Archive | February, 2014

Skyline Chili

25 Feb

Cincinnati fans of kefi- today is your day.

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BFKef and I had some friends over for dinner a couple Sundays ago and, as we were in the middle of another unbearably cold snap, decided on chili and biscuits for the menu. BFKef demanded that we try something meatier and spicier than my go-to pumpkin chili, and I immediately thought of the friggin’ awesome chili I once made with the Cooking Club at the youth center where I used to work. Those younguns loved some damn spice and meat, so I knew it would be a hit with BFKef, as well.

What I didn’t realize (but obviously should have) was that this delicious Midwestern tradition is actually another culinary gift from–who else?–  Greeks!

Everyone who has ever been to the Nasty ‘Nati raves about the bold, spicy flavor of Skyline chili and the unique way it’s served, but no one ever told me that it was created by a Greek immigrant. Add it to the running tab of things things my people have given the world. Democracy, Socratic method, baklava, and… the Midwestern equivalent of Ben’s Chili Bowl. Not bad for a dozen centuries’ work.

We made a meaty and a veggie version, plus gluten-free and gluten-filled biscuits. I wasn’t crazy about either result for the biscuit, so I’ll leave that out. Enjoy.

Skyline Chili


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (if you’re into that whole omnivore thing)
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes (for meat version- no sub for veggie version)
  • 4 c water (for meat version)/ 4 c vegetable broth for non-meat version
  • 1/4 c chili powder
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper (trust me- even 1 tsp has a kick!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 TBS white vinegar
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) of dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) of black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) white beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce (the can, not the jar)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • shredded cheese, to taste
  • sour cream, to taste

1. With meat: in a large pan, heat the water and bouillon cubes over medium heat. Add the beef in small handfuls. Cover and eep the water at a low simmer (do not boil!) for about 30 minutes.

2. For both versions: heat oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Combine all the spices in a side bowl, mix, and then add the spices to the onions. Mix well and cook for another minute or so. Add tomato sauce and the bay leaf and give another good mix.

3. In a large soup pot, combine the tomato/onion mixture with beans and the meat broth OR 3-4 cups vegetable broth. Add vinegar, mix well.

4. Leave to simmer until desired consistency is reached- I love a dark, smoky chili so we left ours over the lowest heat for hours. This chili is even better if you let flavors set overnight- but who really has time for that? Serve warm with cheese and sour cream. Cincinnati-style spaghetti optional 🙂

Greek Empanadas

24 Feb

With weekends like that– who needs weekdays?

If you were lucky enough to be in the Mid-Atlantic region this week, you enjoyed sunny highs of 65- perfect running weather. I snuck in a 12-mile run that was absolutely glorious with the exception of the Calvert Street hill, where I realized the two women talking about butter pecan ice cream as they strolled up the hill were moving more quickly than I was while “running.”  Talk about an ego check.

Hilly runs aside, I had some of my long-time favorites over for empanadas. AKAKef and NoLongerClevelandParkKef brought their world-famous sangria (recipe forthcoming!), ChitownKef and TShirtMogulKef joined us, and it was on. We gossiped, we laughed, we speculated about the best places to spot Michael Eric Dyson and Eric Holder in DC, and then we kvetched about the lack of “house training” in the modern era… everything a Sunday night ought to be.

I used the dough from my favorite empanadas and filled them with fasolakia (plus a hearty dose of feta cheese) and was pleased with the result.  photo-82


We finished the night off with some chocolate peanut butter pop ’ems and a countdown to the return of Scandal Thursday, and then scurried home because some people reallly needed to catch the latest episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta. I won’t name names to protect the very, very guilty.

Greek Empanadas


  • 1 batch of empanada dough
  • 1 batch fasolakia (cut the beans into thirds after you stem them)
  • About 4 oz feta cheese (optional)


1. Prepare the fasolakia and let them cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the empanada dough. Cut the dough into rounds (3-inches for small, 6-inches for big) using a biscuit cutter or glass cup as described in empanada recipe. Arrange half of the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Put about 1 TBS of fasolakia in the center of each 3-inch round, or about 1.5 TBS in a larger empanada. Sprinkle generously with feta. Cover the bases with the remaining half of the rounds and seal with your fingers. Brush generously with the oil of your choice.

4. Bake for 12 minutes at 350, then turn on the broiler for another 2-3 minutes, WATCHING THE EMPANADAS LIKE A HAWK. When lightly browned, remove from the oven and enjoy!


The Very Best Paleo Cauliflower Pizza

21 Feb

Last time we talked about cauliflower crusts, it was this one.  I love cauliflower as much as the next gal, but it always begs the question: how did such a great vegetable get stuck with all that blahblahbeigeyness? Y’all already know white ain’t exactly my thang (…), so I’ve spent a lot of time dressing it up (roasting it, casserole-ing it, currying it, mashing it, and fried rice-ing it, to name a few)–but I always feel like cauliflower is the black & white beginning of The Wizard of Oz… can’t we just skip right to the bursting-with-color Emerald City?

