Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Game of Thrones Medieval Pork Pie

I'm not a big TV watcher, but Bryan and I do love watching Game of Thrones together. Yes, it's got gratuitous sex and violence, but the Machiavellian political scheming is just fascinatingly unpredictable, and the characters are SO complex. 
B: Hey, I know you're a fan of Game of Thrones and you love cooking, so check out this official cookbook! What do you think about me getting this for your sister as a Christmas gift?
Chef Uy: What the heck? Why can't you give it to ME for Christmas?
B: Because...I already got you a book before as a gift. And it doesn't seem romantic to give a cookbook.
Chef Uy: What an illogical reason! WANT!

Long story short, I got the cookbook for Christmas ;)
Family Medicine is a lighter rotation (no working on weekends!), so I finally finished the last Game of Thrones book after devouring it for a week and a half nonstop. I'm an avid reader, and when I get into a book, nothing else happens until I finish - a rather dangerous habit, so I read only when I have a large chunk of time.
I was thrilled to also finally test out my first recipe .... yes, I know it's March already. The recipes are grouped according to the book's regions - this Pork Pie recipe is from the Wall above the North. Also, the recipes have an authentic "medieval" version and a "modern," with more common ingredients, which is really cool. I couldn't decided between both, so I combined them.

Although making the crust pretty is a hassle, the pie filling itself is super easy to make. The flavor is amazing - those medieval folks ate very, very well.

Medieval Pork Pie 

1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 cup of Ritz crackers, crushed
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup spicy barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 apple, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated cheese of choice
Dough for double crust 9″ pie (storebought or recipe below)
1 egg, for egg wash (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly brown the onion in a pan over medium heat. Add the pork, crackers, poultry seasoning, cumin, and salt and pepper, barbecue sauce, and honey; sautee until pork is just cooked.

Pour the filling into the prebaked pie shell (I used a 6 inch cake pan). Arrange sliced apples and cheese over the filling. Cover with the top dough and pinch edges shut. Beat 1 egg and brush the top to make it golden brown when baking.

Cut decorative steam holes in the top of the pastry and bake for 45 min to 1 hour.


Medieval Pastry Dough

(Dough for double crust 9″ pie)

pinch of saffron (optional)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups flour
2 egg yolks, beaten

Optional: Dissolve the saffron in the water.

Cut and combine the butter into the flour until crumb-size pieces of butter are formed. Add the egg yolks and the saffron water. Mix until everything just sticks together (add more water if needed). Dough can be chilled up to 3 days or frozen indefinitely.

To pre-bake a shell, line a pan with dough, rolled very thin—to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Poke holes with a fork all over the bottom of the pastry shell, or use dried beans to prevent bubbling. Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F. Don’t let the pastry brown! Remove it from the oven and fill as the recipe indicates.

*I used this to make a 6 inch double layered pie with some extra dough
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Corn Bread Dog Muffins

Where can you find fried chocolate pickles, endless BBQ, men jumping off horses to tackle cattle to the ground, crazy bull and bronco riding, teens shooting revolvers on horseback, little kids racing on sheep, and more barn animals and cowboy boots per square mile than anywhere else?

The Houston rodeo (the world's biggest) of course!
I was super excited to have my college friend Karen visit during the rodeo season. She's a liberal, semi-vegetarian, organic/free range eating Californian who lives in a co-op house with 20 people. You can imagine the HUGE culture shock she got here on her first time to Texas, hehe.
corndog mini muffin
It was my first time seeing the full Houston rodeo as well since I bought us tickets to the rodeo championships and concert (country, of course!). The event really is huge - we spent 8+ hours and still saw just a fraction of the rodeo. As Karen put it, "It's like a zoo, museum, carnival, sporting/gladiator event, food festival, and music concert all rolled into one!"
Cornbread Dog Muffins ketchup rodeo carnival food
We saw president #41 and the lady at the rodeo show too showing off their Texan pride. Pretty cool.
cornbread hot dog muffins
You can't have a rodeo without unhealthy food of course. We ate the deep bacon with powdered sugar and syrup as well as two huge plates of BBQ and carbs, including yummy cornbread. Yay diabesity!
Corn Bread Dog Muffins
Inspired by the fun rodeo/carnival cuisine, I made these cute mini corndog muffins adapted from Allrecipes, which are a tad bit healthier that the rodeo food we sampled, but equally delicious. I've been excited to use my mini muffin pan and I've been on a hot dog / sausage craze lately.

Fun fact:
The prize wining sheep sold for >$260,000!! So I could have a barn animal for the price of full Stanford tuition.
A few years ago the prize winning steer was sold for > $360,000 - you can't even breed steer!! I bet that would have made for some tasty hot dogs to go with cornbread...

Corn Bread Dog Muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5-6 hot dogs

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Spray two mini muffin tins.

Grill, bake, boil, or microwave your hot dogs according to package directions until half cooked.

In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan.

Cut your hot dogs into about 1 1/2 in pieces and place in the center of each muffin tin. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Makes about 28 mini corn dog muffins.

