Thursday, October 13, 2016

Key Lime Pie

Today I'd like to share a recipe I made a while back  - key lime pie! For those down in Florida and the Caribbean, I hope you and your loved ones are safe from the hurricanes and storms. I've been following the weather as several of my patients were from Florida while I was on the Hematology service (they had traveled to Yale for cancer treatment).
How was Hematology? A busy, though rewarding, month. The patients could be quite sick, stuck in the hospital for months due to complications, and a few of mine sadly passed away during my time there. 
The Hematology team also carries the code pagers - anytime there's a code blue (cardiac/respiratory arrest) you stop what you're doing and immediately run to the location of the code to do ACLS (advanced cardiovascular life support).
There was one sad case where we ran the code - my first one. It was a shock for everyone given how unexpected the case was - the patient had cancer, but he was very young, had come in for an elective surgery, and was actually in the process of being discharged when something (most likely a clot to the lungs) caused him to stop breathing and lose his pulse.

After resuscitation attempts for almost an hour failed, we eventually pronounce him dead. Hearing his wife's despair was heartbreaking - she had come to the hospital expecting to pick him up and take him home.

Even though it's what I've trained for my whole life, it's still so surreal for me to be telling so many people, many older than me, what to do to try save a life acutely.
After the code ended we did a debriefing. The whole staff had been phenomenal; the nurses, techs, and doctors had run like clockwork. Although the ALCS had been very well organized and we could walk away feeling like we gave him the best chance, in the end, we could only do so much.

Every intern's first code is a big point in their training, mine particularly so given my involvement and the unusualness of the case. I was certainly tired and had lost my appetite, but there were no tears, just a resolution to continue the rest of the day's work after a brief 5 minutes of mourning.
I've had to come to the point where I need to decide my speciality soon. Having an uncle who recently passed away from leukemia and doing art therapy with cancer patients in college had piqued my interest; I've definitely enjoyed my Hematology patients this month.

While B thinks adult cancer is awfully "doom and gloom," there are many happier stories too (really!). In a few years, we'll see what I end up doing for fellowship ... but I wouldn't be surprised if I do end up a cancer doctor.

Key Lime Pie recipe adapted from epicurious.

Key Lime Pie

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup lime juice, fresh
2 limes, zested

1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

CRUST: Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch removable tart pan. Bake crust in middle of oven 12 minutes and let cool. Leave oven on.

Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice and whisk until combined well. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

Just before serving, beat cream and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer to stiff peaks. Serve pie topped with cream. Garnish with additional zest and lime slices.
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Pastrami Swiss Panini

Panini (small bread in Italian) is one of my favorite versions of sandwiches. Everything is better when toasted.

Paninis arose in the US around the 1950s, (although they've been around as early as during the 16th-century in Italian cookbooks).  The sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars in the 1970s and 1980s which quickly spread to hip U.S. restaurants in New York, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each with their own distinctive variations (Dining Chicago).
I've had a very busy month on the Hematology wards  (inpatient)- these patients, alas, all have some kind of blood cancer. While this month has been incredibly rewarding, the long hours have precluded any fancy recipe making (or even grocery shopping - I went three weeks without any groceries! A record for me!) 
This whole month, I literally ate ham and cheese sandwiches every day for lunch. Unfortunately, my sandwiches were not that great since my beloved toaster oven caught on fire! (Luckily, B was able to yank out the cord, and the flames eventually died down). The lack of groceries also did not help - so I had super boring untoasted/ungrilled bread.

This recipe was from a better time, when I actually had food in my fridge.
Sadly, I forgot I had B's panini press at my disposal until the whole month had ended.  I had made this Pastrami Swiss Panini prior to starting Hematology wards, and this could have saved me from so many unsatisfactory sandwiches. 

But when you're this tired, I guess you don't care so much what you eat as long as you have something to eat, lol. Recipe by me.

PS.  My brother and I had a spirited debate on what more important to have for a decent sandwich - I would have mediocre fillings as long as the bread was good (ie rustic, toasted/grilled), while my brother would forgo fancy bread (ie he was ok with regular plain old white untoasted bread slices) in favor of better cheese. Let us know your vote!

Pastrami Swiss Panini

4 slices wheat bread
4-6 slices swiss cheese
3/4 lb pastrami
red cabbage
extra virgin olive oil

Heat up the panini press while prepping your sandwich.

