Kitchen Therapy


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Savarin

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The Savarin, a yeasted bread cake saturated in sweet syrup, pear eau-de vie (brandy), filled with whipped cream and topped with your choice of berries.
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia recipe.
Looks simple…
And I think it would have been simple if I didn’t leave it till the very last minute.
Which also happened to be the weekend I was having 5 of my son’s friends sleep over for his birthday.
Six 13-year old boys.
They are loud, they squeal, they argue, they burp, they fart, they tell each other they stink, call each other names, wrestle each other to the ground, jump on each other, laugh at inappropriate jokes and can’t seem to keep their arms and legs to themselves. And did I mention they are loud?
I made the cake before heading out to dinner and a few games of laser skirmish.
I took many, many photos.
My husband took many, many photos.
13 year old boys move.
A LOT.
Nearly all the photos turned our blurry.
Someone, if not everyone, was moving at any given time. Below are the best out of the lot, and as you can see they aren’t that great!
My 6 year old son was happy to get his dad all to himself and play a game of pool while the big boys laser battled (and came out arguing over who was the best shot and argued again as the scores came up on the screen).
Teased, poked and paid out on each other through dinner.
Argued over who was the best at PS3. Who was going to sleep where. And what movie to watch.
(And that last pic is of me hugging my son as he’s trying to squirm away).

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The next morning they woke us all up at the crack of dawn with more laughter and arguments.
The early start however meant I could make the syrup and soak the cake before starting on pancakes for breakfast.

When they all went home, bleary eyed and tired (me and them), I filled the the middle of the cake with whipped cream and topped it off with fresh berries. The recipe calls for the berries to be mixed in raspberry puree however I prefer my berries fresh.
I sat down to a quiet and freshly cleaned house, drizzled the cake with pear eau-de-vie…

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And savoured each and every bite!
(My husband wants me to mention he did most of the cleaning while I finished making the cake :) !).

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I love baba cakes, so I thought this was wonderful.
I preferred it with the pear eau-de-vie.
I’m not a fan of alcohol in cakes so I was surprised when I splashed more and more brandy on top of my cake. I thought it was the taste of pears that kept me going back for more, my husband thought it was just me trying to blot out the past 24 hours! (Truth is I loved every minute of the craziness!)

The recipe of the cake can be found here.

I am looking forward to see what the rest of the Tuesday with Dorie group thought of this cake!


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Pioneer Woman’s Mexican Rice Casserole with Grilled Chicken and Avocado

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This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was deliciously simple.
1. Cut an avocado in half.
2. Take out the pit.
3. Sprinkle some lemon juice and salt.
4. Fill hollow with pistachio oil.

Two out of my three kids are allergic to nuts, one is anaphylactic, so I knew there’d be no pistachio oil for us! So from the start I knew a lemon and salt combo was going to be as exciting as it was going to get in our family. On the up side, I knew it would be eaten.

I deliberated on all of Dorie’s Bonne Idee’s and settled on having the avocado with the Lemon-Grilled Chicken. I was starting to get excited!
The last piece of the puzzle was Ree Drummond’s Mexican Rice Casserole.
I have had a page on my iphone permanently devoted to this dish for a couple of weeks now.
It was time to put it all together!
And it worked out beautifully :)

I have been searching for easy to prepare dishes that can fit into our hectic lifestyle.
And for some reason, I decided rice casseroles were the way forward (I don’t know why…)
I love Mexican food, but it’s not that common here in Australia.
Or at least not as common as Thai, Indian and Italian.
So when I saw the Mexican Rice Casserole… well…  it ticked all the boxes!
And the Pioneer Woman’s recipe had so many rave reviews I had to try it.
I made half the recipe and it was more than enough for a family of 5.
It was simple, tasty and the kids loved it!
The recipe is here if anyone is interested.

Now back to Dorie!
The Lemon-Grilled Chicken was super tasty and super easy,
The Avocado was perfect with some lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and salt.
The coriander (cilantro) leaves lifted the flavours just that bit extra.
I will be making this combination again, might even add the chicken to the rice casserole next time and top it off with the avocado slices.
The husband loved it, the kids loved!
Winner :)

I am looking forward to hearing what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie Group thought of the recipe and especially of the avocado / pistachio combo!


11 Comments

Asparagus Soup

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I have always wanted to be persistent and consistent.
I hear they are qualities that lead to great and wonderful things…
What can I say?
I had good intentions…
Unfortunately my paved road lead me straight to the Game of Thrones.

Week after week I would check the French Fridays with Dorie recipe schedule and set my intention to participate.
Some weeks I simply noted the chosen recipe before returning to my books.
Other weeks I went as far as buying the ingredients for the week’s recipe.
There were a few weeks I made the recipe and then plain forgot to photograph it.
And before I knew it, the weeks turned into months.

Here I am, two months after my last post, thinking about how much fun I had making this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe and wondering why I had put off participating for so long?!

Yes. I had to turn my back on a bunch of 13 year old boys running in out of the rain as they waged a full scale Nerf gun battle in my house, shooting anything that moved. But the grass, mud and odd bullet to the head was worth it!

I am confident I would never have made Asparagus Soup if I wasn’t part of this group.
I might have told myself “one day”… but I know I wouldn’t have.

I would have missed out on cooking and sharing a delicious meal with my family.
And also the sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes along with each recipe completed.

It’s coming into winter here in Australia, so we ate the soup warm with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Yes. The kids pulled faces when they sat down to dinner and one confidently declared they were sure they weren’t going to like it!
However they all tried it and they all changed their minds after tasting it!

