now blogging at

1 Comment

Tarte à la moutarde

I had a moment today when someone said next week is September!  I knew this, of course, but it triggered a sub-conscience thought I’d buried that September was to be the start of “the busy lead up” to our France trip.  Put it this way, on my to-do list this week, is “create a 100 day countdown calendar for kids”.  We’ve talked about France for so long that the poor little dears have it constantly in their minds as a “someday” trip but sooner rather than later, they will start to figure out that mummy’s crazy dream is in fact coming true.

The short version update is this: visa application appointment in Sydney is 28 days away; at this stage, we’re getting on that plane not knowing when we will return; I have changed the font three times on the cover of our visa application display folder (which contains 72 pieces of paper and counting) in an attempt to appear serious but enthusiastic; I am negotiating with myself on a daily basis about which pieces of furniture to keep and store, and which to give away or sell.  When friends come to visit or stay, they almost always walk out with something we can live without because stuff = space = storage costs.

So a couple of days ago, I welcomed the opportunity to be brought back to “the main thing”.  I’ve been dreaming about what it will be like when we actually get there and settle into a slower-paced life, about the rich produce France boasts and the village markets that permeate all your senses.  A French friend who was staying with us, and has just left (we miss you Maria!) cooked us a typically French tomato and mustard tart.  It is decadent in it’s simplicity: the rich tomatoes and dijon mustard combination packs a punch in flavour. She was (rightly) chuffed with her dish and while she didn’t understand my Aussie wise-crack (think The Castle) “This is going straight to the blog!”, she is happy for me to share her recipe.  It’s actually best served at room temperature or even cold.  I shamefully admit to inhaling three pieces in a row the next day!

tarte a la moutarde_logo

Tarte à la moutarde


Frozen or fresh puff pastry – enough to fit your desired tart tin
(She used a very large dish which required 4 sheets … an average 20-25cm dish would require about 2 sheets.  If you like a thick crust, you may wish to double up on the pastry.)

1/2 cup good quality dijon mustard
3-4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh thyme
3/4 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
olive oil to drizzle


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Grease your tart pan and fit the thawed pastry to the pan, cutting off excess and using to “patch” any holes.

Smear the mustard generously along the bottom of the pastry and up the sides.

Sprinkle the grated cheese along the base.

Layer your tomato slices so that they are slightly overlapping.  Start on the outside of the pan and work your way into the middle.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle the fresh thyme and drizzle the olive oil over the top before baking for 35 minutes or until the pastry crust is golden brown.

Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

With grace and gusto,


1 Comment

Lunchbox Muffins

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for creative ways to add nutrition to lunchboxes!  One of my favourites is the savoury muffin – they’re quick and easy and there are endless combinations to suit your kids’ tastes. I have found one trick that seems to work … I always use bacon, salami or chorizo in my savoury muffins to boost flavour – they risk tasting bland without something strong. For a vegetarian option, olives are ideal.  Stick to the basic recipe below and from there, you can add whatever cheese your kids like (cheddar, feta, ricotta, parmesan) and hide lots of vegies (spinach, carrot, zuccini, onion etc).   Would love to hear what combinations you come up with … here’s a few suggestions to get you thinking:

* Spinach and Ricotta

* Chorizo, Cheddar and Spinach

* Bacon and cheese

* Capsicum,  Olive and Salami

* Zuccini, Bacon and Carrot

green lunchbox muffins

Lunchbox Muffins – Base Recipe

Ingredients – makes 16 muffins

150gms of cheese, grated
2 eggs
150gms bacon
350gms French flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 onion, finely diced
large handful baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp fresh herbs of choice
250gms milk
1 tbsp olive oil


Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.

Saute the onion and bacon/salami for 5 minutes until just cooked.  Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process until combined.

Spoon tablespoons into a well-greased muffin pan (N.B I have tried with paper wrappers and without and find without is best.  The kids complained of the wrappers sticking to the muffin which means they don’t bother eating it).  Bake for approx 25 minutes or until golden brown.

These freeze really well.  They’re also great to reheat in the oven for at-home lunches.  You may choose to cut them in half horizontally and spread with cream cheese or marscapone.

With grace and gusto,



Olive Tapenade Scrolls

A busy week so far!  Didn’t think I’d have time to blog but I couldn’t resist throwing this one up quickly because I was so pleased with how quick and simple (and yum!) they were.  I’m one of those lucky mums whose kids love olives.  Yes they have expensive tastes but olives are so versatile and can really lift a dish – whether it’s a main meal or a mid-morning snack.

We have sports day this week which means us parents have a great excuse to get together for a picnic and watch the kids run around the oval.  But it also means I need to feed the whole family!  So these scrolls came to mind … I’ve never made them before but they were so easy.  I used this olive tapenade to give it a boost of flavour and it means I don’t have to make boring old sandwiches.  You could use a variety of different olives to change the flavours … many tapenades call for anchovies but I find the flavour a little too strong for kiddies, so almonds are a good substitute to let the olives shine through.

Olive Tapenade


2 cloves of garlic (if you don’t like a strong garlic flavour, drop it back to 1)
1/2 bunch parsley
6-8 sprigs chives
40 gms whole almonds
200gms black kalamata olives, pitted
20-40gms extra virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper to taste


Place the herbs and garlic in a food processor or Thermomix and process until finely chopped (TM31 speed 7 for 3 secs).

Add the almonds and olives and process (speed 7 for 5 sec) until you reach your desired consistency.

Add the EVOO and pepper and process to combine.

olive tapenade scrolls_logo

Olive Tapenade Scrolls

Use the french flour bread recipe to make your dough.

Once you have left the dough to prove for 30-60mins, cut into 16 balls.

Roll out each ball to a sausage shape and then flatten gently with the palm of your hand.

Using a small spatula or icing knife, spread a layer of olive tapenade along one side of the dough.

Roll one end to the other to create your scroll and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Continue with the remaining 15, and spray the tops with water before cooking at 220 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

These will freeze really well and are a great afternoon tea.  For a nut-free version for lunchboxes, omit the almonds or substitute for anchovies.

With grace and gusto,