This Week in the Kitchen

Things have been busy preparing for interview season! I’m finally getting enough free time to get back in the kitchen and try new recipes.

Foodie Fails

The cold brew I tried to make using milk instead of water actually turned to be okay when I poured it into black coffee. I also tried making my cold brew with fancy glacier bottled water to see if it made a big change in flavor. I’m excited to see what else my coffee book can teach me about making better cold brew at home

Slutty Brownies: These 6 layer slutty brownies from TikTok were supposed to be made with cookie butter but I used peanut butter instead. Apparently peanut butter has a boiling point? They boiled over and made a mess. The brownies were edible and people like them. Maybe next time I’ll switch the PB and nutella layers.

Around the World

Escites: I used a recipe from NY Times. It’s basically elote but off the cob. I could have eaten the entire bowl.

Foodie Media

Currently watching: The newest season of GBBO

Currently Reading: Books on the medical school interview

Week 6 Technical: Prinsesstårta

Week 6 focused on European cakes, so Mary Berry chose a Swedish cake for the technical challenge. It is a cake with sponge, pastry cream, and whipped cream in a dome that is then covered in marzipan (usually green in color). It got the nickname “princess cake” because three Swedish princess were said to be fond of the cake.

Most of the components are made from scratch, including the cake, jam, and the marzipan. I was a little worried about making the marzipan smooth on the outside.

Prinsesstårta

The Bake

  1. The Custard

I had two worries. The eggs I got at the store had dark yolks, which would throw off the color. Second, my vanilla beans have gotten hard on the outside so I was afraid I’d miss pieces when I pulled them from the milk.

2. The Jam

There was no mention of straining out the seeds. I overboiled the jam for a moment and I didn’t have “jam sugar”. My jam was quite loose…

3. The Cake

After the cake got into the oven I took it out to cool. The top collapsed. Also how does anyone get three layers out of these tiny cakes?!

4. The Marzipan

Oh gosh… I had pretty slivered almonds but not enough so I ended up using regular almonds. I hated the taste of this and the color was all wrong.

5. Assembly & Decor

I think this is the first time I’ve ever realized I didn’t have anything to present. Mistake after mistake after mistake. I can cope with a little ugly, but as I started the bottom layer, I realized my custard wasn’t set. It didn’t trap the jam and everything flooded out.

Final Thoughts

This was more like a Nailed It challenge than a GBBO challenge… The cake was a disaster. The marzipan was the wronng color and tasted like dirt. The cake fell apart and tasted funny. I was so proud of my rose until I saw Mary Berry’s delicate thin fondant rose. The custard didn’t set, but it tasted okay with the jam. We threw this in the trash and I stabbed the marzipan with a butter knife.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t making this for any princesses..

This Week in the Kitchen

This week has been a week of “procrasti-baking”. I’m applying to medical school and I’ve been avoiding the essays like the plague. I’ve been getting my house in order – cleaning, organizing, and cooking. Mess and clutter adds to my stress, but I know it’s also a bit of a way to ignore my other work.

Recipes/Experiments

Mermaid Mimosa: My first sort-of cocktail. I really need to get a cocktail making kit so I know how much I’m actually putting in. Very blue, not bad tasting.

Pepper Lunch: A trend from TikTok. It seems to be a popular take-out lunch from a restaurant (possibly in Japan?) Needed more pepper.

Foodie Fails

I watched a TikTok video where someone took a mostly empty jar of Nutella, filled it with heavy cream, shook it, and froze it to make Nutella ice cream. Did not work for me. Maybe I should have melted the Nutella?

Around the World

Ramen “Bokumbap”: Bokumbap is fried rice. This recipe added Shin ramen (a Korean brand). Super tasty and easy to make!

Korean Corn Cheese: a cheesy corn dip that’s a popular bar food in Korea. I even got to use my new countertop oven.

Foodie Media

Currently watching: MasterChef (I’m on Season 11)

Currently Reading: Brew

I’m into the recipe part of this book. Hoping to try out some techniques and recipes soon.

Restaurants Tried

The Lola: Sunday brunch had a line out the door! Love their birthday celebration (Hint: it involves fireworks)

Chicken & Waffles

Steve’s Espresso: an eclectic coffee shop full of artsy types. They seem to be purists about certain coffees. I enjoyed iced French press coffee.

Recipe Notebook 2.0

I filled another notebook. There are two others floating around my house, but I thought I’d share the best and worst of the recipes scribbled among the to-do lists and wedding plans. Some of these may have been shared in m

Please note some recipes aren’t online so I can only share where I found them!

