Monday, July 28, 2014

Shrimp Pesto Pizza with Feta Cheese

Pizzas come in two types: the normal (classic cheese or pepperoni anyone?) and the gourmet. Obviously, I'm a fan of the latter.

On my very second date with B, he wanted to take me to a dinner at a pizza place at the Stanford Mall. Now, Stanford Mall is filled with fancy, expensive stores which no college student can afford - like Neiman Marcus, Crate and Barrel, and Louis Vuitton. And they have nice upscale restaurants, which serve things like gourmet pizza.
So B picks me up in his car like a gentleman (ah, the days when he still tried) and we sit down. I then inform him I have to fast for Ash Wednesday, which I had forgotten to tell him.

B: What?! You're just gonna sit and watch me eat?
Me: Yup.
Waiter: Would you like anything miss?
Me: Um, no.
Waiter: Ah, are you sharing?
Me: No, he's eating by himself actually... I'm just ... observing.
*waiter staring*
B: ...  Please eat something? I'm being judged here as a man.
Well, B tried to coax me, but, hey, I didn't make up the Catholic rules. He looks at the menu and sees nothing but fancy pizzas.

B: They have weird pizza topping here. Um, is there normal pizza?
waiter: normal pizza?
B: Like... pepperoni? Or sausage.
waiter: no.

Long story short, B ordered a gourmet pizza and raved about its deliciousness. He later admitted he didn't like it at all, but pretended he did, so I would try some and thus share - like a (more) normal dinner date. It didn't work, lol.
So here's a nice fancy shrimp pesto pizza from here which I thought was an unusual combo (pizza without mozzarella? gasp!). I'd never really eaten feta cheese before, but I enjoyed the twist. And I ate it all by myself, like B did so many years ago. Even better, I didn't have to pretend to like it.

Pizza dough, homemade or bought
3-5 tablespoons pesto
5 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large clove garlic
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1 bunch cilantro

Preheat the oven to 550 F. Coat a baking sheet with no-stick spray.

Unroll the pizza dough and spread on the prepared sheet to make 2-3 individual pizzas. Spread the pesto on the crust, leaving a 1/4" border.

Toss the shrimp with the lemon and garlic. Sprinkle the shrimp mixture, feta cheese, and onions on the crust. Top with the pine nuts and cilantro. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and the cheese is melted. Cut into slices and enjoy fresh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Almond Crusted Cod // Almond Green Beans and Caramelized Onions

Well, after getting back to my apartment after a month of glutinous eating in cruise ships, buffets, and fancy restaurants all over North and South America, I had a food slump.

What is a food slump? Well it's my own term for when after dining on the fanciest foods ever during vacation, you get home, realizing
A) now you have to chop, cook, AND wash all your dishes
B) your clothes are *ahem* a lot tighter and
C) you are now utterly broke.
So what do I do? I've been gone from my apartment for 6 weeks, but have just enough random scraps and leftovers to avoid going to the grocery. And so I eat cereal, frozen dumplings, and frozen leftover pizza for a week's worth of dinners. And zero vegetables.

Yes, Chef Uy's culinary skills and ambition at its finest *ahem*

But eventually, I had to get my lazy butt to the grocery store and cook. I needed something
A) healthy
B) crazy easy with minimal cleanup, and
C) reasonably fancy to counter my food slump.

Hence, the almond crusted cod with green beans and caramelized onion. Not a bad fix. Cod adapted from Eating Well and green beans adapted from Food Network's Tyler Florence.
Almond Crusted Cod

Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/4 pounds cod (see Tip) or halibut, cut into 4 portions
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine lemon zest, almonds, dill, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place fish on the prepared baking sheet and spread each portion with 1 teaspoon mustard. Divide the almond mixture among the portions, pressing it onto the mustard.
Bake the fish until opaque in the center, about 7 to 9 minutes, depending on thickness.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Almonds

Kosher salt
3 pounds green beans, trimmed of stem end
1/2 cup skin on sliced almonds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large high sided skillet with some water, adding enough to be just shy of the rim of the pan by about 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring up to boil; add a big pinch of salt and the green beans. Cook for about 5 minutes, the beans should still be crisp. Drain the beans and then run them under some cold water to stop them from cooking. Reserve the beans while you start the onions.

Return the skillet you cooked the beans in to the cook top over medium heat. Add the almonds and toast stirring every now and then until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the almonds from the skillet and reserve. Return the skillet to the heat and add the butter and olive oil and heat until the butter has melted. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring frequently until the onions caramelize, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the thyme, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cooked cooled green beans and almonds, and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lechon Sandwich from La Lucha / Sweet Potato Chips

So, I've been off the last month traveling all over North and South America, which is way more fun than work. I just came back from two weeks in Peru, my first time in South America (or heck, south of the equator). I must say winter in June is bizarre (especially after 11pm sunsets in Alaska the prior week).
I had been so busy with clinics that I didn't even know what country I was going to! My family gave me lots of funny looks.
Chef Uy: Yay, I can't wait to go to Brazil in two weeks!
Family: Um.... hello, earth to Natalie - we're going to Peru!!!! 
Chef Uy: Oh crap... I've been telling everyone the last 9 months I was visiting Brazil. 
It was probably for the best - Brazil is crazy with world cup fever, high hotel prices, traffic and protests anyway. We enjoyed our World Cup games with lovely Peruvian locals; literally every bar, restaurant, hotel, or marketplace was tuned via TV or radio.

