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Main meals and sides

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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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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Recipe – Carrot Falafel

Time – 1 hour – unless you want to soak your own dried chickpeas – then allow another 8 hours for soaking.

Serves – 6 (I made about 25 falafel balls)

Carrot Falafel

Zest of 1/2 lemon, peeled into long strips

20 grams rice, any variety, depending on preference

150 grams dried chickpeas (soaked for 8 hours) or 2 cans (total 800 grams) washed and drained chickpeas.

200 grams carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 shallot, or 1/2 a red onion

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon baking powder

handful of parsley leaves

salt and pepper, to taste

vegetable oil, for frying

Place the lemon zest in the TM bowl, along with the rice.  Process for 20 seconds/speed 10.  Add the drained chickpeas, carrots, shallot or onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, baking powder, parsley leaves and salt and pepper, and blend for 10 seconds/speed 6 to form a coarse paste.

Form the falafel mixture into golf ball sized spheres and place them on kitchen paper to dry out for 20 minutes or more.

To cook the falafel, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan or fry pan.  (Deep or shallow fry are both fine). Cook the balls from a few minutes until crisp and golden brown.  Drain on kitchen paper before serving.

Salad

100 grams carrot, peeled

100 grams fennel

100 grams very crisp pear (no need to peel)

20 grams honey

1 teaspoon fennel seads

handful of mint leaves

30 grams olive oil

20 grams lemon juice

salt, to taste

30 grams currants

100 grams baby spinach, or other salad leaves

Place the carrot, fennel, pear, honey, fennel seeds, mint leaves, olive oil and lemon juice in the TM bowl.  Season and chop for 2 seconds/speed 5.  Scrape down and chop for a further 1 second/speed 5.  Place win a bowl and toss with currants and salad leaves.

Tahini Dressing

200 grams sesame seeds

200 grams Greek Yoghurt

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

Mill the sesame seeds in the TM bowl for 30 seconds/speed 10.  Scrape down, then add the yoghurt, lemon juice and 50 grams of water.  Mix for 30 seconds/speed 3.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice or water, if desired.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Main meals, 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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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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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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