The Best Ice Cream I’ve Ever Made (Or: Why Your College Roommate is the Best Person To Keep in Your Life Forever)

25 Aug

Sometimes you gotta let the world know: something INSANE just came out of your kitchen. So, here I am telling you- this ice cream is gonna change the whole game. And I’m not talking about a pickup soccer match cut short for rain– this ice cream is a game-changer on the level of an epic Cricket battle that has gone into days-long overtime. That’s how good it is. OH- and it’s vegan, refined-sugar-free, and off-the-charts easy to make.

You already know- SO not my picture. Thanks to the Tasting Table for this recipe and picture!

But before we get to that, a word from our sponsors. As I’ve written about before, QueijoKef and I spend a lot of time texting/emailing/’graming each other delicious things we’d like to cook or eat. It’s just one of the reasons she is so great (see also: our quick trip to Miamithe epic bike ride inspired by our friendship’s soundtrack, the gnocchi we both die for, and her signature non-dairy creamy sauce). She has an excellent track record of picking awesome recipes (this matcha gingerbread cookie is a fan favorite), so when she sent me this turmeric-cardamom-coconut milk ice cream, I knew she was on a mission to keep her streak alive.

This ice cream has a seriously complex flavor profile (how’s that for food blogger lingo?) that is somewhere between sweet and savory. In another life when I never have to go to school again, I would make grainless graham crackers, slather this ice cream between ’em for an ice cream sandwich, and make my millions selling them on Georgia Ave. A girl can dream.

I followed this recipe exactly, and you should all go over there to give credit where it’s due and support The Tasting Table with all the clicks you can muster. Because I love this recipe so much and would be devastated if it ever went away, I am reproducing it here for posterity (because if Cooking Up Kefi can outlast Gawker, clearly I’ll be here long after The Tasting Table is gone).

Golden Milk Vegan Ice Cream from The Tasting Table

Ingredients

  • 3 c coconut milk
  • ½ c cream of coconut (here on amazon)
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (I used 1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Chopped candied ginger, for garnish (optional)

Assembly

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients, minus the candied ginger, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Make sure you freeze the bowl of an ice cream maker during this time.

2. The next day, strain the base into the bowl of the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a shallow dish and freeze for at least 4 hours. Scoop the ice cream into bowls and drizzle with honey. Garnish with chopped candied ginger, then serve.

A 600 Page Book to Rip Your Heart Out

19 Aug

One of these days, I’m going to recommend an uplifting book. That day is not today.

We Are Not Ourselves is Matthew Thomas’ epic novel (some 620 pages) following one Irish-American family over the course of four decades. We first meet Eileen Tumulty in 1950s Queens, daughter to “Big Mike” Tumulty, an Industry man and pub favorite. We spend most of the book with her as Eileen O’Leary, wife of Edmund, mother of Connor, and pain-in-the-ass neighbor to many. Her story is one of a changing city, and her fatal flaw is her inability to see change as anything other than an impediment to her happiness, which is always one upgrade out of her reach. If only they had a child. If only Edmund would take that promotion. If only they lived in a big house in the suburbs. Then she would be happy. Then she would be Eileen, self-possessed woman in her own right.

The first ~75 pages of this book are tender and telling as we watch Eileen come to understand that there is a world outside her father’s five-block fiefdom. Next, we spend an awfully long time with Eileen and Edmund in the early days of their marriage, during which Eileen is largely unhappy because her husband is not nearly as interested in class mobility and conspicuous consumption as she is. These are still enjoyable, slice-of-life pages, but meandering enough that I had to go back to the NYT review of the book to remember where in the hell this story is going.

Turns out, Hell is more or less the O’Learys’ destination–Edmund develops early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and Eileen must come to terms with her new role as caregiver, breadwinner, and navigator of unthinkable terrain. What’s heartwrenching about this book is its painfully-true-to-life depictions of a brilliant mind and beloved man lost to a terrible disease; what’s beautiful about this book is the justice it does to the complexity of caregiving. For much of the book, Eileen isn’t exactly likable–she is painfully preoccupied with the perceptions of others and never fully rids herself of the idea that happiness is an item for sale in a place where “store” is spelled “shoppe.” Her cringe-worthy moments of overstep are many, and sometimes forced this reader to wonder whether Matthew Thomas willingly wrote her as such or if perhaps his Y-chromosome has confused him into thinking “shrill” is either appropriate or a compliment. Where Thomas falters in painting a full picture of this character as a young woman, he more than makes up for in the second half of the book: he deftly depicts a woman who is both selfishly human in her pursuit of the “finer life” and selflessly superhuman in her endless commitment to her husband during the most difficult portion of both their lives.

Certainly, Thomas could have pared this book down by about 150 pages–but that didn’t stop me from sitting in a corner of the couch during a beach weekend and reading the last 400 pages of this book over about 15 hours. Thomas’ prose is clean and uncomplicated, and he carefully guides readers to a conclusion that’s almost uplifting. Almost.


