Creme Brulee & Quintuple Chocolate Brownies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

I don't have a lot to say this week, I do not like eggy desserts so only had a half a teaspoon taste of the creme brulee, but my kids enjoyed it! Even though I am not a fan of creme brulee I do have a creme brulee set with a mini torch, it was a gift from someone who knows I like foodie stuff but didn't know I wasn't a fan of this particular foodie treat, really one of those gifts that falls into the category of "it's the thought that counts" :) I'm glad I finally got to use my little creme brulee set thanks to the very sweet Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake , who picked this week's TWD recipe.

My little sweetheart with her creme brulee, she wasn't quite sure about it at first, but ended up enjoying it :)

I made the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies as a part of my attempt to complete all of the TWD recipes I missed before I joined last summer and thought I'd post them along with the creme brulee. Dorie suggests salted cashews or peanuts in these brownies and I made the mistake of going with peanuts because I had some on hand. They really ruined these brownies for me, I think I got a bad batch of peanuts because I am a peanut fan and like pretty much anything in a brownie but these just clashed so much with the sophisticated taste that I think the brownies were trying for. I think that the best nut choice for these brownies would have been macadamia nuts, but probably even better to just leave the nuts off so you can really enjoy the deep chocolate flavors.

Chocolate Drop Brownie Cookies

This is a special post for the amazing Prudence Pennywise , Prudy is one of the sweetest bloggers and her recipes always sound amazing. After mentioning these cooking in my TWD Chocolate Chunkers post Prudy asked if I shared this recipe for chocolate cookies made with buttermilk, my favorite chocolate cookies, and of course I do!

I don't even like most chocolate cookies no matter how many yummy mix-ins you add, but these simple chocolate ones make me smile. The original recipe comes from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, which I simply adore. I have a reprint of the 1963 book, complete with all of the fun pictures, drawings, and comments from that era.

Chocolate Drop Cookies is the title in the book but these are so much more, they are soft and a touch cakey, like a brownie, and the frosting is so simple and delicious. These are a family favorite in our home :)

Chocolate Drop Brownie Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 one ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

(if you want to use self rising flour, omit baking soda and salt)

Mix butter, sugar, egg, and chocolate thoroughly. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into wet ingredients.

Heat oven to 350, drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes, or until no imprint remains when touched lightly. After cooling frost with...

Marie's Chocolate Icing

1 tablespoon butter
1 one ounce square unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup powdered sugar

Melt butter and chocolate over hot water. Blend in warm water. Stir in powdered sugar until icing spreads easily.

Our family really enjoys these cookies, I remember the first time I made them I wasn't expecting to even like them, but they really won us over. These are one of my picky husband's most requested cookies :) I hope you like these old fashioned little gems of a cookie if you give them a try!

Lavash Crackers with Pineapple Apricot Chutney -- Daring Bakers

This is my second Daring Bakers challenge and I'm a day late with posting, sorry! This month's challenge was chosen by Natalie at Gluten A Go Go , and Shel, at Musings From the Fishbowl . We were to make Lavash Crackers and make a gluten free and vegan dip or spread to go with them. The crackers came together easily and were fun to make, it was my first time making "crackers" although to me these tasted more like a very thin bread, probably because I did not roll my dough quite thin enough. Oh-well, they were still delicious :) We could chose whatever spices or toppings to top them with before baking and I went with a simple sprinkling of Garam Masala, my new favorite "spice," which is really a spice blend, including coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Although I am a life long vegetarian and have many many vegetarian cookbooks in my cookbook collection, I recently purchased my first 'exclusively vegan' cookbook, Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. I have lots of respect for vegans and think it is wonderful that most are so passionate about animal welfare. I have not had a chance to really look through Vegan Express yet, or try any of the delicious sounding recipes, but I did a quick flip through hoping to find an idea for our cracker topping for this Daring Bakers challenge. What I did find was a recipe for Apricot Chutney and I used that as a jumping off point for the Pineapple Apricot Chutney I made to go with the Garam Masala Lavash Crackers.

Pineapple Apricot Chutney

5.5 ounce package of Mediterranean (dried) Apricots, chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 eight ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, do not drain
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the juice is absorbed and sauce is thickened.

Indian Dinner -- My Kitchen My World

Sorry I'm posting so late in the day! We've had a super busy week and start to the weekend so I haven't had the chance to share as much as I'd like with you guys this week. Our country of the week for My Kitchen My World was India, chosen by Aunt Lolo of the Chow Review -- thank you Aunt Lolo! I love Indian food but my family does not so I rarely make it, but here was my excuse :)
For our Indian dinner I made...
Naan Bread from recipezaar
an adapted version of No Hurry Vegetable Curry, from the book Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker
Garlic Mushroom Pakoras from the book 1000 Vegetarian Recipes From Around The World
Indian Spiced Rice with Peanuts from BH&G's book America's Ethnic Cuisines
I don't have time to write out all the recipes tonight but if anything sounds like you'd like to try it let me know and I will post them! I'm really looking forward to checking out all the MKMW blogs tomorrow and seeing what everyone came up with for India week!

