Archive | November, 2014

Giving Thanks

27 Nov

I wondered a couple of years ago if we had lost our ability to be grateful. The cynical side of me worries that the November narrative of thanks is just another bad example of hashtag activism– seems like we’ve barely finished proclaiming to the world how grateful we are for the things we already have before we rush out the door to accumulate more ish we don’t need for people who may not even express how grateful they are to receive it. But–since today is Thanksgiving and not Day 1 of Intro to Cultural Critique– I’ll just leave that right there.

Instead, here are two interesting takes on being grateful. One comes to us from an amazing runner in North Carolina who is taking every moment she has by the horns:

The other is directed at Christians and use of the word “blessed,” but I found it a thought-provoking and universal reflection on what we’re grateful for and how we talk about our thankfulness: The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

Happy Thanksgiving, Keftanis! I hope you all find something to be thankful for, today and every day.


Five for Friday: Fall Recipes

21 Nov

It’s Friday (get your groove on!) and I’m linking up with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar for the Friday Five link up. Today it’s right down to it: favorite fall foods!

Photo credit:

What are you guys eating this fall? What’s on your Thanksgiving list?

Chocolate Ricotta Pie

19 Nov

photo(2) I’m testing out recipes for Thanksgiving (which is next week, btw–how did that happen?!) and came across this ricotta pie recipe on Tastespotting. Ricotta + chocolate + lemon was a new flavor palate to me, so this guy skyrocketed to the list of recipes I’m considering for this year’s Thanksgiving dessert. It’s an easy filling that I layered into that cornmeal-sourdough crust from the easy-peasey galette. General consensus was that this is a very yummy pie perfect for a group–but I don’t think it’s going to be my Thanksgiving showstopper this year. I would like to make this again in two-bite tart form (in a chocolate crust!), and I’m also VERY interested in using the filling as custard between cake layers. So this may not be the last you see of this unique little guy. I’d love to know what you think if you make it!

Chocolate Ricotta Pie


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 c milk
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 c cherry brandy
  • 8 oz ricotta
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • zest of 1 lemon

Assembly 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light and a bit fluffy. Melt the chocolate and brandy together (I microwaved it for 35 seconds or so) and, mix it into the egg mixture, and set aside to cool. 2. Over a double broiler, mix together the flour and milk. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. 3. If you’re working with real live fresh ricotta, let it drain through a sieve to cut off excess water. If, like me, you bought the Safeway brand, you can skip this step. 4. Mix the chocolate-egg mixture with the ricotta and stir well. Slowly add in the milk-flour custard. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Let sit for ten minutes. Pour into crust and smooth with a spatula if needed. 5. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely and, if possible, serve the next day–flavors are much better that way! 3.

Burnt Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce and the Quinoa Bowl I’m Dying to Eat

18 Nov

Cranberries: not just the name of JetSetKef’s favorite band in middle school. I always buy bags of ’em because they are so cheap but have never really LOVED the dishes I’ve made with them. This year things are different: last week I made a cranberry apple galette that restored my faith in French pastry and yesterday I made a cranberry sauce so good and so easy that you will forget it even comes in a can. With two more bags in the fridge, who knows what more can happen!

This is a total set-it-and-forget-it recipe– I was actually doing yoga in my living room while it cooked (more like fighting with my cat for room on the yoga mat…a story for another day). The only way I could keep myself from eating the whole thing right out of the damn pot was to mix some with the butternut squash I had roasted earlier that day, which had me reallllllly wishing I had more of that frozen quinoa and kale from Costco I posted about a few weeks ago. I think this just-sweet-enough, hearty-with-a-pinch-of-spice cranberry sauce can be paired with almost anything–but if I were you, I’d throw it in a bowl with some red quinoa, braised kale, and roasted butternut.


Burnt Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 7/8 c red wine
  • 1/8 c maple syrup
  • 1/2 TBS cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg


1. Combine ingredients in a medium pot and mix well.

2. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook, strring occasionally, for 45-50 minutes, or until you’ve reached your desired consistency. The burnt bits on the bottom WILL be the best part.

Cranberry Apple Galette

13 Nov

Christmas came early to the CasaKefi–FianceKef arranged an amazing surprise that I’ll give you all the scoop on later (hint: it involves kicking off Love Actually season!) AND the replacement parts for my food processor arrived today. God is good ALL of the time.

I have been dying to try my hand at galettes–an unfinicky French dessert? Sign me up! QueijoKef has been filling up my Instagram account with all kinds of galette inspiration, so when I had some extra time between really fun night of Korean BBQ and bedtime, I decided it was time to whip one up. (PS- Follow me on Instagram @ChefKefiRN and you, too, can see the absurd food-picture tag Queij and I are engaged in.) Pastries are always a little touch and go when it comes to subbing in gluten-free flour, and I was fully prepared for this late-night escapade to be a disappointment. Imagine my shock and joy when it turned out to be a great success!

photo 4(1)This cranberry apple galette comes from our friends at Williams Sonoma, who are not playing around, and I have included my substitutions for gf/sf in their recipe below. The crust calls for both cornmeal and sour cream, which adds a fullness of flavor and texture that I haven’t come across in other gluten-free crusts, and the cranberries keep the apples from making the dessert too sweet or apple-crispy. Taken all together, this dessert toes the line of savory–perfect for a brunch or someone who’s not all that into sweet treats. A commenter on the original recipe suggested subbing 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with almond flour; having eaten several slices of this tonight, I think that sounds like the only way this crusty package could get more delicious.

