Monday, April 26, 2010

Masterchef and the three hour beef wellington...

Is everyone else in the room hooked on Masterchef or is it just me?

I am loving this series mad. So far I am finding it so entertaining and it's like they absolutely read my mind on some of the things I hated about last season:

Sarah Wilson: I don't actually hate her (I actually quite like her column in Sunday Life) but she was just so redundant. And not a food person at all which made her such an odd choice to host the show...

Skipping the auditions: It almost killed me last time - there were like 10 episodes of auditions and absolutely no need whatsoever for them (other than the humour factor of the roadkill contestants who clearly couldn't cook). I like the fact they skipped that altogether this year and just started with the top 50.

Garry: I know most people love cuddly little George, but I have a bit of a soft spot for Garry. It's his cute British accent perhaps, or maybe his faux trendy hair. Or maybe it's the fact he can fillet a whole fish perfectly while wearing a sexy suit. Who knows. All I can say is that more Garry = happier Kitty.

However, it's not all beer and skittles in the Kitty house on the show. There are somethings I just don't like:

Matt: Oh dear... He is already starting to get far to ebullient and effusive with his descriptions... The whole strawberry patch, Wimbledon, warm summer's day thing with Phillip last week after the Farm Challenge just lost me. We don't really spend a lot of time hanging out in strawberry patches here in Australia, Matt. Nor do you in London, where you spent most of your childhood. I know he's trying to add value now that Sexy Man and Greek Boy have top billing, but perhaps scale it back a bit... And the less said about the pink jeans the better.

The contestants: Okay - I'll admit. Some of the contestants already annoy me. Basically it's the criers: Adele, Phillip... And the people who keep saying they are so unhappy in their job and that cooking is like their total passion. Sure - let's all give up our jobs as CFOs, Accountants, Lawyers etc and go work as an apprentice in a kitchen at minimum wage. THEN let's talk about how happy we are, hey?? Some people are so dumb, or perhaps it's attention seeking? Which leads me onto the next group - people who are "innit to winnit". Joanne - this means you! No-one cares - we just want to watch good food.

I do love some of the contestants. Claire seems really competent in the kitchen and Alvin makes me laugh so much. But a lot of them are just replicas of last year's bunch... Marion reminds me a lot of Julia, Adele of Julie and Aaron of Chris (or is there some unwritten rule of TV making that says that every reality show must have a character that always wears hats??).

And I guess it's the general attitude of some of the final 24. You can tell that some of them are just there for the fame, or potential for fame. They saw the success of the first series and thought "I can be as famous as Poh too." Reminds me a lot of the first series of Big Brother - absolute compelling viewing. Everything since then has been utter shite. I'll keep my fingers crossed that's not happening here.

As you can see, I am already hooked. I'm loving the challenges, I am loving the masterclasses and above all, I am loving the DRAMA.

And now for the challenge.

While I was watching the Beef Wellington challenge last week, I thought to myself "I'd like to try that." Clearly I didn't think it would be easy, but from memory they had 1 and a half or 2 hours to do it in, and with Mr Kitty and I working at a fairly snappy pace, it took us three hours. Yep - that's correct. Three whole hours. It was a massive faff to make, but it was totally worth the effort in the end. Would I make it again? Unlikely unless I had a lot of spare time on my hands but the experience was great (and I discovered I am not really a huge fan of tarragon). Mr Kitty clearly liked it - he ate a huge amount of the wellington and then lined up for the crepes suzette I made with the vast amount of mandarins we seem to have collected over the past week or so and the leftover crepe batter from the recipe.

I am already sorry I will miss the next three weeks of episodes and challenges while I am away - but never fear! I will try and catch up when I get back. Or you can all keep me posted!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Miss Kitty apologises...

I have an apology to issue on behalf of myself and the blog. Miss Kitty has been flat out this last week - what with finishing up work and all the celebrations that go along with that!

She will be back to her regularly scheduled programming tomorrow with a post on Masterchef and her take on the first week!

Kitty xx

Monday, April 19, 2010

Melting moments and my final week in the job...

This is my final week at work for the moment*. I still have an awful lot to do (cleaning out desk, handover notes, lots of farewell lunches) but the number one thing I had to do before I leave this job is make biscuits.

Yep - you read correctly. I am the office baker and since I resigned I have had numerous requests for the melting moments I usually make for everyone around Christmas. So, never one to not produce the goods, I dragged the Kenwood Chef out for a spot of baking yesterday.