ETA: Here links to the requested recipes from the comments :)

Recipe: No Hurry Vegetable Curry -- I changed this up a lot, used 1 lb quarted cherry tomatoes instead of canned, and skipped the peas and coconut milk, I will try this one again for as as written, but I just used what I had on hand this first time.

Bread Machine Naan Recipe Recipezaar -- I did this pretty much as written, I think it could have used a little more flavor, maybe a touch more salt or some ghee.

Dorie Greenspan's Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup -- Barefoot Bloggers

This week the oh-so-fun cooking club Barefoot Bloggers tackled Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup , chosen by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker I was super excited about this recipe because we got to make our own stock, use interesting mushrooms, and best of all I absolutely LOVE cream of mushroom soup but rarely make it because hubby doesn't like mushrooms. Thank you Chelle, for this 'excuse' to make an amazing soup!

Let me tell you a few things I changed, I used 'baby' portobello mushrooms, I love regular portobellos but find their texture more appropritate in sandwiches, burgers, atop salads, grilled, etc., when I am doing a soup or pasta dish I don't like to use those big ole lovable lugs of the mushroom family because they don't get the spotlight they deserve, and tend to steal the show from other flavors in a soup or pasta dish. I also could not find porcini or crimini mushrooms at the store and went with oyster instead, which looked lovely, in the package was a huge cluster on them and I just couldn't resist. Plus I knew that such a big stem (almost stalk) would add great flavor to the stock.
I used whole milk in place of the half and half, of course I kept the heavy cream, it is cream of mushroom soup :) I usually try to buy all ingredients as written but we never use half and half and figured that the kid's whole milk would be an okay substitution.
I am not a huge leek fan, so made an 'executive' decision at the last minute while cooking and decided to toss my leeks into the stock pot with the onion and carrot and mushroom stems. I figured then I would get the flavor of the leeks, and not the texture, which is what I don't like. I know it sounds silly but I was really hemming and hawing about what to do with the leeks, in the end I chose to add them to the stock because I didn't want to ruin a potentially amazing cream of mushroom soup with leeks, and who knows the next time I would get an excuse to make a favorite of mine like this soup?
What did I think of this soup? I loved it! It was amazing, just as I'd hoped. Soft and velvety smooth and full of depth, creamy but not heavy, perfect in almost every way! This soup was a lot of work, hours, seriously. I know Ina says clearly in the recipe Do Not Wash the mushrooms but I couldn't help myself. I am from the 'school' that you should always wash mushrooms, and I always have, don't worry, you won't lose any of that amazing earthy taste, promise! You might avoid some grainy texture in your finished dish as well, that's a positive :) Yes, it is extra work, and really to each their own, but I would rather spend an extra 15 minutes washing mushrooms than not. I'm kind of on the fence about the parsley addition as well, I know I used Italian and not the flat leaf that is suggested but Italian is what looked the freshest at Meijer so I went with 'freshest is bestest' on that one. Someday soon I hope to have a little herb garden so I can really learn about fresh herbs and their flavors but other than what the internet tells me have no clue on the differences of the parsley varieties. I think if I were to make this same recipe again I would add the parsley to the stock instead of the soup, like I did with the leeks. Really though I was so so happy with this dish and so glad to make it, as a soup and mushroom lover you really can't get much better than this :)
Ina Garten's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms -- I used baby bellas
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms -- I used oyster because I couldn't locate cremini or porcini
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus -- I used dried thyme from the spice rack, couldn't locate fresh
1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half -- I used whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley --
I used Italian parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! --- Sorry Ina, had to wash my mushrooms! --- Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. --- Sorry leeks, had to add you to the stock pot, didn't want you to interfere with my creamy mushroom goodness. --- Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

CinnaVanilla Dimply Plum Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

This week, the wonderful Baking group Tuesdays with Dorie took on Dimply Plum Cake, chosen by Michelle of Bake-en -- the recipe for this lovely cake should be available on her site. ETA: I just noticed the recipe is not up on Michelle's site so you can find it here Baking with Dorie: Dimply Plum Cake Serious Eats : Recipes .
Let me start out by saying this is probably my new favorite recipes from Dorie's book, Baking From My My Home To Yours. My first ever Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Apple Cheddar Scones, I absolutely loved it, and that has been my favorite until Dimply Plum Cake arrived and stole that oh so special 'favorite' spot.

A mini melon baller was the perfect tool to pit the plums.

