Kitchen Therapy


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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.

 

 

 


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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.

 


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Palets de Dames – a lesson in self care

 

 

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There’s a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “Do not hurry; do not rest”.
For the past year, as I talked about here, I have been a whirlwind of hurry.
But I nailed the ‘do not rest’ bit.

As I talked to clients about practicing self care and mindfulness, I heard my inner voice screaming “hypocrite!”

I managed to ignore this voice…
However after a while I had Doc Holliday’s words from the movie Tombstone going around and around in my head, “It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.” (Damn conscience!)

So I sat down and decided to practice what I preached.
Despite knowing how important and valuable self care is, I have always been really really bad it.
So, very slowly, I introduced ‘doing’ mindfully to my life.
Rather than saying ‘yes’ to everything and running from place to place, I have been choosing what matters to me.

Surprisingly, one of the first things to go in order to reduce the ‘hurry’ in my life were social events (and people) that drained me.
I’ll be honest I struggled with this for a while.
Grabbing coffee, doing lunch, dinner dates and weekends away are the norm where I live.
Was there something wrong with me that I would prefer time alone???
I wrestled with these thoughts as I picked up one of the books I’ve been wanting to read ‘one day’.
Oh! What bliss! I was reading, not for research or for work purposes, but for the pure pleasure and joy of reading.
I realised there really was nothing wrong with me!

I did hit a hurdle when it came to making these cookies though.
I received Dorie’s new book ‘Baking Chez Moi‘ in the mail and spent hours looking through it, excited at the prospect of cooking through the book with the Tuesdays with Dorie group.

And then the recipes and dates were posted and I was so ready!
I had butterflies in my stomach!

And then as the posting date approached I told myself I had plenty of time and returned to my beloved books.
The posting date came and went and I was in major procrastination mode!

I contemplated just putting this recipe aside and starting with the Cranberry Crackle Tart, but luckily that conscience of mine kicked my butt again and many days later I found myself making the dough late at night and baking these early the next morning.

We ate half of them before they were cool enough to ice!
I made 24 cookies and ended up with 10 to ice.
The were eaten the same day they were baked. All of them. Gone!

I heard “I love these” and “these are great” being muttered as my husband and kids returned to the kitchen again and again.
I almost had myself convinced to skip these and I am soooo  glad I didn’t.
It was good to remind myself that I enjoy baking as much as I love reading.
Baking is now firmly on my self care list of activities!

These cooking are simple yet incredibly satisfying.

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The recipe can be found here and they are topped with sanding sugar which I forgot as I was busy stuffing them in my mouth!
But above is a photo of the sugar crystals I had to decorate the top of these cookies with…

I am very excited to be part of Tuesdays with Dorie and can’t wait to see what everyone else thought of these.

 

 

 


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Canneles

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According to my daughter the Canneles made to celebrate Dorie Greenspan’s online birthday turned out to be the perfect snack to grab on the way out to another birthday party!

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I love knowing that people have been eating these little cakes for centuries.
They remind of me European pastries I grew up eating.
There’s something special about biting into the firm, crisp exterior and finding a soft, moist inside with a strong vanilla and rum taste.

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This recipe is out of Dorie Greenspan’s new book Baking Chez Moi and the recipe can be found here.
There’s something about baking that I find incredibly calming and satisfying.

To celebrate Dorie Greenspan’s birthday, the launch of her new book and also the 4th anniversary of the most amazing online cooking group 🙂 French Fridays with Dorie the following list of people participated baking recipes from Chez Moi! Enjoy looking around x

Mini Cannelés

Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling

Paletes de Dames, Lille Style

Brown Butter-Peach Tourte


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Double Carrots with Blue Eye Cod

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My last post with the French Fridays with Dorie group was back in April, a good 6 months ago.
I haven’t been part of the group for a long time however I have regularly ‘watched’ the progress of the group and enjoyed reading what everyone has been up to!
(Does that sound creepy? I can hear my daughter singing out “stalker”!)

When I read that the book will be completed in a matter of months, I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t return to the group!
And now I’m kicking myself for not returning sooner!

It was fun taking part in this week’s recipe.
It was interesting watching the kids change their attitude as soon as they heard this was a French Fridays with Dorie recipe. Despite the gap in time, they understood they would be trying something new and their feedback would be sought.
I forgot how much the weekly recipes had become a family affair and everyone was excited to see them return.
Turns out I wasn’t the only one who missed the French Friday’s with Dorie group!

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The kids and my husband loved this week’s recipe!
I added a scoop of mashed potatoes under the fish to make it a heartier meal.
I also used Blue Eye Cod for the fish, it has a mild and delicate taste that the kids enjoy.

I am looking forward to taking a more active (and less ‘stalkerish’) part in this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe of the week 🙂


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Visitandine

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It has been so long since I posted anything I forgot how to!

It’s crazy how easy it can be to lose your rhythm.
Before you know it, months go by.
I’ve missed being part of the French Fridays with Dorie group.
However a back injury and sciatica got in the way.
As did quitting my old job and starting a new one.
You know, all the usual life stuff 🙂

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Visitandine, was my son’s welcome back from 3 days at camp dessert!
Dorie Greenspan describes at as “a simple, very white cake with an elegant small-grained crumb, a lovely springy sponge…”

I cut my cake up, served it with berries and cream and the boys started eating before I took photos.
I decided to take actions shots and jump back into posting with what I had!

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After 3 days of roughing it in the Aussie bush my son was relieved to be home and eating “real food”.
He loved the dessert. We all did!
I am looking forward to being part of the French Fridays with Dorie group again!


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Baked Yogurt Tart

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I was curious to try this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia baked yogurt tart.
It’s school holidays here in Sydney, so I was afraid this recipe might be filed away in the ‘too hard’ basket. (Which by the way just gets emptied, not revisited!)

The dough was made the night before.
After a day of skate parks, outings to Manly, Yogurtland and trying to get a GoPro set up so the kids could take more pics of themselves skating(!) for instagram.
 The last thing I wanted to do after dinner was make another mess!

Every time I opened the fridge, there was my dough.
Just sitting there…
Wrapped in plastic…
Waiting to be used. 
I threw out the dough I made to be used for a tart that the French Fridays with Dorie group was making not long ago and I decided I wasn’t  going to do it again!

It was getting late, but hey, it’s school holidays!
I could see my the face of my 6 year old son light up with excitement when he realised we were going to cook!
And to his credit, he did most of the work.
He chose strawberries  for the tart and worked out the pattern.

By the time it was cooked and ready to eat he was showered and in bed.
So my daughter and I had fun eating the tart well after 10pm that night! 

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The photos are pretty bad however the effort was made and the sense of satisfaction was well worth it!
We laughed a lot and I assured my daughter she wasn’t going to be in any of the photos…  (I lied 🙂 )
I thought the filling would be creamier, softer. I was surprised at the density of it.
Nevertheless it tasted good and went well with a dollop of cream.

I am looking forward to see what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought!

The recipe can found by clicking here.