You might remember that I have a deep love for old people, and that a woman I really love had Alzheimer’s– if you, too, want more old people to live out their days happily, at home, and able to retell the hilarious story of her first date for the 1000th time, you can donate to the Alzheimer’s Association by clicking here.

The Kefs are headed out on vacation next week, so I’ll be reading a ton– on the list: Homegoing: A Novel, Running: A Love Story, The Underground Railroad, and Underground Airlines. What are you reading?

Other books I’ve read this year:

Two Books to Blow Your Hair Back

A Book I Loved and One I Sort of Liked

A Book I Read, a Book I Dropped, and  a Book I am Dying for you to Read

 

Weekend Overachieving: Coconut Curry Chicken and a Record Run

8 Aug

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a happy surprise on the running front, and even longer since I made my dear husband something nutritious that he would also call delicious. Great news-I did both this weekend!

Let’s start with running- I have been doing my long runs with the Arlington Road Runners Club for the past couple of Saturdays, and it has been just the kick in the pants I need to remember that the hole is not actually that deep.

I had 90 minutes planned for the run, which probably would have been about 10 miles in the stank heat and humidity that Saturday showed up with. Around mile 6, Courtney pointed out that it was time to either take an uber home or make the decision to run the rest of the route with her… the rest of the route being ANOTHER TEN miles. Previous to that morning, the longest I had ever run was 13.5 miles, but I was feeling great and thought to myself, “Let’s see what the ol’ girl can do” (and that’s a direct quote–things have been weird in Kef-landia lately).

Long (run) story short- I finished the route, very much thanks to the AWESOME ARRC volunteers who set up life-changing water stops at miles 7 and 11 and Courtney for being the world’s BEST run-buddy-cheerleader. I’ve been living in a world where I didn’t believe I could ever run that far and, lo and behold, I did it without even planning to. How do you like them apples?

Annoyingly, I forgot to turn my watch back on after a water fountain break and missed some mileage on my watch. Whatever.

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Anyway, I worked and napped and ate and Hoodwinked with SummitKef for the rest of Saturday. I woke up on Sunday ready to kick more ass. I cooked a week’s worth of food in 3 hours, a nice reversal of my usual Sunday routine, which is to eat a week’s worth of food in 3 hours.

This curry chicken took ~20 to put together, made enough for him to eat all week, and got big thumbs up from MrKef. It is based off a Whole30 recipe, but I had to punch up the spice for my audience.

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Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 medium potatoes, rinsed and chopped (sweet potatoes if you’d like!)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1-2 TBS hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
  • 1/3 c coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder and cook another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir well, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer contents of pan into blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and coconut milk and blend again.
  3. Arrange chicken and potatoes in a casserole dish, Pyrex pan, or any high-rimmed oven-safe dish. Pour the curry sauce over the chicken and potatoes, and distribute so everything is covered. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

‘Pouzi Pizza

12 Jul


My love for watermelon runs deep- MamaKef has been known to stare into a fridge with three full melons and lament that there won’t be enough for the whole weekend once I get home. So ChampagneOnlyKef knew exactly what she was doing when she rolled up to the 4th of July ‘Ganza with an innovative watermelon dessert.

This ‘pouzi pizza (watermelon=karpouzi in Greek) is delicious and full of dairy decadence. I love the combo of sweet ricotta cheese and mint, and the cold watermelon base makes you forget you’re eating a Heart Attack flavored dessert. Many thanks to ChampagneOnlyKef for bringing this guy into the repertoire!

‘Pouzi Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c ricotta
  • 1/4 c cream cheese
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Watermelon
  • Berries, for garnish
  • Fresh mint, for garnish

Assembly

  1. Slice watermelon longitudinally.
  2. Mix together cheeses, honey, and vanilla until well combined. Spread over watermelon rounds.
  3. Cut covered rounds into “slices.” Garnish with mint and berries. Chill before serving.

Things I Love that Are Fast and Mostly Healthy

6 Jul

With limited time for cooking these days, it would be easy to fall into the fast food crap trap. But, I’m not about that life. Here are some things I have been leaning on that are quick, mostly healthy, and widely available on the go.

Capello’s pasta

What to do when there’s less than two minutes to get lunch ready in the morning? Dump this grain-free pasta in boiling water and wait 90 seconds. Voila! I love this almond-based take on an old complex carb standby–nothing like a protein source that also feels like a treat.

Starbucks protein boxes (sans bread for gf, sans pb for sf)

On Tuesdays, I leave the house at 6, go to yoga, go to work, go to clinical, and then sit at Starbucks for 2 hours while I skype into class. I would need to carry the whole grocery store in my car to cover all those meals–instead, I rely on these little Bento box to get me through class before I can go home and eat something healthy. One egg, a few slices of cheese, some grapes, and half an apple (sliced) is juuuust enough to keep me from killing someone out of hunger. If you’re less “free” than me, you can also enjoy a little peanut butter pita.

