Photo next time...
Verdict: Win

I love pumpkin desserts. This was an extremely easy, one-bowl kind of dessert to make. Pumpkin bread in a bar form. Pictures and a better description next time - it's going to be a busy month :(



Verdict: Win

Char siu bao (or pork buns as some people know it) are my favorite kind of buns. I prefer the steamed bun over the baked ones, but these baked ones are a lot more homemade friendly. Steamed char siu bao, featured in so many dim sum restaurants, are have a distinct soft and fluffy texture from the use of low-protein flour (and other ingredients that were hard for me to find). They're filled with a characteristic red-colored Cantonese-style pork that contrasts deliciously with the stark white bun. These baked ones are equally tasty and are easier to make since all of the dough ingredients are usually found in anyone's pantry and more people own ovens than they do steamers. This dough is also robust and results in a light, slightly chewy (but still soft) bread.

One thing to note is that I used a bread machine to make my dough without a problem. I set it on the dough setting for 8 minutes, then took it out to rise in a separate bowl. Don't let your dough rise too much longer than the first 45 minutes, because it'll compromise the second rising and then the buns won't be as fluffy. I also topped my buns with sesame seeds just because it made them that much cuter.

Verdict: Win

I opened a bottle of wine this week that I knew I couldn't finish within three days all by myself. The solution? Make this red wine chocolate cake. The result was a rich, complex cake with an unbelievably moist crumb and pronounced red wine flavor. It was delicious on its own, but with the slight bitterness from the wine I found it best with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (although the mascapone topping that came with the recipe sounds divine). I used a Cabernet Sauvignon by Cupcake Vineyards, just because that's what I uncorked yesterday, but I'd like to experiment with other varietals.

photo next time...

Verdict: Win

I usually have bad results with roasting eggplants, but this recipe worked like a charm and satisfied my eggplant parmesan cravings. My only problem with this "easy" recipe is that it still takes nearly 2 hours to cook and the result is kind of one-note due to the store bought marinara sauce (so much salt...). I didn't have cute round gratin dishes, so I used a regular baking pan and it turned out just fine.