Tag Archives: With Some Grains (Gluten Free)

Butternut Brownies & Window Views

October 2012

How does the window delight in the season?

The winter window tries to protect our needs for sleep and nestling and hibernation. The winter window offers a curtain of darkness to keep us in a slumber, but the world forces us to push beyond the curtain to face the day. As the light emerges, we may catch quiet views in slow motion- a creek slowly flowing or neighbors slowly trudging.

Before long, spring breezes against the window, and it opens. The window stretches and awakens, perhaps creaking as it moves. The changes are not immediate but rather like a song filled with anticipation in its chords. The spring window shows more light, shows the neighbors as they too stretch and emerge from the more dormant months. The window sings with the birds and the bicycles and the children who play until the evening light slips away.

The window boasts in summer! The summer window is a full expression. Hot breezes, humming fans, active streets, and the rattling glass of an electrified sky.

Those warm breezes grow colder and begin to carry leaves until the window must close. The window grows quiet, but there is still pride in the dampening view it frames. The window is a hushed pause. It is a painting of bright hues in stark contrast with an interior darkness. The window is a temporary collector of condensation, the effect of cooling fall flavors…

Chocolate Butternut Squash Brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
8 oz. Ghirardelli 70% cacao chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs (local/free-range)
1 1/2 cups organic raw sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cup local butternut squash puree
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 9″x9″ cake pan with nonstick spray.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chocolate and remove from heat. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until smooth.

In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 3-4 minutes, until thick and pale yellow.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.

Put one third of the batter into another bowl. Stir in the squash puree, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Stir the chocolate mixture into the remaining batter and spread a little more than half of it into the prepared pan.

Top with the pumpkin mixture, then drop large spoonfuls of the remaining chocolate mixture on top. Swirl a knife through both to create a swirled effect.

Bake for 40 minutes, until just set and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Fall Flavored Lasagna

September 2012

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

I do find autumn to be quite delicious, especially when fall’s flavors are layered between noodles and cheese! The original Bon Appétit recipe called for broccoli rabe, which I replaced with brussels sprouts. Firstly, I associate those mini cabbages with fall more than broccoli rabe, and secondly, that’s what was available at my grocery store. I also used a brown rice noodle for the health and flavor merits, and this recipe could easily become a gluten free staple if you use an alternative flour (I only had whole-wheat pastry on hand). Extra dashes of red pepper flakes, added to the squash roasting stage, made for a kick of spice, contrasted by hints of cinnamon and nutmeg in the béchamel sauce.  Enjoy with hot cider or hard cider before your migration to successive autumns!

Squash and Brussels Lasagna

Adapted from my food publication deity, Bon Appétit.

Ingredients

Filling

1 local butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh brussels sprouts (the typical grocery store sized bundle), rinsed, stalk removed and pulled apart into leaves

8oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
1/2 lb whole-milk ricotta
1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
coarsely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Preparation

For the Filling

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place squash and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season generously with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat squash evenly.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading out in a single layer, overlapping slightly.

Roast until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Mix mozzarella and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

*DO AHEAD Squash and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Béchamel and Assembly

1/8 cup organic unsalted butter
1/8 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 cups (or more) organic half-and-half
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon
1 fresh bay leaf
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

10 oz Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles (Tinkyada)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Béchamel and Assembly

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Add flour; stir until slightly thickened (do not allow mixture to turn brown), 2–3 minutes. Increase heat slightly.

Slowly whisk in 2 1/2 cups half-and-half, 1/2-cupful at a time, allowing béchamel to thicken between additions (adding half-and-half gradually will help to prevent lumps from forming).

Add 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and cinnamon and bay leaf.

Reduce heat to low and cook, thinning with more half-and-half if too thick, until sauce is a milkshake–like consistency, about 10 minutes longer.

Cook lasagna noodles in a pot of well-salted boiling water until still quite al dente, 8–9 minutes. Transfer immediately to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; spread out noodles on a kitchen towel or baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing a kitchen towel or parchment between layers.

