Kitchen Therapy


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Artichoke Dip with Rosemary Oil

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Friday was the last day of school. Two weeks of school holidays have just begun!
I made this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays as kids and mums were coming and going from our house (the pleasures of living across the road from the school!)
The plan was to have it with grilled salmon for dinner.
I love artichoke dip… but apparently, so does everyone else!
That’s my son climbing the kitchen bench to get to it!

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After everyone started to dwindle away, I realised there wasn’t much dip left.
I wasn’t even sure we had enough for dinner as it disappeared quickly with the crackers and breadsticks I put out with it.
What surprised me the most was that the kids liked it as much as the grown ups.

artichoke2I really had no preconceived notion as to how things were going to work out for dinner.
I figured I’d put out the grilled bread, the dip and the gorgeous grilled salmon and let everyone work it out for themselves.
And it worked beautifully…

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This dip not only proved to be delicious with simple crackers, but also combined perfectly with the salmon, making a very satisfying dinner.
* We all stank on garlic the next day – but no one cared.
**The rosemary oil was wonderful – except for the bit where I decided to leave it blending by itself in my small hand blender and it vibrated off the bench and splattered vibrant green rosemary oil over… pretty much everything. It was just another one of those things that makes life interesting.
***I was sick for about 2 weeks so being able to make this (a week late) with all the chaos and mess that went along was a beautiful thing 🙂
****I can’t wait to read what the rest of the Cook the Book Fridays group thought of this dish!

 


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Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake


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So much is happening around the world these days I am really keeping the focus on simple home pleasures.
The last few recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi have fitted this brief perfectly!
I have made the last few recipes many times and they have been very rewarding for little effort.
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe continues this run of quick, easy and delicious food.
I knew this cake would be a hit at home, so I baked it without the poached oranges a week ago and it was gone within a few hours.
(It brings me so much satisfaction to see what I’ve baked eaten and enjoyed!)
We loved the cake soaked with orange syrup.
I made it again topped with the oranges poached in water, sugar, cinnamon and ginger and again it was eaten by the end of the day.
I honestly don’t know which way I preferred it, I loved both versions equally.
I thought the oranges would make it more sweet however they added a freshness and lightness to the cake that surprised me.
It was a win win for us with this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe!

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*I am typing this while helping one son work on a paper on Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and listening to my daughter’s chatter about her classes on first week at university. I hope I have made some sense in this post!!!


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Belgian Beef Stew with Beer and Honey Spice Bread

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Sydney has had a record spell of hot days and warm nights, 39 to be exact.
Thirty nine hot and humid days and nights.
It is time to say good bye to summer. Seriously!
The weather has cooled (a little) the last couple of days, I knew it was coming and waited impatiently for the change so I could make this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe from David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.
I was excited to make the bread, I really enjoy baking and find it satisfying (I just wish I took a photo of the finished product!)
The following day I was ready to make the stew and it came together nicely.
I have to be honest, I was hesitant adding fragrant honey spiced bread, covered in dijon mustard, to a beef and beer stew.
I decided to follow the recipe despite my doubts.
I am glad I did, it is not something I would have tried if I was not part of this group.
My husband and kids said it was ok and they were happy to eat it.
There were no complaints at all.
I don’t think I will make either the bread or the stew again, the flavours just didn’t do it for me.
It wasn’t unpleasant and I am glad I tried both.
And now I am ready to try more of David’s recipes 🙂

I am looking forward to reading what the rest of the group thought about this recipe!

 

 


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Matcha Financiers

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In my last post I made fun of my 8yr old son not wanting to eat Dukkah Roasted Cauliflower, the recipe of the week for the Cook the Book Fridays group. It was funny when it was him doing it. Not so funny when I caught myself thinking “I can’t! I just can’t eat green cake” while grimacing. Then to make things worse, I think I beat him in the immaturity game when I caught myself, many, many times throughout the week, thinking “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am” while thinking of these Matcha Financiers.

I tried to like these, I know Matcha is pretty popular and on point (or at least I think it is, I see it everywhere on Instagram etc.) I wish at times that I actually cared about what is popular. My 15 yr old is awesome at this. If it’s on trend he will wear, drink, eat, whatever is the latest. I worry about the tattoos that will be “in” when he turns 18!

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I really did not like the look or taste of these. I tried really hard to like them. I made them with coconut flour and also with hazelnut and almond flour. I put raspberries in some, chocolate in others and even combinations of both. I made tiger cakes out of them (as pictured) and used dark, milk and white chocolate in case it made a difference. My daughter had to stage an intervention and tell me to “let it go, it’s okay if you don’t like them mum!”

I am curious to see what others in the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought about these Matcha Financiers.
I have enjoyed all the recipes from Dorie’s book until now and I am looking forward to making Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake next post!

