Archive | June, 2013

Caramelized Fennel Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

18 Jun

sweetpotatoesIt is a well-documented fact that I worship at the altar of Ottolenghi. Today, the student becomes the teacher: I have actually IMPROVED a recipe published in Plenty. Well I’ll be ding-donged.

Fresh off the presses and out of the oven: sauteed shallots and caramelized fennel pureed with browned sweet potato, cooked again and topped with feta cheese. Ottolenghi came up with the caramelized fennel, which I made a few weeks ago and liked a lot but didn’t really think it was a stand-alone dish. I decided to throw it into some twice-baked sweet potatoes, which turned out so splendidly that I just can’t see an end to the ways this dish could be dressed up. Caramelized fennel salad with cubed roasted sweet potato and quinoa, anyone?

Caramelized Fennel Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes


  • 1-2 bulbs fennel, green fronds chopped off
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1.5 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS sweetener of choice (I used coconut sugar)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 sweet potatoes, washed
  • Crumbled feta cheese, to taste (I used about 1/3 c)


1. Preheat the oven to 375. Halve the washed sweet potatoes, skins on. Place them cut-side up and roast until flesh is soft, about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as cooking time depends on size of potatoes and oven!

2. Chop bulb of fennel lengthwise so you have several thin pieces of fennel. Melt butter over med-high heat. Arrange fennel in single layer on hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip and cook for 1-2 minutes more, so both sides are browned. Remove fennel from pan– do not clean your pan yet!

3. Sprinkle sugar and black pepper over hot pan. Add minced shallots. Place fennel back in pan, mixing with sugar and shallots, and allow it to caramelize. This should not take long- I like mine nice and brown so I left the fennel on the heat for about 90 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. When potatoes have a nice soft flesh, take them out of oven. When cool enough to handle, carefully scrape out 7/8th of flesh into a bowl or right into your food processor. Try and maintain a thin layer around the bottom and sides, as this will help maintain the shape of the skin. Set the skin aside.

5. In a food processor, puree the fennel/shallot mixture and potatoes until smooth. Add feta to taste- I used about 1/3 c. Spoon back into potato skins (if you’re really fancy use a pastry bag so it looks nicer). Put back in oven at 375 for about 10 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add more feta if you feel so inclined (you better believe I did!). Enjoy.



We live in a wo…

14 Jun

We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes. Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die.

–Jonathan Safron Foer, on how not to be alone


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pop ‘Ems

14 Jun

As I mentioned yesterday, this avocado baking thing is all the rage in my kitchen right now. The only problem so far is that the most successful implementations of this little ditty all have the same taste profile: chocolate and peanut butter. So, not really a problem. I don’t really know if “pop ’em” is a thing, but as I could not stop popping them into my mouth, I think I named them aptly.


Today we have an easy-peasey-lemon-squeezy cookie recipe. I cannot for the life of me find the place where I got my inspiration, but I halved the sugar and more than tripled the chocolate called for in the original recipe, so I suppose it’s not quite recipe plagiarism. Just know that I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pop ‘Ems


  • 1/4 c COLD avocado, mashed or pureed
  • 1 c peanut butter (or almond butter for paleo)
  • 1/2 c sweetener of choice (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened coco powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda


1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Combine all ingredients, mix until just a firm dough has formed.

2. Using about 1 TBS of dough for each cookie, roll dough into about 24 balls. Place at balls least 1 inch apart from each other on the cookie sheet.

3. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are set. Take out of oven and leave to cool for ten minutes on the hot cookie sheet (this is important). Once cool, eat at room temperature or out of the freezer (I liked the texture a little cold air gave them!).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness

13 Jun

I feel like I’ve been posting a lot of SGS lately.  My apologies to any readers who come here for recipes that are actually healthy–you will not find one of those today.

Recently I have been consumed by the idea of avocado in baked goods. In addition to its being a great example of the chemistry of baking (you don’t actually need oil or butter in a recipe; you need fat), using this little trick gives me the excuse to make every serving a surprise party– after I make everyone say how much they like it and how it tastes better than any other chocolate cake they’ve had,  I get to jump out in my avocado costume and yell, ” SURPRISE!” Okay, so maybe I don’t have an avocado costume. But a girl can dream, right?