Peru is a major foodie country and totally inspiring for the belly. Here's a nice easy recipe from the famous Sangucheria la Lucha from Lima, Peru.  La Lucha is a cute place near John F. Kennedy Parque (land of a million stray cats) and a very popular local and tourist lunch spot/hangout.
Lechon is traditional Spanish dish popular in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillipines, and South America - basically roast suckling pig. I happened to have lechon in my freezer, but if you don't, you can easily find a recipe such as here or substitute with pulled pork.
1 baguette
lechon pork (can substitute pulled pork)
sweet potato chips - recipe below
optional sauce: tartar sauce, mayonaise, ketchup, or aji sauce

1-2 sweet potatoes, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Slice sweet potato into thin strips and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake at oven at 400 degrees F until crispy, about 12 min (will vary depending on thickness).

Cut baguette in half and fill with sweet potato chips and lechon pork. Toast until bread is crispy. Spread sauce of choice. Serve your sandwich with the remaining sweet potato chips.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream

Well, I've had my first week of internal medicine under my belt. I have my specialty month first and was assigned to Pulmonary/Critical Care/ICU. It's a bizarre feeling being 3rd year medical student. In other schools, I wouldn't even have been the hospitals yet, but just stuck the classroom (ugh!), so having an extra 6 months of wards to transition is so nice.

In second year, people are like, "Aww, you're a baby second year. You're not even supposed to be in clinics yet. Let me explain this very basic concept to you."

Now it's like "Oh, you're a 3rd year? You better know something!"
But it's nowhere near as frightening as being a new intern. Especially when your patient in the ICU goes into cardiac arrest. Or they stop breathing. Or their blood pressure crashes. I've never met seen people as terrified as my interns, mere med students just a few weeks ago. Now the real responsibility comes in, but you know nothing...yet.

I was a bit disappointed to learn there's no magical bam! I'm now a resident, so I become smart. Ah, why is learning such a long and slow process? So our whole team is kinda bumbling and learning together.

So with great excitement, I carried my first patients and even filled out my own scutsheet of daily vitals and labs. Yes, I, Chef Uy, have my very own patients I visit every day and write notes about. Talk about a promotion!
My attending has given me a surprising amount of freedom - in fact, I have my own patients like a sub internship (basically, no intern is watching over me - I report directly to the attending about updates). In the words of my attending "You're flying solo honey!"

Ok, so my patients are simple cases, which suits me fine. I'd rather not have my patients crashing overnight like my poor interns, who are nervous wrecks and still don't know how to place orders in the computer.
So these cupcakes are also a new experience for me. I've never made buttercream icing, nor have I piped anything - these were for a friend's large birthday party, and of course I try a brand new recipe. The icing kept separating, making me a nervous wreck (no stress like last minute baking, of course) until, bam! it combined. Now ... if only obtaining medical knowledge worked like that. Adapted from Baking Bites.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp Kahlua
2-3 tbsp instant coffee powder
3/4 cup water
garnish - cocoa powder, sprinkles, cookie crumbles, etc

6 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tbsp milk, room temperature
2 tbsp Kahlua liquor
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

MOCHA CUPCAKE: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin cups with paper liners (makes 9).

In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, Kahlua and instant coffee power until combined. Whisk in half the flour mixture, followed by half of the water. Stir in all of the remaining flour and the water, mixing until batter is just uniform (do not overmix).

Divide evenly into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 18 minutes until done (knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

KAHLUA BUTTERCREAM: In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee powder in milk and Kahlua. In a large bowl, beat together butter, instant coffee mixture and confectioners’ sugar until frosting is smooth, thick and fluffy. Add additional confectioner's sugar to thicken if necessary. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes on the day of serving and dust with desired topping.

Monday, July 7, 2014

M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

I wanted to make a care package for B as he takes his National Boards Exam for podiatry tomorrow. He definitely likes snacking while studying, so baked goods are always a welcome gift.

B: I'm not a stress eater! I'm a ... study eater!
Deciding what recipe to make is always the hardest part, so I turn to another 6 ft plus eating machine for advice - my brother.

Chef Uy: Help! I can't decide - should I bake peanut butter cookies or M&M cookies?
Hans: Let me solve all your problems... you should make peanut butter M&M cookies. You're welcome.

These cookies (adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction) are thick, soft, and somewhat crumbly. It's got plenty peanut butter flavor already, but for me, you can't ever have enough peanut butter in a peanut butter cookie.
The most important part, however, are the M&M's. M&M cookies must be studded with M&M's (which I failed to do). B and I often make "long term bets" which last years, so we write our terms on a piece of paper and keep it in a shoebox. One of our bets is whether B can ever get a 6 pack. Apparently, you have to walk one football length to burn off one M&M.

