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Rosemary Cauliflower Mash- A New Favorite

12 Jan

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At our staff end-of-year party, a coworker made the best thing ever: a cauliflower mash with the taste of stuffing and the texture of mashed potatoes. It is as easy as roasting two heads of cauliflower and whirling it with some other delicious ingredients in a food processor. For the love of all things holy, go whip this up for your next meal.

Rosemary Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients

  • 6.5 TBS olive oil
  • 2 heads of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 head garlic
  • about 1/4 c whole milk or half and half
  • half stick of butter
  • ancho chili powder (optional)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss cauliflower in 4-5 TBS olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the head of garlic across the top so all the cloves are exposed. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the garlic and wrap loosely in tinfoil. Roast the cauliflower until tender and garlic until fragrant and soft, about 40 minutes. While those roast, saute the onion with the remaining olive oil until soft and fragrant.
  2. Place the roasted cauliflower in food processor. Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into the food processor. Add remaining ingredients and grind to desired texture, adding milk if necessary.

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.

Roasted Root Vegetables in Fall Curry

5 Oct

Usually I try to hold out one week more before calling it quits on summer, but even I have to face facts when it’s already dark out by 7:15pm. Today’s recipe is a perfect entrance into autumn, and you won’t waste any of summer’s last precious light making it– it’s as easy as chop, roast, sauce. Oh, and it comes to us from the good folks behind the Whole 30, so it’s vegan, gluten free, sugar free, full of healthy fat, and just all around awesome.

That’s all I have to say about that– one of these days I’ll miss summer enough to recap our trips to Athens, Prague, New Orleans, Charleston, and WVa.  For today, just enjoy the curried veggies!

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Roasted Root Vegetables in Fall Curry

Ingredients

  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup potatoes (sweet or regular), peeled and chopped
  • 1 c rutabagas, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 c turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 c parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 c carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1.5 tsp ginger, grated or diced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or diced
  • 2-3 tsp curry powder, to taste
  • 500 mL full fat coconut milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss vegetables in 4 TBS olive oil. Spread oil-covered veggies in a single layer, using one or two cookie sheets as needed. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until veggies are tender and lightly browned.
  2. While they roast, put remaining 1 TBS olive oil in saute pan over med-high heat on stove. Add onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for another minute. Add curry powder, stir well, then add coconut milk. Reduce the mixture to simmer for 8-10 minutes (do not boil). Once nice and thick, remove from heat and season with lime zest and juice.
  3. Top the veggies with the curry sauce and enjoy!

The Best Ice Cream I’ve Ever Made (Or: Why Your College Roommate is the Best Person To Keep in Your Life Forever)

25 Aug

Sometimes you gotta let the world know: something INSANE just came out of your kitchen. So, here I am telling you- this ice cream is gonna change the whole game. And I’m not talking about a pickup soccer match cut short for rain– this ice cream is a game-changer on the level of an epic Cricket battle that has gone into days-long overtime. That’s how good it is. OH- and it’s vegan, refined-sugar-free, and off-the-charts easy to make.

You already know- SO not my picture. Thanks to the Tasting Table for this recipe and picture!

But before we get to that, a word from our sponsors. As I’ve written about before, QueijoKef and I spend a lot of time texting/emailing/’graming each other delicious things we’d like to cook or eat. It’s just one of the reasons she is so great (see also: our quick trip to Miamithe epic bike ride inspired by our friendship’s soundtrack, the gnocchi we both die for, and her signature non-dairy creamy sauce). She has an excellent track record of picking awesome recipes (this matcha gingerbread cookie is a fan favorite), so when she sent me this turmeric-cardamom-coconut milk ice cream, I knew she was on a mission to keep her streak alive.

This ice cream has a seriously complex flavor profile (how’s that for food blogger lingo?) that is somewhere between sweet and savory. In another life when I never have to go to school again, I would make grainless graham crackers, slather this ice cream between ’em for an ice cream sandwich, and make my millions selling them on Georgia Ave. A girl can dream.

I followed this recipe exactly, and you should all go over there to give credit where it’s due and support The Tasting Table with all the clicks you can muster. Because I love this recipe so much and would be devastated if it ever went away, I am reproducing it here for posterity (because if Cooking Up Kefi can outlast Gawker, clearly I’ll be here long after The Tasting Table is gone).

Golden Milk Vegan Ice Cream from The Tasting Table

Ingredients

  • 3 c coconut milk
  • ½ c cream of coconut (here on amazon)
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (I used 1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Chopped candied ginger, for garnish (optional)

Assembly

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients, minus the candied ginger, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Make sure you freeze the bowl of an ice cream maker during this time.

2. The next day, strain the base into the bowl of the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a shallow dish and freeze for at least 4 hours. Scoop the ice cream into bowls and drizzle with honey. Garnish with chopped candied ginger, then serve.