Beyond Meat Vietnamese lemongrass “chicken” bowl

Speaking of things I’m generally not that into but have been using to make it through life (#survivalmode), this vegetarian frozen lunch is beyond delish. This probably stretches the outer boundaries of “mostly healthy”– who knows what chemical ish-storm people used to make this fake meat ditty so yummy–but once I am a nurse practitioner and have time on my hands to worry about health again, I will prescribe myself something really good to fix whatever 11th toe grows out of me after a year of eating these once a week. In the meantime, they taste worth it🙂

Vietnamese Lemongrass With Beyond Chicken®

Amy’s Palak Paneer

While we’re talking frozen sodium, I try to fool myself into think I’m doing myself a favor by pairing a frozen meal with copious amounts of leafy greens. Among my very favorite lunches are Amy’s Palak Paneer or Amy’s Tamale Verde + a whole bin of spinach. HEAVEN. At least that 11th toe will be filled with iron-rich blood.

Indian Palak Paneer

Lara Bars

These guys are an old favorite– nothing beats ’em! My first love will always be cherry pie, but right now apple pie and I are having a pretty torid romp in the hay.

What are your favorite tricks to get through hectic times?

A Skillet Sensation Throwback: Shakshuka

28 Jun

My life in shambles continues, so much so that I’m just a recipe-recycling fiend. No time for trying new things these days, sadly. Today we’re taking it back to a one-pan phenom of yesteryear: shakshuka. I fell in love with this Mediterranean dish many moons ago, and its made a big resurgence in my weekly rotation now that I am booked for about 27 hours a day.

Per usual, I couldn’t be bothered to take a good picture the first time I posted this,  so I’m going to supplement today’s years-old recipe with highlights from my weekend in the most wonderful place in the world: New York’s Hudson Valley. Scroll to the bottom for the awesome tomato-based recipe with perfectly-poached eggs if that’s what you came for. In case you’re wondering what this dish might look like, here’s Google Image’s top result:

Great, on to the weekend!

JetSet and KimmieKef are doing some tri-ing this year, so they’ve been lean, mean, biking machines. They found this fun ride (NOT a race) and I happily got on board. But first, I had to spend some time at the pool:

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But don’t be too jealous–I was working, I swear!

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Anyway, we set off the next morning ready for a 55-mile bike ride. It’s worth noting that this marks the first appearance of DonQuixoteKef, el ingenioso caballero al mismo.

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The course was beautiful, well marked, and even took JetSet and I on a trip down Memory Lane– the site of the 8th Grade Field Trip!

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Everything was peaches and cream until I hit something with my wheel and got a puncture flat, which I was totally prepared to fix, until I wasn’t.

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Long story short, I thought I was going to have to get towed in my the SAG wagon, but then Ride Assistance saved me, and I was back on the road. The good news about this whole detour is that JetSet FINALLY got to treat this like a race, not a ride. Eventually, we all made it back to the finish line

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And headed straight to NBNY. There, we ate more than our fair share of Greek food. At first, it was civilized:

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…but of course things devolved quickly

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In fairness to him, that saganaki juice WAS really good. Lest you think our antics went unnoticed, we were labeled accordingly on our check:

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A hands-held jump in the pool and the fastest drive to Manhattan ever, and we were back, though some of us took it WAY back with an ill-fitting high school polo short not even fit for a ShopRite trip and, um, no shoes.

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So there you have it, friends. Such a fun weekend with some of my favorite people.

On to the recipe:

Shakshuka

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno,  finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can FIREROASTED crushed tomatoes, juices and all (this will make or break your sauce– spend the extra 30 cents for fireroasted!)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On the stovetop, heat oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add onion, garlic and jalapenos. Saute, stirring often, until tender and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the chickpeas, paprika and cumin and cook for 2 more minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and their juices and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce thickens a bit.
  3. Sprinkle feta over the mixture and crack eggs one at a time on top. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, about 7 minutes. Top with herbs and serve.

Skillet Sensation #2: Lemon Almond Cake

15 Jun

A one-bowl treat cooked in a pan? The New York Times gets crazier and crazier by the day. I’d cook on my hands if Mark Bittman said it would result in a better meal on my table, but he really goes off the deep end in the video associated with this recipe when he resists calling this a tart, and suggests instead that we call this an almond fritatta. I’m not quite ready to go there. The lemon is refreshing, it’s not too sweet but not savory either, and it has a bunch of protein from the eggs and the almonds…so I’ll just go ahead and call it a recovery cake, then. Eat that, Bittman.

I made mine without the powdered sugar, so it didn’t look so hot– here’s the beautiful work of the NYT to show you what yours could look like if you’re as good at life as they are:

Capture

 

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ to ¾sugar (I used 1/2 c of coconut palm sugar)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ground almonds
  • ½cream
  • ½sliced almonds, more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 TBS butter
  • powdered sugar, for garnish

Assembly

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest and juice.
  2. Melt butter in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet over low heat; when foam has subsided, add almond mixture to pan, tilting pan to distribute batter evenly. Continue to cook tart on stovetop until edges just begin to set, then put pan in oven and finish cooking, about 10 to 15 minutes more.
  3. When tart is done, put it in broiler for about a minute or until just golden on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds. Serve.
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