Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Greece Food Adventures (Honeymoon Part II)

B and I have never been to Greece, so we were super excited to have a little more relaxed beach time after a busy week in Paris. We considered a cruise, but decided it would be more fun (and economical) to do our own adventures. We flew from Paris to Mykonos, then hopped to Santorini, then finished at Athens over the week.

The waters are amazing and every town is next to the bluest ocean you'll ever sea (see) haha. This is the octopus you can enjoy right in Ammoudi Bay in Santorini.

There's tons of little shops selling Greek foods - the popular towns in the Cyclades islands know what tourists want! Locals told us that apparently they're not that impacted by the Greek economic crisis as opposed to the mainland because tourism happens no matter what (I have never seen so many tourists crammed together in my life!).
Lots of restaurants along the tiny streets of Mykonos - the main town Hora is a pedestrian only place and every corner and building is just picture perfect with white wall and blue windows and domes.
We, of course, ate seafood many times throughout the trip as we were so close to water. Here is grilled sea bream with lemon olive oil in Little Venice in Mykonsos.
Of course, we had to have the quintessential greek dessert - baklava - with ice cream.
We had quite a bit of olive oil - B bough a large bottle of homemade fresh pressed oil to bring back to the US. He loves the stuff - he even drank it straight when they offered it for taste testing!
Santorini is known for fabulous wineries. Their wine is very concentrated due to the manner of growing the grapes - low to the ground - as there is little rain on the island.We went to Santo Wines - one of the best wineries - and enjoyed a beautiful Greek seaside sunset with these delicious snacks.
Vinsanto is a wine only made in Santorini - it's super sweet and concentrated. I really loved how different tasted and brought a bottle back as well (our small luggages were exploding by the time all the souveniers from France and Greece added up)
One of the most popular Greek spirits is ouzo. It's cloudy white, served cold, and super strong. They can come in cute bottles featuring Greek gods and goddesses.
While on Mykonos (and all of Greece) the restaurants can really push you to eat there. B is a softee so he promised the first person who came up to him we'd eat there after our Delos island day trip (I told him he can't say yes to every restaurant and vendor and shop owner or we'd be broke lol).  

B is a man of his word, so as soon as we got back, ate this pepper and vinegar octopus in one of the seaside restaurants, and it was quite good.
We tried quite a bit of exotic gelato flavors - including olives (not the best), vinsanto wine, baklava,  fig, and chocolate pistachio (armoundes), and halva (tahini/sesame) gelato!
One of the best budget eats in Oia is Pito Gyro - we were ravenous after a day of excursions, including hiking 3 hours on a beautiful (and rocky) trail from Fira to Oia, and we devoured the best gryos on the trip.
There's so many olive wood items. I did end up buying the grape glass olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the middle of the photo although I regretfully don't eat enough olives to merit buying a donkey olive pit holder. 

B and I rode donkeys up a trail of stairs in Fira's Old Port (it was already quite tiring walking down). There is absolutely no controlling the donkey and they take you where they want at their own pace with no one there. 

For some reason, they put me on a huge nice shiny donkey and put B on the tiniest, scrawniest, most disheveled looking donkey that looked like he could barely hold the weight of my 6 ft 2 in husband. However, he was a tough donkey and was the first to the top. 
In Athens, one of the best deals was all this crispy fried seafood on a bed of tabbouleh for two for just 20 euros plus dessert. Not too shabby. 
This was our last dinner of the honeymoon and hands down B's favorite - he has never raved about lamb chaps so much before as these in Tousteki Tou Ilia, a tavern in Athens. There are a million cats eyeballing you for your scraps (B refused to share).
Beautiful Little Italy in Mykonos

And thus, my last major vacation until who knows when. B is already dreaming of our next big trip.
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

France Food Adventures (Honeymoon Part I)

Our Paris trip was full of bread, coffee, and desserts. Everything is so beautiful and chic in Europe.

Some gastronomic highlights of our trip
Pastries in a little food shop called Causses
 around Les Halles in Paris. They sell great cheeses, meats, and gelato too!
 The best crepes in Paris are found in Breizh. Pictured here: Pear chocolate caramelized walnut crepe with vanilla bean ice cream, buckwheat crepe with buckwheat ice cream, and classic jam and butter crepe
 The art of people watching during breakfast - classically coffee and croissant. A Cafe outside Opéra national de Paris (home of the Phantom of the Opera)
 We had lunch in an adorable cafe in Montemarte called Soul Kitchen. It's crowded and there's a long line but the food is deicious. They change the menu daily and change with mealtimes. 
 Desserts at Soul Kitchen in Montemarte. Also do try their hot chocolate with the smiley face (seen in my first photo) - it's the richest, most luxurious drink you'll ever have.
B requested we take cooking class with a chef in Paris - we chose La Cuisine Paris since it had great reviews, small class numbers, and is taught in English (very important). Chef Cyrl was super passionate about food and we learned a lot of new techniques, like tying a layer fat around stuffed filet mignon to keep it moist.

