Kitchen Therapy


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Asparagus Soup

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I have always wanted to be persistent and consistent.
I hear they are qualities that lead to great and wonderful things…
What can I say?
I had good intentions…
Unfortunately my paved road lead me straight to the Game of Thrones.

Week after week I would check the French Fridays with Dorie recipe schedule and set my intention to participate.
Some weeks I simply noted the chosen recipe before returning to my books.
Other weeks I went as far as buying the ingredients for the week’s recipe.
There were a few weeks I made the recipe and then plain forgot to photograph it.
And before I knew it, the weeks turned into months.

Here I am, two months after my last post, thinking about how much fun I had making this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe and wondering why I had put off participating for so long?!

Yes. I had to turn my back on a bunch of 13 year old boys running in out of the rain as they waged a full scale Nerf gun battle in my house, shooting anything that moved. But the grass, mud and odd bullet to the head was worth it!

I am confident I would never have made Asparagus Soup if I wasn’t part of this group.
I might have told myself “one day”… but I know I wouldn’t have.

I would have missed out on cooking and sharing a delicious meal with my family.
And also the sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes along with each recipe completed.

It’s coming into winter here in Australia, so we ate the soup warm with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Yes. The kids pulled faces when they sat down to dinner and one confidently declared they were sure they weren’t going to like it!
However they all tried it and they all changed their minds after tasting it!

I am looking forward to catching up with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group on this recipe!


19 Comments

Ispahan Loaf Cake

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I was excited and looking forward to making this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.
Ispahan cake.
I love turkish delight.

I love raspberries.
And… I love lychees (I have eaten kilos of them this summer).
Yes, I know there are no lychees in this cake however the three ingredients were now linked in my mind and this cake was going to be awesome!

And it was!

 

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The cake is made mostly of almond flour so the texture is moist and delicate.
The recipe calls for rose syrup and rose extract. My chances of finding either were slim, so I used a good quality rose water and the flavour came through beautifully.
To be honest, I liked the taste and texture of the cake so much, I wouldn’t have minded the loaf plain, without the raspberries.
It was that good!

I am looking forward to catching up with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group and see what they thought of this week’s recipe.

 


17 Comments

French Apple Tart

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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.

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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…

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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.

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\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.

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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???)


22 Comments

French Strawberry Cake

We moved house about 6 weeks ago and finally, FINALLY… we have internet!
I brought over our mini modem however reception at our new place (which is only 2km from our old place but at the end of a cul de sac) is pretty much non existent.
Posting my Dr Who Tardis Rainbow Cake and Dalek Cupcakes was an act of sheer will power!
Remember dial up internet speed?
That’s what I had to work with, I’d press a button and then go and do a few jobs as I waited for the page to load.

After many many many many many many hiccups (as my 4 year old likes to say in order to emphasise his point) our ADSL modem finally arrived on Friday.
The first thing I did , was look up the recipe schedule for Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia!
And oh what a great week to return!

This cake is delightful.
It’s perfect in its simplicity.
It makes me happy! 🙂
And I will make it again and again and again!

P.S. Notes to self next time you try and make this cake…
The recipe calls for one recipe Perfect Genoise.
ONE.
Don’t think you know better and decide to quickly whip another (cos one just seems way too flat to divide into 3 equal parts) when your husband leaves to pick up your almost 15 year old daughter from a birthday party at 11pm. It’s almost midnight, you’re not thinking clearly or rationally and they will look at you with worry in their eyes when they walk in at midnight to find the house smelling delicious and you sitting on the lounge with a glass of wine and a smug and satisfied look on your face…

Two cakes look about right (for what I had imagined it would look like)…
However, the recipe clearly tells you the Perfect Genoise “is drier than most American cakes”.
I baked two, split them in half to make four, but luckily, I ran out of my sugared strawberries and ended only using three layers.

I broke bite sized bits off the fourth layer and dipped these into the strawberry juices and then scraped the last bits of cream on top before popping them in my mouth.
I kept going until both bowls were clean.
If there was more I would have eaten more.
Instead I had to wait until after dinner for more.

Here is where the lesson comes in.
This cake is dense (as the recipe says!).
There was too much sponge for the amount of strawberries and cream in it.
So (in hindsight) one genoise split into three (as the recipe says!) would have tasted better.

I can not wait to see what the other members of Tuesdays with Dorie thought of this recipe.

And if you would like to check out the actual recipe and give this cake a go for yourself, head over to Sophia’s Sweets or Think, Love, Sleep, Dine.
And follow the recipe!