Ladle about 1/4 cup béchamel into a 11x9x2-inch baking dish; spread evenly over bottom. Line dish with a single layer of noodles, cutting as needed to fit (use large scraps in subsequent layers).

Layer 1/3 of squash over.

Scatter brussels sprouts leaves over the previous layer.

Dollop 1/3 of ricotta mixture randomly over greens.

Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel evenly over ricotta mixture.

Repeat process 2 more times for a Total of 3 layers, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over; top with Parmesan. Leftover noodles can be used for a freeform version with any leftover components.

*DO AHEAD Lasagna can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Return to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake lasagna uncovered until bubbly and starting to brown, about 45 minutes.

Turn oven to broil. Cook until browned and golden, 4–7 minutes.

Let rest for 20–30 minutes before serving.

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring. 
-Samuel Johnson

May you taste the fruits of delicious autumn! Bon appétit!

A Chance to Celebrate!

July 2012

When my next oldest sister made arrangements to take off  three weeks fromwork for a family vacation, her employer told her, “consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!” Though her employer’s words were masking an impending stinginess with vacation days, his phrasing was right! She had indeed experienced the trip of a lifetime. Her winter planning resulted in a three-week-long road trip from the Philly area to Nebraska and back, from sister (me) to sister (the middle one) with a brother in between.

She and her three kids stayed at an inn converted from an old prison. They walked the Gateway Arch. They stared up the seemingly infinite facade of the Sears Tower (and stubbornly called it the “Sears Tower”). They clung to tubes behind a boat in Iowa. They went to the Pony Express station in the tiny, Midwestern town where I entered the world. They presidents immortalized in stone. They followed plans and changed courses spontaneously. Fortunately for me, I was a convenient stopping point on both legs of the trip. My sister’s birthday fell right in the middle of their wanderings, which meant their return to Pittsburgh called for a cake!

Incidentally, this was also the cake that convinced me to buy an air conditioner. You’ll note I added “melted white chocolate” to my cake batter. Though it did make for a subtle sweetness, this choice was both an experiment and the result of the ridiculous temperature of third-floor living in the height of summer. Feel free to use solid chips, should you live in a kitchen that doesn’t melt your chocolate and liquify your coconut oil. As I learned, this cake requires a lot of almond flour, so stock your cupboard accordingly should you want to this cake to be completely gluten free. That was my intention, but after all, life requires frequent changes, and I am the daughter of invention!

Blueberry Almond Cake
(makes 1-9inch bundt cake)

Inspired by this recipe on the beautiful Roost blog, though I veered at the many forks in the road.

Cake Ingredients 

4 1/2 cups Bob’s Redmill organic almond flour
1 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour*
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

6 eggs (local/free-range)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cups honey
2 tsp pure almond extract
2 tsp organic vanilla extract

3/4 cup white chocolate, melted
1 pint fresh blueberries

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease a 9-inch stone bundt pan.

Combine dry ingredients into a bowl.

Whisk wet ingredients in a separate bowl then add to dry ingredients until a smooth batter has formed.

Stir in the melted white chocolate.

Gently fold blueberries into batter and pour into greased pan.

To prevent the cake from browning, cover with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the tinfoil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.

Flip cake onto a cake stand or plate and drizzle with glaze.

Coconut Butter Icing

Ingredients

8 oz Neufchatel cheese (rBST free)
1/2 cup organic mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup wildflower honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients until thoroughly combined and creamy.

Garnish

Top with fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches, raspberries)!

And remember…

Just because a cake is rather regal, doesn’t mean you have to be! Go craaaazy!

Happy Birthday Tosha!

Frozen Berry Dessert, Part Deux: The Delivery (sans celebrities this time around)

July 2012

My fascination with food is not limited to the how. I’m curious about the who, the what, the where and perhaps most importantly, the why. We associate memories with food. We bond over food. We pass our stories as we pass our plates, and we make friends via our tastes. I already showed you the how for a very memorable frozen berry dessert. It was a failure of sorts, but the revisions succeeded in a way that utterly surprised me! However, the dessert’s story did not end there. I was making that dessert for a summer Sunday-the type of summer Sunday that perfectly reminds me of the happiness growing underfoot!

