Kitchen Therapy


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Lemon Slice – Australia Day 2016, Dee Why Beach

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Lemon Slice on Australia Day? Why not!!!
It’s straight out of the fridge and icy cold, the perfect bite for out hot Aussie weather.
This fortnight’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was a great addition to our Australia Day Celebrations.

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January 26th is Australia Day and as usual we head out to Dee Why Beach on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
We have bacon and egg or sausage and egg sandwiches.
There are pancakes with maple syrup and butter or lemon and sugar.
And this year we had Dorie’s Lemon Squares!

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The festivities include a car and bike show, thong (flip flop) throwing competitions, rides, performers and music.
Tattoos are a must, as are hats, flags and anything else that bears the Aussie flag wrapped around your body, your car or even around your house. I usually end up with an Australia flag tattoo on my cheek at some point in the day.
It’s tradition :)
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And of course there’s always a few kangaroos hopping about…

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The celebrations start early on Australia Day so we head home around lunch time, when the heat is at it’s peak. We have a rest and put lamb (another Australia Day tradition) in the oven for hours of slow roasting then head back to the beach for a swim while it cooks.
We return home tired and famished. The smell that greets us is soothing and we can’t wait to eat!
This year we will be finishing off a great day and great meal with Lemon Squares topped with dollops of whipped cream.

You can find the recipe (with raspberries added) here.
* We have nut allergies in the house so I left out the almond meal and used normal flour.
I also left off the almond slices that were to be scattered on top of the squares.

 

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Fluted Carrot Orange Cake

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I have been indulging my sweet tooth over the Christmas break. Pavlova, caramel slice, vanilla slice, panna cotta and a variety of Italian pastries from Nutella filled Ricotta Cakes to my favourite, the Butterfly, a double profiterole filled with vanilla and chocolate pastry cream. It has been a very sweet holiday! So… when I saw this as the recipe of the week I have to admit I didn’t feel too excited. A cake with carrot, ginger and orange? It felt almost… healthy. I wanted more of the lush creaminess I was indulging in for the past few weeks. The only thing that stood in this recipe’s favour was its simplicity. That and the fact that I had missed being a part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group! So I baked…

 

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The smell, colour and texture that came together in making this cake surprised me.
The kids started to migrate towards the kitchen asking what the smell was. Always a good sign!

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The cake was light yet moist.
The flavour was full and satisfying and it was eaten in one day.
I think it was a welcome change to be honest.

It has been an intense year in our household, my daughter graduated from high school and after months and months of studying for the final exams she recently received her results and smashed her tests! She needed a high mark to gain entry into the double degree she had her heart set on and her hard work paid off. She worked so hard, I could not be happier for her or more proud.
So we celebrated her results as well as all the usual Christmas/New Year festivities with lots and lots of cake as I mentioned above.

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My daughter graduating from high school, celebrating with friends and off to her Year 12 formal above.
She liked Dorie’s Fluted Carrot Orange Cake the most and has always been excited to taste the latest Tuesdays with Dorie group recipe.

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Tiger Cakes

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In her book Baking Chez Moi, Dorie Greenspan describes these mini bite sized cakes as “…a traditional French pastry made with egg whites, almond flour and lots of butter. The addition of finely chopped chocolate that melts and stripes the little cakes explains their name.”

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That sums up nicely this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe!
The problem for me however was that two out of my three children have nut allergies.
So after a little bit of research, I substituted almond flour with coconut flour.
I had read that coconut flour absorbs a lot of moisture and can result in a dry and flaky end product.
Google had many suggestions on how to fix this little problem and to be honest the more I read, the more I felt overwhelmed with ratios, quantities of eggs and liquids etc to add moisture.
So I decided to keep it simple and keep the almond flour and coconut ratio the same, I replaced the cup of almond flour the recipe called for, with a cup of coconut flour.
I mixed the flour into the egg whites as the recipe instructed and then I added a cup of milk to the mixture before following the rest of the recipe as it is in the book.
My little cakes didn’t rise with baking and I was worried!
However I pulled them out and they turned out amazing.
The outside was firm and the inside was moist and delicious.
The family loved them and the only complaint I heard was “I can’t stop eating these!”
The boys in the family loved them dipped in chocolate, my daughter and I preferred the naked :)
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Nutella Buttons

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This week is catch up week for the Tuesdays with Dorie group. Which is great for me since I have a lot to catch up on! The Nutella Buttons were an easy choice. We are a Nutella loving family! My daughter turned 18 a few weeks ago and her friends arrived with a 5kg tub of Nutella.

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My husband is the only one who doesn’t like Nutella. He’s also the only one in the family who isn’t into superheroes and comic books. We don’t understand it but we love him nevertheless :)
So when completing this week’s recipe I took Dorie’s suggestion and filled some of these bite sized mini muffins with jam.

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It’s school holidays here so these didn’t last long. They were delicious!
Looking forward to reading the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie posts.


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Apple Kuchen – Baking Chez Moi

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I cooked with the French Fridays with Dorie group, on and off, for many years. I enjoyed being part of the group. However, for the last year or so of the group I was more than off than on. I decided it was time to challenge myself in my career and changed jobs. A huge learning curve kept me distracted and busy and unfortunately, away from many activities that nurtured me. Like the French Fridays with Dorie group. When the Tuesdays with Dorie group announced that it would be cooking from Dorie Greenspan’s new book Baking Chez Moi I felt excited! Here was my chance to start from the beginning and carve out a scheduled fortnightly routine that would provide me with down time. Time to switch off and create something that would bring me fully into the present moment.

I posted the first recipe and the I went on to cook the next 3 or 4 scheduled recipes without posting them. I planned to get around to doing it but life just kept getting in the way :)
I then planned to add all those photos from the beginning on today’s post, however getting back into the routine was a bit overwhelming. My brain is still struggling after a bad run with glandular fever and to be honest, I couldn’t even remember my WordPress login and password! So I decided to keep this post simple. I forgot how liberating ‘simple’ can be.

The Apple Kuchen pictured above was completed over the day. It’s school holidays here and steps were fitted in between running kids around. It took a bit of thought and organising but worked out well. I love baked apples (or anything baked with apples) so I was excited to be returning to the group with this recipe. I enjoyed the flavour of the apple kuchen but for some reason expected there to be more custard filling. My filling was very dense with apples, however saying that, the apples were soft and tender and full of flavour. I am looking forward to cooking with this new group and finding out what they thought about this recipe!


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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.

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