They are, for me, the perfect biscuit. Other than the fact that they don't have cinnamon in them, they are everything a biscuit should be. Buttery, crisp yet still crumbly, slightly tart with the addition of lemon zest to the icing, and above all else, entirely too moreish.

Melting Moments


300 g (10 1/2 oz) plain flour

300 g (10 1/2 oz) soft butter

100 g (3 1/2 oz) icing sugar (not mixture)

100 g (3 1/2 oz) custard powder

Pinch of salt (I use Maldon)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1 lemon – juiced and rind finely grated using a microplane, or zested and chopped finely

60 g (2 oz) melted butter

240 g (8 oz) icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C if fan forced). Line three baking trays with baking paper (this is what I do for my oven).

Beat together flour, butter, well sifted icing sugar, custard powder, salt and vanilla until well combined and pale. Using a teaspoon as a guide for the correct amount of mixture, roll the mix into small balls and place on a baking tray (I usually get 15 to a tray but my trays are fairly small). Press the biscuit down with the prongs of a floured fork to form a round biscuit.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until cooked but not coloured too much (if they are undercooked they won’t have the right crunch and will be far too soft so don’t worry if you get a little bit of colour on them). Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before removing and then cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the lemon icing, sift the icing sugar really well, and mix with butter and lemon zest, adding lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until the icing is smooth but still quite stiff (you don’t want it too liquidy or it will run off the biscuits and not set properly). Spoon a small amount of lemon icing onto one biscuit and top with another biscuit. Makes 25 (but I usually make double quantities). Perfect for buttering up work colleagues!

Note: You can also make these with a passionfruit filling by swapping the lemon juice and rind for passionfruit pulp or vanilla icing by omitting the lemon and adding a teaspoon or two of Vanilla extact and a couple of tablespoons of water to the icing mix.


*For the moment - not sure what will happen over the next few months but I am working on some ideas. More soon!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You know it's getting cold when...

You discover the cat sitting on top of the coffee machine after it has warmed up.

You change to duvet over to the goosedown one from the thin cotton blanket.

You realise your ugg boots from last year need to be replaced after the sole falls off one when you take it out of the cupboard.

You ask your husband to turn on the shower for you before you get out of bed so the water heats up sufficiently for you to run from the bed into the shower without having to wait in the freezing cold bathroom.

You get excited about things like soup, beef braises, hot chocolate and self saucing pudding.

I love this time of year. It's possibly my favourite season. The days are still sunny and reasonably warm while the mornings and evenings are cool and crisp. I love the crunch of the leaves underfoot. I love that the cats get snuggly and want to spend all their time in your lap (if the coffee machine isn't free, it seems!).

There's the promise of a new wardrobe of pretty cardigans, boots and woollen things after a summer of wearing clothes whose primary appeal is that they don't make you hot. I am far more attuned to winter fashion than summer clothes and I can't wait to start pulling my favourite coats and scarves out to wear.

If I had my way I'd love travelling places that are cold. I have always wanted to go to New York in Winter, the Christmas Markets in Austria, London in the snow. I don't ski and I don't actually like snow in practice (it's wet and really cold), but the romance of it all is what inspires me. I love the colours you get to wear when it gets cooler - the jewel tones, the berry reds. They are bolder, brighter.

Mr Kitty on the other hand can't think of anything worse than winter. He spends most of the season either traveling to warm climes or willing summer on. It's the reason he won't consider moving back to Melbourne with me (I maintain Melbourne is not really all that cold but he says it's too cold for him). It's funny that two similar people in so many ways would prefer such different climates!

What do you like about the changing of the seasons?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

New York New York!

In a little over two weeks, Mr Kitty and I will be hopping on a plane and flying to the US for a much anticipated holiday. Although I used to go to San Francisco reasonably regularly for work, this time we are going to LA, Omaha (don't panic - it's only for 36 hours), New York and Las Vegas. I really can't wait!

The majority of our trip will be spent in New York and Las Vegas. While we were in Las Vegas just 18 months ago, it's almost 4 years since we were last in New York. And this time we are spending a whole week there!

Like most people who are reasonably passionate about food, one of the things I am most looking forward to is sampling some of the delights only really available in the good ole USofA. We plan to revisit a few of our favourite haunts from the last trip, including Katz's Deli (home of the world famous pastrami sandwich pictured below) and The Risottoria, a totally gluten free restaurant that makes the best risotto ever, located on Bleeker Street in West Village.

