Kitchen Therapy


Beef Cheek Daube with Carrots and Elbow Macaroni

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Herbed Olives.
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.

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.






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!


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!







Neapolitan Cake & My 100th Post!

It’s my 100th post!


I’ve always wanted to be consistent and persistent.
I hear they are wonderful qualities.
Unfortunately they have never been qualities used to describe me!
Until now.
And it’s all thanks to this blog.

I guess when you find something you enjoy, you want to keep doing it.

I’m learning to not question (too much) why I enjoy doing this?!
To not try to dissect and understand it.
To just accept that it makes me happy.
And enjoy it.

I made this cake for my son’s 5th birthday.
The recipe is from Heather Baird’s SprinkleBakes book.
The kids loved it!

It’s such a great party cake!

It occurred to me it was also the perfect cake to celebrate my 100th post!
And my venture into the crazy new world of consistency and persistence!


Mushroom and Shallot Quiche

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is now one of my all time favourites!
The smell and taste of this quiche was divine.

It’s been a busy few weeks with birthdays and friends…


… and just life in general.

What a great week I chose to return though!

We loved this dish!

Looking forward to catching up with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group and reading their thoughts on this recipe!


Freshwater Beach, Cappuccino and Orange Butter Drops with Coconut

It’s spring!
The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer and everything looks so vibrant and colourful.
Feels like all my senses are coming alive.
The jasmine that covers our fence is in full bloom.
Each time I step outside I can smell it. 
Hanging out the laundry has suddenly become a pleasant experience!

The track leading to Manly beach goes right past our house.
I walk it regularly. 
But suddenly it’s so alive!
The scenery I’ve taken for granted all winter has me slowing down to take it all in.

I walked to Manly and then continued on to Freshwater beach this weekend.
I stopped for a cappuccino at the kiosk attached to the very popular Pilu restaurant (upper right hand pic below) while I waited for my husband and kids to meet me.
They made my cappuccino with real chocolate flakes! 
How decadent!
(the little bit I actually got to taste was amazing!)

A perfect way to finish my walk!

The spring light and sunshine had me inspired.
After a leisurely lunch at Dee Why beach I couldn’t wait to get home and make these Orange Butter Drops with Shredded Coconut from my latest crush, my One Girl Cookies cookbook.
I’ve had my eye on these cookies for a while now and today was the perfect day to make these little bursts of sunshine!
My little monkey and I made these in no time and my friend arrived as I pulled them out of the oven.
We sat around the kitchen bench dipping them into the orange and cream cheese glaze, then the coconut and then straight into our mouths!
They were incredibly pretty to look at and tasted delicious!

ORANGE BUTTER DROPS with Shredded Coconut
(One Girl Cookies)

3 /4 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of one orange
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Put the granulated sugar and the orange zest in a medium bowl. Using both hands, rub the sugar into the orange zest. Put the mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

2. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the pieces of butter. When the mixture begins to look like crumbs, add the vanilla. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese. When the dough starts to clump together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it by hand for a few seconds until it is fully combined.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.

4. Scoop out a small round of dough, about 1 1/2 tablespoons in size. Roll the scoop into a ball, place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and gently press the ball. Repeat, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. Prepare the glaze: In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon cream cheese, the orange juice, and the confectioner’s sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes. The glaze should be as thick as glue.

6. Spread the coconut on a plate. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, dip into the shredded coconut (I used dessicated coconut), and let set for 20 minutes.


Apple Upside Down Chiffon Cake

I really enjoyed making this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking with Julia recipe.

Life is usually chaotic.
Running from place to place.
Rushing through as many things as possible.
Thinking about what needs to be done next.

My 15 year old daughter came home from a week at the snow…
So a week’s worth of washing is what needs to be done next!
(And fixing a washing machine that broke the night she arrived home!)

Grand finals week…
So extra training sessions, gifts for coaches and managers, end of season get togethers were next!

My friend’s 50th birthday…
What to wear? Buy something new or grab something from the closet? What present to give? Working out what time I will realistically be able to get to party as the kids need to be fed and showered and ready for bed to make life easy for their grandparents who will be at home with them before I even think abut getting myself ready is next!

It’s all little things.
There’s just a never ending stream of ‘little things’!
And planning for ‘what’s next’ takes up a lot of ‘what’s actually happening now’ time!

I decided I didn’t want to rush through another recipe (or life!)
So every time I had a few moments to myself, instead of planning for what’s next, I decided to get familiar with this week’s recipe.
I read the entire recipe, from beginning to end. I read all the incredibly useful comments under the P&Q section. I took on board all the advice and experiences that other group members generously took the time to share. I found this invaluable.
I got my baking tins out and since I didn’t have a 10-inch pan I decided to use my 8-inch tube pan and used the excess mixture to make another 6-inch Apple Upside-Down Chiffon Cake (I even googled the volume of different pans to help me make this decision!)
I also googled upside down chiffon cakes to decide on a topping. The original recipe uses nectarines which are not in season here in Sydney, so I decided on Granny Smith apples.

This cake turned out amazing.
We had a BBQ for Father’s Day and this cake was the perfect ending to an amazing spring day.
(I gave the 6 inch version to my mum to take home in the pan so I have no photo!)

This cake wasn’t a chore.
It wasn’t another recipe to rush through.
It was a delightful break from the constant chatter of my monkey brain.
It reminded me why I started this blog and joined these wonderful groups.

Marlise of The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan of The Little French Bakery are this week’s hosts and have the full recipe on their websites if you are interested in having a look…



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.


How a Cheating Kristen Stewart ruined my Blueberry Pie

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Blueberry Nectarine Pie.
It’s winter here in Australia, so there are no nectarines to be found.
I replaced them with strawberries.
What could go wrong…?

Now please indulge me for a second as I digress…
While buying the ingredients for the pie I saw this magazine sitting on the shelves as I sat in the grocery line waiting to pay. The look on Kristen Stewart’s face caught my attention.

I’ve come across that look many times in my career.
Reason and caution go out the window.
You are fully immersed in your drama and all your senses are alive!
Ideally people would be striving to achieving this mental state in a healthy way by identifying what is missing in their lives and setting goals that would satisfy these needs.
Unfortunately, through my work,  I’ve come to understand achieving this in a healthy way  is really hard work!
So the distractions of choice are usually affairs and drugs!
(Or in my case, food!)
So with this all going through my mind, I somehow decided that this pie would be so mind blowingly great I too would lose sense and reason!
Yes, in hindsight I can see it’s bonkers and what was I thinking!
But I wanted the pie to be that good!!!

My husband and kids enjoyed it.
I thought it looked good, but I really didn’t like it at all!
My husband thought I was crazy until I told him of my expectations.
After he stopped laughing, he assured me no pie was going to live up to those expectations and to try it with ice cream! We need someone sane in the family!

To check out the recipe visit Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake or Hilary at Manchego’s Kitchen.


Tardis Rainbow Birthday Cake and Dalek Cupcakes

In 1979 we left Yugoslavia and boarded a Qantas flight to begin our new life in Sydney, Australia.
My mum’s sister greeted us at the airport, she had immigrated many years earlier and we stayed with her family for a couple of months until we got on our feet.
I was 7 years old and I have two very distinct memories of this time.
1. I remember wondering how people could eat Kentucky Fried Chicken with Coleslaw! I thought it was the strangest and most unpleasant tasting thing I had ever tried (strangely enough, it didn’t take long to develop a taste for this food phenomenon!)
2. My 10 & 6 year old cousins had a small tv in the play room at the back of the house where they would go and watch Dr Who episodes every night after dinner. This is the Dr I was introduced to…

                                                                                        The Fourth Dr Who

I have to tell you, we were terrified watching some of the episodes! I remember many times hiding under sheets while we waited for the scary bits to be over! But as soon as the show was finished our bravado returned. I remember wrapping my younger cousin from head to food in toilet paper trying to re-create one of the show’s creatures!

I’m not sure where Dr Who and I parted ways? I’d like to say it was the long hours spent studying as I got older and had less and less time for tv. This is true (seriously!) But if I’m to be totally honest, I have to acknowledge that along with this was an ever growing interest in boys and spending any free time I did have, going out with friends.

However,  in the last few months the Dr entered my life again, thanks to my now 12 year old son and his friends!
I listened to their in depth conversations about the latest episodes as they dissected each event and argued about their absolute favourite episode!

We had some sleepless nights when they discovered the weeping angels and thought it was funny to replay the scary bits of the episode again and again on You Tube! It was okay doing that when they were all together at someone’s house and in a big group, but they soon learnt it wasn’t that great when they had to come home and get ready for bed! At night! By themselves. All alone in their room!
Thankfully the more they watched the scary bits on You Tube, the more immune they became!

(Can you believe every photo I have of my son’t 12th birthday is blurry! How to make them stand still long enough to take a decent photo is beyond me!)

So with his 12th Birthday approaching I told the boys I would make a Tardis birthday cake!
To be honest I was all talk.
But they told everyone and got so excited I realised at some point my credibility was at stake!
Once I stopped fighting the idea, I relaxed and had a lot of fun.

I decided I would take this opportunity to incorporate a number of recipes I’ve been wanting to try for a long time and to be honest, without accountability and a looming deadline they would probably have been on my “one day” list for years to come.

I’ve been wanting to try Marshmallow Fondant.
I found a recipe one of the prettiest blogs I have ever come across! Bakingdom .
If you click here it will take you straight to Darla’s marshmallow fondant recipe!

Now I’ve never made, let alone used marshmallow fondant before. So I was pretty happy with the results…

My other “one day” recipe was from a blog I stumbled upon recently that is indescribably stunning Sweetapolita.

I saw Rosie’s Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake and it’s been on my mind ever since.
So I decided, since I was expected to produce a Tardis birthday cake, I was going to go all the way!

We sang happy birthday (which included strange word additions and a lot of wresting) but eventually my son cut into his birthday cake…

To say the boys were blown away would be an understatement!

I followed Rosie’s recipe for the Rainbow Cake with Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream and made as many layers as I thought a Tardis would need in height. I spread her lemony swiss meringue buttercream between each layer and finished it off with a crumb coat before covering the whole thing with the coloured Marshmallow Fondant.

The dalek cupcakes were simply chocolate cupcakes.
I made a dozen regular sized cupcakes and topped them each with mini cupcake.
I then made and tinted buttercream in the colours of the newest dalek models and covered the cupcakes.
From what I can gather, the different coloured daleks have different qualities, so the boys put quite a bit of thought into which dalek they wanted to eat!

Then back to their skateboards… on their stomachs…as you do…
I guess riding upright got boring?!?


Lemon Loaf Cake

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was perfect for Easter!
For two week’s, since 1823, Sydney plays host to Australia’s largest event, The Sydney Royal Easter show.

It’s when city meets country.
Australia’s rural industries showcase their finest produce and livestock.

Districts from Queensland and New South Wales display their primary products in creative and imaginative ways…

 Livestock of every kind is displayed and judged.
Sheep, pigs, goats, horses, poultry and cattle of many breeds.

There are also dog shows, cat shows and animal nurseries.
The kids get to see chicks hatch and feed and hold farmyard animals.

And of course there are the rides…

We finish the day by loading up on show bags and settling in to watch the nightly show before the fireworks.

It’s a long and expensive day.
But there’s something for everyone.
Did I mention the woodchopping, show jumping, tent pegging and precision driving?

Or my all time favourite reason for going to the show…
The farmers sell tubs of freshly cut pineapple and watermelon.
Stalls sell sausage sandwiches, potato on a stick, chocolate covered berries, vienna almonds and gozleme.

There are also arts and crafts displays and competitions.
Woodwork, leatherwork, lacemaking, embroidery and toy-making.
One of the most popular categories since 1960 has been cake making and cake decorating.
Sugar crafts are judged and displayed along with cakes, biscuits, slices, jams and preserves.

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, lemon loaf cake, would be a perfect fit here.
Simple, yet tasty, old fashioned home cooking.
Food you would serve at afternoon tea with the neighbours…

We all loved the taste and texture of this cake, I can’t wait to see what the other Tuesdays with Dorie group members thought!

And if you would like to see the recipe and try it out for yourself, head over to this week’s hosts, Truc from Treats  and Michelle from The Beauty of Life.