 

 

 

 


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Dukkah Roasted Carrots and Cauliflower

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Who would have thought cauliflower could taste so morish?!
When I first explained to my 3 children (and husband) what we were having for dinner they screwed up their faces.
Thank goodness for the Cook the Book Fridays group!
Once I explained the Dukkah Roasted Cauliflower was the recipe of the week they were still skeptical however they take their food taste tester jobs seriously, so they approached the dinner table with an open mind… kind of.
I threw in some carrots to the recipe for colour and served this along side grilled scotch fillet steaks.
I’m not big on red meat so I was worried about the meal being bland however the Dukkah had more than enough flavour to carry it.
It was a satisfying and healthy meal that packed some punch!
(I didn’t even need the usual sauce I slather my red meat in so I can eat it).

My 8 year old was the hardest to sell on the carrots and cauliflower, picking up the first floret with so much hesitation and suspicion I was prepared for his usual reaction. Wrapping his hands around his throat, then his stomach while his declaring he just can’t eat it ok? He just can’t!  I was watching him out of the side of my eye, not risking drawing his attention. If he sees me watching, he thinks he has an audience and the theatrics begin before the food goes anywhere near his mouth! Seeing me busy and not paying attention (on the outside) and watching the older two start eating I saw him put a cauliflower in his mouth. Pause. Chew a little. Then as he chewed a little more, his screwed up little face started to relax. He picked up another bit of cauliflower and then a carrot and in the end he asked for more vegetables and left most of the meat on his plate. We have a winner! Yes!

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The dukkah I made had to be nut free as my 8yr old is anaphylactic to some nuts. He eats Nutella without problems and it’s made with hazelnuts however I didn’t want to take a risk so I substituted the hazelnuts in this recipe with sunflower seeds.
I’ve always avoided dukkah because of the nuts, it was great to make my own and know exactly what went into it. I think the nuts would have smelled and tasted amazing, especially coming out of the oven! I don’t think mine smelled as amazing as David Lebovitz described in his book, My Paris Kitchen, but it wasn’t far behind!

I am looking forward to reading what the rest of the Cook the Book Fridays group thought!

 


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Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta

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This is the perfect summer dessert when you’re over summer and looking forward to cooler weather and the foods that go along with cooler temps, like hot chocolate!
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie’s recipe tasted heavenly to me. It was cold, silky smooth and refreshing. At the same time there was no mistaking the flavours of a good hot chocolate.
It’s still summer in Australia and we have had temps that have sat around 30 degrees celsius (that’s mid to high 80’s in fahrenheit) or above, pretty much every day this month. It’s starting to wear thin! I’m ready for some diversity, a little bit of cool weather, maybe throw in some rain! Dorie’s recipe felt like it fit perfectly with where I am at. Hinting of cooler weather pleasures but satisfying the need for food that is still  cold and refreshing.
What we have been taking advantage of this summer are the long days. Going for walks at 7 and 8pm at night along Manly beach. The tourists have gone home for the day and the ocean breeze is a welcome relief. And it’s a great way to walk off all the desserts I’ve been enjoying from Baking Chez Moi!

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I am looking forward to reading what everyone else in the group thought of this dessert.
We decorated our hot chocolate panna cotta with cream and raspberries to make it look pretty for our dinner guests.
So the following day I made it again and I have to say, it doesn’t look as pretty, but I preferred it like this. The hot chocolate flavour was clear and the texture reminded me of the puddings my mum used to make for me when I was a little girl back in Yugoslavia.

 

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Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries

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As the kids say, I’m so devo!
(pronounced – deh-vo; translation – devastated; notation – they would be cringing if they knew I was using their words… LOL!)

I’m not devastated by the recipe (however I do think my photo has a lot of to answer for!)
I ordered David Lebovitz’ book My Paris Kitchen from Amazon, excited to participate in this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe and it didn’t arrive! I eagerly looked out for the delivery driver’s van every day (starting the day after I ordered the book even though I knew it was impossible for it to be shipped from the US to Australia in 1 day… right?) and nothing! 10 days of waiting and no book in sight.
So I searched until I found the recipe online 🙂
(*The book arrived today!!! The day after I made the recipe but it doesn’t matter, it’s here!!!)

I’m going to veer on a tangent for a second that will be relevant… eventually.
At school pick up, on the day I made this recipe, I chatted with my son’s teacher and discovered that she had a similar experience to me last year. She also picked up a virus that she has yet to recover from. Many appointments with doctors and specialists later, she was told, like I was, we can’t find what is wrong with you, we think it’s probably post viral fatigue… and fibromyalgia. We talked about how frustrating it was and how mentally, physically and emotionally draining it is to go through something like this. It’s still effects us most days, some days worse than others, however we were able to laugh at some of the things doctors have suggested to us along the way, like:
“You haven’t actually passed out so you’re ok”
“Stop focusing on how bad you feel”
“Take a valium every third night and you’ll be ok”
“It’s post viral fatigue and fibromyalgia”
“Post viral fatigue and fibromyalgia are not real”
And my all time favourite by a female doctor:
“I’m going to tell you what I told my patient who asked for a vaginal rejuvenation – go and get yourself a younger man and all your symptoms will disappear” (That is my husband’s favourite!)