In addition to eating our body weight in pastrami (well, that's Mr Kitty's aim), we also plan to have dinner at a few new locations including Restaurant Hearth, Momofuku, Balthazar (which apparently is quite hip and happening) and Locanda Verde.

I'm also looking forward to spending loads of quality time in Whole Foods Markets and visiting the wonder that is Dean and Deluca. Thanks to Fleur at Good Eatings, Billy's Bakery is also on the list of must visit destinations!

Las Vegas is a town with a few less gastronomic treats (unless your idea of a well rounded meal is a deep fried casino buffet, which ours is not). For Mr Kitty this is the business end of the trip - alas it's not a holiday for him like it is for me. Last visit we had a wonderful dinner at Bouchon (from Thomas Keller who also owns the Californian French Laundry) so we are planning a repeat visit there. And for anyone who watches the American version of Iron Chef, we are also planning a visit to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, which I am super excited about. I love South Western cuisine!!

But eating isn't the only thing we'll be doing in the US. We plan to do a whole lot of shopping too! Stay tuned for my thoughts on that activity!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sunny days and the long weekend...

We didn't do an awful lot over the Easter long weekend. I sometimes find I need to take a deep breath and spend some time buried in my own brain not doing a lot at all. A few DVDs. Some reading. The occasional bake-fest. It's good for my sanity, particularly right now.

The one thing we did do was spend Saturday out and about looking at new cars and indulging in our love of food. The Kitty Mobile is finally about to get retired and we spent the day test driving new cars to work out what we want. We tried the Volkswagen Passat Wagon, the Subaru Liberty Wagon and the Volvo XC70 (both in diesel and petrol). After much deliberation, Mr Kitty and I have finally decided on the diesel XC70. Mr Kitty says the diesel is more practical over time. I say whatever - I just want the new car. I am tired of talking about it (like everything in the Kitty household these things take time...). He's off today negotiating the trade in on my Honda Civic. I do not have high hopes I will be able to retire with the proceeds but whatever helps reduce the cost of the new car is a good thing.

While we were out on Saturday we decided to stop off and have breakfast at Danks Street Depot. We have previously stopped for coffeeandamuffin there but never an actual meal. Unfortunately it was closed for the long weekend so we hopped over to Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh instead. It was a good decision.

I had the frittata with basil and goats curd with a side of bacon. The frittata was awesome - tender, fragrant with basil and the creamy yet sharp curd made a good foil for the free range eggs served on lightly toasted turkish bread.

The bacon was a tad overcooked - I usually like it crispy, but this was too crispy even for me. I left more than half of it, but given the massive pile of bacon they gave me, I still managed to gnaw my way through a reasonable amount with the help of Mr Kitty (who had toast and jam - and a fair chunk of my eggs). The coffee was good here and I love the buzzy atmosphere in the warehouse style cafe.

After that we made a brief stop at Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills. I have to admit I have never been here. Given my love for all things carbohydratey I can't believe it (and I bet you can't either). We got an assortment of breads and yummy things: an olive and rosemary loaf (heaven - particularly toasted for breakfast the next day), a chorizo and thyme roll (absolutely delicious), a rhubarb and pear muffin (okay - a bit too cake like for me), a rhubarb tart (a bit disappointing - the filling didn't taste of much and the pastry wasn't short enough for me), a hazlenut and raisin sourdough (Mr Kitty loved this one) and a beef, veal and olive sausage roll (pretty darn good, although next time I'd be keen to try their pork and fennel or lamb and harrisa).

And the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing. Enjoying the sunshine. Reading. Baking (apple and rhubarb crumble and this flourless apple, raisin, ginger and almond cake for a gluten intollerant friend). The time spent just hanging was a good investment in my sanity.

And with just three weeks to go until our holiday, I'm hoping that I will keep some of this relaxed state until I get on that plane!


Luxe or less?

You don't have to spend a huge amount on accessories to make a splash. Often chain stores have great bargains for more fashiony style pieces that you don't think you'll get a huge amount of wear out of.

For example:

Luxe - from Mimco ($329)

Less - from Diva ($29.99)


What to wear: when travelling...

