Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pittsburgh Nights

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was basically spent flopping around on my delightful in-laws' delightful couch* and eating lots of desserts, and also delightful Italian food at this place called Stagioni, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and not doing the Introduction to Bedside Diagnosis studying that I'd promised I would do. Now, I think my mother-in-law tried to rectify our diet somewhat by making a delicious carrot soup and arugula salad and grilled cheese on Saturday night, but we had to go ahead and ruin it by two straight days of NYU-provided junk food. Other relevant point: December heralds this thing that my grandmother is calling a gala that is basically a delayed wedding reception for us. I rather dislike the spotlight, a lot, but if this spotlighting party thing** is going to happen, it's going to happen to a lady who fits into the, erm, curve-hugging dress she bought at the beginning of the summer, dammit.

Thus, chickpeas in a caramelized onion and za'atar broth with arugula, persimmon, walnut, and feta salad in a lemon-mint dressing, and homemade crackers. I call it Delicious Zip-that-dress Dinner.

*Man, that is one fine couch.
**Mom: "You never got nervous when you were the center of attention for academic achievement! But now you're being the center of attention as a whole person!"
Me: "The part of me that can get married qualifies as a whole person?"
Mom: "..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Comme un patron

Ever given a massage? I love giving them. And working a rich, bolar pastry dough feels almost exactly like massaging the skin and subcutaneous fat of someone's back*.

Before we continue, please excuse me. I have to take a few aspirin, because it hurts to pat myself on the back for making perfect croissants on a first attempt.

Food stylist credit to Avanti, who can rompre her pain like
nobody's business.
Jen also helped with the eating.
Unbaked, puffed up, full of potential.
Okay, done being arrogant now, because making these** is actually not very difficult. It's a long process, and I nearly had to skip a class in order to finish baking the second batch***, but there's very little that is technically difficult. A few tips cobbled together from the Internet, this experience, and a couple cookbooks:

1. The dough should be smooth, cold, and pliable. Imagine giving someone a massage just after they've been in a naked snowball fight****. Like that. Be sure to keep the room and your work surface cool so that the butter stays cold and malleable.
2. You won't need much flour to keep the dough from sticking. Overflouring will leave you with tough croissants, not the flaky, delicate deliciousness that you're aiming for.
3. If you're working with a small oven in a studio apartment under 400 square feet--no shame, my indebted, belectured compatriots!--the croissants will begin to brown well before the inside is baked. Either drape them lightly with aluminum foil when they're crusty and golden on top or cut smaller croissants.
4. Use good butter. I didn't, and I regret it. Also, these are a little tiny bit too sweet for my tastes, but still, the 1/4 cup is plenty subtle. And maybe try a sourdough croissant and let me know if it's worth the extra effort.

It's Thanksgiving break now. I'm going to read (one chapter left in 1Q84!) and sleep and convince myself that med school isn't as stressful as I make it out to be.

*I tried to think of a more appetizing way to put this. "Flesh" was the best I could come up with. While it's not poetic, it's true.
**Joanne Chang is the scion of Flour, and thus I trust any food-related statement she cares to make.
***I may have skipped that class in order to make a doctor's appointment anyway, but at least it wasn't for the croissants!
****Again, I tried. I'm sacrificing imagery for accuracy.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Such a better word than compliance, don't you think? Anyway, I faithfully followed this recipe to make what I am going to humbly say are some of the best damn bao ever.

Next time I'm going to put some tofu in the filling, and maybe roll the dough a little bit thinner. Maybe.

We're trying to use up the rest of the veggies in our fridge before we go to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving (alert: if any of you want hilarious amounts of kale, cabbage, onions, or mushrooms, let me know), so I also made a cabbage and tofu stir-fry, just for a little protein, you know?

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Once upon a time there was a head of cabbage that weighed over five pounds.

That poor, humble, ugly, morbidly obese head of cabbage got hacked in half. Part of it got made into cabbage with caraway, apples, and white beans, and it was very happy.

Just next door were some sunchokes. Not only were they tragically homely, they contain a whole lot of inulin. This makes them much-beloved by diabetics and dieters, but much-maligned by people who can't digest fructans and get horrible flatulence when they eat sunchokes.