I am looking forward to catching up with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group on this recipe!


18 Comments

Ispahan Loaf Cake

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I was excited and looking forward to making this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.
Ispahan cake.
I love turkish delight.

I love raspberries.
And… I love lychees (I have eaten kilos of them this summer).
Yes, I know there are no lychees in this cake however the three ingredients were now linked in my mind and this cake was going to be awesome!

And it was!

 

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The cake is made mostly of almond flour so the texture is moist and delicate.
The recipe calls for rose syrup and rose extract. My chances of finding either were slim, so I used a good quality rose water and the flavour came through beautifully.
To be honest, I liked the taste and texture of the cake so much, I wouldn’t have minded the loaf plain, without the raspberries.
It was that good!

I am looking forward to catching up with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group and see what they thought of this week’s recipe.

 


21 Comments

Mocha Choc-Chip Cookies

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It has been a long, long, while since I last posted.
I have missed everything that goes along with producing a new post.
The planning, the cooking, the photos and then putting it all together in some sort of presentable way!

At some point, I think I decided that since it had been so long since I had done anything, I needed to do something really great to make up for it. That didn’t work out so well for me… so I did more of nothing!

I became the poster child for procrastination.

Then Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia scheduled Mocha Choc Chip Cookies for this week’s recipe.

Simple.

And I realised that simple was exactly what I needed.

I put so much pressure on myself to come up with something amazing, I totally lost sight of the simple pleasures that make life special.

So on the weekend I took out my baking pans and started.
It had been so long, I actually felt a little anxious! Crazy, I know!

However, as I started mixing the dough I began to enjoy myself.

I decided to try a few different variations…

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…and as soon as I pulled out one batch of cookies, my daughter and her friends ate them hot out of the oven on their way to make a video for their homework.

The next batch my husband ate most of, on his own!

The final batch I had to rescue from my boys and their friends who were running in and out of the house.

So…

Choc Chip Cookies came to my rescue!

I can’t recommend these enough. For a sweet break (and for mental health)!

Please click over to Peggy at Galettista who has the full recipe on her site!

 


15 Comments

FFWD: Playing Catch Ups…

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This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was ‘Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin’.
I found this dish… I don’t know… plain?
The meat itself was delicious.
Moist and tender.
However I think this was due to the beautiful cut of meat I used.

My older son started high school and they were off to camp in the second week. The day he returned from camp, was my little boy’s first day at school!
I made the pork that night to celebrate and I served it with Dorie’s Potato Gratin which they love!
We scraped the oranges off the pork and enjoyed it alongside the gratin.

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With all the start of new year craziness, I made last week’s recipe, the brown sugar squash and brussels sprouts en papilotte, however I did not get around to posting it!
(That happens more than I like to admit!)

Again, I have to say the recipe, was nice, but nothing special.

 

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I’m glad I tried both of the recipes above.
I’ve noticed if I tell my guys at home it’s a FFwD recipe, they just nod their heads and give it a go, no complaints, even if they don’t like it!
I love how being part of this group has become a family affair!

I’m looking forward to catching up and reading what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of both recipes!


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Focaccia with Caramelised Onions, Spinach and Goat’s Feta Cheese


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Bread, in all its forms, excites me.
My husband had no appreciation for bread when we met.
His exposure to bread was limited to white sliced sandwich bread.
(How that happened still boggles my mind!)
Initially he humoured me as I dragged him around bakeries.
I’d buy loaves of crusty bread and break off chunks to snack on as we walked.
He thought I was weird.
(He told me this much later btw!)
It shocked me.
I thought everyone did that!

Over time he accepted the little chunks I offered.
Slowly, he developed a taste and appreciation for bread.
Today I can proudly report he even has a favourite crusty bread, sourdough.

Our children are all bread lovers.
Our local bakery is very much a part of their lives.
On weekdays, we walk up to the bakery for coffee, bread and cheese & bacon rolls.
On weekends, the kids in the neighbourhood make their way there for lunch after running around all morning.
They pull up some crates at the front of the shop and plan the rest of the day over some meat pies and sausage rolls.

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So this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia recipe had me excited!
And, if I’m to be honest, a little apprehensive.
Eating bread is one thing.
Making it is another!
My expectations were low, so to see the golden, crispy focaccia come together was incredibly satisfying!

I halved the recipe and then divided the dough I had, into two equal balls.
The first one I topped with olive oil, salt and a sprinkling of thyme and rosemary.

With the second one I got more adventurous…

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I found a recipe for Cheesy Focaccia with Caramelised Onions and Sauteed Spinach in my copy of Baked: Elements.

I decided to try a somewhat modified version of their topping…

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This was absolutely delicious!
The plain focaccia was crisp and crusty.
Best eaten fresh out of the oven.
The second one however was softer, the topping gave it a moistness that made it delicious warm and cold.

The recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie dish can be found at our host’s site,  Wandering Through…
The recipe for the topping follows..

Caramelised Onions with Sauteed Spinach and Goat’s Feta
(adapted from Baked: Elements)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
salt
goat’s feta, enough to crumble on top 

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium-low heat, add the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Set the onion aside when finished.
2. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until spinach is soft. Set aside to cool and squeeze the spinach dry when cool enough to handle.
3. When the focaccia is almost cooked (about 15 minutes), pull out of oven and brush with remaining olive oil. 
4. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and salt.
5. Top with onion, spinach and crumble goat’s feta cheese. 
6. Place focaccia back in oven and continue baking until the cheese starts to brown. 

 

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