In our cooking class, we prepared 3 courses, plus they served us a wine and cheese pairing for dessert. The French have super strong cheeses which B loves.
 We spend a night in Normandy so we could tour the WWII D-Day Beaches. Dessert in Normandy - we took a lunch break in St. Mere-Englise, the first town liberated by the Americans. 
 No Paris trip is complete without some Laduree macarons. We ate dinner at the Laduree on the swanky Champs-Élysées Avenue, a wedding gift from my godmother who lives in France. The food portions are small, so I recommend eating dinner elsewhere and just saving all your money for dessert. but their macarons are really fabulous. You can really taste the essence of the macaron flavor.

My godmother also treated us for a sunset dinner cruise in the River Seine - it was a little dark for food pictures, but it was SO romantic and wonderful. Although she wasn't able to make our wedding in Texas, she really made our honeymoon super amazing.
 We ate pastries three times a day shamelessly. We bought these pastries during a walk around the adorable St. Germain neighborhood and had a dinner picnic at the Luxembourg gardens. 
 Visiting beautiful outdoor food markets - Marche d’Alma was recommended to us by our chef during our cooking class. Here is some famous French apple cider!
Another outdoor food market - this time at Marche de Rouge Enfants (originally an orphanage where they wore red clothes, hence the name). 
Finally, finishing off our trip with the best chocolatiers in Paris - Jacques Genin. Fun flavors such as earl grey tea,  coffee, basil, and rosemary! 

Hope you enjoyed seeing food as much as we enjoyed eating it! I drove B a little crazy by making him wait before eating anything, but now we can enjoy the food pictures forever :D
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Orange Olive Oil Cake

Oh gosh where did the time go? Here is a recipe inspired by our wonderful honeymoon travels. B and I had a magical 2 week trip to France and Greece where we ate to our heart's content. I have lots of food pictures to share after I sort out the roughly 4,000 pictures I took, so stay posted on my instagram!
I wanted somewhere romantic jam packed with lots of art, culture, history (and *cough* museums). B wanted somewhere romantic with lots of beaches and lounging and doing nothing.

Our first week was spent mostly in Paris, with a quick overnight trip to Normandy to learn about the inspiring WWII D-Day history. The second week was spread out over Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens. The perfect compromise, I think (B still protests over the 17 museums we went to, but we made plenty of food market, gelato, and coffee stops to keep his morale hehe).
Even though we've been together for so many years, we've never flown on a trip until our honeymoon! With all the long distance, we only flew to each other whenever we had a break, rather than fly somewhere together, so it was exciting to finally travel.
I've been lucky to have visited many countries - B, on the other hand, had only been a few states, and never left the US before. He learned a lot of cultural differences on the trip - like not being served ice water, no free wifi, and tiny, tiny hotels/restaurants/cars.
B: I wonder how Europeans must feel when they visit America...I bet they're astounded by getting ice in water without having to ask, free wifi everywhere, and TONS of space.
We especially ate a ton of olive oil in Greece - B loves olive oil (he even drank it straight when sampling cups!). This is a quick and easy olive oil cake adapted from Food Network- the olive oil replaces the butter or vegetable oil while giving a subtle hint of flavor. The citrus makes for a refreshing cake, so it's appropriate for .a light dessert or ... er breakfast.

Orange Olive Oil Cake

Butter, for greasing the pan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 1 orange (about 3 tablespoons juice, 1 tablespoon zest)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Mix together the sugar and eggs in a medium bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until blended and light. Drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla and mix until light and smooth. Add the orange juice and zest and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another medium bowl. Add the flour mixture half at a time to the wet ingredients and mix on low just to incorporate.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool 15 minutes, dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Popsicles

Hello everyone. I've officially moved to the east coast and started Internal Medicine residency so posts may be a little less regular.

How to I sum up my residency thus far? Well, I feel pretty rusty and nervous as heck. I don a huge long white coat and an old school pager. It's strange being referred to as Dr. Uy (Oh, huh, you're talking to me?) or introducing myself as a doctor (Hi Ms. X, my name is Natal- er, I mean Dr. Uy).

