Saturday, November 30, 2013

Busy Busy Kitty!

Two steps forward, one step back.

Or that's what life seems like at the moment for the Kitty folk.

Just as one gets better, the next comes down with some mutant strain of bleeeeaaauuugghhh... At the moment Mr K is laid up with it but I was unwell mid-week and Little G was sick the previous week. It seems to get worse everytime it moves from person to person. Lord knows how we will cope with the move to 2 days daycare next year.

We purchased a block of land 5 weeks ago (very exciting and something that has been on the cards for a couple of years for us) and, despite our best efforts to have plans sorted out before settlement, we are waaaaay behind schedule. Majorly. I guess I have to look forward to this being my life for the next few years, right? Unsurprisingly, life gets in the way of the best of intentions, nothing ever goes to plan when you build, right? Right...?

At this point, we are all looking forward to a relaxing week over Christmas with my parents and my brother and sister and their families. We just have to get there. Hopefully in one piece.

Kitty xx

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Gateau au Yaourt a la framboise

When all else fails, bake.

This seems to be my motto at the moment, along with the Kitty Family mantra: Never Knowingly Under-catered. The two go hand in hand.

When my brain is about to explode, filled with so much going on, it is sometimes the only form of release I have.The mindless therapy of stirring and beating and mixing and pouring, then waiting for the house to fill with the glorious sweet scent of home baked cakes and treats. It's so soothing for me and helps keep the chaos of my mind slightly more ordered.

Today was such one day - I felt compelled to bake. Beyond all reason. G has come down with a cold very suddenly - one minute fine, the next, a streaming mess of clingy toddler snot. Mr K is completely bogged down with work so once G went to sleep for her nap (albeit a very small one), I just had to make something.

This Gateau au Yaourt, or Yoghurt Cake, as it is known in English, is simplicity at it's best. You can use whatever sugar you like - either white or golden castor or brown sugar, and you can flavour it with whatever you like: sliced peaches work beautifully when they are in season, lemon zest and blueberries work all year round, poached quinces or pears are lovely for a winter treat. But this variation with raspberries and almond meal is my favourite. The almond meal makes it a little more rustic and dense - you can replace it with a little more flour if you choose.

The recipe is a traditional French treat, often made by children with their mothers. The simplicity comes from the fact you can use a single yoghurt pot as a measuring cup for the majority of the ingredients. I simply use a half cup measure - French yoghurt pots are 125ml each, or half a cup. I got the recipe originally from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini.

Despite her cold, Georgie ate an entire piece of this magical creation. So it must be good. It lasts well but it never lasts long around here.

Gâteau au Yaourt à la Framboise

2 tubs (or 1 cup) of plain yogurt, I used Jalna organic fat free because that's what I have but any yoghurt works in this cake
Use one of the empty tubs to measure out :
2 tubs of brown sugar (or 1 cup)
1/2 tub of oil (1/4 cup - I use vegetable oil but you could use coconut or light olive if you like)
3 tubs of sifted plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tub ground almonds (1/4 cup)
You will also need :
3 eggs
1 Tbsp baking powder
a good pinch of salt
300 g raspberries (fresh or frozen -- no need to thaw them if they're frozen)

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Copiously grease and line a 9-inch (22 cm) round cake pan with baking paper.

In a medium bowl measure out then combine the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the almonds. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, the oil and the sugar with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three or four additions, and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

Alternatively, use your food processor to mix the batter, adding the ingredients in the same order as indicated above.

Pour half the batter into the cake pan. Cover evenly with half of the raspberries. Pour the other half of the batter, and arrange the other half of the raspberries on top.

Put into the oven to bake, for 50 to 60, until the top is springy and a cake tester comes out clean. If it looks like the top of the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the rest of the baking time.

Let rest on the counter for ten minutes -- I repeat : let rest on the counter for then minutes -- then run a knife around the cake to loosen it, and turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Miss Kitty Cooks: Chinese Chicken salad

Okay, I'll admit, this isn't exactly "cooking" (unless you count roasting or poaching the chicken), more assembling. It's a very easy and quick summer's dinner. You can make it with freshly poached chicken, or - do as I did - roast one you have in your fridge (Thanks Vic's Meats Market Day!). Or, you can always do what I usually do - which is use the white meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken. Delicious any way you look at it.

It's an adaptation of a recipe my mum used to make years ago. She got it, I think from a US recipe book, or maybe she had it in a restaurant once? I forget the provenance but the recipe is that good it has stuck around for years. That's testament to a delicious salad in my book!

The salad measurements are loose - it's the dressing that has to be spot on. I always make sure I have all of the ingredients on hand. It makes a fast and easy supper on nights when you just can't face cooking again.

Miss Kitty's Chinese Chicken salad

Serves 2 hungry people

2 cooked chicken breast fillets (either roasted or poached), skin removed and meat shredded
1 lebanese cucumber, sliced
4-5 large cos lettuce leaves, sliced
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 packet Changs Fried Noodles (leave these out if you want a healthier version)
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup coriander leaves


3 tablespoons Hoi Sin sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
Juice from one lime (more if your lime isn't all that juicy), you are after 3 or so tablespoons
One tablespoon rice wine vinegar
A few drops of sesame oil, about 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Combine all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

Add all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine. Taste dressing for balance - I often find I need to add more lime juice to make it a little more tangy. You are looking for a good balance of sweet, salty and tart in this dressing.

Pour dressing over the salad and sprinkle with more coriander.

