Tag Archives: Q is for

Brunch For A Babyhood Friend

March 2012

Crazy sisters made somehow crazier by adulthood… looming life questions… the jobs we have worked versus the jobs we expected to have… the broken hearts along the way… the parents we try to understand more and more… the desire to be more creative… these are the occurrences and developments that keep us on the same page, and this was the brunch that brought us to the same table.

Erica grew up in the corner green house.  I grew up in the red, brick house on the opposite corner.  We were neighbors, but we were also like family.  She was the like the little sister I never had, and when we put our heads together, the most inventive adventures ensued!  I won’t wave our crazy flags too specifically, but I figured Jono would be enthused to have a glimpse into my even weirder childhood, hence the three plates.

Salad

Spinach
Mixed Greens
Organic Raspberries
Sliced almonds
Dried Figs
Goat cheese

Vinaigrette

Dijon mustard
Olive Oil
Cabernet Wine Vinegar
Maple Syrup

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread w/ Bourbon Buttercream
Cupcake Quiches 

It’s not a complete brunch without a little bubbly.

meyer lemon + raspberries + champagne + blackberry juice

Above is what the table looked like as we finished.  Below was what the great outdoors looked like…a turbulent swirl of snow straight into eye level no matter where you walked.

So we went for a snowventure!

Look at the tree all the way on the left.  Notice a peaceful glimpse of wildlife?

From the grays and snow covered grass of Schenley Park, we snaked along curving, sloping roads to the South Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where bursts of color awaited.

We continued through the blue-gray, snowy blanket to the top of the [Pittsburgh] world- Mt Washington.

As the dark day transitioned to an even darker night, Erica and I returned to the warmth of my fireplace, sipped hot tea and confided in each other as if time had never escaped us. Little did we know how many similar experiences we’d been having.  As I attempted to relay the helpful advice another friend had given to me, I was reminded how truly fortunate I am to have strong, creative, intelligent, supportive friends in my life!  This Sunday brunch and snowventuring was just what Erica and I had both needed.  Never underestimate the power of an old friend, a dining room table, snowy views and cups of tea!

Cupcake Quiches with Buckwheat, Herb & Cheese Crusts

February 2012

When we were little girls fabricating great adventures on the swingset, my neighborhood companion would threaten “Well, I’m not going to be your friend anymore” in that way that little kids do on a quotidien basis.  Yet, that little girl, the one who made big threats, is still in my life (maybe I’m as stubborn as she is indignant?)!  When we come together, we spend a good deal of our time returning to that swingset and those grand adventures.  This time our memory lane was to commence at my brunching table, and one aspect of my menu planning began with blank buckwheat canvases….

I have a “disability” which prevents me from serving omelettes (ie:  I suck at flipping foods in pans), which translates to an overall lack of egg dishes at my brunches.  In further pursuit of the sweet and savory brunch balance, I decided I needed to focus on my egg game.  I started with something more familiar and in my case, alliterative:  Quiches!

Cupcake sized quiches to be precise!  With this batch under my apron strings, I’d like to make these for a larger gathering and offer several flavor combinations.  Big payoff with little extra investment (did I just type that??).

In this initial baby quiche endeavor, my brunchers were only going to number three total (including yours truly), so I stuck to one filling composition:  black forest ham, spinach and blue cheese.

Cupcake Quiches with Buckwheat Crust

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (St. Vincent Gristmill)
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
1 organic lemon, zested
Dash of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground rosemary
1-2 Tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter (cubed)
6-8 Tablespoons ice water mixed with Apple Cider vinegar, chilled

Filling

All Natural, Black forest ham
organic spinach
Danish blue cheese
fresh goat cheese
7 eggs (local/free-range)
3 Tablespoons organic whole milk
Salt & Pepper, to taste (Keep in mind the crust is on the saltier side)

For the Crust

Mix flours and salt in a large bowl.

Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until you can knead it together without it crumbling.

Form the dough into a disc, cover with tin foil or plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface. Roll until about ¼” thick. Use a circle cutter to cut dough into as many circles as possible. Roll the remaining dough, and cut more circles until you have 12 circles.

Press each circle into the cupcake tin, and prick the bottom twice with a fork.

Chill the dough.

For the Filling

Add chopped ham, cut spinach and a few blue cheese crumbles to each cup.

In a medium bowl whisk together all 7 eggs, 3 Tablespoons milk, salt and pepper. Pour into a measuring cup with a lip for easy pouring.

Pour egg mixture just to the rim of each quiche.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, turning half way through baking.

Remove from oven when eggs are set and firm.

Allow to cool for a minute or two before using a knife to loosen and remove quiches.

Cool on a wire rack.

Prior to my friend’s arrival, I sent her a message asking if she avoided any major foods.  Her responses all centered around not wanting to eat any baby animal or poorly treated animal.  I didn’t have any veal or foie gras plans for the morning, but I hesitated on my choice of blue cheese.  For whatever reason, there are people out there who find it unappetizing.  As a precaution, I made an extra miniature tart-sized quiche with some plain goat cheese instead of the strong blue option.  Fortunately, my babyhood friend/brunch guest is on the blue cheese team, so my precaution merely translated to an extra dose of variety.

The added perk of making baby quiches is the leftovers make an easy, packable lunch option for the rest of the week!

Stay tuned for how the entire menu came together at the brunching table!