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White Chocolate Crisps, Cumin and Cream

White Chocolate Crisps, Cumin and Cream

So, I’ve finally got some time on my hands.

Not that I needed much to whip up these little lovelies.  I’ve stared admiringly at the picture of these in the book and finally got organised enough to make them to go with coffee last night.  Well, I thought I’d got myself organised.

You see, I’d bought some white chocolate.  I know that technically white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all, and I hadn’t seen any really GOOD white chocolate that I wanted to use in this recipe, so I bought a few blocks of the Lindt White Chocolate at the supermarket.  All good.  Except when I went to open it last night and I discovered that in my semi exhausted state I had mistaken milk chocolate for white chocolate… doofus!  I was so intent in getting this recipe made and off my list that I bent to the circumstances and made it – but only used the White Chocolate Melts, which aren’t all that great for recipes like this.

Because I wasn’t working with premium chocolate I must admit I didn’t go the whole hog and make pretty shapes with the chocolate, but the result was actually pretty reasonable even with the dodgy chocolate used. The upside of using the melts was that the chocolate wasn’t quick to melt after the dessert had been assembled, so that was a bonus.

The recipe comes from the amazing Sat Bains.  I’ve been watching him on Great British Menu and I love the way he thinks about food.  Next time I’m in England, I’m going to try and get to his restaurant in Nottingham.  This last trip I managed to get into Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and it was spectacular – everything I hoped for and much, much more.  Such fabulous memories, I can’t wait to try my luck and see if I can manage a sitting at his Melbourne Pop Up later this year.

Really the recipe couldn’t be easier.  Bung in your cumin seed, and the chocolate.  Melt it and whiz it around a but, and then scrape it down a bit.  Pour in onto a silicon sheet or baking paper – I used baking paper on a baking sheet.  Smooth it out with your spatula – as it cools down it gets easier to put nicer patterns on it.

The tricky part comes next – you refrigerate it until it’s just set enough to make an indentation with a cookie cutter that will actually stay – so timing is crucial.  I attempted to fridge a few times before I gave up in disgust at my lack of success and then reverted to just leaving it on the bench so I could keep an eye on how set it was becoming.  Because I was running out of time and figuring I hadn’t used great chocolate for it, I decided to give the fancy shapes the flick and just ran a knife through it to create some rectangles and a few triangles.  Then I refrigerated it to make sure it was set, and because I heeded the warning that it melted rather quickly in the recipe!

I had some great cream in the fridge – it’s the Gippsland Dairy Double Cream.  It’s so thick and luscious I didn’t see the need to whip it – I just used a butter knife and slathered it in between two discs of chocolate and arranged them (very hurriedly) on a plate.

Well, these were quite a delightful little treat.  Certainly something I’d serve again with coffee.  Here’s the thing – I was trying to be good and thought I’d put the merest hint of cream between some of the discs, but I’ve got to say the more cream, the more the flavour of the cumin comes through.  So now you have that on my good authority – go for your life!

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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Cucumber, Mint and Lime Sorbet

The cucumber discs really add to the flavour

The cucumber discs really add to the flavour

I’ve been intrigued by this recipe forever – well, since first seeing the recipe in the book and then watching it being made by Dani at a Cooking Class a couple of years ago.  It’s amazing to watch being made – think witches cauldron with smoke everywhere and a brilliant emerald green sorbet.  Stunning, both visually and taste wise.

The dry ice component of this recipe was always going to be the bugbear for me.  It’s not that hard to source, but the fact that you have to buy it, store it and use it within 24 hours was a little too organised for me.

This recipe comes from Pierre Roelofs (see his website at http://www.pierreroelofs.com)  He’s the man behind the weekly Desert Evenings at Cafe Rosamond in Fitzroy.  I’ve just read about them – and I want to go!  Pierre has worked or studied at an impressive array of restaurants all over the world – including doing an internship with my food crush Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck.  I adore the way he thinks about food.  And guess what – I’m going to The Fat Duck in less than a month!  I’m sure Heston won’t be there, but I am so excited about tasting the dishes I have heard so much about for so many years.

Dani mentions in the book that you need to collect and use your dry ice on the same day.  Unfortunately the good folk at BOC Preston (where I got my supply) aren’t open on Sunday and in fact close at midday on Saturday.  That wasn’t going to work for me as we have our family dinners on Sunday night. So, I took a gamble and rolled up at about 11.30 Saturday morning with my little polystyrene box under my arm.  If you are planning on making this, then make sure you have an adequately sized container for your dry ice.  I used the polystyrene box that the Bambino Cone ice creams come in – and it was ideal.  The recipe only calls for a few hundred grams of the dry ice, but with the time factor between buying the ice and using it, I erred on the side of caution and bought 2 kilos of the pellets. The container held 2 kilos really well.  More than 24 hours later I still had more than enough for the recipe, even after a reasonably warm Melbourne day.  Rather stoically, I resisted temptation and didn’t even open the box once to take a peek, and then I put the box in another esky and left it in the laundry.

I was given an information sheet when I bought the dry ice, which tells you that in ideal conditions a 5 kilo block of dry ice will last 48 hours.  My advice would be to speak to the experts at the shop and tll them how long it will be before you’re going to use the ice, and they should be able to tell you how much to buy.  Although it seems a little counter intuitive, you don’t store it in the fridge or freezer, just in the esky you have it in.

What the pamphlet doesn’t say, but on the advice of one of my neighbours who deals with dry ice regularly, was that some people can feel a little light headed around dry ice – it’s something to do with the concentrated carbon dioxide.  So take car while it’s in your car, or near you.

So, onto the recipe!

Thankfully, my mint has been rather prolific this year, and I thought I’d have oodles left over, but after about 7 trips out to the herb garden, I finally had the requisite 140 grams of mint leaves, and boy – that’s a lot of mint!!  Just look at the size of the bag that is holding them!

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Luckily, I did the mint leaf part on Saturday afternoon and stored them in a zip lock bag in the fridge.  If you were buying mint from the greengrocers, my bet is that you’d need at least 5 or 6 bunches of it to get the 140g of leaves.  I was pretty fussy and used only leaves, I’m not sure if this impacts on the flavour or not, but it wouldn’t impact on the consistency of the sorbet as you strain it and discard the pul, so you could possibly try adding some stem for the weight.  If you are preparing it in front of guests, then have the mint leaves picked and ready as it takes a long time to pluck them all.

Making the sorbet is really easy.  First you grind down your sugar, the add the cucumber, mint leaves, yoghurt, lime juice and water.  If I had my time again, I would probably add the mint leaves with the sugar and blitz them together as the mint takes up a serious amount of space in the bowl.  I managed to get everything in the thermo bowl – just – but I had put the cucumber in first, and if you put the mint leaves in first and the cucumber on top the you might get away with it.  You don’t have to peel the cucumber at all – just roughly chop it into chunks.

Once that’s blitzed you need to strain it quickly.  I was able to strain mine straight into my indulgent second bowl, but otherwise you’d need to rinse it first.  I used a spatula to stir the liquid through the sieve and it took about ten minutes.  If you take too long, apparently the liquid can discolour.  I wish my sieve was a little finer, but the one I used did the job – just not as thoroughly as I would have liked.  You end up with lots of green that you discard, but the upside is that it smells lovely!

So…the moment of truth came.  The time to add the dry ice and to watch the magic happen!

To be honest, I had scrawled some notes when I watched Dani prepare this dish, and I’d written down “350g dry ice, all at once, higher speed” but I couldn’t remember what I really meant, so I texted Dani,  Her wisdom was, either do it as detailed in the book or try this way – add 350g dry ice all at once and churn on a higher speed.  I decided to do it the way it was detailed in the recipe, and this is what happened:

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Whooooo!  It reminded me somewhat of Heston’s Ejaculating Pudding from his Roman Feast show ;-)  It made a hell of a mess, but it was worth it!  My trusty photographer snapped away while I spent about a minute precariously balanced between thrill and mortification.

If you’re doing it the way the recipe says, my recommendation is to get a chilled bowl and weigh your dry ice into that, so you know roughly what quantities you are dealing with.  Make sure you use a spoon, ladle or tongs to sccop it into the bowl or you will burning the living daylights out of your hand.  I found it easier to use a ladle with the pellets (they were roughly the size of the old one cent piece) as the tongs were a little too tricky.

So, in less than a minute, while my kitchen resembled something from Macbeth, the green juice and the dry ice combined to create the most magnificent sorbet.

Dani says you can freeze it up to an hour, which is what I did.  I certainly wouldn’t leave it any longer than that, even though I put mine in a freezing cold bowl, covered it and put it back in the freezer.  Because the freezer is warmer than the dry ice, it went a little mushy for mine. Next time I’ll try the 350g of dy ice all at once, and will make it when I want to serve it. I’ll do it in front of our guests so they can enjoy the theatre of creation, and issue them with aprons just in case it overflows again!

The resulting sorbet is just divine.  The lime really cuts through the mint, and if you eat one of the little cucumber discs that you serve it on, you really enhance the flavour of the cucumber as well.  It’s deliciously smooth – I think from freezing so quickly – and sightly effervescent in your mouth.  Even Master 5 was incredibly impressed – and it’s green!

So, in short – it’s definitely worth tracking down a dry ice supplier, and searching our an insulated container that is just the right size for your stash.  For the record, the box I used was 30cm wide, 20cm long and about 9cm deep.  The BOC man said it would fit about 2 kilos of dry ice.  The dry ice was about $10 a kilo.

Enjoy!

(PS – If you’re the gentleman that I was chatting to in BOC Preston on Saturday – and I’m sorry I forgot to ask your name – I hope this has caught your interest.  Let me know if you’d like a demo!)

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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Anzac Crack

I’m a cheater.

I had promised to get through every recipe in “In The Mix” before I embarked on my pristine copy of “In The Mix 2″, but a family birthday and continuing hot weather in Melbourne meant I couldn’t make the Cucumber, Mint and Lime Sorbet that I have been wanting to attempt for so long.  I was prepared to risk keeping the dry ice for 24 hours, but with the temperatures we’ve been having here, I just wasn’t that game, so I took a peek into In the Mix 2 and the Anzac Crack grabbed my fancy.

Julia Taylor (think tall, be-spectacled, slender blonde that was a legal secretary…possibly from Brisbane?) from  Australian Masterchef Series in 2012 it to thank for this recipe and – -

Oh. My. God.  This is the bomb!  It’s amazing!The three layers…. base, crack and jelly The best Chocolate Mousse! Julia Taylor's Anzac Crack Absolutely sensational desert!

I made this on the Saturday for a dinner on Sunday night.  I needed something that would keep reasonably as we had my Dad’s party on the Sunday afternoon which meant I would have no prep time on the Sunday for anything.  It kept beautifully and there are still a couple of slices in the fridge which I am working my way through… thank God I’m doing Boot Camp at the moment or I’d be a goner!

The Anzac Base of this cake is beautiful.  The macadamia nuts give it a lovely boost, and it’s great even by itself – the leftover bits didn’t last long at all between the three of us.  I’d be tempted to use this recipe as my Anzac recipe in future.  I have the worst set of springform tins and I was planning on getting some new ones, but I decided with the volume of liquid that this recipe uses, that I’d use my amazing Profiline Push Pan.  I love this tin… definitely worth looking at them if you use springform tins on a regular basis or do things with crusts.  I’m going to lash out and buy a couple of other sizes of them too.  They are completely leak proof and perfect for cheesecakes, or things that need to set.

In an ideal world, I would have already bought a larger push pan, but the one I used was the 22 cm one, and it was fine.

I made the Anzac Base – easy as.  I used raw macadamia nuts and toasted them with the coconut in my new oven (which I also love) until they were a lovely pale gold colour.  I greased and lined with baking parchment my pushpan, even though they are non-stick, I was leaving nothing to chance!  I rolled the Anzac base out between my thermomat and another piece of baking parchment until it was the required 2mm thick, and then stuck it in the freezer for 10 minutes.  It gets pretty stiff pretty quickly, but if you are chilling yours on the thermomat, don’t use a sharp knife to cut your circle – I stole one of Master 5’s Play Doh knives and it worked perfectly and doesn’t damage your thermomat. I baked the leftovers straight afterwards while the oven was still warm.

Next to make was the Crack, which is best described as a cross between butterscotch and caramel.  I was a little weirded out to read that there were breadcrumbs in there, and the only ones I had were some I had blitzed up a few months ago from some leftover wholegrain bread – but surprisingly enough they seemed to work ok.  I did have some egg yolks in the freezer but opted to use fresh egg yolks instead for this component and used my frozen ones for the Chocolate Mousse later on.  This process makes the most gooey, rich, butterscotchy sauce which you pour over the cooked Anzac Base, and then put it in the freezer straight away for at least an hour or until it’s really quite firm.  I took a little break here as I wanted to make sure it was well set before I made the Passionfruit Jelly, as I’ve ruined too many layering deserts in the past by being impatient!  Dani says to put it on a tea towel in the freezer to protect your shelf, which is what I did. I guess you could also put it on a  cold baking sheet in your freezer if you’re worried about it cooling off-balance.

Several hours (and crack cooling time) later, I made the Passionfruit Jelly.  I couldn’t find good fresh passionfruit so I (eek!) used a small tin of the passionfruit pulp from the supermarket.  Sorry, folks.  One day I will grow a passionfruit vine…

The recipe calls for white sugar, which I don’t have any more – we are just a raw sugar household these days – and it was fine.  There was a tiny bit of bloom on the end result, but I’m not sure if that was from the raw sugar or something else, I’ll try this again and see how it goes with white sugar one of these days.  I used the required amount of peel and sliced ginger, I did about 10 – 15 slices with the 2cm, and believe it or not this really infused quite a strong ginger flavour in the jelly, almost overpowering the passionfruit.  Next time I might reduce the amount of ginger that I use to infuse, and see if that is more to my liking.  Don’t get me wrong – it was still awesome, just quite gingery!

I was quite game and took a chance on some frozen egg yolks that I had in the freezer and used them to make the Chocolate Mousse.  They were fine – and this is a wonderfully smooth chocolate mousse.  I poured it into one of Master 5’s tupperware lunch boxes as everything else I had was already in commission, and popped it, lid on, into the crisper (the only place I had room in the fridge) for a few hours… perfect!!

There were a few slices left over – only because we had all eaten too much – and they have been eaten over the last few days.  Master 5 has developed a serious Chocolate Mousse addiction and there has been enough for him to have a little scoop after his dinner the last few days as well, without possibly running me short.

So – get to it!  This is one of the most decadent deserts I’ve had in ages!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Sweet Things

 

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Salmon Rillettes

I’ve been wanting to get to this recipe for ages – probably about 2 years – since I dined at PM24 in Melbourne, at the Wedding Reception of one of my friends.  The meal was absolutely one to remember, the bride and groom were deliriously happy and it was a really, truly happy occasion.  I was dismayed to read that PM24 is no longer – but will be relaunched as Lucy Liu’s Kitchen and Bar in the near future.

The weather in Melbourne has been ridiculously hot – and even though one of the best things about cooking with a thermomix is that it doesn’t heat up the kitchen anywhere near as much as a stove does – so my cooking has taken a little break over the school holidays and the heat waves.

We are all salmon fans in our house, so this recipe was one that I knew would be a crowd pleaser.  It kept well for a few days in the fridge and was a lovely light summer meal when served with a green salad and some toasted baguette.  It would also make a lovely light lunch – it will definitely be on my list of considerations for my next luncheon.  Technically it’s listed in the book as an entree, which it would be great for, but my guess is that even divided among eight ramekins it would be too much for an individual entree.

This would be a great recipe to use up left over smoked salmon (if indeed there is such a thing) – I should have thought of making this just after Christmas instead of waiting till the beginning of February.  It’s dead easy to make and is super impressive and tasty.  Make sure you leave yourself enough time to let it set if you are making it for a special occasion.  I used several small ramekins when I transferred mine from the thermomix, covered them with glad wrap and put them in the fridge.

If you have a second thermomix bowl then you can leave out the step where you cool the bowl with ice cubes and just use your second bowl instead.  I must admit, I didn’t get my second bowl until about 12 months ago, after 3 years of Thermo-ownership.  I never thought I’d use one and it does come in handy from time to time.

If you can, choose salmon fillets that are an even size.  They don’t need to look pretty as you’ll end up shredding them anyway. If I had my time again I probably would have been more vigilant when I chopped my smoked salmon, but it still tasted good!

Make sure you use a good wine and vinegar as the flavours really penetrate the salmon.  I used a lovely German Riesling and it was great.  I could have done much better with my vinegar – I must get down to either Pure Italian, Leo’s, or Simon Johnson to get a really good one as I think mine let me down a little.

Definitely use fresh dill.  Wouldn’t you know – after being inundated with dill from my herb garden over the Christmas break, I had to go and buy some – arghhh!  I’d probably use slightly more than 2 tablespoons as I’m a sucker for dill.

I’m not sure what I keep doing wrong, but my clarified butter never turns out perfectly clear.  Next time I’m going to try using a coffee filter instead of the clean, damp kitchen cloth and see if that gives me a better result.

Mine didn’t look quite as broken up as the one in the picture in the book, probably because I was a bit uneven with the breaking up of the salmon into large pieces.  I definitely had on my multitasking hat when I was making this – I had two people over and was talking to them at the same time I was making it – so it really is a doodle to make.

I used a sourdough baguette and toasted it in the oven.  It was delicious and gave me the chance to try my new oven out.  I’ve never been a fan of grilling in the oven, but this worked perfectly and oh so evenly, so I’m now busily planning what my next dishes in the oven will be – I just have to wait for this spell of hot weather to pass!

I served it with a salad of baby spinach, baby roma tomatoes and Persian fetta.  Perfect!

So – what was the verdict?  A resounding yes!

Salmon Rillettes

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Entrees

 

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Herb Scroll

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Someone’s little hands couldn’t keep away..until he discovered the green factor!!

Why didn’t I make these sooner?  I love these!  The pesto is to die for, and I’ll definitely make it by itself.  Someone ate all the leftover stuff that didn’t go into the scroll within about 15 minutes – it went beautifully with the Woolworths Select Rosemary Crackers.  I wonder who that was?

The recipe for these scrolls comes from Madalene Bonvini-Hamel from the British Larder in Suffolk – coincidentally, not too far from where I used to live.  Luckily she wasn’t in operation then or I would have come back from my England experience even heftier than I did!!!  She’s also responsible for the moorish Risotto Balls I made about this time last year.

There are two components to the recipe – the dough and the pesto.  The dough is the work of a few minutes – the lengthy part of this recipe – if you could even call it lengthy – is waiting for the dough to prove. The rosemary makes a lovely addition to the dough. If you’re stuck for a nice warm spot for your dough to rise, try rinsing our your thermoserver with very hot water.  Dry it well, and then put your dough in there, with the lid on – it creates a lovely warm spot for your dough to rise.  The pesto – as i mentioned before – is great by itself.  It’s also one of those things you could add extra bits and pieces too – a variety of herbs, some different nuts or seeds, maybe a different cheese.

I used to hate zucchini.  As a child it was served up with regular occurrence and it was so overcooked.  Mind you, I recently found the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union Cookbook that had been my grandmothers, and when I looked at the cooking time and suggestions for vegetables – I was horrified!  Check these out!!

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Aside from anything, these scrolls are the easiest thing in the world to make.  We all know how easy the dough making is, and the pesto is literally over in seconds.  Make sure you use the baking flour, as I have found that the bread lasts a bit better when you use it.

Master 4 – even though his favourite colour is green – doesn’t like green vegetables.  I thought this might fool him, but he’s too smart for that. Still, the rest of us were very happy with the result!

These would be great for lunch boxes or for a picnic.  I’ll definitely be making these again!

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe tab!

Rolled up and ready to be baked

It looks a little skew-wif but it tasted delicious!

It looks a little skew-wif but it tasted delicious!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Bakes, Recipes

 

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Chocolate Risotto

Chocolate Risotto

Hmmm, let me start by saying I have NEVER been a fan of goat cheese.  For me, it smells like goat, tastes like goat and frankly is about the only thing in my adult life that I haven’t been able, for appearances sake at least, to swallow.

Although the goat cheese component of this recipe left me somewhat dubious, I decided to make it for the man of the house’s birthday dinner this week.  Poor thing, he actually requested an orange cake – so this is somewhat of a deviation from what he had planned for himself. And even though he ate three – yes – three servings, I think he was actually just being polite.

This recipe comes from Ramon Morato, who, amongst other things, runs a culinary school in Barcelona.  I was a little puzzled as the blurb before the recipe talks about black rice and truffle flavours, whereas the actual recipe calls for arborio rice.  I used arborio rice but I’m now wondering if I should have used black rice instead, and now my mind is working overtime wondering if there is such a thing as black arborio rice…. google will be getting a workout before I get to sleep tonight!!

The actual recipe is a doddle.  I made both the vanilla broth and the vanilla oil a day and a half before. The vanilla oil could probably just stay in its jar for a while, as you don’t actually use all of it in the recipe.  I would imagine the flavour would intensify over time.  The vanilla broth is dead easy, and don’t worry about ‘wasting’ your precious vanilla beans as you dry them out and can use them again – mind you, I will be using mine pretty quickly as I’m not a hundred percent confident that I’ve dried them out again sufficiently, and I hate to think of my precious vanilla beans going mouldy and yuck.  But, there are worse things in life to have to use up in a hurry – I love vanilla both flavourwise and the aroma – yum!

