Friday, October 30, 2015

Candied Orange Madeleines

Today I'm partnering with Paradise Fruit Co. to bring you candied orange madeleines. While I've made these famous french butter cakes way back, I wanted to add a little surprise, and the sharpness of these delicious candied orange peels are the perfect kick.
I made these for a friend's birthday - because we're so busy during 4th year, months sneak by before we have a chance to hang out as a large group of friends. While I meet up with friends weekly, it's very rare more than two or three people's schedules match up simultaneously given our sub-internships, away / international rotations, studying for exams, and hectic interview schedule.

Now that our core rotations are officially over (l'm done with medical school exams forever!), it's been awesome being able to catch up with everyone.
For most of my life, the "4th year" - in high school, in college, and now medical student - has always been a time of major decisions. Future plans, what work/projects to wrap up, career choices, etc are of course always in the forefront, but it's also what relationships to cultivate since graduation year seems to be when we figure out the lasting friendships.
I'm a nostalgic person already (hence all my love of photography, journaling, scrapbooking), but graduation year always makes me hyperaware of time flying. I'm pretty good about keeping in touch with friends over the years. I suppose it comes from my mom, who's circle of BFFs have been super tight for 30+ years.

One of my mom's friends is not only my godmother but a nun in France (how awesome is that!) and gave us this gorgeous metal French madeleine pan.
Friendships are one of those mysteries in life - I can't find any patterns to my friends that have lasted 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years (80% of my life) been since we're all super different. To celebrate your friends, share with them these candied orange madeleines (roughly adapted from Joy of Baking). PS. Giving out madeleines a great way to make new friends too ;)

Candied Orange Madeleines

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup  granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
1/2 cup Paradise candied orange peels

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until the mixture is thick and pale in color (about 5-8 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract and orange zest. Stir in the candied orange. Gradually sift the flour mixture over the whipped eggs and gently fold in, using a rubber spatula. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate.

Then take about 1 cup of the batter and fold it into the warm melted butter in a bowl. (This lightens the butter making it easier to fold into the batter.) Then gently fold the butter mixture completely into the egg batter with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least an hour, preferably overnight (can be refrigerated up to three days).

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease two Madeleine pans with butter (otherwise madeleines will stick and be hard to remove). Refrigerate the pans until the butter hardens.

Pour the batter into the madeleine molds, until just hitting the edges (do not overfill unless you want obese madeleines). This amount filled 16 molds for me.

Bake the madeleines for about 8 - 11 minutes, until the edges to be are golden brown. Do not overbake; the madeleine itself will be light colored.

Remove the pans from the oven, gently remove madeleines and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Best eaten fresh, but madeleines can be frozen very easily.
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

I’m excited to share japchae, aka Korean glass noodles, with you. It was first served at the Korean royal courts in the early 1600s, and now is traditionally made for parties or celebrations. The usual japchae is made of sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyeon) stir fried with thinly sliced vegetables, typically carrots, onions, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, as well as beef.
Dangmyeon are a part of the cellophane noodles, a group of noodles made from starch, such as mung bean, yam, potato starch, and cassava. They look purplish-grey when uncooked but became a clear translucent light gray or brownish-gray color. The texture is springy and chewy, and I find them much lighter than flour noodles - pasta makes me feel so much heavier. As a perk for those celiacs out there, these noodles are gluten free (The Kitchn).
Interestingly, you can (supposedly) make japchae without the noodles, but I think most people wouldn’t recognize it without the characteristic noodles. In a pinch, you can use regular vermicelli (which turns white instead of clear) if you can’t find japchae, but it’s really quite the same.
This is my first time cooking with dangmyeon; I’ve been experimenting with different noodles since we’ve been battling weevils and bugs in the rice and flour all summer, but they never seem interested in noodles and pasta. (Another bonus is that noodles are much faster to cook than rice!) No matter how long I store my noodles and pasta, the bugs ignore it them.

While I’ve safely sealed my other grains in jars, I’ve mostly stopped eating rice and moved on the noodles (hey, if you can’t beat the bugs, then starve them!).
This recipe was adapted from Steamy Kitchen and Maangchi. I made a few modifications to make it easier. The proper way to stir fry is to cook each type of vegetable since each requires a different length of cooking time, but I just stir fried mostly everything together to make it easier, putting the ingredients that needed to cook longer first.

