In My Kitchen, January 2018

Food, food and more food…that pretty much sums up Christmas time in our house. Where to start?!

I got a couple of cute $2 cookie stamps at Coles and just had to try them out on some soft gingerbread tiles with rum butter glaze.

Speaking of cookies, this is only a portion of the cookie baking I did to give away a dozen filled trays like the ones above to school staff, church, family friends, etc.

Then there was the head to head battle of the buche de Noel recipes to see which I preferred – and the result, I’ll be Frankensteining the one I make next Christmas. =)

There was our last day of school tradition making a homemade gingerbread house then completely covering it in lollies that we crack open on New Years Eve.

A Christmas Eve dinner to remember: our first ever standing rib roast with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, glazed carrots and brussel sprouts, with a lovely red wine jus…on the dinner set that we use all December each year that is starting to become too small (place setting wise) for our growing family.

Our drowning gingerbread man trifle that we ate for Christmas Eve dessert while watching Carols by Candlelight.

Christmas morning orange and cranberry pluckets for breakfast.

Too many apricots, sadly rotting faster than we can eat them or otherwise use them. This photo is from one small section of our abundantly fruiting tree.

My cookbook haul from our local library last month next to my Tupperware Santa containers that house leftover baking that didn’t make trays, just in case you need something to go with your cuppa.


Thanks to Sherry’s Pickings for hosting the In My Kitchen link up for this month. To learn more, click on the logo to the left.

Throwback Thursday: Cauliflower Cake from Plenty More

Throwback to June 2017 when Food52’s Cookbook Club took on Yotam Ottolenghi’s plethora of beautiful cookbooks, and everyone was making this intriguing looking Cauliflower Cake from Plenty More…not only did I do the same at the time, but I’ve made it probably 6 times since then because it is just that good!

The recipe can be found online here so I won’t go into any detail about the ingredients or method, but I’ll share how I have tweaked it slightly to make it a bit quicker and easier to throw together as a midweek meal.

Firstly, the cauliflower…

…I do not buy a fresh whole cauliflower, but instead a frozen 500g bag and I cook it in salted water in the microwave for 4 minutes before straining. This happens while I cook the onion (except for the reserved onion rings) with dried rosemary in a nonstick frypan.

My next change is that I add a grated pizza cheese blend instead of freshly grated parmesan to the egg/flour/onion/herb & spice mixture.

My last change is that I use spray oil to grease my casserole dish before sprinkling the seeds into it and rolling them around until they stick.

Then I simply pour the rest of the ingredients into the dish and place the reserved onion on top before baking.

It is such a delightful meal with a side salad and some fresh bread and it gets gobbled up every time without fail. Definitely worth returning to!

Bouchon Bakery: Apricot Tart with Almond Cream

One of the cooking clubs I take part in is the Food52 Baking Club and for the month of January we are baking through Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. My aim is to bake at least 3 recipes from the book this month and to review it at the end. For my first bake I’ve chosen the Plum Tart with Almond Cream, using apricots instead of plums because our tree is mass producing them at the moment.

There were three basic components to this tart, none of which were difficult or time consuming (except for refrigeration time before use, which seems to be quite common throughout the book) – a pate sucree, an almond cream and sliced fruit.

The pate sucree was different from other pastry recipes I’ve used in the past as it contains almond meal as well as flour, uses icing sugar mixture instead of granulated or caster sugar and also incorporates vanilla in the dough. Basically, cream the butter and add one portion of the icing sugar, then add the vanilla and incorporate the flour and almond meal and the other portion of the icing sugar that has been sifted together and lastly add the egg. Work the dough and shape it into two discs (it makes enough for 2 tarts) and put it in the fridge to firm up before rolling out and baking.

The almond cream was similarly easy and with almost the same ingredients but proportioned differently. Again cream the butter and add the icing sugar, then a sifted almond meal/flour mixture and finish by adding the eggs. This gets placed in a covered container in the fridge until cold and then piped (I just spooned it) into the prepared unbaked tart base.

Then lastly get your kitchen hands (aka the darling husband and 6 year old daughter) to slice and arrange the apricots on top before placing it in the oven to bake. The recipe says 350F/180C for 45 minutes but our oven being fan forced and running hot tends to cook much quicker so I put it in at 150C and as you can see, it’s still rather dark around the edges.

This will be dessert tomorrow night as it says to refrigerate until cold to get nice, precise slices – but it is rather tempting to slice into now for a late night snack. Overall, I loved the simplicity of ingredients and method for this recipe and having something that looks impressive that can be easily adapted to different seasonal fruits makes this dish one that I can imagine I will gravitate to again.

Wholemeal cheesy pasta with garden salad

Went into my sadly neglected kitchen today and turfed a whole bunch of food that had gone off or was past its use by date and had to resign myself to the fact that Christmas is over and leftovers are all but gone now. Time to get back into the kitchen and actually cook, and not just pull out containers from the fridge and dish out onto plates and at the very most zap them individually in the microwave. So our first Meatless Monday meal of the year was something very simple and ultra comforting – wholemeal cheesy pasta and a ‘whatever is in the fridge that needs using’ garden salad.

The recipe is dead simple and it was on the dinner table in 30 minutes.

Firstly the ingredients: 500 grams wholemeal penne pasta, ¼ cup unsalted butter, ¼ c plain flour, 2 ½ cups milk, 1 tspn each paprika and dry mustard, 450 grams grated or cubed cheese (I used Monterey jack), salt and pepper to taste, bread crumbs (optional)

Put a large saucepan of water over high heat until it comes to a boil, add salt and pasta, then cook according to packet instructions (mine said 9 minutes). Meanwhile in a slightly smaller saucepan make a cheese sauce. Melt the butter and the add the flour and whisk until a roux is formed over medium high heat. Slowly add the milk and whisk constantly until it thickens. Then stir in the paprika and mustard and add the cheese and leave to melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

Drain the pasta and put into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce.

Top with breadcrumbs and toast for 15 minutes in a hot oven. While this is toasting, throw together a salad.

In our salad bowl tonight: cos lettuce, 2 diced tomatoes, 2 peeled and sliced cucumbers from a friend’s garden, ¼ of a finely diced red onion and store bought ranch dressing.

Serve and enjoy!