Chef Uy: Um, I didn't add enough M&M's so you're going to have to supplement them as you eat your cookies.
B: I only heard "You must to go to Walmart and buy a huge bag of M&M's right now." Good idea!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups M&Ms, plus additional for topping

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed. Mix in the peanut butter, eggs and vanilla. 

In another bowl, combine baking soda and flour and slowly add to the wet ingredient mix until just combined (avoid overmixing). Gently stir in the M&Ms. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll chilled cookie dough onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press the balls down (they don't spread while baking). Press additional M&Ms on top of the dough balls. Bake for 12-15 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Cookies will be soft, but will firm up as they cool. Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Maple Pecan Granola // Vanilla Crunch Granola

You may have noticed a less posts than normal last month since I've been off traveling! I just got back from an awesome Alaska/Canada cruise, then a Peru trip, and will be catching up. On tours, I eat huge breakfasts for energy for the day, and all the hotels had amazing cereal - especially granola of all types (cacao, brazil nuts, peanuts, quinoa, Andean cereal, and more)- I can't tell you how many bowls I ate daily.

Dad loves granola, even more than me. He's a sucker for sales as well, so his idea of a good buy can be ... interesting. If mom sends him to the grocery to buy milk, he'll come back with twenty items.

Dad: Guess what! Granola was on sale so I bought 10 lbs of it! 

This is why mom now sends the kids to do her grocery shopping instead.

I hate paying $5 for a pound of granola, so I finally got around to making it myself. It's so incredibly easy, but requires patience - baking low and slow is the way to go.

Maple Pecan Granola
You have to use real maple syrup - I can't go back to the fake stuff after eating the real thing in Canada.

3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces (or walnut pieces)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto sheet pans.

Bake for 2 hours, or until dry and crunchy*. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl.


Vanilla Crunch Granola
Adapted from Delicious As It Looks
Nuts and coconuts - a winning combination! 
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes

Heat oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix together the oats and almonds. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar and salt into the water. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in canola oil and vanilla. Pour into the oat and almond mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spread mixture out on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours, or until dry and crunchy*. Remove from oven and let cool before breaking apart into chunks. Store in an air-tight container.

* length of baking time varies on how large the batch is

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches

Fried chicken waffles are a huge southern tradition and a popular brunch item. Hans, Steph, and I made these for Father's Day, and as always, mishaps just crop up amidst chaos.

Like after making all the waffle batter, not having a waffle maker.

Chef Sherbet: Moooom! We can't find the waffle maker anywhere! In the garage, the laundry room, the kitchen, the guest room!
Mom: Hmm, where did I keep it? Call dad.
Chef Hans: Dad doesn't know, we called already!
Mom: Well, I suppose we'll just have to buy a new one then!
Frying the chicken was tricker than expected, so we ended up oven baking the chicken since the inside wasn't cooked yet when the coating was already black. Also, we discovered frying evenly is quite difficult when all your pans are warped.
Chef Hans: I can't fry the chicken without burning one side and leaving the other raw. 
Mom: Oh yeah, that cast iron pan isn't flat on the bottom. None of them are actually!
Of course, coordinating the waffles and the chicken so they finish simultaneously for freshness epically fails, so we have to re-heat the chicken and re-toast the waffles as dad waits so more, starving. On the plus side, the maple syrup mustard is literally foolproof.
After everything, dad gets his rather belated Father's Day lunch, and we're able to eat. Finally. Adapted from the Candid Appetite and Ina Garten.

Bacon Cheddar Green Onion Waffles
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
3 large eggs, room temperature
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
6 slices bacon, cooked and diced
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
5 green onions thinly sliced
cooking spray, for waffle iron

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and black pepper.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and pour into the dry ingredients (make a well in the center of the flour mixture). Add the melted butter and buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the waffle batter until just combined and still sightly lumpy. Add additional buttermilk if needed; stir until pouring consistency. Fold in the cooked chopped bacon, shredded cheese, and green onions.

Lightly grease the waffle iron with cooking spray. Cook until the waffles are golden brown and crispy (about 4 minutes). Continue cooking until all the batter is used up (makes about 12 waffles). To re-warm, place the waffles in an oven toaster until crispy.


Buttermilk Fried Chicken
5 chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise
1½ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon siracha sauce
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon each of salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper
canola oil for frying

Marinate the chicken in a large bowl with buttermilk and hot sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

In a baking tray combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper. Dip the chicken from the buttermilk bowl into the flour mixture. Pat the flour into the chicken, on both sides. Lay the coated chicken on a rack. Repeat until all the chicken is coated. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes to dry the coating.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two sheet pans with foil.

Heat about oil in a cast iron skillet and fry the chicken in batches. Cook for a few minutes on each side until a light golden brown and crispy. Remove the chicken from the oil and place on sheet pan. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.


Maple Mustard Sauce
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
3 tablespoons dijon mustard

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Will keep in refrigerator for 1 week.