Eat with gusto. Try to share. Don't be too distressed if you can't. You could also make a vegetarian version with fried tofu (yum yum).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Miss Kitty Goes: Honkers

Another day and another apology. Since we got back from Hong Kong we have been overwhelmed by STUFF. Things to do. It's party season here for the little bug so we are busy trotting off to those on weekends and there is an awful lot of work to be done for the Jewel Collective over the next few months. Plus we are attempting to buy a house... It's never just one thing is it?

We met lots of lovely potential suppliers at the trade show in Hong Kong. Alas, there wasn't an awful lot of time left for other, more fun things. We had a few dinners out (one reasonably posh one) but the rest of our meals were very utilitarian, unfortunately. Ahhh - the joys of travelling with a child. For work. The best of both worlds!

We did manage to squeeze in a little bit of fun - a small amount of shopping for the bug. Some yummy food. Suffice to say we are looking forward to another trip next year.

Yummy Katsu from Ginza Bairin and pork buns from Tim Ho Wan:


And leopard print macaron boxes from Laduree. I mean, did you EVER??

I did manage to buy a few small things for myself - a couple of scarves at Zara, a bangle from Shanghai Tang and this little amethyst and pink sapphire beauty from the Trade Show from a Thai jeweller who had the most spectacular things...
 Despite the heat, I even managed a few good hair days:

Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Frappucinos: I miss you so much, but my thighs do not miss you at all.

Georgie scored well - two pairs of Melissa shoes and this awesome fur gillet from Zara. They do have fantastic kids clothes!


And we toasted the end of our trip with a few cocktails at Aqua, whilst watching the gorgeous lights of the harbour below us.

Honkers, you never cease to amaze us with your beauty and fast pace. Hopefully we will see you again next year!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Miss Kitty Does: My new project

First up, apologies for the silence slash sporadic posting over the past few months. Georgie is going through a bit of a delightful phase at the moment and it's really hard to tear yourself away from them when they are just this cute. Really cute. And occasionally snotty (which is even more high maintenance)...

Also, I do have news to share with you all. My new baby. For the last four months or so I have been working on my new business idea, The Jewel Collective. We are heading off to Hong Kong next week to meet with manufacturers and potential suppliers. It's very very exciting but also nerve wracking. Occasionally I feel like I want to vomit with so much going on (and more than occasionally just having a very quiet freak out over here) but I am loving the whole process, even the mundane stuff. Jewellery is something I have been passionate about, ever since I was a little girl, so it just feels right for me to move into this space.

I am currently on track to launch in March 2014 (fingers crossed). I would gladly appreciate any advice you have about running a small business, online or otherwise. It's a big call for someone who has never done it to start working for herself. But I am excited and thrilled to be launching something of my very own.

Stay tuned for more news and sneak peeks of the first collection!

Kitty xx

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: spiced apple cider fruit bread

Mr K is a fairly undemanding spouse. When I asked him what he wanted me to bake him for Father's Day, he said immediately: "a loaf of bread."

"A loaf of bread? Just a loaf of bread? Not a cake, or something, I don't know... Challenging?"

"Yes. A loaf of bread," he replied.

So a loaf of bread it was. However, knowing him and his likes, I decided to make it a little more special than just your average white loaf. He has a soft spot for my hot cross buns, so I thought I might make something like that but in a loaf form.

I adapted a recipe from one of my newest cookbook acquisitions, the Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook. It's actually a really great book, full of good tips and hints and excellent recipes for everyone from the basic baker through to the most polished of patissiers.I really enjoyed the TV show and have already earmarked a number of the recipes to try at home.

This is a fairly easy bread to make. the dough is quite stiff in the beginning but it does rise well. The main changes I made to the recipe include substitution of fruit (we had no currants and we don't like mixed peel) and upping the spice levels. We have been nibbling away at it for most of the morning - the heady cinnamon and spice smell in the house keep drawing us back to the loaf. It would be fabulous toasted, but frankly, I don't think it's going to last that long here.

And Mr K's all important verdict? Delicious. That says it all, really.

Miss Kitty's spiced apple cider fruit bread
(adapted from this recipe)

¾ cup raisin
¾ cup sultanas
335ml bottle of dry apple cider, warmed (I used Monteith’s Apple Cider)
3½ cups white bread flour
Zest of one orange
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

Soak the raisins and sultanas in the warm cider while you measure out the other ingredients. Add the flour, spices, zest and yeast to a warm bowl and make a well in the centre. Strain the cider from the fruit, reserving the fruit. Add the liquid to the dry mixture. Knead well (15—20 minutes by hand or about 7-8 minutes in a kitchenaid) until the dough is stretchy. Add a little more water (2-3 tablespoons) if the dough doesn’t come together. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size — about 45—60 minutes. I popped my dough back into the Kitchenaid bowl and into a sink half filled with warm water – our kitchen was cold this morning.

Knock back the dough and add the fruit. Knead until the fruit is evenly distributed. Shape into an oval loaf and place on the baking tray. Cover with baking paper and a clean tea towel and prove a second time for 30 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C. Dust the loaf with flour and score it with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack and eat slathered in good butter.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Roasted vegetable, goats cheese and hazelnut salad.

August is a funny time in Sydney. One day, the weather is warm and springlike. The next, the wind whips up and you have to swathe yourself in winter woolens again.