20 Comments

Navarin Printanier

This dish was sooo good!
The flavour was deep and satisfying.
The lamb was so tender it just melted in your mouth.
Even my pickiest eater found it delicious and easy to eat.

I followed the recipe closely (mainly because in the chaos of everyday life, I’ve been taking shortcuts lately with less than desirable results! Ugh!)
The only change I made was to use Vegeta vegetable stock instead of the beef stock.
I’m assuming this wouldn’t have changed the taste too drastically.
And with some fresh crusty bread, we couldn’t get enough.

The kids loved it so much I put the leftovers into wraps for their school lunches the next day.
They all said it tasted as good as the night before.
And what an awesome school lunch!

For me, this has been one of the tastiest dishes in Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook.

I’m keen to see if the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group loved it as much as I did???


21 Comments

Roasted Salmon and Lentils

My boys ask the same question every day.
Can my friends come over today”.
It doesn’t matter if they’ve seen their friends all day at school.
It doesn’t matter if they’ve just returned home from their after school activities (which they do with their friends).
It doesn’t matter if they’ve had friends over or been at friend’s houses every day this week.
It doesn’t matter if they’re sick. Or tired. Or what time of day it is.
It’s always the same question.

This question is then followed by,
Can they stay for dinner?”
And then,
Can they have a sleepover? Pleeeaaase???!!!!” 

As I headed home from school with a car full of 12 year old boys we were clearly at question 2.
They were suggesting a pizza night! Or maybe a hot dog night! Or tacos!

I told them they could stay as long as they were prepared to eat salmon and lentils.

They all went home for dinner.

Q3 didn’t even come up!!!!

We enjoyed this dish. It was hearty and satisfying.
And surprisingly easy to make!

That’s what I’ve come to love about French Fridays with Dorie. It’s become very much a family thing. We talk about the recipe of the week. The kids ask questions and they feel they are part of something bigger. They are more open and willing to try new things because they believe their opinion of the final product is valued!

I can’t wait to see what the other member of French Fridays with Dorie thought!


12 Comments

Cheese-Topped Onion Soup

It feels so good to be back cooking with the French Fridays with Dorie group!
Yay!

We returned from Hawaii and jumped straight into the 2012 school year.
Information nights, homework, band practice, sports try-outs, catching up with friends and trying to establish some semblance of routine!

Then there’s all the after school activities. Winding up summer sports and registering and trying out for winter sports has kept us busy!

And so has enjoying the last few weeks of summer!
Hanging out at the beach, the kids learning to surf and kayak.
It’s been fun!
And crazy!
And hectic.

I made the brioche last week…
and loved the Nutelle Tartine!

But I forgot to take photos of the final product!

I’ve always wanted to try onion soup so I knew I had to get my act together this week!

And I think it was well worth it!

We all loved this week’s recipe, especially the cheesy bread on top.
It added so much flavour and depth to the final product.
I will definitely make this again.
But might wait for cooler weather next time!

Can’t wait to see what everyone else at French Fridays with Dorie thought of this recipe!


13 Comments

Gorgonzola Apple Quiche and Hawaii

We spent two magical, glorious, incredible, fun-filled weeks in Hawaii.

We swam…

We surfed…

We went paddle boarding…

We shopped…

And we shopped some more…

We toured Kualoa ranch on the east coast where Jurassic Park, Lost and Pearl Harbour and were filmed…

My husband loved it here on the east coast of Oahu the  most…

Where the mountains met the coast…

We watched scenes being filmed for Hawaii 5-0 at our hotel… (can you tell my daughter loved this the most!)

And we ate…
Buffet breakfasts, freshly made omelettes filled with vegetables and plate after plate of the sweetest pineapple, papaya, cantaloupe and watermelon you can imagine. Duke’s on Waikiki beach was our favourite breakfast hangout! (pic is of buffet at Hilton Hawaiian Village where we stayed)

We ate Haupia pie on the North Shore at Ted’s Bakery…

Garlic Shrimp and grilled corn at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the East coast…

And we discovered the Cheesecake Factory!

We looooved the Cheesecake Factory!!!!!

Between us all we snapped about 2000 pics on our iphones and ipods.
Flicking through all the photos to get to the pics of the gorgonzola apple quiche has been another bonus to this week’s French Fridays with Dorie!

