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Category Archives: Main meals

Main meals and sides

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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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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Veiled Pilaf

What a great, easy meal for a family!  Loved it, even though in my haste to serve it up I forgot to put the cinnamon and icing sugar on it, and toss over some more currants and nuts.  Sometimes, I am sure I am turning into my mother!

I was all excited about using some preserved lemons my sister had given me a while ago for this recipe, however when I went to use them, I found that the top had gone mouldy, so I had to forget the preserved lemon this time.  It’s a dish I’ll definitely be making again, I think it would make a great picnic dish as well, so once the warm weather returns, it will definitely be on the must make list.

The serving size was just right – we had it as a main meal and it served 4 perfectly.  I served it up with a non thermomix spinach, semi dried tomato and Persian Fetta salad, and it was lovely.

Here are my tips:

Use good chicken stock to cook the rice.  The flavour of the rice is all important in this dish, so if you have home made chicken stock that tastes great, use it!  I didn’t, and used the old Campbell’s Real Stock.  The result was good, but I don’t think you can beat real chicken stock.  (And, believe it or not, I’ve never made the chicken stock that’s in one of the Thermomix recipe books – I promise I will one day, I just get phobic around chicken going bad somehow and fear poisoning my family and friends)  I am not usually a fan of dried fruit in savoury recipes, but this really impressed me – the amount of currants wasn’t overpowering, and were just the right size.  Personally, I think currants are about as big as you’d want to go, although I am considering using chopped up dried cranberries next time.

Dani is right when she says the method of shredding chicken in the thermomix that she describes is the best.  I usually detest shredding chicken, it either takes me an age or I do it too quickly and it looks revolting.  The method she uses, putting the steamed chicken in the thermomix bowl, and blitzing for 5 seconds on reverse/speed 4 is just so easy, and gives a great, consistent result.  I am a big chicken fan, poisoning phobia not withstanding, and I think you could actually use more chicken in this recipe, although you’d probably have to do two lots of chicken steaming, as the 3 chicken thighs cut into three pieces each go a long way in terms of covering up holes in the varoma basket.

Seasoning is all important in this dish, so make sure you taste, taste and taste again to get the seasoning right.

I used two kinds of nuts – just because they are what I already had in the pantry and already opened.  They were almonds (which I blanched and slivered) and pistachios.

I always get a little nervous working with filo pastry.  I was only able to get the frozen stuff – not my first option usually, and it can be a bit difficult to work with, as I find it dries out super quickly.  Make sure you have your melted butter ready to go as soon as you’ve unrolled the filo. I didn’t used the recommended 50 grams of butter – I just melted a little ramekin of butter I already had in the fridge, and I don’t think it was enough, as my end result looked a little anaemic, and i would have preferred it to be a  little more toasty brown.

I used a regular large kitchen bowl from our dinner set as the mould for the pilaf.  It was a nice shape and held the amount cooked perfectly – pure luck on my part!  The bowl is 20.5 cm wide and 6 cm deep if that helps.

I chose to leave the topping sheets of filo ragged rather than tucked in.  To make it look more attractive next time, I’ll skew each of the topping sheets a little to make it look more ragged, and not just like a few sheets of film plopped on as a lid. Presentation fail for me!

Another tip would be to cook it on an oven-proof presentation platter, rather than a baking tray. If you used baking paper, you can tear it off around the edges before serving it up. It would make life much easier than transferring it to a nicer looking platter!

After 10 minutes of cooking, when you take the bowl/mould off the pilaf, it’s pretty easy to do.  Just make sure you use oven gloves, or tongs.  Next time, I might also take the opportunity to put some more butter on it, just to make it brown up a little more.

And, of course – don’t forget the final garnish with the cinnamon, icing sugar and extra nuts and currants!!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Main meals

 

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Spaghetti Bolognaise

Yeah, I know.  Who can’t rustle up a spaghetti bolognaise in an hour?  I decided to make this one after I lent my foodie neighbour my thermomix for the long weekend.  We were going away, and whilst I usually take it with me on trips, I didn’t think I need it.  So – she had three days of possessed Thermomixing, and this is one of the things she made.  She hadn’t eaten it when she dropped off my thermomix, and I couldn’t wait to hear, so I made it myself!

What appealed to me most about the recipe was the ‘hidden’ vegetables.  Because we’d had a long weekend of eating food that wasn’t so healthy, I needed to get some vegetables into my 3 year old, who seems to have an aversion to any green vegetable known to man. And he loved it – ate it all up, without complaint. What a champion!

So, I whipped to the supermarket to buy the meat – not my first preference in the meat stakes, but there you have it.  I was on a mission!

What I first noticed after I’d made it was just how much it made – I’ve been able to freeze some for solo dinner nights and quick meals for my son.  I think it must have to do with the meat that you mince yourself in the thermomix – 500 grams in total – and I’m sure it made more sauce than I usually get with a kilo of supermarket or butcher shop mince.  No doubt it’s because you can choose what goes into it, and make sure it’s trimmed of all the fat. I just love that about the thermomix.

The star anise and the orange make a nice change to the usual tomato overload you can get with bolognaise.  I’ve got to say, it tasted great – if not unusual to me – at first.  But, it was lovely, and, as is the case with so many things, tasted even better the day after!

I don’t think there are many tips for this recipe – aside from cutting the carrot and celery into a few more pieces than three.  I actually used a couple of smaller carrots rather than one large, and maybe it was that that impacted the chopping of the carrot and celery.  Even after the 3 seconds plus 1 second, I still had quite a few large chunks, so I blitzed again for a second and then fished out the remaining chunks.

I served with the recommended parsley and Reggiano Parmesan.  While it didn’t look as impressive as the beautiful picture in Dani’s book, it wasn’t too bad!  I used spaghetti for the grown ups, and served my son the same sauce with mini penne, which he loves.

Just as an aside, I cooked the pasta the traditional way, in a saucepan on the hob.  I have done it in the thermomix in the past, but I find that longer pastas – spaghetti, fettucine and the like – tend to get a bit wound up and can be a pain to get out of the thermomix bowl.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Main meals

 

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