Monday, August 29, 2016

Thai Green Chicken Curry

Do you know someone with an irrational fear? B has a phobia of bell peppers. Apparently, green ones are the most frightful.
Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines and I'm always trying to recreate the bold restaurant flavors. I had a lot of vegetables which I really needed to use up, so this green curry was a perfect option.
Red bell peppers are slightly more acceptable to B; he'll pass the red peppers to me, but he will eat the rest at least (if I cook with green peppers, he'll avoid the whole dish together).
I do like thinner curry than the typical restaurant curries, but finding the right texture is always tricky. I have listed here how I cooked it, after doing more research, apparently, it's better to cook the curry separate from vegetables to avoid extra water diluting the curry. Also, you can try use the thicker part of the coconut milk or even use coconut cream for richness. 
Loosely adapted from BBC. While curry paste from scratch is of course the most authentic, using premade curry paste from the store works when you're busy, craving thai food, and have a hangry husband with bell pepper phobia.

Thai Green Chicken Curry

1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1/2 onion, sliced
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, sliced
1 (400ml) can coconut milk
green beans, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 eggplant
1/2 jalapeno or thai chilis (optional)
1/2 lime, juice and zest
good handful of basil leaves and cilantro
rice, to serve

In a wok or large pan, heat the oil, and stir the garlic, curry paste, and onions for a few seconds to release all the flavors. Add the pieces of chicken, green beans, red bell pepper, eggplant and stir fry. Pour in the coconut milk and let it come to a bubble. Add the thai chili, lime juice and zest. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked. Once done, add basil and cilantro. Serve immediately with cooked rice, garnished with basil leaves and cilantro.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Blueberries and Honey

As I've mentioned before, B loves cheesecake and I used to make a bunch of varieties years ago, (Turtle Cheesecake, Coffee Mocha Cheesecake, and Individual Cheescake), but it's been a long while since I made one for him.

I've been wanting to make a goat cheese cheesecake for a while (years!) since the tangy "goatiness" would be a nice contrast with sweet honey and fresh blueberries. Plus doesn't it sound so gourmet to use a different sort of cheese?
If you're curious what makes goat cheese taste the way it does - it depends on milk freshness. Goat's milk ages much more quickly, and the longer it ages, the stronger it gets. The diet also affects the flavor of the cheese - goats, sheep, and cows graze on different plants hence their differences.
Another curious reason affecting the taste is the buck (male goat). During breeding season, as the female goats go into heat, the bucks produce pheromones so strong it increases the female's hormones which permeates the milk flavor - so it's best to keep the males and females separate. (Lively Run and culturecheesemag)

Now imagine if people were like that! 
Goat's milk is strong with a signature tang, perfect for mixing with cream cheese. B thought it was an odd combo until he tried it. You can pair these cheesecake with any fruit, but I think blueberries match it best in my opinion. Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell at Food Network

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

1 cups graham cracker crumbs
4-6 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 cup sugar

1 8 ox packages cream cheese, room temperature
6 oz (1/2 a log) goat cheese
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
4-6 Tbs honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

honey, to drizzle
fresh blueberries

Special equipment: 3 mini springform pans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (I used a toaster oven)

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Spray your mini cheesecake springform pans (optional: cut a parchment paper circle and place at the bottom to really make it easy for removal). Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and sides.

Bake for about 5-7 min, then remove to cool

Beat the cream cheese and goat cheeses in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the Greek yogurt and the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each egg is added. Beat in the sugar, honey vanilla until just combined.

Pour the filling into the prepared crusts. Put on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway while baking. The cheesecake will be done when the edges are set (the center should still be wobbly - it will continue to cook and set afterwards). Remove the cheesecake from the oven.

Chill before serving (refrigerate overnight or freeze). Remove springform sides, drizzle with honey and top with blueberries and whipped cream. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Balsamic Strawberry Spinach Salad

If you're a long time reader of OCD, you know that B and I have been long distance for a very, very long time thanks to our medical training.

The first month was rather difficult, as not only was this our first time apart about marriage, we had schedules that prevented us from seeing each other (I didn't have a single Friday, Saturday, or Sunday off for a whole month, and B's schedule was even worse).
This month has been much freer on weekend for both of us, and it's been nice to have time together. We've been cooking a lot together for our "date nights." I've been on a salad kick after not being able to exercise the past month, and we've had a nice crop of beautiful strawberries from Costco which I had to use in a recipe. 
To celebrate our first date night this month, we made a nice roast chicken (recipe to follow!), and for the appetizer, I whipped up this super easy salad using whatever was in the fridge. I'm sure you have many of these ingredients lying around already. I recommend using a fancy oil and balsamic vinegar (ours was aged 25 years, a gift from Bryan's roommate after our wedding) to dress it up.
I brought out these Mr. and Mrs. forks that were bridal shower gifts from my siblings. If you're looking for a great wedding gift, these were from Milk and Honey, and they have a large variety of styles and texts to choose from. These fork cuties were used for our cake cutting during out wedding (as I mentioned, we are a very dessert-centric couple).

