Kitchen Therapy


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Vanilla Bean Sablés

IMG_8654This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi are the Vanilla Bean Sablés.

I knew I needed butter for these. In Australia our butter “sticks” are 250g, so they’re more like blocks! I was walking through the dairy aisle, looking for the butter when I felt the squeeze in my gut that tells me these days not to take this for granted.

Recently, one of the mums from school passed away. It was Anzac Day, April 25th, when she slipped walking home and fell down a sharp set of stairs.

We met when our boys started kindy together, they were 5 years old, now they are 18. We were all new at the school, we had just moved to the area, and I think we were as nervous as the kids! The school was pretty small at the time so even though our boys were never close friends, we all knew each other pretty well. She had the one child, she adored him and volunteered tirelessly at the school. She ran the canteen, the band, the uniform shop, I know at some point she was voted best volunteer in the state and you just knew that she was the person to ask about anything. When our boys moved to high school, she just picked up and tackled the same tasks at the new school. She was incredibly organised and ready to help. We usually ran into each other at the supermarket. We would catch up amongst the shopping aisles, moving our trolleys to the side (I’m sure to everyone’s annoyance) and discuss our boys final year of high school, their hopes and plans, have a laugh and then move on.

It has been a few months since she has passed away and every now and then I think I see her at the shops, but then I catch myself. I continue with my shopping, no longer lost in my thoughts but painfully aware of how fortunate I am to be buying butter, baking cookies and sharing them with my family.

I think the simplicity of these cookies complimented where I am in life at the moment. Keeping things simple, appreciating family and tradition, being present in the moment.

I can see why Sablés are so popular. They are comforting, can be a foundation for many other flavours (I’d like to try lemon) and they are simple. The first log I made I brushed with egg yolk and sugar before cutting and baking, the second I baked as is. I’ll be honest, I preferred these plain…
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I really enjoyed making and eating these, the whole family did. I am looking forward to the reading what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group though 🙂


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Freshwater Beach, Cappuccino and Orange Butter Drops with Coconut

It’s spring!
The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer and everything looks so vibrant and colourful.
Feels like all my senses are coming alive.
The jasmine that covers our fence is in full bloom.
Each time I step outside I can smell it. 
Hanging out the laundry has suddenly become a pleasant experience!

The track leading to Manly beach goes right past our house.
I walk it regularly. 
But suddenly it’s so alive!
The scenery I’ve taken for granted all winter has me slowing down to take it all in.

I walked to Manly and then continued on to Freshwater beach this weekend.
I stopped for a cappuccino at the kiosk attached to the very popular Pilu restaurant (upper right hand pic below) while I waited for my husband and kids to meet me.
They made my cappuccino with real chocolate flakes! 
How decadent!
(the little bit I actually got to taste was amazing!)

A perfect way to finish my walk!

The spring light and sunshine had me inspired.
After a leisurely lunch at Dee Why beach I couldn’t wait to get home and make these Orange Butter Drops with Shredded Coconut from my latest crush, my One Girl Cookies cookbook.
I’ve had my eye on these cookies for a while now and today was the perfect day to make these little bursts of sunshine!
My little monkey and I made these in no time and my friend arrived as I pulled them out of the oven.
We sat around the kitchen bench dipping them into the orange and cream cheese glaze, then the coconut and then straight into our mouths!
They were incredibly pretty to look at and tasted delicious!

ORANGE BUTTER DROPS with Shredded Coconut
(One Girl Cookies)

3 /4 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of one orange
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Put the granulated sugar and the orange zest in a medium bowl. Using both hands, rub the sugar into the orange zest. Put the mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

2. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the pieces of butter. When the mixture begins to look like crumbs, add the vanilla. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese. When the dough starts to clump together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it by hand for a few seconds until it is fully combined.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.

4. Scoop out a small round of dough, about 1 1/2 tablespoons in size. Roll the scoop into a ball, place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and gently press the ball. Repeat, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. Prepare the glaze: In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon cream cheese, the orange juice, and the confectioner’s sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes. The glaze should be as thick as glue.

6. Spread the coconut on a plate. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, dip into the shredded coconut (I used dessicated coconut), and let set for 20 minutes.


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Chocolate sour cherry biscuits

 You know how sometimes we see ourselves a certain way, but when we tell others, they look at you with that “you’re kidding yourself” look? Well I usually manage this with my own “you don’t what you’re talking about” look as I turn (and in my mind) graciously walk away.

And it’s worked beautifully. Until recently.

I think it’s the kid’s fault.

I find things I say to them come back to haunt me at the most inconvenient times. Things like focus, sit still, pay attention. All things, that I now realise, I struggle with on a daily basis! For a while,  I was convinced I had some form of adult-onselt undiagnosed ADD. There was no way I could pull off what I was asking the kids to do! I get up and start walking around any chance I get. I start something and half way through it I decide to do a load of laundry. My saving grace is that I don’t stop until I’ve  finished all my half started jobs. So at the end of the day, what looks like chaos, somehow manages to come together in an efficient  climax!

I realised however that my attention span issues were across the board. 
Especially when it came to food.
I have never been able to eat too much of anything.
I get bored.
But alternate tastes between salty, sweet, sour and spicy and I can pick  for hours! Like dipping salty, sesame pretzel sticks into Nutella. Best ever!
Or black forest cake, the sour cherries cut through the chocolatey sweetness perfectly!
And while I am not much of a biscuit fan, the idea of black forest biscuit caught my attenion. 
 

The recipe came from a new book I had recently bought, ‘Bourke Street Bakery – the ultimate baking companion’. And my goodness these were good! The burst of sourness in all that sweetness kept me coming back for more. 
The recipe is exactly as it appears in the book but I doubled the amount of cherries in my version.

Chocolate and Sour Cherry Biscuits
(Bourke Street Bakery)

235g dark chocolate
150g plain flour
40g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g unsalted butter
240g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
85g dried sour cherries

Preheat oven to 165 degrees celsius.
Put chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water.
Allow the water in the saucepan to boil for 2 mins then turn off the heat and stir the chocolate while it slowly melts.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding more. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing well after each addition, then add the melted chocolate and mix until well combined.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, then fold through the dried sour cherries. The mix can become quite sticky, so you may need to refrigerate it for 15 minutes before shaping the biscuits. Take 3 tablespoons of mixture at a time and roll into even-sized balls – you should make about 12 balls in total. Place the balls on baking trays lined with baking paper, allowing room for them to spread. Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes, or until firm. Bake in batches, for 15-20 minutes each, or until risen and quite cracked on top. Cool on the trays and eat, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.