Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fig, Pastrami, Goat Cheese Crostini

Remember my crostini dish two years? That was when I decided to go into Internal Medicine! Now I'll share another crostini recipe as I just started inpatient wards - the heart of a medicine residency.

While the long hours can be less than fun, getting to know your patients really passes the time.
One of my patients was a famous literary critic - I actually had received his book during my AP English high school teacher as a gift a decade ago. (I omitted to him the fact that his book was so deep, it exceeded my comprehension).

Despite his very old age, his mind was quite active, and he spent his hospital days dictating his newest books. My resident said he was probably more productive than any person on the hospital floor, including the doctors.
Another memorable patient was an elderly man who transferred from the ICU to our floor. He was extremely aloof and absolutely couldn't stand the fact he had no idea what time it was because his room clock had broken. After I ordered a new clock replacement and miraculously find his phone charger (which was left behind in the ICU room), he became quite friendly and beamed whenever I walked into the room.

I held an end of life discussion with him, and on the day he transferred to hospice, I said my goodbyes to hi; he, in turn, told me to go take a day off from work (Jeez, doctor, how do you have a life?!)
Finally, as I was leaving after a lovely 14 hour day, I saw this adorable 6 year old girl proudly wearing medical gloves by the nurse's station

Little girl: I wanna be a doctor!
N: Do you like helping people?
Little girl: Yeah!
N: Do you like working really long hours?
Little girl: Yeah!
N: Do you wanna be in school forever?
Little girl: Yeah!
N: Then you're gonna be a great doctor.

And this is why I have the best job ever.

Fig, Pastrami, Goat Cheese Crostini

12 crostini slices (you can make your own, but I used ready made)
1 Tbs goat cheese each crostini
4 strips of pastrami
4 figs, sliced
balsamic vinegar, to drizzle

Spread some goat cheese on each crostini.  Cut the pastrami and roll it, pressing it onto the goat cheese. Top with your sliced figs.  Lay a fresh thyme sprig on each and serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

For my second block, I spent a few weeks rotating in the emergency room. Now I am an Internal Medicine gal, which means I like sitting and taking my time to get the patient history, delving into the nitty gritty details, and then rounding with the team to come up with an all comprehensive plan for patient care.

Well, that is the opposite of the emergency room.
The emergency room is fast paced, chaotic, and always changing. You goal is to decide 1) sick or not sick, and 2) admit or send home. The rest of the details is left to the inpatient teams or for the outpatient doctors.

It's not unlike clinic, which is fast paced and time sensitive, except that people are sicker and you have all these diagnostic tools on hand with results coming right back. Terrible abdominal pain? Abdominal ultrasound and liver function tests! Seizure with loss of consciousness and head trauma? stat CT! Worsening back pain and you've got cancer? MRI now! Fell off a horse and broke your foot? Off to surgery!
The hours in ER aren't bad except the timing can be weird. Plenty of late night shifts, overnight shifts, and early morning shifts to mess up your sleep schedule.
I had to work Fri, Sat, Sun both weekends including all night shifts on the second weekend. That second weekend, B needed to have movers pick up furniture from a Craigslist person and take it to his apartment. B is of course on call and working that weekend, so he couldn't do it ... unless I came.

So during my weekend of night shifts, instead of catching up on sleep during the day, I get the joy of taking the 2 hour train to NYC, moving all of B's furniture, taking the 2 hour train back to New Haven, and then starting my Saturday overnight ER shift at 11pm with zero sleep.

I do this for B and no one else because I love my husband (also, he dutifully assembled my Ikea furniture in my apartment, so I owed him one) :P
B is very sweet and makes dinner whenever we are together on the times he has the rare day off. He is an expert in cooking with the slow cooker (which I have yet to figure out) and made a massive amount of the pulled chicken for tacos. The rest of the entire week, I just ate his tacos - no need to cook dinner because it was set... and healthy too! Recipe by my husband, B.

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

Cook time: 2.5 hrs on slow cooker on Hi

4-6 chicken thighs and/or breasts (B likes one of each)
taco seasoning mix, to taste
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 cup water
1 jalapeno 

3-5 tomatillos
1 serrano pepper
1/4 cup cilantro
1 lime
salt, to taste
1/4 water (adjust as needed)

corn tortillas
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 onion, diced
2/3 cup tomatoes, diced
shredded cheese (optional)
lime, to squeeze and garnish

Turn the slow cooker to HI and add the chicken. Season the chicken inside the slow cooker with the taco seasoning, pepper, and garlic powder. Cut the onions into slices and add it into the slow cooker. Add the water. Do not worry about burning the chicken, As the chicken cooks it will release water and grease allowing it to cook in its juices.

