Archive | December, 2014

Sweet Potato Ginger Latkes

17 Dec

Happy Hanukkah to all the Keftanis celebrating. In honor of the festival of lights, here’s a Cooking Up Kefi re-run: sweet potato ginger latkes! For a paleo/clean version, use whatever flour floats your boat. I love mine extra crispy (and then cooked a little more)- you do what you want with yours!

PS: Still on the hunt for some gifts? Check out the 2014 Cooking Up Kefi Gift Guide.

The One Where JetSet and I Shared Airspace with JayZ and JT

15 Dec

In the words of my dear friend GingerKef, WowwowwowwowwowwowWOW. Last night JetSet and I spent the night in Brooklyn with Justin Timberlake (and 18,101 of our closest friends).

Our story begins back in Singapore, when I rolled in to our hotel room after 21 hours of traveling for the final minutes of JetSet’s 31st birthday. I thought for a moment about being nice and letting him sleep, but instead I jumped on the bed to wake him up with the news that WE WERE GOING TO SEE JT IN CONCERT. His reaction:


It was pretty epic.

Fast forward a few months, and are in the East Village for the Thompson Square Park Christmas Tree Lighting, where we made MamaKef proud by singing Christmas carols with gusto and knowing mostly all the words. Then we did what we do best: pile our biodegradable food containers high with more food than we could reasonably consume at the 2nd Ave Whole Foods.



With full stomachs and star-struck eyes, we arrived at the Barclays Center right on time–truly a first for the Terror Twins. We took our seats and the MANIA began:

Did everyone else know concerts do not start on time? I had no idea. Anyway, by the time the lighs dimmed, JetSet was raring to go. Some people want a picture of the look they have on their face when they first see their beloved on their wedding day– JetSet requested photo documentation of his first look at JTimberlake, the man, the myth, the legend.


The next two hours or so were a wild and emotional ride– that man from Memphis knows what the hell he’s doing. JetSet and the woman sitting next to us (who had already seen JT three times on this tour) traded trivia and wish-list set lists. I held my breath every time he played a song with a JayZ verse- and then…

SHAWN COREY CARTER WAS IN THE BUILDING! In the coolest of BK cool, he came, he saw, he conquered in a Nets fitted and Tims. I, on the other hand, was not so cool:


God is good, all of the time.

JT played pretty much all of his hits JetSet was hoping to hear, plus covers of “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Human Nature,” and “Poison.” I died.

Sadly, the fun had to end. Some drunk ladies from the Jerz (emphasis on the Z) took this picture, which pretty much sums it all up: JetSet absolutely spent from two hours of shrieking and me stunned that I possibly consumed Hova’s expired carbon dioxide.


And that, my friends, is how it’s done.


2014 Cooking Up Kefi Gift Guide

11 Dec

For the Triathlete trying to keep it together in the off season:

Athleta Power Lift tights

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 10.19.24 AM

Bring on the winter blues! The fleece lining in these running tights will maintain heat and the flattering cut will keep her style intact… unless she could not care less about style, in which case the functionality of these guys will be appreciated twofold!






Bike Fitting by Smiley

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 10.27.31 AM

It’s unanimous: Smiley is the best guy in the DMV for a bike fitting. The DC Tri Club’s forum post with RAVES about his services is four pages long, and those people know a thing or two about bikes. Fittings with Smiley ain’t cheap, but the value is unmatched– for $275 he’ll give you as many visits as it takes to get the fit right, plus a six-month tweak if you need it. If getting fast is a New Year’s resolution for the triathlete you know, you cannot go wrong with Smiley!

Bike trainer

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 10.40.55 AM

The fairytale that runs through my head is that if I had a bike trainer, I would ride every single day for hours and hours. Basically, these systems turn your road bike into a stationary bike so you can ride for miles and miles without turning off the Kardashians. KMBGKef has one and swears by it. There are lots of different models at various price points, but conventional wisdom is that, with trainers, you get what you pay for.



SolidCore8Hear me now: there is no better cross-training work out for a triathlete/runner/ballerina/underwater basket weaver than Solidcore. The only way I can describe it is to say that it is Pilates on PCP–expect your clothes to be soaked with sweat and your muscles to quiver with fatigue at the end of this 50-minute class. PurplePenKef turned me on to it and after only a few classes I can say with certainty I’m stronger because of it! NB: most classes are not sausage fests, as pictured here.