So, with my vanilla broth and oil both done and dusted, I headed to our local fromagerie and hunted down the goat cheese that was recommended in the recipe.  I think the poor cheese man thought I was a complete nut – I was SO specific about what cheese I wanted, and what would do as a substitute – when he offered me a sample I just about ran a million miles.  “Sorry”, I said.  “I don’t actually want to TASTE it – it’s for a recipe”.  So clearly he thinks, maybe correctly, that I am a card carrying nut case. Just so you know, the recipe calls for  a Spanish goat cheese called Nevat, which our local cheese man advises is no longer imported to Australia.  Maybe if I had have been able to get it, my verdict on this recipe would have been kinder ;-)

I wasn’t sure if the first component of the recipe, where you saute the arborio rice with the oil, actually called for the vanilla oil – of which there is certainly enough – or just plain old olive oil.  I erred on the side of caution and used the vanilla oil, but to be honest I’m not sure if it made a difference or not in the end result.  The next few steps are simply just adding the warm broth and letting the thermomix stir it for you for about 15 minutes.  The mixture looked a little watery to me on the way through, so I took off the measuring cup and let it evaporate a little and the end result was ok – still a little runny for me, but I’m sure that it would be ok for most people.

I was going to lash out for real truffle but had some difficulty locating it, so I used black truffle oil instead.

This is one of those recipes where a little goes a long way.  I used barely a ladleful for each serve, and in fact served them up on saucers. For presentation a side plate would probably be better so you could be a bit more creative with your grated chocolate dusting, but I also thought it might be harder to scoop it out of a plate with no definitive bottom if you get my drift. The plating was easy, and even though the recipe suggests it would serve 6, I would have been able to make at least 8 serves from what I prepared.

So – the verdict you ask?  Well, out of the five dinner eaters, only one asked for seconds (and thirds).  Personally, I found the goat cheese too overpowering from the first (and only) mouthful.  I imagine that without the goat cheese this would be a lovely dish, and I definitely will try it without it and see what I think.  If you’re a goat cheese agnostic like I am, and you think that an amazing goat cheese dish might just push you to the other side – then I’m afraid this is probably not the dish to do it.

Still, I’ll press on!  I knew this dish probably wasn’t ever going to be one of my best ever faves, but only one teaspoonful before I was hit with the goat flavour is a little less than I thought I’d be able to tolerate.  I’ll let you know what the goat cheese free version is like – and I’m even contemplating doing it with some philadelphia cream cheese instead –  if that’s not considered wrong??

I’d love to hear if anyone else has made this and what you thought of it – – be honest!!

If you don’t have the book, I did notice that this recipe was on the Thermomix Recipe Community when I was googling about black arborio rice (which doesn’t exist!)… good luck!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Sweet Things

 

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Tarragon Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto and Parsley Oil

Tarragon Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto and Parsley Oil

Well, it’s been a while!

Life has got in the way, and although I have been thermomixing madly, I haven’t had the chance to try anything new recently, although I have been doing lots of now regular favourites from In The Mix.  And with book number two coming out soon, I’d better get moving so I don’t end up with an enormous workload in front of me!

This recipe comes to us from Florent Gerardin, who is one of the sous chefs at the flawless Vue de Monde.  I went there for my birthday last year and it was one of the best dining experiences of my life…

I have been meaning to make this recipe for simply ages.  In fact, I even purchased a Pasta Machine in anticipation about 12 months ago.  I saw one of Peters Of Kensington Daily Deal newsletter, and it was a true bargain – about $60 from memory – with all the requisite attachments – so it’s been sitting in the cupboard ever since.  Of course, I had a play with it when it first arrived – more to get the packing grease and oil and dust out of it – so it’s official baptism was with the tarragon spaghetti.  Well, actually, tarragon tagliatelle.  I thought the spaghetti was a little too hard for me so I went the tagliatelle path, and it was delicious!

What’s more – I was able to rope some little hands in to help!  Master 4 has recently been looking at Italy at Kinder and they made and cooked their own pasta recently, so he was already a bit of an expert at the pasta rolling business – more so than his mother!  I’d never attempted making pasta before, so this was my first ever go – and it didn’t do too shabbily if I do say so myself!

I’m hoping that since he has had a role in making it, the fact that it’s green will not turn him off!!  Although he insists that green is his favourite colour, getting him to eat a green vegetable is somewhat of a challenge.

This recipe is in a few stages -

  • The Tarragon Chlorophyll, which will take you a little while to make and drain, so it’s probably best to start the day before;
  • The Tarragon Spaghetti, which you make the dough for, then rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out in the pasta maker.
  • The Broccoli Pesto
  • and finally, the Parsley Oil. You may recall that I made this quite a while ago, and I’ve since made another batch.  If you want to see my notes on making it, have a look at the Salmon Confit post.

So, the Tarragon Chlorophyll

I bought my tarragon at the local greengrocers, who are fabulous.  From what I understand you’re best to get this from a greengrocer rather than the racketeers at your local supermarket.  Tarragon has become a ‘specialist’ herb at my supermarket and they sell it – for convenience if you can believe it – in 10 gram packets for the princely sum of $2.30.  That’s $230 a kilo.  Outrageous.  Better still, if you grow it yourself, it would be perfect!

The actual process for the Tarragon Chlorophyll is not difficult, but it is little noisy.  If I had my time again, I’d drain it for less time than I did (I did an overnight and I thought it dried out a little too much) so I’d say somewhere about 6 or 7 hours would be spot on.  I drained mine in new, clean chux superwipe, but next time I’d do it through a coffee fliter instead. For ease of use, I’d then freeze it in little ice cubes of about 30 grams each, as you’ll make more than you need – although not much more – it’s surprisingly little for what goes into it. I froze mine without any ill effects, or you could even make up extra batches of the dough and freeze it I guess.

The Pasta

As I said, I’ve never made pasta before and I think I’ll be making it a lot more now.  It is SO easy.  The rolling takes a little practice but is not too hard at all.  Just work with manageable sized pieces and you’ll be set.

For my first couple of goes, I didn’t have the pasta maker fixed to the bench.  Experience tells me it makes your life easier if you do!  And, if there is a spare pair of hands in the kitchen to help you with the rolling through and turning into strands part, that would help immensely.  Even the rolling was made easier by Master 4, when he was doing the turning, and I was feeding the pasta dough through, and picking it up at the bottom.

For the record, I kept my dough in the fridge for a day before I tackled it.  And even then, I had some extra pasta flour (the ’00’ kind) on hand to keep dusting my dough with to help ease it through the pasta roller.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and I realised that I didn’t have anywhere to hang my pasta in strands, so I grabbed the clothes rack out of the laundry, covered it with some clean tea towels, and that became my pasta drying rack.  It worked beautifully.  Note for beginners (like me!): lay it out for a couple of hours until it becomes touch-dry and not as stretchy as it is when it first comes out.  Then you can take it off the tea towels if you want, and just hang it from the rungs of the clothes rack. I also teased the strands apart then, which was certainly easier that when it was freshly churned out.

Now that I know how easy pasta is to make, I’ll certainly be making more.  It’s so easy! And Master 4 LOVES it!  He’s no so keen on the broccoli pesto, but I am going to work on that one.  He loves parmesan and pine nuts, so I might just play around with the broccoli content and increase it over time.  We mothers are sneaky, aren’t we?

The Broccoli Pesto

How easy and simple is this recipe! I love it – it’s healthy, it tastes great and it’s so easy.  Steam your broccoli for a few minutes – literally.  Then chuck it in the bowl with some creme fraiche, pine nuts, garlic, shallot, parmesan and voila!  Cook it for about 8 minutes and you’ll have an incredibly tasty and delicious meal – even without the parsley oil. If you wanted to cheat, I’m sure you could use bought pasta as well, but the tarragon flavoured pasta goes really well with the broccoli.  I seasoned it on completion – and used more pepper than anything as the parmesan seems to give it the saltiness it needs.

The Parsley Oil

The thermomix is fabulous to make flavoured oils with, and the parsley oil is no exception.  Parsley, a neutral oil, and some time to both heat and chop/puree and lots of draining time are all you need.  Make sure you have a good, airtight bottle to store it in the fridge.  I’m sure this tastes even better when you use your own home grown parsley like I did… delicious!

I’ll absolutely be making this one again, and even though I may not have time to make the pasta from scratch every time, the broccoli pesto is a sure fire winner.  You’ll be pleased to know that I kept aside a little portion for Master 4, and it kept really well for 24 hours, beyond that I’m unsure as he ate it all – even though there was a little pesto scraping off going on!

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Main meals

 

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Hot and Sour Tofu

I’m not a huge tofu fan – but I thought I’d try this dish while the man of the house is away on a conference.  He is less than complimentary about tofu! I certainly eat it – and I have – especially the amazing fried tofu dish at Longrain – but it’s not something that I have ever – ever bought at the supermarket.

This is a colourful, healthy and easy to put together dish and it can be ready in half an hour, so it’s great for families.  Having said that, I don’t know that Master 4 would go for this one – and I certainly didn’t try him on it last night. He’s still finding his palate especially for spicy or hot dishes, so I’m slowly turning up the volume on the spices I use in our every day meals.

The preparation of the sauce could not be easier.  Some coriander roots, ginger, garlic, spring onion, chilli, soy sauce, brown rice vinegar, sesame oil and peanut oil.

I was supremely lazy and didn’t even rinse out the bowl after I’d made the sauce and then heated the oil, thinking that any bits of flavour would be absorbed by the rice in the cooking process, which it was.  So this dish is a cracker in terms of cleaning up as there’s hardly any!

The only time consuming part – if you could possibly call it that – is the preparation of your vegetables.  I followed the recipe, using carrot, bok choi, and baby corn but noticed in the picture that there was something that looked suspiciously like snow peas in the bowl, but they weren’t mentioned in the ingredient list. Being a snow pea fan I bought some to throw in.  Of course, you could use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, so there are no hard and fast rules.

So how was it?  To be honest, it was ok. I’m not sure I’d make it again.  I thought the rice was a little too overdone, and the vegetables were a bit past their best after being steamed for 10 minutes.  So if I were to do it again, I’d play around with the timing a little and probably only steam the vegetables for 6 or so minutes, and reduce the cooking time of the rice to a bit less so it was a little more bitey.  I’d probably also cut the tofu into much smaller bits and I’d be inclined to toss the sauce through the veggies, tofu and rice – which may not look as nice for the presentation, but would probably make the dish a little more flavoursome.  I think brown rice would also be much tastier in this recipe, but of course it would drag out your cooking time another 20 minutes or so.

I’m not sure if I’m being completely ridiculous on this one or not – but I thought this dish would also be great with some noodles and a light broth or stock for the tofu and vegetables to swim around it a bit.  Hmmm, food for thought, I’d might just try that out!ImageImage

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Main meals

 

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Earl Grey Truffles

Earl Grey Truffles
So rich and delicious

So rich and delicious

Oh my, I can’t believe it’s been twelve months since I last made these beautiful truffles. Last year I made the classic Honey Truffles instead of giving traditional Easter Eggs, and they were a huge hit.

Inspired by last year’s success, I decided to make the Earl Grey Truffles AND the Honey Truffles this year. I’ll use them for gifts for neighbours, family, kinder teachers and various other people. I’ve also change the presentation slightly, and although I wish the bags I bought were just a smidgeon larger, I’ve still managed to fit 6 truffles into each bag, and I’ve put a bag of each variety in the gorgeous little Easter Bags I found at the local bargain shop. I also managed to find some lovely little patty pans with an Easter theme, so I have put each individual truffle in one of them. I think I’d be happy receiving something like this!

This recipe is from Kirsten Tibballs – who you might have seen on Australian Masterchef.  She runs Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School right here in Melbourne.  I might have to see if there are any classes for home cooks like me that I wouldn’t feel hopelessly inadequate in!

Logic would tell you that I had re-read my original blog on the Honey Truffles before I embarked upon the Earl Grey Truffles, but in typical fashion I did not. I did use the same chocolate, the Yarra Valley one, but I have got to say I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was last time. It did look a little cloudy in the box, and had a bit of a white bloom on it, but I thought it was just a bit battle scarred. I think somehow that it had been heated up a little and cooled down, resulting in the tell-tale white bits – perfectly possible in this recent weather here in Melbourne – or maybe there was something wrong with the sugar balance – I’m not sure. Regardless, they still taste absolutely divine, although I’m a little disappointed in the whitey bloom on some of them.

For my second lot of the standard Honey Truffles, I decided not to risk it and bought the Lindt Callebaut Couverture Milk Callettes for both the ganache and the coating, and I am pleased to say they look and taste beautiful, with no bloom in sight. They come in plastic jars of 500 grams at my local supermarket, and although they are a little pricey ($18 I think) you do value for money in terms of the number of truffles you can coat with one quantity of the melted chocolate. When you think about how much individual chocolates are at the high end chocolatiers, these actually work out quite reasonably.

The Earl Grey infusion works just beautifully and you get a really distinctive Earl Grey flavour with these truffles. Use good quality tea – I did toy with the idea of breaking open a couple of old Earl Grey tea bags but decided against it. I’m a self-confessed tea snob so it’s very rare that a tea bag even makes it past the threshold at my house, so I couldn’t even guesstimate how old those tea bags were, plus I think that generally tea bags use a lesser quality of tea. I was actually quite surprised as to how much 15 grams of Earl Grey was – and the amount of cream it managed to suck up during the infusing process. I was left with exactly the required 120 grams of cream, which I took to be serendipity and a sign from the Gods that I was on the right track!

I refrigerated the ganache this time as it has been unseasonably warm here in Melbourne, and I didn’t think to take it out of the fridge for a while before I put the chocolate on to melt, which was a mistake. Although the ganache was really firm, it was almost a little too firm to get into nice regular shaped balls, so my Earl Grey truffles are ugly little things :-( If I were to do it again, I’d give the ganache half an hour or so to warm up a bit, and I’m sure the resulting truffles would be much nicer to look at.

With my second batch, I erred on the side of caution and didn’t refrigerate the ganache, but let it set overnight. It was a bit gooey to work with, but made for easier moulding. I put the prepared balls on some baking paper and put them in the fridge for fifteen minutes before I dipped them in chocolate. It makes life just a little easier as they are less inclined to stick to the fork that your dipping them in the chocolate with.

Dani recommends that if the dipping chocolate starts setting while you’re still dipping to warm it up with a hair dryer… and guess what – it works a treat!!  I must admit our cleaner looked at me like I’d completely lost it when she saw me plug the hair dryer in while I was standing at the kitchen bench though!!

Happy Easter!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Recipes, Sweet Things

 

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Yoghurt Balls

Yoghurt Balls

We are celebrating my Dad’s 82nd birthday this week, and of course I’m providing some of the food for the family gathering we are having for him.  Naturally I had a look through “In The Mix” before any other recipe book to see what I could make that hasn’t been attempted before ;-)

So, I settled on Yoghurt Balls.  Of course, we are having Peach Margaritas as well, but you’ve already seen that post – and I think I’m going to have to go into rehab if I become any more fond of them…they really are quite addictive.

This recipe comes from Valerie Lugonja, who is a Canadian blogger.  You can find her blog at acanadianfoodie.com

I am pleased to finally report that after 3 years of Thermomixing the man of the house has finally stepped up and actually did something involving the thermomix – other than clean it!  He was responsible for adding the yoghurt to the warm milk once it got to 37 degrees while I was heading out with Master 4 for a train trip.  That was an experience in itself, but as I sit here typing away looking at my yoghurt setting in the thermoserver, I actually think he might have proved me wrong and not only read the directions in the recipe properly, but also mastered the scales function and how to operate the other buttons.  Mind you, I did leave the lid on for him and provided explicit instructions to add the yoghurt through the MC hole.

I made the yoghurt mixture in the morning, let it set during the day in the thermoserver, and set it to drain as I went to bed that night. It was the best way to do it I think – most of it’s draining time completed while I was asleep, and I created the balls the following morning and let them marinate for a few hours before we headed out.  Who knew that my beautiful Nigella Lawson mixing bowls would hold the varoma tray so perfectly?  I didn’t have a muslin cloth, so I used two layers of clean chux wipe, which worked really well.  The tray works really well as it allows you to smooth the yoghurt out and have a bigger surface area for it to drain from.  Be careful when you drain it and maybe put the whole thing in the sink as I think the chux acts like a wick and I ended up with a rather large pool of yoghurty smelling water around the bowl – as well as loads of water in the bowl.  So make sure you use a large bowl. You could possibly even leave the draining yoghurt in the sink, so if it does happen, the water will go straight down the sink, and not sneak in behind your coffee maker.

I had never attempted (or even been tempted) to make yoghurt in the Thermomix before.  The man of the house is a yoghurt fiend, and we would easily go though 6 litres of plain yoghurt in a week – he adds berries, fruit, and all manner of things to it.  I’d never really thought how expensive it was until I realised how cheap it was to make.  Yoghurt will be a regular on my thermomix list from this time forward.

For your starter yoghurt, Dani recommends buying a yoghurt that contains nothing more than milk and bacteria, and suggests that organic yoghurts from small producers are the best.  I bought the Barambah Organic Yoghurt from my local greengrocer, and it was perfect.  For the milk, well, I was a cheapskate and against my better judgement I used the $2 for 2 litre low fat milk from the supermarket.  And guess what?  It was fine.

My yoghurt was definitely able to hold its shape the next morning, so I rolled it into balls with the aid of a melon scooper.  I had loads of beautiful little spheres, so I doused them with Maldon Sea Salt and sumac, with an MC full of good olive oil.  Dani recommends putting the balls in one bowl and gently tipping the balls into another bowl to make sure they all get covered with the oil, sumac and salt.  I tipped from one bowl to the other, but clearly I am ham fisted and ended up with a large blob of yoghurt that didn’t look very nice at all.  Undeterred, I remade the balls and this time put them on a flat dish (I used two dinner plates for the quantity I made, but next time I’d use the platter I plan on serving them on, if it’s fridge-friendly), added a little more salt and sumac, drizzled a little more olive oil over them top and hoped for the best.

My only tip would be that once you’ve heated the milk and cooled it down, you pull any skin that may have formed off.  The Man Of The House didn’t think of doing that, and if I had have been around, I certainly would have.  I also used the varoma lid to cover the draining yoghurt.

I let them marinate for a couple of hours, and before we were due to leave I packed them into a flat tupperware container.  Of course, I had to have a taste test while I did that, and I decided to add some lemon zest as well, which really made a huge difference to the flavour.

Yes, they could have been served on a beautiful dish but aside from nearly leaving the whole lot at home and having to turn back a few hundred metres down the road from our house, I forgot to bring a platter that would do them justice, so I had to serve them in the tupperware container :-o

They were a huge hit and I’ll definitely make them again.  I’ll try experimenting with different flavours as well, maybe Mexican flavours, Italian with oregano, garlic, maybe some more with lemon and salt.  I’m not a huge sweet tooth, but you could also do these with honey, cinnamon, sesame seeds, or chopped nuts.

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe tab!

Create away!!

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Bites and snacks, Recipes

 

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Oysters with Yuzu Granita

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I did manage to get to get in quite a lot of thermomixing over the school holidays, however most of it was repeats of my In The Mix Favourites, Mojito Cheesecakes, Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse with Passionfruit Puree and Coffee Crumb, the amazing Beetroot, Pomegranate and Pistachio Salad, Kirsch Ganache and Pastilla.  We were enjoying our annual holiday down at the coast – and of course my thermomix came too!

What’s more though – I did manage to score quite a few thermo-related presents.  The individual pudding basins I’d been wanting for the Steamed Celeriac and Mushroom Puddings, and a box full of goodies that are a little harder to find.  I’m really looking forward to making some new dishes over the next little while.

One of the new dishes I did try over Christmas was the Oysters with Yuzu Granita.  I adore oysters.  The man of the house doesn’t.  As simple as that.  Won’t go anywhere near them, hates the sight of them.  So I had to wait for an occasion where I was feeding a lot of people and what’s more, a group of people I knew liked oysters – they really are a polarising food I’ve decided.

This recipe comes from Darren Robertson, who was a chef at Tetsuya’s.  I was lucky enough to go there once, and it was everything I had hoped for and more.  I do need another fix at some stage – but as it’s been 4 years since I’ve even been in Sydney, it might be a while coming.

So, Christmas night at our house, my extended family descended.  We are nearly unanimously seafood lovers, so it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the Oysters with Yuzu Granita.  I did have to cheat a little, and used lime instead of yuzu.  I’ve never actually seen a yuzu to my knowledge, and I wasn’t sure that the pre-Christmas day nightmare at the supermarket, greengrocer or any shopping precinct in general was the time to try and track it down.

You need to make sure that you have enough time to freeze the granita mix, so I actually prepared mine the day before, so it would be completely frozen, and I wouldn’t have to even think about it until a few minutes before I needed to serve them up the next day.  I was making triple quantities as I had quite a few oysters to dress – but next time I’ll probably go with the single quantity, as it made quite a bit, and unless you’re using absolutely massive oysters, I don’t think you would need it.

