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Kalitsounia- Another Reason to Use The Huge Mini-Muffin Tin Your Mother Gave You

18 Apr

If there ain’t no party like a West Coast party ’cause a West Coast party don’t stop, then there is definitely no dinner party like a Cretan dinner party because you will never, ever, ever want the food to stop. And I am pretty sure Coolio would agree with me that these kalitsounia are proof positive that cooks from Crete are not effing around. Part custard treat, part tart, part muffin, these bite sized treats defy your dessert definitions. My favorite part of making these is the reminder of how perfectly unpersnickety Greek pastry is–this dough is forgiving and easy to work with, and the filling practically pulls itself together.

This was my first time at the kalitsounia party, so I borrowed heavily from this recipe, and my teensy tweaks are reflected below. I also benefited tremendously from MamaKef’s compulsive gift giving–these guys are a great reason to whip out your 48-count muffin tin again and the Cake Boss Linzer cookie cutter kit (sans cutout attachment) was PERFECT for creating perfectly-sized dough rounds with pretty scalloped edges. But, as always, these are mere suggestions and you just go ahead and do whatever your heart desires.FullSizeRender (24)

Kalitsounia

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt, left to sit in colander/strainer for ~10 min to reduce liquid
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3.5-4.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
 For the filling
  • 15 oz of soft myzithra cheese (you will prob have to live in NY, Baltimore, Toronto, or Melbourne to find this outside of Greece– for the rest of us, ricotta worked just fine for me)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 eggs and 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp cinammon

For the topping

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1 TBS cinnamon

Assembly

  1. Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, combine olive oil, sugar, yogurt and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the orange juice, lemon zest and vanilla and blend again until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder, mix well, and then add gradually dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Knead the dough with your hands, until it softens. You may need to add flour–the dough should be soft and pliable, but not stick to your hands. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and set the dough aside to rest for at least 30 minutes- no need to chill.
  2. Using either a rubber spatula or a standing mixer, combine sugar, eggs and cinnamon until well mixed.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/10 of an inch (good on you if you have any idea what a tenth of an inch is–I just went with “as thin as I could get it without its being see through”). Use a 6-inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.
  4. Drop one round into each minimuffin slot. Fill with about 1-1.5 tsp filling. Whisk together egg and water, then brush the top of each pastry with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top of each with cinnamon.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool in pan, then pop out and enjoy– these are even better when served the next day!

Chocolate Chip Cookies That Come With Their Own Milk

31 Mar

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Isn’t that the loveliest picture you’ve ever seen on this blog? All credit goes to (who else?) MostFashionablePersonIKnowKef, who is always ready for an impromptu photoshoot. One day, we will convince her to live in DC full time and I will bribe her with sometimes-delicious treats to take all blog-related photos. Until then, you’re stuck with me.

On to the cookies– PILFKef, DO and #1KnicksFanKef are now 2for2 when it comes to creating insanely adorable children who teach MrKef’s cold American wife how to feel. PILFKef, DO and I were a little skeptical of reports that the right combination of strange ingredients in baked goods could increase milk supply for breastfeeding– so we did what any self-respecting healthcare professionals would do and decided to perform some real-life experimentation. This works in the interest of everyone, as I am only too happy to whip up things full of gluten and sugar as long as someone else is there to save me from myself and take them off my hands– so we can just go ahead and call PILFKef, DO the Margaret Mead of Mother’s Milk.

Listen– the limitations section of our analysis would read something like this: small sample size (n=1), no baseline data, no control group, and milk gains measured by texting pictures back and forth– but who the hell cares about level of evidence when the expert cookie monster over in Arlington said that the cookies were delicious and we have anecdotal evidence that they work? Sounds like a good reasons to eat some cookies right now, whether you’re feeding a small child or not.

For those who, like MrKef, are afraid these cookies might INDUCE lactation–rest assured, a whole party full of people ate them, and PILFKef, DO remains the only one of us producing enough milk to sustain human life. As far as I know, anyway….

I borrowed heavily from Epicurious’ recipe, but used less oatmeal, way more chocolate chips, and swapped vanilla paste for the extract–my recipe below. These cookies were AWESOME, and I highly recommend them even if breastfeeding ain’t your bag!