This is a recipe I made up last week when we had a range of rather sorry looking root veggies in the fridge. We were desperate for something green and leafy but the urge for comfort food has not quite left. This salad fits the bill perfectly: the comforting warmth of the cinnamon honey roasted vegetables combined with the smooth goats cheese and crunch of the hazelnuts makes for the perfect late winter salad. You could serve it without the rocket (maybe with some steamed beans or brocolini instead), but I think the peppery nature of the greens is an excellent foil for the dish and elevates it to a lighter plane.

I wasn't going to blog this (because it seemed somewhat simple) but I have had quite a few email/Facebook/Instagram requests after I posted the picture on Instagram, so I assume people are feeling like we are - a little desperate for some comfort food in a salady world.

Enjoy! We certainly did. So much so, we are having a version of this again for dinner tonight.

Miss Kitty's warm winter vegetable salad

1 small sweet potato or kumera
1 large parsnip, peeled
2 carrots
A piece (maybe 300g) of butternut pumpkin, peeled
2 tablespoons Coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
2 large handfuls of rocket, washed and dried
100g goats chevre (we used Meredith Dairy chevre)
50g hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and roughly chopped
Caramelised balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Chop the sweet potato, parsnip, carrots and pumpkin into even pieces and place in a bowl. In a cup or jug, combine the melted coconut oil, cinnamon and honey, stirring well to combine, then pour over vegetables. Mix with your hands until everything is fully coated. Work quickly as the coconut oil may reset if your veggies are cold.

Spread the vegetables out in a roasting tray or baking sheet(s) in one layer. Roast for approximately 45 minutes at 180 degrees or until golden brown, tossing once or twice during cooking. Allow to cool a little on the tray.

Place the washed and dried rocket onto a platter and top with the veggies and a handful of chopped roasted hazelnuts. Dot with the crumbled goats cheese and drizzle with caramelised balsamic.

Serves Four as a accompaniment - we had ours with BBQd lamb chops. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Carrot, zucchini and banana muffins

As I have previously mentioned, Georgie is a veggie hater. A genuine skeptic. But in order to try and get some green nutrients into her I have resorted to hiding veggies in other food. I grate every type of vegetable imaginable and pop it in bolognese. My "tomato pasta sauce" has about seven different vegetables in it. And then there are these muffins.

There's nothing revoutionary in including zucchini in a muffin. Zucchinis, when cooked, take on a lovely sweet flavour that complement the carrot and banana. You could always add nuts or raisins to the mix to add a different dimension but we seem to prefer this classic version and everyone in the house likes them which is also a bonus. This recipe makes a rather large quantity but the muffins freeze very well so it's worth making the full amount, then you always have a healthy, veggie laden snack on hand for morning or afternoon tea.

Zucchini, Carrot and Banana Muffins
Adapted from: The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread via DelectablyMine


1 1/2 cups (220 g) plain flour
11/2 cups (220g) wholemeal flour
1 1/8 cups (227 g) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups (340 g) carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups (255 g) zucchini, grated
1 cup (270 g) mashed, ripe banana (equivalent to 3 smallish bananas)
4 eggs
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (120 g) vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the carrots, zucchini, and bananas. Pour the liquid egg mixture over the grated vegetables and bananas, and fold in gently to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in until just combined.

Scoop the batter gently into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake for 8 minutes at 200 degrees, then rotate the pan and reduce the temperature to 175 degrees. Bake for an additional 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave muffins in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and place on a wire reach to cool completely before tucking in.

Yields: 24 muffins

Friday, August 2, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Slow cooked lemon and garlic chicken

When I think of winter, I think of long slow braises and soft unctuous roasts that spend hours and hours in the oven. We spend a lot of time with the oven on in this house - the benefits of which are twofold: 1. we get lovely, yet easy food and 2. it keeps the kitchen snug and warm.

This delicious Nigella Lawson dish is no exception: minimal fuss, high reward for effort and a lovely warm kitchen to boot. And it reheats very well so you can spread the three minutes worth of effort over two meals. It seriously can't get much better than that!

We sometimes make this with a whole chicken cut into pieces, or marylands, or chicken thigh pieces on the bone. It's a very forgiving dish. And a delicious one. It's a winter staple in this house. Give it a go!

Nigella Lawson's Slow Roasted Lemon and Garlic Chicken

1 chicken (approx. 2.25kg / 4½lbs) cut into 10 pieces
1 bulb of garlic (separated into unpeeled cloves)
2 unwaxed lemons (cut into chunky eighths)
1 handful fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
150 ml white wine
Black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3/325ºF.

Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and add the garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later. Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.

Sprinkle over the white wine and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly with foil and put in the oven to cook, at flavour-intensifyingly low heat, for 2 hours.

Remove the foil from the roasting tin, and turn up the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400ºF. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges.

Serve the chicken straight from the roasting tin strewn with your remaining thyme alongside yummy roasted potatoes and a green salad.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Georgie: on eating

It's been a while since you have had a Georgie focused post, so I thought I would give you a round up on what she loves and doesn't like when it comes to that subject that seems to obsess most mothers (after sleeping, that is): food.

I always assumed I wouldn't have a fussy child when it comes to food. Neither my husband nor I are particularly fussy. We eat reasonably well. When she turned 4 months old, we started her off on purees but moved to baby led weaning when she was about 6 months old and decided she didn't like purees any more. We have had mixed results. There is no denying that Georgie is a reasonably fussy eater. 

