Tiramisu

My husband and I share a love for this dessert. If we find it on a restaurant menu alongside Creme Brûlée, we will usually order both and share! It’s definitely a bonus when you share the same food likes and dislikes with your spouse. 

At this time of year, this is one dessert I will make multiple times. It often graces a Christmas table and then again at a New Year function or casual BBQ with friends. 

For entertaining groups, I always make it in a large glass dish, it just seems to go further. 

If however, I only wanted to serve 6-8, I would serve it in individual glasses. 

This seemed to be the way the Europeans did it, when we ate our way through Italy and France back in June. 

My first Tiramisu was in Venice, and I still think was probably the best of the whole trip. It is thought that Venice is the home of Tiramisu, which means ‘pick me up’ or ‘cheer me up’ in Italian. It most definitely does that every time you eat it. I am not sure whether it’s the coffee or the alcohol 🙂 Thanks to my travel buddies for letting me photograph their food….again!

My second Tiramisu was in Tuscany, in the most gorgeous city of Pienza. A shout out goes to my friend Angela who is the hand model in this picture. 

My third Tiramisu was in Paris. Due to an over tired 5 year old, we decided to stay in our apartment for dinner that night, but my husband graciously went on a mission to find some dessert. He came back with a very funny story about how he had to convince the waitress to let him have the Tiramisu ‘take-away’ and that he promised to wash and return the dish the next day. Him speaking no French, and her not understanding much English, made this exchange quite memorable. We delivered the dish back to them the next day as promised!

My final Tiramisu was on our last night of the whole trip. We found ourselves in the cutest fishing village, Cassis (pronounced Kasi), in the South of France.

Vineyards grow on cliff faces, alongside centuries old chateaus. The area mainly produces rose` and white wine. The water was a brilliant aqua colour and looked stunning against the backdrop of the white limestone cliffs. 

There are so many variations of this wonderful dessert. Some people use gingerbread at this time of year. Other versions are frozen, which is great for summer time entertaining. Some people leave out the alcohol and just use coffee to make it kid friendly, others add chunks of chocolate in the biscuit layer.

The below recipe is from Karen Martini and is my favourite. 

I have added some photos here of each step to give you an idea of how easy it is. A shout out to my patient brother, who held this bowl so beautifully in the photos at our recent family gathering. 

Tiramisu
Serves 8
The classic Italian dessert of layered mascarpone, chocolate and soaked savoiardi biscuits.
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Ingredients
  1. 400ml espresso coffee
  2. 125ml marsala (sweet Italian wine, leave out if you wish)
  3. 50ml Kahlua
  4. 50ml brandy
  5. 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  6. 5 eggs, separated
  7. 100 grams castor sugar
  8. 500 grams mascarpone
  9. 75 grams cocoa powder
  10. 100 grams dark chocolate, grated
  11. 200-300 grams savoiardi biscuits (you will use more or less depending on the size of your dish)
Instructions
  1. Chill one large glass dish in the fridge until needed (or 8 small glass dishes).
  2. In a large bowl, combine coffee, marsala, Kahlua, brandy and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, using electric beaters, beat the egg yolks and sugar until very light and thick (see picture).
  4. Fold the mascarpone through and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  6. Fold egg white mixture into the mascarpone mixture.
  7. Dust the base of the glass bowl with cocoa and then sprinkle with some of the grated chocolate.
  8. Add some mascarpone mixture and spread in an even layer.
  9. Quickly dip biscuits, a few at a time, into the coffee mixture and place on top of the mascarpone mixture. (If you leave them in for too long, the biscuit will start to fall apart and the tiramisu will taste too soggy).
  10. Dust with cocoa and sprinkle with grated chocolate.
  11. Repeat layering, finishing with mascarpone.
  12. If you are making in advance, cover loosely with cling wrap at this stage and refrigerate until needed.
  13. Just before serving, dust with more cocoa and sprinkle with grated chocolate.
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And here is a happy snap of the 5 of us, on the last night of our holiday, with the lights of Cassis below us. Tired, make-up free, blissfully happy with the adventure we had been on over the previous 4 weeks, and ready for home. There’s really no place like it. 