Nothing could be done about the inulin content of the poor sunchokes, but they got sliced up and made into crispy oven-baked sunchoke chips, and they were delicious, and they were very happy.

This cinnamon bun "loaf" is just an all-star, from start to finish. It's as though the Gerber baby went on to become Heidi Klum and endured nary an awkward stage in between.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Holy Tetrad

The Italians got it right quite a long time ago. Nothing can go wrong with a combination of noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, and garlic. If you're extra lucky, there will be vegetables.

Lasagna roll-ups! Like real lasagna, but rolled up! No need to post a recipe; it's pretty self-explanatory. Just try not to let the lasagna noodles stick together as you boil them, and boil them just until they can be rolled without breaking so that they become fully tender in the oven.

And now back to studying limb anatomy and bone pathology. It's hard to believe that this is the penultimate unit of my pre-clerkship curriculum...

Thursday, November 17, 2011


So many muscles. So little time. Such an irrepressible urge to make twice-baked Tex-Mex sweet potatoes.

2 lbs sweet potatoes
1 can black beans, drained, rinsed, and dried
1 onion, finely chopped
cheddar cheese
ancho chili powder
yogurt/sour cream
other toppings/mix-ins, like jalapenos, chopped tomatoes, salsa, or corn

Bake or microwave the sweet potatoes until they are just tender. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise. Scoop out the insides once they're cool; attempt to leave a thin layer of sweet potato in the skin to give the skin some structure. Puree the sweet potatoes with spices to taste, keeping in mind that the heat will intensify things a bit. Mix together the beans and chopped onion, as well as any other mix-ins that you wish. Spoon some sweet potato puree back into the sweet potato skins, top with bean mixture, and top all that with a ludicrous amount of cheddar... or, if you're not me, a reasonable, heart-healthy amount of cheddar. Broil until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown. Serve hot, topped with whatever you like.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pomo carrot tart

Try as I might, I can never manage to finish laying a spiral of slices of... something... right in the center.

Following my complaint that my tarts are always decentralized, Andy encouraged the above moniker. Entertaining though it may be, I'd like to develop enough skill to make sure all my carrot slices (or apple slices or whatever) follow a fixed hierarchy.

That being said, this is really tasty. You can omit the raisins in the filling, and if you don't have or like rye flour, use whole wheat or just all white flour. Note that the vinegar in the crust isn't for taste. A little bit of acid--vinegar, lemon juice, even vodka--helps make the crust flaky, as does keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible.

Pomo carrot tart
For the crust:
1.25 sticks frozen butter, cubed
3.5 oz rye flour
3 oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup ice cold water

Use a food processor to mix the butter, flours, and salt until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add the vinegar and ice water and mix just until it comes together in a ball. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight. Roll out on a well-floured, cool to cold surface and place into your pie dish, decorating as desired. Blind-bake at 425 F for 5 minutes and at 350 for an additional 7.

For the filling:
1.5 lbs carrots
2 shallots
1 tbsp butter
1 egg
(here's where things start to break down, because I stopped measuring)
1/4 to 1/3 cup whole milk
salt, pepper, tarragon
honey (about 1 tsp)
lemon juice (1/4 tsp, ish)
about 1/4 cup raisins, optional
1 tbsp honey mixed with 2 tsp water, for glazing

Peel and trim the carrots. Use a mandoline or very sharp knife to cut thin slices from the large ends of the carrots until you have about a cup of them for decoration. Boil the rest until very soft. Meanwhile, chop the shallots and saute in 1 tbsp butter (or olive oil) until transparent. Add the carrots and puree the whole shebang. Stir in milk, honey, and lemon juice, and, when the mixture has cooled somewhat, the egg. Add salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste, keeping in mind that the flavor of tarragon intensifies somewhat with heat. I'm thinking that cooking the tarragon with the shallots will allow you to better gauge what the flavor will be like after baking. If you like, stir in raisins. Spread in the tart shell and layer the carrot slices on top. Brush with the honey-water glaze. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the slices on top are tender and browning. Cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

No words.