If you listen to Georgie, Vegetables are the Devil's Work. Enemy #1 is peas. Georgie won't touch anything that has touched peas (more on that below). Pumpkin, potatoes and sweet potatoes follow closely in succession (maybe it was ODing on orange food when she was little?). Salad vegetables are also verboten as are broccoli, beans and broccolini. The few vegetables she does eat are zucchini (surprisingly), carrot and corn. And cooked tomatoes (like in pasta sauce). Mum is getting very good at smuggling veggies into things. My "tomato" pasta sauce contains pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, onion and just enough tomato to make it look red enough to pass for tomatoes.

In terms of protein, Georgie is a bit of a champion. Salmon, tuna, flathead, whitebait are all favourites. Lamb chops and slow roasted lamb always go down a treat. Sausages, home made chicken nuggets, mince... She loves houmous, which is great. Sometimes I wonder if we aren't raising a toddler who has popped herself on the Atkins Diet. Her favourite protein is Pig: ham, proscuitto, bacon. Love it!

She is also a bit of a dairy fiend: cheese and yoghurt are both staples. She is quite fussy about brands - she loves the 5AM pouches of yoghurt (hates spooning it) and Mainland Tasty is her favourite cheese. She is not a fan of kids singles or plastic cheese. Milk still presents problems - she reacts badly to it, no matter what we try: Organic, lactose free, skim, full fat.... We are going to try rice or almond milk next but to be honest she doesn't seem to bother with it. She's more than happy on just a little bit of toddler formula, but if we stopped, I don't think she would miss it.

On carbohydrates, she is a bit hit and miss. She loves Pasta. Wholemeal, penne, butterflies.... You name it, she hoovers it. Rice is great, except for risotto. Eggs and crumpets also seem to be winners. When we go out, she'll eat fried rice at Chinese (even the peas, despite the at home aversion!). Bread? Well, sometimes. It you make her a sandwich, she will eat what's inside and give you back the bread. Toast is a bit more successful. She likes muesli but not porridge. Muffins, yes. We try and stuff as many nutrients into home made muffins as possible. The combinations can get a bit weird - the latest batch is carrot, banana and zucchini, but she seems to like them and that's all that matters. She doesn't have much of a sweet tooth - she's not really interested in cake, but does have a fondness for the occasional "cookie" which can encompass anything from a rice cracker to a shortbread or marie biscuit.She doesn't eat lollies or chocolate and she doesn't drink juice.

Our one great success has been with fruit. She eats a very wide variety, which is great: mandarins, bananas, strawberries, kiwi fruit, blueberries (or booberries as they are called here), raspberries, apples, pears.... Most things she will try at least once before making a decision, unless they are green :)

Over the last few months I have really started to obsess over what she will - or rather, won't - eat. I worry about her getting enough nutrients. I worry about her using food as a weapon, that mealtimes will become battlefields. But the more I speak to other mummies, the more I realise she is completely normal. All kids do this. It's the start of their independence: deciding what they do and don't like to eat. Making first choices for themselves.

I have come to realise that the problem is really with me - and my reactions to her defiance. Having to cook four different dishes for dinner (as well as a different main meal for the adults, because Mr K isn't a fan of eating corn, pasta and ham for dinner 3 nights a week) before she finds something she really does like or will eat can be a bit soul destroying and you do get stuck in a bit of a rut. Protein and pasta is our staple when all else fails and we have it more than I would like. New things are approached with a bit of trepidation, mostly on my part. I still think she is too young to understand the repercussions of not eating her dinner so I do tend to fill her up on banana, yoghurt and cheese if I don't think she has eaten enough for her main meal.

At the end of the day, I am coming around to the idea that she is one of those kids who just eats when she is hungry and she favours plain food over adventurous eating. If she's not hungry, nothing will tempt her. She is happy, more than active enough for her age (one might say very active) and thriving. More often than not, she sleeps well. She is amongst the tallest of her peers. If all of that means she doesn't eat her peas then I will settle for my happy, well adjusted child over a pea eating one.

Kitty x

Monday, July 22, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Sour cream and lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Recently a very good friend of mine, The Floury Baker, had a birthday. She is an absolutely awesome chick who has her hands full with two gorgeous yet spunky kids under the age of two. Now, I complain about having no time to myself but she really has no time, yet she juggles mummyhood, baking and a blog with aplomb.

I made these cupcakes for her - she had a bit of a crap week and I wanted to give her a bit of a pick me up for her birthday. They were delicious and I hope they did the trick in lifting collective spirits. The sunny happy zesty lemon yellow certainly made my day and I will make these babies again and again. The sour cream gives the cake a delightful delectable softness yet the crumb remains moist and delicious.They are super easy to make and will have your friends oohing and aahing about your baking prowess.

Lemon sour cream cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
(Original recipe from SBS Food)

125 g soft butter
220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
Zest of one lemon
3 medium eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
150 g (1 cup) plain flour
60 g (1/3 cup) self-raising flour
100 g sour cream

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with patty cases. Fancy ones, if you have them.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl down to make sure all the butter has been incorporated. Add lemon zest, then add eggs one by one, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Stir through lemon juice. The mixture may look a bit curdled at this point, but press on.

Sift flours together and fold in carefully, alternating with sour cream. Mix to incorporate well.

Spoon into patty cases. Try not to eat too much of the batter - it really is delicious. Bake the cakes for 20 minutes. Test the cakes are done by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean the cakes are ready; if it doesn’t, cook for a further few minutes and test again.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove cakes from tin and place on a rack, ready for icing. 

40g soft butter
125g cream cheese
Zest of one lemon
1 tbslp lemon juice
3 cups sifted icing sugar

Combine all ingredients until smooth and spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes. Makes enough for 24 cupcakes, but you know you'll make these again. Keeps covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Oh Hai! There you are!