 

 

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Chicken, Coconut and Lemon Soup

We eat for many different reasons. 

Obviously, we eat first and foremost to sustain life. Many simple foods, alongside water, can keep us alive if we lived on those alone. 

But we also eat for pleasure and as a shared experience with others. 

We also eat alone, and we can eat to numb pain and distract us from whatever it is we can’t deal with.

Mostly I eat to ‘nourish’ not just to simply stay alive.

I love the word nourish. It makes me think of growth, healing, strength, fuel. It’s more than just simply eating to survive, but thinking about what foods can actually nourish your body too. There is so much about our lives, and even our health at times, that is beyond our control. However, we can actively contribute to nourishing our bodies. How good is that!

I also eat for pleasure. The experience, the smells, the taste, the relationships that happen alongside the eating. 

If I ate for pleasure every day, my day-on-a-plate would look like dark chocolate covered liquorice, triple cream brie, coffee and red wine. Yep, I know, sounds awesome. But we all know what would happen to my health if that was all I ever consumed.

So, for myself, I eat mostly to nourish and a little for pleasure. 

I don’t think it’s a bad thing for us to stop sometimes and have a ‘health check-up’ with ourselves when it comes to our eating. Often a health crisis or illness will prompt that for you, but even if you’re fighting fit, it still could be helpful to make sure you are nourishing your body, to the best that your time, money and expertise allows. 

This soup is not just another dinner for the family because you have to feed them.

It’s a warm bowl of bright yellow goodness that will cheer up anyone on a dreary day and nourish your body at the same time.

My first experience with it was when I was really sick last year with the flu and a friend made a batch of it and dropped it over. I actually hadn’t been eating much until this soup arrived. Not only did the colour cheer me up almost immediately, but as I ate it, I could almost feel myself getting a little clearer and a little stronger. I ate it for days. 

This is the kind of soup that you will pick up the bowl when it’s nearing the end and drink the gold liquid until there is nothing left at all. Well, that’s what the boys and I did anyway. 

It will remind you a little of the broth you would eat in a really good laksa, so you could easily throw some more veggies or rice stick noodles into this to make it more of a substantial meal, or if your family are a little fussy about ‘just having soup for dinner.’

My only regret when I made it was that I didn’t double the recipe. So make a double batch and either give some away to anyone sick or struggling, or freeze it for when that cold is starting to come and you want to nip it in the bud before it takes hold. 

This recipe is originally from Quirky Cooking by Jo Whitton, (a thermomix cookbook for people with food sensitivities) but as I don’t own a thermomix, I just made it the old fashioned way in a soup pot and it turned out just fine. 

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Chicken, Coconut and Lemon Soup
Serves 4
A nourishing and fragrant chicken soup with loads of ginger, turmeric, garlic and lemon.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4cm cube of fresh ginger, peeled
  2. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  3. 3 garlic cloves
  4. 6 sprigs of fresh coriander, plus a few leaves extra to garnish
  5. 2 spring onions, ends trimmed and chopped into quarters
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  7. 1 litre good quality chicken stock
  8. 400 gram can coconut milk
  9. juice of 1 lemon
  10. 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  11. 400 gram chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and chopped into small cubes.
Instructions
  1. Place ginger, turmeric, garlic, spring onions and chilli in a food processor and blitz until a fragrant and bright green paste forms.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the paste.
  3. Cook, stirring so it won't stick, for a few minutes or until the smell is just amazing and it's softened and sizzling.
  4. Add all the other ingredients, except the chicken pieces, and put a lid on the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil and then add the chicken pieces, turn the heat down so your soup is on a gentle simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid and another 10 or so with the lid off.
  6. Garnish with extra coriander leaves if you desire.
Notes
  1. You could add rice stick noodles and some chopped asian greens to the soup towards the end of the cooking to make it more of a substantial meal.
Adapted from Quirky Cooking
Adapted from Quirky Cooking
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Meal Time Madness

True Confessions.