‘Pouzi Pizza

12 Jul


My love for watermelon runs deep- MamaKef has been known to stare into a fridge with three full melons and lament that there won’t be enough for the whole weekend once I get home. So ChampagneOnlyKef knew exactly what she was doing when she rolled up to the 4th of July ‘Ganza with an innovative watermelon dessert.

This ‘pouzi pizza (watermelon=karpouzi in Greek) is delicious and full of dairy decadence. I love the combo of sweet ricotta cheese and mint, and the cold watermelon base makes you forget you’re eating a Heart Attack flavored dessert. Many thanks to ChampagneOnlyKef for bringing this guy into the repertoire!

‘Pouzi Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c ricotta
  • 1/4 c cream cheese
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Watermelon
  • Berries, for garnish
  • Fresh mint, for garnish

Assembly

  1. Slice watermelon longitudinally.
  2. Mix together cheeses, honey, and vanilla until well combined. Spread over watermelon rounds.
  3. Cut covered rounds into “slices.” Garnish with mint and berries. Chill before serving.

Iranian Jeweled Rice

6 Jan

There are two things in this world MrKef cannot live without (and neither of them are me): rice and meat. He is, in general, a very cool and collected man, but put him in an eating situation without rice or meat, and you will see a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Put him at a table with neither rice NOR meat and I don’t really want to know what would happen.

So when I said I wanted to make a New Year’s Day feast, I could see the fear in his eyes: she’s not really going to make my first dinner of 2016 vegetarian and riceless, is she? I am not particularly into rice, but I once had this insanely delicious Persian rice and wanted to attempt to recreate it. A google search came up with this insane-sounding recipe from TheKitchn. For once, I have a dish as pretty as the one included in the recipe and a nice photo to prove it– thank you MsBumbleBee’sArchEnemyKef for your photography skills!

rice

This is not your ricecooker’s recipe. Sara from TheKitchn, in all her foodblog glory, has this to say: “this is a decadent dish, both in its ingredients and in the time it takes to prepare it….for your first go, make it a celebration. Take your time, source the best ingredients, treat each step of this recipe like a precious stone.” ChefKefi, in all her food blog averageness, adds this: don’t underestimate how haggard you will look once this masterpiece is done:

lobster

Now we know who the first lobster present at the birth of Christ was.

The key to this dish is the orange blossom water, which makes it a sweet, aromatic dish–so don’t skip it if you’re looking for something truly unique. I found this rice interesting but not the most compelling, and kept trying to decide if it was a side or a dessert. MrKef, on the other hand, was all about this rice, and since he would be thrilled by an UNRWA ration, we can take his word and call it a rice worthy of a year’s first meal.

If you’re looking for a less sweet, potentially less lovely dish, the NYT published this very similar recipe (which has all the same components but the orange blossom water)– I’d love to hear your results. The recipe below is largely verbatim so I will once again remind you of its source: The Kitchn.

Iranian Jeweled Rice

Ingredients

  • 3 c long-grain white basmati rice
  • 2 TBS salt, divided
  • peel of 2 large oranges
  • 1 c whole dried barberries or chopped unsweetened dried cranberries (I used pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 tsp loosely-packed saffron (I found it at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 c orange blossom water, divided (interestingly, they did NOT have this at Whole Foods- I got it in the Latino section at Giant. But any Mediterranean store should have it)
  • 2 TBS oil, butter or ghee
  • 1/2 c sliced raw almonds
  • 1/2 c chopped raw pistachios
  • 1/2 c golden or green raisins
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch long matchsticks (I used 1 bag of pre-shredded carrots from Trader Joe’s)
  • One 4-inch whole cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp freshly ground cardamom

Assembly

1. Wash the rice in a large container of water, swishing it around with your hand then draining off the water and repeating until the water runs clear, about five times. Cover again with water, add 2 tablespoons of the salt and soak between 2 and 24 hours. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.

2. Set a small pot of water to boil. Slice your orange peels into very small slivers. When the water is boiling, drop the slivers into the water and cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. (This cuts the bitterness of the orange rind.)

3. If you’re using cranberries or pomegranate seeds, proceed to step 4. For purists using barberries: Clean the barberries by removing any stems or debris. Place them in a sieve set inside a bowl. Cover with cold water and soak for 20 minutes. Pull the sieve from the bowl and rinse under cold water to flush out any remaining sand. Set aside.

