Friday, January 27, 2012

I have a Kitchen life is now complete.

So that was my birthday. It was truly glorious! I feel so incredibly blessed. The whole day was perfect. I work up extremely early, because I was too excited to sleep and tore open the presents my parents had sent me in the mail. I went to my favourite coffee shop, I flirted with my favourite coffee maker, I woke a pretty dress, I saw all my favourite people, I had lots of calls, I took a nap, I read a really good book, and I kissed a boy. All in all a perfect day.

All my friends came down to the park and we had a huge picnic. I hung flags up between the trees and had little hearts on ribbons draped over all the branches. We all sat on lace table clothes and drank cider, and ate home baked treats.

One of the most exciting things of the day of course was the amazing present my friends got me. Everyone chipped in and bought a beautiful cream kitchen aid. If you don't know what this is, look it up.........or I may have to break all ties with you. This is something I have been wanting for years. I remember walking down the street on a date, and stopping the boy to peer into a window at one. "Thats beautiful" I sighed. I think he thought I was a wee bit strange.

Its so very lovely, but what I appreciated even more than the amazing present, was the fact that my lovely friends, knew what I loved, and went to the effort to organise it for me. I have always been one to read a lot into presents. In life there have been years of "oh my, do they really think I'm the sort of girl who wears a shirt with skulls on it?" So it was really beautiful to feel like my friends, who I love so dearly, really do understand me on a core level. Other people also gave me some lovely presents, where I just felt so understood. One of my best friends gave me a boy of flours.............which was so lovely. It was filled with specialty flour for making pasta, saffron, and dried herbs. Another girl simply gave me a lemon, some tonic water and a little bottle of gin...........I was like "I think that pretty much sums up a lot" My best friend back home sent me some money and wrote in a card "buy yourself a new baking tray, and use the change to get a coffee," she knows me so very well, because even if she hadn't written this, its exactly what I would have used the money on.

I had a hard time unpacking all my loot, because I was really enjoying having it spread out all across my floor. I just wanted to leave the kitchen aid it the box, all new and pretty.

Today I'm going to give it a whirl though. I think I'll bake some macaroons, I'll pass on the recipe if its a good one. Much love, because I'm just full of love these days now I have a kitchen aid. xxx

Monday, January 23, 2012

Burning toast and sorting out life

So its been a year since I started this blog. A blog that has witnessed a huge improvement in cooking, and a vast one in myself too. Its nice to see that I have been able to maintain something for a year (its just a shame that it wasn't a relationship......but that is neither here nor there to me at the moment.) Its also been one full year in Melbourne. One crazy crazy full year. It has been one of the happiest years of my life, but at times also very hard.

In honour of turning 22 tomorrow I stayed in bed all day, only making trips out of the house to buy coffee. It has been delicious. I also gave one last 21 year old romance a go, and as this year has been the year of failed relationships, it promptly followed suite, and four days in came crashing down. I'd love to say it was wildly romantic. I'd love to say I cooked this boy a beautiful feast. I'd like to say it made me insanely happy. In reality though, after a couple of 'sort of dates' I cooked the boy burnt toast when he came over for breakfast, and sent him packing. I told this to an ex and he was horrified. He proclaimed that if I had ever served him that he would have immediately presumed something was wrong and head for the door as fast as he could.

We all make mistakes though, and this was my last 21 year old mistake. I'm ok with that. I've made peace with it.

So what I have learnt this year, apart from how to make croissants from scratch is, I really like who I am. In fact, I love it. I am so insanely content in who I am, that not even bad dates will leave me out of sorts (bad cakes ....yes, will break my heart) and I don't need a lover to make me happy, because I have such brilliant friends. I feel I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, because this year I got just about everything I wanted.

Today a man called me up from a job agency and said "your teachers gave me your number, along with an amazing reference, would you possibly mind coming in for an interview as a sous chef at a new up an coming restaurant?" I have a feeling that 22 is going to be an amazing year.

So thank you for reading this blog.......for a whole year. It wont be stopping here, as its all onward and upward from now on. Keep an eye out.......because just maybe I'll one day be the next big thing in the cooking world (especially if I keep eating all the cakes I bake.)

Thank you...... that is all

Cherry tomato and caramelised onion tarts.

Everyone loves a tart. I'm not one, but I do love to eat one.

Cherry Tomato and caramelised onion tart

You will need:
  • 5 onion
  • olive oil
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (yes cherry tomatoes....funny, it has my name in it. Have a good laugh, I've heard it all before.)
  • thyme
  • One egg
  • two sheets of puff pastry.
What to do:
  1. First you want to set about caramelising your onions. This takes a while but is incredibly easy. Just slice them all up nice and thin. Chuck them in a fry pan with a good lug of olive oil (sorry about all the 'chuck' and 'lug', I've been watching too much Jamie Oliver) and just cook on a low heat. Onions have a lot of natural sugar in them so they will get sweet when they are cooked down. Just keep the heat low, and stir them a bit, for about an hour. You don't want to brown them, you just want to cook them down nicely. Some people add sugar, so add a pinch if you want but make sure you season them.
  2. Cut rectangles out of your puff pastry, and prick all over with a folk. Then take some extra pastry to make a border and sit it around the edges of your rectangle. Use a little bit of beaten up egg to stick it together if you like.
  3. So thats your tart. Now you just need to fill it. Carefully spoon some of that oniony goodness into the tart. Top with cherry tomatoes. Season. Sprinkle with thyme, and place on an oiled baking tray (or lined with grease proof paper.)
  4. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake at 180 for around half an hour or until golden and puffy.
  5. Its that easy. It looks impressive. Everyones happy

Monday, January 16, 2012

Looking at 21 and exploring 22

My sister once told me that in order to meet the right man, you first have to become the right woman. This secret she shared, about a month before she met her long term boyfriend and partner. We are all a little bit in love with him too, as he compliments her perfectly and has now become part of the family. Iv'e been thinking about this theory lately, as I've been doing a little revaluation of my life before my birthday. Everyday we make decisions, good and bad, but inevitably they lead to us having the sort of life we truly want, to being the person we really want to be.

It makes you wonder what you want.....and how to start making decisions to get there. In my year of being twenty one, I feel like I started to fit into my own skin a lot more. What I wanted got clearer and I came closer to being what my mother calls 'your authentic self.'

I am ambitions. There are a lot of things I want in life. I know exactly what kind of things I want out of life, and I have a huge long list of all the things I want to do. This is not because I am an overachiever, or I'm not content with my life at the moment. Its just.....I love life, and I love living it well.

A while ago, a boy told me he loved me. This I thought was beautiful. This I thought, is what I wanted. Then I took a good look at my life and thought "no, no thats hardly enough at all." I don't want to be loved, I want to be adored. Am I asking too much? Yes, I am. But don't we all deserve too much. If we never ask anything of life, it gives us just that......nothing. I have high expectations, huge plans.

I've been putting of all this change for a while now. All asking too much, because realistically it very scary at times. I have been hiding in my little world, in my little room drinking coffee and reading magazines, afraid to venture out into the big wide world. "I'm giving myself until my birthday to pull myself together," I confided in a friend. He looked at me and said "Dates make no difference, you either do it, or you don't." This is true. Very very true. All the same, I'm giving myself to my birthday. End 21 with a rest. Do whatever I want for another week and a bit. If I want to hide in my room for days, and pretend the world doesn't exist I will totally give myself permission to do that.

But watch out 22. Your going to be magic.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Single in the city.........a valentines day feast

Yesterday I woke up bright and early to a sunny Melbourne morning. Sunday is my favourite day of the week, and for some reason I think that it always feels magic. I'm not sure why. Maybe its the fact that as kids this was the day we always went to church, and then picnics after. It was likely to be a day of treats. Your more likely to score an ice cream on Sunday than on a monday. Unfortunately I didn't feel any magic as I woke up alone. I just felt sad, and longed for other sundays not so long ago when I was waking up next to someone delicious, and then going out for breakfast. The rest of the day would usually be spent looking at art, going to markets, or maybe a quiet pint of cider in the afternoon. These are the sort of sundays I love most.

