Kitchen Therapy


Matafan – fluffy mashed potato pancakes

A cross between pancakes and blini”  is how Dorie Greenspan describes this week’s French Friday’s with Dorie recipe.
She suggested serving them with maple syrup or as an hors d’oeuvre topped with creme fraiche and whatever catches your fancy!
They really are incredibly versatile and can be served at any time of day!
But just as she writes in her book ‘Around My French Table’, they barely made it out of the kitchen.
As I poured each one into the pan, someone was standing by waiting for it to cook and eat!

It’s getting hot here in Australia.
We are spending more and more of our time at parks and beaches…

So these pancakes were a welcome treat!
Light and satisfying enough to eat throughout summer.
You’re only limited by your imagination as to how to serve them!
I stuck to Dorie’s serving suggestions this time, but I can’t wait to see what great ideas the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group came up with!



French Fridays With Dorie: Beef Daube

I was meant to make the Braised Cardamom-Curry Lamb for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie group.
However, unlike last week, I looked at the recipe with my husband and kids around me.
Lamb with apples, figs and raisins!
It was too late!
They saw the recipe and knew too much.
I didn’t even attempt to convince them it would be okay.
I felt tired, weak and outnumbered.
So, I caved.
I chose the safer option.
Dorie’s ‘My Go-To Beef Daube’.
I joined the group after this recipe had been made and always thought I’d like to try it.
So I did!

The preparation was simple and the smells that filled the house were incredible.
It made me feel happy, content, and filled us all with anticipation for the final product.

I’ve been raised  on Yugoslav “manja”, so while I found this a little bland, everyone else in my family enjoyed it.

I can’t wait to read what the French Fridays with Dorie gang thought of the Braised Cardamom-Curry Lamb.
Now that sounds like an intense and exciting flavour experience!
Right up my alley!


Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup

It’s sooooo good to be back cooking Dorie’s recipes with the French Fridays with Dorie group!
How did I miss 6 weeks?
I tried to figure out where the time went!
I couldn’t make sense of it until I was importing the photos for this week’s recipe from my iphone.
The past 6 weeks flashed by in photos.

Cooling down at the beach on Friday’s after school.

School concerts (that’s my Oliver!)


School Holidays!


Now I remember where the past 6 weeks went!

I got busy with life!

And I shamefully forgot the immense satisfaction and pleasure I got each week from cooking and connecting with an amazing bunch of women!
Creating this week’s recipe felt good.
And it tasted great!

I was worried the kids wouldn’t like this soup so I used half the pumpkin to make our usual Donna Hay Roast Pumpkin Soup recipe which I know they love.
I asked them to try Dorie’s recipe and everyone preferred it!
I was honestly shocked! My husband and I loved it however I expected the kids to pass on it.
I was so wrong!
They loved the taste of Dorie’s soup, they wanted to know what was in it and when they heard “pear” they put their hands up and declared they would rather not know. They thought knowing might ruin it for them!
It really was a case of blissful ignorance!

I cannot wait to see what everyone else thought of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe!


Easy Roast Chicken for Lazy People

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken.

I seemed to fixate on the word “crunch”.
It sent me down a weird and wonderful path of word association.
Crunchy, crispy, golden, succulent, seasoned, roasted chicken.
I couldn’t get this image out of mind.

I craved it.
I wanted it.
I could taste it!

Speculoos became my scape goat.
I had no idea what they were.
Or LU Cinnamon Sugar Spice Biscuits or LU Bastogne.

How was I supposed to find them when I didn’t even know what they looked like?!
My argument felt incredibly persuasive.

It was decided!
I would find another chicken recipe from Dorie that would satisfy my cravings.
I was scanning for the word roasted…
Then I saw it…
Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux.
I read the first line in Dorie’s introduction of the recipe, “les paresseux are lazy people, and this is a recipe for them”.
I was on a winner!

Some weeks I want to get lost in the complexity of a recipe.
That’s what lead me to make Movida’s Chorizo Bomba and the Sweet and Salty Layer Cake from Baked.

