Kitchen Therapy


2 Comments

Crumb Topped Apple Bars

It has been a very long while since I cooked with the Tuesdays with Dorie group. I have always enjoyed being a part of the group. However, as I mentioned in my last post, I was working with rape and domestic violence clients, working a 24 hour roster and then I caught every virus going, the last one being glandular fever. I just could not recover. I made attempts to join in with the cooking, however it was always short lived.
I have recently found a functional medicine doctor, not many of those here in Australia! I wasn’t expecting much, considering my experience to date with doctors has been… not great to say the least.
Some genetic testing revealed I have inherited faulty MTHFR genes. Not one, but two faulty copies from each parent! Basically, this gene mutation effects my ability to convert folate I eat into something my body can use. If you are cruising through life, this might not be much of an issue, and for me it was fine for some 40+ years. However once I became very ill, it was hard to recover.
I tried everything! Even going vegan for a while, which I now realise made things worse as my body needs a much larger amount of B12 than the average ‘non mutant’ gene person ūüôā
I am excited that with high doses of B12 and methylfolate (tiny doses) I am already feeling better! And the first thing I wanted to do was cook!

This week’s recipe was interesting for me as part of my healing was cooking green apples, with a handful of raisins, cinnamon and some honey. I love this combination. The crumb topped apple bars are the same combination (minus the cinnamon) on a cookie base!
It was so much fun cooking this. I haven’t used butter and sugar in a while and it was ridiculously enjoyable! I realised my tastes have changed a bit and while I loved the apple filling I did find the whole bar a bit too sweet! Something I did not think I would ever say in my life!
The rest of the family was very excited with the smells that filled the house with this recipe. They have enjoyed the raw desserts I’ve been making however they did say they missed the smell of baking ūüôā
I am looking forward to reading about what the other members of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought of their recipe of the week.


5 Comments

Apple Kuchen – Baking Chez Moi

IMG_2581

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 ūüôā
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!


17 Comments

French Apple Tart

IMG_5005

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.

IMG_4989

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…

IMG_5004

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.

IMG_5039

\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.

IMG_5053

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???)


24 Comments

Long and Slow Baked Apples

Image

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was simple yet elegant.
Layers of finely sliced apples, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with spiced sugar. 
Then baked slowly for a long, long time.
Like I said, simple and elegant.

Except for the fact that Australia is in the midst of a heatwave.
A heat wave that is breaking records.
Image
(pictures of a dust storm off Western Australia on Ninemsn)
A heatwave that would make keeping your oven on, at any temp, uncomfortable.
Let alone 4 hours of baking!

So this recipe involved planning and cultivating a close relationship with the weather channel!
My memories of the 43 degrees celsius (109.5 degrees farenheit) day last week were just too raw.
So I waited till evening to begin baking these.
My apples went in at 8.30pm and I turned the oven off and went to bed at 12.30am.
My latest tv obsession, The Walking Dead, kept me entertained while I waited ūüôā

The next morning, my usual oats…
Image
Became mighty fancy!

Image

I really enjoyed this recipe.
As a decadent topping for simple oats.
Or on its own with a dollop of sweetened cream.

Image

I am curious to see what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of this recipe.


25 Comments

Spiced Poached Apples

I¬†wasn’t sure about this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.
Apples poached in water with honey, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, star anise and a cinnamon quill?

Surprisingly I had everything I needed at home.
Add to this, the simplicity of the recipe and I knew I had no excuse!

Once I started cooking, the fragrance of the spices and apples filled the house.
I was hooked!
I decided on the spot to make Vanilla Rice Pudding from a Donna Hay recipe I had used in the past.
I put 1 cup aborio rice in a pan with 4 cups milk, 1/2 cup caster sugar and seeds from one vanilla pod.
I brought it all to a boil then reduced the heat, covered it and cooked it for  about 20 minutes.
I was stirring and checking until the last 5 minutes.
For some reason I chose this moment to call a hotel in Adelaide to check on rates for a holiday we are planning in January. My brain struggles focusing for extended periods of time on one task!
I totally forgot about the rice and it turned out drier than I hoped for but I followed a tip I had read from Joy the Baker and added extra milk and stirred it through! Thank you Joy the Baker! It tasted amazing!

The next morning I sent everyone off to school and I remembered my poached apples!
I put them on top of a bowl of yoghurt and sat in the warm sun on the back porch.
I have to say while my husband loved them with the rice custard, I fell in love with the apple and yoghurt combo!

I still have some left…

I love knowing I can just pull them out of the fridge and add them to whatever takes my fancy!

I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week’s recipe!


12 Comments

Apple Galette and Redemption

Last week I decided Blueberry Pie was going to bring me unparallelled blissful happiness! 
(remember?!)
Well… it didn’t.
I begrudgingly¬†knew that¬†life didn’t¬†work that way.
I’ve even read all the research that clearly states that all the stuff we think will make us happy such as¬†money, posessions, social status and blueberry pie…
(yes, pie is a legitimate category!)
((ok, maybe I made that last bit up, but it should be up there with the rest!))
… they don’t¬†necessarily lead to happiness.

So this week I was prepared.
I wasn’t going to let any doe-eyed Kristen Stewart, gazing longingly¬†at me from the supermarket magazine stands,¬†foil my galette!

I turned my back on scientific research (and logic of any kind)¬†last week and there were¬†consequences! I wasn’t going to make the same mistake¬†twice (at least not in such a short time!)

So what does psychological research on happiness tell us?

Finding joy in the present moment increases life satisfaction.

So this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was approached with curiosity, openness and independent of judgement or expectations.

Disappointment was not an option under these circumstances!

I also decided to work with the seasons rather than against them, so I used apples to make my galette since it’s winter here in Australia.

The result was pure delight and delicious pleasure!

The recipe is incredible easy and can be found by visiting Lisa at Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen or Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness!