Monday, February 29, 2016

Black and White Forbidden Rice Pudding

Not only is today a leap day, it's also the start of APEX - aka med school classes again. It's weird being in the classroom instead of the hospital or clinic on rotations - feels like first year all over again.

APEX is a two week bootcamp prepping us for residency - topics range from clinical (managing shock, cardiac emergencies, common inpatient infections) to ethics (bias and informed consent, genetic ethics) to US healthcare (Medicare, legal issues) to communication (end of life skills, patient handoffs) to procedures / imaging (EKGs, ultrasound).
As I've been off finalizing wedding prep and being in full artist mode, it's time to shift back into the doctor mode. These classes aren't meant to teach us anything new, but to refresh our knowledge and mentally prepare us for intern year - where we're the front line of patient care with absolute responsibility. 

Just mildly daunting. I admit I feel far from being a full fledged doctor at this point.
Sometimes I do feel like I have a dual life - one as a med student/researcher and the other as a wedding planner / artist / Etsy crafter.

As much as I love Pinterest and being Martha Stewart the past month (I know I could make a living on etsy for wedding products alone at this point), it's definitely not as fulfilling, so I'm looking forward to exercising the science part of my brain again.
While we're talking about split personas, here is a pretty split rice pudding loosely adapted from Simply Recipes - there's regular white rice and there's forbidden black rice. In ancient China, this rice only for the emperor and royalty since it was so "rare" and "superior." It was also considered to have medicinal properties. You can read more about its fascinating history here in NPR.

For me, the forbidden black rice is like residency - superior with medicinal properties. Hopefully I make it to that point!

Black and White Rice Pudding

1/3 cup uncooked white rice
1/3 cup uncooked black rice
4 cups milk, divided
1/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of milk and white rice to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Simultaneously, do the same with 2 cups of milk and black rice.  Stir both pots frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the divided sugar to each rice pudding.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg and slowly incorporate half into each rice puddings, vigorously whisking to avoid curdling. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon to each pot. Stir, on low heat, for 10 minutes, until thickened. Serve warm or cold.
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies are a twist off the linzer torte, originating from Linz, Austria. The linzer torte is one of the oldest tortes in the world, found in an Austrian abbey in the early 1700s. Luckily for us, the linzer torte was brought to the US around 1850s. The torte's crust is a buttery pastry with ground nuts (traditionally hazelnuts or almonds), egg yolks, spices and lemon zest; the filling was made from black currant preserves with a lattice crust.  
Linzer cookies use the same ingredients as a linzer torte, excepted it's an almond cookie sandwich with jam filling. In America, raspberry is the most common filling. The top cookie has a small cutout in its center called "Linzer eyes." Traditionally, the cutout is a circle but any shape can be used - diamonds and hearts are very popular. (Joy of Baking, Foodreference)
These are traditionally Christmas cookies in Austria/Europe, I also think they're perfect for Valentines, especially with the heart shape <3
Because I didn't learn from my last pasty attempt, this is also another bake-at-midnight-because-I-didn't-plan-ahead-of-time dessert. The recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour. The first chilling made the dough very difficult to work with since it was so hard; I would probably try skip that step. The dough can be tricky to roll, so add flour as needed. However, do not skip chilling the dough after your make the shapes, just prior to baking. This helps the cookie cutouts retain their shape - which I learned the hard way - as I attempted to pair fat heart cookies with normal heart cookies.
Since this was a gift, I chose to double batch the recipe below. While this cookie takes some patience, you'll be well rewarded with happy people gobbling up your cookies. Happy Valentine's :)

Linzer Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
raspberry jam for filling

Beat the butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the yolk and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Don't over-beat. Divide the dough in half, and form two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm.

