Archive | March, 2013

Joy

26 Mar


If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.


Meister Eckhart


25 Mar



From Pinterest










“And then I shall come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean” – Kahlil Gibran

Caprese Empanadas

22 Mar

Empanadas have got to be one of the greatest foods on the planet.  I mean really- what’s better than a no-fork-required doughy treat with a surprise filling? I rest my case.

I expected this to be one of the recipes I had to sell to the Kef crowd–but I was surprised by how quick and easy this recipe turned out to be. I made the sad mistake of burning mine, so be careful in the final baking stage not to overcook. The dough is paleo-approved (the cheesy filling decidedly not so), and the great news is you can fill these guys with just about anything you like for a great result.

Have a great weekend!

Caprese Empanadas
Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1.5 c unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • 1 c almond meal
  • 1/2 c arrowroot powder (I know…I know. I didn’t have it in my kitchen, either)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar (lemon juice would be a good sub here)
  • 1 TBS watered
  • oil of your choice for brushing empanadas


For the Filling

  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 5 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • tomato sauce for dipping (optional)

Assembly
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grind the almond meal and coconut into a fine powder using a food processor.  Scrape the bottom and sides of processor bowl and grind again for about 2 more minutes.

2. Add arrowroot and salt to processor and mix again until combined. Add eggs and vinegar and mix in processor again until a cohesive dough forms–mine actually formed itself into a lovely dough ball. If necessary, add water 1 TBS at a time (I needed 1 TBS to get all the dough together). 

3. Gather the dough into a firm ball. Generously dust a sheet of wax paper with arrowroot powder and roll the ball in it to dust all sides. Place another sheet of wax paper on top and roll out to 1/8-inch thick (I was at BFKef’s and used a wine bottle…make do with whatcha got). Use anything hard, round, and about 6 inches in diameter (I used a small Tupperware) to cut out 5-6 empanadas. You will probably have to cut a few, reform the ball and roll out two or three times in total to use all the dough.  Place your circles on an ungreased baking sheet.

4. To make the filling, finely dice and mix the basil, cheese, and tomatoes. Place on each circle 1-1.5 TBS  of filling –RESIST THE URGE TO OVERFILL. Fold in half and “crimp” the ends together to seal the empanada. Crimping an empanada requires about the same skill level as crimping your hair — just get to scrunching. Once sealed, brush generously with oil.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your empanadas. To brown them, turn the oven to “broil” for the last two minutes–BUT BE SURE TO WATCH LIKE A HAWK. I left mine for about 30 seconds too long and nearly ruined the whole shebang. Let cool and enjoy! If you’d like, use a tomato sauce for dipping.

Above All, Have Fun

21 Mar

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

Greek Yogurt Breakfast Tart

19 Mar
One of the great things about working with a gaggle of 20-something women: the magazines that clutter the break room, nurses’ station, and nursery. Some people use trashy television to decompress–for me, it’s the glossy page.  I never finish the love quizzes or follow any of the make up advice, but I usually find inspiration in the recipe section–and yes, I am that person who rips the recipe page out of the back and keeps you from finishing the article about some woman’s harrowing experience with credit card debt or a baby switched at birth. And that, my friends, is where we found this guy:


The good people at Better Homes & Gardens came up with this Greek yogurt tart with a cornflake crust.  It’s quick, painless, and you can do the whole thing in one bowl (which is a big plus for the queen of leaving dirty dishes around).  This crust is DELICIOUS and I will definitely use it again for no-bake fillings.  The filling itself ends up tasting like set vanilla yogurt, as the gelatin robs the Greek yogurt of its creaminess–so this is definitely tasty but not a gamechanger. Next time, I will probably add some cream cheese or goat’s cheese to keep the creaminess (maybe even use the filling from this pie), but this would be a great addition to any brunch gathering as is.

Greek Yogurt Tart with Cornflake Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c crushed cornflakes, which took me about 3 c whole corn flakes (Arrowhead Mills makes a gf/sf version)
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • 3 TBS packed brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 1/4 c plain Greek yogurt (FIBBYDY)
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1/4 c orange marmalade (optional)

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine crushed cornflakes, melted butter, and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Press into the bottom and up the sides of tart pan with removable sides (if you don’t have one, any tin pan will do, it just won’t look as pretty). Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

2. Put water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, let stand for 5 minutes. Microwave on high for 20 seconds (stir at halfway point), or until gelatin is dissolved.  In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, honey, and vanilla. Whisk in gelatin/water until completely combined. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Chill for at least 4 hours, but overnight is preferable.

3. When ready to serve, peel orange and heat marmalade until just melted. Cut orange however you’d like and decorate the top of tart. Drizzle or brush marmalade over oranges. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk Yogurt Sauce

18 Mar


Lordy Lou. Hold the damn boat. Holy Moly. Sweet Lord Baby Jesus. Insert other absurd Chef Kefi, RN exclamation here. Ready for a recipe that comes from one of the world’s most revered vegetarian kitchens and requires NO culinary skill whatsoever? Read on, young grasshopper. 

So many amazing pictures of this recipe all over the internet that I just couldn’t choose! My rendition is the bottom right photo.

The background: A few weeks ago, JetSet Kef implied that I would never reach full yiayia status until I pick up a copy of of Plenty, the vegetarian cookbook written by Yotam Ottolenghi, and master several recipes.  I was, of course, indignant–sure, this guy has 4 incredibly-successful London restaurants and grew up growing his own garden in Mediterranean soil…but I am Chef Kefi, RN for chrissakes.  Hmph.

