Monday, November 23, 2015

Chinese Sausage and Edamame Egg Noodles

One of the best parts of traveling all over for the residency interview trail is seeing family and friends.  Thanks to medical school - I can't tell you how many reunions and weddings I've missed with exams - I've been a a bit secluded, so it was great catching up with people I hadn't seen in years. I've meeting quite a number of new additions to our already enormous Chinese-Filipino family (I'm described as the "long lost cousin").
I don't know how people flying constantly for work survive, because traveling (even though you're sitting the majority of the time) can be exhausting.  Rough parts include trying to pack a carry on with clothes fit for freezing temperatures and 80 degree sunshine, figuring out public transportation, time changes, and flying from one coast to another.
A perk of traveling alone for me is the ability to wander around seeing what I want to see - museums. No one else seems to like museums as much as I do, so I've enjoyed leisurely perusing modern art, photography, medieval art, history, and even a railroad museum. B tolerates coming to art museums with me because he loves me. That's a true act of devotion.
It's been wonderful traveling all over the states eating out at all types of restaurants - my foodcentric Uy relatives in particular make sure I "have some meat on my bones". But I've always been someone who preferred home cooked meals, and I can't help but crave my comfort Asian food. Here's one of my favorite go to meals - chinese sausage and edamame egg noodles.

This dish's ingredients are basically all frozen (sausage, edamame) or dried (noodles) or nonperishable (sauces) lol. Perfect for the random days between interviews when I have to come home then jet off the next day. I arrive home to limited food, but all the ingredients and this entire dish keeps excellently in the freezer. Enjoy!

Chinese Sausage and Edamame Noodles

6 links Chinese Sausage
~2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
1 cup frozen edamame
2 teaspoons hot chili oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
pepper, to taste
1 bunch cilantro

On a stove, boil the chinese sausage in water in a small pot for 10 minutes, then place sausages on a rack lined with foil (save the water). Bake at 400 F in oven/toaster oven for 10 min until the outside is crispy. Cut the sausage into 1/2 slices.

Boil the egg noodles in the reserved water (now flavored with the sausage) and cook according to package directions. Once cooked, drain the noodles.

Prepare the edamame according to package directions (boil, stir fry, or microwave). Combine the noodles, sausage, and edamame with the chili oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and pepper. Serve warm in a bowl and top with cilantro sprigs. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

No Bake Granola Bars

Hello from the interview trail! One of the important jobs of being a fourth year is passing down leadership to the younger class - I've been busy with interviews, but I've managed to squeeze in volunteer events with my beloved nutrition and cooking organization CHEF.
We do a lot fun food related events - from farmers markets to cooking electives taught by real chefs to (my favorite) cooking classes with adolescent bariatric surgery patients. We also do a lot of community health fairs (we're so popular we have to turn down requests, as we still need to pass our classes/rotations!) - most recently a cooking booth with Doctors for Change at a library in a very underserved community.
We made a huge amount of food and distributed to everyone in the library, which had a very large amount of homeless people. I'd heard libraries battling becoming de facto shelters for the homeless (here's a great article by NPR), but it was my first time seeing it in person. It was pouring rain, so the library was jam packed.

If you give out free food, you'll always be the most popular booth, but we made the people work for it by filling quizzes teaching simple facts on drinking water, counting carbs, learning about portion sizes. I'm sharing this delicious No Bake Granola Bar/Bites recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker, our "dessert" for the heath fair.
These granola bars are pretty easy once the dates are bended (that can take a while if you don't have a processor) and really fun to make with friends. These granola bars are very hearty; a little will go a long way.

While I've seen lots of blogs tout them as being super healthy and guilt free, just be aware they're only as healthy as what you put into it (i.e. be mindful of the store bought sugary peanut butter and chocolate chips added), but the perk is controlling the sweetness and your own ingredients. We actually had some homeless people, who after learning about sugars in the health quiz,  decline these "dessert bars" to be "healthier," so I'm glad our teaching points stuck!
This was probably the last time I'll officially lead a CHEF event, as it's time to pass the mantle to the second and third year officers. This organization has been my baby; while it's a bittersweet feeling, it's nice to end on this sweet treat.