To assemble the sandwich, drizzle olive oil on the bottom side of one bread slice. Layer the pastrami, cilantro, and red cabbage. Top with swiss cheese and the other bread slice, then drizzle the top with olive oil. Place the sandwich on the press. Remove the panini once the cheese has melted, it is heated through middle, and the bread is toasted to a golden brown.
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Peach Ginger Iced Tea

In residency, you don't really choose your vacation, you get assigned it. I was assigned in September, so I had to chance to go home to Texas for my family. By good fortune, B and I were able to coordinate our vacations together, despite being in separate institutions. It was great being back home, in the most fabulous state in the US.
I had forgotten already how hot Texas gets, even in late summer. In Texas (and the South), we really like our tea; after all, sweet tea equals southern comfort and summer simultaneously. The number of days for sharing summer recipes are rapidly dwindling - how time flies!
Sweet tea was once a luxury item since tea, ice, and sugar were so expensive - especially ice, which had to be shipped from afar, and access to cold drinking water was already a luxury (Our State). Thus sweet tea is the essence of Southern hospitality. This, my friends, is (as Dolly Parton calls it) the "house wine of the South."
I've noticed that Northerners don't really drink Sweet Tea. So I just have to bring it back to the North by sharing my recipe for the Peach Ginger Iced Tea (along with the many many many peaches I hoarded in my luggage. I won't tell you how many pounds of peaches I bought in Texas, but it's amazing how much cheaper produce is down there!) Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay.

Peach Ginger Ice Tea

1/2 cup sugar
thinly sliced fresh ginger, to taste
3/4 cups water
4 black tea bags
optional: 1/2 cup peach juice
fresh peaches, sliced

Combine the sugar, water and the ginger in a small saucepan; boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved to make a ginger syrup. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Boil several cups of water (depends on how strong you want your tea) and steep tea bags. Remove the tea bags, let cool, and chill in the refrigerator.

Stir in the peach and ginger simple syrup to taste. Serve chilled. Enjoy!
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

French Apple Tart

Happy first day of fall - my favorite season! I am so looking forward to having a "real" fall in the northeast, where leaves actually change color.
We went to Lyman Orchards, and in addition to the massive squashes we picked there as mentioned in my Chocolate Zucchini Bread, we also picked a TON of apples ... which I baked into a tart because we ended up with too many apples. Whoops. But these apples were so gorgeous - look at these beauties.
There are many variants of the Tarte Normande (Normandy Tart) which has apples and almonds. The key to this tart is the sweet pastry crust (pate sucree) which is a little like a buttery shortbread.

French apple tarts tend to have beautiful displays of thinly sliced apples. I put B to work slicing the apples, then took the knife away from him since his apple slices were so fat and nonuniform (he slunk in the corner)... sometimes, I think I should be the surgeon in the family, hehe.
I made this pie for a friend's birthday initially, and we liked it so much I made it two more times in one week when visiting B's family in California in the first half of our lovely 2 week vacation. That's a lot of apple tarts.
B has French blood through his father's side, so this French dessert was a big hit with his dad (no better way for a daughter in law to win approval). His mom doesn't bake much, but I made extra dough so she could enjoy it in future baking.
This recipe was adapted from Joy of Baking. French apple tart is a perfect fall dessert as the weather turns cooler (we're expecting a chill next week) that's a little different and more elegant than a regular apple pie - everyone knows the French are all things classy and elegant. If you don't have a tart pan, you can use a brownie pan or pie pan as well.

French Apple Tart

2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-3 Tbsp milk, (as need)

One 8-ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
~4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds

CRUST: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Grease a 9 inch tart (or pie) pan.

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, sugar, and pieces of butter and pulse until dough just begins to come together. If you don't have a food processor, combine all ingredients in a bowl and using 2 knives, "cut" the butter into pieces until texture resembles coarse crumbles, then form dough. You can add milk if needed. Pat the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator while you make the filling.

FILLING: Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour in the filling.

APPLE TOPPING: Toss the sliced apples with the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Arrange apples evenly over the cream cheese layer and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and apples are tender. Let cool and serve. Enjoy!
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Friday, September 16, 2016

Roasted Chicken with Orange and Sage

B and I recently celebrated our six months since our wedding (yay!). Six months ago on our marriage day, we still had no clue what residencies we'd be training at yet or what part of the United States we'd be living in for the next 3+ years. Fast forward to now, and we're settling into being doctors/surgeons and into (semi long distance) married life.

Nothing is more domestic than a roast chicken, and seeing how I received the hilarious cookbook 50 Shades of Chicken from my aunt on my bridal shower, I thought it was time to celebrate with a recipe from the book.
For those who may feel that a book with the title "50 Shades of anything" is not for them, I do suggest you actually check this book out. While the recipes and the titles are seductive parodies, the recipes look delicious, with excellent pictures and instructions. It's also a great bridal shower gift for any future brides who love to cook or want to learn.

