Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Do you say pee-kan or puh-kahn? See how you compare with the US in this cool linguistics map (in my opinion, the second way is clearly better, hehe).
While an American classic, pecan pie is surprisingly a fairly recent invention, really only from the 20th century. While come argue that pecans did appear in pies the end of the 19th century, it's not the same "pecan pie" we think of today (Food Timeline and Burnt Orange Report).

Fun fact: Pecan pie is the official dessert of the state of Texas. Wise choice!
Pecan pie is as southern as it gets, until you add a little bourbon, which makes it ultra southern. Bourbon is alcohol made from grain with at least 51% corn (vs whiskey which is any fermented mash of grain). So all bourbons are whiskey, yet not all whiskeys are bourbon. Another requirement for bourbon is that it has to be produced in the US - notably Kentucky, where 95% is made. So any drink labelled bourbon is 100% American made.
Pecan pies are my dad's favorite pie, and we bake it every year for Father's Day. This year, I decided to change it up by adding a blackbottom chocolate layer (although it became more of a black-allover layer with the amount chocolate I added) and flavored it with delicious bourbon.
Dad may be an endocrinologist, but he has quite a sweet tooth (ironically, every endocrinologist I've met really loves desserts - maybe it's their fascination of glucose). Although I've cut the sugar and use dark chocolate, this is probably still not the best pie for diabetics. Adapted from David Lebovitz in Food and Wine.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie


Ingredients
1 9-inch deep dish pie crust, bought or homemade
2 cups pecans
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 - 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate (chips or chopped squares)
chocolate sauce, to drizzle

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F and blind bake the pie crust for about 10 min, covering the edges with foil to avoid it browning too much.

Lightly toast the pecans (about 5-10 minutes). In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, bourbon and salt together. Stir in the pecans. and

When pie shell is done blind baking, evenly fill the bottom with your chocolate. Pour the filling into the pie shell on top of the chocolate. Bake in the oven ~ 55 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set.  Check on the pie as it's baking; tent the crust with foil if the edge is browning too quickly. Let cool for 1 hour and drizzle decoratively with chocolate sauce before serving. Enjoy!
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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Artistocrat Chicken Barbeque

I made this recipe almost two years go - how time flies! It's always fun seeing what was going on when I first made the recipe. Two years ago I was still in the classroom taking paper exams, and now I'm taking care of patients independently on my subinternship.  My cooking has come a long way - I can't believe I didn't know how to broil back then! Here's the original post below, now with the Java Rice recipe too. 
My entire family went to Manila for my cousin's epic 600 person wedding but I got left behind (darn med school exams!). I was missing some Filipino food, and thought of Aristocrat, a famous and hugely popular Filipino restaurant. Here is their famous Aristocrat chicken barbeque, with recipe adapted from Jun Belen).
I love Filipino barbeque because it's so sweet! The secret ingredients are ketchup (or banana ketchup), sprite /7 UP, and brown sugar.
I've never broiled before, but it's pretty simple; there's only an on/ off button on my oven so no need to mess with temperature. Broiling is basically an upside down grill (although some oven broilers do heat from the bottom). It's a fairly quick cooking method and handy for those who don't have grills.
Java rice is the classic accompaniment in the restaurant. The yellow color comes from achuete oil (annatto oil), and I added some more coloring with curry and tumeric. I've spent many a nights Skyping with B wolfing down this BBQ while B watches me ("I can hear the sound of crunching bones - my Natalie is being well fed"). Well fed, indeed!

Artistocrat Chicken Barbeque


Ingredients
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sprite
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons calamansi or lime juice
4 pieces chicken thighs

Directions
Combine garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, sprite, ketchup, and citrus juice. Add marinade to chicken in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least overnight (the longer the better).

Set the oven on broil. Line a casserole dish with foil.

While the oven is preheating, remove chicken from marinade and pan sear chicken on high on stovetop to brown the outside (5-10 minutes) for crispiness.

Once browned, place chicken in the casserole dish and pour remaining marinade on top (keeping it wet is crucial to prevent drying, and adds flavor too!) and broil in oven for 15-18 minutes until cooked all the way though.

Java Rice

Ingredients
1tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon achuete oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Directions
Heat a pan on medium high on stovetop. Saute garlic and both oils, then add rice into the pan. Stir fry, adding the tumeric and curry until grains are yellow. Serve with Filipino BBQ. Enjoy!
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Local Food's Roast Beef Sandwich and Kale Side Salad

While we get caught up on vitals and drugs and procedures on inpatients, it's easy to forget thinking about basic things they need. Baths and toothbrushes. Exercise around the unit with physical therapy. And most of all, diet orders.