Hi everyone,

Apologies for the lack of communication over the past few weeks. It's been a bit manic over at Maison du Kitty. Babies (well, a rather large toddler) and varying degrees of sickness around the traps have translated into not a lot of time for Kitty and no time for blog. The time that has been left (oh, about 4 seconds a day) has been spent comfort baking (don't you just love winter?) and filling my freezer like no-one's business.

I am hoping to get back on the wagon shortly, and thank you to all those kind souls who have sent both virtual and real shout outs to check on our well being. We are all fine, just stretched. I think we all go through phases like this, and in my particular case, I had started to wonder if I had run out of things to say. But alas, no, just time in which to say them.

I also have an exciting new project that I am spending most of my free time working on. Hopefully it will debut early next year but I will keep you well informed in the interim and hopefully over the next few weeks/months I will have more exciting news on the work front to share. It's certainly something I have been thinking about for some time and finally have the courage to do. Or at least start. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me.

More later, but in the interim, I promise to update with fun things like baking a little more frequently.

Kitty xx

Friday, June 21, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: pumpkin, leek and feta pie with olive oil pastry

It's been a bit of a tough fortnight in the Kitty house - we have all been laid up with colds and it has hit some (me) harder than others (Georgie and Mr K). As a result, I have really felt like food that is full of goodness and supremely tasty (to make up for my loss of tastebuds).

I first saw this recipe last week and was intrigued. The only pumpkin pies I have ever had the pleasure of eating have been sweet rather than savory. And then there's the issue of Mr K believing a meal is not a meal without meat. Despite these challenges I pressed on, convincing him to try and give it a go.

I will say, it is a bit of a time investment, but it's definitely worth the effort. The pastry is vegan (shhhhh!! Don't tell Mr K!!) containing just flour, water, olive oil and salt. Very easy to make and easy to work with. Once cooked, it is firm in texture with no butter to shorten the pastry and is more reminiscent of a bread casing than traditional pastry. The filling takes a bit more time to prepare but it's definitely delicious. The combination of the leeks, pumpkin and cheese make for a yummy flavour combination and the addition of walnuts give it a welcome crunch.

Mr K has agreed to trial one meat free day a week, so long as we keep eating vegetarian meals as good at this one. The challenge is now on! Having said that, we did have to eat steak tonight for dinner... But no matter, we start small and work from there!!

Pumpkin, leek and feta pie with olive oil pastry
(Recipe from Karen Martini on

Short olive-oil pastry
500g plain flour
½ tsp salt
60ml extra virgin olive oil
250ml cold water

Pie Filling
1.5kg kent (jap) pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut in 2cm dice
Salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Knob of butter
2 leeks, white part only, finely sliced
5 eggs
60g grana padano parmesan, grated (the original recipe called for 120g but I felt half the amount was more than sufficient)
200g feta
4 gratings nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A handful walnuts, toasted and roughlychopped

1. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees fan-forced, 185 degrees conventional.

2. To make the pastry, whiz the flour and salt in a food processor. Drizzle in the oil, then add 250ml of cold water while processing until a ball forms.

3. Tip onto a floured surface and knead briefly until you have a smooth ball. Rest in the fridge for an hour, wrapped in cling film.

4. Season the pumpkin with salt and pepper, toss in oil and roast until well cooked and the flesh has dried out and concentrated, about 30-40 minutes — the pumpkin should not colour too much. Leave to cool.

5. While the pumpkin cooks, melt the butter in a small pan and sweat the leeks until softened.

6. In a food processor, add half the pumpkin, four of the eggs, the parmesan, half the feta, the nutmeg and cinnamon. Puree until smooth. Season if necessary.

7. Raise oven temperature to 170 degrees fan-forced, 190 degrees conventional.

8. Grease a 30cm pie dish and line the base with baking paper. Roll out the whole round of pastry into a large even circle, allowing enough so that the edges can be folded over to form a lid (this doesn't need to cover the whole of the filling, but allow some to fold on top). Lay into the dish.

9. Pour in the pumpkin puree and distribute evenly. Press the remaining pumpkin pieces into the puree, then spread over the leeks, sprinkle over the remaining feta and scatter the walnuts on top. Pull the edges of the pastry in to form a lid, working around the pie, pleating the pastry to form a petal-like pattern, leaving a hole in the centre of the pie. Beat the remaining egg and glaze the pastry.

10. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool. The pie can be eaten warm or cold, but we preferred it warm, served with a rocket and cucumber salad. The pie served a very hungry man and his wife for dinner and then two subsequent lunches.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Miss Kitty Goes: Aloha Hawai'i!

We have just arrived home after a marvellous holiday in Hawai'i. It was as beautiful as you can only imagine. Warm sunny days, frangipani scented balmy evenings. Spectacular.

There were some lovely views from our balcony on Maui:

A couple of encounters with local wildlife:

Some spectacularly good umbrella drinks:

Some absolutely excellent food:

Dinner at Town restaurant, Honolulu

Lunch at Leoda's Kitchen on Maui

Pies like only Americans can do them:

Many brilliant sunsets:

A spot or two of shopping:

And one very happy baby:

All in all, a pretty excellent holiday! 

We stayed at the Honua Kai Resort on Maui and at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Oahu. Both hotels were fab: very family friendly, great facilities, excellent views. Hawaii is also wonderful for kids - the beaches are amazing,  and the pace is nice and slow. Perfect for relaxing and enjoying yourself.