Coming back was hard. We had such an amazing family holiday we didn’t want to return.
But I have to admit it was nice to get back to into the routine of normal life and I realised how much French Fridays with Dorie has become a part of my life! I hate blue cheese with a passion! But I missed the group and the baking and there was no way I was going to miss another week! I knew I could try a different filling but hey, when will I ever have the opportunity to try gorgonzola and apple quiche in my life! I knew this was the perfect time! Fresh from my adventures in Hawaii I made the quiche…

Along with a salad I found in a magazine for American Cobb Salad (I replaced the blue cheese with Haloumi though!)

My family ate the quiche and we loved the pastry and the filling (without the gorgonzola bits!) What can I say! We are not blue cheese people!

So thank you French Fridays with Dorie for again introducing me to a new taste and allowing me to reminisce over two of the best weeks in my life!!! Can’t wait to see what every one else thought of the gorgonzola apple quiche!


16 Comments

Bubble Top Brioche

I’m not sure how other countries format their school year but here in Sydney, Australia we have 4 school terms that go for 10 weeks each. The kids have two weeks off school at the end of every 10 week term. Except for Christmas, when they have 6 weeks off school.

We are half way through our Christmas school holidays and next week we leave for 2 weeks in Hawaii! Yay!
I can’t wait! It’s been about 15 years since I was last there and I have such great memories from that trip and now I get to make new ones with my children!

My husband is excited for the opportunity to have a break and spend time with his family.
My 14 year old daughter (who couldn’t wait until January 1st so she could announce that next year she’ll be 16) can’t wait to go to Hawaii so she can get a tan her friends will be jealous of.
My 11 year old son has decided he wants to learn to surf (and befriend the penguins that are at the resort).
And my 4 year old son is just outraged we chose to go to Hawaii over Queensland, where all the theme parks are!

I am looking forward to going to the beach, just like we do here at home…
Without having to clean the sand out of my car or wash the endless stream of beach towels!

So I really wanted to do one last French Fridays with Dorie before we take off for a few weeks.
And as usual I picked the least practical day.
We had a great, but very late night, at an Irish/Italian wedding…


Followed by an early to start to meet friends at the water slides. They slid non stop for 8 hours…

And then, to top it off, a bunch of the boys came back to our house for a sleepover.
At 10.30 that night they settled down to watch Batman so I took this opportunity to start the dough!

I was exhausted but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed making the dough.
It felt incredibly good and satisfying.

The next morning I finished the recipe and they returned from the park having discovered new ways to ride their scooters and skateboards…

They ran inside demanding to know what smelled like croissants!

The brioche rolls were fresh out of the oven and they really did smell like freshly baked croissants.
When I pulled one apart it was incredibly soft…

And light. And fluffy. And totally delicious!

They shoved them in their mouths.
Some with jam and cream…
Others with Nutella.

They all agreed Dorie’s Bubble-Top Brioche tasted great!
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie team came up with!


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Chard Stuffed Pork Roast with Crispy Golden Crackling

I love bacon.
I adore bacon.
But that’s’ where my interest in pork begins and ends.

The rest of my family have another love in addition to bacon.
Pork Crackling!

Now when you’re a family of 5, negotiations are just a part of life.
I get to stuff the pork loin with Swiss chard and raisins, and they get crackling!
Everyone’s a winner!

I followed Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, from her book ‘Around My French Table’, right up to the last step.
But instead of patting crushed peppercorns and coriander over the pork roast, I substituted Donna Hay’s steps to achieving the perfect crackling! (My husband just read this and wanted me to stress how incredible the crackling was).

*As soon as you get your pork home, remove the wrapping and place the pork on a plate in the fridge until ready to prepare. This makes the skin dry out, which helps create a crunchy surface.
* To make the crackling really crispy, make sure the oven is very hot – preheat for about 20 minutes at 220 celsius.
* Rub salt and oil into the scored pork after tying. Table salt spreads further than sea salt and helps give the crackling its crunch.

I then cooked the pork for 20 minutes at 220 celsius, then reduced it to 200 degrees celsius and cooked it for another 50-55 minutes.

I peeled potatoes and pumpkin, tossed them in a little oil, salt and pepper and added to the baking tray with the pork when I reduced the temperature to 200 degrees celsius.

We all loved this dish.
It was so delicious!
The stuffing flavoured the meat and the vegetables, really lifting and enhancing the flavours.

The cracking was truly out of this world!
I usually can’t get past the fact that I am eating fat.
But oh my goodness!!!
It was divine!

I am really looking forward to the leftovers…

And I cannot wait to see what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group came up with!