For the food enthusiast who just-so-happens not to eat gluten or sugar:

Adjustable Liquid Measuring Cup

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 11.11.13 AM

File this under “things I can’t believe we didn’t think of before”– this measuring cup not only lists several different systems of liquid measurements for easy conversions (mL, oz, cups), but the plunger acts as a squeegee so you push out the entirety of the ingredient. The cook on your list will never waste the amazing Greek honey she lugged all over Monemvasia again! (Bed Bath & Beyond says it is dishwasher safe– don’t believe it. The numbers will wash right off!)


Babycakes NYC Complete Baking Kit

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 10.05.40 AM

Erin Mckenna is the queen of solid gold sh!t. Her bakery whips up dozens of the best gluten/sugar/nut/dairy free baked goods out there. They ship a few pre-made goods throughout the country, but I love to give these mixes for anytime use. Her cookbooks are great, too– I made recipes of hers for an ice cream parfait, a salted caramel ice cream cake, and a black forest birthday cake.


The Newest Cookbook from the Best Chef on God’s Green Earth


Still not hip to Ottolenghi? Check out his roasted eggplant with buttermilk sauce, the time I made the whitest (and yummiest) salad ever, a revolution in grape leaves and pies, or the post where I realized that fennel could be caramelized. Then go buy the new book and hop on a flight to London to eat in his restaurant.

The hostess who really loves to have people over even though she doesn’t own a dining room table:

Grey Moggie Paper

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 12.03.49 PMAs JetSet will tell you, the number of social graces your girl Chef Kef feels compelled to fulfill become less by the year. One little piece of Emily Post I will never relinquish, however, is the handwritten note. There are very few things in life that give me the same thrill as finding the perfect card for the occasion and dropping it in the mail–bonus points if it’s a surprise or just-because card. Anyway, Grey Moggie is a DC-based paper shop with a great selection of sappy and sassy paper goods.

Neighborhood Coasters

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 9.47.24 AM

Take it from me: table space in a city is coveted real estate some of us would kill for. What better to protect that property than these cedar wood coasters etched with your host’s favorite neighborhoods? Sadly, there’s no DC option (boo), but Baltimore, San Fran, New York, Chicago, LA and …Minneapolis all made the designer’s list. Ouch.


Monogram Bangle


It could just be that I am a product of my environment (where we took nameplate necklaces very seriously until about 2010), but I have always thought personalized gifts are the best ones. I love this elegant and modern update to the initial charm bracelet, and I bet there’s lots of hosts out there who would think so too.

Mother Necklace

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 9.46.33 AM

I work on a postpartum unit in a hoity-toity East Coast hospital–suffice to say I’ve seen a lot of “push presents” in my time. If multiple carats are in your budget this year, by all means… but if I were a new mom and was hosting for the first time since my world suddenly began revolving around poop consistency and feeding schedules, this is absolutely the gift I’d want.

The person who thinks we’d all be better off if we supported people doing amazing work instead of spending money on ish no one really needs:

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library. Through it all, the Public Library in Ferguson has stayed open and continued to serve the community as it grieves the murder of Mike Brown. Currently only one full-time librarian is employed there, and his plans for the generous donations pouring in are to create healing kits children can check out to help process traumatic events and to hire a full-time children’s or program library.

Legal Aid. There’s been a lot of attention paid to two cases that exemplify inequity in our court system, but countless Americans whose stories will never make the news don’t get the justice they deserve because they lack financial access to legal advice and council. The Legal Aid Society represents civil cases regardless of ability to pay in cases ranging from housing disputes to class-action consumer matters.

Metro TeenAIDS. My people, always and forever–these guys are arming DC’s young people with information, skills, and jobs to fight HIV transmission, stigma, oppression and cycles of poverty. In other news, they have some very cool intern opportunities (paid and unpaid!) — if you have any righteous college/master’s students in your life, you should let them know!

Girls On the Run. In the next life, when I marry for money instead of wonderful and fulfilling love, I will be a full-time Girls on the Run volunteer. This organization (which almost definitely has a chapter near you–they’re everywhere!) teaches girls the transformative power of running through a confidence- and skills-boosting curriculum. Ahmazing.

