Kitchen Therapy


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Chocolate Pudding

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todd's 16th

This week my son turned 16!
His birthday falls at the end of the Easter two week school holidays.
On the first day of the school holidays he went to Chinatown in Sydney with his friends and had a great day at the markets and eating dumplings. The next day he started to feel unwell and a week later we found out he had salmonella poisoning. Luckily it wasn’t severe enough to send him to the hospital but it knocked him around for the entire 2 week school holiday break. He lost a few kilos that he really couldn’t afford to lose so I was excited to get him eating again!

He loves chocolate and I had planned to make this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, the salted butter caramel-chocolate mousse for his birthday celebrations with the family. I left My Paris Kitchen open on the recipe page on the kitchen bench and everyone who walked past and saw the photo was excited! It looks amazing. The problem was that I realised the recipe required raw eggs. Normally I wouldn’t give this a second thought. However, after our salmonella experience I decided (reluctantly) that I just couldn’t take the risk. I broke the news to the family that I would not be making the mousse and my daughter thanked her brother for getting himself sick and “ruining everything”. (I don’t have siblings, I am an only child so I need my husband who is one of 4 boys to reassure me that this is normal!)

I decided to compromise (and I hope the group doesn’t mind) by finding a recipe from David Lebovitz for something similar. I couldn’t go past the Double Chocolate Pudding on his website!
In the past week I have made a double batch of the recipe 3 times. It was surprisingly silky and smooth but not overly sweet. The problem with this was that you could just keep eating it! The third time I made it first thing in the morning and took the photos before everyone came home from school, uni and work. It really was that good! It was also very quick and easy to make. So much reward for such little effort! I know I’ll be making it again… and again… and again 🙂
I know down the track I will make the salted caramel mousse, but for now I can’t say enough good things about David’s Chocolate Pudding!
I can’t wait to see how everyone went with this week’s Cook the Book Fridays group recipe!

 


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Croque Monsieur – Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwich

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This is a great school holiday dinner! Especially before we head out to watch a game of rugby.

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The boys had sliced leg ham in their sandwich and the grown ups had prosciutto.
I was a bit sceptical about the bechamel sauce, I’m not a fan of it.
However this time I could see that it added a creaminess to the sandwich that I really liked.
The recipe in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen requires you to place cheese on top of the grilled sandwich and then grill it a second time in the oven.
I just couldn’t add any more cheese!
I used Emmenthal cheese for the adults and Jarlsberg for the kids.
It was simple, delicious and very satisfying.
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I also made the vinaigrette and tossed it through some radicchio and baby cos leaves.
The sandwich was salty from the cheese and prosciutto and the vinaigrette provided a sour kick from the vinegar and mustard.
I needed something to cut through all the salty sour flavours.
I added a tablespoon of brown sugar to the vinaigrette recipe and this really did the trick for us.
Even my little guy ate all the greens 🙂

I am looking forward to reading what everyone else in the Cook The Book Fridays group thought of this week’s recipe!


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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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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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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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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.