>> Thursday, February 25, 2010
On Wednesday morning I woke up with a feeling in the pit of my stomach. Ugh, guilt - but why? Maybe because of a notable lack of indulgence on this blog, and a secondary realization that I haven't supplied the first-year clinical medicine class that I TA with treats since at least November! This was a situation that could be easily rectified, so I went on an internet search for a delicious/irresistible/unique/beautiful (must encompass at least four appealing adjectives) cupcake recipe. As someone who will eat almost anything, the biggest challenge was finding something unique yet globally appealing. While I love Martha Stewart cupcake recipes, they get played out after awhile. Finally on epicurious I came across this recipe:
Cinnamon-Scented Devil's Food Cupcakes
Makes 24 regular + 30 mini
Adapted from Epicurious
2 2/3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cps freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temp
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cups canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cupcake liners of choice in muffin tins. Sift flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into large bowl. Combine sugar, coffee, buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in another large bowl. Using stand mixer, beat egg mixture until blended. Add dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until blended, scraping bowl occasionally.
Fill liners about 3/4 to top. Bake cupcakes until puffed and center is just firm to touch, about 24 minutes for regular and 15 minutes for minis. Transfer cupcakes to racks and cool completely.
For the icing I did go with Martha, and halved one of her vanilla buttercream recipes as I wanted to show off the telltale flecks of my newly acquired vanilla bean paste:
Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
Put butter in bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well, about 5 minutes total. Add vanilla and salt. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until smooth, about 1 minute more.
Here they are, ready for the hike to the hospital - a journey on which they received much attention. The cupcakes themselves were deliciously rich, the addition of cinnamon and coffee adding depth to the traditional chocolate cupcake. Frosting could have easily been foregone, however the vanilla buttercream suited them nicely.
>> Thursday, February 18, 2010
Last week I was casually scrolling through the NYT, and in an inevitable stray from "real" news landed on a Mark Bittman article entitled Whole Wheat Muffin, the Remix. Mainly an adage to whole wheat pastry flour I read on through the end where he suggested new ways to spice up an old breakfast favorite: banana, coconut, pumpkin, sweet potato with ginger and cardamom - wait, hold the phone - sweet potato with ginger and cardamom?? I had one of those mustmakethisnow moments.
This is where it gets complicated. Mark admits that his recipe, while filled with wholesome ingredients, packs a sugar/butter-induced caloric punch. Now I'm a firm believer in using real ingredients in baked goods, and indulgence in moderation, but muffins are a different story. They oft times sit on the brink of cupcake and in that case, can i get some icing up in here?
Not that I don't enjoy an occasional super-decadent and delicious muffin recipe to share with friends, but if they're gonna be stocked in the freezer for daily consumption - they better be healthy. I scoured the internet for sweet potato muffin recipes, trying to minimize the oil/butter/sugar while avoiding fake ingredients. After hours of research (I get distracted), here's what I came up with:
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Muffins with Ginger and Cardamom
Makes 12 (or 17, you know how it is...)
This recipe is very loosely adapted from CrossFit Maximus with which I have no affiliation, haha
1 1/2 cups pureed sweet potato (about 2 medium)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (sorry Mark, I don't have WW pastry flour!)
3/4 cup unbleached AP flour
1/2 cup agave nectar*
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup diced mango
1 tbsp fresh ginger (many recipes suggested 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped dates
*The science isn't quite there yet to support its lower glycemic index, and it's not a sustainable resource. This was the dregs of a wayward bottle that I bought 2 years ago, and I decided to finish it off.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about one hour or until caramelizing (oozing with sweet goodness) and tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before peeling and mashing with a fork. If you're in a hurry, you can zap it in the microwave - but forreal the smell that emanates from the oven is worth the wait!
Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potato, eggs, agave, applesauce, ginger and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Next fold together the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed, and then add in the mango and dates. Pour into greased muffin pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned (mine were smaller and took closer to 20).