Eating is one aspect patients will always care about.  And you'd be surprised how little things like food can really make their day.
roast beef sandwich local foods kale salad horseradish cauliflower curry
Ms. N was so withdrawn, she was practically catatonic and refused to speak. One day, a nursing note commented that a "friend" brought her a sandwich. We pondered who that mystery person was - the patient had absolutely no friends and family, and we'd been struggling with social work to contact anyone who might know her. Well, the "friend" turned out to be our intern, who thought she might like a McDonald's sandwich. That transformed her into a much more manageable person, and she adored the intern. (And, she once said "thank you" to the team on rounds. Even the attending was impressed.)
roast beef sandwich local foods kale salad horseradish cauliflower curry
Mr. T, who had lived in the hospital for months now, was on palliative care and requested a sandwich. Specifically a breakfast sandwich with egg and canadian bacon on an English muffin. So the team tried get him his sandwich. The cafeteria staff and kitchen manager laughed, and said "Nope, not at this hospital!" Given budget cuts and funding issues combined with a surplus of uninsured and undocumented patients, the hospital could barely keep up with regular meal orders.  Sadly, it's a reality here.

As the days went by, Mr T deteriorated rapidly and couldn't eat solid foods anymore, but really wanted fudgesicles.  Food is one pleasure I think everyone should have, so I went to the grocery that night and bought a box of fudgesicles for him. He died not long after, but at least he had one little comfort.
roast beef sandwich local foods kale salad horseradish cauliflower curry
I think my one of my most memorable patients was Mr. L, who was hungry and ate everything in the ER.  - everything except the hospital food (or any actual food for that matter). From toilet paper to grass to sandwich wrappers, he just preferred those instead.

Ok, I know hospital food isn't always the best, but I guess it's a low when the sandwich wrapper is tastier.
roast beef sandwich local foods kale salad horseradish cauliflower curry
So the moral is, it's a blessing to enjoy food, so eat each meal with deliberation. Good food make everyone happy. And Local Foods, a really delicious sandwich place near my apartment, makes me super happy. Their curry cauliflower roast beef sandwich (alas, I think it rotated off the menu) is my favorite sandwich from any restaurant ever. Their kale side is pretty awesome too, so I've shared my copycat recipe for both.

I'd take that over eating grass, paper, wrappers, or hospital food any day!

Local Food's Roast Beef Sandwich
Recipe originally posted 3/2014

Ingredients
olive oil
1/2 cauliflower head, torn
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
6 slices roast beef
2 sharp cheddar slices
horseradish
2 slices wheat bread

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower with olive oil, curry powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Place in a tray and roast for 25 min, or until desired doneness.

To make the sandwich, spread horseradish on each bread slice. Layer curry cauliflower, roast beef, and cheese. Add olive oil to a pan and heat sandwich on both sides until cheese is melted and bread is golden and toasted.

Local Food's Kale Side Salad

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups kale
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in red wine vinegar (or water, wine, or fruit juice)
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
pepper, to taste

Directions
Soak the raisins in a small bowl with red wine vinegar (just enough to to cover all the raisins) until plump for several hours or overnight.

Mix kale with olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Toss with pine nuts and cheese. Add pepper. Adjust flavors to desired taste if necessary. Marinate the salad for an hour to let the flavor develop before eating.
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Filipino Turon (Fried Banana Lumpia)

Have you ever been stranded at the airport? Well, long story short, my brother en route to Argentina for his college business program got stranded at the (furthest possible) airport last month. I received this phone call at 12 am, amidst torrential rains and flash flood warnings, right as I'm about to go to bed.

Hans: Hey, uh, Achie (big sister) my friend and I are stranded at the airport, and there's no hotel vouchers... so you have the great joy of staying up late and driving to get us. Thanks. 
I had not seen my brother since Christmas (he had fallen asleep and missed his bus, and thus, the only family reunion earlier this year), so I was not expecting to see him for another several months. It was a nice to meet up, although circumstances were less than ideal.

Chef Uy: *grumbling/driving through the floods at 1 am* You're damn lucky you're my favorite brother!
Since I was not prepared for guests, I literally had no food. My +6 ft teenage brother was rather dismayed when he opened the fridge at 2 am, starving.

Hans: Oh my God, I knew it! This is EXACTLY what I expected in Achie's fridge. There's no real food - just some rotting bananas, fat free Greek yogurt, and, ugh, vegetables!
It didn't help my cause, when after hearing I had cereal, he reached for a chocolate cereal box ("this looks promising") and I said, "Ah, that's my roommate's. Here's mine," and I whip out my fiber bran flakes. His withering facial expression was priceless.
Those "rotting bananas" were actually my lovingly ripened plantains. I had wanted to make turon/banana lumpia, a popular Filipino snack. The problem was that I didn't have anyone to feed them too, so I couldn't make them. But with two lost college boys to feed now, I had the perfect opportunity. I rolled the plantains in lumpia wrappers, and Hans fried them nicely. We enjoyed a hearty Filipino breakfast with longanisa (Filipino sausage), eggs, rice, and turon.
Although, it was only a day, it was great to catch up, as Filipino culture is all about family. That's what Achies/big sisters are for - rescuing little brothers during airflight fiascos!