But the last few week’s I’ve spent the little free time I’ve had, sewing costumes for my 11 year old’s school concert.
I need to make it clear here, I don’t usually sew and my contribution was small compared to what other’s were doing.
But I found myself spending any free time I had doing this.

The kids had a great time while we sewed..

But it was really starting to wear me out!

So all I wanted was to make something easy, familiar and comforting!
And this recipe hit the spot.

I seasoned the chicken inside and out. (Dorie suggests salt and pepper however I used Vegeta, it’s a vegetable stock powder that Yugoslav’s seem to love and use in everything! So throwing in a bit of my own tradition in this recipe, I rubbed it all over the bird!)
I then shoved a head of garlic cut in half, a sprig of rosemary, thyme and oregano inside the cavity.
Placed the chicken on top of a couple slices of bread that I placed in the middle of the oiled roasting dish.
Around the chicken I threw the other half of the garlic head, another sprig of rosemary, thyme and oregano and a few lugs of oil along with 2/3 cup of water.

In the oven it went for 45 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Dorie suggests you add potatoes, carrots and shallots at the end of this time.
I went with our favourite mix of potatoes, pumpkin, red capsicums and spanish onions.

Another 45 minutes and it was done!

And oh my goodness, it was so tasty!

It was exactly what I had envisaged and what I was craving!
It was also incredibly easy to make and I even got to start reading my latest neuropsych book with the free time I had!

The French Fridays with Dorie group made Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux before I joined the group, so I was glad to catch up on a recipe I had missed! A recipe I will definitely make again and again!

And I can’t wait to check out what the group thought of the Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken!



Corn Soup – French Fridays with Dorie

Winter is coming to an end here in the southern hemisphere.
And what a better way to see winter out than a hot, delicious, nutritious soup!

I’ve missed French Fridays with Dorie.

It’s been wildly busy.

But with the change in seasons comes a change in routines.

Soccer season has come to an end…

2011 Season Champions!
(My soccer champ is the one in the black jumper)

Netball season has finished for the year…
That’s my daughter’s team getting up to receive their grand final winners trophies!

We now have a few well deserved week’s off before summer sports begin!

But what better way to wind up a great season and nourish sore, tired bodies than with a vegetable packed soup?
Love the colours!

We all loved this soup.

It was a great way to wind up winter!

I chose to serve the soup on its own with warm crusty bread.
Check out the great photos, variations and interpretations of this soup by the rest of the ‘French Fridays with Dorie’ members here!


Summer Melon Berry Soup

We just returned from perfect winter weather in Queensland to cold, cloudy days in Sydney.
We spent a week here…

So to return to the 15 to 16 degree celsius weather in Sydney was a bit of shock.
This week’s recipe though kept the summer feeling alive.

Dorie’s Cold Melon Berry Soup was simple, light and refreshing.

I must say, I prefer the melon just cut into pieces. Natural.
Drinking rockmelon (sorry cantaloupe!) was not my thing.
I think my husband thought the same, the rockmelon balls were his favourite thing.

But it looked great and definitely created an atmosphere of summer on a cold, rainy, Sydney day!

Please visit French Fridays with Dorie and check out what others thought of this week’s ‘Around My French Table’ recipe.


Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions with Goat Cheese, Rocket and Tomatoes

This was the best salad I have eaten in a long time!
I wasn’t keen to begin with.
In fact, if I wasn’t part of the French Fridays with Dorie group, I would not have even paused at this page.
But I am sooo glad I did!

I had no idea that placing a sliced onion into a bowl of cold water and refrigerating it, would make it so crispy and crunchy!
The vinaigrette of Dijon mustard, honey, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper elevated the taste of the entire dish.
The assembly was the simplest and best part though!
I just had to scatter the leaves of rocket (and I had spinach as well). Sprinkle the cherry tomatoes. Layer the cooked beets that were chilling in the refrigerator with the vinaigrette. Crumb over some goat’s cheese and top with the icy red onions.

I served mine with chicken coated in panko breadcrumbs…

The combination was honestly unbeatable!
I’ll definitely make this again!
Can’t wait to see what everyone else at French Fridays with Dorie thought of this week’s recipe and what they served it with!


Roasted Rhubarb and Vanilla Rice Pudding

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was Roasted Rhubarb.