Oh, and my co-interns / residents / attendings are all awesome and share an affinity for good food. I think we'll get along very well.
I'm starting with my primary care clinic block, and outpatient is just as, if not tougher, than inpatient. Our patients can be very challenging, with a lot of medical problems on top of language, psychosocial, and financial barriers. 

Now I'm in the front line of care of my "mini-practice" of 300 patients for the next 3 years, which is an amazing and enormous responsibility!
I had one sweet patient who made me smile today. She needed to lose weight after immigrating to the US from the Middle East recently, as she had unfortunately developed an unhealthy American diet. Through the translator, she sheepishly admitted she loved chocolate - especially dark chocolate - very much and if dark chocolate was healthy.

In case you haven't noticed, I love dark chocolate too, so I empathize. We agreed to tackle cutting out other unhealthy parts of her diet one at a time, starting with sugary drinks instead.
I'm enjoying the lovely Connecticut weather right now. But it's never too cold or hot to eat popsicles. I've join Popsicle Week 2016 and I'm sharing these fun Raspberry Chocolate Popsicles Adapted from Little Spice Jar!

These popsicles are from Ikea for a steal of $1.99. These were the very first things I bought upon moving to the East Coast. (B: So... instead of essentials like a bed, table, or microwave, you rush to buy popsicle molds. Very practical.)
These beauties are so easy to make - to make sure they don't stick, just dip them in a cup of hot water to loosen. I wanted them two toned to celebrate the official start of summer (and my residency). Enjoy!

Raspberry Chocolate Popsicles

12 oz fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cups greek yogurt
¼ cup almond milk
1 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Combine the yogurt and almond milk in a large bowl. In another bowl, using a fork, mash the raspberries. Add half of the yogurt milk mixture to the raspberries, folding with a spatula for a marbled effect. Stir in the chopped dark chocolate in each bowl.

Pour the raspberry mixture first

Pour the mixture into the ice pop molds. Cover molds and insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove from molds and serve immediately.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Houston Food Adventures

Well my time in Houston has come to a close. A little belated but as a parting gift, I wanted to share a roundup of some of my favorite eats I've discovered over my time at medical school. As always, you can follow my restaurant and travel food adventures on my instagram (which is more up to date).

Chocolate Bar - my family and B's and of course my favorite ice cream place - Totally Nuts is the hands down favorite (B has been know to abandon me and go for ice cream himself when I'm at work; we've driven a quart of this across Texas in dry ice for Father's Day), but all the flavors are good. There's many candies, chocolates, and other sweets too in the Willy Wonka-esque shop.

Oporto Fooding House & Wine - this Portuguese tapas place is gorgeous and perfect for dates or events - I celebrated my Match Day with family and friends here. Try the Bife a Portoguesa, Squid Fried Rice, Polvo con Batatas, and Quiejo de Cabra (baked goat cheese). Pizzete Do Mar and Arroz de Mariscos are good big items.

Local Foods - one of my favorites, enough that I made a copycat recipe of their Roast Beef Sandwich (with curry cauliflower), which sadly isn't available. But their . Sides are fun and delicious - I have a copycat recipe of their Tuscan Kale Salad, acorn squash, and quinoa. and cabbage slaw. Rotisserie Short Rib and Crunchy Chicken are popular. New favorite is - Garden Sammie (add chicken).

Killen's BBQ - this is THE place to get BBQ in Houston. go early and get ready to wait (1.5 hours for us on a Sunday morning arriving 45 min before opening) but it's worth it. Everything is good - we tried the brisket (especially the burnt ends), the beef and pork ribs, pork belly, and sausage by the pound. The sauces - sweet, tangy, and coffee - are addicting. The sides - creamed corn (crunchier and more peppery than Rudy's) and finally the bread pudding to finish it all off. Mr. Killen is super friendly and walks around greeting customers.

Sinh Sinh - a seafood place in Chinatown. This place makes the list for one dish - the lotus crab rice. Steamed crab wrapped in lotus leaf in glutinous rice - it's market price, but it's a large portion and can be shared amongst 4 people.

Andes Cafe - a mix of latin and south American food (I love how they list each dish's country of origin). Try the Lomo Saltado, Empanadas de Morocho, Arepa Le Puela (corn patty), La Colombiana ( a trio of appatizers), and Bisteck a Cabello. For the more adventurous, they have very authentic options - serving cuy (roast hamster) and anticuchos (skewered hearts), which I had seen in my travels to Peru.

Cooking Girl - Try the Soft Bacon (very slow cooked braised pork belly),  Dry Fried Green Bean, and Hot Diving Fish - they're the favorites for a reason. Note that parking can be very limited, so come early.