While there's a lot of components in japchae, but it's worth it! You can make a huge amount for a party or eat it all by yourself for a week like I did. All my colleagues were super jealous when I was munching this in the call room.

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

1/2 pound Korean sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon)
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 lb beef, cut into thin strips, marinated in Bulgogi sauce (optional)
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (fresh or rehydrated dried is fine)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup spinach, washed and drained
1-2 stalks green onions, diced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 eggs, for egg garnish (jidan)

Boil a large pot of water, then add the noodles and cook until softened. Drain and rinse with cold water, then toss with sesame oil to keep noodles from sticking. Set aside.

Heat the cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Stir fry onions with bulgogi beef (if using). Remove meat and onions and set aside. Add more cooking oil, then stir fry the mushrooms, garlic and carrots in the wok for 1 minute.

Return the noodles in the wok with the vegetables, then fry with the soy sauce and sugar. Fry 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked through, tossing with remaining 1 1/2 tsp of sesame oil and the beef and onions. Finally, add the spinach and stir fry for about 30 seconds (this will cook the quickest). transfer your japchae to a large plate for serving.

To make the jidan, crack 2 eggs in a bowl, whisk to combine yolks and whites, then cook in a small skillet. Flip when one side is cooked. Let cool, then cut your egg omelet into strips. Add on top of you japchae. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Game of Thrones Honeyed Chicken with Mint and Cranberries and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Despite all my years of baking and cooking, I've never roasted a whole chicken. So as fall and the holidays are coming, it was time to cross this off my bucket list of dishes all cooks should learn to prepare.

The real test of a good chef is a perfectly cooked chicken -- Julia Child
This Honeyed Chicken recipe is from my beloved Game of Thrones cookbook (see my medieval pork pie and bean and bacon soup). For this recipe, I swapped chicken for the smaller cornish hen. B introduced me to cornish hens last year when he cooked them for me. Tiny things are just so much cuter, and the cornish hen makes for perfect individual portions.

The cranberry mint honey sauce really makes this dish a stunner. I've also added in my favorite Roasted Sweet Potato side dish.
Cornish game hen isn't a "baby chicken" but is actually a hybrid between two different chicken breeds - the a short-legged, plump-breasted Cornish Game & another chicken, usually the Plymouth Rock. The US Department of Agriculture states they must be a young immature chicken (4-5 weeks), weighing around two pounds, and bred from a cross of Cornish chicken and another breed. These birds are bred for meat, as they develop a higher amount of breast meat, rather than their egg production. (ChowhoundWikipedia).
The only sad part was the uneven skin browning. Although my roasted cornish hens have spots here and there (it's like our skin getting freckles and sunspots in the sun!), it still tasted great despite an imperfect skin.

Perfect Roast Chicken Skin 101 (tips from Bon Appetit)
 - Salting/brining helps the chicken develop a crackling golden-brown skin. Season the back of the bird, underneath the wings, between the thighs, and even inside the cavity. Let the salted chicken sit for at least a few hours.
 - Don't roast a cold or soggy chicken - Dry it off by patting with a paper towel and let it air dry (as it's salting). After the brining and drying, let it come to room temperature before roasting. 
 - Layer vegetables, like onions, carrots, potatoes underneath the chicken before you roast it. The skin won't crisp if it sits in its own juices.
 - Although butterflied chicken doesn't look as pretty, it cooks much more evenly. If you want a whole chicken for presentation, trussing (tying the legs and wings) helps keep the breast moist as the dark meat cooks

Game of Thrones Honeyed Chicken (Cornish Hen) with Mint and Cranberries

1 whole chicken or 2 cornish hens
2 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or currents
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 425 F. Pat the chicken completely dry (to ensure crispy skin). Rub the chicken down with melted butter and salt. Let it sit out for 1 hour to dry and warm to room temperature.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 min to 1 hr until done (when the juices run clear, and the breast meat is no longer pink). Tent with foil for the first 25 minutes, when leave uncovered. Cover any parts of the chicken browning too fast with foil.

While your chicken is roasting, combine the cider vinegar, honey, mint, dried fruit and butter in saucepan and allow to simmer until the raisins plump and the sauce reduces to half its volume (30 min).  When the chicken is done, spread the sauce and and fruit over the bird.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F*. Evenly spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle the olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper over the sweet potatoes and toss. Bake for about 25 min, until crispy. Enjoy with the Honeyed Chicken!

