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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!

(Almost The Last) Wedding Wednesday: Reception Kings and Prancing Dads

20 Jan

Today we’re gonna finish up the party pics I couldn’t get posted last week, next week it’s all about the amazing work MamaKef put into this life event, and then its honeymoon in Croatia time. Sharing all these fun wedding moments has been great, but I’m ready to move on. (Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV)

First things first, I have to crown a King of the Reception. I’d like to think everyone had a great time at our little fiesta, but there was one guest who stood out in a sea of really fun people as the person having the MOST fun: RussianBearKef himself! There was not one single scene the photographer caught without him in, having a blast. A smattering of the many snapshots of one of my dearest friends getting down with pretty much every woman I know:

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Impossibly, we have known each other for TEN years– so because I can, I think we need a before-and-after comparison:

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I rather think we’re getting better with age (and less Russian Bear!).

It was an extremely tough decision. The runner up goes to SummitKef, for cheering us on SO wholeheartedly as we fed each other beignets and baklava. The whole photo series is priceless, but here’s just one to wet your whistle:

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Back to the party:  the FamiliaKef really knows how it’s done:1503

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FINALLY, JetSet learns how to Wobble.

While my family was dancing, MrKef and co were up to some very-usual antics

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#posselove #brandeis

Naturally, FlailKef, SpeakToSomeoneAboutThatKef and I were picking some apples and putting them in our pocket:

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It was just a room full of dancing fools!

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The most beautiful couple on the planet, clearly.

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I think this is me “dancing” to Makossa

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Countless cool points were won and lost that night.

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Partying like we should have in 1999.

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Things reached a fever pitch when MamaKef’s cocktail hour props made their way to the dancefloor:

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Not in a frame, but they’re two of my most beloved, so I’m going Blogzilla and throwing it in there, anyway.

In case there was ANY wonder whether this whole night had been worth it, a miracle happened. Our last song of the night was “New York, NY.” Everyone was swaying in a circle, minding their own business and belting it out along with the original Bl’italian when…

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… SUDDENLY MRKEF’S DAD AND MY DAD ENTERED THE CENTER OF THE CIRLCE HOLDING HANDS AND PRANCING:

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It cannot be understated how happy this made me– my father does NOT dance, does not like attention, and does not touch other humans. My reaction was pretty much the same as KPopKef’s, captured wonderfully in the background to the right.

Once we got over the shock, everyone piled through the dads to form a bridge.

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1589 I honestly think this is the happiest moment of my whole life. I bemoaned the process of putting together a wedding for a price below the Federal Poverty Line for an entire year, but  I would happily pay twice the cost of the wedding just for this amazing memory!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Alterations that kept the bride IN said dress: G2G Couture
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

Wedding Wednesday: Syrtaki, Stanky Spanx, and Suspenders

13 Jan

Okay so today there’s good news and bad news: the bad news is that I had some technical difficulties this morning uploading all the party pics I wanted to use, so I may have to draw the reception out into two posts–sorry y’all. I tried to be a really low-key bride, so what I spared you in Bridezilla moments will be made up for in Blogzilla posts… okay? Great. The good news is that the upload failed pretty much right at the moment I was trying to teach JetSet how to Wobble, so he is spared one more week of embarassment.

So, after we rehearsed, said “I Do,” and MrKef got a major roasting, it was finally time to start the party. Clearly, there’s only one way to do it: Zorba (syrtaki if we’re being technical, but just go with it)! 1081

People tried–they really did–but eventually it devolved into a circle of clapping while the Greeks took care of the speedy bits.

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And then it was all party, party, party!

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Unfortunately, there is now photographic evidence of my doing the most STANDARD white girl dance post-college– one point in the “ChefKef-is-secretly-an-UGGs-wearing- PSL-sipping-basic-babe” column:

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Eventually, an epic dance-off between WokeUpLikeDisKef, RumNRedBullKef, and BabyKef broke out, which was amazing beyond measure.1173

No need to drop the mic– BabyKef threw down with her trademarked “Stanky Spanx” dance:

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Of course, MrKef and I had to then show off some of our signature moves, like Playing Dice:

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and “Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay!”

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and, my personal favorite, the Ashanti/JaRule Thug Love:

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Somehow, we forget to put Ma$e on the “Must Play” list, so MrKef had to do without his DiddyBop on his big night. Shame.

While all this was going down, there were beignets and baklava to be had!

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The beignets came from a random Cameroonian lady who turned out to be a total drama queen. The baklava came from the most amazing woman alive, Kat at Baklava Couture. Further proof that Our Greekness is Your Weakness? I think so.

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HomeBrewKef was surprised to find himself 100% on-trend at this shindig

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And that, sadly, is where my upload ends– more next time!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

Extravaganza 2015: Sparkly Selfie Sticks & Seating Arrangements

4 Jan

Welcome to a new year in Kefland. Sadly, my time management skills have not improved since 2015 and I do not have any resolutions to rectify that, so we’re going with a quickie post full of pictures today with the promise for some yummy recipes later this week.

The FamilyKef and our surrogate family, CafeKef and ChampagneOnlyKef, love Christmas, and we love an extravaganza. For more on both of those things, read this post and this post.

As 2015 was the year of the weddings, this was the first Extravaganza where all our spouses joined in, and they did so each with their own zeal:

Jimmy2.0Kef with his rifle/gift

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MrKef with his 1920s-style toothache remedy

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and KimmieKef with her usual cuteness.