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies that Anecdotally Increase Milk Supply

Ingredients

  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 4 TBS water
  • 2 TBS flaxseed meal (no subs)
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1 bag (12 oz) chocolate chips
  • 2 TBS brewers yeast (no substitutions)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Mix flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl, set aside 3-5 minutes.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs one at time until just combined. Stir flaxseed mix into butter mix, then add vanilla. Beat until well blended.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and choc chips. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir in the oats and then the choc chips. Arrange on a parchment- or silicon-lined baking sheet about 1.5 inches apart. Bake 8-12 minutes (I made mine huge and they needed 14-15 minutes), or until set and just golden.

Vegan Carrot Cake Everyone Will Love

28 Mar

 

You may recall my love affair with Superhero Muffins, the healthy and insanely delicious muffins chock full of vegetables. If the insanely delicious part of that description appeals to you but you could do without the healthy, this Carrot Cake is for you.

I followed this recipe from The Greek Vegan’s brilliant mind exactly, and it was gobbled down by a whole bunch of kiddos who are not inclined to eat carrots, even if they are hidden in cake. If you think this is a stranger-than-usual photo, you are right: I took the picture on my desk at work and was terrified I would accidentally publish patient information, so I covered my desk in random sheets of paper to avoid that. So, uh, yeah… here’s the least weird one of the bunch:FullSizeRender (21)

Anyway, I am told this cake is awesome. The secret is pre-flavoring the carrots by boiling them in orange juice and spices and then later using that same liquid in the cake batter.  Greeks think of everything. This Greek-American will try to make another version that is a bit healthier… but you just feel free to ignore that and keep making this one.

Vegan Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 c chopped carrots
  • 1 c orange juice
  • 1 c water
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 8 whole cloves (I used 2ish tsp ground cloves)
    —-
  • 3.5 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/3 c molasses
  • 1/2 c cooking liquid from carrots
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (I used zest of about half a lemon)
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c raisins (or walnuts if you don’t hate them as much as I do)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a bundt pan. Bring chopped carrots, orange juice, water, cinnamon sticks and cloves to boil in a small pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender but not mushy. Set aside to cool. Do not even THINK of dumping out that cooking liquid–we are coming back to it!
  2. Once cool, drain the liquids from the carrots AND KEEP THE LIQUID IN A BOWL SOMEWHREE. Throw carrots in your food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times, then scrape down sides,  then add 1/3 cup cooking liquid and pulse 2 more times. Scrape down side and set aside. At this point, carrots will be a variety of sizes, with a little mashing but not a full on puree.
  3. In medium mixng bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup cooking liquid, sugar and molasses until combined. Add spices, whisk. Add oil, whisk. Add carrots and stir to combine completely.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix completely. Stir in golden raisins and/or nuts if they’re your jam. The batter will be dense and a teeny bit dryer than you might have expected. This is okay..
  6. Pour batter into lightly greased bundt pan and use a spatula to even out the top. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan. Once completely cooled, turn the cake out and serve–if you’re fancy you can dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Baklava Cookies

20 Mar

I made these super-easy baklava-inspired cookies a few weeks ago for FlailKef and GingerKef’s annual Oscars Party.

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In a tribute to my dear friends’ brilliant yearly invitation, I give you the following write up:

Many people think that FENCES exist to delineate those who enjoy working with filo dough and those who would prefer to find themselves on  a HACKSAW RIDGE rather than deal with all those layers. If you are among the latter, this recipe is for you! Immediately upon ARRIVAL at this Oscar Party, people came out like a LION for these cookies, which have all the syrupy, nutty goodness of baklava and none of the flimsy filo. MrKef was determined that I make them full of gluten and full of sugar, so rather than let the nutritional info send you into LALA LAND, I’ll keep those stats in my HIDDEN FIGURES file COME HELL OR HIGHWATER. The great reviews of these cookies sent me happily into the MOONLIGHT, still not giving one flying eff about MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Translation: these cookies are awesome and easy, full of gluten and sugar, and everyone really liked them. Oh, and I still hate Boston. Inspiration here, full recipe below.

Baklava Cookies

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the topping
  • 1/3 c pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 c almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • generous 1/8 tsp cloves
  • generous 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
Syrup
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 3 TBS water
  • 2 TBS fresh orange juice
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a rimmed metal baking dish with parchment paper (I used my square tart pan- the pan from a toaster oven would probably work too). Combine melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange zest until combined (I used standing mixer, but I am sure you could do this by hand). Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, then add to butter mixture and fold in until incorporated. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan and bake for 15-16 minutes, until lightly golden and center is set.
  2. Prepare topping while crust bakes. Combine nuts and spices in a small bowl; add melted butter and stir until incorporated. Spoon topping evenly over warm crust (which has just finished its initial 15-16 min bake), then return pan to oven. Continue baking for an additional 10- 12 minutes, or until golden.
  3. Make the syrup during the second baking session. Bring to a boil the honey, water, and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for ~10 minutes.
  4. Place pan on a wire rack and spoon syrup over still-warm cookies, tilting pan in all directions to coat evening. Cool bars completely in pan. Cut with a sharp knife when ready to serve.

Savory Baklava (or, how to turn vegetables into dessert)

17 Jan

JetSet and KimmieKef recommended the sort-of-new cookbook Smashing Plates. I got it last week, and pretty much every page is already dog-eared for future cooking. I hope you’re all looking forward to some new Greek Easter dishes this year… or at least being conscripted into taste-testing the recipes I try.

Our recipe for today actually comes from the author’s web site, which is equally replete with new takes on traditional Greek fare. It also answers the question JetSet has been wondering for the last 7 years or so: how can we make vegetables dessert? The answer, it turns out, is to combine caramelized onions cooked down with cinnamon, tomatoes, feta, almonds, dill, and dates, and then to layer them with phyllo and butter.

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Yeah, she went a little crazy with the filter– sue me. At least I’m trying.

It’s important you know that this pie is neither sweet nor savory–it’s the best of both. MrKef  and some non-Greek, normal eaters gave the swavory thing big thumbs up, and I would definitely recommend this pie for a brunch–because who the hell knows which meal or flavor we’re supposed to be eating at 11:30am with a bottomless carafe of mimosa, anyway?

Tomato, feta, almond and date baklava

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions, finely sliced or minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of granulated sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
  • 10 vine plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped (keep half of the juice)
  • 3 TBS tomato purée
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet phyllo pastry (9 sheets)
  • about 1/2 stick butter, melted (sub olive oil- this is just for spreading on the phyllo)
  • 3/4 c sliveredalmonds, ground down to a crumble (either by food processor or just by banging them)
  • 7-8 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely sliced
  • 2 c feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey (optional)

Assembly

  1. Lightly butter or oil the bottom and sides of your longest pyrex pan or rectangular aluminium baking dish (I used a 13×9 pyrex). Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large-bottomed pan. Gently fry the onions over a low heat, add the garlic, cinnamon and sugar, then increase the heat. Fry for about 12 minutes, until caramelized. Add the dill, tomatoes and half of their juices and the tomato puree and cook for another 10 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove outer bag from phyllo, and gently roll out the dough. If you are new at phyllo, lightly dampen a paper towel and cover the dough with it, as it dries out if you are moving slowly. Place one sheet of phyllo in the greased baking dish, then gently brush it with melted butter or olive oil, being very generous. Be sure to get all the corners and ends. Repeat 3 more times, for a total of 4 layers. Don’t worry too much if these layers rip, as they will be covered by deliciousness in a minute anyway.
  4. Spread half the onion mixture over the pastry, top with half the almonds, the dates and half the feta. Repeat butter/phyllo layers for another 4 layers, and top with the remaining onions, almonds and feta. Do another 4-5 layers of phyllo/butter, making sure that the last one is as pretty and untorn as possible.
  5. Lightly score the top, cutting diamonds or squares, brush with butter and splash with a little water. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30–35 minutes until golden.To get maximum flakiness, turn up the heat to 400F for the last 5 minutes of baking, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.

A Chocolate Cream Pie to Welcome 2017

3 Jan

Another year has come and gone. I don’t have a lot of deep reflections on 2016, but I do have this delicious pie to share today. And that’s got to count for something, right?

fullsizerender-6Like every year, 2016 brought some great times and some not-so-great times. I worried lot, ate a lot, studied a lot, and missed my grandmother a lot… but I also laughed a lot, learned a lot, and ran  a lot, so it’s all probably a net gain once the counting’s done. Bring it on, 2017.

Back to the pie. My dear friend FlailKef turned 31 on 31 December, which means it was a GOLDEN birthday. She loves the chocolate cream pie from Waffle House, so I doctored up my own little version of the classic diner pie because she is wonderful and a GOLDEN birthday deserves a special treat. In what will probably be my only culinary achievement in this life, my pie was gone before the one from the inimitable MOM’S was–which I will take to mean this is an out-of-the-park homerun of a recipe.

fullsizerender-7I made very minimal changes to this pie recipe and followed Martha’s vanilla bean whipped cream recipe to a “T”. Complete recipes with my small tweaks reposted below because I hate having to have two different windows open for one recipe–but, as always, you just do whatever your little heart and personal code of internet-recipe ethics would lead you to.

FlailKef is clearly winning at life– she got golden goblets for her birthday AND has friends like these:

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Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients

For the crust

For the filling

  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 c whole milk
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 oz milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.25 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream

  • 2 c heavy cream, cold
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 c sugar

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If you are making and serving this pie on the same day, see step 6 and be sure to chill the cream about an hour before you want to make it.
  2. Crush cookies into a fine crumb using a food processor (or, throw ’em in a ziploc bag and pound ’em with a wine bottle). Add sugar, and pulse to combine cookie crumbs and sugar. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in butter until mixture is moist and sticky, but not wet. Press into the bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will thicken).
  4. Strain filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (I used my mesh colander), then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely (on the counter, not in the fridge), about 2 hours.
  5. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
  6. Pour heavy cream into metal bowl of stand mixer. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape seeds into cream and whisk to combine. Throw the bean pod in the cream, cover bowl, and chill cream in fridge for about an hour.
  7. Once cream and bowl are thoroughly chilled, remove bean pod and discard. Using the whisk attachment, beat at medium speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, sprinkle in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Chill for 1-2 hours, then spread over top of pie and serve.

New Favorites: Gingersnaps and a Mug

15 Dec

Aren’t yall glad I came out of my school-induced blog silence to post ten million cookie recipes? I am. Today, we’ve got ANOTHER iteration of my all-time favorite cookie, the gingersnap. First, be sure to check out the mambypamby version with bizarre secret ingredients or the super-easy fail-proof recipe MamaKef swears by or this paleo-fied one I like to use a method of procrastination. After you’ve made all those, come back to make the 2016 edition, which adds an air of sophistication to the classic gingersnap with some cardamom.

Best if eaten with a steaming cup of coffee from Harrar out of this brand new Oiselle mug (a perfect stocking stuffer for the runner in your life!).

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These are made straight from a Food52 recipe. I made some fatal errors when mentally running through my pantry’s contents so had to sub half of the molasses with maple syrup, subbed all purpose flour for the bread flour, and threw some all spice in with the nutmeg–all of which I have noted below, so you do you in terms of substitutions. I am duplicating Food52’s great work here only for fear of losing this amazing recipe, but you should absolutely click on the above link and show them some love.

Smoky Cardamom Gingersnaps

Ingredients

  • 14 TBS butter
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4  c molasses (or 1/8 c molasses and 1/8 c maple syrup)
  • egg
  • 1 c bread flour (I used all-purpose flour and they were still wonderful)
  • c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp nutmeg + 1/4 tsp all spice)
  • 1/8teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2cup sugar (for rolling)

Assembly

  1. Crack open the cardamom pods and remove seeds. Grind seeds with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  2. Combine the butter and empty cardamom pods in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low until the butter has completely melted and begins to foam slightly. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove and discard the cardamom pods and transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl. Cover and let the butter cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, spices, black pepper, and reserved ground cardamom. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. Fill a small bowl with 1/2 cup of sugar.
  5. Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter, form into balls, and roll in the sugar. Place on a baking sheet two inches apart.
  6. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
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