Dinner time is no longer my favourite time of the day. It once was, but then 3 gorgeous blessings entered our world and dinner time became, let’s just say, ‘interesting’.

A year or so ago we were going through a particularly challenging season of dinner time antics. “You sat there last night, it’s my turn/Why is there broccoli on my plate?/He’s looking at me/I’ve spilled my drink/He’s kicking me under the table/You know I hate this meal/Something smells funny/Mum, the tomato sauce is all over the chair/I spilled my drink again” and so it would go on……

One especially bad evening, when I wanted to lay my head in my mash and weep, I had a thought. I ordered everyone to stop eating, go and get a pen and piece of paper and we began to set out some meal time rules for our family.

Here is the list of 10 we came up with. No edits or additions.

1. Be thankful to God for the food even if you don’t like it.
2. Try everything on your plate, you just might love it!
3. When you hear ‘Dinners Ready’, come straight away.
4. No screens allowed- iPhone, iPad, iPod, DS etc
5. Try and listen to the person talking and wait your turn to speak.
6. Ask to leave the table, otherwise, stay seated.
7. Use your cutlery.
8. No stinky farts.
9. Keep your arms and legs to yourself.
10. No rugby balls or soccer balls to be kicked in the house at dinner time.

I must say we did in time add number 11 – if you cannot sit still, you may go outside and run 5 laps of the house and then return to your chair where you need to finish your dinner. (I can hear all the parents of boys out there shouting ‘AMEN’ to that)

Despite the madness, we have decided to keep persevering with meal times as a family around the table. When they were really little, the kids ate so early, there was no way Dad could be home from work in time, so we would make more of an effort on weekends. As they get older, the kids actually get busier in the evenings, but we still set the table, light a candle and eat dinner together as many nights a week as possible. What keeps us persevering through this season is picturing the end game.  We want our boys to grow up valuing the coming together as a family at the end of the day.  It is often over a meal that some of our best relationship moments happen.  I was privileged to have this modelled as a priority in my home growing up, and still to this day, I love to gather with my parents and siblings and their families and share a meal. It’s crazy, messy and loud at times, but it’s worth it.

So, if you are in the early years of parenting – persevere with meal times, however they look in your family.

Just the other week, we sat down at the table, and after saying ‘thanks to God for our food’, my 3 year old looked up at me and said ” So how was your day mum?”  Again I wanted to weep, but this time with happiness, that they just might be getting it after all.

 

What’s for dinner Mum?

They tumble out of bed, my three sons, and migrate to the breakfast bench, with blurry eyes and great bed hair. “What’s for dinner Mum?” often gets said even before “Good Morning”. I have been known to answer “Let’s just get through breakfast first!” and other days I let them know, and then await the groans or shouts of joy that are sure to follow.

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Every. Day. Month. Year. We need to feed our families. The daily dinner dance that has to happen in the midst of work, school, study, sport, homework, exhaustion, tantrums, sickness and stress.  Even this self confessed foodie has days where the only energy she can muster is to text her husband “please bring dinner home…soon…and don’t forget the wine.”

The kids aren’t the only ones who ask “What’s for Dinner?” As it’s no secret to my family and friends that I love to cook and read about food, I am often asked what is on my mid week menu.

So here is my answer, in the form of this blog.

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I want and need my mid week meals to be fast, fresh, full of protein and vegetables, not too expensive and be left with minimal washing up.  It’s one thing to enjoy stirring a creamy risotto for 40 minutes on a lazy Saturday evening, it’s another to burst in the door on a Tuesday at 6pm after soccer training, with 3 over tired kids and need dinner on the table 5 minutes ago.

So, as I feed my family, you can come along for the ride. I hope to inspire and encourage you to try something new and add a new meal to your menu every now and then. This blog is not designed for FOODIES, it’s designed for the everyday family wanting to eat everyday food. You don’t need great cooking skills, a fancy kitchen or extensive food knowledge. You just need to want to eat well and pass that on to your kids. You’ll have to do your own shopping too of course!

So, to kick start things, I have 3 simple, fast and fresh meals to share with you that are all firm favourites in our house.

Happy Cooking!