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” ~ James Oppenheim

(A summer Sunday can be downright torturous for a dog who has eyes only for saaaaaausages!)

If we don’t make time, summer’s golden ears will quickly disappear, and grills will enter dormancy.

If we do make time, we might use more butter on golden kernels than we should, just because it’s fancy butter. We might sip more sangria than we should, just to reach the wine-soaked, sangria peaches, bursting with the flavors guarded best by local growing.

If we don’t make time, we might miss the show (sometimes the show is a little racy)…

If we do slow down, we might see what a cold beverage can do to a lady on a hot day. ;P

If we do slow down, we can learn more of our own food story from those who taught us, and we can pass it to those who who care to share it.

If we do slow down, the sky might put on a show in our honor. In our case, the Pittsburgh sky sure was feeling fancy!

The show transitioned to flickering candles and second rounds of adult root beer floats then a downhill stroll to fall asleep to the hum of a fan.

May your hot oven be worked minimally. May your frozen desserts refresh you maximumly! May you enjoy summer’s best hues and lights until a quiet stroll leads you peacefully home!

Frozen Berry Dessert & How A Failed Meringue Led To A Celebrity Encounter

July 2012

The Agenda:
A BBQ/Potluck on one of the best decks in the city, hosted by a loyal and true friend.

The Plan:
A more summery version of this maple mousse pie.

The Fail, the EPIC FAIL:
The mousse pie recipe has a meringue component. Oh that meringue! I totally bombarded it with hot honey, and the poor, fluffy cloud didn’t stand a chance! It collapsed like an uncapped air mattress under a sleepy soul.

The Recalculation:
I pride myself on being the Daughter of Invention, but try though I did, the meringue had failed. There was no salvaging the eggy mess, so I had to “click” undo a little farther back into my history. What I had was a perfectly good crust, a fresh fruit puree and a new idea borrowed from the very woman who inspired me to improvise- my mom. What I didn’t have was more heavy cream. What I did have was my special one’s car!

Recalculating Route…:
To Whole Foods! To the dairy aisle! (I also tried to buy an air conditioner at Home Depot, but that effort lingered on the fail side of the spectrum).

The Moment That Made Me Grateful the Meringue Had Failed So Miserably:
As I walked to retrieve a cart, I saw a tall man with thick, thick, thick glasses and dark hair. Could it be…no…but…is it? His voice even sounded familiar as he spoke to his shopping companion who was retrieving a cart. She looked familiar as well! It was them! It was! My heart raced a little bit and fluttered with glee.  I worked up the courage to be that dorky fan girl and approach them in the produce aisle.

The Celebrity Encounter:

“Excuse me, I have to ask. Were you in Party Down [ie: one of the best shows ever!!!]?”
“Yeah…yeah, I was, and so was she [points to Kristen Bell as she picked berries].”
“It was such a great show! It got me through the winter! You guys were amazing!”
“Thanks, thanks very much! I’m Martin.  What’s your name?”
“Quelcy.”
“Nice to meet you, Quelcy.”

I was blown away by his sincerity and humility. Not only had he introduced himself, but he had taken the time to ask my name, repeat it, and furthermore, he had pronounced it correctly! I asked about the rumors of a comeback movie, and he said they had to keep pushing the writers! Meanwhile, the two of them were in Pittsburgh “to pick up some food at Whole Foods” and to shoot a movie together. Between Anne Hathaway in my yoga class and Party Down cast members at Whole Foods, Pittsburgh is becoming quite the little Hollywood.

The Uplifting Moral of the Story

Have you ever noticed how most life lessons have at least one kitchen counterpart? Susan Sarandon (and others probably) said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything.” Had I not failed my meringue but persevered with my dessert, I wouldn’t have had the serendipitous encounter in the produce section. Silly as it may seem, that little twist in my day really set a positive tone for my week. On top of the encounter, my friends really enjoyed the dessert.  All in all, I am a really lucky girl, and it pays to appreciate these moments in life!