And then I saw the cover photo. Halved eggplant roasted and smothered in some delicious creamy sauce (which, you already know, we love in Keftown), then topped with POMEGRANATE seeds? Uncle Frank…Is this a joke?!  Where the eff has this book been all my life?

I became bewitched, body and soul, by this recipe. Within minutes of the cookbook’s arrival I was at Whole Foods, where I have been scoffing at the out-of-season $6 pomegranates all winter–ONLY TO FIND THEY WERE OUT OF POMEGRANATES IN MY MOMENT OF NEED. Undeterred, I went to three more grocery stores, after which it became evident that the entire food industry conspiring against me and my dream of making this recipe.  I called an audible on the whole thing and switched the pom seeds for a balsamic-pomagranate reduction, and this was still one of my favorite things to come out of my kitchen.  All’s well that ends well, I suppose–but I won’t pass up one of those $6 out-of-season gifts from the Gods again.

This is hide-your-kids-hide-your-wife good. If Oprah invited me on her show right now, I would jump all over that damn couch proclaiming my love for this. I keep trying to wrap up this post but can’t find the right punctuation for my new beloved–so just go find some pomegranates and get to it!

Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt Buttermilk Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, large and long
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme (the minipack is enough for the whole recipe)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Greek season, za’atar, or other spice sachet you like, to taste
—-

  • 1 pomegrante
OR
  • 1 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 8 oz pom juice
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 9 TBS buttermilk
  • 1/2 c Greek Yogurt (FIBBYDY)
  • 1 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of salt

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, even cutting through the green stem (which you won’t eat–it’s just there to look nice).  Use a small sharp knife and cut three-four parallel lines across the width of the eggplant, careful not to go through the skin.  Repeat 45 degree angle with 3-4 more cuts, making a diamond-shaped pattern (think of it as 4 tally marks and then parallel diagonal lines like you use to show 5 in when keeping tally). 

2. Put the eggplant skin-side-down (flesh up) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Distribute the entire 1/3 c olive oil between the 4 pieces by brushing it on until the entire amount has been absorbed (which will not take much time, as eggplant is about the most liquid-greedy vegetable out there). Sprinkle with thyme leaves (I put about 2 tsp of fresh thyme on each) and Greek seasoning or za’tar. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until flesh is soft and a nice-looking brown. A knife should very easily move through the roasted flesh. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. While roasting eggplant, whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Taste and add more season for flavor if you feel so inclined. Keep cold until serving.

4. Prepare your pomegranate seeds or balsamic reduction.  To learn how to separate seeds, watch this video. To make balsamic reduction, combine balsamic vinegar, pom juice, leaves from 5 thyme sprigs, and garlic cloves in a medium pot.  Bring to boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes, until liquid has reduced by about 1/3. This will make way more than you need–keep the rest in fridge and put it on everything or use as a salad dressing.

5. To serve, put lots and lots and lots of buttermilk over the eggplant. Season with more Greek seasoning or za’tar and generous amounts of seeds or reduction. Spread the love for this recipe far and wide!

Eggplant Rolldakia

12 Mar
There is nothing in this world as relaxing to me as an afternoon in the kitchen. Luckily, I found some time during this crazy week to throw open the windows, enjoy the 55 degree weather, blast the Erykah Badu Pandora station (if you don’t know, now you know), and tinker about with some potential additions to the Greek Easter line up.
 
I loved making these eggplant rolldakia (alternate Kef name “Egg(plant) Rolls,” but the Greek won out over the pun this time). The inspiration came from this vegan version, but I had to cheese mine way up.
 
Eggplant Rolldakia
 
Ingredients
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (my money is on smoky marinara)
  • 3 medium-large eggplant (length more important than girth in this case)
  • salt to sprinkle
  • olive oil
  • 30 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8-12 oz feta, depending on how feta-y you like your filling to taste
  • 1/2 c grated romano (or parmesan if you are working with a nurse’s budget, like me)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c minced basil
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease rimmed 2-3 baking pans and let them heat up in the oven as it preheats. Put ricotta cheese in a strainer to get rid of excess liquid. Wash eggplant, chop off the stems. Slice eggplants vertically into thin strips, aiming for slices that are 1/2 inch thick or less. I found that I did a crappy job on the first one but had the skill honed by the third eggplant–so learning curve ain’t a steep one. Lay slices on clean dish towels or paper towels, sprinkle fairly generously with salt and let sit for 15 minutes or so–you will see the excess water come to top of each slice.
 
2. As the eggplant slices sit in salt, stir in a bowl until combined the ricotta, feta, romano, egg, garlic and basil. 
 
3. Wipe off the moisture from the top of the slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on the hot pans–they will probably not all fit in one round. Cook in oven until slightly browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes more so other side browns as well. Once both sides are slightly browned, take off pan and let cool. Repeat until you’ve gone through all the slices.
 
4. As you work through browning all the slices, start filling the cooled eggplant with cheese. Put 1-1.5 TBS of filling at one end of a slice and roll tightly, finishing with the seam down. Repeat until either filling or slices run out (I had some extra filling left over).
 
5. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet (no need to regrease). Don’t let them touch, but the rolls can be very close together. Mine fit on one large pan. Distribute tomato sauce among rolls, spreading it between and over them.
 
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Rolldakia are done when the eggplant look more brown than white–sorry that is the best way I can describe it. If you take them out and they are not easily sliced with a knife, they are not done.
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