boil until the cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer and stir occasionally until the berries and liquid are well blended and have reached a jelly consistency.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

Happy canvas creating!

-QTK