Saturday, May 30, 2015

Roasted Berry Brie Salad

B has been hanging out with the Uy Clan in SoCal during his away rotation and doting over my cousins' adorable little daughters. One is barely learning to walk; the other a feisty 3 year old who wears a crown. Both are beautiful half Asian, half white babies. B is in love.

B: I can't wait to call our future daughters "Princesses." You know why? Because that makes me a King by default!!
N: So that's the real reason why you call me your Queen...
B is of course, part French, and French people are fiercely proud of their heritage ... almost rivaling the pride of Texans. Granted, the French do know how to eat. Particularly their cheese and fruit.
Brie is actually known as the "The Queen" and "The King" of cheeses. Brie is a soft cow's milk cheese from the the French region of, you guessed it, Brie. That outside rind is actually mold (Penicillium candidum, Penicillium camemberti or Brevibacterium linens for the nerdy taxonomists out there) so it falls under the class of "bloomy cheeses," ie soft ripened. This live rind breaks down the fats and proteins of a cheese, which causes an increasingly creamy/runny texture over time as it ages in a cellar for several weeks, or even longer for flavor development. You can read more about Brie herehere, and here.

Apparently in parts of France, people like dunking brie in café-au-lait and eating it for breakfast. But, I think I'll pass on that and just eat my brie with fruit (and dunk doughnuts in coffee instead).
I've only eaten brie with crackers/bread, but I decided to test it out in a salad (adapted by Eats Well With Others). It was too pretty not to try! B is usually not a salad sort of guy, but if it's French, he'll eat it!

Roasted Berry Brie Salad

Ingredients
SALAD
1 cup strawberries, halved
1/2 cup blueberries
black pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa
4 oz brie, cut into small pieces
5 oz baby kale/mixed greens

DRESSING 
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions
Heat oven (toaster oven) to 400F. Spread fruit on a foil lined baking sheet, sprinkle with black pepper, and roast for 10 minutes, or until slightly softened.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Toss quinoa and kale/greens.

For the dressing, combine the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard by stirring with a whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, plate the salad/quinoa mix then top with brie and roasted berries (if you mix everything together prior, the berries tend to burst). Drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate

I've had a ton of friends and family recently visit Las Vegas, but alas, I've been left behind each time, so I do the next best thing  - recreating famous recipes by the ultra fancy Vegas restaurants. While I don't have the gold for Serendipity's extravagant Golden Opulence Sundae (the Guinness record holder for most expensive sundae at $1000!), I couldn't resist making Serendipity's other famous dessert - their Frozen Hot Chocolate! 

It's the perfect treat for summer - it's getting hot here in Texas, and alas, my AC has un-serendipitously broken down just now. It's ginormous enough to share, or you can keep it all the delicious chocolate, ice, and cream to yourself - it's that's delicious! 
Serendipity /serənˈdipədē/ (noun) - the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy way.

Mom says everyone has their "mia" or fate. You can do what you wish, but some are destined for a hard life and some are destined for a lucky life. I'm not quite sure if I believe in true serendipity; regardless,  I like to think I've gotten more of the lucky side (not to jinx myself!).
Now is the time we're preparing for residency applications - as I've looked over my CV, my personal statement, and life, everything was a result of definitely hard work, yes, but also an insane amount of serendipity. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's creating my own luck (which, I suppose, contradicts the very definition of serendipity lol).

My advice for creating luck, whether in medical school or just in life: Find what you love. Find great mentors. Find a support network so you stay sane. Then go forth [insert hard work] and conquer!
Anyway, my friends have raved about this infamous frozen hot chocolate, sadly, it remains on my Las Vegas/NYC bucket list. The recipe was once a huge secret; even Jackie Kennedy/the White House failed to get it despite begging the chef. Now the original Serendipity recipe has been released after 50 years, so here's my adapted version!

Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate


Ingredients
6 oz chocolates (I used Trader Joe's 72% dark), chopped
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 cups ice
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings and pirouette wafers, to garnish

Directions
Combine your chopped chocolate, cocoa, sugar, and milk in a small pot over medium heat, stirring until melted and blended. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a blender, blend the chocolate mixture and ice together until smooth (like a frozen daiquiri). Pour into a goblet/bowl and top generously with whipped cream. Garnish with chocolate shavings and pirouettes wafers. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Stir Fry Bok Choy and Deep Fried Tofu

I love Asian supermarkets - you wander in and come out purchasing a bunch of ingredients/produce you've never heard of. Oddly enough, I had never bought deep fried tofu before this month (despite always ordering it in restaurants), but now I'm hooked.
Bok choy is one of my staple vegetables and holds a dear place in my heart because it was my first cooking endeavor ever. Mom wanted to "teach" me (a rather chubby tween) how to cook, so in her Asian mother cooking style, she said, "Go stir fry some bok choy and add salt."

When I asked how much salt, she said, "Oh, just add to taste," and left to do mom tasks, like pay the bills. Well, I didn't taste it enough - when I proudly served my dish on the table, it was quite salty. Terribly salty. In fact, sooo salty that we had to throw it away.

You know it's really bad when food is thrown away at the Uy household.
The funny thing is I don't even like salt. When I cook Asian greens (half the time I don't even know the name of the vegetable) now, usually I don't salt them and it tastes great. Eating greens is why Asian women live so long - the odds are in my favor (and can be yours too)!

You can make crispy tofu by baking or by air frying (sponsored). There's a lot of excellent air fryer reviews here. Nothing makes tofu more heavenly that that crisp shell.

Stir Fry Bok Choy and Deep Fried Tofu



Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag (about 3 cups) baby or regular bok choy
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 package deep fried tofu *
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (optional)

*can buy at Asian markets, or use regular tofu or make your own crispy tofu

Directions
Bake deep fried tofu in the oven at 400 degrees F for 10-15 min until crispy.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cut the ends of the baby bok choy (if using regular sized bok choy, also cut stalked in half). Add bok choy with garlic (and mushrooms if using) and stir fry for 5 minutes, until the stalks are tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Add in deep fried tofu and stir fry. Serve with soy sauce and/or hot chili oil.
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Saturday, May 9, 2015

White Strawberry Almond Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Mother's Day is coming up! Mom is a great mom. You know why? Because we get to eat cake for breakfast.
3rd grade Teacher: Alright class, let's talk about what do you eat for breakfast.
Other students: Eggs! Toast! Cereal and milk!
My brother Hans: CAKE!
Teacher: Uh, what?
Hans: CAKE! 
Teacher: Uh, does your mom know you eat cake for breakfast?
Hans: Yeah, she gave it to me! We have lots of cake in our house!
Teacher: That's, um, very .... unhealthy.

Mom is very practical and feeds us whatever needs to be eaten to clear the fridge. Like leftover dessert from last night. So at our house, cake is a normal thing to eat for breakfast.
Wedding cake in general is never very tasty and costs a fortune, so I confess I had a crazy idea to bake my own cake. Mom, being wise, was like "uh huh, yes because you have so much time as a medical student," but let me go ahead and try a test run.

Although I've made Peanut Butter Banana and Black Forest layer cakes before, this is the tallest layer cake yet and the first time I've frosted the outside. B loves inhales strawberries and cheesecake, so I invented this cake adapting from food.com and frosting from Wicked Good Kitchen. The cake turned out quite good (and I am not a cake person!), especially as the flavors melded together the longer it was refrigerated.
Alas, even making a single tier is plenty of work, and I've got mandatory classes to get my MD degree next spring. So unless I can assemble a cake in 1 day after driving across Texas, I probably do have to resign myself to ordering a wedding cake (and Mom wins). B is pretty disappointed I can't make our cake, but in the meantime, I can always bake, and thus we can always eat cake for breakfast! Thanks, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!


White Strawberry Almond Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream


Ingredients
WHITE ALMOND SOUR CREAM CAKE
1 (16.25 ounce) box white cake mix (Betty Crocker)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1 1⁄3 cups water (optional: sub 1/3 cup Amaretto liquer)
1⁄8 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons almond or vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites

STRAWBERRY FILLING
1 12 oz bag frozen strawberries
1 lemon, zested
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 (8-ounce) package chilled cream cheese,
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
WHITE ALMOND SOUR CREAM CAKE
Preheat oven to 325° F and grease cake pans (I used three 6 inch pans) with cooking spray.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into your three cake pans, filling each pan 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake in oven until cake is done (mine took about 40 min). Baking time will vary according to the size and depth of pans being used.

STRAWBERRY FILLING
Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly.

CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM
Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla, continue beating until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of bowl.
Slowly add 2 cups confectioners sugar while beating until well combined. Adjust additional confectioners’ sugar for your desired consistency and sweetness. Buttercream can be stored in the fridge for several days. When ready to frosting cake layers, beat buttercream again to make it smooth.
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