This is not the sort of sundays I have been getting though. So I pulled my sorry arse out of bed and went for a run. As I ran around an oval I had this awful revelation..... its nearly valentines day. The day every single girl dreads! For some reason, I seem to always be single on this day. Its very strange, because I very rarely are single, but I seem to do a certain 'spring cleaning' before this date and kick everyone I'm dating out of my life. Last year I spent the day working at a new job. I sold thousands of cupcakes to men taking home gifts to their girlfriends. I had three messaged from ex boyfriends, who know how hopelessly romantic I am, and checking that I was ok. "I still love you, and hope your doing well" messages from three failed relationships, is NOT the thing you want on the once day you cant stand being single.

Oh I whinge so much about 'poor little alone me' but in reality, Im ridiculously happy in my self contained life. Its so nice to have all this time with friends, and not have to check in with someone all the time. I just grieve the fact that not dating someone means one less mouth for me to fead with all my experiments I've been cooking up.

This year though, I think I'll through a feast. A valentines feast, and not one of those "oh poor us we are so sad and desperate that we want to get drunk feasts", but more of a celebration of life and love. I truly believe that I have dated some of the nicest people on this planet, and I'm pretty proud of that. My whole life I have loved pretty hard (I don't think thats a term, but you get what I'm saying) and I am proud of that to.

So heres to being single, and I'll let you all know about the dinner party coming up, because your all invited, even if your not single. Lets celebrate love...................and get a little drunk while we are at it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cauliflower, fennel and almond salad.

Sometimes I make very silly choices in life.......I like to put this down to being wildly romantic, and sometimes not looking at the ramification. I came up with this theory once that there is no right or wrong choices in life.......just choices. This completely frees yourself from self judgment, and you find yourself doing whatever the hell you feel like. Let me just say now, this is an awful theory. Not only did I make awful choices repetitively for a good three months, I also had to live with them. Some where minor and didn't have a huge effect on my life, like skipping school to go to art galleries instead, while others were major, and effected my love life drastically. I continued making these seemingly inconsequential choices, until one night, I tried to profess my deep love for someone, I really wasn't in love with at all (via text) because I had one too many glasses of wine.....and at the time it totally felt right.

The moral of all this is, I'm young, I'm foolish, and sometimes downright stupid.......but this is one smart thing I did this week, and the ramifications are wonderful.

Wondering what it is?

Its this salad

Roast Cauliflower, fennel and almond salad.

What you will need:
  • Half a cauliflower
  • One bulb of fennel
  • One cup of baby spinach leaves
  • 1/8 of a cup of sliced almonds
  • Half a red onion
  • Italian herbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cut of dill
What to do:
  1. Cut your cauliflower into resets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with italian herbs. Crack a decent amount of pepper and salt over the top and bake at 180 until its crispy on the outside and cooked in the centre.......I'm going to guess about half an hour.
  2. Finely (very finely) slice the red onion and fennel bulb.
  3. In a frypan on medium heat toast the almonds. Shake the pan from time to time so they don't burn and cook evenly.
  4. Wash dill and spinach leaves.
  5. Then just toss everything together, drizzle with balsamic and through the nuts on top.
  6. Eat it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cherry Pie

I promised I'd post up my cherry pie recipe!!

Today I made a Cherry Pie. Its so lovely. I love making pie's and tarts. They are like jams, were you need no recipe....just soul. You can put whatever you can find, or have in them, and they always look so homey and beautiful.

Making it today I started to think about one of my friends mums back home. Every time we went to her house as kids, there would always be treats around. The kitchen would be filled with beautiful smells, and it was so exciting. Parties there were so much fun, because you could always count on there being loads of treats. The table would be decked out with cup cakes and lollies, and everything would look amazing. I loved it.

Its funny, some of us grow up wanting to be movie stars, looking up to famous people. Some of us want to be singers or writers, but I always secretly looked up to my friends mum, wearing pretty linen dresses, and driving her kids to sport and ballet, in her country style house.