Thank you to my aunt, for her sense of humor and her appreciation of good cooking :) Definitely one of my favorite bridal shower gifts. This is the first recipe we tried from the book, and looking forward to trying more.
This recipe is adapted from Roasted Chicken with Tangerines and Sage, based on what ingredients we had. We had a very delicious and romantic meal pairing this chicken with my Balsamic Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Alas, B had to return back to New York for work the next day, but dinner together once a week (rather than a Skype dinner) is really special. Keeping it all in perspective!
PS. If you want the more raunchy descriptions on preparing your chicken, I recommend getting the actual book 50 Shades of Chicken as the writing style is quite entertaining.

Roasted Chicken with Orange and Sage

1 3-4 lb chicken, patted dry with paper towels
salt and pepper, to taste
1 orange, cut into slices
1 bunch fresh sage
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 F. Season chicken all over, including cavity, with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with orange slices and sage.

Place stuffed chicken, breast side up and take butcher's twine and truss the chicken (great quick video tutorial here, which is much better than I can explain in typing) for even cooking, maintaining shape, and keeping the flavor inside.

Place chicken breast side up on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and roast until juices run clear where pierced with a knife, and the skin is crisp and golden. Let rest for 10 min before cutting/carving it. Enjoy!
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Friday, September 9, 2016

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I organized a trip to the beautiful Lyman Orchards, an hour away, in excitement for blueberry picking at the recommendation of one of my residents. On Friday, I had called and confirmed it was blueberry season on their automated system. The next day, waking up early on Saturday, we found out Friday had been the last day of blueberry season, and blueberry picking was closed!
Although bummed, we didn't let that stop us. Blueberry picking turned into zucchini picking. Like 6 pound zucchini picking.  I had never seen zucchini plants, and never such monster squashes. Each squash was longer than my entire arm!
The concept of zucchini bread is pretty bizarre (as B says, no veggies in my bread/cake/muffins!), especially when you put the words "chocolate" and "zucchini" together. But B admitted this Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread, adapted from Joy of Baking, was pretty good. So good you couldn't even taste the vegetables. So good that B even upgraded it to calling it a brownie.

That's probably the highest honor one can bestow on a zucchini bread.
Grating this beast of a squash was a nightmare. It took me 1 hour to grate just half of the zucchini, and half was enough for a triple batch of chocolate zucchini bread! The rate limiting factor was the number (and size) of loaf pans. I had one loaf pan...but the zucchini alone was 3-4x bigger than the pan.

This was the last thing I baked before our lovely 2 week vacation (more about that later!) - one batch was eaten in Connecticut, one batch was brought to California for B's family, and one batch was brought to Texas for my family. Just sharing some Connecticut orchard (labor of) love with the rest of the US.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan (makes 1 loaf)

Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips, coating with the dry ingredients (prevents chips from sinking).

In another large bowl beat the eggs. Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract and beat until well blended. Fold in the grated zucchini and flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes (do not overbake). Cool for about 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges, then remove the bread from the pan. It's best to cut when the bread has fully cooled. Enjoy!
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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake

Did you know the average American moves 12 times during his/her lifetime? This includes buying/renting, moving for jobs, attending college, and getting married. If I exclude moving each year for college, I'm at 7 moves already!
Sadly, UPS didn't treat our boxes very kindly when we shipped them to the Northeast. To our dismay when we opened our boxes, we found shattered cups and plates, and dented or broken kitchen appliances.
On the bright side, moving is a good excuse to go buy new household items. Upon discovering my residency match to Yale, I immediately googled Ikea, Michaels/Hobby Lobby, and Trader Joes/Costco. Luckily they're all near my apartment. The essentials for happiness, y'know.
I can spend all day in Ikea's maze, and in particular I love scouting the "as is" section, which has plenty of cheap kitchen items for food-blog backgrounds on a budget. I fell in love these plates which were around $1 each!
I love the combination of peaches and blueberries, so what better way than to combine them in this adorable yogurt cake. The colors happened to match perfectly with my new Ikea plates (and coincidentally my apartment furniture and decoration as well).
This Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake recipe, adapted from Julia's Album, is a great dessert for celebrating the end of summer. I made mine into mini cakes using 3 inch springform pans, but it can easily be sized up to fit a crowd. Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 peaches, sliced into wedges
6 oz blueberries
confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease your pans (I use 3 min springform pans) and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, together into a medium bowl. In a another bowl, beat butter, sugar, and 2 eggs until fluffy. Beat in your vanilla and Greek yogurt until very creamy and light.

Gently stir your flour mix in the egg/butter mix until combined, being careful not to overmix. Transfer the cake batter to your springform pans. Top batter with sliced peaches and blueberries evenly.

Bake until cake turns golden, and the tester comes out clean in the center, about 1 hour. Midway through baking, you can add extra peaches and blueberries on top, and return cake to baking. When the cake is done, let it cool (still in the baking pan) on a wire rack. Once cooled, release the cake from the springform pan. Dust with confectioners sugar for decoration, then serve hot or cold. Enjoy!
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