For my first experiment, I made this dense and fudgey chocolate cake that I layered with a gluten/refined-sugar free peanut butter cream cheese icing. It was a KEEPER, and is best enjoyed with a glass of milk and a hot Cameroonian employment lawyer with a sweet tooth (but I suppose just a glass of milk will do). Anyway, I used this chocolate cake recipe as a guide but made big enough changes to make it gluten/refined-sugar free that I will post my own measurements below with the  improvised the pb/cream cheese filling.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness


  • 3 oz chopped chocolate or just less than 1/2 c carob chips
  • 2/3 c strong, freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 c GF flour (or full o’ flour sugar if you prefer)
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar (OR 1/4 c granulated sugar + 1/2 c packed brown sugar)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used coconut oil, you use whatever you’d like)
  • 1/2 large very ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c milk of choice (I used almond)
  • 1/2 c chocolate/carob chips
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3-1/2 c peanut butter
  • 2 TBS maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease lightly a bundt pan or a brownie pan. Place the smallest saucepan you have and combine in it the coffee and 3 oz of chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted, then set aside to cool off the heat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine by whisk or fork the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat together avocado, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth–I did not have my mixer and so just did it with a fork and it turned out fine, but electric mixer would be better. Whisk in cooled chocolate and milk of choice. Stir the oil/chocolate/milk mixture into the flour/sugar mixture until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate/carob chips. Batter will be thick–if that makes you nervous, add in 2-3 more TBS milk.
  4. Pour into your greased pan and smooth over. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until fork comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely before removing from pan.
  5. To make the filling, start with 4 oz softened cream cheese and a scant 1/3 c peanut butter. Heat peanut butter for about 30 seconds, then combine with cream cheese (either with electric mixer or by beating with fork). Add maple syrup. Continue this process, adding whichever ingredient you prefer more of, until you get desired consistency.
  6. Layer peanut butter filling between two pieces of cooled cake. Enjoy with a glass of milk!

Cheesey Spinach Casserole Worth Fighting Over

12 Jun


JetSet Kef is not one for violence–his general amenability and short attention span work against him in a fight, plus he’s quite gifted in the Eastern Mediterranean/Maybrook, NY leisure sport of “just sittin,'” so he doesn’t bother getting riled up about much.  He did, however, once threaten an ex-boyfriend of mine with these menacing words: “I eat a lot of leafy greens. I could take him.”

Luckily, the duel never came to blows, and JetSet Kef maintains his nutrient-dense diet. I have joined him in his obsession with spinach, and usually bring an entire bag of sauteed spinach as a base to my workday lunch. One never knows when a fight between JSK and a man pitifully devoid of iron could break out!

I found this spinach casserole here— it’s worth reading her ode to steakhouse sides if you have the chance. I did some tinkering, mostly because I think mayonnaise is among the most vile substances on earth. Warning–this is not even a little bit healthy. It is so delicious and decadent that for the very first time in my life I uttered the phrase, “Holy moly, imagine if this had bacon in it!” Poor BFKef was so disappointed when I came back to my senses and reneged my offer to make another one full of pig fat.

3-Cheese Spinach Casserole


  • 1 pound fresh spinach (I used a 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • olive oil, for sauteing.
  • 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt (FIBBYDY)
  • 1/4 cup of cream cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced OR 2 TSP garlic powder (which I used because I was feeling lazy)
  • 1 tsp cloves (trust me)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 c grated/shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/3 c feta


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Heat just enough oil to coat your saute pan over medium-high heat (a 7 if you have those nifty numbers on your dial). Throw in the entire bag of spinach and spread out to be as thin a layer as possible. Let it hang out like that for 7 minutes or so, or until the bottom is a little brown. Once the browning begins, “flip” the spinach the way you would an egg and reorganize it into a single layer again. Leave be until the thawed liquid has really thinned out, which will require another 5-6 minutes or so. You want the spinach to be cooked but not runny.

2. While the spinach is cooking, dice your onion. Once the spinach is cooked, transfer to a strainer. Heat another 1-2 TBS of oil in your pan and cook the onions until soft and fragrant, which should be pretty quick as the pan will be hot. I like my onions a bit brown so I let them go for about 4 or 5 minutes.

3. Combine all ingredients, including the sauteed spinach and onions. Grease lightly whatever casserole dish you’ve got (I used two of the 1.5Q small squares) and distribute mixture evenly throughout pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until top is browned and you’ve got some bubbling going on. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!


Everything About This is Right

7 Jun

Everything About This is Right

William Jefferson repping CY and showing feline love

Paleo Banana Bread Muffins

7 Jun


banamuf1I have been more impressed with weather patterns. A very cold May has turned into a rainy June here in Washington, DC and it’s putting a cramp in my Ferragosto preparations (which is to say–instead of biking and running and tanning, I’ve been cooking and baking and eating. At this rate I will have carb face well before I even set foot in Aunt Stella’s kitchen!). 

It may be worth it, though, if it means I get to keep eating yummies like these banana muffins. I followed this recipe exactly and switched out the loaf pan for a muffin tin–the muffins took about 20 minutes to bake in BFKef’s convection oven.  These guys were universally enjoyed in the KefHousehold, so even those of you who eat like normal humans should whip these up!


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