After cooling, I placed the finished product on a baking pan and flash-froze them for a few hours, then placed them in a plastic bag in the freezer for a quick n' easy weekday breakfast :)
>> Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Last summer, the New York Times posted an article entitled "Lab Coat is on the Hook in the Fight Against Germs". The impetus for the article was a proposal made to the AMA by a group of doctors, suggesting that we hang up the white coat for good due to their known colonization of a variety of harmful microbes. However, it more interestingly brings up the social debate that this proposal stirs up regarding professional attire. There are people who feel strongly on either side of the debate, as one physician in the article notes: "The coat is part of what defines me, and I couldn’t function without it" (oh, really?). Meanwhile, in an article we discussed in my ethics class, "Desiderata or Dogma: What the Evidence Reveals About Physician Attire", the author concludes that "patients are more flexible about what they consider ‘professional dress’ than the professionals who are setting standards”.
This article stimulated a colorful discussion between amongst my classmates, out of fairness I'll present both sides :) Those in favor of keeping the coat, noted that it serves as an easy source of identification, is useful for carrying pens/books/stethoscope/etc, and engenders patient trust. Those okay with losing the coat, mentioned first and foremost, its potential harm to patients - especially those that are immunosuppressed and therefore more susceptible to infection. White coats do not get washed on a daily basis, and mine often have a grey ring of physical dirt at the end of the sleeve, on top of the microscopic ecosystem it is likely harboring. We also noted (ok now you know which side I'm on...), that medical schools should place more emphasis on empathy and open, honest communication, rather than a standardized appearance. I think we should afford each other the same openness we hopefully afford our patients - this mango may appear shabby, but wasn't it worth the look inside? :)
I've added a poll on the right, feel free to participate or leave a comment! Though the behavioral scientist in me is cringing at all of the biases I've already instilled in it :( ha!
>> Monday, February 15, 2010
>> Sunday, February 14, 2010
Happy Valentine's Day! Love it or hate it, it's here. I actually enjoy valentine's day - wait don't roll your eyes - I'm pretty sure I've never had a true *romantical* valentine before, haha. I'm the type who gets slightly overzealous for any occasion with baked goods and decor - though this year I exhibited some semblance of self-control. I started my "baller on a budget" v-day making Martha Stewart's antique-style valentines out of brown-paper grocery bags from the recycling pile. Then this evening I decided to make dinner for my roommate and another friend. Limits for dinner were anything already in house, and that my friend is a vegetarian. My mind immediately went to the tube of polenta hanging out in the refrigerator, and the ingredients for fresh salsa that I bought yesterday. The tying protein that first came to mind was egg, but then I remembered the tilapia hidden in the back of the freezer - and we had ourselves a meal!
I used Gor-ton's, directions per box. Don't knock it til you've tried it, but you could obviously step this up.
16 oz tube, cut into 8 even slices, about 1 cm thick
2 tsp ancho chili powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle sliced polenta with ancho chili powder and set aside. Heat olive oil in nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and add minced garlic. Add polenta slices and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until golden-brown.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
adapted from epicurious
5 small tomatillos
3 roma tomatoes, diced
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, chopped into large chunks
2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat broiler. Remove tomatillo husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. Broil tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeno on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 10 minutes.
If using fresh tomatillos, remove husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. If using canned tomatillos, drain and measure out 2 cups. Broil chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos (do not broil canned) on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.
Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Puree all ingredients BUT roma tomatoes in a blender. Pour into bowl with diced tomatoes and refrigerate.
I layered the tilapia (or an egg for my veg friend) over two polenta cakes, then garnished with salsa, avocado, and sauteed mushrooms and onions (not shown). This paired with "When Harry Met Sally" = perfect valentine's day :)
>> Saturday, February 13, 2010
For the past year there have been two things standing between me and food blogdom - a functioning camera and a name. After a week of online research and an omgjustbuysomething moment, I remedied the former. Camera in tow, I finally today got down to seriously thinking about the latter and came up with what I thought were some creative/unique/fun/edgy/me names. Creative maybe, but unique they were not, as it was about my twentieth try before I found an open domain. Not only were the first nineteen names taken, but nary a blog had an entry dated past 2005 or greater than 3 fledgling posts. I don't just think like the masses, I think like the unsuccessful blogging masses. Kidding aside, this name is great and will hopefully inspire delicious SPICY food and musings on life :)