Coconut Walnut Crust

Ingredients

2 cups walnuts
3 Tablespoons organic light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons organic coconut oil
1 teaspoon organic almond extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the walnuts on a parchment lined baking stone, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, brown sugar, nutmeg and almond extract until the nuts are finely chopped.

Add the coconut oil, and pulse to incorporate.

Press the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan in an even layer.

Refrigerate until firm.

I know science would say otherwise, but I prefer to see the making of whipped cream akin to the making of magic. Suddenly cold, heavy cream turns into fluffy clouds.  The bowl of clouds holds the imagination if you stare and allow yourself a spoonful of creativity while the mixing blades spin. What do you see, friends..?

Whipped Cream Filling

Ingredients

1 pint organic heavy cream, chilled
8 oz organic Neufchatel cheese
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup wildflower amber honey
3 Tablespoons Kraken Rum (or the like)

Directions

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream and the Neufchatel cheese until soft peaks form.

Add the vanilla, honey and rum and beat until combined.

Scoop the filling onto the crust, and spread evenly.

Fruit Filling

3 cups cherries, pits removed
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Puree the cherries and blueberries in a food processor. Either set the fruit puree aside or strain to drain off some of the excess juices.

Add the fruit in dollops, and use knife to swirl the fruit with the filling.

Freeze until the top begins to set slightly. Remove from the freezer, and add the fruit garnishes. Return to freezer, and freeze until firm.

Garnish

4-5 large strawberries, sliced
Blackberries to your aesthetic liking

The revised and rather improvised dessert remained in the freezer until the kielbasa was grilled, loaded with fixins on a bun and eaten with corn on the cob and fancy butter. The dessert remained in the freezer while the band played atop a neighborhood hill. The dessert remained in the freezer until the happy neighbors returned to the deck with the beautiful views of a sky changing from blue to pink.  Stay tuned, and I’ll show you what that all looked like.

-QTK

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.

My Special One’s Birthday: Maple Mousse Pie

April 2012

Birthdays may call for cake, but this maple mousse pie was worthy of trumping traditions (plus my special one and I have a shared maple memory).  The salty pecan crust pairs perfectly with the fluffy, frozen, maple, mousse layer, but I was also tempted to snag extra bites of crust to savor its flavor solo.  Top it all with a blueberry and cherry port wine sauce, and… birthday cake shmirthday shmake.  Pie please!

When I was little, I saw everything prior to and following the moment of eating as a chore. What I see now is an old man at sea…that is to say… the kitchen is a wonderfully creative place where our best intentions transform into something memorable for the special people in our lives.  I am beginning to understand why my mother spent so much time preparing the many memories I cherish.

Maple Mousse Pie w/ Port Wine Berry Sauce
Adpated from Food & Wine

Crust Ingredients

2 cups pecans
3 Tablespoons organic light brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
4 Tablespoons organic unsalted butter, browned
1 teaspoon organic almond extract

Mousse Ingredients

1 cup pure grade B maple syrup
2 large egg whites (local/free-range), at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups chilled organic heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Port Wine Berry Sauce Ingredients

1 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup port wine
10 oz frozen organic cherries, thawed
12 oz fresh blueberries

For the Crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking stone, and bake for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and almond extract until the nuts are finely chopped.

Add the butter, and pulse to incorporate.

Press the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan in an even layer.

Refrigerate until firm.

For the Mousse

In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until slightly reduced and a candy thermometer inserted in the syrup registers 235 degrees, about 8 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over.

For the meringue: In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until firm peaks form. Slowly add the maple syrup, while continuing to mix at a medium speed, until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and beat the meringue until cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes.

For the Whipped Cream: In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with the vanilla until soft peaks form.

Fold the meringue into the whipped cream until blended.

Scrape the mousse onto the crust, and spread evenly.

Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours but preferably overnight (the mousse will not freeze solid like ice cream).

For the Sauce

Combine the port wine and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, and continue to simmer until sauce has slightly thickened and reduced.

Remove the saucepan from heat. Add the berries.

Keep refrigerated until use.

Quite a regal looking birthday dessert! Stay tuned, and I’ll show you some more ways to use that boozy berry sauce.