Category Archives: Entrees

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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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


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!


Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Entrees


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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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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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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

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.


Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Entrees


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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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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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Tomato Shots

Photo is coming – – – – I promise!!

The recipe for Tomato Shots is one of the first that got my attention in the book.

First of all, the photo looks amazing.  They are served in little glass bowls with a little tapenade visible, and a sprinkling of dust. Then you read the details and see that they are served with a brilliant tapenade and prosciutto dust.  Just the words prosciutto dust were enough to get me salivating!  I am a real savoury tooth, and anything in the bacon/speck/prosciutto family gets my vote straight off.

There are 3 main components to this dish:

  • Tomato sorbet
  • Tapenade
  • Prosciutto dust
You need to prepare for this recipe – but I bet there isn’t anything stopping you having a few zip lock bags of diced tomatoes in the freezer, especially if you buy in bulk – or – even better – grow your own.
I made the tomato shots and used them as an entree for dinner on Sunday night with the family, serving them in martini glasses.
They tasted lovely, but I think there was too much of a good thing – and believe it or not, it tasted really rich.  I think the best way to serve would be in small bit sized nibbles – so they’d be perfect for a special hors d’oeuvre or amuse bouche.  I’m going to make them again this week and take some photos this time of the way I plan to serve them up – — but you’ll have to wait and see for the picture!  I’ve just cut up the tomatoes this morning and popped them in the freezer, so that might be a project for tomorrow.
The Tapenade
The tapenade recipe is good. I like my tapenade a little chunky, and the recipe makes a chunky-ish tapenade.  It’s very quick and easy to make.  Next time I think I’ll reduce the amount of parsley a little, but that’s more my personal taste.
The tomatoes 

You need to make sure you have really flavoursome tomatoes for this recipe, as they really are the heart and soul of the dish.  Believe it or not, the tastiest tomatoes that I’ve found recently are from Costco.  They come in 1 kilo boxes and you can get the little grape variety or the cherry truss tomatoes.  I had been to Costco where I bought a box, and then I saw this recipe… kismet!

The recipe doesn’t call for peeling the tomatoes as you blitz them in the the Thermomix anyway, but next time I make these, I think I will peel at least half of them – only reason being is that as I use the smaller tomatoes, there is proportionally more skin.

I used lemon zest in my first attempt, and I think I’ll try the lime zest next time.  I’ll let you know what the outcome is!!

The Prosciutto Dust

Oh, how lovely!  All you need to do is effectively ‘dry’ the prosciutto in the oven and then blitz the hell out of it.  One pack of prosciutto from the deli (100g) made quite a lot when you consider you don’t need much per serve.  It keeps in the fridge in a sealed container quite well.

When I’m baking it next time, rather than rest it on the baking paper, I’m going to try and bake it on a cooling rack on a tray with the baking paper under the cooling rack.  I think it might help get rid of all the dampness a little better than just laying it on the baking paper.  Even so, the suggested method works well…it’s just that I love it even more when it’s really, really, crunchy (and who can resist taking just a little bit to try before you blitz it??)

I’m planning to use the left over dust as a garnish on poached eggs, the bulk standard Thermomix mushroom risotto, and  on toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches.

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Bites and snacks, Entrees


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