Kitchen Therapy


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Palets de Dames – a lesson in self care

 

 

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There’s a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “Do not hurry; do not rest”.
For the past year, as I talked about here, I have been a whirlwind of hurry.
But I nailed the ‘do not rest’ bit.

As I talked to clients about practicing self care and mindfulness, I heard my inner voice screaming “hypocrite!”

I managed to ignore this voice…
However after a while I had Doc Holliday’s words from the movie Tombstone going around and around in my head, “It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.” (Damn conscience!)

So I sat down and decided to practice what I preached.
Despite knowing how important and valuable self care is, I have always been really really bad it.
So, very slowly, I introduced ‘doing’ mindfully to my life.
Rather than saying ‘yes’ to everything and running from place to place, I have been choosing what matters to me.

Surprisingly, one of the first things to go in order to reduce the ‘hurry’ in my life were social events (and people) that drained me.
I’ll be honest I struggled with this for a while.
Grabbing coffee, doing lunch, dinner dates and weekends away are the norm where I live.
Was there something wrong with me that I would prefer time alone???
I wrestled with these thoughts as I picked up one of the books I’ve been wanting to read ‘one day’.
Oh! What bliss! I was reading, not for research or for work purposes, but for the pure pleasure and joy of reading.
I realised there really was nothing wrong with me!

I did hit a hurdle when it came to making these cookies though.
I received Dorie’s new book ‘Baking Chez Moi‘ in the mail and spent hours looking through it, excited at the prospect of cooking through the book with the Tuesdays with Dorie group.

And then the recipes and dates were posted and I was so ready!
I had butterflies in my stomach!

And then as the posting date approached I told myself I had plenty of time and returned to my beloved books.
The posting date came and went and I was in major procrastination mode!

I contemplated just putting this recipe aside and starting with the Cranberry Crackle Tart, but luckily that conscience of mine kicked my butt again and many days later I found myself making the dough late at night and baking these early the next morning.

We ate half of them before they were cool enough to ice!
I made 24 cookies and ended up with 10 to ice.
The were eaten the same day they were baked. All of them. Gone!

I heard “I love these” and “these are great” being muttered as my husband and kids returned to the kitchen again and again.
I almost had myself convinced to skip these and I am soooo  glad I didn’t.
It was good to remind myself that I enjoy baking as much as I love reading.
Baking is now firmly on my self care list of activities!

These cooking are simple yet incredibly satisfying.

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The recipe can be found here and they are topped with sanding sugar which I forgot as I was busy stuffing them in my mouth!
But above is a photo of the sugar crystals I had to decorate the top of these cookies with…

I am very excited to be part of Tuesdays with Dorie and can’t wait to see what everyone else thought of these.

 

 

 


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Baked Yogurt Tart

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I was curious to try this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia baked yogurt tart.
It’s school holidays here in Sydney, so I was afraid this recipe might be filed away in the ‘too hard’ basket. (Which by the way just gets emptied, not revisited!)

The dough was made the night before.
After a day of skate parks, outings to Manly, Yogurtland and trying to get a GoPro set up so the kids could take more pics of themselves skating(!) for instagram.
 The last thing I wanted to do after dinner was make another mess!

Every time I opened the fridge, there was my dough.
Just sitting there…
Wrapped in plastic…
Waiting to be used. 
I threw out the dough I made to be used for a tart that the French Fridays with Dorie group was making not long ago and I decided I wasn’t  going to do it again!

It was getting late, but hey, it’s school holidays!
I could see my the face of my 6 year old son light up with excitement when he realised we were going to cook!
And to his credit, he did most of the work.
He chose strawberries  for the tart and worked out the pattern.

By the time it was cooked and ready to eat he was showered and in bed.
So my daughter and I had fun eating the tart well after 10pm that night! 

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The photos are pretty bad however the effort was made and the sense of satisfaction was well worth it!
We laughed a lot and I assured my daughter she wasn’t going to be in any of the photos…  (I lied :) )
I thought the filling would be creamier, softer. I was surprised at the density of it.
Nevertheless it tasted good and went well with a dollop of cream.

I am looking forward to see what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought!

The recipe can found by clicking here.


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!


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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

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. 

 


17 Comments

French Apple Tart

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According to family and friends, there are foods that define me.
Pineapples, coconuts and meringues make them think of me.
(Hey, I could be associated with much worse!)
And when it comes to baked goods they know I’m a total sucker for pastries with apples and cinnamon.
So it’s no surprise that this French Apple Tart was an absolute pleasure to bake and eat.