I’ve heard so much contradicting, sometimes well meaning and other times just down right patronising and condescending statements that it took my by surprise how good it felt to just have someone to empathise with and validate my experience.
Psychology basics – empathy and validation.
Basics are good!
Basics are the building blocks, the foundations to… well everything I guess.
And that’s where this week’s recipe comes into it (finally)!
Being sick last year I had a lot of time where I could barely move and I couldn’t take in anything that was complex or required much thought, so I caught up with the Real Housewives of everywhere! (I finally know what everyone is talking about).
As I got better I moved from the housewives to watching Top Chef. I’m only a couple of seasons in and I am appreciating how important basics are to cooking. Learning to do the basics well. To me, this week’s recipe is meat and potatoes done well 🙂

The rib eye, rubbed with salt, chipotle chilli and coriander (cilantro) tasted amazing.
The mustard butter added another layer of taste, complimenting the smoky meat.
(They talk a lot about layering flavours in Top Chef and I get it now!)
And those fries! I peeled and sliced 2kg of potatoes (there’s 5 of us) and baked them in a little bit of oil, salt and rosemary. Mine didn’t have as much of the golden colouring as I was hoping for (I think because I baked them on parchment paper) but the taste… wow! The taste was amazing!

My husband and kids appreciated the meal and expressed their satisfaction repeatedly and enthusiastically throughout the meal!
They enjoyed trying new things with the French Fridays with Dorie group and are very excited that they will get to taste and give feedback on a bunch of new recipes.
What more could I ask for 🙂

I am so happy to be part of the Cook The Book Fridays group and can’t wait to catch up with the rest of the group and see what they thought of this week’s recipe. To see the full recipe, I found it on a wonderful blog called SmokySweet.

 

 

 


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Black Forest Soft-Centered Teacups

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These were so quick and any easy to make!
Melt some butter and chocolate together until smooth and glossy.
Beat some eggs with sugar until fluffy, throw in a couple of spoons of flour.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and cook 10-12mins.
Very little effort for an amazing outcome!

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I have been craving Black Forest Cake, it’s a favourite of mine.
So I took Dorie’s suggestion and threw in Morello cherries.
I’m also not a big chocolate fan, I do like it though when there is another flavour to break up the sweetness.
The tart Morello cherries tasted amazing in these little teacups.

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The only problem I had with this recipe is that makes 4 cups and we are a family of 5!
As soon as I made these, my husband and I had to run off to the Year 10 Information Night at my son’s school.
When we returned, the kids were kind enough to leave us one cup to share.

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I will definitely be making these again, they are too easy and satisfying not to! Everyone loved them.
I am looking forward to reading what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought.


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Flour’s Famous Banana Cake – Recipe Review

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School is back for 2016!
Routines are slowly taking shape and the craziness of summer holidays is beginning to settle.
Each day now, I walk my son to school and as he heads off to class with his teacher, I, along with many other parents head straight to the little coffee shop tucked in amongst a few local shops across the road. The coffee is fantastic and I always order it to go, however most of the time I end up sitting at a table catching up with a friend.
It’s a routine I enjoy.
Today, after dropping off my son, I met my friends, we bought our coffees to go and this time we did take them away with us. We decided to walk them back to my place and enjoy the banana bread I made the previous night.

When my children smell banana bread baking they feel comforted.
They love the smell that fills the house.
However… they are also very clear that after trying many version of banana bread over the years their favourite recipe is for the Banana Espresso Choc Chip Muffins from the Baked cookbook (see photo below).
(I usually leave out the espresso but don’t tell them that, it makes them feel grown up!)

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Yesterday however, I had to break it to them that I would be trying a new recipe from Joanne Chang’s Flour book.
The recipe is from her first cookbook, pictured below on the left.
I bought it a while back however after falling ill I couldn’t do much more than stare it for a long time.
There are SO many recipes I want to try however yesterday I had the bananas on hand.  Being unwell has taught me to grab opportunities that come up, no matter how small they may seem and to not over think things. This may sound simple, however my nature has always been to deliberate painfully over what to cook for so long that I end up making nothing. So with my new philosophy guiding me, I decided to make Flour’s Famous Banana Bread.

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It felt good to be making something, even if it was “just another banana bread recipe” 🙂
The recipe can be found all over the internet, here is one link for this recipe from the food network.

Coming together over banana bread is not something new however there is a reason a lot of us do it. It is comforting and nourishing to the soul and it tastes so damn good!
The grown ups really enjoyed this recipe, however the kids can’t go past the choc chips in their favourite banana muffins. I get it, who doesn’t want chocolate thrown into an already awesome tasting treat?!

I didn’t add the walnuts to the recipe (there are too many nut allergies in our house) and I think it still tasted really good. I liked the moist topping that developed on the cake and the inside was surprisingly light. I would definitely make this again, it was easy to make and well worth the effort.

 


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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.