Kitchen Therapy


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Chocolate Pudding

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todd's 16th

This week my son turned 16!
His birthday falls at the end of the Easter two week school holidays.
On the first day of the school holidays he went to Chinatown in Sydney with his friends and had a great day at the markets and eating dumplings. The next day he started to feel unwell and a week later we found out he had salmonella poisoning. Luckily it wasn’t severe enough to send him to the hospital but it knocked him around for the entire 2 week school holiday break. He lost a few kilos that he really couldn’t afford to lose so I was excited to get him eating again!

He loves chocolate and I had planned to make this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, the salted butter caramel-chocolate mousse for his birthday celebrations with the family. I left My Paris Kitchen open on the recipe page on the kitchen bench and everyone who walked past and saw the photo was excited! It looks amazing. The problem was that I realised the recipe required raw eggs. Normally I wouldn’t give this a second thought. However, after our salmonella experience I decided (reluctantly) that I just couldn’t take the risk. I broke the news to the family that I would not be making the mousse and my daughter thanked her brother for getting himself sick and “ruining everything”. (I don’t have siblings, I am an only child so I need my husband who is one of 4 boys to reassure me that this is normal!)

I decided to compromise (and I hope the group doesn’t mind) by finding a recipe from David Lebovitz for something similar. I couldn’t go past the Double Chocolate Pudding on his website!
In the past week I have made a double batch of the recipe 3 times. It was surprisingly silky and smooth but not overly sweet. The problem with this was that you could just keep eating it! The third time I made it first thing in the morning and took the photos before everyone came home from school, uni and work. It really was that good! It was also very quick and easy to make. So much reward for such little effort! I know I’ll be making it again… and again… and again 🙂
I know down the track I will make the salted caramel mousse, but for now I can’t say enough good things about David’s Chocolate Pudding!
I can’t wait to see how everyone went with this week’s Cook the Book Fridays group recipe!

 


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Jammer Cookies

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is the Jammer Galette. Dorie describes it as “a vanilla sable topped with a spoonful of jam and circled with streusel.” The recipe is for a “thick, chunky galette” however I couldn’t get the idea of small, cookie sized jammer out of my mind. I wanted something I could just pop into my mouth and savour, and these turned out perfect!

As I was making these I was thinking about this blogging thing and the love and effort that we all put into it.
We buy the ingredients, we make the food, we photograph it making it look as pretty as we can and then we write about it. It’s a fair amount of work!

Recently, I have come across people on various social media sites (totally unrelated to any of these groups by the way!) posting photos of food that they have taken from magazines or other sites and claiming it is their own. I’ve read about this on other blogs and in my naivety I always thought no, that doesn’t really happen! However, having witnessed it, it’s been on my mind a lot recently.

My first reaction was “wow! the audacity!”and I laughed it off (that’s often my first reaction to most things). As time has gone by I realise that it actually does bother me. With each recipe we make I’ve become more and more mindful of the time, commitment, love and effort involved. Sometimes the efforts are rewarding and other times nothing goes right from start to finish! Either way we are in this, doing it, and for that I have a huge respect.

These little cookies didn’t have many ingredients however they really were a labour of love.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In hindsight my little slap of reality has been good for me.

We loved these and I can’t wait to see what recipe the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group cooked!
I found Dorie’s recipe for these on the Epicurious website if anyone is interested in trying them 🙂


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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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Flour’s Famous Banana Cake – Recipe Review

Flour bakery banana bread

School is back for 2016!
Routines are slowly taking shape and the craziness of summer holidays is beginning to settle.
Each day now, I walk my son to school and as he heads off to class with his teacher, I, along with many other parents head straight to the little coffee shop tucked in amongst a few local shops across the road. The coffee is fantastic and I always order it to go, however most of the time I end up sitting at a table catching up with a friend.
It’s a routine I enjoy.
Today, after dropping off my son, I met my friends, we bought our coffees to go and this time we did take them away with us. We decided to walk them back to my place and enjoy the banana bread I made the previous night.

When my children smell banana bread baking they feel comforted.
They love the smell that fills the house.
However… they are also very clear that after trying many version of banana bread over the years their favourite recipe is for the Banana Espresso Choc Chip Muffins from the Baked cookbook (see photo below).
(I usually leave out the espresso but don’t tell them that, it makes them feel grown up!)

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Yesterday however, I had to break it to them that I would be trying a new recipe from Joanne Chang’s Flour book.
The recipe is from her first cookbook, pictured below on the left.
I bought it a while back however after falling ill I couldn’t do much more than stare it for a long time.
There are SO many recipes I want to try however yesterday I had the bananas on hand.  Being unwell has taught me to grab opportunities that come up, no matter how small they may seem and to not over think things. This may sound simple, however my nature has always been to deliberate painfully over what to cook for so long that I end up making nothing. So with my new philosophy guiding me, I decided to make Flour’s Famous Banana Bread.

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It felt good to be making something, even if it was “just another banana bread recipe” 🙂
The recipe can be found all over the internet, here is one link for this recipe from the food network.

Coming together over banana bread is not something new however there is a reason a lot of us do it. It is comforting and nourishing to the soul and it tastes so damn good!
The grown ups really enjoyed this recipe, however the kids can’t go past the choc chips in their favourite banana muffins. I get it, who doesn’t want chocolate thrown into an already awesome tasting treat?!

I didn’t add the walnuts to the recipe (there are too many nut allergies in our house) and I think it still tasted really good. I liked the moist topping that developed on the cake and the inside was surprisingly light. I would definitely make this again, it was easy to make and well worth the effort.

 


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Lemon Slice – Australia Day 2016, Dee Why Beach

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Lemon Slice on Australia Day? Why not!!!
It’s straight out of the fridge and icy cold, the perfect bite for out hot Aussie weather.
This fortnight’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was a great addition to our Australia Day Celebrations.

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January 26th is Australia Day and as usual we head out to Dee Why Beach on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
We have bacon and egg or sausage and egg sandwiches.
There are pancakes with maple syrup and butter or lemon and sugar.
And this year we had Dorie’s Lemon Squares!

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The festivities include a car and bike show, thong (flip flop) throwing competitions, rides, performers and music.
Tattoos are a must, as are hats, flags and anything else that bears the Aussie flag wrapped around your body, your car or even around your house. I usually end up with an Australia flag tattoo on my cheek at some point in the day.
It’s tradition 🙂
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And of course there’s always a few kangaroos hopping about…

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The celebrations start early on Australia Day so we head home around lunch time, when the heat is at it’s peak. We have a rest and put lamb (another Australia Day tradition) in the oven for hours of slow roasting then head back to the beach for a swim while it cooks.
We return home tired and famished. The smell that greets us is soothing and we can’t wait to eat!
This year we will be finishing off a great day and great meal with Lemon Squares topped with dollops of whipped cream.

You can find the recipe (with raspberries added) here.
* We have nut allergies in the house so I left out the almond meal and used normal flour.
I also left off the almond slices that were to be scattered on top of the squares.

 


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Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes Recipe – Cheesecake Factory Fabulousness

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It’s summer time here on the Northern Beaches of NSW, Australia.
We live a few minutes drive from Manly Beach and I feel blessed to live here.
It is absolutely beautiful.

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We decided to not go away these holidays as we are about to start building a new house.
However living here, a popular tourist town, has made me miss our favourite holiday getaway…
Hawaii!

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We stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in the Rainbow Tower.
We have a routine we have carved out for ourselves over a few years now.
We head over to Duke’s for breakfast and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory!
We don’t have the Cheesecake Factory in Australia and it’s usually the first stop after we’ve checked in, had a nap after our overnight 9 hour flight and wake up famished!
On our last trip I discovered the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes and I’ll be honest, I haven’t stopped thinking about them!
I have a clear memory of taking a bite and stopping. There was so much flavour in one bite I just sat, smiled and savoured the explosion in my mouth. A year later I couldn’t remember the exact taste, but I remembered the impression they made on me and everyone else at the table who tried them.

I found the recipe here and after sourcing a can of tomatillos and a bag of masa harina flour I knew the day had come to commit to this recipe. The list of ingredients is long so it did make me hesitate and put this off for way longer than needed. However once I committed to it, I realised I had quite a few of the ingredients in the pantry and the rest were easy to source.

I also realised that the first three components could be placed into my processor and blitzed!

The Salsa Verde:
I doubled the recipe so I put in 4 tomatillos from a can (I had read that it was ok to substitute canned if I couldn’t find fresh and I could not find any tomatillos here on the Northern Beaches). A few slices Jalapenos from a can as I wasn’t sure what type of green chilies the recipe called for, 2 green onions, 4 Tablespoons coriander leaves, 2 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 pinches ground black pepper. You can see the gorgeous and vibrant colours in the salsa verde after a few blitzes in the food processor. Now put in the refrigerator to chill.

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The Tomato Salsa:
Again I doubled the recipe.
I had read a medium tomato weighed about 120grams so I put in a 250g punnet of sweet cherry tomatoes, 1/2 a medium spanish onion, 2 Tablespoons coriander, 1/2 tsp lime juice, a few slices of jalapeno from a jar some salt and pepper. The recipe calls for a dash of salt and a dash of pepper, I found out that a dash is 1/8 teaspoon so since I’m doubling the recipe I added about 1/4 teaspoon of each. I drained a lot of the liquid after blitzing the ingredients in my food processor and then placed in the fridge to chill. The smell was absolutely amazing!

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The Southwestern Sauce:
I also doubled this recipe however for future reference I only need the amount specified in the recipe for double the amount of tamale cakes. This is 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 tsp white vinegar, 1 tsp water, 3/4 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1 pinch cayenne powder, 1 pinch onion powder, a dash of salt and a dash of garlic powder. I placed all the ingredients in a bowl, gave them a quick stir and into the fridge to chill! It was that easy and now I had 3 out of 4 components for my recipe. I wish I realised how simple this recipe was  earlier!

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The Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes:
I doubled the recipe and placed 2 cups of frozen sweet corn in the processor along with 1 cup of softened butter, 5 tablespoons sugar and 2 pinches salt. I then placed this mixture in a bowl with 1 cup of masa harina flour, 4 tablespoons all purpose flour and 1 extra cup of frozen sweet corn. I mixed everything through and was ready to cook my tamale cakes!

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The mixture was cold and at first I struggled to get the cakes to stick together however I found using slightly damp hands made a huge difference. The recipe called for them to be baked however I cooked them about 3 minutes each side in a frying pan over medium heat.

I then placed sweet corn tamale cakes on a plate, topped half a side with salsa verde and the other half with the tomato salsa. I added some diced avocado over the top, a small dollop of sour cream and some chopped coriander for garnish.

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As I said earlier I remember they were good however biting into these was orgasmic! The flavour exploded into my mouth and I actually moaned with pleasure. Yep. They were that good! To be honest I don’t think I can do them justice with words. I am so glad I made these and will be making them again soon!


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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese – A Donna Hay Recipe Review

 

 

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We have had a week of cool rainy weather smack dab in the middle of our 2015/2016 Australian summer. I’m not complaining! It’s a nice break from the heat and humidity. It’s also given me an excuse to make some comfort food. To sit by the back door with a bowl of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese and just enjoy the crisp smell and sight of our rain soaked yard. Within days the ground will be parched, dry n hot again. So I’m enjoying this short break from the beach n sandy towels.

Our family loves this recipe so I thought I’d share it. I will also have a record of it on my site here since it is meant to be about the recipes we love and experiment with. A record that I (and hopefully) my children will be able to turn to in years to come and find favourite recipes and laugh over forgotten adventures.

The cauliflower gives the pasta dish a crunch while the garlic and rosemary crumbs add an extra punch of flavor. Great for someone like me who gets bored with the same taste in a dish.

Sometimes I substitute the cup of cream in the recipe with a 250g tub of Philadelphia Light Cream for Cooking, (I actually do this with a lot…). You can find the recipe here, on Donna Hay’s website.

Below are photos of the grey weather we have been enjoying here on the northern beaches of NSW, Australia.

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Long Reef (above and below)

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Dee Why Beach (above)

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My son and his friends jumping at Castle Rock
(I don’t know if that’s the real name or the name the kids have given this favourite hang out near Manly beach)