They've been packaged since the wedding, so I told Bryan let's eat with them! Appalled, he said they were "too pretty to use" and put them away, bringing out our dingy old forks instead. Now I need to find a way to display our vintage silverware if B won't use them! Recipe by me.

Balsamic Strawberry Spinach Salad

1-2 bunches fresh spinach
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 red onion sliced
balsamic vinegar, to drizzle
olive oil, to drizzles
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Combine the spinach, strawberries, cashews, and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil into the salad to coat. Serve on plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Top with ground pepper, cashews, and parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini or French bread. Enjoy!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Brazilian Lemonade

To celebrate the Rio Olympics, here is a drink called Brazilian lemonade. Interestingly, there is no lemon in this lemonade, but there's a lot of limes! 

I love the Olympics, and although I've been at the medical ICU, I've been watching it nonstop. We hooked up our TV finally! While there's certainly been a fair amount of controversy on Rio Olympics, it's nice to honor all the athletes on their big competition and have a little world unity. 
I once read an article talking about why woman in general don't follow regular sports but go crazy over the Olympics - it's because of all the personal stories, national pride, and sacrifice are really highlighted. It's been so inspiring to see these athletes dedicate their lives to being the best. Plus, you don't see gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, or track and field everyday (as well as the more obscure sports, like discus and synchronized swimming).
I confess to being a little obsessed, and I may or may not have watched hours of youtube videos of current and old Olympic events ... and maybe I re-watched the entire Beijing opening ceremony as well...
I first had this drink in a Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao, and I've been hooked. The condensed milk and limes is like a refreshing key lime pie in drink form - lighter and perfect for hot summer days (or hiding indoors and watching the Summer Olympics). Adapted from Natasha's Kitchen.

1 cup cold water
1 cup ice
granulated sugar, to taste
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 lime zest
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

Add water, ice, sugar, lime juice and lime zest into your blender. Add 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk. Blend until smooth and frothy.  Add water, ice and lime to adjust thickness and sugar to adjust sweetness to desired level. Serve with lime slices and enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Goat Cheese Galette

I've been on a fig recipe spree since I had a ton of figs to eat up. Galettes are some of my favorite dishes to eat and the combination of a flakey crust with the sweetness and savoriness of figs, goat cheese, and caramelized onions was a combo I couldn't resist. 
The hardest part about moving to a brand new place is starting over without friends, but meeting my co-interns has been great. We had a girl's night in at my finally decorated and furnished apartment, complete with painting nails, drinking wine, and gossip to pair with this galette.

I don't let people (except B, who doesn't count anymore) see my craziness when photographing my dishes - from standing on chairs, rotating tables, changing the plates ten times, and climbing window sills to get the shot.  B just waits hungrily as he indulges his "silly wife" in her food acrobatics.
The pastry crust is totally worth it, but can be tricky to roll evenly. Because of the pastry's stubbornness, the baking ran late, so my friends had already arrived. They watched me scramble to get my photographs in amusement (and decided to be friends with me anyway, especially after the first bite of fresh fig galette). So if you need to make friends, this recipe certainly works! Adapted from Vanilla and Bean and Gourmet

Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Goat Cheese Galette

8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3-5 Tbs milk
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp oregano

1 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp salt
4-5 small figs, sliced into discs or quarters
6 Tbs goat cheese, room temperature
1 egg + 1 tbs water, whisked (egg wash)
fresh thyme and oregeno

Blend together flour, butter, milk, salt, and oregano in a bowl but cutting the butter with two knives (or using a pastry blender/food processor) until it resembles small crumbs coated in flour. Mash the larger butter pieces and stir with a fork so everything is evenly sized.

Squeeze a small handful; if it doesn't hold together, add a little more milk gradually until it does.  Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.

Place dough on parchment paper. With heel of your hand, push in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Roll the dough together, and press into a 5-inch disk. Place dough (with parchment paper, so it doesn't stick) in a metal bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at east an hour.

In a nonstick pan, drizzle olive oil and add the onions. Caramelize the onions on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned,

Preheat the oven to 400F (205C).

Remove pastry from fridge and roll your pastry on the parchment paper until thin, about 1/8 inch thick. Add milk if too dry, so it sticks together.

Spread goat cheese over the pastry, leaving 1 inch border. Place caramelized onions and figs over the goat cheese. Sprinkle oregano and thyme over the filling. Fold the edges over the filling, overlapping the pastry as needed, leaving the center open. Egg wash the tops of the pastry (for color when baking)

Bake on a parchment lined sheet pan at 400F for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Remove, and cut into quarters or serve whole. You can drizzle balsamic vinegar on top if desired. Enjoy!
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