Stir fried pork with mystery eggplant like veg

I got this neato green eggplant-shaped veggie at the Farmer’s Market today.  I think the sign said “Opa” but in this case Google was not my friend and couldn’t tell me what it was.  I’m a regular at this market so the nice farmer let me have one on the house.

So we had some pork in the fridge and I did a stir-fry of the two.  The veggie has the texture of a Chinese “Si Gua”.  Sorry, I don’t know the English translation.  It’s very light and somewhat soggy.  Almost like cooked cucumber.  It paired well with the pork for a clean and healthy stir-fry.

Stir fried pork with \"Opa\" (Mystery eggplant like veggie)

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Manila Clams with Black Bean Sauce

Here’s my take on Clams with Black Bean Sauce.  This is a Chinese stir fry standard.  I adapted the recipe from Ming Tsai’s cookbook, Simply Ming.

Clams with Black Bean Sauce

This dish turned out okay.  But the only problem was that I used canned chicken broth and the flavor of the broth totally overpowered the dish.  In my haste, I didn’t realize that I used regular broth, not the low sodium variety.  So the clams ended up taking like canned broth.  So that’s more incentive to make my own chicken broth next time.  I also experimented with Thai basil.  I still prefer the taste of regular Italian basil.

French Chocolate Brownies

I just got a new baking cookbook: “Baking: From my home to yours” by Dorie Greenspan.

For my first recipe I decided to make brownies (my first time making them). I used bittersweet chocolate for these. The brownies are topped with a dollop of creme fraiche and dark chocolate shavings. I made the creme fraiche myself. It was 4 days old and a little odorous but it created a nice tartness to balance against the sweetness of the brownie.

I also added rum-infused raisins to the brownies for an extra kick. I love how the raisins pop in your mouth. The only problem I encountered was trying to flambe the raisins.  They just wouldn’t burn.  But luckily they still turned out plump and juicy in the end.

French Chocolate Brownie with creme fraiche and chocolate shavings

French Chocolate Brownie with creme fraiche and more chocolate shavings

Apple Pie – Crumb Crust, Double Crust, Lattice Top, and Tart

Apple Pie with Crumb Crust

This is an Apple Crumb Pie that I baked a while back.  It has crunchy broken up crumbs scattered over the top of the pie. This is the simplest one to make out of the double crusted pies.

Classic Double Crust Apple Pie

Next we have the Classic Double Crust Apple Pie.  This is what you usually think of when you hear the words “apple pie”.  Double crust means simply that – two crusts.  One on the bottom and one on top.

Notice the slashes made in the top crust.  These are to let steam vent as the apples cook underneath.

Double crust apple pies tend to me quite rich with the flavor of the buttery crust.

Lattice Top Apple Pie

Finally we have the Lattice Top Apple Pie.  It has a top crust made from criss-crossing strips of pie dough.  This creates a dramatic effect as neat grid reveals the golden apples underneath.

With the lattice top, I cut a rectangular piece of pie dough into thin strips.  Then I used egg wash as an adhesive as I layered the strips over the top of the pie.

Apple Tart

And finally as a bonus here is an Apple Tart.  The difference between a tart and a pie is that a tart is open faced.  That is, it doesn’t have a second layer covering it.  Apple tarts are to France as apple pies are to the US.

Here I tried to neatly slice the apples and then arrange them in a floral pattern.  The slicing probably took more time than the rest of the assembly of the pie!

In the middle of the pie I tried to make a floral arrangement.  And it’s a little burnt. The moral of the story is that to prevent the top from burning, you should place the dessert in the bottom third of the oven when baking.  I put this tart on the top shelf and this is what happened – a lesson well learned.