Tip: If the tin doesn't cook evenly (like my el cheapo pans), bake in a water bath.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Baby Barnaby's Green Eggs

Here's a local Houston bunch favorite - Baby Barnaby's Famous "Green Eggs." The green theme goes perfectly with St. Patrick's Day today.
The name reminds me of one of the first books I read- Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. It's the 4th best selling children's book of all time, and only contains 50 words as a bet between Dr. Seuss and his publisher.
I never did figure out why Sam-I-Am's eggs and ham were green, but I know why mine is!

Chef Uy: Hey, I just recreated the most amazing brunch recipe called green eggs! It's got spinach and artichokes!
B: *shudder* Too many vegetables in the morning...

What I'll do is bug B enough like Sam-I-Am does to the narrator throughout the book, and B will grow to love vegetables. That is my devious plan, muahaha!
I've made this recipe a couple times before trying to recreate the restaurant version, and I've got it down finally (adapted from The Little Kitchen That Could). Here are my tips for making perfect scrambled eggs.

Fluffy scrambled eggs 101
- use nonstick pans
- whisk your eggs and milk prior to scrambling
- cook low and slow
- do not overcook; the eggs will continue to scramble so remove from heat before they're done.

Baby Barnaby's Green Eggs

3 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium size bowl, whisk eggs and milk.

Melt butter over medium high heat in a nonstick pan.  Cook eggs over low heat until large curdles just start forming. Add garlic and artichokes and scramble about thirty seconds. Add spinach and cheese and scramble another 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chai Tea Latte (and How to Froth Milk)

Well, I took my medical boards / Step 1 exam and I'm still alive!!

It was, yes, very hard, and had to do quite a bit of guessing, but I wasn't as anxious during the test as I thought I'd be. In fact at the end, it felt little anticlimactic; I was like "That's it? I studied my life away for a computer test?" After studying all day and night for almost two months, you don't care anymore and just wanna finish the darn 8 hour exam.
The night before, I didn't pass out like I usually do thanks to some pre-test jitters. A lot of my friends couldn't sleep at all and felt like they pulled an all-nighter (ie terrible). Some people take sleep aids, but I'm not about to start trying out Ambien the night before the biggest test of my career.

Luckily, I have a 100% fool proof method for falling asleep.

Me: Rats....I can't sleep. Well, time to sing... ♫ A hundred bottles of pop on the wall, a hundred bottles of pop! Take one down, pass it around, ninety-nine bottles of pop on the wall. Ninety-nine bottles of pop on the wall...♫ 

B: You sang A hundred bottles of pop to fall asleep?? Who does that!?? What number did you get to??
Me: Um, I made it to the high twenties or low thirties....I can't remember exactly.
B: Oh my GOD, You made it THAT far?? That must have taken an hour!! 0_o 
So I did fall asleep, but then I kept waking up because I was just so excited for my test.

Me: OMG it's 7am - time to wake up! *checks clock* Oh, it's only 4:30am. Rats *fall asleep*
Me: OMG it's 7am - time to wake up! *checks clock* Oh, it's only 5:30am. Rats *fall asleep*
Me: OMG it's 7am - time to wake up! *checks clock* Oh, it's only 6:30am. Damnit, I give up. *gets out of bed to eat food*

I can't have coffee because of my bet with Bryan, but I drank a ton of caffeine with these lattes. These kept me going these past 2 months and the day of the test. B thinks my blood is comprised of green tea now. Anyways, I made an enormous thermos of Chai Latte and kept it in the test locker - every break I made sure to sip some to stay awake (and of course go to the bathroom with all the caffeine).
I also stayed pumped by listening to a playlist that B made for me driving to the test and during breaks. Here are a couple of them to pump you up.
 - Be a Man (Disney's Mulan) 
 - All Star (Smash Mouth) 
 - Beat It (Michael Jackson) 
 - Best Day of my life (American Authors) 
 - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Wham!)
 - Run The World (Girls) (Beyonce) - Ok, ok, this one's mine, as B hates Beyonce lol.
Surprisingly, I wasn't tired at all the entire 8 hour. The fatigue didn't hit until that night - let's just say I slept very well. I'm so happy to have my life back again <3

Chai Tea Latte

1 black tea/english breakfast individual teabag (or 1/2 tablespoon loose leaf tea) *
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 - 1 1/2 cups water
1/4 - 1/3 cup almond or regular milk
1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste
milk foam and ground nutmeg, optional

* If you have chai tea, you can skip the cinnamon, ginger, and allspice since it's already mixed in

Stovetop method (good for large batches): Bring the water to boil in a small saucepan. Add teabag/loose tea, spices, and honey and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add in milk and remove from heat. Adjust sweetness /milk to taste. Strain and pour into a mug.

Teapot and electric teakettle method (quick and easy): Heat water in electric teakettle. Add teabag/loose tea and spices in a teapot. Pour heated water into the teapot and let seep for a few minutes to desired strength. Pour tea into a mug. Add in honey and milk to desired taste.

To make the foam, put milk in a blender (or frother if you're so fancy) and pulse until foam appears. Top the tea with your milk froth scooped from the top and sprinkle additional nutmeg. Enjoy!
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