Recipes to Highlight:

Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies: I made these for a Christmas cookie box and they nearly rivaled my famous ginger molasses cookies.

Aquafaba Meringues from NYT Cooking: You would never guess these are vegan.

Two Vinegar Chicken from NYT Cooking: Served over polenta, this vinegary chicken has a bold, acidic flavor.

BBQ Chicken Legs: These chicken drums were super easy to cook in a slow cooker with a sweet and tangy bourbon barbeque sauce.

Tomato Soup Cake: I know it sounds weird but it doesn’t taste like tomato at all. I found this because of a TikTok and it did not disappoint.

Spicy Asparagus: This amazing Korean woman shares recipes from her Korean home-cooking. Her whole channel is amazing.

Costco Copycat Muffins: These use a package of jello pudding and boxed cake mix to make super moist and rich muffins (honestly they’re really like small cakes). They almost didn’t make it to the potluck.

Foodie Fails:

Churro Lava Cakes: Not sure if this was an issue with the recipe or just a simple failure of execution. I made four of these cakes for the Great British Bake Through. There was definitely no lava in these lava cakes.

Mint Julep Part One: Another Great British Bake Through challenge, only this time I failed this one and chose a different recipe. The crust was smooshy and awful and the filling never set. Never make this pie.

Pane di Pasqua: Though it made a pretty Easter centerpiece, I don’t think I kneaded it enough, which made the dough thick. Despite baking it longer than suggested it was still raw inside.

There is another notebook in my kitchen right now mixed with all sorts of things. Let’s see how long it takes before I fill it.

This Week in the Kitchen

I haven’t been as active in the kitchen lately. Between work and my school applications I’ve been unmotivated. The physician I work for will be gone for most of the month of July. I’m hoping that will help restore my routine. It’s time to start meal prepping again.

Recipes/Experiments

Sweet & Salty Rice Krispies: Rice krispies with crumbled potato chips. Next time I think I need a sturdier chip.

Copycat Costco Muffins: Tweaking a box of cake mix and adding jello was supposed to make muffins similar to the ones from Costco. They weren’t really like Costco’s but they were super moist and delicious.

Foodie Fails

The cold brew I tried to make using milk instead of water actually turned to be okay when I poured it into black cofffee. I’m excited to see what my coffee book can teach me about making better cold brew at home

Slutty Brownies: These 6 layer slutty brownies from TikTok were supposed to be made with cookie butter but I used peanut butter instead. Apparently peanut butter has a boiling point? They boiled over and made a mess. The brownies were edible and people like them. Maybe next time I’ll switch the PB and nutella layers.

Around the World

Beef & Broccoli: I made my first recipe from Jet Tila’s cookbook “101 Asian Dishes to Make Before You Die”. With all these trips to the Asian markets have stocked my pantry with everything I need.

Foodie Media

Currently watching: MasterChef (I’m on Season 7)

Currently Reading: Brew

I’m almost done reading this! Currently debating on whether I should buy some different coffee makers like a Moka pot and Chemex.

Restaurants Tried

Kick Ass Coffee of Hawaii – I finally tried one of their signature lattes.

Week 5 Showstopper: 3-Tiered Pies

In true showstopper fashion, the final challenge was to build a three-tiered self-supporting structure of three pies all with a central theme. Luis picked the four seasons. Nancy made three pies with some variation of apple. Some bakers chose watercrust pastry for savory pies and then stacked them all on top of each other. Some used a type of display which depended on the pie for structure.

I’ve decided to skip the “tiered” aspect. Instead, I’ll be baking three pie under a common theme. This is a lot of food and I don’t want to waste it by making all three pies at once. I doubt my small family would be able to eat enough to make it worth it.

The Plan

The first job is to pick the theme and number of pies. I’m sticking with three. That’s already SO many pies!! As for the theme, I tried to come up with options but I kept going back to the same idea: boozy pies. I wanted to bake pies inspired by cocktails. My goal is to utilize different alcohols, so that I avoid a one-note underlying flavor in these pies.

Pie #1: Mint Julep

The mint julep is a classic cocktail made of bourbon and mint simple syrup. This pie uses a chocolate wafer crust, a mint julep filling, and whipped cream.

1. Crust

I know I cheated because I used Famous Chocolate Wafers for the crust. Everyone knows I can bake cookies already.