The sand that you make to serve the oysters on is not strictly necessary – but it does help it look pretty on a serving platter.  For mine, if you’re serving for a crowd and you have lots of oysters on a platter, you may not need it.  I you were serving only a few oysters, then I’d definitely do the sand.

When you’re serving, and this might be a result of me making the basis the day before, it was quite icy.  For mine, I’d prefer it to be a big slushier, so it could be a good idea to leave it in the TM bowl for a few minutes until you reach the desired consistency.

Overall though, it’s lovely.  I’m even tempted to make it and serve the oysters and the granita in a shot glass.

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Bites and snacks

 

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Peach Margarita

IMG_0740What says summer like a beautiful cocktail, enjoyed with friends or family, kicking back, relaxing, and forgetting all about the calories you’ve consumed in the last month?  That’s right, not only is the Thermomix your best friend in the kitchen, it’s also a pretty good companion in the bar.

I’d actually made the base for this beautiful cocktail in preparation for our Christmas night celebration, but we’d all started off on champagne and we thought it might be a recipe for disaster if we went to spirits from there.  The good thing was as the mix was in the freezer, I just left it there, and when the mood hit me, I just had to get out the tequila and the triple sec, salt the glasses, and dig out 500 grams of ice from the freezer – easier said than done – we had relocated to the beach for the summer and didn’t have the freezer with the inbuilt ice maker.  Still, I battled on valiantly and scraped up the requisite 500 grams of ice.

The Peach Margarita consists of three parts – the peachy rose mix, the sweet and sour syrup and finally the alcohol and ice which you add at the end at blitz up at the very end, just as you are about to serve it.  Both the peachy rose syrup and the sweet and sour syrup is frozen for several hours before you use them to make sure it’s really cold.  While both the mixes don’t freeze completely, they go cold and become quite pliable.  Dani recommended putting the mix in ice cube trays, but they are in fairly short supply in our house because I’ve sent them down to the beach where we need all the ice cube trays we can get – and in their absence, I just poured each of the mixes into a zip lock bag, labelled it, and froze it.  It sat in the freezer quite happily for a month, so I would imagine it would keep for several months if you want to make the peachy rose mix while peaches are in season, and keep them on ice till you need a summer hit!

I used the Jose Cuervo Especial tequila, and the Bardinet Triple Sec.  I’m not a spirit aficionado, but they seemed to do the trick.

Sadly, as we were at the beach, I didn’t have fabulous margarita glasses to make these even more special-looking.  But I can assure you that it tasted incredibly summery and fabulous… and we may have downed the lot between two of us, in one night ;-)  In between drinks, I stored the whole TM bowl in the fridge, and it kept the mix pretty icy cold and delicious for quite some time.

I’m not sure if it was luck, the glass of water in-betweeners, the food we ate, or the magic of spirulina capsules (which one of my girlfriends swears by) that there was not a headache to be had the next morning.

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe tab!!

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Bites and snacks, Recipes

 

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Pastilla

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Once I do the list for Master 3’s birthday festivities, I know we are on the home straight to Christmas.  And so the hostess gifts are needed, the little things for kinder teachers, playgroup helpers and that kind of thing.  Since I’ve had my thermomix I have been turning into a regular Martha Stewart and making a lot of food gifts myself.  So this year I’ve made some Pastilla.

To be honest, I’d never heard of Pastilla until I saw it in “In The Mix”.  It looked pretty easy and not too time consuming, and you can make it early and it just stores in the fridge. The ingredients aren’t all that expensive, but once you wrap it up ready to give, it looks quite impressive. What’s not to love about that??

I googled traditional pastilla recipes and frankly I feel like a bit of a cheat.  There’s hardly any mess involved with the thermomix version – they way I’ve done it you barely get your hands dirty, but your thermobaby will need a jolly good clean after you’ve finished it.  It is amazingly sticky – really, really, really sticky.  So do watch out.  And you’ll definitely need a silicon mat or lots of baking paper, and if you do what I did, lots of glad wrap. (or spend ages cleaning your bench tops…)

So – it’s easy.  Grab your prunes, whiz them down for 25 seconds and then add the sugar.  I used plain raw sugar as I usually do.  A little bit of water, and then cook.  After the allocated time, you add some lemon juice and honey, and cook again.  Then, add the walnuts and cook again.  And then you’re done.

The messy part is once you’ve turned out the hot sticky stuff onto the mat.  You’ll need to scrape to get what you can out of the thermomix bowl, but even then there will be some left.  Make sure you get some water onto it quick smart and get out what you can using the water and turbo trick.  For the more stubborn stuff, I half filled the bowl with water and set it to 90 for about 10 minutes, and was able to pour out most of the stuff that was stuck.  Just make sure you do it quickly!!

Once it’s cooled a little on the thermomat, use the spatula to break it into quarters, and then each quarter into half.  Just rough is fine – I only did it this way as the recipe said you’d get about 8 logs from it.

Have on your bench a large-ish piece of glad wrap – about 30cm long.  Put the blob of mixture close to the edge of the glad wrap, and try and get it into a longish log if you can.  Now fold over the glad wrap and roll it into a cylinder, twirling or tying the ends of the glad wrap to make sure it keeps the shape.  No sticky stuff on your hands and a perfect cylinder!  Once you’ve made all your bits, and wrapped them – put them in the fridge. The batch I made yesterday are perfect.

I’m going to unwrap mine and rewrap them in some fresh glad wrap, and then wrap them in cellophane to pretty them up for gifts – as well as a batch for the Christmas Fete at kinder.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Recipes, Sweet Things

 

Crab with Sweetcorn Custard and Almond Gazpacho

How I love seafood, and we’re getting closer to the time of year where I am able to really enjoy it – straight from the fish shop at the end of the pier where we spend our summer holidays.  Roll on, December!!

This recipe is from Mark Best, regularly seen on Australian Masterchef, and chef at the amazing Marque in Sydney.

Although I would have loved to do every element in this dish, I did wimp out on the steaming of the crab.  You can be rest assured I will try it in the near future though, so I’ll definitely blog about it then.  I bought a couple of packs of it at the supermarket – and although it wasn’t great, it was definitely passable.  It just doesn’t look as good on the plate, I’m afraid.

Every element in this recipe is pretty simple, so it’s more time consuming than difficult.  If you’re pushed for time, make the Almond Jelly first, as it takes a little while to set in the fridge before you whip it up again.  You could also make the popcorn early and give it time to cool down – spread it out on a tray of kitchen towel if you can to prevent it going sweaty.

Sweetcorn Custard

I must have really been blessed but I managed to get four of the juiciest and sweetest cobs of corn around.  They were truly beautiful, and made a very impressive sweetcorn custard, which has got to be the easiest thing out to make.  I am almost ashamed to admit, I haven’t bought corn on the cob for ages.  Master Three used to like it but has now gone off corn completely, although I can still manage to get creamed corn into him if it’s disguised with something else.  He calls it ‘bite it’ because that’s what I used to say to him when I served it to him when it was still on the cob.  Mine still had a little bit of texture in it, so it wasn’t a custard per se – but still delicious.  I guess if you wanted something incredibly smooth, you could blitz it for a little longer.

Almond Gazpacho

My Almond Gazpacho definitely needed thinning out, and I think I should have added more water to it to get a more pourable consistency.  As always, I left it in the fridge too long at any rate and should have had it sitting at room temperature for a while to get a little runnier.

I used a lovely sourdough from a gourmet bakery near our house, and in retrospect I should have taken the crusts off – I think this would make a difference to the consistency of the gazpacho and you’d probably end up with something thinner than I had without diluting it too much with water.  Next time, I’ll definitely try that.

Almond Jelly

Mmm, should have checked the liquor cabinet before I went down to Dan Murphy’s!!  Bought a new bottle of it (rest asuured, it’s not the most expensive thing in the place – and I kept having John Newcomb flashbacks) only to get home and be told that we had not only one but two bottles of it in the cabinet.  So I’ll definitely have to make this again, or maybe use it instead of white wine in a few risottos.

The almond jelly was a little disappointing to be honest – I expected something a little fluffier once it had been butterflied again, but it still tasted pretty good.

Popcorn Powder

Well,this was pretty straightforward to make, although getting the milk solids out of the butter was harder than it should have been – and it’s pretty important that you do it, otherwise your butter will burn…and that’s one of those smells that’s near impossible to get rid of. I think the required quantity of butter is a little too much – my corn kernels were drowned in the butter, and I must admit I thought I had destroyed them – they took forever to pop!  Once they did though, there was the smell of the cinema right through the house – you know that butter, salt and popcorn aroma?  This is it.

If I were to make this again, I’d turn the popcorn out into a large flat tray lined with some kitchen towel to make it as dry as possible and not go all sweaty.

I was in the rush to get things prepared and of course even though I had the popcorn powder prepared, I forgot to put it on the plate…couldn’t believe it – what a waste!

So, in short – a nice dish.  Will I make it again?  Not sure, but I’ll be sure to give the crab a crack once I spot them at the pier.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Entrees

 

Mushroom Risotto Balls

Oooooh! A party!  What a great excuse to make these lovely little morsels.

My sister celebrated her birthday with some friends, and I decided to make the Blue Cheese Eclairs again – delicious – as well as the Mushroom Risotto Balls.

I must admit, I was a little bit over mushroom risotto.  Not that it’s not a great meal, and so easy in the Thermomix, but I fear I may have overdone it – I think it’s been on the menu at least once every three weeks since the day I got my Thermomix.  Anyway, I relented and thought this would be a good nibble for the party, mostly because I knew there was a lot of non-Thermomix owners in the group that was invited, and my guess was that they wouldn’t be suffering Mushroom Risotto Fatigue.

This recipe is from Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, who runs The British Larder near Woodbridge,Suffolk. And to think I lived not that far from there many, many years ago.  Luckily I didn’t know of her if she was there at that stage, I would have come home even fatter if these Risotto Balls are any indication of the food she loves to eat.  Check out her website at britishlarder.co.uk

Oh, I’m so glad I tried this…  This is a great mushroom risotto, with a really intense flavour – no doubt helped along by not only fresh mushrooms, but also a goodly portion of dried mushrooms.  I bought a big container of them recently at Costco, and christened it for this recipe.  The container I bought features Porcini, Shitake, Yellow Boletes and Oyster mushrooms.  They tasted terrific.  I can’t remember how much I paid for the container – quite a big one – 300 grams, but I’m sure it wasn’t over $20, which is pretty good value considering the price you pay for the small bags of dried porcini mushrooms.

The risotto that results from this recipe is quite sticky and verges on gluggy – but you need it like this and not soupy, or the balls won’t stay together.  You make little balls and put a little square of mozzarella cheese in the middle, then roll them in panko breadcrumbs.  I actually made the balls the day before the party, rolled them in the breadcrumbs, and then put them in the fridge in containers until the next day and they were fine.  Make sure your mozzarella cubes are in the middle of the rice mixure, otherwise you’ll have some that ooze a little cheese – like that’s the worst thing in the world!!!

I oven baked the balls in the oven, but they didn’t go the lovely golden colour I would have liked.  They did verge on a pale brown, but I cooked them in an unfamiliar oven so I didn’t want to risk burning them.  Next time I’ll try pan frying or deep frying them and see if they look nicer.  I liked the idea of being able to put them in the oven while people were there and serving them hot, rather than having to have hot oil around people who had been drinking lots – so there was method to my madness.

Apologies for the terrible photography – as you can probably tell, I was a few champagnes in by the time I started to heat them up, and very nearly forgot to take a photo at all!

So, yes, easy to make, and a great party nibble!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Bites and snacks

 

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Chicken Tagine with Couscous and Harissa

I’m a bit of a fraud with this recipe.  I made all of it, but have had real trouble getting ‘real’ couscous and not the instant stuff, so I did make the couscous, but the cheating way, not the way described in the recipe.  I definitely need to head down to the Middle Eastern Grocery stores so I can have some on hand.  So that’s why there are no photos of the couscous!

I’ve been looking lovingly at this recipe since I bought “In The Mix” and every time I’ve had the opportunity to make it, my parents have been coming around for dinner.  My Dad is strictly old-school and will not touch chicken or poultry of any description – or so he says.  He’s happily eaten it when he is guest in someone’s home, or if we tell him it’s something else – so it’s definitely a mind over matter thing – but my mother has now spent 56 years making a carpet bag steak for him for his Christmas Dinner while the rest of us eat turkey.  And I think Master 3 can be difficult to please!!  I had thought about just making it and telling him it was rabbit, but the potential guilt complex got the better of me.

I have been the owner of a tagine for about 10 years, but I have never – ever – used it.  It is sitting on the top of my fridge down at the beach in pristine condition.  I love the idea of cooking in a tagine, but just never got around to it, so I wanted to give this recipe a go.  This recipe is from Cath Claringbold, who is an amazing chef who specialises in Middle Eastern food, amongst many other things.  I’ve been lucky enough to eat at a few of her restaurants and they have all been amazing.

This would be a really great dish for entertaining a group of people, or if you were going to bring a dish to a gathering of some kind.  Although the recipe says it serves 4-6, my TM bowl was almost filled to overflowing, and I’m sure we have had at least six generous serves from it. I’m sure that I’ll bring one to our next family ‘bring something along’ gathering, and see if Dad eats it then!

I made the harissa paste required for this recipe a few weeks ago and popped it in the freezer for when I had the occasion to make this.  Although your local herb and spice shop will think you’ve gone mad with the quantity of cumin and coriander you buy for both the paste and the tagine, it really is worth it.  The paste freezes well although next time I’d freeze it in smaller blocks rather than one big chunk – ice cubes worth would be great.  Dani even recommends using the harissa in a Bloody Mary in place of tobasco – I’ll have to give that a go!

The harissa paste is dead easy.  I’d always been a little afraid of roasting capsicums, but I bit the bullet and did it in the oven.  I left them in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning them once, and made sure when they were pretty scorched, then put them in a ziplock bag and let them sweat and cool, and then the skin peeled right off. Even thought it might be tempting, don’t rinse them under water to get the skin off, as you’ll dilute the roasted flavour.  I’m not sure if some people cut the capsicum in half lengthwise before they roast, but if you have space on your tray it would save you turning them.  You don’t need to oil them or anything before you put them in the oven, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of oil that comes out of them!

Roasting spices has never been easier!  No mess, no mortar and pestle to clean up after grinding them, and the smells that waft through your kitchen are just heavenly.

The tagine itself is easy and pretty quick in the scheme of things. You will need a couple of bowls to set things aside in, but there’s nothing too tiresome in doing that.   I did notice after I’d poured it out a little that I had a slightly burned bit on the TM bowl, but it wasn’t burned as such, and the flavours were sound.

I didn’t need anything like 500mls of chicken stock to cover the chicken thighs, in fact I was a little dubious about putting in as much stock as I did as I was over the magic 2 litre mark on the TM bowl.  It didn’t bubble over till the very end though, and even then, not much.  If you had the varoma in place for the couscous, you wouldn’t even notice.

I had some store bought preserved lemon that I used for this recipe, and it really adds a lovely flavour to the tagine.  It’s well worth making your own or having a small jar on hand to use.

All in all, this is a great dish and something I will definitely put in the memory bank for future reference!!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Scallop Mouselline with Lemon Caper Sauce

I’m back!!  I have been so slack in the last few weeks, and I’m going to do something about it. This week I’m planning to do two or three things from “In the Mix” – so watch this space!

My first recipe this week is the Scallop Mouselline with Lemon Caper Sauce.  It’s one of Willie Pike’s recipes – he’s a Scottish Chef.

Firstly, I’ve got to say that my presentation of this dish was a fail – so much so I was tempted to bin the lot.  I have been assured though, that it tasted so amazing that I can regularly serve it up.

There are a couple of elements to this dish – the Mouselline itself and a really divine Lemon Caper Sauce.  If you want to, and I did, you can serve additional scallops with the Mouselline for presentation.  I love scallops!  Fans of food miles won’t like me, but I bought some Japanese Scallops at the local fish shop, and they were lovely – even if they were frozen.  They were sold without the roe – and that sort of makes me sad – I love scallop roe…but it really seems to be out of favour at the moment.  It’s not a difficult dish by any stretch of the imagination,I think the hardest part is getting those little suckers out of the dariole moulds in one piece!

You’ll need dariole moulds for this recipe, which I have quite a collection of.  You need to butter them well with melted butter, freeze them, and then add some more melted butter to them before putting them in the fridge.  Watch your fingers when you remove the moulds from the freezer – they don’t take long to get really cold and my fingers stuck to them.  I had flashbacks of one of our friends licking the metal ice tray when I was about 5. I think Andrew still has the scar on his tongue from that day – more than 35 years later!

Also, the recipe says it serves 6, but I had plenty left over from 6 dariole moulds, so I would guess that it you were really nifty with the spatula you could get maybe even 10 from the recipe.  My dariole moulds hold 100mls of water, so you might need to adjust your expectations depending on the size of yours.

The mouselline requires scallops, which you blitz, egg yolks, an obscene amount of double cream , and then egg whites.  You also add cayenne pepper and salt, to taste.  I added a generous quarter of a teaspoon of each, and I think the cayenne pepper was just right.  It also adds a nice little red speckle to the mouselline, which, when it’s turned out, it also lightly coloured by the butter you’ve greased the dariole moulds with.

I wasn’t sure if this was a recipe that you could pre-prepare, so I was a bit flustered getting it all ready for entree for Sunday night dinner.  I’m pleased to say I kept one aside in the fridge which I’ve just steamed almost 24 hours later and it was just a nice.  I thought I’d see if Master 3 would like it – but it was a bit too much for him – so I had to eat it!! ;-)  As it is, you could prepare the Lemon Caper Sauce a little earlier too – maybe a couple of hours before you need it.  I’m not sure it would reheat properly because of the cream in it, but if you could stand a room temperature sauce then it would be worth it.

The mouselline rises a little in the steaming, so don’t completely fill the dariole moulds.  And do make sure you let them cool down a little before turning them out.  Mine were really hard to turn out even though they’d been buttered really well.  I ran a knife around the edge, but they were a bit blobby, so I think some extra steaming may have been in order.

The Lemon Caper Sauce is just delightful.  You could serve it with a range of things – steamed asparagus, smoked salmon, prawns, even with scalloped potatoes I think.  We even used some of the remains with roast potatoes last night, and it was great – allegedly!  I didn’t try – mainly as I had eaten too many potatoes at that stage to contemplate even more.

I’m not sure why, but my sauce didn’t look anything like the one in the picture.  Mine was almost a bernaise-y appearance in colour, not the clear-ish sauce in the picture.  I’ve just had a little spoonful from the leftovers in the fridge, and it still tastes amazing!

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Entrees

 

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Banana Bavarois with Oat Wafer and Salted Caramel Sauce

So – I’m not even a banana fan, and I love, love, love this dish!!

The recipe is from Terressa Jarvis, who is a Tasmanian Chef.  She has worked at some of Tasmania’s best restaurants, and takes a lot of her inspiration from French cooking techniques and the bountiful Tasmanian produce.  Not that you’d know from this recipe – by my reckoning, I can’t imagine Bananas growing in Tassie!

This would be an amazing special occasion dessert.  You can make each of the three elements in advance and assemble at the last minute.  I must admit I was quite impressed with my piping skills for this recipe – but it might just be that I am finally using the right equipment and not the ziplock bag trick. A month or so ago, I saw some disposable piping bags at the kitchenware shop, and I bought them.  They work out at about $1 each, so they are not expensive, and they worked beautifully.  I’ll definitely use them again.

There are three elements to this recipe:

  • Banana Bavarois
  • Oat Wafer
  • Salted Caramel Sauce

I must admit it was the salted caramel sauce that initially got me interested in this recipe.  Master 3 has recently discovered the love of the macaron.  It’s an expensive habit for me to maintain when we go out – I think the record has been $4.50 for one.  His favourite of recent times was a Salted Caramel Macaron – he asked for a second one later in the day, and then a third!  I succumbed to the request for the second (we were on holidays) but I knocked the request for number 3 firmly on the head.

In a real world, where you weren’t spreading this recipe across a couple of days, I think the Bavarois would be the first element that most people would attempt, mainly because it needs to set.  While you’re waiting for it to set, you could make the oat wafer and the salted caramel sauce.

So, I’ll start with the Bavarois.

Firstly, it is really important that you get the right strength gelatine leaves.  I’ve been using the Gelita ones, and I can say with some certainty, even though they don’t put it anywhere on the packet, that they are gold strength (see the picture if you want to know the exact packet).  If you use any other strength you’ll either end up with something that runs off your plate or a chewy rubber bullet (trust me – I speak from experience – not with this particular recipe, but with a pannacotta a year or so ago).

I used lady finger bananas and 85 grams was about one and a half bananas.  I also used some banana liqueur which I purchased at the local bottle shop.  Sadly, it wasn’t available in small bottles, so I have one rather large bottle to get through, so I think this recipe will be on repeat until the bottle has gone.

I think the saffron threads are in the bavarois for the colour, as I know that banana can go that awful grey colour once it’s been cut up.  This bavarois is a pleasant pale colour, not too artificial, and definitely not grey.  The left over bavarois has been in the fridge for 24 hours now, covered, and it still doesn’t show any sign of going any other colour.