It really doesn’t get easier than this.
Chop up half a kilo of rhubarb and sprinkle half a cup of sugar and the rind of half an orange over it.
Cover with foil and bake at 200 degrees celsius for 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake for a further 5 mins until the syrup bubbles.
That’s it. Simple.
Dorie suggests trying it as soon as possible and adding honey if too sour.
I figured the sweetness of the vanilla rice pudding would work well with the sourness of the rhubarb as it was.

Vanilla Rice Pudding

1 cup Aborio Rice
1 litre milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 Vanilla bean, split and only use scraped out seeds

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until rice is tender.
The Vanilla Rice Pudding was absolutely delicious.
It went really well with the tartness of the roasted rhubarb.

Best of all, I was able to share the evening with my parents. The last time  my dad was over for dinner was September 2010. November 18th he had a stroke and a heart attack that he was not expected to survive. Over four months in hospital and lots and lots of rehab later, he is finally back home. It was great hearing his stories of how they make rice pudding in Serbia. He had fond memories of it topped with cream and meringue. Sounded great but figured it best to give it a skip unless I wanted him back in hospital with another stroke!

That’s what I love about food. It brings us together and creates happy times and great memories.

For more stories and roasted rhubarb recipes head over to French Fridays with Dorie.


Cardamom Rice Pilaf

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie was Cardamom Rice Pilaf.

I have never used cardamom before.
I bruised the 7 pods like Dorie said and inside were little seeds!
The smell was familiar.
I threw them into saucepan with olive oil and a finely chopped onion. A few minutes later, as the onion turned a translucent shade, I added the Basmati rice, two cups of vegetable stock and a bit of grated lemon rind. About 10 minutes later the water was absorbed and the rice was ready. My 10 year old said it was “the best rice he had ever eaten!”
I served it with broccolini and teriyaki chicken.
It was an incredibly easy and satisfying meal.

And the kids actually asked if they could have the leftovers for  their school lunch the next day!

We really enjoyed last week’s recipe as well but my little helper was in hospital getting his tonsils and adenoids out so didn’t get around to posting it!

But it was well worth it, he’s finally sleeping through the night.
He can now sleep flat on his back without any gurgling noises!

Can’t wait to get back to the French Fridays with Dorie website to check out what others did with this week’s and last week’s recipe!


Quiches and Tarts – and everything in between!

It has been another busy week.
At home there’s school, soccer, band, karate, dancing, netball, get togethers, parties, homework, assignments, fights, tears… mostly mine!

Netball Gala Day to raise money for Cancer Research

Band Workshop

Helping out at school

At work there’s more tears, lots of them, but at least there the tears are from clients trying to cope with their own lives.

In all the madness I tried to foster a sense of control so I went on a cleaning and purging binge!
I cleaned everything! Including my iphone… and all the photos… including the one’s of this week’s recipe.

Probably how I looked when I realised I wiped the photos!
(Don’t you love the pics the kids think are hilarious to take!)


I can tell you Dorie’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche was amazing.
Everyone loved it, from the 3 year old to my 70 year old dad.
Absolutely amazing!
To see actual photos of Dorie’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche from the talented French Fridays with Dorie cooks, click here. 

I made this quiche on the weekend, so I was going to be really good (after missing last week’s recipe) and get my post ready nice and early.
When I discovered I’d wiped my photos I was bummed but ready to make another quiche.
Everyone loved it after all…
But then, as I was flicking through my copy of Around My French Table, I noticed the recipe for Gerard’s Mustard Tart.
I joined after the group made this and I happen to love mustard so I thought I’d make this instead.

Dorie uses the same tart dough recipe for both recipes and I had my trusty sidekick helping…

The dough is so easy to make…

The filling for both quiches was even easier to prepare…

As I said I love mustard.
I also love leeks and pasty.
The taste was unusual and unfamiliar, but in a good way.
It left us with a quizzical but appreciative look on our faces.
I definitely recommend stepping out of the familiar and giving this tart a go.
And the spinach and bacon quiche will definitely be made again and again!

A very comprehensive and detailed recipe of Dorie Greenspan’s mustard tart can be found here.