I hope my life looks like that one day. I'm so excited for the idea of cooking someone dinner every night. Making my children's first birthday cake. Planning dinner parties. It seems like a very beautiful way to live.

When people come to my house for visits I would like to think they don't hope for treats, instead I would like them to expect them.

When the electrician came over today to fix our lights, I made him a cup of tea and set him out a cake. If life could be like this more often, I feel I would be very happy.

Cherry Pie Recipe:

For this recipe you the pie crust I posted up a few days ago. I'll just give you a rough idea of how I made this, because to be honest I didn't use any measuring cups and did it all by feel.

You will need:
  • 2 cups of cherries pitted. I used preserved ones my housemates mum had bottles over christmas, but you can use fresh or canned ones.
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1/8 cup of cherry juice
  • pie pasty
  • One egg for brushing the top
  • A little extra brown sugar
What to do:
  1. Firstly Make sure all your cherries have no pips in them. There is nothing worse than biting into a pie and finding a pip!
  2. Add your juice, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  3. Mix together the flour and sugar and add to the cherries (the point of this is that your less likely to get lumps of flour.)
  4. Give everything a good mix and pour into a pie tin lined with pastry.
  5. Use some extra pasty to make a criss cross pattern on top.
  6. Brush the whole thing with some beaten egg, and then sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar.
  7. Bake at 180 for about half an hour.....Im not 100 percent sure on the time, because I've never actually timed it to be honest. You can tell when its ready though because the pastry will be a nice golden brown colour and it will smell amazing.

Cherry bakes a cherry pie.

A conversation between myself and a friend early this morning :

Friend: Oh I'm running late for the train
Me: Well don't leave the house until you finnish the breakfast I made you.
Friend: Yep I will. What are you doing while I'm at work today.
Me: Oh I just want to clean the bathroom and the kitchen, do some food shopping. House things.
Friend: Well I'll be home in time for dinner, when your friend come over.
Me: Ok give me a call when you know what time. Don't forget the lunch I packed you.
Friend: Cherry.......has anyone told you that you are SUCH a house wife.
Me: Yes, all the time.

And it is true. Its so very very true, because I am more than content on the days I get to stay at home, potter around, do some cooking and have friends over for dinner. None of this nightclub business for me. I'm all about the baking of pies, the making of jams, and the preserving of lemons these days. This is what is keeping me happy over the holidays, and I think its wonderful.

Today I am baking a cherry pie, for some friends who are coming for dinner. Feel free to make jokes about it. Cherry making a cherry pie........hilarious. Yes I have heard them all. Every fruit related joke you can think of....I have heard it. What I'm wondering is, why has it taken me 22 years to embrace this, and bake a cherry pie? I have no idea. So that is what I will be doing today. Pottering around my little flat, in a frilly apron, baking.

If the recipe works out well I'll post it up for you, and you can all make jokes about 'Cherry's cherry pie' and feel witty and amused. I however will remain demure, ignore your jokes, and get back to rolling out pastry.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Making pastry

So life has settled into a nice little patten here for me. Im in my new home and still loving holidays. I have started a new lifestyle while I don't have much on, and it mainly revolves around reading books, staying in bed late and going for little runs. Everyday I wake up feeling blissful in the knowledge that there is nothing I have to do. I only share my time with a few people and mostly sit with myself and just enjoy being here.

I have been doing some wonderful experiments, and have just started my first sourdough culture. Its amazing, and all bubbly and wonderful. It takes five days to make, and I have to feed it daily. Its a bit like having a pet. In a weeks time I will be making fresh sourdough bread. I will invite you all over to try it!

I have been exploring my new town. Its really very lovely. So nice just to walk the streets and poke around in shops. I've had a lot of thinking to do lately, so this slow pace is working perfectly for me. I feel all fresh and new, despite also feeling a little bit small. Somehow I think shop keepers and cafe owners sense it too. Everyone smiles politely at me as I walk around vaguely trying to work out my head and heart. Old men smile at me and ladies on the train give my kind looks. There can be something amazingly beautiful about feeling a wee bit fragile at times. Its very refreshing to be able to look at life and say "ok right now, I've got some things to deal with, so I'm just going to take it really slow on myself, and be super kind, until I'm ready to take on the world again." And I will be ready soon, I'm sure of it. Nothing stops me for very long. I will dust off my knees and say "Things are better now, whats next?"

So while I'm taking this little rest, I have been so happy to have good friends. People who say "go back to bed and cancel all your plans if it makes you happy", people who drop in for pie, and friends that cook me dinner and sit with me for hours as I outline every emotion thats passing through my head, friends that take me out for drinks, look me in the eye and tell me "this year is going to be really good for you", friends who let me call them at 1 in the morning when I cant sleep and say "ok I'm going to tuck you in now, pull the blankets around you tight and close your eyes." And a family that makes me laugh so very hard. A mother that I can call up and say "mum what do I do when I like a boy," and she will give me advice, and we will giggle about silly things I say. A dad who will listen to everything I have been cooking, and tell me I am just like my great grandmother, who was also a pasty chef in Melbourne (this warms my heart a lot.) Also a crazy sister, who gives me the most honest advice I have ever heard, and will stand very loyally next to me no matter what I say or do.

I am very very blessed.

So now I'm going to bless you with a recipe for pie pasty. I didn't invent this recipe but stole it off joy the baker. Don't tell her! I've just discovered her recently, and she is an amazingly talented, funny, and good looking food blogger and pasty cook (I like to think we have a lot in common! he he) Anyway, this is her pie crust recipe. I made it recently and It worked out really nicely. I hope you enjoy it!

Pie crust:

This will give you a lovely flakey pie crust. Its not too sweet, and just damn lovely!

You will need:
  • 225g cold butter diced into cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tbs of sugar (I used brown sugar to give it some extra yummy goodness)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of butter milk
What to do:
  1. This is easy, so don't be scared. Pastry is your friend!
  2. Place all the dry ingredients together in a bowl (see thats not hard at all.)
  3. Add the cold diced butter, and with your finger tips rub it into the dry ingredients, until it looks like bread crumbs. If your not a fan of all this rubbing, this can also be done in a food processor. I like to do it by hand though. It make me feel all earthy and wonderful (like a real lady.)
  4. Make a well in the middle, and add the butter milk. Mix it all together, and work into a ball. You don't want to knead it much at all, as this makes the pastry sad (there are totally technical reasons, which I can't be bothered to go into today, but trust me .....kneading pastry = sad pastry.)
  5. Wrap in cling wrap and place it in the fridge for an hour for a rest.
  6. After its had a nap. Pull it out, give it a 5 second knead, and roll it out. Its all good and ready to use for whatever pie you want to make!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Today Im baking a pie

What do you do when feeling a bit down? What I do is bake. Over the last few days I have been reading and curling up all day. I walk around the house, stretch, make tea, write, and think. Today however I decided that it was time for some action, no more feeling sorry for myself.

So I set my alarm bright and early and set out for the shops in the rain. I went in search of butter, milk, peaches and a rolling pin in my new town. I love walking the streets in the rain before everyone else has decided to wake up. There is more room to think without all the busy people around.

Today is 'pie day' I have decided. Which simply means, its time for me to pull myself out of my snail shell and do something productive. As I'm on holidays the only productive think I could think to do is bake a pie. The good ol' fashion kind, with a hand made crust, lots of butter, sugar and love.

As I bought a brand new rolling pin (i love buying rolling pins) I started thinking about the first time I ever bought one. I had recently moved in with my boyfriend and I was decorating a wedding cake.....for no reason really, I just wanted to practice my decorating skills (Suddenly this does strike me as a little odd....but what of it?) I walked into my favourite cooking shop and found the largest, most beautiful rolling pin in the store. It was so pretty in all its wooden goodness, and seemed perfect. I went over to the counter to pay for my item and the lady behind the counter with eyes sparkling asked if I was going home to beat my husband. "I'm not married........yet," I confessed, and we gave each other knowing looks. Oh the bliss of being in love! As I bought my new rolling pin today I realised two things: 1) I felt a bit sad my "not married yet" never came into realisation. We broke up, went our different ways, and every so often, this makes my blue. 2) Realistically that lady in the shop was right, I really should have gone home and beat up that idiot with my rolling pin.

This however is all in the past, water under the bridge and what not. Also, after that little rant, you will be happy to know, that I am not an angry boyfriend beater.......... Im actually just a very nice girl that likes to bake pies.

So today there will be a peach pie, I have invited anyone who is near by to drop in for a slice. I'm hoping to make a baking day once a week. I'd love to be in the habit of doing a big cook up and then declaring it open house to all my friends. Everyone could just come and go as they please, drink tea, taste some goodies, and be on their way. To me this sounds perfect, and the idea leaves me feeling very cheered.........and not at all like beating anyone with a rolling pin.

If all goes to plan, and its lovely I'll post the recipe

Monday, January 2, 2012

Poaching eggs

Last year when things got oh so busy with studying two courses, I thought to myself from time to time "wouldn't it be nice to have a breakdown?" I could just lay in bed all day and watch 100's of episodes of mindless t.v. shows, and not feel any pressure to do anything, or be anywhere. It just seemed so.......lovely. Well obviously I am not stupid enough to really believe that It would be 'nice' to have a breakdown. From what I've heard they are awful, and not very restful at all.

Today I announced to my housemate that I was in fact having a 'breakdown' as I have hardly left the house for three days, and am completely content with this. In reality land (a place I sometimes choose not to live) I think I'm just having a holiday. A real one. Not the sort where I go home and see a different friend everyday, or where I go out to bars and drink with friends. Its the sort of holiday that I used to take with my boyfriend back home. We would pack up our bags, go someplace nice and!!

So this is what I have been doing for the last few days. My life has fallen into a strange little pattern. I wake up late, poach some eggs, read a bit, maybe watch a show, potter around my room, look at recipes, look at food blogs, take a few calls, stretch out on my bed, go for a little jog, potter around some more, see some friends for a few hours at dinner time, and go home to read some more. Its divine. I keep planning on doing things, like cooking, or cleaning, or going to the gym, but it just doesn't happen. I am perfectly content in my little snail shell at home here. Everyday I compose a list in my head of all the things I am going to do the next day......and the knowledge that I plan on doing something keeps me satisfied until the next day, when I don't do it, but make plans for the next day.

I know I will snap out of this soon. I have a theory that somehow I know subconsciously what works for me best. So when its the right time to get busy again, then bam! I'll feel like doing it. It usually works, but until then I'll continue with this mini holiday.

So apparently......this is meant to be a food blog. Im so sorry about the lack of food that has been mentioned. I like to think people do read this to find out about cooking tips and not just listen to "they unsuccessful yet very eventful love life of Cherry Murphy."

As I am on my mini holiday I actually haven't been doing too much cooking. The one think I have been making a lot of though, is poached eggs. My housemate asked me recently how to make them, and I realised that I get asked this often. Its one of those skills in life (yes poaching eggs is a life skill) that not many people know how to do well. To me its like falling in love (incredibly easy and I do it all the time) but apparently a lot of people don't know how (to poach eggs......not fall in following me here?) So I'm going to give you my sneaky egg poaching tips.

Poaching an egg

You will need:
1tbs of vinegar
a pot
a slotted spoon

What to do:
Ok its really just need the tips
  1. Fill up your pot half full with water and add the vinegar.
  2. Bring the water to a simmer. You don't the water to be bubbling fast or it will break up your eggs, and you don't want it to not be hot enough or your eggs wont want to hold together. So simmering water is perfect.
  3. Now a lot of people will tell you to stir the water and what not, but I say that is rubbish. Just crack your egg, as close as you can to the surface of the water and gently drop it in. You really want to be careful with it and treat it with some respect.
  4. Then just leave it be for about 2 minutes, or more. It probably takes between 2 to 5 mins to poach depending on how soft or hard you like it. You can use the slotted spoon to lift it up and check it. Just poke it with your finger to feel how runny it is.
  5. Once it's done, simply lift it out and eat it. The good thing about using the slotted spoon is that you don't have to drain the egg, the water should just run off, and you wont have soppy toast.