*To save time and oven heat, I baked the sweet potaties at a higher temp of 425F, along side the Honeyed Chicken, and they turned out fine - just keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Almond, Grape, Arugula Salad with Havarti Dill Cheese

I'm on the home stretch on my last core rotation, Ob-gyn! Out of all rotations, this was the most foreign to me (after all, what's more mysterious than PMSing women and the miracle of giving birth?). If you want to do everything from primary care to surgery to medicine, both children and adults, then Ob-gyn is for you. To my internal medicine mind, I just can't imagine not ever having a male patient for the rest of my career, but there's definitely more than enough work for these residents... I've developed major respect for Ob-gyn doctors.

Me: Don't you ever miss seeing the men?
Ob-gyn team: Are you kidding?! Who needs men?
Life has been so busy with these 12-14 hour labor and delivery days (and nights!), long surgeries, and women with incredibly complicated pregnancies, so I've been eating more leftovers than I care to admit. This salad recipe is a happy accident made from a smorgasbord of my refrigerator contents.
Arugula (known as Italian cress/rocket/rucola) is a recent discovery, and its peppery mustard flavor is welcome change from the milder plain ol' spinach. B does not like salads, but when I showed him this, he was at least tempted by all the ingredients - toasted almonds, sweet grapes, cream havarti cheese (with dill!), garlic pita chips ... except the vegetables.

N: This salad is amazing! You have to try it!
B: I'll try the salad if you take out the green things.
N: That's not a salad anymore! 

I've eaten so many of these salads for lunch - I pack my lunches for the week with each salad in little containers (keep your chips on the side so they don't get soggy!). At 5 am when rushing to the hospital to pre-round before the next total abdominal hysterectomy or emergency C-section, I definitely need a grab-and-go meal!

Almond, Grape, and Arugula Salad with Havarti Dill Cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound red seedless grapes
5 ounces mixed arugula salad greens
6 ounces cubes of havarti dill
1/2 cup toasted almonds
pita chips, to serve

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make the dressing.

Cut your grapes in half. Toss your grapes, arugula greens, havarti, almonds and pour dressing. Serve with pita chips on the side or together with the salad. Enjoy!
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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Asian Guacamole

During B's spontaneous romantic flight to see me a few months ago, we enjoyed a relaxing weekend together in the kitchen. The love was buzzing in the air, a delicious lunch of guacamole and grilled shrimp already devoured, and as we chilled in my room, B struck up a deep conversation about true love and how much I meant to him. As I listened, I happened to rub my eye. Big mistake.
B: *waxing eloquent on about our future life together* 
Chef Uy: Ow, ow, owwww!!!
B: Uh, are you ok?
Chef Uy: Y'know those thai chili peppers I chopped for the guacamole? I think I got some in my eye, ow, ow, ow, it burrrns! Halp!

True love is running to the sink to fill a bowl of cold water because your fiance gets chili pepper capsaicin in her eye and shoving her face into the water to flush it out.

B has a tagline for me: Natalie Uy, Moment Killer.
The best way to avoid hot pepper hands is to wear gloves, but I always forget. I confess this is *ahem* not the first time I've gotten capsaicin on my face. During the early years of med school, B and I, being nerdy, tried to figure out the dermatomes (ie, nerve patterns) of my skin, which had been burning horribly for hours, especially after a hot shower. After puzzling over why the distribution didn't correspond anatomically, we figured out it was related to what I had touched after chopping chili peppers. So, lo and behold, the right hand, left cheek, and right eye are not innervated by one nerve root after all.
The culprit for all this madness is an Asian guacamole adapted from i am a food blog. It has thai chili peppers, fish sauce, and green onions for a fun asian flair. Watch out for those chili peppers - they can have a mean bite!

Asian Guacamole

1-2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, thinly slices
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
3-4 thai chili peppers, minced
1 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
pepper, to taste
pita chips, for serving

In a shallow bowl, use a fork to mash the avocado. Stir in the lime juice, garlic, green onions, cilantro, chili peppers, and fish sauce. Add pepper, to taste (the fish sauce provides the salt).  To make is spicier, add more thai peppers; for a milder kick, remove the seeds. Serve with pita chips and enjoy!
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