Kitchen Therapy


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Olive, Cheese and Sundried Tomato Bread

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I love going on holidays. I am always planning the next trip.
To me, it doesn’t matter if  it’s a lengthy overseas stay or a weekend away, I get ridiculously excited.
It’s a break from the every day.
An adventure.
And best of all I get to see how other people live!
There’s something intoxicating about that (for me, my husband just thinks I’m weird!).

I love going to shopping centres, discovering new stores and even going into the supermarket to see foods we don’t have back home.
At the Ala Moana Shopping Centre in Honolulu the boys discovered the Lego store, my daughter fell in love with Hot Topic and I found Williams-Sonoma.
I loved that shop!
So shiny and pretty!
Every time I use the things I bought in that store, I am flooded with happy memories of our holiday.

Recently I was looking for cooking schools in Sydney when I read that Williams-Sonoma had not only opened their first store outside the US in Bondi, but also their first ever cooking school was there as well!
A couple of days later my friend and I drove across the Harbour Bridge to Bondi and I was shopping in one of my happy places.
I fell in love with this dish, as soon as I came home I washed it and started making this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.

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Looking at this dish made me HAPPY! (Seriously, ridiculously, insanely happy!)

As the loaf cooked I kept looking in the oven… smiling. So pretty…

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My son came home from an excursion to China Town where he used the money I gave him for lunch to buy a remote control car and helicopter. It was raining outside so I had two 13 year olds and two 5 year olds racing cars and helicopters indoors and it was cool because I had a pretty dish that made me smile!
It was that simple.

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The loaf was… nice.
I added sundried tomatoes.
I preferred eating it cold the next day.
I didn’t think it was anything special to be honest, but I am glad I made it.

I’m looking forward to reading what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought and the ingredients they added to their bread!


17 Comments

Strawberry Tartine

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To be honest, I didn’t think this week’s French Fridays with Dorie dish was going to happen.
I had goat’s cheese at home and this morning I bought a punnet of strawberries and a baguette.
I started the day off with good intentions.
And somewhere around lunch time, I made the decision that it was just all too hard…
(yes I have a sheepish grin as I say that!)
I mean, come on! Of all recipes, I decided that this one was too hard? It’s not even really a recipe!
Nevertheless, the decision was made and I would just wait until next week and get back on track.

Fridays we tend to just hang out on the school oval and the mum’s chat while the kids play.
By the time we walked home, my older two kids were home from high school with varied friends.
My husband had come home from work.
And as I was thinking of dinner, when to start, how many I’d be feeding, etc…
I noticed my husband was going through every cupboard in the kitchen, snacking on random things.
So I got up.
Cut up the bread.
Spread the goat’s cheese.
Topped it with halved strawberries.
And drizzled some balsamic vinegar….

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And I barely had the chance to take a photo before it was gone!
It was ridiculously easy…
I almost felt embarrassed I was going to skip it!
And it would have been an absolute shame because this effortless dish was delicious.

I am looking forward to reading what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group.


13 Comments

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!


16 Comments

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!

 

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