Kitchen Therapy


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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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Jammer Cookies

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is the Jammer Galette. Dorie describes it as “a vanilla sable topped with a spoonful of jam and circled with streusel.” The recipe is for a “thick, chunky galette” however I couldn’t get the idea of small, cookie sized jammer out of my mind. I wanted something I could just pop into my mouth and savour, and these turned out perfect!

As I was making these I was thinking about this blogging thing and the love and effort that we all put into it.
We buy the ingredients, we make the food, we photograph it making it look as pretty as we can and then we write about it. It’s a fair amount of work!

Recently, I have come across people on various social media sites (totally unrelated to any of these groups by the way!) posting photos of food that they have taken from magazines or other sites and claiming it is their own. I’ve read about this on other blogs and in my naivety I always thought no, that doesn’t really happen! However, having witnessed it, it’s been on my mind a lot recently.

My first reaction was “wow! the audacity!”and I laughed it off (that’s often my first reaction to most things). As time has gone by I realise that it actually does bother me. With each recipe we make I’ve become more and more mindful of the time, commitment, love and effort involved. Sometimes the efforts are rewarding and other times nothing goes right from start to finish! Either way we are in this, doing it, and for that I have a huge respect.

These little cookies didn’t have many ingredients however they really were a labour of love.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In hindsight my little slap of reality has been good for me.

We loved these and I can’t wait to see what recipe the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group cooked!
I found Dorie’s recipe for these on the Epicurious website if anyone is interested in trying them 🙂


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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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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.