The bavarois is pretty straightforward to make – although I did manage to turn my first lot of cream into butter :-o  I think the trick is to start very slow (speed 2 or 3) and then as soon as it gives a hint of forming soft peaks, stop!  If you don’t stop then, you will run the risk of turning the cream into buttery curdled bits when you incorporate the banana.

This makes lots of bavarois, far more than you need for a serving for 4 in my opinion.  Next time I’ll double up on the recipe for the oat wafers and the salted caramel sauce so I have more to go around, and don’t end up eating the bavarois by itself.

And now, for the oat wafers.  They are great – in fact, I made them last weekend expecting to make this dessert then, and then we had to cancel our traditional Sunday night dinner.  Needless to say, they are so delicious and addictive that the whole tray of them went in a day.  The wafers are sort of a cross between Anzac Biscuits and Butternut Snaps – lovely with a cup of tea or I would imagine amazing with some good old vanilla ice cream in between.  I’m actually disappointed I just thought of that combination – – – I might just have to whip some up now to try!

My tips for the oat wafer would be to err on the side of too thin for the oat wafer.  Also, when you are rolling it out between to sheets of baking paper, try and keep the shape uniform so when you come to cutting the wafer shapes, you will have nice even edges and not waste any.  I found it took about 15 minutes to get them to golden brown, but keep a close eye on them.  Cut the wafer shapes while they are still warm, and separate them if you can.  Mine were a little chewy, which was fine, but I think my preference would be for something with a little more ‘snap’, so you could hit it with your spoon and watch it crack.  I think my problem was not taking them off the tray after cutting them, and letting them dry out a little on a wire rack. I think it gets down to personal preference, but I think the textural contrast of something with a real crunchy bit to it would be even nicer.

Ohhhh, the salted caramel!  I’m sort of afraid it’s so easy to make – it means I am mere weeks away from the hefty lady department!!  This is truly delightful.  I used Maldon Sea Salt and it tasted amazing – you sort of feel like it’s a little too salty by itself until you eat it with the bavarois and the oat wafer, and then it is pure bliss.  To make sure you don’t overdose on the salt component, invert the MC and weigh the salt into that , and once you’re happy with the amount then tip it into the mixture.  By my guesstimate, five grams of salt ended up being about 2 teaspoonfuls of Maldon Sea Salt.

My only mistake was to not take the salted caramel out of the fridge a while before I planned to serve it up – it tasted amazing, but looked a little blobby on the plate.

The family verdict was a resounding “please make this again”.  And I will!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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Olive Bread

I am so glad I tried this – it’s the loveliest bread I’ve had in ages.  It is so soft, yet the outside is firm, and the olives in it are really good – not too olivey, but enough to make it different.  It is so quick to make, hardly makes a mess thanks to the thermomat, and looks really impressive.  It would be great to pull out of the oven when friends come over for a barbecue, but don’t prepare too much other stuff, as everyone will eat themselves stupid with this bread – it really is that good!

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe tab!

This recipe comes from Nicolas Poelaert who is the chef at Embrasse in Melbourne. I’ve never been, but now I’ve tasted this – I want to!!

The best thing about this recipe is that you would certainly have all the ingredients in your cupboard. I always have a jar or two of olives in the fridge, and I used kalamata olives for this recipe.  They worked well, but the resulting bread was just a little too salty for mine – so I might drop back slightly the 20 grams of salt next time. Maybe try 15 grams or so.  I would much prefer salty bread to unsalted bread though.

I did find the dough quite sticky, and I think it might be the wetness of the olives.  So next time, I’ll add maybe 520 grams of flour, plus have some more on hand to dust. It’s the first time I’ve ever had really sticky dough from the thermomix, so don’t be too worried if yours is the same.  Just throw some more flour into the dough when you tip it out of the bowl.  You don’t have to cut the olives, just make sure they are pitted and then kneading action of the thermomix will cut the olives down into nice little bits without you having to do anything. I used the baker’s flour, as specified in the recipe, so make sure you use the right flour – it does make a huge difference to the outcome.

Which reminds me – everyone knows the trick to getting dough out of the thermomix, don’t they?  Invert the TM bowl, and twist the cog in the middle to rotate the blades – and most of your dough will come out in one fell swoop.  Any stubborn little bits can be ‘turbo-d’ off the side, and use another piece of dough to pick up the little bits.  When you’re washing the TM bowl, use the brush and only use cold water to wash until all the dough is out – it makes it so much easier.

If you don’t have a  thermometer something similar, this is why you need one!!  Not only is my thermomat my saviour at play dough time (and the Thermomix makes fantastic play dough), it’s perfect to use when proving dough, and to cook the dough.  With this recipe, you shape the bread, let it prove in a very very very low oven for`45 minutes and then cook it – see the recipe for details, all on the thermomat.  Nothing could be easier, and less messy.

I dud more than the seven balls of dough, and did one large one in the middle, and put several around the outside, just like a flower and petals.  You could do rolls all the same size, or vary them, like I did.  I guess you’re only limited by your imagination as to what designs you can come up with.  Before you put it in the oven to prove, sprinkle it with a little flour.  Mine took just on 15 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on it, depending on your oven.

I have made bread before in the thermomix, but as we don’t go through a lot of it at our house, it has never been at the top of my list for things to make.  I can see myself making this bread lots – Master Three has just downed two of the little rolls (and that after his lunch!!) and I’ve had one or two myself.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Bakes, Recipes

 

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Spelt Pizza

We have a family tradition of going to our local pizza place every Friday night.  Master Three has a huge crush on one of the waitresses, and has made friends with one of the Pizza Makers, so it’s a ritual I think we’ll have to keep to for a while.  He just has to go and see the “Little Princess” every week – he runs up to her and gives her a huge hug and a kiss – he clearly has a thing for older women!  Master Three usually has the smoked salmon pizza, so I figure there’s not too much wrong with that once a week.  This week, we had the neighbours in for drinks and I decided I wanted to give the Spelt Pizza a go – the kids could eat it, the adults could eat it – and it’s easy – super easy to make.

This is one of Jo Whitton’s recipes from her allergy-friendly food blog at quirkycooking.blogspot.com  Jo’s blog focuses on tweaking everyday recipes and making them healthier and more interesting.

I’d never cooked with spelt before, but I was at the Health Food Shop a few days before and saw the grain and the flour available, so I bought what I needed and took it home.  The spelt dough needs at least 2 hours (and up to 6 if you want) to prove, so it’s a good recipe to make if you have an afternoon at home, and the heater is on – especially with this cold, cold winter we are having.  I made the entire recipe as suggested in the book, but there would be absolutely nothing stopping you putting on any topping of your choice, so long as you adjusted the pre-cooking time, and cooking time to suit your toppings.

The spelt dough is quite sticky, but don’t be put off.  As I mentioned earlier, it does take a long time to prove, so make sure you have the time.  I made the dough straight after lunch, let it rise for a few hours, then rolled it out into 4 good sized pizzas – I did a couple of big circles, and a couple of oblongs for good measure. The recipe did say to prove it in a plastic bowl, but I must have skipped over that bit – and I used a ceramic bowl – but there were no ill effects. When I initially took the tea towel off the top, my heart sunk as I thought it was going to be a nightmare to get out of the bowl, and thought I should have oiled the bowl first – but it was fine. Just make sure you put it in a BIG bowl, as it rises quite a bit, and makes a lot of dough.

You will need a bit of extra flour to make the dough a little less sticky when you roll it out – so make sure you have some on hand.  Master 3 had the time of his life helping me roll the dough out – I’m so glad I bought him an apron recently…he really got into it!!

I made the lamb mix for the topping, which is also very quick and easy to make.  I used a home grown chilli, which made a huge improvement to the overall flavour, and next time I think I’ll go down a more middle eastern path and use some more spices, sumac, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and maybe even add in some pine nuts or use a chilli pesto to spread as a base for the lamb mixture.

I brushed the bases before I pre-cooked them with left over curry oil from the Cauliflower Sausages, and it was terrific.  It was mellow curry flavour and I’m sure it contributed to the overall success of the dish.   I think I overcooked the bases and lamb a little, so do watch it when it’s in the oven.

One thing I didn’t expect – this pizza is really, really satisfying.  A few small pieces and you feel quite full.  It must be the spelt grain – no wonder it’s so acclaimed.

I’m a bit torn about this dish – the pizza base was great.  I loved the taste of the lamb, but I did think there needed to be more of it, and that it would have been greater still with some flavours other than the lamb, yoghurt, rocket and lemon juice.

I’ll definitely do the bases again and play around with the flavourings to see what I come up with.

Want the recipe I used?  Check the recipe tab!!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Bakes, Recipes

 

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Muesli Slice

Thank goodness the school holidays are nearly over!  Although the thermomix has saved my bacon on a few occasions, the time I’ve had for cooking extra bits and pieces has been limited.

My three year old has just discovered the joy of cooking and I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s able to whip something up in the thermomix all by himself.  I’d been trying to get him into cooking for ages, but the clincher was the big boy step – so he wasn’t sitting on the bench any more, he’s actually standing up at the bench and can ‘help’ me much more easily.  The only downside is that he now knows he can get to what’s on the bench even without mum or dad around – luckily he’s a bit scared of the washing machine at the moment, so I just leave the lights on and it tends to keep him out of the laundry, where the offending step is stored!

I’ve never thought about making cakes or biscuits to have on hand for when guests arrive – the temptation of knowing they were there was too much for me.  But I wanted to try this recipe a amy neighbour had raved about it, I had all the ingredients in the pantry, and it was something that Master 3 could easily help with.  Sadly I can’t send them in his kinder lunchbox because of the nut factor, but I’m sure I can find something to substitute the nuts for.

This recipe is from Caroline Velik, who is a regular contributor to The Age’s Epicure and a very talented food stylist – just look at “In The Mix” as an amazing example.

From start to finish this took less than three quarters of an hour, so it’s a great recipe if you’re time poor or want some pretty instant gratification, so it’s ideal for making with the kids.  The mix – if you don’t use the coconut cream – makes quite a biscuity slice.  It’s quite delicious and very satisfying – a small piece is quite enough to keep you going.  I have been sorely tempted for another piece just because it tastes so good, but I really didn’t need it.

I used raw oats in my mixture, but I can imagine this is one of those recipes you can play around with to your hearts’ content and substitute other ingredients for.  I can imagine it would be lovely with dried apricots instead of dates (or “dog poo” as Master 3 identified them as ;-)) It would also be a great way to use up some of the weet bix crumbs that are always at the bottom of the box – 40 grams is about 2 and a half weet bix.

The mixture is pretty sticky – it must be all that honey – so I tipped it into a lined 20x20cm tin, put the thermomat on top and pushed it down till it was sitting in the tray nicely.  Let it cool in the tray till it’s really quite cool, and then slice into bars or biscuit sized pieces.

Highly recommended.  This will certainly be a regular menu item at our house!

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Bakes

 

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Chilled Mint and Avocado Soup

Oh so simple, and tastes just lovely – so smooth and with a lemony zing.  This is a really quick yet impressive dish to make – and the parmesan crisps are just divine – lucky I didn’t make too many of them, or I’d have eaten them all without a second thought! This recipe is from Udaysen Mohite, who is the Executive Chef at the Brisbane Hilton.

My parents came over for dinner last night and I wanted to make something from “In The Mix” because I’ve been very slack the last couple of weeks – blame school holidays and a very ill little man, and I was getting antsy.  I had a thermo itch to scratch, so not only did I make this soup, but also adapted a recipe I saw in yesterday’s Melbourne Age Good Weekend supplement for Neil Perry’s  Coconut and Pineapple Pannacotta – which was lovely – I’m happy to email my thermo-adaptation of the recipe if anyone wants it.

The chilled Mint and Avocado soup is really easy to make.  And super quick if you already have a batch of vegetable stock concentrate in your fridge – which I suspect most thermomix fans do.

Making my own stock concentrate was one of the reasons I bought my thermomix – I used to regularly spend $15 a week buying liquid stock for soups that I made while I was studying part time and working full time…I think I probably wouldn’t have spent $15 in total on bought stock in the years since – and I bet the batches of stock I’ve made probably would figure out at about $15 in total!  Anyway, I digress.

If you haven’t made the stock concentrate before, you’d need to do that before you made the soup, or be a cheat and buy some liquid stock from the supermarket.  I have used both the standard thermomix stock concentrate recipe from the Everyday Cookbook and Dani’s version, and I must admit I much prefer the flavours in Dani’s version.  I used to keep my stock concentrate in a glass preserving jar, but I had noticed that the metal clasp was starting to get a little coroded from all the salt, and a few weeks ago at the supermarket, I happened upon a “Sistema” plastic container that works a treat and holds a while batch of stock without a problem.

First off, you need to make the parmesan crisps – and boy, are they crisp!

I am not known for my precise knife work, and to get the parmesan cut nice and evenly, I used the mandolin slicer.  I used the thinnest setting, and put the slices on silicon paper and baked them.  They took about 20 minutes at 150 degrees, but I am sure it will depend on your oven, so do keep an eye on them.  I let them cool on the baking paper for about 10 minutes, and then just lifted them off and put them onto some kitchen paper to soak up any oil.  Most of the oil was left on the silicon paper anyway, but you wouldn’t want to not take them off the silicon paper as I bet they wouldn’t crisp up as well.

The resulting crisps are absolutely beautiful, wafer thin, crunchy and of course taste amazing – but make sure you use a really good parmesan for them. I made these several hours earlier than I needed them, and they showed no sign of going limp when I served them up, so you could easily make these the morning you’re planning to serve the soup.  If there were any left, I could tell you how they are the following day, but – they are so good – there are none left!!

What could be easier than peeling and stoning just three avocados?  Not much – but it does get down to the selection of your avocados – you need to select the ones that are just ripe.  I was lucky and got three perfect ones with no bruises or blemishes.

I erred on the side of caution and didn’t make the soup until about an hour before I was planning to serve it, because I was a little worried that the avocado might go that icky dark colour if I made it too early.  There is lemon juice in the recipe, and I thought that might help the discolouration factor, and to be honest, there was no discolouration at all in the hour or so it was in the fridge waiting to be served up.  I was doubly cautious though and put one of the stones in the mixture while it was in the fridge, I’m never sure if that’s an old wives’ tale or not – but you never know!!

The mint component of this dish is really minimal, and to be honest, more decorative than anything else – just a  couple of mint leaves on top to serve.  I didn’t check the bunch of mint I bought and the leaves were all ginormous, so I ended up finely chopping it and making a little pile of it.  You could probably even use some lemon rind, chives, or even some micro herbs for added effect and taste.

As for the seasoning, I was pretty heavy handed with the white pepper and salt, and ended up adding some more black pepper as I was eating it – it was delightful – and so popular with the four of us that we even ate the leftovers, and then proceeded to main course and desert!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2012 in Entrees

 

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Cauliflower Sausages with Cauliflower Couscous and Curry Oil

When I walked into the greengrocers the other day, I saw the most beautiful looking cauliflowers that I have ever seen…so I bought one and then came home and wondered what I could do with it!  The answer was Ryan Flaherty’s Cauliflower Sausages.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Dani gave me some maltodextrin, which I used for the Pine Nut Crumb, and some Metil Methylcellulose, which I used in this recipe.  Both these ingredients can be hard to get and pricey at that, so it would be a perfect opportunity to share the purchase with another thermomix or foodie friend.

Metil Methylcellulose is like a jelly that sets as it heats up. You only need 15 grams of the actual Metil Methylcellulose, and it makes about 4 times what you actually need for one batch of the recipe. The Metil mixture – once it’s made up into a liquid – keeps for a week in the fridge, but I don’t think it would freeze all that well.  You need to mix it up and prepare it first, and let it cool for 4 hours, so this is a recipe that you need some time to prepare. The cauliflower puree also needs some time to cool, and the dried cauliflower needs to stay in the oven overnight, so I actually prepared this recipe over a few days. First I made the Metil mix, then the curry oil, then the dried cauliflower, and finally the sausages and the cous cous.

Having said that, it would be a great dinner party entree although very rich, so you’d want to serve it with something fairly light as a main course.

Cauliflower Sausages

The first step in this recipe was the preparation of the Metil Methylcellulose.  You do this part in a bowl – not the TM bowl.  You add the water and mix it – well, as much as you can mix it – it’s sort of like wallpaper paste in consistency. Once you’ve got it fairly lump free, you add the mix to the TM bowl and blend and heat it.  It froths up quite a bit, and when I opened the bowl after it had finished mixing, there was quite a layer of foam on it, which does subside (but not completely) while it’s cooling.  When it’s cool, it is almost jelly like in its texture, and when I used it later I avoided the foamy white part at the top.

Next, I made the mix for the cauliflower sausages.  They were pretty easy to make, although the first time I did them, I forgot to take the bunch of thyme out before I blended it – so I started over.  Not sure it actually made that much difference, as although you tie the thyme in a bunch so you can pull it out later, the bunch that I actually got to pull out was a pathetic shadow of it’s former self – so much of the thyme comes off during the cooking, and by the time you’ve pureed it, I don’t think much of the thyme stalks would remain. The second batch I made was a lot less green than the first batch.

When I was blending the cauliflower mix, I put it on 50 degrees as was listed in the recipe.  The friction of the blades going at speed 10 for 12 minutes gives you a headache as it takes a surprisingly long time for the noise to change to that ‘pureed’ sound if you get what I mean, and the temperature remained above 50 degrees the whole time.  Make sure you don’t forget to add the toasted cumin and the chopped chervil. (Which I now grow in plentiful supply in my garden since I had such a hassle finding it last time I needed it!)  I actually found the cumin too overpowering in the final product, so next time I’ll reduce the cumin quantity a little.

Once you cool the puree you can add the Metil mixture.  It’s really, really like wallpaper paste, so you need to make sure that you measure out the required quantity of the Metil mix and the cauliflower puree – I had a little over what I needed for the ratios, so chances are you will too.  So, if you’re a little short on cauliflower, don’t stress for the puree part.  I mixed it through just using a spatula, which worked fine. And then it was on to the difficult part – or the part I had thought would be difficult – making the sausages…

I followed Dani’s instructions in terms of the size of the sheet of glad wrap that I used, and it was a great size.  If you are serving this for a dinner party, you’d probably want to me a little more consistent than I was with the amount in each sausage, smaller is easier to manage in terms of wrapping and then tying off the ends.  The wrapping and typing process is actually surprisingly easy – I had no disasters at all.

Dried Caulifower

The dried cauliflower looks amazing!!  It’s really worth the wait to do it – it takes overnight in a very, very, very low oven to prepare it.  I didn’t trust my knives or my knife skills to slice it so thinly so I used the mandolin on the very thinnest setting, which worked beautifully. I put it in the oven at the lowest setting mine would go to (50 degrees) and after a few hours I sneaked a peek, and it didn’t seem to be drying as well as I thought it would, so I turned the heat up to about 65/70 degrees and left it for a few more hours, which was perfect. Next time I’ll throw some salt and pepper on it before I cook it.

Cauliflower “Cous Cous” 

The cous cous is easy to make, but I think mine was a little too moist.  To me, it should have been drier, but I think I’ll blame myself for that.  I drained it on the kitchen paper after cooking the butter through it, but it was still quite wet, and I fancied it a little drier.  Hmmm, next time I might cook it longer and see if that dries it out a little.

Curry Oil

The curry oil also needs several hours (or a couple of days if you have the time) to mature flavours, and it’s really aromatic. It takes quite a lot of bottled spices to make, so next time I’ll buy my own whole spices and mill them down in the thermomix, which will make it even more aromatic I think (and maybe even cheaper)  I strained the oil after a day or so, using coffee filter paper,  and ended up with about 60 mls of the oil.  I’ll use the rest on Middle Eastern Pizzas in the next week or so.

Plating it up

You serve the sausages as soon as you’ve taken them out of the varoma.  They are very hot, as you’d expect, and you need to leave them for a few minutes to set properly.  Once they are set, you  can just cut the ends off and unwrap them – easier said than done when you’re trying to find the end of the glad wrap!!  I ended up just cutting down the whole length of the glad wrap, and it didn’t have any ill effects.  There will be a little water around, so don’t unwrap them on the plate you are planning to serve them up on.  I’m pleased to say mine unwrapped perfectly!

Overall, this is a lovely, impressive dish.  The sausages are rich and very creamy – the dried cauliflower provides a real textural contrast.  And the curry oil is just lovely!!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Entrees

 

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Grissini with Apricot and Cardamom Paste

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I’ve been feeling somewhat neglectful of my blog in the last couple of weeks, and with a sick toddler under my feet it hasn’t been easy to cook as much as I’d like, and to get out of the house to get some of the more exotic ingredients… so I had a look through the cupboard and it looked like I could make these lovely Grissini without having to leave the house for any ingredient… perfect!!

I saw Dani make these grissini at her cooking class in Melbourne a few weeks ago.  They looked pretty fuss free, and they really are pretty simple to make.  Dani mentioned at the class that your imagination is really your only limit to what you could flavour these grissini with.  Today I did the Apricot and Cardamom as per the recipe, but I’m thinking I might try cranberry, fig, mango, or a marmalade-ish mix next time I’m in the mood for something sweet, or maybe even try a savoury kind – parmesan, lemon zest, cheese and chive or something like that.  I’ll keep my eye out at the supermarket for some inspiration!

You don’t use much cardamom for this recipe, and I’m a bit of a fan of it, so next time I’ll up the cardamom seed amount.

You need to let the jam cool before you spread it out onto the dough – but it shouldn’t be a problem as you have to wait for the dough to prove anyway.  I think my jam was actually a little too thick and I ended up using my fingers to spread it out all over the dough before folding it over.  Make sure you go completely to the edge with the jam, otherwise you’ll end up with grissini without any of the beautiful apricot and cardamom paste.

I purposely made this batch with a minimum of equipment, I used the thermomix spatula as a knife to cut the dough into strips, but if you were after a prettier finish, you could move the proved dough from the thermomat onto a floured surface and use a sharp knife.  Not sure if it was the fact that I only had 100 grams of poppy seed and not the 120 as the recipe called for (a tip for young players – the bag of poppy seeds I bought a few weeks ago was only 100 grams, so you’ll need 2!!) – but my dough was a little wet.  I could have added more flour, but I didn’t. As it was a little wet and sticky, I kept it on the thermomat, so the presentation is a little rustic.

The apricot and cardamom jam is so easy to make.  Jam making is one of the joys of owning a thermomix I think – not that i make a lot of jam by any stretch, but really, how many people do you know what would make 200 grams of jam just for the hell of it?  Well, with a thermomix, you can – in minutes.

I was in a hurry to get these bad boys cooked, so in spite of my better judgement, I put three trays of them in the oven at once.  Not good!!  I scorched the top tray a little, so ended up having to shuffle them around a little.  It also doesn’t help that I’m not a huge fan of my oven, and I’m getting to the stage where I think I might have to pull the pin and treat myself to a better one.  We left the best oven at our last house, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss it!  Mine were a little too long – I think as a result of the very stretchy wet dough, so next time I’ll make sure I use the right amount of poppy seeds and maybe add a little more bakers flour.

If your oven has some hot spots, then make sure you check these regularly as they do go from pale and interesting to bad fake tan colour very quickly!

I’ll be brining these to my sister’s house tomorrow for farewell drinks for her son as he heads off overseas for an extended holiday.  I’m sure we’ll enjoy a few of these with a glass of bubbles!

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Bakes

 

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Black Pudding

Well, I made it.  I feel like I need a special badge on my apron to prove it.

I can’t say I’ll make it again, but it’s off my list.  Phew!  I never thought I’d have the constitution to do it, and it did put me off my lunch, but the black pudding lovers I know are now coming out of the woodwork…I’ve had three requests for tastings so far.  I’m not sure if I can stomach tasting any myself – I have been known to eat white pudding, but I think black pudding is the end as far as I’m concerned!!  So I’ll have to update this later with the feedback from the lucky black pudding recipients.

This recipe took some planning – I had to sweet talk our butcher to get me some pig blood.  Then there were the sweetbreads.  And the sausage skin.  So, all in all, it’s not a recipe that you can run to the supermarket and get all the ingredients for in an afternoon. The recipe author is Robin Wickens, who now owns and runs the Wickens Delicatessed and Provedore in beautiful Apollo Bay, Victoria.  I’ll definitely go there next time I’m down that way, but I’m not sure I’ll order the black pudding.

I won’t go into detail about the weird looks I was getting (allegedly) discussing the amount of pigs blood I needed, and the sausage skin discussion – far too rude to go into here!  And the discussion that took place at home afterwards when we were discussing the sweetbreads… you can imagine ;-)

I needed to give my butcher a weeks notice for the pigs blood, so check with your local butcher.  That was after I had enquired about it a month or so ago, and they made some calls.  Butchers need to get it in a minimum amount of at least 5 litres apparently, so they may charge you for the whole lot.  As it was, my butcher gave me a litre of the stuff even though I only needed 600 grams.  They only charged me for what I needed, but I guess that’s a perk of being a regular customer.  I also pre-ordered the sweetbreads, and although I’m sure they wouldn’t be as much of as hassle to get as the pig blood, I think it was a wise thing to do.  All together at the butcher, including more than a metre of thick sausage skin, I paid the princely sum of $13.

You definitely need a strong stomach to make black pudding.  The sultanas and wine vinegar was easy, as were the onions.  I set both aside in the same bowl, seasoned them, added the herbs, the oats and and then tipped the whole lot into the cooked pigs blood.

I ordered 350 grams of sweetbreads and if I had known I would have been more generous in my order.  The sweetbreads have lots of sinewy and fatty bits attached to them, so I chopped them out and ended up with substantially less than 350 grams. ( I did the chopping out after the blanching)  I blanched them in boiling water for a minute (using the basket and the spatula to hold it in the boiling water) and then peeled off the outer membrane – easier said than done.  They are slippery little suckers!!

For the un-initiated, sweetbreads look something like this:

Yep, gross.  But not as gross as the 600 grams of pig blood I ladled into the thermomix.  I had flashbacks of childbirth… it really was pretty gruesome. So, you cook that for 10 minutes, and then add in the onion, sultanas, herbs, seasoning and oatmeal, and the blanched, chopped sweetbreads.

I actually had a moment during the cooking process, as the recipe doesn’t actually say when to add the blanched sweetbreads.  As I am one lucky girl, Dani had actually given me her phone number so I texted her with a kitchen emergency question and she got straight back to me… thanks Dani!!   I should have chopped mine finer, and I think that’s why I had some issues getting the mixture into the sausage skin later on.  Or, if you want to get it finer, you could probably blitz it in the thermomix using the shredding chicken method.  I would say I’ll try that next time, but unless I am told that it makes the most amazing black pudding in the history of the world, I won’t be making it again!!!

With all my pre-planning for the ingredients, I actually overlooked one important thing – the piping nozzle.  I didn’t have one even close to 2cm, so I used a zip lock bag and snipped the end off.  At first, I tried a nozzle that was about 1cm, but I think the sweetbread chunks were too much for the nozzle and it exploded.  My kitchen bench was a mess of pig blood mix, so I sincerely hope CSI don’t make a visit to my house in the near future as it will be one confusing crime scene!!

What I should have done was take a photo of the sausage skin.  My butcher gave it to me in a container filled with water, and the skins come in lengths of just over a metre.  The skin has a firm but flexible insert that’s made of plastic, and in theory that should make your life pretty easy getting the mix in the sausage skin.  I’m ashamed to admit that I lost patience and only used about half the mixture and binned the rest, I just couldn’t deal with it any longer!  Then I cleaned my kitchen benches to within an inch of their lives, and gave my thermobaby a lovely long vinegar cleanse and put it through the dishwasher for good measure…I was completely creeped out.

But, I did make three sausages, each about 15 centimetres long.  I cooked them in the basket, and they are drying out in the fridge as I type, and I’ve given one to my mum to sample.  So I’ll let you know what they taste like, and ask my samplers to take pictures of the end, fried up result.

Updated to say:  Mum tasted hers and ate it all, but she did say it needed some more seasoning.  If I were to make it again, I’d think about more salt and pepper (I’m notorious for under seasoning, preferring to think that people will add extra if they need it), maybe some onion with the sultana reduction, and perhaps some mace.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Breakfast

 

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Breakfast Baskets

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Yum, yum, yum – what a great, neat and tidy breakfast.  No bacon fat to clear up, no greasy frying pan to wash, and they are delicious to boot.  I wish I had thought of this recipe!

I had some prosciutto in the fridge that was begging to be used, so I decided to make these yesterday morning.  They are soooo simple to make and look quite impressive, I’d recommend serving them in their ramekins and people can tip them out if they want to – I ate mine from the ramekin and it was fine. The one I tipped out looked quite messy. I served them with toast, but next time I do them I’ll slow roast some roma tomatoes and sprinkle them with oregano and basil.  I think they’d go together beautifully. I thought about making Hollandaise Sauce as well, but my jeans are already getting tight!

I sent a certain someone down to the supermarket last night to get the pure cream, and they returned empty handed…well, not quite as they picked up creme fraiche and the Philadelphia cooking cream as apparently pure cream was nowhere to be seen. Funnily enough, there it was this morning in the supermarket…lots of it!! Anyway, I used the Philadephia cooking cream as it had less fat. It was ok and certainly tasted good, but there was a bit of water in the bottom of the ramekins and this might have been caused by the cooking cream.  I’d squeezed out the spinach pretty well, so I don’t think that was the culprit.

Dani has done the recipe for 10 breakfast baskets at once, but I just did the three, and scaled down the quantities.  I put them on the bottom tray of the varoma and propped them up with egg rings again.  Dani didn’t mention propping them up in her recipe, so I’m not sure if I did the right thing… I cooked them for the length of time for soft and they were definitely on the hard side.  So if you’re doing them, keep an eye on them if you want them to be soft and runny in the middle.

You might also want to not be so generous with the salt when you add it, as the prosciutto makes this a pretty salty dish without adding any extra.  I’m a salt fiend and it was fine for me, but other people might find it a little overpowering.

These would be great to cook if you were expecting large numbers of people for a breakfast or a brunch.  They could be prepared earlier and then stuck in the varoma for cooking just before serving.  Just make sure all your ramekins will fit in the varoma at once, and make sure the steam can get through.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Carrot Falafel

I had a weekend away and for only the second time I didn’t bring my thermo-baby with me…!  Consequently I suffered major thermomix withdrawal all long weekend, so I had to make up for it today.

The Carrot Falafel appealed to me as I thought it might be a away to get my son to eat chick peas – I’d tried him on falafel before and he screwed his little face right up, but he’s a carrot fan, and I thought it might be a way of making it more appealing for him.  It didn’t, but that’s another story…

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe tab!

I made the falafel mix this morning about 9.30 and used tinned chickpeas.  I rolled them into balls almost straight away and left them to dry out on the bench for the rest of the day – which they really needed.  I’m not sure if it was the tinned chick pea factor, but it made a fairly wet mixture – and I did over process it, while I was trying to cut down some chinks of carrot that I couldn’t get rid of.  I’ve discovered a trick though – rather than cutting the carrots into chunks, if you cut the carrot in half length ways, and then cut into chunks, it makes for a much more even grate.

I fried them falafel just before my son was due to have his dinner at 5pm, but they were still a little wet and not crunchy, so I popped them in the oven at about 100 degrees for about an hour.  By the time I got to my dinner, they were beautifully crisp and a lovely toasted brown.  I’m wondering if Master 3 might eat them tomorrow – – – I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

I’m a bit of a salad dogder, well – actually, more a fruit dodger to be honest, and the thought of fruit of any description in a salad usually turns me right off, but I was brave and tried the salad with both the pear and the currant.  It was absolutely beautiful, lovely and sweet, but with the tang of fennel also.  I had let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so and I don’t think it did it any harm at all.

The tahini dressing is gorgeous, almost mousey in it’s consistency.  I made the dressing about midday and kept it in the fridge, so it’s a good one to prepare earlier.  I still have quite a bit left, so I’ll see what I can use it on over the coming day or so.  When you scrape down the bowl after blitzing the sesame seeds, make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl as well, especially around the edges, as when I’d mixed it in and then poured it out, I found a few bits of sesame paste that hadn’t incorporated properly.

All in all, this is a really satisfying dish, which tastes great.  Next time I’ll try with dried chickpeas and soak them for 8 hours before I make it –  and see if that helps the crisp factor.  These would be a great prepare ahead snack for a drinks party, too.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Main meals, Recipes

 

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Duck Liver Parfait, Gingerbread Crumbs and Chocolate Foam

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I’m a sucker for a pate, so this duck liver parfait was calling to me the first time I ever looked through “In The Mix”.  I’ve had half an eye open for duck livers since then, but haven’t seen any.  The poultry shop at our local market could get me some in – but I thought a 2 kilo bag was a bit excessive, I mean – I love pate, but 2 kilos?!?  I ended up at the Queen Victoria Market, where the lovely folk at Nifra Poultry helped me out.  Believe it or not, the parking for an hour cost me more than the duck livers – they were under $3 for 300 grams!

Every time I go to the Queen Victoria Market I ask myself why I don’t go there more often, and I’ve now made a commitment to myself that I will.  The produce is second to none.  If you do what I did, and go just before closing on Saturday afternoon, the bargains in the meat/poultry/seafood section are amazing, and everything looks just so fresh and lovely.  I’m so lucky to have it on my doorstep, I just need to get there more.

This is not a difficult recipe at all – it takes some time, including parfait cooling and chocolate foam chilling, but there are no difficult elements as such.  That’s one of the things I love about my thermomix – most of it is hands free cooking – so even if something takes an hour to do – you can go outside, do the washing, play with the kids, do some work or whatever, because you don’t need to stand over a saucepan stirring or watching.

The Parfait

The parfait is as easy as can be.  I’m not sure if I failed the butter clarification part though.  I used Western Star butter this time, as I had it in the fridge, and I am generally a home brand girl for butter.  I drained it through a fresh, damp kitchen cloth, but it didn’t do much in the way of trapping the solids.  It sat on the bench for a while as I did the onions, garlic, and the reduction, and I noticed as I was pouring it in that there was some thicker yellowy-white stuff at the bottom…so I’m not sure if that was what the kitchen cloth was supposed to capture, or just the process of butter solidifying.

You need to make sure you prepare the duck livers really well.  I bought extra duck liver from Nifra Poultry, by 50 grams. Next time I’ll do it by 100 grams. as there are always bits of sinew and gristly bits in the livers, so I chopped them all out, as I didn’t want any of the in my lovely parfait.

I used a pretty decent port (against someone’s wishes ;-)) but I’m a firm believer in using the best you can get for wines in cooking…if you wouldn’t drink it, then you shouldn’t cook with it!

I used a cereal bowl to pour the parfait into, and used the soup bowl as the bain marie container.  There was a little more parfait that would fit in the bowl, but not so much as I was worried about not using it.  I propped up the bain marie with egg rings, so it wouldn’t cover the holes of the varoma.  Lucky I made those crumpets last week, or I would have completely forgotten about egg rings – and they were great to use for this.

This makes a huge amount of parfait – I served this to 5 adults and there was plenty left over.

The Gingerbread Crumb

Oh, this smells gorgeous! So gingery – it makes me remember Christmases in Europe. I think I should have kept it in the oven a little longer though – it looked cooked on top, but once I cut it in half, the inside was still quite moist.  I kept the crumb in the oven a little longer than suggested, just to dry it out a little more.  Be warned – 5 grams of ginger is quite a lot – the spice jar I had of it was only 25 grams in total, so you’ll have to shake it out for a while, but I assume that’s what makes it smell so beautiful.  (And taste so beautiful too – you only need half the gingerbread for the crumb, so the other half makes a nice little treat to nibble on).

Next time I make it, I think I’ll only blitz about a third of the cake to make the crumb, as it makes quite a lot.  I’ll also spread it out on a much bigger tray with more defined edges than the one I used – mine was piled a little high in places, which is why it took longer to dry out, I think.

The Chocolate Foam

The chocolate foam wasn’t as bitter as I thought it would be – but it was still delicious.  I had it in the fridge for a few hours before I served it, so I put it in the sink of hot water about half way up the siphon for about 15 minutes before I served it.  Before I tried spraying it, I shook it to make sure what was in there was liquid – you can hear a distinctive sound of liquid when it – so make sure you hear it before you start siphoning.  It wasn’t as  bitter as I thought it would be – and it was pretty liquid, so I need some more siphoning practice.  Maybe I let it warm up for too long?

The verdict

Altogether, this was lovely. It’s extremely rich, so you only need to prepare very small serves.  I’m still not 100% on the combination of flavours, but each element by itself was lovely, if not unusual together.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Entrees

 

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Pine Nut Crumb

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After being the lucky recipient of 35 grams of maltodextrin at one of Dani’s cooking classes this week, I couldn’t wait to try to make the Pine Nut Crumb.  I tasted it at the cooking class and it was lovely – it sort of reminded me of malted milk milkshakes and maltesers all rolled into one…yum!  Maltodextrin is made from tapioca and is incredibly light – so you need a lot to register on the thermomix scales.  It’s also very expensive – a kilogram will set you back about $100 and take up a lot of space in your cupboard, so it’s a good thing to go halves or quarters in with a foodie friend. If I hadn’t had mine measured out so nicely, I think I’d be very careful with scooping out the maltodextrin straight into the thermomix bowl – perhaps put a small bowl inside the TM bowl, zero the scale and measure from there.  I have found that my scales can be a little fussy sometimes, and if you add things slowly sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it could.  I probably should just give the bench a good clean!

The recipe is from Tomislav Martinovic, and he uses the pine nut crumb can be used on both sweet and savoury dishes – if you’re using it on hot foods, spoon it beside it rather than on top of it, so it doesn’t melt until you eat it.  I’ve made this batch because I’ve got an itch to scratch, and it keeps well in an airtight container.

This was the first time I christened my candy thermometer too.  Not sure it works all that well, so I might be back to the shop with it.  It wasn’t that accurate, and so I did the ice water test – and sure enough, the caramel was ready to add the pine nuts to.  So I guess the lesson is, trust your instincts!  If I’d have waited for the thermometer to reach 160 degrees I’d have ended up with a burnt mess – and had to clean up a horrifically messy saucepan into the bargain.

In total, the pine nuts, sugar, glucose, cream and butter have made about 560 grams of caramel.  You only need about a quarter of this for the crumb, and you can enjoy the rest with a cup of tea, on ice cream, or hide it in the back of the cupboard and forget to tell the rest of the family about it!  I think that’s my preferred option – it’s lovely!

I used a lamington tray lined with silicon paper to pour the caramel out onto.  There was plenty of room.  I had to smooth it out a little, but it doesn’t really matter what it looks like I guess.  To break it up, I dropped it on the granite bench from a little height to get a few large chunks, then took to it with a rolling pin – a few short sharp whacks is all it needs.

You can experiment with other kinds of nuts with this recipe, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts perhaps.  The limit is only your imagination.

I’ll be using this over the coming weeks on all manner of things, so I’ll keep you updated with what I’ve used it with.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Condiments, Sweet Things

 

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Update – Salmon Confit with Sorrel Sauce

Yes…I got the guts up to try it again!!  I practically needed counselling over the failure of this dish the first time I made it.  I was hoping to make it again within the week, but I was too scared, but I made it on a whim tonight and it was just lovely.  Someone even said it was the best salmon dish I’ve ever made in the Thermomix!  So for that I guess we have to thank Jeff Brady of thermomix-er.blogspot.com.  He has some great recipes on his blog – so it’s a great site to look at.

When I managed to so monumentally stuff this recipe up a month or so ago – it was my first ever Thermomix failure.  I know that’s not so bad – particularly as I’ve had my thermomix for two and a half years, and I use it at least daily, but it made me feel so bad.  I even emailed Dani and asked whether I was just a sous vide heathen or if I managed to muck something up.

Turns out I must have mucked it up!!

Dani had told me that there were a few variables to this recipe:

  • the starting temperature of the water
  • the thickness of the salmon fillets
  • air in the zip-lock bag

So, I changed a few things this time as I didn’t want another disaster on my hands.

I was completely obsessed with getting as much air out of the ziplock bag as possible.

I boiled the kettle first, let it cool down for 20 minutes or so, and then used the warm water to fill the thermomix bowl.

I put the bagged salmon in the the smallest dish possible – that is, it just fit in.  This meant that I had less water to put in the smaller dish, and I made sure that that water was luke warm water from the tap rather than icy cold water from the tap. The dish I used was a plastic tupperware bowl.

I put the small dish with the salmon in it on the bottom tray of the varoma.  I tried to prop it up with toothpicks, but it didn’t work, so I ended up balancing it on a large cookie cutter shape, which still let the steam through.

I chose two salmon fillets that were pretty equal is size and thickness.  I managed to get them both in one sandwich sized zip lock bag, and from recollection last time I had each one in a separate bag.

I didn’t serve this with the Sorrel Sauce this time, I made a quick salad with spinach leaves, Persian Fetta, slow roasted tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, and it was terrific. I’m afraid the photo doesn’t do it justice, it really looked and tasted lovely.

So, my nerves of steel paid off!!  I’m so relieved!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Main meals

 

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White Bean Soup with Truffle

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I wasn’t planning on making this soup for a while, but someone posted a question about it on one of my favourite Thermomix Forums the other day – they had used tinned cannellini beans rather than dry beans, and the recipe was a flop – even though the recipe book says you can use them. So I said I’d make it with the real thing and see what it was like – and then go about working out how to do it more successfully with tinned cannellini beans.

What’s the forum, you ask?  It’s http://www.forumthermomix.com

It has an abundance of recipes, tips, tweaks and general thermomix chat.  I’m a bit addicted.  So if you don’t know about it – get on it!

The recipe is from Guy Grossi.  He’s one of my favourite Melbourne Chefs – for many years I was a Friday regular in the cheap seats at the Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar with a group of my work colleagues.  His food always reminds me of good friends, laughter and hilarious war stories.

Anyway, back to the soup.  This is as simple as it gets to make.  Oil, garlic, onion, beans, fontina cheese and truffle.  You can substitute truffle oil for truffle if you don’t have any – and let’s face it, I bet there’s not that many of us that have truffle sitting around waiting to be used!! So, I used truffle oil, which I always have in my cupboard – I often add some of it to the mushroom risotto, as well as some rehydrated porcini mushrooms.  Yum!  I use the Simon Johnson brand, but I am sure there are many others out there.