Turns out, there is a Wonderful Wizard of Whole Foods: apparently there is something called GOLDEN cauliflower, and it is awesome. I don’t really think the coloring contributes to any meaningful bump in nutrition, but it did inspire me to re-visit the whole cauliflower-as-pizza crust thing with EVEN MORE success, and that has to count for something, right?


I love love love this much-less-cheesey cauliflower crust. True, cauliflower is still a bit of a ghost writer in this dish, but the golden color really helped make the vegetable “look” like bread- plus, without all the cheese, the cauliflower comes through quite a bit more (in a good way!). And yes, this recipe has an absolutely bizarre ingredient–I, too, said, “Wtf is nutritional yeast?”–but it’s nothing you can’t find in a YES!, Mom’s, Whole Foods, or probably even Wegmans and it really contributes to a certain je-ne-sais-quoi savory factor–don’t skip it. But this crust stands up and sticks together so well that you just have to eat it to believe it. If even had that crispy “crunch” of biting into pizza!

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So just make it already… okay? Thankssomuch.

The Very Best Paleo Cauliflower Pizza Crust


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, grated
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 2 TBS almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 large eggs, beaten
  • your favorite tomato sauce
  • cheese/toppings of your choose

1. Preheat oven to 475F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and put it in the oven as it preheats.

2. Arrange the grated cauliflower in a thin single layer and cook until JUST browned, about 7 minutes (check frequently). Remove from oven, put the cauliflower in a medium mixing bowl, and put the pan (with parchment paper) back in the oven.

3. Give the cauliflower a few minutes to cool, then remove as much of the excess water from the cauliflower as possible– you can do this by squeezing it through cheesecloth, a thin dish towel, a paper towel, or using a strainer. Yes, you will have to use some force.

4. In a mixing bowl (you can use the same one you were just using), combine the strained cauliflower and the rest of the ingredients. Start with 2 eggs and mix well with a robber spatula– if ingredients are well incorporated and resemble dough, you’re good. If it’s still pretty crumbly, through in another egg and it should come together. Form the dough into a ball.

5. Remove hot pan from oven  and turn out your dough into the center of the pan. Flatten the ball gently with your rubber spatula to your desired shape- it should be about a half-inch thick. Bake for 8 minutes, then add desired tomato sauce and toppings. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the crust gets golden brown.


I Dreamed a Dream: Chef Kefi and Ottolenghi

20 Feb

As I mentioned yesterday, when JetSet Kef suggested we fly across an ocean for a mere three days, I consented on these two very specific conditions: we turn down nearly every other social obligation to spend lots of time with our awesome (and pregnant!) cousin, and we eat at an Ottolenghi establishment. I’m pleased to report a stunning success on both fronts.

So let’s just jump right in. While I would have dragged our foursome to each.and.every Ottolenghi outpost in London, my dear cousin very rightly suggested we just bite the bullet, do it properly, and go to: NoPi. A visual:

nopi-restaurant-review-007Done and done.

Then the ordering began. My cousin’s husband (my cousin-in-law?) is exactly the kind of person you want with you at a small-plates restaurant: the one who manages to remember each and every dish each person mentions while reading the menu and is then able to pass them on to the waitress without even looking back at the menu. Friggin’ brilliant. So what did we pick, you wonder?


Roasted sweet potato, roasted aubergine yoghurt, basil, maple-roasted seeds. This was the decided winner from all four judges.


Roasted aubgergine, lemon chili feta, and pistachios. A VERY close second.


Burrata, blood orange, coriander seeds, and lavender oil


Persian love rice wrapped in vine, pickled kohlrabi, and burnt butter courgette tzatziki. Yeah, you read that right. And yes, that is a little PACKAGE formed by a grape leaf. Really something for me to think about.


Mackerel, cucumber gazpacho, and salsify.


Also ordered, and pictured somewhere here:
-french beans, bok choi, edamame, yellow mustard seeds
-courgette and manouri fritters with cardamom yoghurt
-artichoke soup, pickled shimeji, and mushroom toast (best-assembled bite, for sure)
-brussel tops, sprouts, and ginger (do not ask me why the Brits don’t call them brussels sprouts or what the difference between a brussels top and sprout is)

It was a very, very lovely meal.

London, Actually, Is All Around

19 Feb

What do two people who haven’t shared a line of longitude since 2009 do to celebrate Presidents’ Day? Jump a few time zones, naturally, and mosey on over to London to see their smart, beautiful, hilarious, cousin. FEBREGOSTO!

Quite by accident, pretty much the first thing we happened upon in London was the posh Whole Foods near Notting Hill.

IMG_1010Thought that use of “posh” was just a gratuitous Britishism? Think again. This Whole Foods has a Champagne Bar and AN ENTIRE ROOM DEDICATED TO CHEESE THAT IS HUMIDIFIED AND TEMPERATURE CONTROLLED. And that’s just on the first floor– we didn’t even make it to the other two levels.


IMG_1013Then we headed over to Portobello Road, street where the riches of ages are sold

IMG_1018and poked about London, which was mostly sunny and not rainy- who knew?

IMG_1024After we headed to the Satchi, there was some street food that took a LOT of sibling-imposed restraint not to engage

IMG_1017and some mulled wine that neither of us tried even a little bit to talk ourselves out of.