We hope to go back very soon. Well, as soon as we are up for the flight again!

Kitty x

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Zucchini, pea, feta and mint fritters

Mr Kitty is in the US at the moment for work. He is a meat lover (read: carnivore) so whenever he is away - which is not often - I use the time to have a little bit of a meat detox. A state of semi-Vegetarianism, if you will.

One of the first things I saw when I woke up yesterday morning was a lovely picture on my instagram feed of Horrypop's delicious breakfast. With no bacon loving husband (although, give me some credit - bacon is basically the reason I am not Vegetarian) to cater to, I thought I would give something like this a whirl.

Making the recipe up as I went along, they ended up being a bit of a smash hit. So much so I ate them again for dinner with a lovely green salad. Delicious.

And Little G? Well, she liked them, until she encountered a pea and all bets were off. Peas are the devil's work, according to Georgie...

Miss Kitty's zucchini, pea, feta and mint fritters

2-3 medium zucchini
1/2 cup frozen peas
75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour
70g feta, crumbled
1 spring onion, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 egg, whisked
¼ cup milk
¼ cup mint, shredded
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp salt
 Freshly ground pepper
4 tsp olive oil

Trim the ends from zucchini and coarsely grate. Place in a colander and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible. Cook peas in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain. Transfer peas and zucchini to a bowl. Stir in self-raising flour, spring onion, egg, milk, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Gently fold through crumbled feta.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Drop four 2-tablespoonful measures of zucchini mixture into pan. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with 2 tsp olive oil and remaining zucchini mixture.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: The best ever chocolate brownies

In my book there is nothing better or more comforting than a home baked chocolate brownie. If it's done well, it's sweet, rich and unctuously sticky. Perfect comfort food.

I came across this recipe on HomeMade Heart. The lovely Mummy is one of the best bakers I know and if she said it was the best brownie ever then I had no doubts. I trust her judgement completely.

The first time I made it, it was absolutely unbelievable. A few small modifications and I believe I have truly found brownie perfection. There seems to be a trick in the timing though - you want to have a set centre but not bake the sides too chewy. I think I have managed that by dropping the temperature at the 25 minute mark. I also add raspberries (because we have raspberry canes in out backyard and I often have bags in the freezer) and take out the walnuts. But sometimes I make it with walnuts and it's equally as delicious. Personal preference really!

If you try this recipe I'd be interested in your thoughts as to how it compares. It's not for the feint of heart. It's expensive (requiring 4 blocks of Lindt or Green and Blacks chocolate) and makes a vast amount of brownie - perfect for when you have visitors or for a dinner party dessert - and it does freeze well. If you are so inclined!

Miss Kitty's best ever chocolate brownies
(Recipe courtesy of HomeMade Heart via Nigella Lawson).

375g unsalted butter
375g high quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70 per cent this time and in the past have used Green and Blacks 70%. Callebaut or Belcolade would also work. You need something dark and bitter)
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
350g chopped walnutsOR
2 cups of raspberries, frozen or fresh
A good handful chocolate chips - your choice

Line the base and sides of a 23cm x 33cm tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter and the chocolate together over low heat in a large heavy-based saucepan.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs together well with the sugar and vanilla.

Measure the flour and salt into another bowl.

When the chocolate mixture has smoothly melted, set aside to cool for a bit, then pour it into the eggs and sugar mixture, beat well, then tip in the flour and then the nuts (if you are using) and chocolate chips.  Beat well with a wooden spoon to combine, then fold in the raspberries gently (if using) and then scrape the lot into the prepared pan.

Nigella says to bake at 180 degrees for around 25 minutes, however  even with The Mummy's super-powerful oven, she needed nearly 40 minutes. I bake for 25 minutes at 180 then drop the temperature to 150 degrees and check every 5-10 minutes until the centre is set.

When the brownies are done, the top should be set, turned into a pale, smooth and glossy thin crust, while the middle will still be dense and goey - a cake tester should come out clean-ish around the edges, but still somewhat goopy in the middle (they will continue to cook and set as they cool down).

Allow the brownies to cool completely in the tin on top of a cooling rack.  If you lined the tin well with baking paper, you should be able to use it to carefully lift the entire slab of brownie out at once, then cut into squares on a board with a large knife. Serve with a restorative cup of tea, or - if you are feeling decadent, some good quality vanilla ice-cream for a delicious desert.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Miss Kitty Shops: Luxe vs Less

It's no secret I am a fan of Alexander McQueen. Huge. I find the pieces classic, yet edgy and cool.  Well, cool for me. But they are unfortunately completely out of my price range at the moment. I have been lusting after a particular dress for a couple of months - it's a beautiful black and white jacquard print knit dress. Classic, yet edgy and cool. It's also frightfully expensive.

While I was out shopping this afternoon, I noticed David Lawrence have launched a new collection called DL Atellier - designer dresses, coats and pieces at a lower price than true designer wear. The quality looks great and the pieces are lovely. There is one dress I was sorely tempted by.

Now, it's not an exact replica, but it is what I would call "inspired by". The fact it has sleeves is the most obvious difference, but the subtle lace inspired pattern is a reasonable facsimile.The fit is nice and it looks lovely. I was sorely tempted. And for $299 it's about a quarter of the cost of the Alexander McQueen original. So if you are after the look without the price tag, this dress might just be for you.

Unfortunately it wasn't for me. The sleeves were just not quite right on me and if I am going to own a dress like this, it's going to have to be perfect or it's not worth it.