Once you’ve added the beans to the thermomix bowl, it can be a little noisy.  The noise dies down after a few minutes once the beans start to soften in the stock.  I used water and homemade vegetable stock concentrate – (mainly because I want to use my batch of chicken stock to serve as a consommé with the dumplings when I make them again.  I’m going to use Heston Blumenthal’s stock clarifying method and see how it works) – and it had a lovely mellow flavour – surprisingly truffley considering the relatively small amount of truffle oil in the recipe.

This makes a really rich soup – I poured it into three bowls as we had a friend pop over at lunch time, but it would easily have done five serves – it really is quite satisfying.  I served it with bread, which frankly, I didn’t need to eat – but it was Phillippa’s bread, and it was fresh!!

This soup forms a skin fairly quickly – so it’s really a soup that you’d want to make and serve immediately, otherwise you’d need to return to the thermomix, heat and blitz for a while to get rid of any chunky bits.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Entrees

 

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Crumpets

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What says weekend breakfast to me?  Well, if I’m at home and I don’t want to mess up the kitchen with a fry up, it’s usually crumpets.  My son loves them too, but until this morning he’d only ever had the ones from the supermarket.  As my original plan to bring you the Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse this weekend were thwarted (read more about that later), and I wanted to do something from “In The Mix” this weekend, crumpets it was.  I made the batter last night after dinner, and then after it had proved and I had put in the bicarb soda, I popped it in the fridge overnight, and made fresh crumpets this morning.  They were beautiful –  infinitely nicer than the ones from the supermarket. It made about 15, and I’ve frozen the left overs with greaseproof paper between them so I can just use one or two when I need them.

This recipe comes from Jeff Brady, whose Thermomix blog is well worth a look and a follow – you can find his blog at thermomix-er.blogspot.com.

If you’re wanting to serve these for breakfast, make sure you make the batter the night before – unless you want to wait for an hour for the mixture to prove!  And when you store the batter in the fridge overnight, put it in a jug rather than a bowl – and it will be easier and less messy to make the crumpets pouring out the batter than spooning it into the rings.

The batter is really easy to make.  SInce I’ve had the thermomix, I’ve always had yeast sachets in the cupboard for bread dough (especially the hot cross buns – oh so good) and this recipe calls for 5 grams of yeast.  If you buy the Tandaco Yeast like I do, each sachet is 7 grams, so I poured in the majority of it, and wasn’t pedantic about shaking out every little bit like I often am with other baking.

I used egg rings when I made the crumpets.  I couldn’t believe I still had any, but I dug them out – I can’t actually remember the last time I used them.  If you don’t have egg rings perhaps you could use scone cutters or something similar, but as the batter is fairly thick and runny, if you don’t use something, you’ll end up with a crumpet pancake.  The egg rings worked beautifully – don’t forget to oil them – I did both sides as the mixture will probably bubble over a little and if the outer edge is oiled, you can peel away the bubbled over bits a lot more easily. Dani suggests oiling them, then putting them in the pan to heat up, then pour the batter in.  It seems to do something, and the crumpets just popped out without a trouble in the world.  Lord knows why I never thought of oiling the rings back in the day when I used to fry eggs…

It took me a couple of batches to get the temperature just right for cooking the crumpets, but you’ll know it once you have reached it – 5 minutes on one side, and about a minute on the other side.  If the batter is too runny to turn the rings, you’ll know they are not ready to turn – – – once I’d perfected the temperature, the egg rings literally fell off as I turned them over.

These would be beautiful served with a home made jam – maybe even the jam from the Steamed Pudding Recipe. Because of my over enthusiasm with whipping cream in the thermomix for the Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse yesterday, I was able to serve these with home made butter as well…such a treat!!  I had mine with the honey from Cafe Vue at Heide Gallery, which was a take home treat after an amazing dinner at Vue de Monde earlier this week.  Superb!  For those of you who have been there recently, you won’t be surprised when a cucumber sorbet pops up on this blog in a few weeks – the one I had there was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

So, next weekend I’ll definitely make the Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse – stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Breakfast

 

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Kombu Broth with Fried Chicken

Kombu Broth with Fried Chicken

I thought I was going mad…I went to the local Japanese Grocery Store – apparently a good one – and there was no kombu!!  I wasn’t sure if it was my pronunciation, the language barrier, or the fact that they just didn’t have any – but when I got home and googled it, apparently the Australian Quarantine Service has put a ban on the importation of kombu, apparently because of the iodine levels in it.  So, I wasn’t going (that) mad…

Luckily, you can use wakame as a substitute, and I was able to get that at the local gourmet supermarket.  It came in a bag (see picture) and was referred to as spiral sea vegetable, which is wakame.  It was around $10 for the bag – which was 50 grams – and I only used about a fifth of what was in the packet – if that.  It should keep pretty well in a tupperware container.

I also had a little trouble tracking down brown rice vinegar, but ended up finding it at the local gourmet supermarket – not with the other dozens of vinegars, but in the Asian Food Section.

Anyway, with the winter weather setting in in Melbourne, I wanted to cook something that looked healthy and warming, so Kombu Broth with Fried Chicken was my choice of the day.  It was great – so great that I have decided that is is going to be my new comfort food of choice – just perfect for sitting on the couch and eating up.

The broth is lovely, and it had been an age since I had eaten anything as naughty as fried chicken – and even longer since I had cooked with chicken wings.  I had forgotten how good they are, I love chewing on chicken wings – but some people just aren’t up for it – as was made plain to me by my other diner…hmphhh! Some people just don’t know when to be gracious when a lovely meal is presented to them.

The broth takes a while to make, but is worth it in the end! I added some extra tamari at the end as I think it helped the flavours a little.  Whilst I made the broth earlier in the day and reheated it at dinner time, I think next time I’ll time it so that I don’t have to reheat.  My recollection is that the broth looked more beautiful when it was freshly strained into the bowl.

I pan fried the chicken wings in the leek flavoured oil from frying off the matchsticked leeks – and they tasted lovely,  The skin was crunchy – which I love, and the salt over them as drain them makes an amazing difference to their taste.  The fried leeks are lovely, and I’ve carefully put away the ones I didn’t use for a garnish on something within the next few days!

I served this with brown rice (also cooked in the thermomix) and it was a really satisfying, wholesome meal.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Onion Jam Flan

Delicious, great with a glass or two of wine, in addition to a cheese platter, some quince paste  – as just proven by our neighbours and me!

This is a great recipe – one of Helene Meurer’s from the famous Thermomix blog site superkitchenmachine.com

It is fabulous as a small plate with a glass or two of wine, or would be an amazing picnic dish.  You can eat it warm or cold, so what’s not to love about it?   You can make it pretty quickly – I made the onion jam component yesterday night and left it to develop flavours overnight in the fridge, and then put it together this afternoon – so while you might look at the recipe and think – one and a half hours is too much, you  can split it up into components.  If I had have been thinking, I would have done the pastry last night as well, but clearly, I was not thinking! I chilled the pastry for 25 minutes in the fridge and it was fine to work with.  I rolled it out on the thermomat, which worked beautifully, and then inverted the thermomat and placed it over the flan dish, and eased the pastry off. It worked seamlessly – no tears, no bulges, and the pastry itself didn’t shrink while I was blind baking it.

In fact, I actually had a bit of cheat on this recipe.  When I went to put it together this afternoon, I realised that I didn’t have any wheat kernels in the pantry – and, to be honest, it was one of those days when I just couldn’t be bothered getting back in the car and going to the supermarket.  So I did a bit of googling and wondered if there was anything in the cupboard I could use instead of wheat.  So I took a gamble and used barley – and – to my delight – it worked fine!  So, my theory is – if this recipe tasted great with the barley crust, it would definitely be amazing with the wheat!!

I used some of the left over gruyere from the kuzu gnocchi, some parmesan I had on hand, and the regular cracker barrel cheddar – so not the really expensive cheddar.  The cream cheese I used was the stock standard Philadelphia – which is a staple in my fridge since I have been a thermomix owner – you can whip up a dip in two minutes with a pack of Philly in the fridge.

I can’t actually think of any tips that would make this dish any easier to make – it’s a dream!

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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Bakes

 

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Parsley Oil (part of the recipe for Tarragon Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto and Parsley Oil)

So, this is a bit of a white elephant – the only reason I made it the other day was that Dani had mentioned that the Pea Soup was nice with the parsley oil!  I had a little extra time up my sleeve today, and as it only takes 15 minutes (plus draining time) I was able to do it.  It has the most beautiful parsley flavour – it really is like eating parsley!

It’s a piece of cake really – some neutral oil and some fresh parsley.  I used Italian parsley, but I’m sure other parsley would work just as well.  Chuck it in the thermomix and blend away – be warned though, this is a bit of a noisy recipe, which surprised me!  It’s just that the thermomix is on a high speed for quite a long time – so if you’re anything like me – put in your iPod or leave the room! I actually turned the speed down for a while when it was really doing my head in – but I am a wimp!

Don’t be alarmed if the temperature goes up past the temperature you’re cooking the oil at – mine certainly did and it didn’t have any adverse consequences.  There will also be vapour coming up from the lid – so don’t worry.

The result after 15 minutes is the most beautiful deep green oil, which you then filter.  I didn’t have any muslin or coffee filters, so I used a clean chux wipe, which worked – but only just.  I’ve ended up buying coffee filters today and have filtered it again so it’s very, very clear and with no sediment at the bottom.

A word of warning to the eager beavers though – don’t put your oil into a jar or bottle that is not absolutely, positively dry – otherwise you’ll end up with water at the bottom of your oil, which not only doesn’t look great – but would probably shorten the shelf life of the oil. Another little word of caution – the oil can stain your hands if you don’t wash it off quickly – so watch out for pale coloured bench tops!!

This oil would also make a lovely gift for a culinary friend – so once the parsley I am growing in the garden is in profuse supply, I’ll make this again.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Condiments

 

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Kuzu Gnocchi with Pea Soup

Well, first of all – a huge thanks to Dani for mentioning my humble blog on her Facebook page.  And welcome to my new followers!  I hope that I can give you some pre-cooking tips for the divine recipes from “In The Mix”.

I would love to hear from you, especially if you have any particular recipes you want me to try soon – or if you have any feedback on other stuff you want me to include in my rambles – or that you don’t want me to mention.

So, my project today was Kuzu Gnocchi with Pea Soup.  (It was supposed to be yesterday’s project, but I had some trouble locating kuzu – even the local Japanese supermarket didn’t have it) Anyway, I tracked kuzu down at a Health Food shop locally – it’s the organic one and it was about $10 for 100 grams.  It’s a weird looking stuff – white and chunky crunchy bits – so much so I wasn’t sure if I should sift it before I added it to the gruyere mix.  I didn’t and it seems to have turned out ok… time will tell!

For those who have the book, Dani has modified the recipe slightly since the first publication, and the new version will be in her third reprint.  So I used the new version, which is on the In the Mix Facebook page.  It’s actually a pretty easy sauce to make, the challenge comes with creating the gnocchi (and as some of you would know, I am piping challenged).

This recipe is from Raymond Capaldi, who is the chef at Hare and Grace, Melbourne.

First of all, I hadn’t eaten Gruyere cheese for ages.  I’d forgotten how good it was, and I may just have cut of a little chunk or two for myself while I was making this.  You can also make this with mozzarella, if you are so inclined.  But Gruyere it was – and it was dead easy.  Cut the cheese into smallish cubes (I managed about 15 or so cubes for the 60 grams) as it will make the initial noise of the cheese hitting the thermomix bowl lessen.

If I had my time again, I’d have the kuzu pre-measured – so do that first before you start cooking anything – otherwise you’ll do what I did and end up with some kuzu sticking to the MC – unless you’re someone who inverts your MC all the time –  which was a bit of a pain.

I still haven’t got around to getting a decent piping bag, so I cheated and used the old zip lock bag, but this time I used a nozzle with it that I had from an icing set.  Worked like a dream, although the mixture can be pretty hot on your hands – even if you let it cool down a little.  When you’re piping the gnocchi, you need to do it in a bowl of iced water.  I’m lucky as I have an ice water dispenser in the fridge, but make sure you have this ready to go – and my suggestion would be to have the water in a large, shallow dish so you can get lots of gnocchi in the one dish, without having to crowd them together.  Mine are in two bowls – one with high sides, which made life difficult for the piping, and one large flat bottomed soup bowl, which actually worked quite well. I started off having some ice cubes in the water, but ended up taking them out as they caused more trouble than they were worth.  You could probably use a lamington tray if you were  going to use the gnocchi immediately, but if you’re planning of keeping them in the fridge in water for a few days then use something you can easily seal.  I have two bowls taking up lots of space in the fridge, as I was too scared to try and move them all into one different bowl…they just look a little too frail.  Might attempt it before I cook them tonight and see how I go.

The pea soup component is so easy – and taste delicious if the spoonfuls I’ve had while cooking it are anything to go by. It has lemon zest in it, which really adds a lovely tang to it.  I’m hoping that Master 3 might even dare to try some – he used to love peas and has gone completely off them of late.  And there’s nothing like the taste of fresh peas – makes you wonder why we ever bother with the frozen kind!

I also took Dani’s suggestion and made the parsley oil to go with this, which I’ll blog separately.  It looks, smells and tastes absolutely beautiful!

So, I’ve just eaten it – absolutely delicious.  The pea soup is lovely and thick and is a lovely shade of mid green.  I think in retrospect I should have piped the gnocchi a little larger, but the good news is that once they are chilled well in the ice water they are a little more amenable to moving! I made mine about 1.30 and cooked them at 7, and stored them in the fridge in water in between.  They firmed up quite nicely, but they are slippery little suckers, so be careful when you’re using the slotted spoon to get them out of the bowl of iced water.

Be sparing with the olive oil when you heat them through before you serve the gnocchi component – they melt pretty quickly – I guess they wouldn’t if they were larger – so use a large frying pan and spread them out so they don’t melt together.  Mine lost their shape a lot, but it also could have been that all the kuzu didn’t make it into the mixture, and I was a bit nervous about adding some extra in as I wasn’t familiar with using it.

I was a little lazy and served this in a large bowl rather than a plate, and if presentation is important to you, I’d definitely use a plate in future as I think it makes the dish look far more impressive.  We were being naughty and eating on the couch, so I didn’t want to risk the whole lot going west – so bowls it was.  Definitely use the parsley oil if you can – it looks and tastes beautiful.  If I had served it on a plate, I could have spread it artistically around the pea soup, but I just put in a few splodges and although it didn’t look pretty, it tasted great!

So – the family review was positive – we’ll definitely have these again! We had this as a dinner rather than an entree and it was quite enough for 2 adults with healthy appetites and a small serve left over for Master 3 tomorrow!

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Entrees, Main meals

 

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Chocolate Crumble with Lemon Butterscotch Sauce and Hazelnut Parfait

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Well, this recipe is well worth the time and the trouble – it is absolutely beautiful.  I’m not sure what possessed me, but I made this for dinner last night, although I started it on Saturday afternoon.  And I thought Mothers’ Day was a day for resting and being waited upon!

This recipe is by Benoit Blin.  He is one of Europe’s leading patissiers, and if this recipe is anything to go by – it’s little wonder.  It was worth the trip to South Melbourne to find the tart rings – I’d do it again in a flash.  I felt like a bit of a food fraud asking for tart rings, as I had no idea what I was looking for – as it turns out, they are like big egg rings – and I’d never seen or heard of them before in my life.  So, in theory you need one 18cm tart ring and one 20cm tart ring, but they only had the 18cm ones in stock, so I had to improvise and use a cake tin for the 20cm part – which actually worked quite well. I’ll keep my eye out for a 20cm ring though, as I think it would make life a little easier next time I make it – and there will be a next time!

Want the recipe?  Check my recipe tab!

The recipe is in a few different elements – which you don’t necessarily have to do in the order that is in the recipe.  I did the crumble first, the caramel hazelnuts second, the chocolate cream third, the parfait fourth, and the butterscotch sauce last.

The crumble is a cinch to make.  Butter (make sure you cube it first or at least chop it into smallish bits), demerara sugar, almond meal (I used some left over blitzed almonds from a slice I had made a while ago and while it could have been much finer, I really liked the almondy crunch!) , flour, cocoa powder (I used some of the cocoa powder I had used for the kirsch ganache – it’s a Dutch cocoa), and a pinch of salt. It makes a rough breadcrumby kind of dough, that you then put in a dish and chill for half an hour before pressing it into a 20 cm tart ring – if you have one.  As I couldn’t get a 20cm tart ring, I bought a gadget called a Profiline Push Pan that happened to be on special at one of the kitchen shops at my local shopping centre.  It’s quite nifty.  What I didn’t do was read the recipe properly and I should have lined the tray or ring, but all things considered it worked pretty well and came out pretty cleanly.  The demerara sugar makes a difference in the taste of the base, so it’s worth buying a bag at your supermarket to have on hand.

The base ended up being about a centimetre thick, and it’s important to have it that thick as you have to press down the 18cm tart ring into the fresh-out-of-the-oven base.  I did, and left the imprint, but then took the ring out, which in retrospect was the wrong thing to do.  I let the base cool for a few hours, and then put the ring back in, which I think was the cause of my chocolate cream leaking out a little.  It wasn’t the worst thing in the world to happen, but it didn’t look as pretty as the one in the picture :-(

I made the base and the chocolate cream on Saturday for serving on the Sunday evening.  I didn’t want to run the risk of a runny chocolate cream, and it set beautifully.

The chocolate cream is very easy to make – I used Lindt 70% cocoa and it worked really well.  The mixture does get a little frothy and I was concerned about the little bubbles in the mix, until I looked closely at the picture in the book, and there was some on that one too – so I didn’t stress!!

The caramel hazelnuts are so easy to make.  Don’t get over enthusiastic when you blitz the nuts – it really is a one second job.  Use a sieve and shake through the powder and set it aside.  In a pan on the stove top, you bring some water and sugar to a rolling boil to make the caramel, then tip in the hazelnuts and coat them with the caramel.  I did find this made loads more hazelnut that I needed for the recipe, so if you’re a bit short on hazelnut, don’t despair.  I’m pleased to report I now have a candy thermometer, which I didn’t get till after I’d made the caramel, so next time there will be no excuses for poor caramel quality!

Making the paste just requires half of the caramel hazelnuts and the hazelnut dust to be blitzed up, which is a quick and easy job.  You use the paste as the basis for the hazelnut parfait.  While I was cooking the parfait (well, while the thermomix was cooking the parfait), I got another bowl, filled it with ice cubes and cold water, and put another bowl on top to pour the parfait mixture in.  Doing it early meant the bowl was nice and cool before I poured the parfait mix in, and chilled it down pretty quickly.  It cooled down within a short period of time, and I then poured it into a sealable tray to freeze.

The recipe calls for you to stir the parfait every couple of hours, and I made this on Saturday night.  I wasn’t prepared to wake up every few hours to stir it, and I’d left my ice cream maker down at the beach, so I was a bit lazy and only stirred it once the next morning, when it was well and truly frozen.  When I went to serve it, it was pretty hard, and I should have taken it out of the freezer 10 minutes or so before I needed to use it, but I microwaved it for 20 seconds, then put into the TM bowl and blitzed for a few seconds until it was beautifully smooth.

The butterscotch sauce was my downfall. but I managed to resurrect it!  I still can’t believe I completely left out an ingredient!!  I wasn’t concentrating – clearly – and put everything in put everything that was supposed to be in the bowl in the bowl, and the set about the toffee-ish part – the glucose and water.  Hmmm, forgot to add the sugar, but of course I didn’t realise that till much later.  So, I added the hot glucose syrup into the hot lemon and cream mix in the thermomix bowl, and did what I was supposed to do – put it in a container to cool in the fridge.  It just looked wrong, and on tasting it was really, really lemony and quite yellow – not the amber colour Dani had written about.  What had I done wrong?  So, I read the recipe again – and realised – to my horror – that I hadn’t put the sugar in.  Epic Fail!!  I did think about starting the whole thing again, but thought I’d try and salvage my disaster first, and then if that didn’t work, make it again.  So, I need up heating the mixture up to 100 again in the thermomix, and as that was happening, just melted down some sugar to near toffee – and then poured it in to the hot lemon mixture… and it worked!!!

The plating up is the challenge – and it was hard to get the 18cm ring out, especially as my chocolate cream had leaked a little.  I ended up leaving it to warm up a little, and then ran a hot knife around both edges, and then pulled up the ring.  Dani mentions you can use a blowtorch, which would have been perfect, but alas the one I received as a gift didn’t come with the butane, and the shop that sells it was closed on Sunday!

I’ll definitely make this again, especially next time I want a dessert to impress!!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Recipes, Sweet Things

 

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Pesce Puttanesca

This is going to be on high rotation in this house – it’s easy, quick, and tastes beautiful!

I had some sugo left from a batch that I made last week to use with the Mozzarella Macaron recipe, and as luck would have it – it was exactly the amount I needed for this recipe.  So yesterday afternoon I decided to attempt this recipe.  Pretty much everything in the recipe is a pantry or fridge staple in this house, and we have a great fishmongers close by.  So off I trotted yesterday afternoon and bought three pieces of rockling.  I hadn’t eaten rockling in ages, and I had forgotten what a great flavour it has.