Filipino Turon (Fried Banana Lumpia)


Ingredients
spring roll wrappers
2-3 ripe plantains or cooking bananas (saba)
strips of jackfruit (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cooking oil, for frying

Directions
Separate the spring roll wrappers, and cut the bananas lengthwise into 2-3 inch pieces. Lay the wrapper on a plate, dip the banana (and jackfruit) in sugar and layer along diagonally. Fold starting at the end of the wrapper with the filling, fold the 2 sides in, then roll up to the end. Seal the end with water.

Heat up the oil in medium heat and fry the turon with the sealed end side down first (to keep it sealed). Cook until golden brown, then flip to fry the other side, and once slightly browned, sprinkle sugar onto the oil to caramelize. Serve warm and eat fresh.

Another option is to bake them in the oven at 375F until golden brown, about 20-30 min. Serve fresh (baked turon seems to lose crispiness faster). I've tried both ways, and I have to say I prefer the fried version, but both are delicious!

Turon rolling tips: Cut the bananas/plantains lengthwise for easier rolling. The size of saba (small plantains) are nicely suited for small spring roll wrappers. Also don't be afraid of adding sugar, as plantains are NOT nearly as sweet as bananas (make sure they are almost black for full ripeness).

PS. Don't eat plantains raw no matter how good they seem. They taste terrible unless cooked.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Chinese Grilled Shrimp

Romance is having your fiance book a spontaneous next day plane ticket to see you as a surprise.
It was almost midnight on Thursday when I received an unexpected call.

B: Honey, I'm about to buy a plane ticket, and it boards in 9 hours. Do you want me to visit?
Chef Uy: What? But...it's so last minute...the cost...
B: I want to book it, but I need to hear you say the words. Say you want me to come! 
Chef Uy: Okay, yes, I want you to come!
B: As my lady asks, it shall be done. Booked. 

You could almost cue the dramatic movie scene music. 
B is definitely the romantic lover while I, the practical one, keep us on track.  I like knowing what to expect. I'm the queen of organization. Things happen because I plan things. B is the opposite; he loves spontaneity, and his mantra is things will always work out, so he always just goes with the flow.
Thus, I had a lovely 4th of July weekend date and grilling partner (he did a great job skewering and grilling).  Fun fact: you CAN eat the shrimp shells. As I delicately peeled the shrimp shells, he chomped down on after another with the shell on. The grill makes the shrimp shells super crispy, and the marinated shells are full of flavor, and I'm lazy, so it wasn't long before I followed B's lead.

So in case you didn't fire up the grill enough this past 4th of July, here is my deliciously easy Asian shrimp recipe, adapted from Steamy Kitchen. And go ahead, eat the shell. Doesn't that make life so much easier?

Chinese Grilled Shrimp


Ingredients
1 pound shrimp, with shell
1 bunch green onion, chopped finely
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced red chile pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
bamboo skewers

Directions 
In a large shallow bowl, combine all ingredients and marinate the shrimp for 1 hour to overnight.

Skewer the shrimp, 3-4 per stick depending on size. Grill about 3-5 minutes each side until cooked to pinkness with a few char marks. (Another option: Broil in an oven 3-5 minutes per side or until cooked through).
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Friday, July 3, 2015

Rudy's BBQ Creamed Corn

In preparation for 4th of July, I'm excited to share one of my favorite side dishes of all time - Rudy's BBQ's famous creamed corn!

I just love it when you can re-make a restaurant's famous recipe because you can eat it whenever you want - this is one copycat recipe that my entire family had been anticipating forever.
Rudy's was literally a gas station and grocery established in 1929; then 60 years later in 1989, it became a gas station, grocery, and BBQ place. Rudy's has now expanded to several states, but the original store is in San Antonio (thus, it's automatically the best!). Although their slogan is "The Worst BBQ in Texas," it's the best BBQ place anywhere... mostly because of their creamed corn. I could eat gallons of their corn.

B has a radar for Rudy's. While I was driving on the way to Fredericksburg, B suddenly woke up from his car nap, somehow knowing Rudy's was in the vicinity, and begged me to take him there for some BBQ and corn. 
I adapted from several different recipes since I couldn't find one that I liked, and lightened it up. No entire stick of butter or full on heavy cream needed - I used mostly half-and-half, which was still creamy enough for us. Rudy's corn is sweet, so the sugar is a must (no need to add salt), and I gave a pinch of Rudy's rub for garnish.

Rudy's BBQ Creamed Corn


Ingredients
1 pint half-and-half (or heavy cream, if you want it richer)
4 to 6 ounces cream cheese
16 ounces frozen corn kernels
3-4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
black pepper, to taste
BBQ rub, for garnish

Directions
In a pot over medium heat stir half and half/heavy cream and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy (I recommend 50% half-and-half and heavy cream).

Defrost corn using a microwave then stir kernels into the cream. Add sugar and spices, if using, and adjust to desired taste. Serve warm with fresh cracked black pepper.
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