To assemble, roll one disc of dough out about 1/4"-thick on a well floured surface. Using the cookie cutter shape of choice, cut out cookies and cookie cutouts until dough is used up. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill the cut cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

While the first half of cookies is chilling, cut cookies and cookie cutouts from the remaining dough. Place cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

Bake the first batch of cookies for 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown (do not let the cookie turn too dark). Bake the second batch as well. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring to a rack.

To fill the cookies, place the cookies with the cutouts on a cookie sheet and sift confectioners' sugar over the top. Spoon jam into the center of the remaining cookies, spreading it slightly. Don't fill all thw way to to the edges or they'll ooze out then sandwiched. Top with the sugar-dusted cookies.
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Chocolate Cake Truffles / Cake Pops

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. B can't resist teasing my hopeless addiction.

B: you know what Pinterest is? It's what your girlfriend/fiance/wife stares at 8 hours a day and then you find yourself eating salads out of mason jars for dinner.
I admit many of the ideas are over the top - hence these spoofs "A Day in the Life of Pinterest" in The New Yorker ("Pinterest spends every day from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. trying on very casual wedding dresses in a secret room, drunk on herb-infused cocktail") and the ridiculous Hipster toddler Quinoa ("After an exhausting day of back-to-back play dates, Paleo relaxes with chamomile Tea while Quinoa prefers yoga").
Fourth year of medical school is peak wedding season (we'll never have 2 months off again!). Weddings are already over the top, so I figured why not run with the Pinterest ideas. I've wanted to make cake pops (even though they make no sense whatsoever - take a perfectly good cake and squash it with your bare hands) because they look so darn cute.
My roommate is actually getting married two weeks before me, so for her pink-and-purple bridal shower on Saturday, I, of course, decided to make these cake truffles (adapted from Divas Can Cook) on Friday night after a long day in the ICU.

Fast froward to midnight - I was cursing these cake pops, well aware I had a 5am wake up call the next day since I was working both weekend days. At 1am, I made an executive decision to switch from pops to truffles for my sanity. I can doctor or I can Martha Stewert, but not both simultaneously. While these chocolate cake truffles turned out cute (note: fairy dust ie pink sprinkles fix everything), I'm filing this recipe under "special occasion" or "not on a rotation" desserts only.
PS. No, I have never eaten (or made B eat) salads or anything out of mason jars. I'm not that addicted...yet.

Cake Truffles / Cake Pops

Chocolate Cake box mix, prepared
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 bag white candy melts (I used Wilton)
cake pop sticks

Prepare and bake your chocolate cake according to the box mix directions. Let your baked cake cool fully.

Crumble cake into fine crumbs. Add your frosting a little bit at a time until cake is moist and can hold a ball shape. Do not add too much frosting - use your hands to incorporate the frosting into the cake crumbs.

Roll the mixture into a ball (about 1 inch) and place on a large tray. Repeat until all the cake mixture has been rolled into balls. Freeze the cake balls for at least an hour (this helps them keep their shape).

When ready to coat the cake balls, melt your white candy melts in a double boiler ** (be careful to not let it burn). Add vegetable oil as needed to make the candy smooth.

Remove the cake balls from the freezer. Place your cake pop stick into the balls and dip the tip of the cake pop sticks into the white candy. Roll the cake ball in the air to smooth the coating. Place the stick end into styrofoam *. Shake sprinkles over the top before the coating hardens. Let the cake pop sit the the air before handling.

If you keep it as a cake pop, leave the cake ball on the stick. If making truffles ***, gently pull the cake truffle off the stick and place in a small candy wrapper. Chill in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. Enjoy!

* You can buy styrofoam blocks (recommended), but I used an egg carton in a pinch - note that you have to balance the cake pops to avoid tipping the carton over
** The double boiler keeps your candy warm as you work with it (vs having it cool too quickly). Microwaving can burn your candy melts as well.
*** I started with cake pops but switched to truffles for sake of transport/space (I ran out of egg carton space). Also, I was running low on candy coating - you also don't have to fully coat the bottom in truffles and they still look good!
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