Kitchen Therapy


Chicken with Peppers

I made this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe last week!
I was so impressed with myself!
(I usually complete the recipes on the day they are due!)
And boy was I glad I did this one early!
Today, Friday, is the last day of school for Term 3 in New South Wales, Australia.
The kids now have two weeks off, before going back for one last term of school for 2012.

We live across the road from the school…


I took this photo of the school from our driveway.

So after hanging out on the oval for a while after school, all the boys head to our place!
Hot, sweaty and dirty from playing sports.
Thirsty and hungry.
They take over the house.
And there’s never less than 5 of them.


It’s become a Friday thing.
And to be honest… I enjoy it.
They leave a trail of grass, dirt and food scraps behind them, but it’s nothing a quick vacuum and mop can’t fix!

Today, being the last day of school, meant most of us mum’s also stayed back at the school, chatting while the kids played. So if I didn’t complete this recipe last week, I would have written it off today and missed out.

And what a shame that would have been!

This dish was delicious!

The whole family loved it!


I will definitely be making this again… and again… and again…

It’s not often a dish comes along that we all love.

I am looking forward to reading what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of this one!


















Spiced Poached Apples

I wasn’t sure about this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.
Apples poached in water with honey, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, star anise and a cinnamon quill?

Surprisingly I had everything I needed at home.
Add to this, the simplicity of the recipe and I knew I had no excuse!

Once I started cooking, the fragrance of the spices and apples filled the house.
I was hooked!
I decided on the spot to make Vanilla Rice Pudding from a Donna Hay recipe I had used in the past.
I put 1 cup aborio rice in a pan with 4 cups milk, 1/2 cup caster sugar and seeds from one vanilla pod.
I brought it all to a boil then reduced the heat, covered it and cooked it for  about 20 minutes.
I was stirring and checking until the last 5 minutes.
For some reason I chose this moment to call a hotel in Adelaide to check on rates for a holiday we are planning in January. My brain struggles focusing for extended periods of time on one task!
I totally forgot about the rice and it turned out drier than I hoped for but I followed a tip I had read from Joy the Baker and added extra milk and stirred it through! Thank you Joy the Baker! It tasted amazing!

The next morning I sent everyone off to school and I remembered my poached apples!
I put them on top of a bowl of yoghurt and sat in the warm sun on the back porch.
I have to say while my husband loved them with the rice custard, I fell in love with the apple and yoghurt combo!

I still have some left…

I love knowing I can just pull them out of the fridge and add them to whatever takes my fancy!

I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week’s recipe!


What Can You Do With Left Over Egg Yolks? Creme Brulee!

My daughter turned 15 the day she left for ski camp.
We had a dinner the night before to celebrate.
I asked her “what cake would you like me to make?”
She said “Pavlova!”
We adore pavlova in our family.
I usually make a 12 egg white pavlova and there’s never any left over for the next day.
We had a great dinner and the next morning we dropped her off at school at 6am.
She spent her birthday on a 6 hour bus ride to the snow with her friends.

I was so excited to have her back a week later, I made another pavlova to welcome her home!

I was telling my friend I was making another pavlova and she said, “You make a lot of pavlova’s! What do you do with all the egg yolks?”
Innocent enough, right?
I stared at her blankly… the egg yolks?
I’ve always thrown them out without a second thought.
Her question caught me off guard.
It made me look at my habits.
Suddenly all I could hear going through my head was Maya Angelou’s famous quote:

“When you know better, you do better.” 

My blissful ignorance was shattered and I had to change my wasteful ways.
So I turned to Google.
And Google led me straight to Creme Brulee.

I had never, ever made creme brulee or custard of any sort from scratch.
The first thing I did was go out and get myself a blow torch (which I had secretly been coveting for some time.)

Next I opened Dorie Greenspan’s book ‘Around My French Table’ and hoped there’d be a recipe in there for creme brulee. I figured one day the recipe would come up with the French Fridays with Dorie Group and I would be prepared ahead of time! A first for me!
Dorie did have a recipe for creme brulee! Yay!
However my smug happiness was short lived!
The French Fridays with Dorie group had already completed this recipe… last year!

I decided to put this week’s scheduled recipe on hold as my daughter was bringing a bunch of friends over after school and I was making her a third pavlova, one to share with her friends!

I then proudly used the left over egg yolks to make Dorie Greenspan’s creme brulee!

The girls devoured the pavlova as soon as they walked in the door.
There was 7 of them and the pavlova didn’t stand a chance!

After dinner I pulled out the creme brulee and we all stood around the kitchen bench talking about boys and taking turns melting the sugar on top.
The girls loved it!
I could not believe how delicious it was!
I SMS’d my friend and proudly told her I used the egg yolks to make creme brulee and thanked her for bringing something so incredibly easy to make and delicious into my life!

I can’t wait to check out this week’s recipeFrench Fridays with Dorie group, but I have to say I am so glad I caught up on a recipe I had missed. A recipe that will now be made every time I make a pavlova!


Zucchini Vermicelli with Cucumber and Lemon


It’s Father’s Day in Australia the first Sunday of every September.
I spent the day madly shopping for presents.
(I have a terrible habit of leaving everything till the last minute).

I couldn’t imagine going home and cooking.
I honestly gave up any hope of completing this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.
I was tired and truth be told… it wasn’t a recipe that appealed to me in any way!


Raw zucchini? Umm… no thanks.
If I saw this on dish on a menu, I would skim right over it!

I decided I would stop by the Foodhall at David Jones (it’s pretty fancy in there) and splurge on dinner.
I couldn’t go past the Chunky Beef Pie by Simmone Logue Fine Food Company.



Pies are about as Aussie as you can get.
But I’ve always struggled with what to serve alongside a meat pie (other than tomato sauce that is!)
I felt I needed to serve it with a salad, I don’t know why, maybe it’s a mum thing?
You know, making sure the kids get their vegetables and stuff…
But a salad doesn’t really go with a meat pie.
(It’s just my opinion!)

Then it occurred to me, Dorie’s zucchini salad wasn’t your typical salad…
I started to toy with the idea of serving it alongside the pie.
I started to get excited!
Imagine finding a salad that would go with a meat pie!


This salad is very easy to make.
The zucchini was meant to be cut into long thin strips that resemble tagliatelle.
I just couldn’t imagine eating wide strips of raw zucchini!
So I used my magic slicing machine (that’s what I call this contraption cos I don’t know it’s real name! Sorry!) to cut my zucchini into thin spaghetti shaped strips.
Obstacle overcome!
I was feeling pretty happy with myself! (Yes it really is the little things!)


This salad tasted great on it’s own and went surprisingly well with the pie.
The acidity from the lemon complimented the chunky beef filling in an oddly similar way to our traditional side of tomato sauce!
I was surprised!
And very, very pleased with myself!
(Honestly you’d think I had just invented the meat pie itself!)

The salad also tasted good on it’s own, I’d make it again, probably with grilled chicken next time!

The recipe has been published on Bon Appetit if you’d like to see it for yourself!
And to see more reviews and thoughts on this dish, head over to French Fridays with Dorie.








Popovers – TWD: Baking with Julia

I lost track of time and realised my only opportunity to make this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia recipe was going to be Monday morning, before school. Definitely not an ideal time!

I read the recipe and realised all I had to do was put some flour, milk, eggs, a little bit of melted butter and a touch of salt in a blender and process! Once I wrapped my head around what I needed to do to make this happen, I was ready! I could actually pull this off!

I made these in my mini muffin pan and they were soooo cute!

Popovers are not Aussie thing (or at least I don’t think so!).
I’m glad I made them, they’re ridiculously cute!
But I don’t really “get” them.
They tasted a bit eggy and custardy inside.
I liked the crispy exterior.
I tried them with butter, honey and even jam.
They were ok… But I just didn’t ‘get’ them… I’m not even sure what I mean by that!!!
The kids tried them, one wrinkled her nose and the other said he’d rather eat his Weet-Bix.

I’m glad I made them but I don’t think I’ll be making them again.
Despite their cuteness!

I’m keen to check out what the rest of the TWD group thought!

If you’d like to try them for yourself Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy of Bake with Amy are this week’s hosts and have the recipe posted on their sites.


Donna Hay’s Ham, Cheddar and Leek Pie with Cafe Style Grated Carrot Salad

Winter sports are winding up here in Australia, with semi finals and finals either already played or being played on upcoming weekends. Last week was busy with both school and weekend sports being played in extremely unpleasant conditions! It was freezing cold, windy and rainy!

My son’s (last kid on the right!) school soccer team won another badge to sew on their shorts!
(The rain and wind came in wild spurts during the game, then a brief flash of sunlight came out while I took this photo. Within minutes we were all running to our cars as the rain poured down on us again!)
The following day his weekend soccer team played in more rain and wind to secure a place in the semi finals.

My daughter’s netball team also secured a spot in the semi finals on the same day (she’s fourth from the right). The horrible weather forgotten after a close win!

Oh, I forgot the long, long day at the state futsal championships …

Between trips to training sessions and games (and parties, sleepovers, get togethers and so on)
I would pick up one of my beloved cookbooks and longingly, lovingly caress the pages.
Seriously, I did that.
Making a mental list of what I would make as soon as I had the time gave me butterflies.
These stolen moments of pleasure fed me.
So while I dreamed of spending hours playing in the kitchen.
I was relieved to see that this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a quick and simple cafe style grated carrot salad.
I served this salad with Donna Hay’s equally quick and easy Ham, Leek and Cheddar ‘Impossible’ Pie.

The saltiness of the pie contrasted beautifully with the sweetness of the carrot side salad.

I made Dorie’s carrot salad with all the extra options. I added the raisins, walnuts and parsley.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was simple, light and delicious. Just what we needed!

I made a greek salad for the kids (it was too long a week to be fighting over what sort of salad would have raisins and nuts in it!). However they asked if they could add the vinaigrette to the greek salad! A compromise was reached and we were all happy!

To check out what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of this carrot salad, click here!


Donna Hay’s Ham, Leek and Cheddar ‘Impossible’ Pie
from her annual kid’s issue, number 9
(I made double the recipe)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt and cracked black pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup self raising flour sifted
1 1/2 cups milk
150g double smoked ham, shredded
1 cup grated cheddar

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the leek and garlic and cook 5-7 minutes until golden and softened. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Place the eggs and flour in a bowl and whisk well to combine.
4. Gradually add the milk and whisk to combine.
5. Place the leek, ham and cheese in a lightly greased 24 cm round ovenproof  baking dish.
6. Pour over the milk mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover loosely with aluminium foil.
7. Cook for 30 minutes, uncover and cook for a further 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.


Apple Galette and Redemption

Last week I decided Blueberry Pie was going to bring me unparallelled blissful happiness! 
Well… it didn’t.
I begrudgingly knew that life didn’t work that way.
I’ve even read all the research that clearly states that all the stuff we think will make us happy such as money, posessions, social status and blueberry pie…
(yes, pie is a legitimate category!)
((ok, maybe I made that last bit up, but it should be up there with the rest!))
… they don’t necessarily lead to happiness.

So this week I was prepared.
I wasn’t going to let any doe-eyed Kristen Stewart, gazing longingly at me from the supermarket magazine stands, foil my galette!

I turned my back on scientific research (and logic of any kind) last week and there were consequences! I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice (at least not in such a short time!)

So what does psychological research on happiness tell us?

Finding joy in the present moment increases life satisfaction.

So this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was approached with curiosity, openness and independent of judgement or expectations.

Disappointment was not an option under these circumstances!

I also decided to work with the seasons rather than against them, so I used apples to make my galette since it’s winter here in Australia.

The result was pure delight and delicious pleasure!

The recipe is incredible easy and can be found by visiting Lisa at Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen or Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness!


Tomato and Bocconcini Tartlets


About a year or so ago, I went to my friend’s house and as the kids ran around and jumped in and out of the pool we sat in her back yard, chatted and caught up on each other’s lives.

She laughed at me because I had grabbed my Amazon package the postman has just delivered and was opening it at her house.

While I ripped at the box, she went inside and brought out little tomato tarts she had made from a recipe in the  latest Donna Hay magazine. They we bite size squares of golden puff pastry topped with olive tapenade, a slice of tomato and fresh bocconcini cheese.

They were so incredibly simple and delicious we ate the entire tray as we flicked through my new book, Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Around My French Table’ and she listened to my plans about joining an online cooking blog I had read about.


The next day, I bought the magazine, and the ingredients, and I made the delicious little tarts for my family.
They were a huge hit and I’ve been making them on a regular basis since then.
They are a great after school snack!


hen I saw this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe it brought back my memories of that lazy afternoon.


So much so, that I kind of went on automatic pilot mode.
I didn’t follow Dorie’s instructions. They seemed a little bit complicated for something so simple.
I just cut the puff pastry sheets into little squares.
Smeared a dollop of black olive tapenade and put a slice of tomato on top.
I baked these in the oven until golden brown.
I then took them out of the oven and topped them with fresh slices of bocconcini cheese and basil leaves.

I followed Dorie’s suggestion and sprinkled some balsamic vinegar on top of some of the squares and I have to admit, I loved the taste.


Simple and Perfect!

I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of this week’s recipe.










Cherry Mascarpone Roulade

It has been far too long since my last French Fridays with Dorie post.

We moved house.
I slipped a disc in my back (because of the move).
Spent way too long on a crazy cocktail of drugs to just get through each day!
And just when things were coming together…
Bam! School holidays!
There’s always something… right?

When I saw this week’s recipe I knew it was time to return to the group.
And I knew that I would replace the blueberries in Dorie’s recipe with a jar of Morello Cherries.
I contemplated strawberries.
However my daughter and I crave Black Forest Cake, loaded with juicy, plump, sour cherries… pretty much… all  the time!

School holidays are pretty crazy times around here.
I turned my back for a minute at the cinema and a movie poster became a prop!

So amidst all the chaos it was pure bliss carve out a little time to bake.
It felt indulgent.

Dorie’s Roulade recipe was simple and delicious.
We loved the cherry filling.
And I think strawberries would have been amazing.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought!
(We are off to Melbourne for the weekend so I posted a day early!)


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???