Soft, mashed apples with a hint of cinnamon, topped with a layer of tender, baked, apple slices.

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It’s amazing what you can make with a few simple ingredients…
Sugar.
Flour.
Butter.
Bread crumbs.
Lots and lots of apples.
And a little bit of lemon juice…

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This recipe is from the book, Baking with Julia and it’s this week’s scheduled recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. If you’d like to see the recipe and give it a try, Gaye will be posting it on her website, Laws of the Kitchen.

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\I decided to use another recipe for the pastry crust however.
I tried the ‘flaky pie dough’ from this book when the group made the Blueberry-Nectarine Pie.
And I didn’t like it.
I’ve tried Dorie Greenspan’s ‘tart dough’ recipe from her book Around My French Table , as part of the French Fridays with Dorie group, and I’ve loved it each and every time.
But I wanted to try something different this time.
I mean what’s the point of buying so freaking many cookbooks if you’re not going to open them up and give them a test run? Right?
So I decided on a recipe from John Barricelli’s The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook and my husband declared it the best pastry he’s EVER had.
He even asked if he could scrape off the apples and just eat the crust!
I have to admit, it was pretty good!
It went amazing well with the tart filling.

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Pate Brisee
(From The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook)

# recipe makes enough for 1 double-crust pie or 2 single-crust 9 inch tarts, since I only needed enough dough for a single 9 inch tart I halved the recipe below#

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.
With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, a little bit at a time until the dough just comes together. The dough should not be wet or sticky. If the dough is too dry and does not hold together, add a little more water.

2.Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide into two and wrap each half in plastic wrap, shaping them into flattened discs. Chill at least 1 hour before using.

(The book’s author, John Barricelli, gives the following tip:
“When making dough, not only should the ingredients be cold (including dry ingredients) but so should your equipment, including the bowl and blade of your food processor or bowl and attachment of your standing mixer.
I’ve read this tip a few times in different books and decided to follow it. Maybe this is what made it the best pastry my husband has ever had???)


13 Comments

Pizza with Onion Confit

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was the perfect recipe to kick-start 2013
(after a month of posting nothing!)

I had good intentions…

But we all know where they lead you when there’s no actions to back them up!

December was chaotic.

In addition to the usual holiday madness, I had my older son finishing his last year of primary school.
After 7 years together (in Australia, kids start primary school when they are about 5 and complete a year of kindergarten followed by Years 1-6) my 12-yr-old son has now finished Year 6 and is off to high school where he will do Years 7-12!
School ended December 19th, however those last few weeks were in full party mode.
Surfing lessons, golf, tennis, camps, craft days, graduation ceremonies, concerts, dances and dinners were all arranged by the school.

My son and husband at his Year 6 graduation dinner/dance…

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Then there were all the after school activities that the kids took to arranging for themselves on Skype and Instagram!

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While the primary school was focused on sending their Year 6 kids off with a bunch of great memories, their respective high schools had their own orientation days and activities designed to welcome their new Year 7’s for 2013!

 And all this was just with one child!

My younger son is starting primary school in 2013 so he had a series of orientation days of his own to attend and my daughter is undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh program which meant the last couple of weeks of school were spent getting organised for a kayaking/camping trip.

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So…

Visions of myself baking Buche de Noels, Gingerbread houses, Christmas themed cookies, cakes and cupcakes went out of the window.
This year, it felt like Christmas was eclipsed by… life.
I didn’t even try to fight it.
I just went with it.

The kids return to school January 30th and we usually go away for a couple of weeks at some point over this 6-week break, however this year we decided to stay in Sydney.

And days like the one in the pics below, reminded me of what an awesome place we live in!

My son went to his friend’s 5th birthday, kayaking around Manly harbour…IMG_4502

The kids headed out with their parents…

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Then returned to cool down with a swim and a picnic lunch.

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Today was a crazy 43 degrees celsius in Sydney.
But yesterday was the perfect pizza making day!
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And so we kick start 2013 baking with Dorie and Julia!

We all love olives and goat’s cheese in our family, so this recipe was enjoyed by everyone.
I have been wanting to make this for a while and I love the mix of the sweet onions with the salty olives and cheese. I thought it was perfect!

This Tuesdays with Dorie recipe can be found in the book ‘Baking with Julia’ or by heading over to Paul’s blog ‘The Boy Can Bake’  .
After a month away, I am looking forward to catching up on what everyone has been up to!

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