Cranberry Apple Galettephoto 1(1)


For the Crust

  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup for gluten free)
  • 6 TBS white cornmeal
  • 2 tsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 12 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 6 TBS sour cream
  • 1/2 c ice-cold water

For the Filling

  • 1/2 c sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 3 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 medium Granny Smith apples (about 4 lbs total) peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 1/2  c fresh cranberries
  • 2 TBS. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • Sugar for dusting (optional)


1. For the crust: in a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt. Scatter the chunks of butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and ice water. Drizzle the mixture over the dough and pulse until the dough is smooth and clings together. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. For the filling: in a large fry pan over medium heat, combine the sugar, water, honey, lemon juice and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the apple slices and simmer until the apples begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple slices to a bowl.

3. Add the cranberries to the liquid in the fry pan and simmer until they start to pop, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries to the bowl with the apples. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil the liquid until reduced slightly, then spoon over the fruit.

4. Position 2 racks in the middle of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

5. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each half into a round about 12 inches in diameter and transfer to separate baking sheets. Divide the fruit filling equally between the pastry rounds and spread it in an even layer, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border uncovered. Fold the border over the fruit, pleating the edges to form a rim. Lay the butter slices over the exposed fruit. Spoon juice from fruit over the galette. Dust the pastry rims with sugar.

6. Bake the galettes, rotating them 180 degrees at the midway point, until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the galettes cool completely on the pans. Makes two 9-inch galettes; serves 10 to 12.


Easy Peasey Orange Blossom Cookies That Will Give Your Life Meaning

7 Nov

I am always raving about melomakarona, the tiny cookies that will change your life in a huge way. I keep saying I will try and make a gf/sf version, but never get around to it. Today’s recipe joins the gilded ranks of awesome things that have been discovered by accident. Move over, penicillin–your girl Chef Kef stumbled upon a gluten-free, sugar-free cookie that tastes a whole lot like melomakarona. One day I will try and add some spices to capture the rich subtlety of the original cookie, but for today, these orange and honey palate-pleasers are more than close enough.

This recipe is originally from Pure and Simple Nourishment-but I had to improvise because I didn’t bother to check ingredients before I started. My version is below, but full gift-from-the-heavens, melomakarona-impersonating praise goes to Erin and Amanda for giving this gluten-free Greek’s life meaning again.

photo(1)Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Orange Blossom Cookies


  • 2 c almond flour
  • 1/8 c coconut flour
  • 1/6 c coconut oil, melted
  • zest and juice and 4 clementines
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/3 cup honey


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon or pastry cutter until dough has formed.

2. Mold dough into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Put in freezer for at least 15 minutes.

3. Form dough into 1-1.5 -inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart from one another. Using a fork, press the cookies down so they are flatter (but not completely flat) with the cross-hatch design.

4. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Tops will be golden brown. I cooked mine for 14 and they were still soft and very yummy. Let cool before eating or they may fall apart.

5 Things I’m Loving From Trader Joe’s Right Now

4 Nov

DC is still a flutter from the new Trader Joe’s that opened last spring–on Monday night (Monday!) the line wrapped around the As in– through every aisle. It was wild. Anyway, while I still think most of their produce is really crappy, there are several products I think are just terrific. Here are five of ’em:

1. Curry Simmer Sauce

simmerI could buy 5 jars of this a week and still want more. Usually I mix half a jar of simmer sauce with half a can of coconut milk and throw it over a bunch of cauliflower and/or broccoli. Simmer for 35 minutes or so et voila! Dinner is served. There aren’t all that many pre-made sauces out there that don’t have sugar in ’em, so TJ gets a gold star for this one that is sugar free AND delicious.

2. All this Coconut Water for $2.49

coconutwaterReally nothing else I need to say about that.

3. Cruciferous Crunch Collection


4. Tahini Sauce

tahiniPut those together you have got yourself a SUPER SALAD, my friends. Friggin yum.

5. Mamby Pamby Baking Supplies at a Cheaper Price

cocooilGluten-free all-purpose flour, palm sugar, coconut oil, even carob–Trader Joe’s has busted into the clean baking market and broke it wide open. Definitely the lowest prices I’ve seen for all of the above!

Honorable Mentions

peasI don’t always buy Solid Gold Ish but when I do… they don’t make it out of the grocery store.

magoFor some reason these are near impossible to open–but these dried mangoes (with not a thing added!) are worth the work.

yogurtIt ain’t Fage, but it is full fat–and that’s so good.

%d bloggers like this: