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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.

Mincemeat Cookies–An Awesome Misnomer

8 Dec

You are reading the words of a free woman– another quarter of NP school is in my rear view and now it’s just an easy ride into the season of 10 million Christmas cookies in preparation for the GANZA. I’ve been whipping up cookie dough like it’s my job this week, including some old favorites (these highbrow gingerbread cookies and Greece’s most valuable contribution to civilization) as well as some Kefi cookie collective newbies, like today’s not-totally-appropriately named mincemeat cookie.

A friend I run with told me about these Polish cookies that “taste like Christmas in each bite” and that traditionally contained meat but are now just a wonderful collection of fat and fruit. Um, yes please. Back in ye olde days beef lard (or chunks!) apparently seemed like something we needed in cookies–for the record, if I ever go back to eating meat again, I’m starting with beef cookies. From what I can tell, when people today say “mincemeat,” they mean “jarred jam-like substance comprised of dried fruits, spices, and liquor.” Most recipes I found called for the store-bought kind, but since you literally just throw stuff in a sauce pan and let it simmer, I figured I would make my own.

I found a vegetarian version and doctored it up (original here), then added it to a recipe for the cookie itself (original here). They aren’t the prettiest cookies–y’all already know I’m here for palate-pleasing, not presentation–but MrKef was ALL about them, and my test tray disappeared faster than I could take a halfway decent picture (#parforthecourse).

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I managed to get one bite in before he could eat them all, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had, in fact, bitten into Christmas. They’re slightly crunchy on the outside and ever-so-slightly cakey on the inside–the perfect drop cookie, if you ask me. Add to the equation that they are super-easy to make and you get a big endorsement from me on this one.

Mincemeat Cookies

Ingredients

–For the Mincemeat

  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 c apple juice
  • 1 c raisin
  • 1/2 c dried currant (which from what I could tell were just raisins, but who am I to mince words with mincemeat ingredients? Har har)
  • 5 oz  dried berries/cherries mix (I found a Safeway brand, sub with just dried cherries)
  • 1/2 c Craisins (I used the 50% less sugar ones, you do you)
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime + 1/8 c MORE lime juice
  • 1/4c Godiva liquor
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-4 TBS rum (optional)

For the Cookie

  • 1/2 c softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c softened vegetable shortening
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c prepared mincemeat
  • 3.25 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Assembly

  1. To make the mincemeat, put all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to simmer and cook down for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in 2-4 TBS rum (optional–but I surely did it.) Allow to cool completely, before baking cookie dough–even better if you can let it sit overnight.
  2. To make the cookies– Preheat oven to 375. Using an electric mixer (with dough hook attachment if you have it), cream together the butter, shortening, and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, beat for about 3 minutes. Add the mincemeat by hand, mixing with rubber spatula until mincemeat is distributed pretty evenly throughout the batter.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and spices. Add one third of the flour to the batter, mix by hand until just combine. Repeat twice more until all the flour is gone.
  4. Drop about 2 TBS of batter onto a parchment- or silicon-lined cookie sheet, keeping 2-3 inches between cookies so they can spread out and become wonderful. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until just golden brown. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving, even better if served the next day.

Mr Kef’s Crowning Achievement: Sourmilk Donuts

2 Nov

Better than the muffin man– I’m married to the donut man!

It’s no secret that MrKef is happier as the breadwinner than the breadmaker in this family. He doesn’t venture into the strange room with the oven and dishwasher often, but when he does, it usually makes for a good story. For some of his previous shenanigans, check out the hilarious crime scene I woke up to last time he cooked, and his Jamdown-wowing  goat stew.

Over the weekend MrKef realized he had let this fancy milk he buys at Jrink go one day too long in the fridge. It’s entirely too expensive to go to waste, so he did some googling and found that one can make all kinds of bready bakedgood with milk that’s gone bad. Who knew?

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These are the definition of easy- if you can stir ’em, you can make ’em. In case you don’t believe me, we made these after I had a full day of clinical, after I went on my first run in three weeks (#praiseHim), and before we went to Aar-zanaKef’s pumpkin carving party (and yes- if you were wondering- that is the first joint-couple Kef name to grace these pages).

We got the original idea from this recipe–what is reflected below are the few tweaks we made to thicken up the batter and speed the whole thing up by making them munchkins instead of full fledged donuts.

Sour Milk Donuts

Ingredients

  • 4 .5-5.5 c flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.25 sugar
  • 3 TBS shortening
  • 1 c sour milk (use insanely fancy milk your husband didn’t drink , or put 1 TBS  vinegar or lemon juice in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk to fill. Let sit for 5 minutes and milk will sour.)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Oil- enough for deep drying
  • 0.5-1 c sugar
  • 2-4 TBS cinnamon, to taste

Assembly

  1. Mix together 4.5 flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl combine sugar, lard, milk and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ones, and mix well. Batter should be thick enough that it can be rolled into balls–if it’s not, add the remaining flour as needed, a quarter cup at a time. You’re in the ballpark when it the dough is a bit sticky but doesn’t make an absolute mess of your hands.
  2. Roll the dough into munchkin-sized balls. They will get expand in oil, so be judicious.
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat–the oil should be at least 3-4 inches deep, so choose your pot accordingly. When oil is hot, add doughnuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping over halfway. Cool on brown paper or paper towels.
  4. Mix sugar and cinnamon to taste and roll each donut in the mixture before serving. Serve warm or room temp.

Gingersnaps For Pinterest Flunkies

23 Dec

The lights are shining, the carolers are singing, and (this year) the lords are still a-leaping in shorts and a t-shirt on the running paths–Christmas is truly a magical time of year. If you’re like me, the shining lights and happy music act like a deceptive elixir: suddenly you’ve convinced yourself that you are a Pinterest queen and that you, too, can put together a strawberry, banana, and grape to make a snack that looks just like a Grinch with a Santa hat. Further proof that all that glitters is not gold: your version of those little snacks just look like fruit kebabs and the weather in January will still be miserable for running, even if it’s 70 on Christmas.

Today’s recipe goes out to all my people who are awesome bakers but just can’t give a damn about presentation–the bloggers who post great recipes without staging professional-level photo shoots, the parents who just send Twinkies to school without spending all night making them look like Minions, and the at-home chefs whose creations never get the biggest ooh and ahh when the buffet gets unveiled, but whose dishes are always gone the fastest once guests start digging in.

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This recipe is 100% fool proof. They taste great and look perfect each and every time. MamaKef has been making them for two decades and they have never not been superstars at the cookie exchange. Did I mention they take less than 30 minutes start to finish and require just one bowl? Leave Pinterest to your neighbor–2015 is all about the tried-and-true, no-frills-necessary gingersnap.

(But if you are actually a Pinterest Queen, whip up the insane green gingerbread cookies from yesterday, shape ’em into Christmas trees, and enjoy all the oohs and ahhs 🙂 — you earned them!)

Gingersnaps For Pinterest Flunkies

Ingredients

  • 2 c sugar (coconut sugar subs perfectly)
  • 1.5 c canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 4 c all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup and they lost a little of their snap but were still so delicious.)
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Additional sugar for rolling

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat (if you have neither, leave your pan ungreased). Mix together sugar and oil in a stand mixer (or a large bowl with electric mixer) for about 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add molasses.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly add to sugar/oil mixture and mix until you have the dough comes together- about 1.5-2 minutes.
  3. Shape into 3/4-inch balls and roll in sugar. Arrange about 1.5 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookie springs back when touched gently. Cool on wire racks.
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