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Now, one would think that the major life events and additions that happened over the last year would have been all the change one family could handle. But then, MamaKef realllly rocked the boat by… SETTING THE DINING ROOM TABLE FOR SEATING, INSTEAD OF BUFFETING. This was a scandal no one saw coming, and so we all waited patiently for MamaKef to provide each of us with seating assignments.IMG_5377

I’d say it was dinner as usual, but I have a feeling most people’s Christmas Dinners don’t include a riling version of “Chrissy the Christmas Mouse” (featuring ChampagneOnlyKef on the spoons) and the Queen Mama herself drinking a Pumpkin Pie Vodka cocktail at the table.

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This one is blurry because ChampagneOnlyKef was just THAT enthusiastic about the spoons.

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Hot Mama– ow OWWWW.

So then it was gift… I mean, NO GIFT… time, which of course meant there were some gifts. ChampagneOnlyKef and CafeKef totally took the cake by giving MrKef and JetSetKef those magic towels that come in a teeny little package and expand to reveal their shape. Suddenly, it was 1995 again and there were two small boys in our midst:

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To round out the night, CafeKef (who is looking hotter than ever), whipped out her sparkly selfie stick and we took some group shots. Here’s a blurry shot of both the magical woman and her magnificent wand:

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We tried to recreate our first-ever Ganza Group Photo, but we weren’t particularly impressed with the result. For posterity’s sake, here’s a comparison of life  BSS and ASS (before selfie stick and after selfie stick):

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I’ll let you guess which one is which.

We decided a venue change was necessary, as only JetSet and MrKef had the skin tone to withstand that fluorescent lighting. We managed to get the lovely shot below, which I think is really quite nice.

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But, of course, there were some bloopers along the way:

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And that, my friends, was Extravaganza 2015! I’m sure I missed some important moments, and I’m sure my lovely family will remind me in the comments below.

Later this week: champagne punch, amazing eggplant, and a cake that will knock your socks off.

Opa Go Bragh– Irish Soda Bread, Greek Style

16 Mar

Today we’re traveling back in time to one of the only recipes that satisfies my Greek and Irish ancestors. A gluten free Irish Soda Bread with Greek yogurt–what could go wrong?

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 c flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten free)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar (I used coconut)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c golden raisins
  • 1.5 c whole milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt (FIBBYDY)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and raisins. In another bowl, whisk together milk and yogurt until fully combined. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir using a wooden spoon until you have a shaggy dough.
  3. Lightly flour your counter or a piece of wax paper, press the dough into a loose ball, and lightly knead the dough for a couple of minutes on your work surface. You want the dough to be pliable and not too sticky. Reform the dough into a ball and throw it on your prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
  4. Find a large mixing bowl that is twice the size of your dough ball and is OVEN PROOF  (I used my large Pyrex mixing bowl– you will know it is oven proof because it will say on the bottom) and place it on top of the dough to help keep dough moist and to avoid burning. Bake for 30 minutes with the bowl covering the dough. Remove the bowl and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.

How to Have an Awesome Month in Ten Easy Steps

5 Jan

Everyone else got in their year-in-reviews last week but, per usual, I’m tardy to the party. Since this post is already past its blog-by date, I’ll keep my best of 2014 focused to the final 31 days. Ten steps to an awesome month:

1. Have a sensational best friend who is turning 30 (nb: I think that adjective is gonna stick). Scour Etsy for party favors and make sure there is photo evidence of your respective fiancees enjoying said favors (check out this awesome shop for lots of fun glittery goods and these guys for the perfect cake topper… oh and here, too!).photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 42. Watch your brother live out a lifelong dream. See here for more details.photo 13. Rent a private karaoke room for one of your oldest friend’s birthdays. Sing and dance your little hearts out. Bonus points if it’s country.photo 34. Set up your Christmas tree. Smother your amazing FianceKef with thanks for arranging to have your mom ship all your childhood ornaments to your house!

photo 3 4a. Wake up to find the first fatality of Christmas, courtesy of your cat.photo 55. Go out for game-filled night with nearly all your favorite people.photo 4

and maybe even buy a fancy frock for an upcoming event!photo 2

6. Rally with some really righteous people, including this Grandma (who is only a shade less stylish than your own.)

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7. Make your first pot roast for your Fiance’s first annual law firm dinner. Worry that it’s not actually done and have no idea if it’s good or not because, you know, you don’t actually eat meat.photo 4

8. Go home to the beautiful Hudson Valley for another legendary Christmas by MamaKef.

photo 58a. Receive a selfie stick. Proceed to run amok with said device and realize that true Christmas joy can be yours for a mere $8.

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I can’t decide whether or not those should get captions… so let’s just say they’re available upon request.

9. Bring your beloved out to what he refers to as a “Townie Bar” and watch him make friends with everyone in the room, even if they graduated from your high school in… 2011. (Optional: have small crisis about the fact that people who graduated from high school in 2011 can drink legally.)

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10. Celebrate the following Christmas miracles:

spanakopita, which should always be treated as a gift from Godphoto 5

the fact that this Facetime session between MamaKef and GoesDarkKef really and truly did happen
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and the discovery that gluten-free baklava is out there, and it’s ChampagneOnlyKef-approved! photo 1

Finally: ring in a New Year with the most lovable guy around.

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Happy Birthday, JetSet

19 Jul

By the time you read this, I’ll be somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Malayasia for JetSet Kef and my yearly vacation.

It will ALSO be JetSet’s 31st birthday! Let’s give a round of applause to this guy here:

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No- that’s not the result of a Stockphoto search for “Professional New Yorker”– it’s what JetSet looks like on any given Thursday night. As one does. Happy birthday!

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