Let it cook for about 2 hrs. While the chicken is cooking you can make the tomatillo sauce. Put the tomatillos and serrano peppers on tray and broil in the oven for ~10 mins. The tomatillo and peppers will shrivel and char a bit. Remove it from the oven and put them in a blender/food processor. Add water, cilantro, and lime and blend it all together. Add salt to taste and set aside to serve.

After 2-2.5 hrs check on the chicken. At this point the chicken should be falling apart or at the very least tender enough for you to pull apart with 2 forks. At this point it is safe to taste the chicken. Let it cook and absorb further in the juices. Turn off the pot when you are satisfied with the taste and texture. Be careful not to over cook the chicken.

Heat the tortillas on stovetop on medium until warm. Serve the chicken, cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and cheese over the tortilla and spoon the tomatillo sauce. Bon appetite!
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Peach Almond Smoothie

It's summer everyone - time for a smoothie! I'm combining peaches and almonds this time -did you know they're actually related! Scientiets have even sequenced their genes!

If you recall my peach raspberry sunrise smoothie recipe last year, B described Texas summers as "the surface of the sun." The summers in New Haven are fabulous - it's much nicer than the Texas humidity. I started off residency with clinic block, so I've had time to enjoy lots of of the Connecticut sunshine.
My parents were supposed to ship all my professional clothes and stethoscope from Texas - however they "lost" one of my luggages before it ever left the house. So I started residency without a stethoscope (out of all specialities, Internal Medicine people clutches their stethoscope like a safety blanket.) I also went to orientation week in jeans and had to borrow a suit for my professional doctor photo.

That meant some serious shopping was needed - I spent the first weekend buying a ton of clothes from Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and Black House White Market at the outdoor outlet mall. I stunned my new friends with my mad shopping purchases. Hey, it's all work related!
The second weekend, we chilled at the beach plus played attempted to play beach volleyball. I only think of beaches in California and the Gulf, forgetting that New England has beaches too. The water is way too cold right now, but hopefully I'll make it in the water next time.
Finally, I've joined our Internal Medicine softball intramural team. Never mind the fact I don't know how to play softball! I've scored a few runs and even caught a ball. (I also got whacked horribly in the shin from a pitch, but we'll pretend that didn't happen...)

So shopping, beach, and softball - plenty of summertime activities! Here's my peach smoothie (recipe by me) to celebrate as well. I love the flavor of almond milk and the crunch of almonds - it honestly tastes more like a milkshake than a smoothie. Happy Summer!

PS. My parents found my magically missing luggage (with my work clothes and stethoscope) 3 weeks later.... in the stairwell closet. Fail.

Peach Almond Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peaches, chooped
1/4 cup almonds
ice (optional)

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want it thicker, add more yogurt. For more of a sorbet consistency, add more ice. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Greece Food Adventures (Honeymoon Part II)

B and I have never been to Greece, so we were super excited to have a little more relaxed beach time after a busy week in Paris. We considered a cruise, but decided it would be more fun (and economical) to do our own adventures. We flew from Paris to Mykonos, then hopped to Santorini, then finished at Athens over the week.

The waters are amazing and every town is next to the bluest ocean you'll ever sea (see) haha. This is the octopus you can enjoy right in Ammoudi Bay in Santorini.

There's tons of little shops selling Greek foods - the popular towns in the Cyclades islands know what tourists want! Locals told us that apparently they're not that impacted by the Greek economic crisis as opposed to the mainland because tourism happens no matter what (I have never seen so many tourists crammed together in my life!).
Lots of restaurants along the tiny streets of Mykonos - the main town Hora is a pedestrian only place and every corner and building is just picture perfect with white wall and blue windows and domes.
We, of course, ate seafood many times throughout the trip as we were so close to water. Here is grilled sea bream with lemon olive oil in Little Venice in Mykonsos.
Of course, we had to have the quintessential greek dessert - baklava - with ice cream.
We had quite a bit of olive oil - B bough a large bottle of homemade fresh pressed oil to bring back to the US. He loves the stuff - he even drank it straight when they offered it for taste testing!
Santorini is known for fabulous wineries. Their wine is very concentrated due to the manner of growing the grapes - low to the ground - as there is little rain on the island.We went to Santo Wines - one of the best wineries - and enjoyed a beautiful Greek seaside sunset with these delicious snacks.
Vinsanto is a wine only made in Santorini - it's super sweet and concentrated. I really loved how different tasted and brought a bottle back as well (our small luggages were exploding by the time all the souveniers from France and Greece added up)
One of the most popular Greek spirits is ouzo. It's cloudy white, served cold, and super strong. They can come in cute bottles featuring Greek gods and goddesses.
While on Mykonos (and all of Greece) the restaurants can really push you to eat there. B is a softee so he promised the first person who came up to him we'd eat there after our Delos island day trip (I told him he can't say yes to every restaurant and vendor and shop owner or we'd be broke lol).  

