a holiday brunch for women in design Posted on December 14, 2012 By hello kitchen

This weekend Hello Kitchen co-hosted a brunch with Studio Balcones, a landscape and urban design firm run by Jennifer Orr and Ilse Frank. Since I designed Jen’s kitchen, and Jen & Ilse designed her neighbor’s courtyard garden, we had a grand setting for an event across the two properties. We decided to focus the event for women in design across three disciplines: architecture, landscape and art.

This highly talented crew is contributing to some significant Austin projects: the Seaholm Power Plant restoration, Art in Public Places, the McGarrah Jesse Building, the Airport Boulevard Master Plan, Standard Magazine, Hotel St. Cecilia, and Make ATX, to name a few. How many of these projects help to define the unique creative community of Austin? All of them! So what a great experience it was to share stories and hear the latest updates from those so closely involved.

Did I mention the food? We started with coffee (lots and lots of it) at Jen’s house, and it was a nice opportunity to spend time in her cozy, bright and colorful kitchen. It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since we finished the project, but everyone can reminisce about the process and see before pics here!

After coffee had been served we moseyed over next door to the Studio Balcones courtyard, a lovely space defined by a perforated stucco wall, a loquat tree ‘forest’ used as a screening device from the neighboring apartment building, and a fabulous marble and steel table assembled by designer / metal worker Ann Armstrong.

We had a pretty big spread, including several quiches, frittatas, scones, muffins, mimosa set-ups, and a few brunch-y salads. I made a kale, cinnamon apple salad, inspired by this one by Gena Knox featured on design*sponge (except I substituted walnuts for pecans, honey instead of molasses, and threw in a few cranberries). There was a handful or so leftover, and it held up well enough to make the perfect lazy lunch the next day! Ilse made potato kale quiche from this Huffington Post recipe, and baked these delicious little raspberry muffins from her go-to baking source, The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger.

One of the many tasty things of the day was Jen’s grain-free spinach, onion and gruyere quiche with an almond flour crust. The almond flour is light and fluffy (Jen buys hers online, and it’s much finer than the bulk almond flour from Central Market. The fine flour will take away that marzipan-ish texture and make a lighter, fluffier scone), and she mixed whole milk yogurt into the filling instead of sour cream. I cannot wait to replicate this again soon!

I also loved these cranberry orange scones, adapted from Jen’s favorite resource, Elena Amsterdam’s ‘The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook’.

Cranberry Orange Almond Flour Scones
(adapted from Elena Amsterdam)

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 cup fruit juice sweetened cranberries (you could use apple or grape juice)
1 tbsp orange zest

1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, sea salt, baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, honey and eggs. Stir until just combined, and fold in the sweetened cranberries. Scoop the batter into 1/4 cup measurements and drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned and sound hollow with a tap of the spoon. Serve with naturally sweetened pear butter.

It was a great day thanks to all who contributed – hopefully we can make this a holiday tradition!

photos by Ann Armstrong and Laura Handschumacher