IMG_1019Then, as per tradition, it was time for an Afternoon Caffeinated Beverage (yes–it’s a proper noun).

IMG_1025At which point I found out that I was accepted into a program to become a Nurse Practitioner, so we had to turn the ACB into a Celebratory Champagne Cocktail. Which is pretty much when people started to assume we were on our honeymoon.

IMG_1026Until JetSet did his very best impression of our Italian teacher, who loved to talk about Marie Antoinette’s breasts (known to Signora as “the tits”). Then it was pretty clear we weren’t dating. I hope.

IMG_1027We pulled it together for some tapas, whose number clearly overwhelmed me.

IMG_1028The next day was all business: the British Museum, Tate Modern, and OTTOLENGHI!


IMG_1030Clearly, Yotam will get an entire post devoted to him (but check out this, this, this, and this to recall why I love him so).

JetSet and I continued our walking tour of London, where we ran into one of his colleagues from Dubai as well as a little piece of home, NBNY

IMG_1043not to mention the Globe Theatre

IMG_1053some lovely scenery

IMG_1055a farmer’s market JetSet went to like a year ago that was closed on Sunday but he swore it was the best ever

IMG_1057and St Paul’s.

IMG_1058Speaking of St Paul’s… does this view look at all familiar to you?


loveactually4-14Of course, we had to re-enact the moment

IMG_1050“What could be worse than the total agony of being in love?”

IMG_1051I insisted we head into a grocery store, where I found two travesties that make me THRILLED those people threw that tea into that harbor all those years ago:

photo 3Do not adjust your computer screen– that is, in fact, a Skittles Shake. Blech.

photo 2JetSet and I agreed: worse than the American mispronunciation of Oikos (οἶκος) is this British butchering of the spelling. Double blech. But at least Danon had the good sense to make this commercial.

Then, just as quickly as we came, it was time to be off again.

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It was an extremely lovely weekend- low on stress, high on family, and sure to happen again just as soon as I can rack up enough miles to fly across the world again for a long weekend.

Taverna-Quality Fasolakia

6 Feb

We are already in the second month of the year and I have not even so much as mentioned FERRAGOSTO! I realized this last night as I gobbled up the tomato-braised green beans I just took out of the oven and thought to myself, “Thank God my brother isn’t here because I would really hate to share these.” But then it occurred to me that if I were with my brother eating fasolakia as good as these, we would probably be herephoto-80

and in that case I could probably handle sharing. T MINUS 5 MONTHS(ish) TO FERRAGOSTO!

Which brings us to today’s recipe: fasolakia. Nom nom nom. As you know, I wasn’t that into green beans for a long time, so I missed out on this delicious Greek dish for some time. Fasolakia (translation: green beans) are as easy to make as they are a classic display of Greek flavors. Saute some onion, add some dill, throw in green beans, tomatoes and wine, simmer, then throw in the oven to braise. Done and done, right?


I still don’t know how to properly take pictures of greasy food, but the grease makes these beans so.damn.good I couldn’t even be bothered to try and fix it.



  • 100 mL olive oil (just under 1/2 c if you don’t have a metric measurer)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c dill, chopped
  • 1 lb green beans, ends chopped (Paleo magazine says they are, in fact, Paleo!)
  • 2 cans fire roasted diced tomato
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1/5 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • Somewhere around a cup of dry wine or broth


1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan that can be put in the oven (nothing rubber). Throw in your onion and garlic, cook over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add dill, cook for another 2-3 minutes.

2. Arrange green beans in as close to a single layer as possible over the onions. Add mint, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and spread  over top of beans. Let cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the juices of the tomatoes start to come out.

3. Add just enough wine or broth to meet the level of the beans. Give everything a good mix. Cover and reduce to very low heat for 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove cover, increase stovetop heat to med-high and cook for another 15 minutes or so, or until most of the juices have cooked off.

5. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, throw the whole pan into your pre-heated oven and bake until beans are browned, which took me 12 minutes or so. Serve warm.

Goat Stew at the Fufu Jamdown

5 Feb

What happens when a Cameroonian, a South African, a Haitian, some folks with Chinese heritage, and a couple of white people get together for a meal?

Glad you asked. The First Annual Fufu Jamdown. THAT’S what happens.

Buoyed by his success with the crock pot, BFKef endeavored to exact one of his favorite dishes for this showcase showdown of homeland cuisine.  A recipe search, a trip to the Caribbean butcher, and a few hours in a pot later, BFKef was the proud chef of goat stew!

We'll work on the pictures, okay?

We’ll work on the pictures, okay?

Several reliable sources said this was a delicious dish. BFKef says it’s “spicy (but not an overwhelming spice), the meat is tender, and it’s filling, especially if you eat it with rice.” There you have it.

Goat Stew


  • 2 lbs goat meat, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp  freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 TBS curry powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers, minced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 cups vegetable stock


1. Combine all ingredients except stock and rub into meat. COver and marinate for at least 6 hours.

2. Bring stock to a simmer in large sauce pan with heavy bottom.  Add the meat and all the juices. Cover pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

3. Remove bay leaves before serving.

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