 - B's dad loved steakouses so this was the first place I took them to when they arrived for my graduation. Try the Thai Steak & Noodle Salad (marinated filet, avocado, mango, noodles), French Dip Au Jus (roasted prime rib french roll sandwich), and Hawaiian Rib-Eye (with a ginger soy pineapple marinade)

- Mediterranean at its best. Try the stuffed grape leaves, couscous salad, hummus, and any kabo or schwarma. There's a large variety and served like a buffet/a la carte where everything is displayed and you pick what you want and pay.

Runner ups: Confucious Seafood, Mala Sechuan, Uchi, Himalaya, Dish Society (pictured below), 88 Boiling Crawfish and Seafood
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tilapia Ceviche Celebration // Chef Uy, MD

Today is the day! In a few hours I become.... Chef Uy, MD!!

I've worked toward this dream my whole life, and it's a little surreal that I've reached it.
B and I flew in a few days ago for our senior gala (aka med school prom). B's parents flew in from California and we took them around Houston, showing off its attractions and top eats (stay tuned for a Houston Food Adventures roundup). Today my family's driving in to celebrate as well!
My graduation robe looks huge on me, but I'm so excited to rock the green (fun fact: academic regalia is green for medicine because of bile - very attractive). No puffy hat though; we just get normal graduation cap and a tassel sadly.
Here's a ceviche (adapted from Food Network) to celebrate graduation - ceviche is very refreshing as it heats up like crazy here for summer. You can make it with a variety of fishes and adjust the heat and spice to taste. I love these festive colors.

And this is my shout out goodbye dish to good Texas / Mexican / Latin cuisine, which I'm sure won't be matched in the Northeast.
This is the last time I'll be in Houston for who knows? I'm sad to leave it and the sunny Texas weather and friendly people, but I'll be off to new adventures in Internal Medicine residency!

Tilapia Ceviche

2 pounds tilapia fillets, diced
1 cup lime juice (about 8 large limes)
3/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed and diced
1 lime, cut into wedges
Tortilla chips, for serving

Put the tilapia in a medium glass bowl. Pour the lime juice over the fish until just covered. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white throughout (about 30 minutes) making sure to turn the fish over halfway.

Remove from the refrigerator and drain off excess lime juice. Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and serrano pepper. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve chips topped with the ceviche. Garnish with lime slices. Best eaten immediately, but you can keep the ceviche for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chorizo and Guacamole Burger

As summer is here, it's BBQ season as well as Father's Day. Looking for a Father's Day gift?
In Chicago, B and I have gone on a big burger kick recently. Four burgers in one week. Not really by choice, but we ended up eating with different friends who all happened to want burgers. Not that we minded too much - there's so much variety.
B and I had a debate over what IS a burger? I replied it's a meat between two breads, which B countered is a hot dog a burger? How about a ham sandwich? How about a grilled chicken sandwich? What, what about vegetarian and even vegan burgers... those are still burgers!

We clearly have stimulating conversations.
Well, to prepare for national burger day, on May 28th, I've partnered with Personal Creations to show you this adorable chopping board and some delicious Chorizo and Guacamole Burgers inspired by Rachel Ray.

Despite having moved for only two weeks, I miss Texas already. So we had to include guacamole and chorizo in the burger.
I thought this pig was adorable on this cutting board, and it can be customized with any name. The board is well made, with grooves to catch any juices and is quite large and sturdy, so you can chop meat without fear on this board. Enjoy!

Chorizo and Guacamole Burger

1/2 lb chorizo, cooked
2 lbs ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons egg whites (or 1 egg)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Canola oil
4 slices swiss cheese
4 small burger buns

2 ripe large avocados, pitted and halved
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 lime, juice
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a grill or griddle pan over medium-high.

Finely dice or crumble the chorizo. In a bowl, combine the chorizo, ground beef, Worcestershire sauce; add egg to help bind the burger (adjust amount of egg if necessary). Season with cumin and add salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Drizzle the patties with the oil.

In another bowl, mash the avocado and add lime juice. Stir in the serrano pepper,, cilantro and tomato.

GRILL: Grill the patties, flipping once, until cooked through, 10 -12 minutes. Divide the patties among the bun bottoms. Add the cheese on the buns.

STOVETOP: Set the oven / toaster oven to broil to heat up. Add oil to a cast iron pan on the stovetop on high heat. Place patties on the pan and cook until the bottom is browned. Flip once and cook until the other side is browned. Place entire pan inside oven and broil until cooked to desired doneness, about 5-8 min. Toast the buns with the cheese.

When ready to serve, add guacamole on top of the burger and cheese and cover with the top bun.
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