Going in to this recipe I didn't know what to expect, I certainly wasn't expecting to enjoy this cake as much as I did. I actually made this twice in the past couple of weeks! This is the first TWD recipe I've ever made twice. The first time around I picked up plums at the grocery store and thought I had everything else, but when I checked my spice rack I noticed I didn't have any cardamom. I honestly had no idea what cardamom really tasted like, but was for sure that I had purchased it for some recipe some time ago and there was a 90% full jar on my spice rack, but I couldn't find one. I really wanted to try the plum cake, and the kids were excited about it too since they love plums, so I went ahead and made it with 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of vanilla. Those are two of my favorite flavors and almost never dissapoint when added to baked goods. Considering Dorie says the cardamom is optional I figured I'd be fine without. The first time around I also left out the orange zest. I baked it a little longer than the 40 minutes called for because it was clearly not done. I had no idea how long extra, not too long, a few minutes, maybe 5? I wasn't really paying attention just kind of babysitting the cake so it didn't get overdone.

That first cake was wonderful, I loved to spicy cinnamon which really stood out and went so well with the extra vanilla and brown sugar. It was a touch dry for me, especially around the edges, and as much as I dislike dry cake this plum cake had won me over with the halves of plums nestled on top. The kids loved it as well, and it was gone in no time.

During our next grocery adventure, and yes, taking three little ones grocery shopping is quite an adventure, we passed the plums and the kids begged for more plums and more plum cake! How could I say no? Now I know it's not health food, but having my little sweeties beg for plum cake made me smile. We picked up some more plums and as I made my way down the spice aisle I thought, hey, I'll pick up some cardamom and try it exactly as written. I was a little sticker shocked to see that a little jar of cardamom was almost $12.00 but figured, why not? Now at least I will know that I have a 90% full jar of cardamom sitting in my spice rack should I see it in a future recipe :)

The cake the second time around was just as charming, I used the cardamom and orange zest and the amount of vanilla called for, following the recipe to almost a perfect T -- except for the fact that I could only fit on 3 rows of 3 plums, just like the first time around. I didn't babysit the cake in the oven and just pulled it out at 40 minutes, it seemed slightly underdone after I cut it, even though it 'tested' done...of course no one seemed to mind. Really though, the funny thing is that I could not taste a difference in the cake with the cardamom and orange zest. It tasted almost exaclty as it did the first time around with cinnamon and extra vanilla. Go figure. So if you maybe went looking for cardamom and opted not to spend $12.00 on a spice you will rarely use, you are not missing out.

Tried to get a touch fancy with the caramel drizzle on the second cake, but it really wasn't needed. I think this was more like a cake you want to serve with tea, not as a 'dessert' dessert.

One of the best parts of this whole plum cake was that it is such a perfect treat for this time of the year, using the last of the summer stone fruits, adding some warmth from the spice, just getting ready to settle down for fall. I can see the plum cake being a family tradition with the kids this time of the year, they really had so much fun with it! More than Whopper Drops, or the Chocolate Chunkers, which I loaded with candy coated peanut butter goodies, my sweeties prefer Dimply Plum Cake, those little ones are always full of surprises! And who could resist a cake with such a cute name?

Roasted Garlic Express -- Maker Monday

I know I haven't done a "Maker Monday" post in a while but that doesn't mean I've run out of fun gadgets to share :) This is a Todco Roasted Garlic Express, it is a true unitasker, performing only one service -- roasting garlic, and it does a wonderful job at it! These little makers are inexpensive and super easy to use. Here is a quick run through on how to use them...

First, open this adorable garlic shaped contraption and take out the thin metal garlic 'pan,' underneath you will find this terra cota insert, run it under water and place it back inside, it doesn't need to be filled or anything, just wet.

Slice off about 1/4 inch off the top of the bulb, this should leave all of the cloves exposed, you might have to cut off another thin layer just to make sure you can see the cloves.

Add in 1 tbsp olive oil per bulb, you can usually fit three bulbs in but I had pretty big ones and could only fit two. Season your olive oil with a little salt or whatever herb you would like. I used a touch of Lawry's Seasoned Salt and some freshly ground sea salt.

Close your Roasted Garlic Express, and press the little garlic button. That's it! Don't open to peak, your garlic needs to roast for 27 minutes and after that the roaster will turn off automatically and the light will go out.

Let your garlic cool for a few minutes, then snap on the little handle and remove the roasting pan. The instructions give you instructions for 'stubborn garlic' (see the cute little pic of the naughty garlic above?) where you can roast for another half cycle if your garlic is not fully roasted, but I've never had to do this.

Turn over your garlic bulbs and you will find perfectly roasted garlic! Ready to be squeezed out of the cloves and spread on to bread or put into sauce or whatever else you would like to do with your roasted garlic.

A grapefruit spoon makes removing the cloves intact super easy. Then you can mash them up and keep them in the fridge for whevever you need some roasted garlic.