Close but not quite this time.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Miss Kitty Shops: New winter boots


It's starting to get a bit cooler here in Sydney. The days are still warm and sunny but the evenings bring with them a chill and the promise of winter. Mornings are frosty and dark. The winter doona has gone onto the bed and for the first time this season night I used my electric blanket to heat the sheets before I crawled between them.

As much as I like the stunning summers here in Sydney, there is something lovely about the mild winters we have. They are cool enough to require nice winter clothes and indulge in braises and mash, but not so cold that your nose starts to run as you nip down the driveway to collect the mail.

One of the things I love most about winter (other than braises and mash, which everyone loves) is winter fashion: knits and cashmere and tights and pretty warm dresses. And boots.

I didn't bother with buying boots last year. We were spending quite a bit of winter overseas in the Northern summer and I thought I would survive without them. I missed them terribly for the time we were here and none of my existing boots seemed to fit with my new Mummy lifestyle (i.e. they all have impractical heels. Perfect for chasing toddlers around in the park. And walking with a pram).

So once I started to feel the chill in the air I knew it was time to start my boot search. It didn't take very long. It started and finished at one site - the trusty, wonderful Duo.

I have bought and worn many pairs of Duo boots and shoes over the years. I really struggle to find well made, comfortable boots that fit both my large (size 41) feet and my curvaceous calves.The best thing about Duo is that the boots are fit both to your shoe size and your calf width, delivering a perfect fit. For an even better result, I always read the reviews of the boots to see what other purchasers have said about them.

I wanted something with a great comfy sole, rounded toe, flat (little or no heel) and black. For me they were more a casual boot, as my lifestyle doesn't really call for much else at the moment. Those were my criteria. I found my perfect boot in the Malmo. By all reports they are ridiculously comfortable which is exactly what I am after right now. And they are simple and classic enough I can team them with a pair of jeans or dress them up with a fab scarf and jersey dress for a more formal or dressy look.

Another wonderful advantage of Duo is the Free International Courier Shipping. What? I hear you all exclaim! FREE?? You can't ship something to the next suburb here in Australia without it costing a fortune, let alone a pair of boots. PLUS if you ship them out of the EU (which you do if they are coming to Australia) you get your VAT back as well. So the Malmos cost me the sum total of $165 delivered. Such good value for all leather boots. That actually fit.

I was very tempted to snag a pair of Blayes as well, but given the mildness of the winters we have here, can I really justify the cost? It's only 95 pounds... Plus delivery (as delivery is 15 pounds on sale boots and shoes), minus VAT. Hmmm... Maybe I will... Maybe.

In the meantime, I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new boots. And the promise of a busy winter filled with lots of walking and running around the playground.

For - as Ned Stark reminds us - Winter is Coming.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: easy peasy peanut butter chocolate fudge cookies

It's been a busy week over here at Kitty HQ. Poor Georgie was sick which required a trip to the doctor, then we had a visit from Mama Kitty and then Mr K came down with Bronchitis... Nothing better than having a house full of invalids to keep you on your toes!

So when I got the craving to bake something soothing and comforting last night, it also needed to be quick and easy. I felt the need for chocolate but couldn't be bothered melting it and creaming butter and separating eggs... I didn't want to wait the hour and a half it takes to bake brownies... Seeking inspiration I turned to Pinterest.

I have had mixed results with Pinterest. I'm sure most people have seen the wonderful Pintester blog which seriously leaves me rolling on the floor - sometimes she is not far off the mark with her culinary disasters. But when I saw these cookies, I knew I was onto something great.

Unfortunately I only had 2/3 of a cup of nutella in the house (the travesty!!) and a trip to the supermarket wasn't on the cards at 7pm on a Sunday evening, so I made an executive decision and thus the peanut butter chocolate fudge cookie was born.

These cookies have many things going for them: salty and sweet, quick and easy... And very very addictive. You have been warned!

Miss Kitty's easy peasy peanut butter chocolate fudge cookies
(adapted from The Ambitious Kitchen)

2/3 cup nutella
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
1 egg
Sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine nutella, peanut butter, plain flour, sugar and egg in the bowl with an electric mixer and beat until combined. Place dough into the freezer for 10 minutes or the fridge for an hour.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray then remove to a rack to cool. Best eaten while warm.

Well, straight from the tray. 

Makes 18 smallish cookies.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Our own bread

There are few smells that truly kill me: fresh roses, the garden after rain, vanilla, coconut and the smell of fresh bread baking. I could never work in a bakery - other than the 3am starts (which we have established really do not work for me with recent teething shenanigans), I would eat far too much bread. Certainly far more than is good for me.

One of the advantages of being a stay at home mum is that you can do a lot more baking from scratch. Well, in this case, baking bread from a box. I will not lie, my fear of yeast has meant I started slowly with bread mixes but I am gradually working my way up to starting my own sourdough starter. Maybe next week...

The advantage of baking your own bread is that you know exactly what goes into it. No preservatives, no nasties. Better for kids. Better for you. It's a couple of minutes of activity interspersed with some solid waiting, during which time you get on with other stuff, like the hundreds of loads of washing I seem to always have piled up... And at the end of it all, you have this amazing thing, scenting your kitchen with wholesome yeasty goodness. All for the sum total of $2 for the ingredients, if you are lazy like me and buy the mix. Even less if you make it properly from scratch. Around here, an artisinal loaf sets you back $8 on a good day. So not only is it better for you and gives you a sense of achievement and accomplishment, you are actually being thrifty at the same time. Winner winner!

