Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tilapia Ceviche Celebration // Chef Uy, MD

Today is the day! In a few hours I become.... Chef Uy, MD!!

I've worked toward this dream my whole life, and it's a little surreal that I've reached it.
B and I flew in a few days ago for our senior gala (aka med school prom). B's parents flew in from California and we took them around Houston, showing off its attractions and top eats (stay tuned for a Houston Food Adventures roundup). Today my family's driving in to celebrate as well!
My graduation robe looks huge on me, but I'm so excited to rock the green (fun fact: academic regalia is green for medicine because of bile - very attractive). No puffy hat though; we just get normal graduation cap and a tassel sadly.
Here's a ceviche (adapted from Food Network) to celebrate graduation - ceviche is very refreshing as it heats up like crazy here for summer. You can make it with a variety of fishes and adjust the heat and spice to taste. I love these festive colors.

And this is my shout out goodbye dish to good Texas / Mexican / Latin cuisine, which I'm sure won't be matched in the Northeast.
This is the last time I'll be in Houston for who knows? I'm sad to leave it and the sunny Texas weather and friendly people, but I'll be off to new adventures in Internal Medicine residency!

Tilapia Ceviche

2 pounds tilapia fillets, diced
1 cup lime juice (about 8 large limes)
3/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed and diced
1 lime, cut into wedges
Tortilla chips, for serving

Put the tilapia in a medium glass bowl. Pour the lime juice over the fish until just covered. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white throughout (about 30 minutes) making sure to turn the fish over halfway.

Remove from the refrigerator and drain off excess lime juice. Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and serrano pepper. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve chips topped with the ceviche. Garnish with lime slices. Best eaten immediately, but you can keep the ceviche for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chorizo and Guacamole Burger

As summer is here, it's BBQ season as well as Father's Day. Looking for a Father's Day gift?
In Chicago, B and I have gone on a big burger kick recently. Four burgers in one week. Not really by choice, but we ended up eating with different friends who all happened to want burgers. Not that we minded too much - there's so much variety.
B and I had a debate over what IS a burger? I replied it's a meat between two breads, which B countered is a hot dog a burger? How about a ham sandwich? How about a grilled chicken sandwich? What, what about vegetarian and even vegan burgers... those are still burgers!

We clearly have stimulating conversations.
Well, to prepare for national burger day, on May 28th, I've partnered with Personal Creations to show you this adorable chopping board and some delicious Chorizo and Guacamole Burgers inspired by Rachel Ray.

Despite having moved for only two weeks, I miss Texas already. So we had to include guacamole and chorizo in the burger.
I thought this pig was adorable on this cutting board, and it can be customized with any name. The board is well made, with grooves to catch any juices and is quite large and sturdy, so you can chop meat without fear on this board. Enjoy!

Chorizo and Guacamole Burger

1/3 lb chorizo, cooked
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons egg whites (or 1 egg)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Canola oil
4-6 slices swiss cheese
4-6 small burger buns

2 ripe large avocados, pitted and halved
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 lime, juice
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a grill or griddle pan over medium-high.

Finely dice or crumble the chorizo. In a bowl, combine the chorizo, ground beef, Worcestershire sauce; add egg to help bind the burger (adjust amount of egg if necessary). Season with cumin and add salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Drizzle the patties with the oil.

In another bowl, mash the avocado and add lime juice. Stir in the serrano pepper,, cilantro and tomato.

GRILL: Grill the patties, flipping once, until cooked through, 10 -12 minutes. Divide the patties among the bun bottoms. Add the cheese on the buns.

STOVETOP: Set the oven / toaster oven to broil to heat up. Add oil to a cast iron pan on the stovetop on high heat. Place patties on the pan and cook until the bottom is browned. Flip once and cook until the other side is browned. Place entire pan inside oven and broil until cooked to desired doneness, about 5-8 min. Toast the buns with the cheese.

When ready to serve, add guacamole on top of the burger and cheese and cover with the top bun.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Italian Cream Cake

B hit a milestone birthday today :D And it's his first birthday as a married man whoohoo... as well as having the first birthday with us actually living together - yup, I've moved to Chicago, and we're excited to live in the same city and house finally (at least until residency begins in a month)
Marriage is all about learning to love each other's quirks.

B: Since living together I learned some new things about you...things I never knew before...
N: And?
B: You use a LOT of toilet paper. 

That was definitely not what I expected. Well, I need it for makeup removal and cleaning!
The perk of having a wife who likes to bake is always having a birthday cake.

We had Italian Cream cake for our wedding cake, which is now B's new favorite dessert (I even hand carried the last remaining frozen cake slices on the plane to Chicago). He requested Italian Cream for his birthday, and I'm happy to have an excuse to make cakes.

Italian Cream is undeniably one the richest cakes, but I slightly lightened it with some yogurt and reduced sugar in my version (adapted from Trisha Yearwood on Food Network). The icing has less sugar and more cream cheese so it isn't as firm, but it works beautifully for a naked cake.
Although B specifically wanted me to make a layer cake (cupcakes weren't "awesome enough"), since he and his roommates are also moving out, I had no baking supplies so I had to improvise.

I had only one springform pan, so I lined the bottom with parchment so it wouldn't leak batter - but it was easier to remove the cake. I had to make the entire cake twice separately per layer, as the egg whites had to be whipped and folded right before baking - which was a huge pain.

I also had to use his roommate's ancient KitchenAid to whipping egg whites. I can tell you, the normal models today are much better designed. It was clanky and something that looked like it belonged to the Julia Child if she baked in the medieval era.

Also his roommate's rather old toaster oven for toasting coconut may or may not have caught on fire...

I like baking in my own kitchen with my own supplies and equipment, but I'm willing to do all this for no one but B.
B insisted in getting actual number shaped candles for his birthday cake. Haven't seen one of those kind of candles since my dad turned 50 years old - this means B's at an age where there's not enough candles than can fit on top hehe.

The birthday cake was destroyed by B and his friends is less than 24 hrs. Mission accomplished.

Italian Cream Cake 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing (can sub 1/4 cup with Greek yogurt)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk, well shaken (1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted
Cooking spray

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two cake pans. Sift the flour and baking soda together and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening with the sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the yogurt if using now. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating between each egg. With the mixer on medium speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately. Stir in the vanilla, coconut and nuts.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-45 minutes (time varies, I used an old oven, so make sure to test if done - insert a knife and have it remove cleanly). Cool the layers.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the butter on high speed until fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium and blend in the sugar and vanilla. Beat well until the frosting is smooth.

When the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting between the layers and on the sides and top of the cake. Sprinkle on the toasted coconut.
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