I will not say I am a garlic lover because I still am not a fan of raw garlic or big pieces of garlic in foods but I am a garlic liker. It's the usual texture that gets me. With roasted garlic the texture changes to an almost butter consistency. No more raw garlic bite! Really easy to stir into sauces and soups, and even great spread on a cracker or some crostini. If you've always loved garlic flavor like I have, but not the bite, then you should really get a Roasted Garlic Express. Of course you can roast your garlic in your oven the traditional way, but it takes about twice as long and you waste so much electricity. Garlic is so healthy and I love using it more thanks to this little invention. Now when a recipe calls for minced or crushed garlic, instead of subbing with garlic powder, I use some of my roaster garlic stash from the fridge instead and the flavor it adds is amazing.

Creamy Pasta Primavera

This has to be one of my favorite dishes ever! It's so simple, easy to personalize with whatever veggies or pasta you have on hand, and is full of flavor. I don't have a real recipe, this is just something I've been making for a long time and is super easy to put together.

Simmer your veggies in vegetable broth/stock until they are cooked to your liking, I prefer mine barely 'done' -- I'd rather have my veggies have a little crunch than to be soggy but you do want them fully cooked in this dish. How much broth to add? I'd say just enough to cover the veggies, but you may want to add more as you simmer. While the veggies are simmering I like to add a little seasoned salt but you could add any spices really, Italian seasoning blend works nicely or you could add some cajun seasoning to make this a creamy spicy side, yum!

Then make a slurry with about 2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 4 tbsp water, pour it into the veggies and broth, then add some cream. You can use whatever cream you have on hand, even milk would work, but only add a little, about 1/4 cup or so. I usually have some extra cream on hand from a recipe and use that. Heat and stir until it is thickened a bit, if it starts to thicken too much just add some more broth. Serve over your favorite pasta. (Cook the pasta while in a seperate pot while the veggies simmer, start the pasta after you start the veggies, and they will be done at about the samet time.) This works well with just about any veggie, you can do sliced peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, just about anything -- of course adjust the cooking time to your veggie of choice. It's a pretty fail proof "recipe."

Make sure you add the fastest cooking veggies last (like zucchini or summer squash) so they don't get mushy! Carrots usually take the longest to cook but add a really nice flavor to this dish :)

This is such a delicious meal, and it's relatively healthy if you watch your salt in the broth and seasoning, you only need a little bit of cream to make this creamy, not like most roux based cream sauces that are almost all cream, and you even could serve this over whole wheat pasta! Enjoy!

Lithuanian Dinner

This was my week to choose a country for My Kitchen My World, how wonderful is that? Lithuania was my country of choice, I am a first generation American who is also Polish and German, along with Lithuanian, and can't wait until someone picks those countries for My Kitchen My World, it was a tough choice but I think that German and Polish cuisines are better known and more popular and wanted to give a little 'shout out' to Lithuania :)

The food that makes me think of Lithuania is without a doubt the mushroom. I remember loving mushrooms as a child, and hearing about how popular mushroom 'hunting' was in my family, and one of my first words being 'grybas' -- Lithuanian for mushroom. The main part of my Lithuanian dinner was cepilinai / cepelinai also called 'zeppelins' because their shape resembles an airship. What are cepilinai? A boiled potato dumpling, made with mashed potato and usually also grated raw potato, and filled with either a meat, mushroom, or 'cottage cheese' filling. They are traditionally topped with a butter sour cream sauce, and sometimes sauteed mushrooms, or if you eat meat some bacon and bacon drippings. These special dumplings are often called the national dish of Lithuania. I do not have a family 'zeppelin' recipe so I just do what I usually do, read a bunch of recipes online, and just use my judgement and available ingredients and hope it's delicious when I'm done.

It is hard to find the seasoning information for the dumpling part online, and mine was a little bland. I had read that sometimes the texture turns gelatinous and mine didn't but I could see where they would seem like that if I undercooked them. I'm definitely planning to try making these again, next time I will be sure to salt and season the potato mixture, and maybe dice my mushrooms for the filling. I have some learning to do before I find a cepelinai recipe I can write down and pass on to my children, but I am up for the challenge!

As a side dish I made a quick slaw salad that was featured in Lithuanian Heritage Magazine. It was so simple I just couldn't not make it, three carrots, two apples, shredded, with some sour cream and sugar stirred in. It was pretty good! Along with mushrooms and potatoes, sour cream is very popular in Lithuanian cuisine.

I can't wait to see what other My Kitchen My World members came up with for this Lithuanian challenge, and yes, it was a challenge! Many Lithuanian dishes closely resemble Jewish, Polish, Russian, and German dishes, so it's very tough to really find out where specific dishes originated from because many almost identical recipes have different names when made my those people who are doing their best to share and preserve a little of their home country for the future generations scattered around the globe.