Kitchen Therapy


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Crumb Topped Apple Bars

It has been a very long while since I cooked with the Tuesdays with Dorie group. I have always enjoyed being a part of the group. However, as I mentioned in my last post, I was working with rape and domestic violence clients, working a 24 hour roster and then I caught every virus going, the last one being glandular fever. I just could not recover. I made attempts to join in with the cooking, however it was always short lived.
I have recently found a functional medicine doctor, not many of those here in Australia! I wasn’t expecting much, considering my experience to date with doctors has been… not great to say the least.
Some genetic testing revealed I have inherited faulty MTHFR genes. Not one, but two faulty copies from each parent! Basically, this gene mutation effects my ability to convert folate I eat into something my body can use. If you are cruising through life, this might not be much of an issue, and for me it was fine for some 40+ years. However once I became very ill, it was hard to recover.
I tried everything! Even going vegan for a while, which I now realise made things worse as my body needs a much larger amount of B12 than the average ‘non mutant’ gene person 🙂
I am excited that with high doses of B12 and methylfolate (tiny doses) I am already feeling better! And the first thing I wanted to do was cook!

This week’s recipe was interesting for me as part of my healing was cooking green apples, with a handful of raisins, cinnamon and some honey. I love this combination. The crumb topped apple bars are the same combination (minus the cinnamon) on a cookie base!
It was so much fun cooking this. I haven’t used butter and sugar in a while and it was ridiculously enjoyable! I realised my tastes have changed a bit and while I loved the apple filling I did find the whole bar a bit too sweet! Something I did not think I would ever say in my life!
The rest of the family was very excited with the smells that filled the house with this recipe. They have enjoyed the raw desserts I’ve been making however they did say they missed the smell of baking 🙂
I am looking forward to reading about what the other members of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought of their recipe of the week.


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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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Dieter’s Tartine

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Lunch for one? What?!?
I realised that my attention is always on family meals.
Feeding our family of 5 takes a bit of planning.
Activities determine how quick and easy meals need to be some nights.
Likes and dislikes narrow down choices on other nights.
And then there’s the nights when I give up and order thai for everyone!
So on the days I’m not at work, lunch for me is quick and dodgy.
But not today!
Today I feast 🙂
Today was all about me!
I was making this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe for one!
It was quick and easy… and yet… it felt leisurely and indulgent.
(I am pretty sure I even clapped my hands in delight and anticipation at one point!)

I grilled some crusty bread (I love the stripes grilling leaves!)
Spread some cottage cheese on top.
Spooned some diced tomatoes and cucumbers over the cheese.
Scattered some green onions.
Ground some salt and pepper over it all.
And finally,
I drizzled (drowned) the entire thing with the most delicious Balsamic Vinegar I have ever tasted!
(I bought it on my last visit to the new Williams-Sonoma store that opened in Sydney).
OMG it was amazing!!!

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


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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!


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Pizza with Onion Confit

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was the perfect recipe to kick-start 2013
(after a month of posting nothing!)

I had good intentions…

But we all know where they lead you when there’s no actions to back them up!

December was chaotic.

In addition to the usual holiday madness, I had my older son finishing his last year of primary school.
After 7 years together (in Australia, kids start primary school when they are about 5 and complete a year of kindergarten followed by Years 1-6) my 12-yr-old son has now finished Year 6 and is off to high school where he will do Years 7-12!
School ended December 19th, however those last few weeks were in full party mode.
Surfing lessons, golf, tennis, camps, craft days, graduation ceremonies, concerts, dances and dinners were all arranged by the school.

My son and husband at his Year 6 graduation dinner/dance…

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Then there were all the after school activities that the kids took to arranging for themselves on Skype and Instagram!

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While the primary school was focused on sending their Year 6 kids off with a bunch of great memories, their respective high schools had their own orientation days and activities designed to welcome their new Year 7’s for 2013!

 And all this was just with one child!

My younger son is starting primary school in 2013 so he had a series of orientation days of his own to attend and my daughter is undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh program which meant the last couple of weeks of school were spent getting organised for a kayaking/camping trip.

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So…

Visions of myself baking Buche de Noels, Gingerbread houses, Christmas themed cookies, cakes and cupcakes went out of the window.
This year, it felt like Christmas was eclipsed by… life.
I didn’t even try to fight it.
I just went with it.

The kids return to school January 30th and we usually go away for a couple of weeks at some point over this 6-week break, however this year we decided to stay in Sydney.

And days like the one in the pics below, reminded me of what an awesome place we live in!

My son went to his friend’s 5th birthday, kayaking around Manly harbour…IMG_4502

The kids headed out with their parents…

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Then returned to cool down with a swim and a picnic lunch.

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Today was a crazy 43 degrees celsius in Sydney.
But yesterday was the perfect pizza making day!
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And so we kick start 2013 baking with Dorie and Julia!

We all love olives and goat’s cheese in our family, so this recipe was enjoyed by everyone.
I have been wanting to make this for a while and I love the mix of the sweet onions with the salty olives and cheese. I thought it was perfect!

This Tuesdays with Dorie recipe can be found in the book ‘Baking with Julia’ or by heading over to Paul’s blog ‘The Boy Can Bake’  .
After a month away, I am looking forward to catching up on what everyone has been up to!


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Beef Cheek Daube with Carrots and Elbow Macaroni

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Herbed Olives.
Ummm…
I didn’t make herbed olives.
I didn’t even register herbed olives on the November recipe schedule!
I just went to the FFWD site to get ready to link to it and there they were.
November 23rd – Herbed Olives.

 

I’m genuinely baffled and a little amused!
(Amused because I think my little obsession with beef cheeks has rendered me blind!)

 

 

It all started with an episode of MasterChef.
One of the contestants was cooking against a chef from Melbourne called Frank Camorra.
There was such a humbleness and graciousness in the chef’s demeanor, years later, I can still recall how uplifted and inspired I felt after that episode.
On our next trip to Melbourne,  I googled his restaurant on a whim and before I knew it, we were having lunch at his Spanish restaurant, Movida.
I was so excited, I wanted to try everything on his Tapas style menu.
Dish after dish arrived, my husband and I were having so much fun.
The flavours were exciting and new.
And then… right at the end… it came out.
Braised Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximenez on Cauliflower Puree.
I didn’t think food could make you feel giddy with pleasure.
But that’s what this dish did to me.
The beef cheeks melted in my mouth.
The sweetness of the dark, thick, sherry sauce was perfectly balanced and complimented by the smooth cauliflower puree.
Seriously, my words just don’t do this dish justice.
Every 2-3 months we fly to Melbourne and 2 years later, our first stop is still Movida.

So with all this flooding my mind, it’s no wonder I jumped the gun on this recipe!

Dorie’s recipe for beef cheeks was good.
Comforting.
Satisfying.

After all the jumping around it was a good meal to sit on the back deck and fill up on…

 

Once I realised this was not going to be anything like Movida’s beef cheeks, I let go of my expectations and enjoyed the dish. It was a good, solid, meal.

If you’d like to see what French Fridays with Dorie is all about, click here.

 

 

 

 


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Goat Cheese Mini Puffs

 

 

 

These cheese puffs almost didn’t get made because I got carried away watching season 3 of the Vampire Diaries.
My husband told me anyone my age watching the show should be just plain embarrassed!
In my defence, I wanted to check out what my 15 year old and her friends were watching…
and I kind of got hooked!
Like when I joined Facebook a few years back so I could understand what it was all about before I let my daughter join.
Come to think of it, I got a bit carried away back then too…
But if it wasn’t for the kids I would never, ever have read Twilight, The Hunger Games or know what Gangnam Style was!
And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Right???

 

I managed to tear myself away from the Stefan, Damon, Elena love triangle long enough to get this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe done.
And lucky I did, because it’s now almost midnight and I’ve just come back home from picking up my daughter and her friends from the cinema.
They watched the last Twilight movie and are sitting with tear stained faces telling me about the “horrible shocking twist at the end” while snacking on these bite sized puffs of cheesy comfort.

 

(Clearly now I have to go and see the movie!)

To see more golden cheesy filled puffs click here!