The sugo was a pretty standard one with tomato, garlic, thyme, oregano and basil and some sugar to take away the tartness, drizzled with some olive oil and cooked in the oven for an hour or so, then blitzed up in the thermomix.  Mixed with a couple of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, olives, capers, and lemon zest, it made a great puttanesca sauce, which you cook down at the same time as steaming your fish.  In the last couple of minutes, you can add some spinach to the varoma tray, and before you know it, dinner is on the table.  You could even use broccoli, broccolini, or other greens instead.  I served with my famous roast potatoes.

Why are my roasties so dark you ask?  Well, I was on a timeline for dinner at 5 so we could eat with our toddler.  Put the roasties on at 4 and about 20 minutes later a friend called to say they were calling past shortly… so dinner was on hold for the grown ups. Master Three ate a pan fried piece of rockling with roasties and carrot.  He wasn’t that keen on the rockling until I named it “chicken of the sea” and then he ate every bit!

I’ve never re-heated roast potatoes before, and these weren’t too bad – they kept their glass like crunch and were fluffy inside – they were just a little on the suntanned side.   In the end we got another fillet of fish and our visitor joined us for dinner as well – she is still in awe of the thermomix, as she is every time she comes to visit.

I was lazy and used lemon rind in large strips, but if you want something finer, blitz your peeled rind first before you cook off your onions and garlic, set it aside and add with your olives and capers. I also wouldn’t usually serve in a bowl but this became a sitting on the couch meal rather than a sitting at the dining table meal!

Absolutely delicious!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Mozzarella Macarons

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I have a siphon!!  It took me ages to track one down, and my usual kitchen haunts had let me down, I couldn’t find one anywhere.  I googled, I internet shopped and finally I ended up at Chef’s Hat in South Melbourne, where there was only one kind left in stock.  It was more expensive than I expected at $155, but I have been desperate to try out a few of these recipes that need a siphon, so I lashed out and bought it for myself for Mothers’ Day – just a little early.

So, I’ve had the siphon sitting there for a few weeks staring at me asking me why I hadn’t used it.  So with a few people coming over and leafing through the “Bites” section of “In The Mix”, I landed on the Mozzarella Macarons.  These are a little weird in that they are not cooked – they are frozen!  So it’s quite a quirky dish.

The stars were aligned, because went I went to the supermarket there was only one brand of Mozzarella in water – and it was on sale.  Marked down from $6.99 for 110 grams to $4.19.  The use by date was only a few days away, but as I was planning to make and eat in the one day, it was perfect.  I bought three containers thinking I’d need to for the 250 grams of Mozzarella, but I got 250 grams in just two containers – so I have no idea where the 110 grams on the packet came from?!?

My first step was to put two trays lined with baking paper in the freezer, to get them really, really cold.  Our fridge wasn’t cooperating, the freezer part wouldn’t fit the trays I had, so I had to use the beer fridge freezer.  Make sure the area you are going to put the trays in is pretty level, otherwise you’ll have oddly shaped macarons.

Because I’d used the leaf gelatine a few weeks ago, I knew it was gold strength – so that was one weight off my mind.  I’d hate to go to all the trouble of making this recipe and then not have the macarons set!

The actual making of the mixture is simple – just remember not to throw out the mozzarella water when you take the mozzarella out of the container.

Once you’ve made the mix, you put it in the siphon and chill if for an hour or so.  Then you have to get up the courage to use the siphon.  I was an absolute novice and it seemed a bit weird to me.  My first lot of macarons were very oddly shaped, and I think I wasted about half of the gas trying to siphon the mix out on an angle rather than turning the whole siphon upside down and going from there.  I also tried the two different nozzles the siphon came with, and I should have stuck with the first one, the plain one.  Although the cream style nozzle did make nice little star shapes, I would have preferred the traditional macaron shape.  So, if you’ve never used a siphon before, turn the whole thing upside down and then press the button to dispense the mix.  I also had to recharge the siphon with another canister half way through siphoning.  This might have been because I didn’t have the courage to completely invert it at first!

I wasn’t thinking when I thought I’d run out of mixture, and thought I had used it all up.  In retrospect, it still felt quite heavy and I was happy with the number of macarons I’d made, so I took the lid off, and put it under the tap.  Hmmm, I could have made about double what I did make – I just should have shaken it a little to get the mixture moving in there.

You’d have to have lots of chilled trays to get everything done in one go – and enough room in your freezer to sit them all, but I left my first lot in the freezer for an hour, then peeled off the baking paper, and concertina folded the discs into layers.I reused the tray for my next lot of siphoning with a fresh sheet of baking paper.  I’m wondering if doing mine in shifts a few hours apart was what made the mixture settle in the bottom of the siphon?   I bet you could even make the macaron discs a few days before your event, if you were so inclined, and kept them in a container on the paper to stop ice crystals forming.

Next time I make these, I’ll also double or triple the amount of tomato sugo I use.  I love tomato and I think these would be even better with more of a tomato hit.

I was in a flurry trying to get these plated up and served because I thought they’d start to melt, but as it turns out, I think they’re best when they’ve been able to warm up a little – say 10 or 15 minutes.  They still keep their shape after that, but can be a little hard to get off the plate. If you serve them too soon you only really taste ice.

I’ll make these again, as I think once you’ve got the siphoning technique down they’ll be a breeze to make – I’ll just have to buy some smaller trays so I don’t have to keep running out to the garage!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Bites and snacks

 

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Blue Cheese Eclairs

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What a weekend for thermomixing – I made three things this weekend for a little gathering we had yesterday afternoon.  I had made the quince paste on Saturday to use in the first recipe I had wanted to make – the Blue Cheese Eclairs. I actually ended up making two batches, as I didn’t like the size of the first lot I made, made a second lot, and then decided that I liked the larger ones I made.

Dani is right – this is a great recipe to improve your piping skills.  I didn’t even use a proper piping bag – I used the cheats way and put the mixture in a zip lock bag and snipped off the corner.  Works every time, and there’s no mess oozing out of the top. My eclairs were on the large side – I got about 15 out of the recipe, so in theory they were twice the size of the ones in the recipe.  I do need some more piping practice though, so I might hunt down some disposable piping bags and see if they make a difference.

I made the first batch on Saturday for a party on Sunday.  I like my eclairs to be a little crunchy, so to make sure they didn’t go soggy, I cut them in half and put them in the oven at about 150 c for about 10 minutes about an hour before I wanted to start constructing them.  I was able to assemble them an hour or so before our guests arrived and they were perfect – and so easy to prepare – some prosciutto, a bit of rocket, and some cubed quince paste.

I have made choux pastry countless times and have always been lucky with making eclairs.  Doing the choux pastry in the thermomix was a first for me – and it worked really well. This was also the first time I have used baking paper to line the tray, and I don’t think the eclairs were as puffy as the ones I have made before – but I always used to grease the tray well, and then put some water on the tray – the theory goes that the steam helps the eclairs rise. They were still pretty good though!

I’m not overly fond of blue cheese, but the flavour isn’t overpowering, and the prosciutto and quince cut through nicely.  In my first batch I used some King Island Roaring 40’s and for my second lot I used a gorgonzola.  For mine, the gorgonzola was a much nicer flavour.

These eclairs would be great for finger food for a party, which is what we used them as yesterday.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Bites and snacks

 

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Quince Paste

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Believe it or not, I’ve only ever eaten quinces twice in my life – and both times were over 10 years ago.  They are such a beautiful colour once they are cooked, whoever would have guessed they are such an ugly looking fruit!!

I’ve also never prepared them before – just eaten the end product.  I noticed they were in season the other day at the greengrocers, and as one of the recipes I have planned for this weekend needs quince paste, I thought I’d do Maggie Beer out of a job and make my own.

The quinces were $3.50 a kilo at my greengrocer, so this is cheap to make.  I’m planning to give away what I don’t need myself to neighbours and family tomorrow.  Next year, if I’ve still got some time on my hands, I’ll make some for the kindergarten fair. One thing to note though, this is a noisy recipe to make, not all of it – but the 50 minutes cooking at the end at speed 5 can start to do your head in a bit…have an iPod ready!

This recipe is based on Jeff Brady’s recipe.  Check his blog at thermomix-er.blogspot.com

If you’d like the recipe, look at my recipe tab on the home page.

Jeff recommends putting your thermomix on a silicon mat when you’re making quince past as apparently the machine can bounce around a bit when you’re making this recipe – I didn’t have an issue with this, but better to be safe than sorry – I can only imagine what a nightmare cleaning up litres of sticky quince paste would be!

If you haven’t cooked with quince before – don’t expect the quince to turn ruby red until the last stages of the cooking.  I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but my thermomix quietened down considerably once the quince paste had reached the beautiful rich claret colour.

You need to wash the quinces thoroughly before you peel them.  They are a little bit furry, so I tried to get as much of the fur off as I could.  I peeled as best I could, and noticed there were quite a few ‘eyes’ in the quinces, so I had to cut some of them out.  I really need to invest in a corer, as the quince flesh is pretty dense and it was a bit of a nightmare coring these bad boys.

Anyway, in this recipe you blitz the skin and the cores up, cook them, and then strain them, so hopefully any bits I’ve missed will come out in the straining. And, of course, you use the actual flesh of the quinces as well.

The quinces are quite a chore to peel and core manually, and this probably took me longer than it should have – that’s where my kitchen inexperience shows.  But I did it, slowly – so slowly that the quinces were already browning before I got to put them in the varoma tray.  Initially, I had all the quinces in one level, but even when the thermomix had reached varoma temperature, I couldn’t see the tell-tale little droplets on the cover, so I quickly stopped it, split the chopped quince between the two layers, and within a couple of minutes I had the condensation droplets on the top, so I was happy.

When it came to the straining, I didn’t use the thermomix basket, as was suggested.  I know quince paste can be a little gritty sometimes, so I wanted to make sure than none of the nasty bits got into my mix.  I used a regular strainer, lined with some wet paper towel and it worked well – except that it took a while, and in the end I got frustrated with waiting that long, so I poured it through the regular strainer, and strained a few times to get rid of all the nasty stuff.

Dani’s recipe suggested 1.5 kilos of quince, which is what I used.  Not sure if I was overly scungy with the getting rid of dodgy bits, but I ended up with 1.38 kilos of useable quince.  Because I hate maths, I used a calculator to work out what amount of sugar I needed to make the paste.  I know I could have done it in my head, but I wanted to be sure – and I didn’t want to have to cut up quinces again. I actually thought that all the quince and the sugar wasn’t going to fit in the bowl, but it did after I used the spatula to push it down a little.

Once the mixture has finished cooking, you leave it in the bowl for 5 minutes to cool down a little.  I took a peek and took the lid off once the timer had gone, and it was like watching Vesuvius – quince lava bubbling away.  I’ve elected to pour it into a tray lined with cling wrap as I don’t want to oil the tray and risk interfering with the taste of the quince.  Definitely do not leave the mix longer than 5 minutes to cool down before you pour it in to the tray or containers you are using – it sets pretty quickly!  Even just on 5 minutes I had to use the spatula to induce some of it out. It’s quite thick, so you have to use the spatula to spread it out, and for good measure I’ve banged it on the kitchen bench a few times to get any bubbles out.  Be careful though, the mixture is very, very hot.

Once you’ve tipped the mix out into the container you are using, get the thermomix bowl and fill it with water to start washing it – it’s much easier to clean when the paste is still warm.

Can’t wait to use this tomorrow for the Blue Cheese Eclairs!

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Recipes, Sweet Things

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

First, let me say – this was a practice!

I have wanted to make this dish for a while, and was actually waiting for a blowtorch (which I have not so secretly let it be known I would like for Mothers’ Day) but today just felt like a lemon meringue pie day to me.  So here it is.  It will be the second time I’ve had lemon meringue pie this week – sinful!

I’m going to start off all grumpy.  I am so fed up with gelatine manufacturers!  All I want is someone to write on their packets what strength the gelatine is, and it seems impossible.  I googled, I went to the manufacturers website, I even got someone else to read the packet it case it was domestic blindness.  It seems I’m not the only person to suffer gelatine rage…just google it!  And the mathematical equation I was given to work out what strength gelatine was not going to work – being numerically challenged anything that involves square root calculations was going to throw me into a meltdown.  So today I’ve used the Gelita sheet gelatine and I hope it’s gold strength, otherwise the curd is either going to be like a rubber bullet or won’t keep its form when it’s plated up.  So, it’s just as well this is just a run of the mill Sunday dinner, or I’d be stressing!

I made the crumb first – which is sort of like shortbread crumb, which you bake AS a crumb.  As I’m typing this, I can look over the kitchen bench and see a lamington tray full of delicious golden crumbs containing almond meal, butter, sugar and flour.  I’ve already sneaked a few and they taste really good!  The leftovers will keep for a little while in an airtight container, so maybe if I don’t eat them all in the next week or so, I might be able to utilise the new blowtorch and not have to make the crumb part of the recipe again.

The lemon curd is a cinch.  I make it regularly in the thermomix, using the recipe from the Everyday Cookbook. It makes the quickest, easiest lemon tart ever – it’s become a family favourite in this house!  This recipe is richer in its egg content and because this is only a practice run, I used frozen egg yolks that I had on hand.  I’d frozen them before I knew the trick about freezing yolks, so they were a little bit thick, so I just blitzed the curd at the end of cooking for about 20 seconds to break up any big egg-yolky bits.  We’ll see if that works once I taste it later on.

I’m not going to make the meringue until I am just about to serve it… but I’m nervous!  The only thing that I’m never fond of is beating egg whites in the thermomix – I usually use my hand held electric beater for it.  The electric beater is the only appliance I still have in my kitchen since I bought my thermomix, and it gets an airing only occasionally.  You know how egg whites can be temperamental at the best of times?  I’m just scared I won’t have cleaned something properly and the egg whites will collapse, but as this is the test run, I’m going to be brave and try it.  And guess what?  It worked perfectly.  This is an Italian Meringue, so it’s cooked,  then piped, and then either grilled or blowtorched. I did make sure that the thermomix bowl was really, really clean before I put the egg whites in, and I think that definitely helped.  I’ve seen that in Dani’s pavlova recipe, they actually recommend cleaning the bowl before you start.

The meringue was a hit.  One family member who shall remain nameless was seen piping the left over meringue straight into his mouth from the piping bag.  And there was a fight over the big bits of the crumb…so I guess you could class this recipe as a success!

When I make it again with my new blowtorch, I’ll be a bit more careful about the size of the tray I pour the lemon curd in to, or use a smaller shape to cut out the curd.  I wasn’t thinking and although I cut my shapes close together, I could only get 4 of the scone cutter shapes out of my 20×20 cm square tin.  If I needed more than 4 serves, I would have been stuck, so make sure you check what size cutter you’re using and the shape of the dish you’re going to pour your lemon curd in to.

As for the lemon curd, I could still see little bits of yolk flecked through the mix, so next time I’ll use fresh egg yolks.  It tasted fine.  I’ll also use a little less of the gelatine, as it was an ok consistency, but I would have preferred something a little less firm.  I’m not sure if blitzing the curd at the last minute to get rid of the egg yolky bits added too much air, but next time I’ll bang the dish with the curd in it a few times on the bench before I popping it in the fridge, as mine was a little bubbly.

When I make it for real next time, I’ll also make a raspberry coulis to serve with it, for some added colour on the plate.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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Hainanese Chicken and Egg

This is a recipe in a few stages, so it does take quite a bit of time – although a lot of it is handsfree, hassle free cooking – one of the things I love most about my thermomix.  You do the basics, set it, press the button, and walk away – and when you come back, dinner is made!  What could be easier?

This recipe is from Trissa Lopez (see her website at trissalicious.com).

I have only had Hainanese Chicken and Egg a few times in my life – but one of them was a meal that stands out in my memory.  I was in Singapore, coming home from a long work trip.  I was exhausted, sick of eating airline food and hotel food, and just wanted to sit on a bed and watch TV and try and feel like I had a life. I saw this dish on the room service menu.  I ordered it, and it was divine.  Real comfort food!  I still haven’t had one that matches the Singapore experience, but this one was pretty good!

If you wanted to make it a little quicker (it takes 3 hours, plus extra time for brining the chicken) you could do the rice the conventional way, or do the poached egg the traditional way.  For mine, I love the way that the thermomix cooks rice AND poached eggs, so I used it for both.  The thermomix poached eggs are a little time consuming…but amazing – and no pan to clean up. I always thermomix my poached eggs now – they are just so good.

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe tab on my home page!

There are four steps to this recipe.  You brine the chicken, then cook that in the flavoured oil that you make.  Then you cook the rice and poach the eggs, then serve.  The eggs are best if you cook them just before serving.

Here are my tips:

I made the brining mixture first.  I always use raw sugar now I have a thermomix, and the salt I used was rock salt.  Because I didn’t want to put the chicken in warm water (which I suspect I would have needed to use to dissolve the sugar and the salt), I put in the the TM bowl to weigh, and then blitzed it for a few seconds to break it down a bit.  Then I poured the mix into a big bowl, and added the wet ingredients.  It must have worked as there was no residue at the bottom of the bowl after the brining was finished.  Brining the chicken makes it amazingly tender, really falling apart kind of tender – delicious!

The flavoured oil is dead easy.  I cleaned the ginger and then cut it into slices – they weren’t too thin.  Once the oil is finished, it takes on a cloudy appearance, so I found it difficult to put the thighs in between the blades.  Next time I’ll empty the oil into another bowl or jug, arrange the chicken between the blades, and then pour the oil over the top.

I used free range, skinless chicken thighs.  Next time I’ll do the skin on, as I think I prefer the crunchy skin once you’ve pan fried them for a few minutes at the end.  If I had have arranged the thighs a little better between the blades, then I wouldn’t have had to keep peeking to see how the cooking was going – I think my prodding broke some of the thighs up a little… I had a few perfect ones, and a few that ended up in pieces.

Rice cooking in a thermomix is a dream.  Perfect rice, every single time!  I think next time I’ll cook the rice in chicken stock rather than plain water, as I think it gives the rice more flavour.  But that’s just a personal preference.

Overall, a good recipe – one that I’d never attempted to make before.  I’m glad I did!!

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Mojito Cheesecakes

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The easiest, quickest, most beautiful cheesecake I’ve had in quite some time!

I’m not much of a dessert eater – give me a savoury dish any day –  but we had our usual Sunday dinner, and we had a birthday boy, so we needed something special to finish the meal off – aside from the left over Easter eggs, of course.  I actually gave the birthday boy a choice between me making the Mojito Cheesecakes or the Chocolate Crumble with Lemon Butterscotch Sauce and Hazlenut Parfait – and he chose the Mojito Cheesecake.  The Chocolate Crumble will appear soon, probably next family birthday, which is only a few weeks away.

The recipe is based on a Tom Aikens recipe and has been adapted by Johanna-Maria Wagner. She blogs at http://www.thepassionatecook.com.  It’s no bake, so it’s really easy.

I am partial to a beverage or two – and I do love a mojito – so the recipe for this piqued my interest on my first scan of the book.  It really, really tastes like a mojito!  Of course, I used the optional rum in the recipe – which really made the taste authentic.

I did have to melt the butter a little longer than the suggested time, but my butter was straight from the fridge.  So do check it’s all melted before you put the biscuits in.

You do need to chill the cream part in the fridge for a few hours before it sets, so do it earlier in the day to make sure it sets properly.  I used small glasses dishes to serve as it is quite rich, but delicious all the same. That said, I bet you could make a great big one in a spring form tin – but you would have to make the slices fairly small, and make sure you chill if for several hours to firm it up – the cheesecake mixture is fairly liquid initially.

I used McVities digestive biscuits for the base – and they were beautiful.  I was able to get them at Woolworths in the normal biscuit aisle.  They were about $4.00 for the pack, which would make this recipe four times – so in the scheme of things, not expensive at all.

I bought the marscapone from the supermarket, but next time, I’m going to try and make the marscapone myself in the thermomix and see how that goes.  I used the stock standard Philadelphia for the cream cheese – since I have had my thermomix I’ve used more cream cheese than I’ve used in my whole life, and always have a couple of blocks in the fridge for quick dips.

I elected to keep the mint leaves in the mixture, but you can take them out before you mix – it’s just personal preference if you want green bits in your mix.

I also took the cheeky way out (the thermomix way!) and just used a potato peeler to peel the zest off the limes and just put them in the thermomix in strips.  Make sure you take off the white bits on the back of the zest with a small knife before you add them into the mix, as they can be quite bitter.  Next time I’ll blitz it a little more as I was still left with a few little bits of zest in the mix, but it wasn’t unpalatable, I just would have preferred something smoother.  I suppose if you wanted it to be really, really smooth, you could pre-prepare the lime zest and add it already done to the mix. I used to hate recipes that required zest in any way, shape or form before I had my thermomix – how things have changed!

This dessert got praise all round – it will definitely be on rotation in this house!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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Salmon Confit with Sorrel Sauce

Salmon Confit with Sorrel Sauce

My first “In The Mix” or Thermomix failure – ever!  Not bad going I guess after two and a half years of ownership, and it wasn’t a complete disaster, maybe I’m just a heathen when it comes to sous vide salmon? Or maybe the fillets I bought were too thick?  And to top it all off, a bad photo to boot.  Just must have been a bad day.  Come to think of it, I did make it on Friday the 13th?!?