I'm very happy that I have functional brachium and antebrachium muscles that allow me to make this.

Caramel apple coffee cake
Adapted from Pioneer Woman, with original input on the caramel sauce

For the cake:
3/4 stick softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, whipped until stiff
1 apple, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced

For the streusel:
3/4 stick softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour, plus a little more if necessary
1/2 cup oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
Optional: 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

For the caramel swirl:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp butter
1/4 heavy cream or half-and-half
pinch salt
Optional: 1 tbsp liqueur, such as Calvados

First, make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Drop the heat to low and boil until the mixture is a rich amber color. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the butter. Add the half-and-half/heavy cream (and liqueur, if you're using it); the mixture will bubble vigorously. Continue to stir until the caramel is smooth. Set aside to cool while you make the cake.

Mix the dry ingredients for the cake together, and mix the milk and vanilla. Cream the butter and sugar. Alternately add flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and fold just until mixed. Gently fold in the egg whites. Pour the batter into a greased 9x9 cake pan. Pour the cooled caramel over the top and use a knife to swirl it in the batter. Layer the thin slices of apple on top of the cake.

To make the streusel, just combine all the ingredients until the mixture is made of large, pebble-like crumbs. Top the cake with the streusel. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes, and serve warm with coffee or tea!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The many purposes of OkCupid

In order of importance:

  1. Setting up hookups
  2. Enabling me to procrastinate via blog.okcupid.com
  3. Enabling friends around the world to compete for Creepiest Message Received
  4. Enabling friends around the world to mock prime examples of duckface
  5. Setting up meaningful relationships
This MD stomach is family-friendly, so I apologize for the more, hrm, tart content of the blog, but this thing is hilarious, not to mention pretty to look at. Faux science is such fun! Emphasis on observations about what makes a dating site profile picture attractive and why Lithuanians appear more willing to participate in bedroom enactments of a certain kind of fantasy.

Are we still family-friendly? No? Sigh. Kids these days.

So I asked Andy to pick up some soba on his way home from class* in order to make cold noodles with dipping sauce and a broccoli, tofu, and cashew stir-fry. Instead of the long, thin buckwheat noodles I envisioned, he brought home chuka soba from the Washington Square m2m. I was forced to make crispy chuka soba nests topped with broccoli, tofu, and cashew stir-fry instead.

The horror, Andy, the horror. Forty lashes with a wet noodle, variety to be determined. That'll teach you.

Chuka soba nests with vegetables
N.b.: I recommend trying to fry the noodle nests and make the sauce simultaneously.

1 package chuka soba
1 small head broccoli
5 carrots
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 cup miso broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar, or 1/4 tbsp Splenda
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp water to make a slurry
salt, pepper, Sriracha to taste
toasted cashews and chopped scallions for garnish

Blanch the vegetables, dice the tofu, and set aside. Boil the chuka soba 4 to 5 minutes or until al dente. Toss with sesame oil and allow to cool until it can be handled. Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a skillet. Form small portions of the noodles into nest shapes and fry until golden brown on each side. To make the sauce, brinch the miso, soy, sugar, and mirin to a gentle simmer, then gradually stir in the cornstarch slurry. Bring to a gentle boil and whisk constantly, cooking until it is reduced and thickened. Add salt, pepper, and Sriracha to taste. Mix in the vegetables and tofu. To serve, spoon vegetables, tofu, and sauce over a noodle nest, then sprinkle with cashews and scallions.

*Yes, he has a Saturday class. If you want to send a sympathy card, let me know, the cheesier the better.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Short bus

I'm special, in the euphemistic way. You see, when I see a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi calling for two pounds of sweet potatoes, I don't think, "Hannah, that's a lot of gnocchi, and only two of you to eat them. Maybe you should halve that recipe and use the remaining sweet potatoes to remake those sweet potato cinnamon rolls from this summer*." I think, "Hannah, go to the fridge and weigh out two pounds of sweet potatoes!"


They were really good after a brown in browned butter, topped with Argentinian Parmesan. And after a wine and cheese tasting at the medical school. And after a private apple tasting of $5 worth of farmers market apples.