B is a man of his word, so as soon as we got back, ate this pepper and vinegar octopus in one of the seaside restaurants, and it was quite good.
We tried quite a bit of exotic gelato flavors - including olives (not the best), vinsanto wine, baklava,  fig, and chocolate pistachio (armoundes), and halva (tahini/sesame) gelato!
One of the best budget eats in Oia is Pito Gyro - we were ravenous after a day of excursions, including hiking 3 hours on a beautiful (and rocky) trail from Fira to Oia, and we devoured the best gryos on the trip.
There's so many olive wood items. I did end up buying the grape glass olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the middle of the photo although I regretfully don't eat enough olives to merit buying a donkey olive pit holder. 

B and I rode donkeys up a trail of stairs in Fira's Old Port (it was already quite tiring walking down). There is absolutely no controlling the donkey and they take you where they want at their own pace with no one there. 

For some reason, they put me on a huge nice shiny donkey and put B on the tiniest, scrawniest, most disheveled looking donkey that looked like he could barely hold the weight of my 6 ft 2 in husband. However, he was a tough donkey and was the first to the top. 
In Athens, one of the best deals was all this crispy fried seafood on a bed of tabbouleh for two for just 20 euros plus dessert. Not too shabby. 
This was our last dinner of the honeymoon and hands down B's favorite - he has never raved about lamb chaps so much before as these in Tousteki Tou Ilia, a tavern in Athens. There are a million cats eyeballing you for your scraps (B refused to share).
Beautiful Little Italy in Mykonos

And thus, my last major vacation until who knows when. B is already dreaming of our next big trip.
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

France Food Adventures (Honeymoon Part I)

Our Paris trip was full of bread, coffee, and desserts. Everything is so beautiful and chic in Europe.

Some gastronomic highlights of our trip
Pastries in a little food shop called Causses
 around Les Halles in Paris. They sell great cheeses, meats, and gelato too!
 The best crepes in Paris are found in Breizh. Pictured here: Pear chocolate caramelized walnut crepe with vanilla bean ice cream, buckwheat crepe with buckwheat ice cream, and classic jam and butter crepe
 The art of people watching during breakfast - classically coffee and croissant. A Cafe outside Opéra national de Paris (home of the Phantom of the Opera)
 We had lunch in an adorable cafe in Montemarte called Soul Kitchen. It's crowded and there's a long line but the food is deicious. They change the menu daily and change with mealtimes. 
 Desserts at Soul Kitchen in Montemarte. Also do try their hot chocolate with the smiley face (seen in my first photo) - it's the richest, most luxurious drink you'll ever have.
B requested we take cooking class with a chef in Paris - we chose La Cuisine Paris since it had great reviews, small class numbers, and is taught in English (very important). Chef Cyrl was super passionate about food and we learned a lot of new techniques, like tying a layer fat around stuffed filet mignon to keep it moist.

In our cooking class, we prepared 3 courses, plus they served us a wine and cheese pairing for dessert. The French have super strong cheeses which B loves.
 We spend a night in Normandy so we could tour the WWII D-Day Beaches. Dessert in Normandy - we took a lunch break in St. Mere-Englise, the first town liberated by the Americans. 
 No Paris trip is complete without some Laduree macarons. We ate dinner at the Laduree on the swanky Champs-Élysées Avenue, a wedding gift from my godmother who lives in France. The food portions are small, so I recommend eating dinner elsewhere and just saving all your money for dessert. but their macarons are really fabulous. You can really taste the essence of the macaron flavor.

My godmother also treated us for a sunset dinner cruise in the River Seine - it was a little dark for food pictures, but it was SO romantic and wonderful. Although she wasn't able to make our wedding in Texas, she really made our honeymoon super amazing.
 We ate pastries three times a day shamelessly. We bought these pastries during a walk around the adorable St. Germain neighborhood and had a dinner picnic at the Luxembourg gardens. 
 Visiting beautiful outdoor food markets - Marche d’Alma was recommended to us by our chef during our cooking class. Here is some famous French apple cider!
Another outdoor food market - this time at Marche de Rouge Enfants (originally an orphanage where they wore red clothes, hence the name). 
Finally, finishing off our trip with the best chocolatiers in Paris - Jacques Genin. Fun flavors such as earl grey tea,  coffee, basil, and rosemary! 

Hope you enjoyed seeing food as much as we enjoyed eating it! I drove B a little crazy by making him wait before eating anything, but now we can enjoy the food pictures forever :D
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