I followed the recipe word for word, but to my palate, the salmon was just too under-done for me. I usually don’t mind my salmon very pink in the middle, and I love sashimi and sushi, but maybe I was expecting something more well ummm – cooked.  Or at least warm.  I had already plated the salmon and started to eat it, but had to put it in the microwave for a burst before I could eat all of it.  I put the salmon, oil, lemon rind and herbs in a zip lock bag, squeezed out as much air as I could, and then put it in a sponge tin on the top layer of the varoma.  I struggled to find something that would fit the bag, allow enough water to almost cover the bag, and would fit under the lid of the varoma.  I wanted to use the top tray as I thought then it wouldn’t be such a hassle propping up the dish to leave the steamer holes unblocked.  I’m not sure if using the top tray was one of my mistakes, but I will try it again on the bottom tray and see how it goes.

Anyway, I’ve emailed to check whether there is typo in the recipe and it should be at varoma rather than 100 degrees as is mentioned in the book, so I’ll let you know.

I couldn’t find sorrel – and on googling, it’s a spring crop, so that would explain it – so I used baby spinach instead.  The spinach was lovely, but looked more like a spinach puree than the picture in the book (which I know is probably sorrel, and maybe they wilt down differently). The spinach needed quite a bit of seasoning, so make sure you taste it before you plate it up.

I’m a little greedy and to be honest I never feel like I’ve eaten until there’s some carbohydrate on the plate, so to accompany the salmon and spinach, I made Pommes Anna, which is just a fancy name for thinly sliced potato brushed with butter and cooked at about 200 degrees celsius for about an hour.

So, onwards and upwards.  I’m going to try this again!!

UPDATE!!

Dani has just emailed me – and the temperature is right.  Apparently there are a few variables with this recipe:

- The starting temperature of the water in the TM bowl.  (Mine would have been pretty cold)

- The thickness of the fillets (and mine were on the thick side)

- Air in the bag

So, I’ll give it a crack again this week and let you know how I get on.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Chocolate Honey Truffles

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Oh, what a lovely treat for Easter!  I had to make something choclatey – just wish I had the courage to do it before I did – they are – as my niece would say – Ah Mazing.

The chocolate honey truffles are a snap to make.  You do need to set aside a bit of time for the ganache to set in the fridge, but the actual making of the ganache and the dipping in chocolate part is a breeze. And tempering the chocolate could not be easier in the thermomix.

I actually made the ganache one day, and did the dipping the next day, and that was fine.

I gave some little bags of them to older nieces and nephews for their Easter treats, and some to neighbours as well.  I would have eaten every single one of them myself if I had been given the chance, so I thought the safest bet was to get them out of the house before I burst out of my clothes! My sister had some last night and described them as a really upmarket Caramello Koala – and on reflection – she’s spot on!

Make sure you use great chocolate for this recipe.  I used the Yarra Valley Chocolate Company chocolate – which is a Belgian style coverture chocolate, which produced a really good result. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it!

The recipe made about 70 little truffles – each one as lovely as the next!

The ganache

The ganache is soooo easy to make. Chocolate, cream, vanilla bean seeds, and honey.  I used the honey that I had in the cupboard – and when I make these again I’ll try a different kind.  Not that there was anything wrong with the taste, but I know that honey connoisseurs will disagree!  I put in in a plastic tray to cool on the bench for a few hours, and then transferred it to the fridge to make sure it was really well set. I had ideas of using a melon baller to make perfect little balls, but my idea didn’t work, and I didn’t want to risk ruining the ganache by continually dipping the melon baller in hot water. In the end I just used a teaspoon and wet hands and moulded little spoonfuls into balls. I made all the balls first and put them on silicone paper and stored them in the fridge – it was a warm day here – while I made the tempered chocolate.  They did stick to the paper a little, but all in all I think it was easier to do it like that than making the balls and then dipping them one by one.

The tempered chocolate

It did take longer than the suggested two and a half minutes to melt – which I was a little worried about until I checked Dani’s page on Facebook and saw that some chocolate takes longer than others – and the trick is to make sure it’s completely melted before you mix it to cool it down. The chocolate gets thick again pretty quickly, so the method to my madness was to have the balls already done as I’ve described above, which worked pretty well.  I tried putting the balls on a toothpick and dipping them, but they were too big, so I ended up using a little cake fork, and it worked beautifully.

I put the dipped balls back on the silicon paper and then scattered flaked almonds over the top while the chocolate was still setting.  When I do it again, I’ll have a little bowl of the almonds to dip them in again, and see how that goes.

I did end up with a little (and it really was just a little) of the tempered chocolate left which is still in the fridge.  Not sure if I can re-melt it or if it’s gone… but I wish I had have downloaded the In the Mix App and watched the video about it first…! Dani’s suggestion is to tip it over peanuts sprinkled with a little salt…it looks divine!!

The “In the Mix” App is available through iTunes – and it’s free! It’s only for iPhones at this stage.

Want the recipe?  Check the recipe category on my home page!

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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Chicken Wontons

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I’ve always been a fan of Asian inspired appetisers – I’m the one that can be seen chasing down the Asian inspired bites at most functions we go to! I’ve never really attempted to make them myself though – probably because they are always so beautifully presented, they look a bit too intimidating to the home cook! I decided to bite the bullet and make these – and ideally I would have served them with the chicken consommé that Dani recommends in the book, but after searching my recipe book collection, googling, and asking about, I just couldn’t find a chicken consommé recipe that appealed to me – so, that said – does anyone have a good one? So, I ended up serving them atop some stir fried Asian vegetables, and they were delicious.

My first tip would be to check the best before date on your wonton skins!  I bought mine about a week before I used them, and when I first went to use them realised they had expired a two weeks prior.  I hate that!  Couldn’t be bothered going to the supermarket then and there, and it was only $1.79, but it’s the principle!  Anyway, I was at another supermarket, picked some more up and then made the wontons the following day.  You can find the wonton skins at most supermarkets in the refrigerated section, and they are in small square blocks.

Luckily, I hadn’t thrown out the original pack.  Even though I looked on the second pack, I couldn’t see how many skins were in the pack, and I guessed that one pack would be enough.  WRONG!! So make sure you’re going to have enough.  I ended up channelling my inner mother and used the pack that had past its best before date. (Can you hear my justifying it? It’s best before, not use by!  They’re being cooked, steamed at over 100 degrees, surely that would kill any nasties??) Anyway, I used some of the expired ones, and I’m still here to tell the tale.

I used chicken thigh rather than chicken breast for the filling.  I think chicken thigh is a bit tastier than breast, and as long as you make sure all the sinewy bits are removed, it is fine – and cheaper.  Freezing it for 20 minutes before mincing it in the thermomix makes the mincing easier – well, even easier that it usually is in the thermomix.

I didn’t put chilli powder in this time, but next time I will.  I think I’ll also measure the salt (5 grams) more carefully as I sort of guestimated it, and it needed a little more to my taste.  That said, I did put some soy sauce with them when I served them up, and that helped no end. The 10 grams of coriander leaves is nearly a while bunch worth (or at least it is where I shop – I really need to get my herb garden going again – I begrudge every cent I spend on herbs that you can grow at home).

For easier measuring of small quantities, put the basket in the thermomix and set it to scales, then add the leaves in handfuls rather than small amount by small amount. Don’t forget to look at my previous tips about what to do with your left over egg yolks if you’re freezing them. My wonton wrapping skills definitely need work.  The wonton skins themselves are pretty good to work with, although sometimes they can be hard to peel off the block.  I used my fingernails to try and ease up a corner, and then lifted of the sheet.  Each wonton sheet is about 10 cm square, and a teaspoon of the chicken mixture is adequate.

I’m going to have to find someone to tutor me in the finer art of wonton wrapping, mine all stayed together but didn’t look as pretty as they could have. It’s definitely an art to be able to wrap them prettily. I made the mixture and wrapped the wontons several hours before steaming them.  To stop the wonton skins drying out and buckling, and being super paranoid about chicken, I put them on silicone paper and covered them with a clean, damp tea towel and put them in the fridge.  It kept them nice and moist until it was time to steam them, and I don’t think it did them any harm.

When you’re steaming, make sure you grease the varoma trays first.  I didn’t use vegetable oil as suggested, but gave both layers of the varoma a spray with canola oil, which did the trick.  I used both levels of the varoma tray to fit all the wontons in.  Be careful in placing the wontons, especially on the lower tray, and make sure you don’t over fill it, or cover all the holes.  You need the steam to get through!  I put about 10 on the bottom tray, mostly around the edges to make sure the steam could get through to the top.

I’ll definitely make these again, especially once someone shares an amazing consommé recipe with me…

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Steamed Raspberry Puddings with Jam and Custard





Firstly, apologies for the photos…I had to resort to using my phone after running my camera out of batteries after being snap-happy at a wedding two weeks ago – and I only recharged it today.

These little puddings looked fabulous in Dani’s book, and I’ve always been a sucker for raspberries – they are actually my favourite berry. I’d never made jam but had heard it was a snap in the thermomix, and it was!

I’m actually quite a baker most of the time, but I must admit that I don’t really make most of my batters in the thermomix itself.  I’m not sure why – it might be that I get to see what the batter is doing when I used the old hand held mix master, and I think somehow it gives you a better feel for what’s happening with the mix, and what it needs more or less of. Anyway, I thought I’d give this a try.  We had the usual Sunday family dinner so it’s always the perfect opportunity for me to get the recipes taste tested!

The Jam

As I mentioned, it’s the first time I have ever made jam.  I must have read about it though, as something in the back of my mind was telling me to scrape off the ‘scum’ for want of a better word, at the top of the jam during it’s cooking.  I didn’t, and the jam I made, although really tasty, had a frothy film on the top.  It was fine to use in the dariole moulds as the jammy sauce for the pudding as I knew it would be reheated and melt down again, but if you were making and preserving it, you’d definitely want to get rid of it as it just doesn’t look good.

I used frozen raspberries for the jam, and they were fine.  I looked high and low for pectin in the supermarket, and ended up buying something called Jamsetta.  It’s been around for years, and I thought it was pectin, but the labelling threw me a little – it says “Jamsetta – with Pectin” so I wasn’t sure if it was all pectin or just part pectin.  Anyway, I used the amount suggested in the recipe – 1 tablespoon (to my 300 grams of sugar, and 300 grams of raspberries) and it worked fine – if anything, a little too set for my liking – but I like my jam a bit runny.

The Steamed Puddings

Steamed puddings are pretty easy to make, but I’ve always found them a bit of hassle, worrying that things will boil dry and whatnot.  These were so easy to make.  I used dariole moulds for the puddings.  If I had my time again, I’d mix the butter first, even if it’s at room temperature, and I would use normal white sugar instead of the raw sugar I usually use – or use raw sugar, put that in first and blitz it for a few seconds to fine it up a little. I think it would make the butter and sugar mix a little less grainy. I also found that I needed to get the spatula out a few times to push down the butter and sugar mix, so keep your eye on it.

Naturally, I must have been in a hurry when I was reading the recipe, and didn’t see there was actually a measurement for how much jam you should use in the recipe.  I didn’t see that till later and thought it was going to be a nightmare getting the jam out of the moulds and working out how much more or less to put in… until I had a brainwave!  One of the most marvellous things about the thermomix is the built in scale.  So, I put the varoma basket on top, put one of the empty dariole moulds on it, and weighed it.  Then I just put on the ones that I had put the jam into on the tray individually, and I could work out how much jam was in each.  As it was, I had only put in about half as much as the recipe suggested, so I topped them all up.

The puddings rise quite a bit during the steaming, so don’t overfill the moulds.  I did as suggested and topped them up to about three quarters full, and put the greaseproof paper (buttered) discs on top.  I’d probably make them bigger than the beautifully cut out circles I did, as they looked lovely, but were hard to peel off! When I covered the moulds with the aluminium foil I covered some completely, and others I just covered the tops and pressed it in at the sides to about half the way down the side.  Uses a lot less foil, and there was no discernible    difference in the puddings.

Once you get the puddings out – they are very, very hot.  So wear gloves or use tongs to get the foil off, or let them cool down while you are making the custard.

I had to run a knife around the inside of the moulds just to loosen them a bit, but they all came out beautifully (well, except one – that one was mine ;-))

The Custard

When I first looked at the recipe I thought 6 egg yolks was a huge amount!  I’m quite a pavlova maker, so I always have lots of egg yolks left over and often freeze them…and then throw them out, as I can never find things I want to make that have egg yolks in them, so this was perfect!  As I was thawing the egg yolks, I noticed they looked REALLY thick, and I wondered if I’d done something wrong. So I turned to google, and it turns out that when you freeze egg yolks, you need to add something to them to prevent them going thick and gooey when you defrost them…. who knew?!?  Anyway, I am pleased to report that I used the unadulterated egg yolks in the custard and they worked just fine.

Check out this link if you want to see what you might be doing wrong when you’re freezing egg yolks!  http://www.sunnyqueen.com.au/sunnyqueenrecipes/recipe.cfm?ID=31

Custard – good custard – is one of the best things about a thermomix! No stirring! And it comes out beautifully every single time.  The thick custard in this recipe is lovely, I don’t recall ever making a custard with 6 egg yolks before, and I knew it would be rich, and it was.  The vanilla extract I used (and I always use the paste if I haven’t got real vanilla beans to scrape out) left lovely little black vanilla specks all the way through the custard.  Delicious!

I know the custard was good, because my son was just having some yoghurt now with his lunch, and he asked me for “more custard!”.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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Crab and Prawn Polenta

What a great, quick, impressive dish!  It takes no time to put together, and would be lovely served with a small side salad.  It’s quite rich, so the amount you make would easily be a main course for 4 people – even more if you served a starter.

I had my parents over for dinner the other night – and I didn’t want anything too fussy to serve them.  I was on my own – with a toddler, which meant feeding, bathing, pyjama-ing, and putting to bed as well as getting a half decent meal on the table.  This recipe looked as easy as pie – and really, it is – so simple, so quick, and really, really delicious.

I was a bit lazy and bought the crab meat already shelled and picked.  In an ideal world, I would have liked to have cooked the crab myself, but I just didn’t have time that day. I’ve never cooked crabs or lobster, and I’m going to have to remedy that – soon!

Believe it or not, I had to search high and low for the quick cook polenta.  I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE!  I had some slow cooking polenta in the cupboard, but the quick cook stuff was somewhat elusive.  I ended up getting it at Leo’s Supermarket, even though Woolworths said they stocked it – I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I couldn’t find anyone to help me look for it.  What’s more, they put the slow cooking polenta and the quick cooking polenta in completely different areas of the supermarket, as I discovered when I actually found the quick cook stuff at Woolworths today on my weekly shopping venture.

Anyway, the crab and the prawns were easy to get.  The other challenge ingredient was chervil.  I’ve never cooked with chervil before and couldn’t find anywhere that stocked it – even dried :-(. So while I was at my third greengrocer, I googled it and found a site that recommended using 1 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes, plus one eighth of a teaspoon of rubbed, dried sage.  So that I did. I’m not sure exactly what chervil is supposed to taste like, but the parsley and sage tasted pretty good to us.

I used the Simon Johnson truffle oil, which was lovely.  I also use that for some of my mushroom risottos, one of the Thermomix staples!  It really lifts the dish from good to great.

The polenta is lovely and soupy and is very rich and satisfying.  I loved it, but couldn’t contemplate seconds.  What I did not use, I put into tupperware and had for my dinner the next night, reheated in a steam microwave with the lid on the tupperware.  

My tips for this recipe:

Even if the crab meat says it’s picked and cleaned, do have a look through and give it a bit of a rinse.  I discovered a few gritty bits in mine.

The recipe also calls for the prawns to be cut into 2 or 3 pieces.  Next time, I’d actually leave them whole (deheaded, tailed and de-veined) as the prawns I bought were on the small side.  If you are using King Prawns, you could cut them into two or three, but small prawns cut into two were too small for me, and I like seeing chunks of prawn rather than tiny little bits.

Always use great parmesan and grate it yourself!

Approximate cost of non pantry ingredients for this recipe was:

Ocean Blue Brand Crab Claw – 140g x 2 – total $15.98

Prawns: $5.00

Creme Fraiche: $5.48

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Entrees, Main meals

 

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Beef Stir Fry

I was a bit taken aback when I saw a Stir Fry recipe in Dani’s book – I know my thermomix is versatile, but I had never really considered doing a stir fry in it.

First of all, I’m a bit of a lazy stir-fryer – think already chopped veggies in a bag from the supermarket and the beef strips already cut up by the good folk at Woolworths.  I did attend an Asian cooking class last year with one of my friends, and it was great, but I just hadn’t caught the bug enough to try out much of it at home.  Chucking in some oyster sauce, sesame oil and a bit of soy sauce is about as creative as I have ever been in terms of marinading the meat, and I must admit it’s usually been done as I’ve been cooking the meat, not actually marinading before cooking if you catch my drift.

Anyway, all that aside, I thought I’d give the Beef Stir-Fry a go.  It was a stir fry kind of night, the nights are getting a little bit shorter here, and it was getting cold, so what better than a stir fry?  I also thought it might convince the young Sir to try a few vegetables that he otherwise might not – he didn’t, but that’s another story!

My tips:

Trim the rump/porterhouse really well before you marinade.  You don’t want to eat steamed fat!!

The marinade is great, and I love the way the remnants of it flavour the rice as it’s cooking.  It really makes a tasty rice, which makes a lovely difference from the boring old plain rice I usually do with stir fry.

If I had my time again, I would not put the meat in the thermoserver once it’s cooked.  I’d cover with foil and rest on a plate, as my rump ended up a little over-done for my taste – I always like my meat to be pink. The thermoserver does a great job of keeping the rice hot, but do make sure you fluff it up with a fork before you dish it out into the serving bowls. I think the retained heat cooked the meat a little more than I usually would have done.

The omelette is easy, and quick.  Next time I think I’ll season the eggs a little, and maybe even throw in a few chilli slices and some sliced spring onion, just to see what it’s like.

Now, I happen to not be a huge ginger fan, but I used the ginger as stated in the recipe.  Sadly, the chillies I had bought at the supermarket disappeared somewhere between the supermarket and home – so I ended up using a chilli paste, which I don’t think was as good as the real thing.  Personally, I thought the ginger flavour in the end dish was a little overpowering, but that might just be me.  Next time I’ll reduce the ginger quantity by half.

I used some bok-choi, purple cabbage, and broccolini for my vegetables.  I couldn’t find baby corn anywhere around – I’m guessing it’s out of season at the moment.  I also thought I had some carrots in the fridge, and I didn’t, so I’d definitely use carrot and baby corn next time – it’s just not stir fry without it.  Next time I must remember to cut the vegetables smaller – I was a little pushed for time, so they were a little rough and ready I’m afraid.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Recipe – Herb Scroll

Blogger and restaurateur Madalene Bonvini-Hamel (britishlarder.co.uk) came up with this tasty, filling and attractive bread rolled with a zucchini and herb pesto.  Put the scroll in the middle of a buffet table or picnic spread and watch it disappear, or let the kids rip it apart for their lunchboxes.  The pesto also makes a fresh, light dip, pasta sauce and pizza topping.

Time:  2.5 hours

Serves – 6

Bread Dough

400 grams Baker’s Flour

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

20 grams fresh yeast, or 1 sachet dried yeast

40 grams olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

200 grams lukewarm water

Weigh the flour, rosemary and yeast in the TM bowl.  Blend for 10 seconds/speed 8.  

Add the oil, salt and water.  Blend for 30 seconds/speed 8, then knead for 1 and a half minutes/interval speed.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench or silicon mat.  Neatly and gently fold the dough into a ball to create a smooth top and wrap it in the silicon mat, or place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover.  Let the dough prove for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  Make the pesto while it is rising.

Zucchini and Herb Pesto

30 grams parmesan

30 grams pine nuts

20 grams linseeds

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 small onion, peeled and halved

30 grams baby spinach

40 grams mixed herbs, such as mint, lemon thyme, parsley, basil or oregano

30 grams olive oil

200 grams zucchini, cut into large pieces

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

100 grams soft goat’s cheese

Place the parmesan in the TM bowl and grate it for 8 seconds/speed 10.  Set aside and wipe the bowl out with kitchen paper.

Place the pine nuts and linseeds in the TM bowl and toast for 4 minutes/100 degrees/Reverse/Speed Soft.  Set aside with the parmesan.

Place the garlic, onion, spinach and herbs in the TM bowl.  Chop for 3 seconds/speed 6.  Add the oil and sauté for 2 minutes/100 degrees/Reverse/Speed 2.  Add the zucchini and chop for 5 seconds/speed 5.

Add the parmesan, toasted pine nuts and linseed, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  The mixture must not be too oily or it will make the bread claggy.

Assembly and baking

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Grease and dust a springform tin about 18-20cm diameter with flour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench or mat and press or lightly roll it onto a rectangle about 1.5cm thick.

Spread the pesto in a thin layer over the surface. (You’ll use about 2/3 of the pesto, but the remainder will keep for a week in the fridge).  Sprinkle the goat’s cheese over the pesto and roll the dough into a spiral.  Cit it into 6.  Arrange the spirals in the prepared tin.

Bake in the oven for 55 minutes (cover the top with foil if the exposed pesto threatens to burn).  Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the tin.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Recipes

 

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