The thought of my next trip overseas in less than three short weeks brings up an interesting conundrum. It's one of life's eternal questions - what do you wear when travelling? I like to remain smart and stylish but still practical and comfy. Those things don't necessarily work in tandem. I also like to make my travel wardrobe work hard - I try not to take too many things that only go with one outfit. I like to think I can mix and match pieces to make different outfits without having to take too many clothes.

I guess there are two sides to this dilemma - what to wear while getting to your destination (in the act of travelling) and then what to wear when you are actually on holiday.

Let's deal with the first thing first: what to wear en-route to your destination.

Unless you are lucky enough to be at the pointy end of the plane (and for most of us, this is unfortunately not the case), being squeezed into a tiny seat with virtually no legroom doesn't really call for a high fashion outfit. It calls for practicality and comfort.

I usually opt for neutral colours (i.e. black) to try and avoid the inevitable culinary mess when the person in front of you reclines their seat and pushes your dinner into your lap. It happens more often than you think.

My usual travel arrangement is a pair of stretchy black wide leg trousers, a black tank top and a cashmere cardigan for warmth. I also opt for black slip on shoes (like a ballet flat) as trying to get a pair of boots back on your feet after a 14 hour flight is nigh on impossible. Trust me - I have tried. Massive fail. Ditto for skinny jeans (don't even attempt it). I also travel with a cashmere wrap that doubles as a blanket and take a change of tank top and underwear to freshen up just before landing.

I really like the look of these cashmere travel trousers, but I do wish they came in black. In black they would look less like trackies and a lot more like regular pants which would be good for wearing at your destination (multi-function packing - me likee). The cashmere would keep you warm on the plane (I tend to get really quite cold on flights) and it won't crease, meaning you look smart all the way to your destination. They are also light to pack and can roll up meaning that they won't take up a lot of space in your luggage when you pack them for the rest of your holiday.

In terms of a nice practical but stylish cardigan I really like this one from YUM at Pink Zebra. It would be really nice and warm with the hoodie, and the longline shape means it's a bit more practical for travelling. I also have a great cashmere cardigan from Oroton that works well for travelling because it wraps around you and makes it nice and snuggly for sleeping in.

Now, the two items I have posted above definitely fall into the investment dressing category (i.e. they are very pricey for loungewear, particularly the trousers). We have previously established that you don't have to spend a lot to get good quality clothes. For example, the two items below are from Witchery - the trousers are $59.95 and the cardi is $109.95. Exceptionally practical, tres chic and not too hard on the wallet.

Good quality tank tops you can pick up in loads of places - I like Giordano because they keep their shape no matter how many times you wash them, and they are very cheap. Other good suppliers include Ojay and Witchery (if you particularly like them longer).

For cashmere wraps and pashminas, I stand by my earlier recommendation of The Pashmina Store. Great value and the shipping isn't too pricey. For ballet flats, I like Wittner, Bloch and French Sole. And don't forget a pair of nice warm socks for when you want to slip off your shoes and get some well deserved sleep!

In my carry on, I always pack the following items: hand cream, facial moisturiser, lip balm (I like Kiehls), deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, and eye cream, all in handy mini sizes to fit into my ziplock bag. I also pack a good book (or three), my iPod, a few snacks (like Larabars) and a few litres or water which I now buy at the airport. It's expensive but I can't function without it and I feel so much better at my destination if I am fully hydrated.

Coming up soon: destination wardrobe - what to pack for the actual holiday!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How pretty are these?

In my random wandering across the interwebs, I stumbled across these beauties from Tiffanys over the weekend. Aren't they just sensational? Fabulouso in fact! Just the prettiest things your peepers have seen in ages? If Mr Kitty bought them for me I'm sure I would wear them ALL the time (they'd look great paired with my Bonds tracksuit and uggboots). I told him I'd never take them off. There may or may not have been snorting coming from his vicinity when I said this - I can't be sure...

Unfortunately when I pointed them out to him on the screen, he also clocked the price. Suffice to say I won't be getting them - not unless I pool a lifetime of birthday presents together. And Christmas. And possibly even anniversary presents as well.

They can be yours for an eminently reasonable $33,000 US Dollars. Only. They are $49,500 if you buy them through Tiffany in Australia, but everyone knows you only buy Tiffany in the US. It's heaps cheaper. Much better value.

Have fun kiddies!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Ten things. Ten people. Ten beautiful blogs.