These are, in order starting from the bottom middle, proceeding clockwise, and ending with the center apple, Cameo (the only one I'd eaten before), Caville Blanc, Melrose, Suncrisp, Arlet, Newtown Pippin, Jonathan, Winter Banana, and Northern Spy. I loved the Caville Blanc and the Suncrisp, the Jonathan and Melrose, not so much.

This is the Pippin, which was a close third to the Caville
and the Suncrisp. Very close indeed.
This is the Jonathan. Ew.

In short, this was a really good day. Except for that work thing. Don't remind me.

*Huh, I think I actually forgot to blog about those. They were amazing. AMAZING. I'll make them again soon** and post about the results.

**But I also want this exam's post-exam cooking spree to involve either croissants, homemade pasta, or a cookie exchange. Dilemmas.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This morning: "Man, I had better adapt this recipe and bake rather than fry the squash. It will be healthier, and plus I really, really need to study."

This evening: "Man, I have exactly enough olive oil left! And fried things are delicious. And I can always catch up on learning the arteries of the arm after lifting tonight. Let's do it."

And I'm so glad I did. The only bad thing about this recipe is the instruction to fry garlic until golden, then remove all the garlic and discard it. Who does that? I thinly sliced the garlic so that it would be easier to pick out of the oil and then mixed it into a yogurt sauce with scallions, lemon juice, dried mint, pomegranate seeds, salt, and pepper. Amazing... and yet, really, I should have made some other protein with this, perhaps chickpeas. I hate it when people use a hearty vegetable as a substitute for protein in vegetarian dishes, and yet I commit this sin constantly. Vegetables are too delicious.

On that note, Andy and I ate an entire bunch of kale in salad form with dinner tonight. And by Andy and I, I mean mostly me. Erm.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It's a very special grain. But I'd totally take it home to my mother.

Especially considering that I probably don't get enough protein in my diet, and this is a relatively high-protein grain. I put it in a salad with persimmon, pistachios, mixed greens, shallots and scallions (overkill? who cares). Dressing: olive oil, rice wine vinegar with a shot of white vinegar, a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and dried mint. Andy ate it all before I had a chance to pack some away for lunch. I suppose that's a compliment?

Whatever it is, this stuff is delicious. It's my first time cooking it, and I might go with more traditional preparations next time just for fun, but it's definitely going to reappear in our diet.

Also, a final shout-out to my mom and aunt, who ran the NY Marathon this past weekend (and fed us delicious food at locations like this one) for Shoe 4 Africa. Well done!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Study skills

New strategy: now that I have finished reviewing all lectures at least once, I am going to type up outlines to every single lecture and then review those all weekend long. This will require epic amounts of Diet Coke. Also, bread stuffed with cheese, pesto, and tomato paste.

Mmm, cheese. Did you know that cheese contains casomorphin, an opioid? That is one of the reasons cheese can cause constipation (a notorious side effect of morphine) and is reputedly one of the reasons cheese is so hard to stop eating.

Now please excuse me while I have another slice and try to hit upon more pleasant dinner-oriented topics.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pisum thank you

After making a series of neurology termination-related puns with a friend, I feel a little bit better about the fact that we are in our ninth week of this neverending unit and it is severely interfering with my food and exercise routines.

I suppose I should have expected this; it's what med school is supposed to be about. Up until this point, though, I could manage blogging a lot/working out a lot at the same time. Perhaps limb anatomy next week will be a bit of a respite? Or perhaps I should take this as a sign that my blogging/working out career is over and my medical career has begun to actually rear its head. Or perhaps I should take this as a sign that in order to manage exercise, cooking, and school, I shouldn't be spending time reading 1Q84. I was a little skeptical of it at first, considering that there's an episode of sporadic barely legal teen Asian lesbianism within the first 20 pages and I generally prefer my literature to be a little less like an idealistic porn scenario. But it's increasingly worth reading.

Here is pasta with peas, lemon juice, olive oil, and just a little taleggio. I thought of making taleggio crisps or taleggio ziti, but my resident garbage disposal got into the cheese and reduced it in quantity somewhat. No matter! It's so powerful that a little bit on top is all that is necessary.