2. The Custard

This was my first time making a custard with gelatin. I see the bakers on GBBBO use gelatin but I was a bit nervous. I had access to the powder rather than gelatin sheets. Making this made me so nervous. Sticking my measuring cup in boiling water.

3. Whipped Cream

I made whipped cream with mint simple syrup a few days ahead. Unfortunately by the time I made the pie it tasted rotten! Tub of Cool Whip to the rescue!

4. Bake

This was a quick bake with all of the filling ingredients followed by a long freeze.

5. Final Thoughts

This tasted like a grasshopper pie, so it tasted good. I caught some of the bourbon in some of the bites, but overall it didn’t remind me of a mint julep. However, the filling is like a cross between a popsicle and ice cream. I really enjoyed the texture.

Pie #2: Rum Old-Fashioned

Featuring rum and bitters (spirits infused with fruit, spices, leaves, bark, roots, and herbs), this pie is a play on a lattice peach pie.

  1. The Crust

I’ve made pie crust a million times at this point. It came together nicely with a good moisture level. Chilled it as a disc in saran wrap. Rolled it out, pricked the base with a fork, then chilled again.

2. The Peaches

I actually bought fresh peaches, sliced them, and then froze them. Probably not the best idea because they wouldn’t thaw. They got a little ugly after defrosting but they were still good.

3. The Filling

I was fiddling with the pie crust instead of paying attention to my pan. I combined the juice and alcohol from the macerated peaches with cornstarch. It thickened while I wasn’t paying attention and nearly stuck to the pan and burned.

4. The Assembly

I had never thought of braiding the lattice before! I gave it a shot and it looked nice. I’ll have to think the rest of the lattice through next time.

5. The Bake

The edges of the crust caught a little bit. I put the crust shields on a little too late. The inside seemed baked, but it looked like some of it congealed more (possibly because I overcooked the filling?).

Final Thoughts

The crust held together and did not get soggy. When you cut into the pie the filling stayed intact. You could definitely taste the booze, but I may adjust the bitters if I ever make this again.

Pie #3: Margarita Pie

Margaritas (not the frozen kind) are made with lime, tequila, and an orange liquer called triple sec. I switched out triple sec for Cointreau in this baked then chilled pie.

  1. The Crust

I’ll admit I cheated a bit. I did not want to bake my own graham crackers for this crust. This crust is made of crushed graham cracker crumbs with salt and butter, then baked for a short time before filled and baked again.

2. The Filling

There’s is soooo much lime juice in this. I now need to buy a juicer to prevent my poor husband from struggling against them ever again.

3. Bake & Chill

I use a pizza stone for my pies (as per the pie queen herself- Erin McDowell). It helps evenly distribute heat.

4. The Decorations

I piped whipped cream onto the cooled custard then topped with salted limes – like a margarita!

5. Final Thoughts

So much lime! You get hit with lime then the bitter bite of tequila. It was set nicely and didn’t slop over or leak when sliced. It was also quite pretty. I only worried that perhaps I didn’t mix it enough because I could see swirls of egg yolk in places.

The End Result

I think i would have been disqualified after this round. Pre-made biscuits and a tub of Cool-Whip weren’t exactly in the rules… However, this challenge has been the bottleneck for this whole bake-through. I’m just glad it’s over!

Cooking the Internet: Feta Pasta

A Finnish recipe went viral on TikTok and supposedly caused a shortage of the Greek cheese in the country. I started following my a video on TikTok and then decided to take some things from my pantry and get creative! I’ll be sharing the results with you today. This simple pasta has a lot of potential for customizing flavors, so feel free to share your recommendations.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 or 2 containers
  • Feta cheese (1 block, but a container of crumbled will work just fine)
  • Olive oil
  • Tuscan dried herbs (about 1-2 Tbsp)
  • Tri-color rotini pasta
  • Salt and pepper

*Note: There are tons of Tuscan herb mixes out there. Make your own or buy some from the store. Mine included dried oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, cayenne, and fennel.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash your tomatoes, dry, and place in a glass baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix. There should be plenty of olive oil to coat the tomatoes.
  3. Make a space in the center of the tomatoes for the feta. Drizzle the feta with more olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  4. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  5. While the tomatoes and feta bake, cook your tricolor pasta to al dente. Strain when done cooking.
  6. When the tomatoes are done, remove from the oven. Break up the cheese and stir. Be careful of the tomatoes! They might pop and spray hot tomato juice!
  7. Add Tuscan herbs to the baking pan. Mix again.
  8. Add the pasta. Stir one last time and serve!

Paleo Cookie Dough Truffles

Last year, I had a coworker and friend who needed a pick-me-up following a stressful exam. She wanted something sweet, but was making changes to lose weight and stay healthy. She told me she loved cookie dough more than anything, so I found a recipe for Paleo Cookie Dough Truffles. They’re made without any raw egg, so they’re safer to eat! (I shouldn’t really talk because the “danger” of salmonella has never stopped me from eating raw cookie dough).

These are no-bake, easy treats. You can barely taste the change in ingredients. Whether your New Year’s Resolutions have started early or you have dietary restrictions, these treats are delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup chocolate, melted

A note about the ingredients: For people who stick to the paleo diet hard-core, you’ll need a dairy-free dark chocolate. This is also true for anyone with allergies. I highly recommend the Enjoy Life brand. It’s made allergen-free and doesn’t taste any different from regular chocolate. I used dark chocolate Ghirardelli chips.

Instructions:

1) Mix together the almond flour and sea salt.

2) Whisk the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together.

3) Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Honestly I usually skip Step 2 and just directly mixed in the wet ingredients.

4) Roll into 1″ balls. Place on a lined baking sheet.

5) Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.

6) Melt 1 1/4 cup chocolate. Dip the truffles into the chocolate and place back on the baking sheet. Freeze again.

For melting chocolate, you can use a double-boiler method. I just got a microwave-proof bowl, poured the chocolate in, and melted it in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Mix after each 30 second interval in the microwave.

Final Thoughts: I think the key to enjoying these is keeping them frozen. Almond flour has a very different texture, so freezing them kept the truffles held together enough to avoid a dramatic difference between a normal truffle and these paleo substitutes.

Low Carb Philly Cheesesteak Meal Prep

Meal prep is pretty important when my attending doesn’t set aside any time for lunch. He built up the ability to skip meals for prolonged periods while working as an intern and resident. I haven’t had that experience, so I still experience human urges such as hunger. My Attending books patients during our half-hour lunch slot, so I usually need something quick and filling. Most of my meal preps follow a pattern of meat, vegetable, and grain. In this case I chose to leave out the grain. For meal prep more interested than rice, meat, and roasted veggie, I turn to mealpreponfleek.com.

Though it sounds fancy, low carb philly cheesesteak is really just all of the insides of the sandwich without the bread.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium bell pepper sliced
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 6 ounces portobello mushrooms sliced*
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 slices provolone cheese
  • salt & pepper

*I left these out because Boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms, but I would keep them in if it was just for me.

Instructions:

1) Heat oil over medium heat. Add meat and cook for about 2 min. per side.

2) Add in onions and peppers and cook for about 3 minutes.

3) Add sliced mushroom, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

4) Add provolone on top and cover the pan until the cheese melts.

I turned off the heat and covered the pan, which melted the cheese just fine without overcooking the meat.

Final Thoughts: I think the best part about this is the cheese. You get really flavorful meat and peppers, then that bit of creaminess from the melted provolone. What’s even better is that you really don’t need to pay much mind to the cooking times in the instructions. Brown the meat, soften the veggies, and melt the cheese. If you’ve cooked before, you can do it by eye and it only takes minutes. The best meal prep is the meal prep that doesn’t make me work hard.

Cajun Fries

I never understood the idea of buying certain spice mixes from a store. I have a perfectly good spice rack (with an extra cabinet full of other spices). A spice mix is just that – a mix of spices. The other night I made a Cajun spice mix to spice up some alfredo sauce. We’ve used the leftover spice mix on several other dishes. Boyfriend and I made French fries to go with some bratwurst. As big fans of Five Guys’ Cajun fries, we wanted to try and make our own.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

1) Mix together the spices.

IMG_1620

2) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

3) Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Slice thinly. Stack the slices on top of each other. Cut in half again lengthwise.

IMG_1619

Check out this video for a demonstration.

4) Prepare a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, or a baking pain with a cooling rack.

5) Toss the fries with olive oil.

6) Spread the fries onto the baking sheet or aluminum foil. From a height, sprinkle the Cajun spice mix over the fries.

7) Bake for 15 minutes. Flip halfway through the cooking time with a pair of tongs or a spatula.

8) Remove from the oven and let cool. Salt if desired.

IMG_1622

These were definitely spicy, but I’m not sure I liked baked fries as much as fried fries. The way they were cut may have contributed to a lack of crispiness, or perhaps I used too much oil. Regardless, keep the Cajun seasoning around to add a kick to any dish.