One of my favourite bloggers passed this on to me - it's the first one I have been given and I have to say I was thrilled to receive it. I started this blog simply as a creative outlet just three months ago - I might write every day as part of my job but it's not the same as doing something for myself. Something that delves into who I am and allows me to be me. I told myself at the beginning it didn't matter if no-one read it, but I am amazed everyday when I receive lovely comments about my posts. People out there are actually reading what I have to say!

Being so new to this Blogging Biz, I am still yet to define what this blog is actually about. It's not a fashion blog, although I do talk about frocks quite a bit. It's not a shopping blog, although that is one of my favourite pastimes. It's not a food blog, although I do share some of my favourite recipes... It's not a daily record of my life either as I tend to talk about everything and nothing at all. I guess it's just a creative outlet - it's anything and everything I want it to be. And that's enough for the moment.

So - on to this award! I am supposed to pass it on to ten other fabulous bloggers! I find it very hard to limit it to just ten because you really are all my favourites! So I choose:

Frocks & Frou Frou: I have been following the Lovely Lilli for quite a while now - basically ever since she started her blog up. She is a fashion inspiration to me and a whole bunch of other lovely ladies. So bold, so clever, tres chic.

365 days of Elise: I love reading Elise's musings about her life. Her 365 day photo blog is really fun and an interesting look at life!

Confessions of a Curious Mind: Curious Girl has a really great turn of phrase and I love how she throws herself into everything with such passion!

Whisk and Whimsy
: I wish I had Amy's talent - both in the kitchen and for creating beautiful objects.

: Although she doesn't blog as much as she used to, I always get excited when I see a new post from the lovely Sass! She is a beautiful soul and a true friend.

365 days of our married life together
: Farrah is such a lovely girl and I adore reading her journey through her first year of marriage with her husband Wayne.

When Harry Met Holly: *misskitty* was one of my first followers and I love reading about the adventures of her puppy and kitty. More stories please!!

Cclarebear: Clare is a very talented girl. She has a fabulous writing style and I love hearing what she has to say on life.

Not Quite Nigella: Lorraine is my blogging inspiration. She is so sweet and kind and I love reading her culinary adventures, reviews and cooking escapades on a daily basis.

And finally - the divine Faux Fuchsia: If you aren't already following the Faux Fuchsia train, get yourself on it - immediately! She has such a witty turn of phrase and I love her glamorous addiction to frocks and high end clobber. She is an absolute sweetheart and one of my favourite bloggers of all time.

It goes without saying that I also pass this back to the glamorous and lovely Sydney Shop Girl who gave me this lovely award in the first place. I love reading her blog and her ability to talk about many things at once in a cohesive way is definitely admired by me. I seem to be a single subject blogger - one post, one topic. But she has such a way with words that takes you on a journey through her life that I love. We are both relatively recent Sydney imports and seem to have so much in common. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Now - apparently I also have to share ten things that make me smile. Limiting it to ten is had but I am going to put the first ten that come to mind. In no particular order:

Mr Kitty. This morning he made me a cup of tea and brought it in to me so I could continue reading and dozing just that little while longer. His thoughtfulness is just one of the many many reasons I love him.

The Kitties: they are naughty and bad and have destroyed the lounge room curtains (much to Mr Kitty's chagrin) but they are the love of our lives. So very cute!

Talking to my mama and daddio on the phone: living so far away from my parents makes me sad sometimes but I just love having chats with my Mum and Dad. I don't get to talk to them nearly enough.

Baking: I love cooking for others - it's my nurturing and creative side coming out. I might not be able to fix a hem or sew a button back on but by god I can bake.

Freshly washed sheets: I love the thought that tonight I will be crawling into a bed with freshly washed sheets that have been dried in the sun. What a simple luxury!

Masterchef: such a cliche but I smile every time I think of this TV show starting again. I am freakishly addicted. For those who don't know - Monday 19th April. 7:30. Be there.

Blogging: I love that people I have never met read what I have to say and then come back to read more. It's an inspiration and keeps me going!

A good gin and tonic: right now (well, not actually now, but at the moment, generally in the evenings) I am loving Tanqueray 10 with tonic and a squeeze of lime. It's the best.

Massages: I love a really good massage and just the thought of one puts a smile on my face.

And finally, thinking about holidays makes me smile. Some nice time with Mr Kitty, a little bit of shopping and great meals at fantastic restaurants. What more could a girl ask for?

Keep smiling!

Kitty xx