No Bake Granola Bars

1 cup packed pitted dates pitted, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (the less sugar the better)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
optional additions: almonds, raisins, coconut

Chop the dates so they're easier to process. Use a food processor or blender to blend the dates to form a dough, adding water as needed (I used about 1/4 cup water, depending on how dry your dates are).

Toast your oats in a 350 degree oven for 15 min, until slightly golden brown. Alternative: you can also toast them on stovetop, adding a little vegetable or sunflower oil.

Mix dates, honey, peanut butter, oats, cinnamon in a large bowl to make the dough. Add in chocolate chips and your mix-in additions.

Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to a pan lined with parchment paper (so you can lift them easily later). Flatten the bars with a wooden spatula until even. Cover with plastic wrap, and place bars in a in fridge or freezer (my preference) for 30 minutes to harden. Remove bars from pan and cut into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container up to a few days or freezer for longer storage. Enjoy!
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Peri Peri African Chicken

Have you ever heard of peri peri, also known as piri piri, chicken? (Saying the name makes me happy!) Peri peri is the African bird's eye chili and originates from Portugal and Africa. This is a popular spicy African marinade, perfect for braai, African BBQs.
Also rotating at Princess Marina Hospital was a dental student; we didn't know each other prior but became fast friends :) I ate peri peri chicken at our first lunch together at Sanitas Tea Garden (the gorgeous lemons in the pictures are from their gardens) while we were still figuring out life in Africa. When we finished our last week, we had peri peri chicken at Nando's, a popular African chain. As you can see, I really like peri peri chicken!

Both of us lugged home a ton of Nando's famous peri peri sauces, the glass jars carefully wrapped in African newspapers, as gifts for friends and family. Somehow, I still made it under the luggage weight limit by less than 0.1 kg (phew!)

I made this peri peri chicken recipe (adapted from The Wanderlust Kitchen and Allrecipes) several times throughout my stay in Botswana because I liked it so much, but I encountered so many fails battling with our oven.

My first evening in Botswana, I was baking peri peri chicken when the electricity ran out in the entire city of Gaborone. Since I was jetlagged, and there was nothing to do without light or electricity or wifi (funny how much more free time you have without electronic devices), I just went to bed at 7pm.

Well, at 11:30pm, I woke up to bright lights in my bedroom and to smoke filling up the entire flat. I jumped in the air and ran into the kitchen, to find my precious peri peri chicken completely burnt black. The electricity had returned while I slept, so the oven turned back on and continued baking my chicken. Thank goodness I woke up before I burned down our flat / entire housing complex in my first night in Africa!
The second time, the oven would not cooperate. The temperatures were all in degrees Celsius, which I could at least convert to Fahrenheit, but I could not figure out the icons on the stovetop - there was an oven icon with a sun inside, an oven icon with two lines, and an oven icon with dots. The oven kept turning itself off, so I had to check every 15 min to make it stayed hot. Finally, I got irritated, and took a longer 30 min study session; during that time the oven somehow accelerated its baking temperature and burnt the chicken completely black.

Luckily, third time was the charm. So after all my oven struggles, I'm happy to finally share with you photos of my non-completely-burnt-black delicious peri peri chicken.

I promise it's a very easy dish with a cooperative oven. Really!

Peri Peri African Chicken

1/4 cup lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and chopped
2-3 teaspoons peri peri (African chili) spice or 4-5 fresh peri peri chilis
2-3 teaspoons  paprika
1 teaspoon ground oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-6 pieces of chicken

In a large bowl, combine ingredients for peri peri sauce. Coat the chicken and in the marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight. You can make the peri peri sauce in bulk and refrigerate to store.

Grill: grill the chicken on medium heat, basting with marinade. Grill until skin is just charred and chicken is done.

Bake: Preheat the oven to 350F * Pan sear chicken in a skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes per side, until browned. Place chicken in a baking pan with the marinade and cook in oven for 30 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken) until fully cooked.

* So our oven is weird and just has icons like a sun inside the oven (go figure), so I haven't any idea if I was broiling, baking, etc. What I would recommend is pan sear, then bake at 350F until almost done, then broil the last 5-7 min. 
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