It really isn't hard, you just follow the instructions on the box. They are fairly precise and if I can make decent bread in my awful old oven then I reckon anyone could do it. Certainly worth a shot. And imagine how your kitchen would smell with that wonderful scent emanating from it...

Have I convinced you to start baking your own bread yet?


PS: Before anyone asks, I have been using Laucke mixes. You can get them pretty much everywhere. Our favourite is the Soy and Linseed pictured above.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Holy Grail: Jo Malone body moisturisers

Keeping the theme of moisture running (and what a theme - here in Sydney it's been bucketing!)...

I'm a sucker for a good body moisturiser. Something emollient and fragrant always works for me. I used to be a big fan of Philosophy body creams but recently they seem to have become somewhat... thin... Or maybe my body needs a thicker cream to combat Australia's drying environment?

If I am out and about outside I will often use Kiehls Creme de Corps Lightweight Body Lotion with SPF 30+ (which they have recently discontinued, much to my chagrin - they still make the lotion, just not with sunscreen). It has a wonderfully natural coconut smell which is really the essence of summer in a bottle. But now that it's getting colder and I don't need the SPF under the layers of cardigans and scarves I seem to be wearing, I revert to my all time favourite moisturiser: Jo Malone.

There are two different types of body creams produced by this estimable perfumery: Body Creme and hand and body lotion. To use a cooking analogy, the Creme is thicker and more emollient, like double cream. The lotion is more like single cream: a great hydrator and good for everyday.

Both have their place in my bathroom, but I find as the days get colder and I need that little bit of extra comfort, I reach more and more for the Creme.

The good news is that both options have great longevity when it comes to scent. You can also layer your favourite Jo Malone perfume over the moisturiser to either give it more staying power or create a new different aroma.I often wear the Lime, Basil and Mandarin Body Creme with the Grapefruit perfume (although I have to say all that yummy citrus does have the downside of making me a tad hungry).

Unfortunately the price of these wonderful creams is the downside. The Creme is $130 for 175ml and the lotion is $105 for 250ml. But, as a treat, they are worth the splurge. And if you can get them on your travels overseas where it is cheaper, all the better!

Do you have a favourite body cream?


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Holy Grail: Malin + Goetz's lip moisturiser

One of the disadvantages of being a, well, slightly more mature woman, is that you end up having to pay a little more attention to your skin care routine. It's just not as easy as the old days of my 20s where I could fall into bed, make up still on and be fine the next morning (albeit somewhat panda-eyed). My skin care regime is planned with the precision of a military tactical assault nowadays. Cleanse, moisturise, tone, buff, scrub, hydrate!

Case in point: I had coffee the other day with a few friends and a topic of national importance came up. The application of red lipstick (see? we cover all the big topics at our coffee dates). Some people swear by lip liners, others foundation their lips first, some apply, then powder, then apply again... But most of the women still encountered feathering. Or bleeding. Ew.

Not me. And I will share with you the reason why.

I have always been a huge fan of keeping my lips moisturised. Particularly as we move into winter and the cold weather means chapping and a dry cracked pucker. I always have something on them: for years I used Kiehl's Cranberry lip balm - which is indeed a great product - but I was recently introduced to Malin + Goetz's Lip Moisturiser. What a difference. It's a gel formulation and contains absorbent fatty acids, which unlike traditional oils, waxes and silicones that are often licked off or wiped away, nourish immediately upon impact while offering a continual layer of hydrating protection throughout the day and night.  It's also fragrance, flavor, paraben and color free and leave your lips beautifully shiny (which, as a busy mum is a bonus because you can feel polished without having to slap on the lippy).

When I wake up in the morning, it's still on my lips. One application lasts almost all day as well, whereas I would often find myself reapplying lip balm again and again.And it has made a dramatic difference to those little feathery lines around my mouth too, making red lipstick application an absolute breeze. And the best thing? You can use it over a lipstick or a stain to give a glossy polished look while still moisturising and hydrating. Double duty product!!

You can buy Malin + Goetz products at Mecca Cosmetica. I think at $18 this is a real bargain and a great addition to anyone's cosmetic kit.

You can all thank me later.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Some things I love #1

Inspired by the wonderful ButWhyMummyWhy, I have decided to try and share a few of my favourite things on a semi-regular basis. I know I have been a bit of an absentee blogger recently, what with holidays with baby and our ever increasing social schedule, but I am hoping to get back into it over the following weeks.

Something I read: interiors magazines. Too many of them. Our house is filled with Belle, Inside Out, Vogue.... Seeking inspiration for our rebuild.... For me, its a very exciting project, if somewhat daunting. We have barely touched this house in the 7 years we have been here (knowing full well we were going to demolish) and the last time we bought a piece of furniture - our couches - it took us 9 months to decide... Hence getting in early with the research. We have a full house to decorate. Scary times.

Something I watched: We are ripping through The Good Wife at a cracking pace. I never watched this the first time around and am delighting in the storylines, the clothes, the relationships, the clothes... I can't wait for the next episode.

Something I wore: running shoes. Getting back into training after a few weeks off. Too much wine, food and lazing about on holidays made it hard this week!

Something I listened to: sick of Baby Einstein, we have moved onto classical for our car trips. Georgie is yet to be convinced but she seems to be digging Amici Forever..

Something I cannot live without: our recent trip to Margaret River has revived my appreciation for artisan chocolate and there is none better than Bahen & Co. Their 70% dark chocolate with roasted almonds and sea salt is the bees knees. More on this soon!

So are there some things you can't live without?

Kitty xx