NYT Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Peanut Vinaigrette

10 Dec

Everyone and their brother was posting this sweet and savory brussels sprouts recipe– my love for NYT Thanksgiving is well documented and this year was no exception. These brussels are effortless crowd pleasers–I brought them to a Friendsgiving and to my unit’s holiday party and they were beloved at both events!

I did not bother to take a nice picture at either, so I will borrow both verbatim recipe and picture from my good friends at the good ol’ New York Times–don’t those just look so amazing?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Peanut Vinaigrette



  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and rinsed in cold water
  • ¼peanut oil
  • Salt
  • 4 tsp champagne vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 TBS unsweetened peanut butter, creamy or chunky
  • Hot sauce or chile oil (optional)
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 3 TBS dried tart cherries or cranberries, plumped in warm water, drained and coarsely chopped
  • Crispy fried shallots, for garnish (optional)
  • Chopped fresh mint, for garnish (optional)


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees and place a pan of hot water in the bottom, to help prevent the sprouts from becoming tough. Turn on convection if you have it.

2. Toss sprouts with peanut oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread out on one or two baking sheets. Roast 15 minutes. Stir and continue cooking 10 to 20 minutes more, until browned and crisp. Check sprouts every 5 minutes or so; if they are browning too fast, reduce heat by 25 degrees and turn off convection.

3. Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey. Whisk in peanut butter until thick and creamy. Add water until consistency is like creamy salad dressing. Season to taste with hot sauce, if using.

4. When sprouts are tender and browned, remove from oven, transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Add half the dressing and toss well.

5. Take orange and cut a thick slice off the bottom and the top to make flat surfaces. Rest bottom on a cutting board and use a small, sharp knife to carve off all the peel and pith, cutting from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. When all the orange flesh is exposed, cut out each segment by slicing along the white membranes. Gently loosen from the orange and set aside.

6. Add half the orange and half the cherries to bowl and toss. Taste. Adjust with more dressing, orange and cherries until flavors are balanced. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with fried shallots or fresh mint, or both, if using.


Honey Yeast Rolls with Maple Butter

2 Dec

And suddenly, it’s December! How wild. I’ve got a billion things to do before the end of the day, so sadly I’ve got to keep the KefChat to a minimum–but once you get these certified-awesome rolls in your mouth, you won’t want to be talking, anyway.

photo(3)I followed this recipe down to the last tablespoon of real, live, gluten-FILLED flour. If I’m gonna taste test something smothered in gluten, it’s gotta be worth it–I made it three times and it always resulted in perfect bready smell, taste, and texture. Hope you enjoy it too.

Honey Yeast Rolls with Maple Butter


  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 1 c warm water (105-115° F)
  • ¼ c honey
  • 3 TBS canola oil
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 c bread flour
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS pure maple syrup
  • sea salt for sprinkling


  1. Stir the yeast and water together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the honey, oil, salt, and egg on medium speed until well-combined. Add 3 cups of flour to the bowl and mix on low speed until the dough forms a wet and shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and with the mixer on low speed, add up to another ½ cup of flour a couple tablespoons at a time. Continue to knead for another 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to proof in a warm space until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  3. Lightly grease a 9- or 10-inch round baking or pie dish. On a well-floured work surface, knead the dough for 30 seconds. Shape it into a ball and let rest, covered with a clean kitchen towel, for 10 minutes. Punch the down the dough, divide it into 10 or 12 equal-sized pieces (a kitchen scale works great for this) and arrange them in the prepared baking dish, leaving a little space between each one. Cover again with the kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise for 20-30 minutes. The rolls will puff slightly but will not double.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F. Melt the butter and stir in the maple syrup until evenly combined. Brush the melted maple butter over the tops of the rolls and sprinkle the rolls lightly with a little sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Lay a piece of foil lightly over the rolls and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. The center of the rolls should register 190° F on an instant read thermometer. It’s critical to check the temperature because the tops of the rolls may look like the rolls are cooked through, when in fact they are not. Note that the salt may brown a bit – the sugar in the maple syrup will cause this to happen but this will not affect the flavor.
  5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and brush the rolls again with the remainder of the melted maple butter. Allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
%d bloggers like this: