Kitchen Therapy


Rice Pudding with Strawberries and Spiced Hibiscus Syrup


I love rice pudding.
It’s one of those dishes that takes me back to my childhood both in Yugoslavia and then later here in Australia.
My mum would sprinkle chocolate on top and it was real comfort food to me.

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe sees classic rice pudding topped with fresh strawberries and a spiced hibiscus syrup.
I was surprised by how much I liked the hibiscus syrup. The kids weren’t keen, they said it tasted like medicine! However I loved it. Especially once I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the syrup before serving. The colour was so pretty and vibrant and I think it lifted the flavour of the strawberries. The kids (and my husband) preferred their rice custard topped with just fresh strawberries.

It’s winter here in Australia and it’s been pretty mild, apart from a storm that swept the entire East Coast last weekend.
The northern beaches of Sydney where I live were hit pretty hard, the photo below captures one of the local beaches before and after the storm. It made the rounds on facebook so I have no idea who to credit it to but it captures the impact of the storm pretty well.

This weekend they are predicting another round of storms.
The rain and the wind were so fierce last time, we were pretty much housebound.
If we have a repeat of this weather this coming weekend I am planning to make another batch of this rice custard, watch movies and keep warm. Maybe try some warm winter toppings on the custard!

I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group chose to cook this week!




Pioneer Woman’s Mexican Rice Casserole with Grilled Chicken and Avocado


This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was deliciously simple.
1. Cut an avocado in half.
2. Take out the pit.
3. Sprinkle some lemon juice and salt.
4. Fill hollow with pistachio oil.

Two out of my three kids are allergic to nuts, one is anaphylactic, so I knew there’d be no pistachio oil for us! So from the start I knew a lemon and salt combo was going to be as exciting as it was going to get in our family. On the up side, I knew it would be eaten.

I deliberated on all of Dorie’s Bonne Idee’s and settled on having the avocado with the Lemon-Grilled Chicken. I was starting to get excited!
The last piece of the puzzle was Ree Drummond’s Mexican Rice Casserole.
I have had a page on my iphone permanently devoted to this dish for a couple of weeks now.
It was time to put it all together!
And it worked out beautifully 🙂

I have been searching for easy to prepare dishes that can fit into our hectic lifestyle.
And for some reason, I decided rice casseroles were the way forward (I don’t know why…)
I love Mexican food, but it’s not that common here in Australia.
Or at least not as common as Thai, Indian and Italian.
So when I saw the Mexican Rice Casserole… well…  it ticked all the boxes!
And the Pioneer Woman’s recipe had so many rave reviews I had to try it.
I made half the recipe and it was more than enough for a family of 5.
It was simple, tasty and the kids loved it!
The recipe is here if anyone is interested.

Now back to Dorie!
The Lemon-Grilled Chicken was super tasty and super easy,
The Avocado was perfect with some lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and salt.
The coriander (cilantro) leaves lifted the flavours just that bit extra.
I will be making this combination again, might even add the chicken to the rice casserole next time and top it off with the avocado slices.
The husband loved it, the kids loved!
Winner 🙂

I am looking forward to hearing what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie Group thought of the recipe and especially of the avocado / pistachio combo!


Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach


This dish was deeply satisfying.
Luxurious and totally indulgent!
A hit with the entire family!

And the best bit…
It was so simple and easy to make!

Cook Arborio rice in chicken or vegetable or stock.
Cook spinach until tender and wilted. Chop coarsely.
Cook onion and garlic in some butter.
Add rice, spinach, cheese, cream and season!

And there you have it!
The ultimate comfort food!!!

I can’t wait to see the creative interpretations of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe by the group members!


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!