4. In a mortar and pestle (or, you know, with whatever you’ve got), crush the saffron threads with a few pinches of sugar until a powder forms. Stir in 3 tablespoons of orange blossom water and set aside.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and the pistachios, and sauté for about a minute. Add the raisins to the pan and toss with the nuts. Empty the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

6. Heat 2 tablespoons of the saffron orange blossom water mixture, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in the same skillet. Add the carrots and orange peel and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the remaining sugar, the remaining saffron orange blossom water mixture, the cinnamon stick and the cardamom and sauté for 1 minute. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots lightly caramelize and the liquid has reduced to a syrup. Drain the carrots and orange peel, and reserve the syrup.

7. In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, bring ten cups of water to a boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt, and then add the rice to the pot with the remaining 1 tablespoon plain orange blossom water. Boil briskly until the rice has risen to the surface and when bitten into, a grain of rice feels soft, 6 to 10 minutes. Drain the rice into a large fine-mesh sieve, rinse with cold water and turn it out into a bowl.

8. Gently mix the remaining saffron orange blossom water and the reserved carrot/orange syrup to the par-boiled rice. Take a large spoonful of rice at a time and gently spread it over the bottom of the pot. Give the pot a shake to even out the base. Add more spoonfuls of rice, one at a time, gradually shaping it into a pyramid. (This shape leaves room for the rice to expand and enlarge.)

9. Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook 20 minutes over low heat (I accidentally skipped the low heat part, so if you’re short on space you probably could, too).

10. To serve, arrange on a serving platter layers of rice, then the caramelized carrot mixture (discarding the cinnamon stick), then the barberry/nut mixture

 

 

Oh My F*&! Eggplant

5 Jan

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Before I tell you anything else, I need you to know that one of our most discerning friends gave this fried eggplant with chickpeas dish the only review you need to know: “That’s oh my F*&! eggplant!”

The backstory: New Year’s Eve is pretty much the best… unless it’s the worst. The past few years we’ve teetered on the side of the latter (hotel parties filled with twenty year old women and fifty year old men… woof), and so this year MrKef came up with the brilliant idea to get an AirBnB outside the city and just hang with our awesome friends. I was all in for a NYE that didn’t require me to ask the question, “Why is that man dancing so close to a woman who could be his child?” PLUS it would give me the opportunity to hold our friends captive and cook until my little arms refused to chop anymore. Done and done.

I didn’t have time to test any recipes, so I went straight to the source: the New York Times Best Recipes of 2015. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was on the menu. The recipe is flawless (original here), so I am reprinting it verbatim below with only a few notes, but the one addition I did make is worth putting in huge letters here: MAKE THE YOGURT GARLIC SAUCE IN HUGE QUANTITIES AND SLATHER IT ON EVERYTHING YOU EAT FOR THE NEXT WEEK.

Billions of thanks to SpeaktoSomeoneAboutThatKef for frying up all those eggplant slices and MsBumbleBee’sArchEnemyKef for the food pics this week!

Later this week: a dangerous punch and a delicious cake, plus some scenes from NYE 2016.

Fried Eggplant with Chickpeas, Mint Chutney, and Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients

FOR THE EGGPLANT:

  • 2 lbs baby or small Italian eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • Fine sea salt, as needed
  • 3 to 4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed (and you will almost definitely need lots and lots more)
  • 1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala (I used red curry powder)
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp  black pepper
  • tsp cayenne
  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used 2 or 3 tomatoes on the vine and half a can of fire roasted tomatoes)
  • 1 can (15 oz) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

FOR THE MINT CHUTNEY:

  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 scallion, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)

FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE:

  • ~ 1 cup of yogurt (do yourself a favor and just go for the full-fat Fage)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated (or more if you really love garlic)
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice, or more to taste
  • half a bunch of scallions, chopped to about 1/4-inch pieces

Assembly

  1. Season eggplant slices all over with salt. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until it thins out in the pan. Add enough eggplant slices to fit in one layer without overlapping. Cook until the bottoms are browned, then flip and continue to cook until well browned and soft, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Add more oil if needed. (Editor’s Note: we ended up pretty much dry-frying about half of them for fear of heart disease.) Transfer cooked eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels, and repeat with more oil and eggplant until all the eggplant is cooked.
  2. Heat another tablespoon of oil in pan, then add the onions. Cook until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add spices and cook for 1 minute, then add tomatoes, chickpeas and 2 tablespoons water.
  3. Partly cover the pan and let the mixture simmer until tomatoes start to break down, 10 to 15 minutes. Add eggplant to the pan and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until sauce thickens.
  4. While the eggplant cooks, combine all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender. Blend until puréed, about 1 minute. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt, or both, if needed.
  5. Combine yogurt, lemon juice and grated garlic in a bowl. Play around until you get the consistency you’d like, and know that the garlic flavor will become a bit more pronounced after only a few minutes of sitting–so before you add a ton more, let it rest a minute. Once you’ve attained your preferred consistency and garlic level, toss in the scallions.
  6. Serve the eggplant with the chutney and yogurt.

 

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