Kitchen planning

I’m hoping to renovate my kitchen/dining area later this year and have been working on my “vision board” today to clarify what I really want. I know for sure that I want something beautiful as well as practical. I want a place I will love to work and be creative in, but I also want it to be a warm and inviting place for friends and family to gather. I envisage it as a place for dinner parties and laughter and gooey desserts and deep conversations. Basically, I want to be able to walk in each day and think “wow, this is great!”. (Hmm, I’m not asking much am I?)

Renovation dream
Culinary centrepiece
True heart of my home

© Leah Dowsett 2013

Tracking sunlight

There’s something to be said for sunshine….

There is such a calmness in waking early and basking in the first rays of the sun. I see them peek over the fence and then watch as they crawl across the bed, my arm, my cheek. There is a softness to them that brings warmth but doesn’t include that fierce heat that can come through later in the day. Lying in their path in a half dozing state, especially on a weekend morning, is bliss.

In the early morn
Dappled sunlight through the trees
Rests soft on my skin

Then time ticks on and I am up and heading out and about. I love those clear days where there isn’t a cloud in the sky, it’s warm but not hot, and you can ride with the car windows down. As I move from suburban roads to driving on the freeway the wind starts ruffling my hair and the stereo volume simply has to go higher. I smile as I sing along to the music and even put my hand/arm out alongside and have it be buoyed up and down like a wave by the wind as I cruise along!

Driving in my car
Sun is perched high in the sky
And music’s played loud 

When the errands are run and I’ve shared a lazy lunch with friends it is time to head home. The late afternoon has it’s own tangible feel as the sunlight starts to fade and long shadows spread across the ground. If I am close to the beach I can’t resist watching a sunset. In stopping to appreciate my surroundings I am reminded of the importance of taking the time to notice such moments. The dazzling red and gold or muted pink and grey colours are always different, always beautiful and always leave me feeling renewed and at peace.

Lingering shadows
Lengthen with the setting sun
Soothing my spirit 

© Leah Dowsett 2012

A day of treats

I’ve had one of those days that rates right up there with some of my great memories.

It involved the treat of taking a day off work to witness a fabulous French chef cooking a gateau. Sigh… Does it really get any better?!?!

The Frenchman in question was Emmanuel Mollois, owner of Choux Cafe and guest star on the occasional episode of Poh’s Kitchen. A 2010 Perth Now article about him has him pictured with my favourite French treats – macarons – for which he is also locally famous. He was very skilled, eager to share tips and tricks, had a beautiful accent and was quick to laugh. All wonderful qualities in a person.

I went along to sit with 23 other groupies and learn the secrets of making a Gâteau St Honoré. This involved him showing us how to make puff pastry, choux pastry, crème pâtissière, pate à crumble, caramel and crème légère! The result was truly amazing! Soft and crunchy textures coupled with light and sweet tastes…aahhh, I could go on and on!

He also showed us some sugar work as he is in training for the 2014 Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) competition. (See the wikipedia explanation too.) I first heard about this award when I saw the documentary entitled “Kings of Pastry“. For the finalists it is a gruelling 3 day examination and not everyone is awarded an MOF at the end. Phew! Emmanuel said today that 500 people applied for the 2014 round and that group was cut to 20, of which he is one! The next cut for the final will be to 10 people. Go Emmanuel! :-)

So, it is now late in the day and I am still smiling. I am still remembering the sights, the sounds, the tips, the tastes, the fun and the french-ness… I am one happy girl!

Fabulous French chef
Custardy pastry gateau
Sweet, sweet memory

© Leah Dowsett 2012

Cookbook bliss

I think there is nothing more bliss-full than reading a beautiful new cookbook.

The pages are crisp and, if you’re lucky, even still slightly stuck together from the printing process. The images are wondrous and drool-inducing as the styling is set to making you desire the featured morsel – plus the spoon alongside! And the recipes themselves…well, it makes my heart race to think I now hold the secret to creating all of the enticing gourmet delights.

Such was my experience today with my new Ladureé cookbook, Sucré.

(My obsession with Ladureé, and especially their macarons, began on my second visit to Paris in 2004 (how did I miss them the first time?) when I was taken to one of their salons by a friend. Their famous treats lived up to expectations – oh my, it was love at first bite! I visited two of their salons again in 2011 and I was not disappointed. If only I could spend more daysin Paris so I could tear myself away from the macarons enough to try some of the other sweet treats…next time! All things Ladureé can be found via their gorgeous website at http://www.laduree.fr/)

So back to the book itself. Firstly, it came in a box. Sigh…yes, a box of pale green, Ladureé’s signature colour. On opening the box there was purple tissue paper, also a signature colour, which opened to reveal a pale green book with a gold label. I reached for the book and removed it from the box and touching the pale green velvet cover and the gold edging on the pages was enough to make me weep. Oooh, and then the treasures inside…
(I told you I loved new cookbooks!)

So, my love for macarons continues to this day and I even made a selection of them for one of my birthday parties a couple of years ago. I know others out there love macarons so take a look at Jill Colonna’s blog, “Mad About Macarons”. I enjoy reading about her experiments with different flavour combinations. And for the styling side of things, Katie Quinn Davies’ photographs via her “What Katie Ate” blog are amazing – I can’t wait for her cookbook either!

Now, enough waxing lyrical, time to get back to the couch and my new acquisition!

My senses aroused
Such culinary treasure
Beauty in hard back

© Leah Dowsett 2012

Family trip abroad

In sweet foreign climes /

Some precious quality time /

Will soon be all mine

© Leah Dowsett 2011

A beautiful day

Sunday laziness /

Sleeping, eating, patting cat /

I can’t help but smile

© Leah Dowsett 2011

Gentle waking

Hazy morning light /

Peeking shyly through rain clouds /

So soft on my face

© Leah Dowsett 2011

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