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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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Recipe – Peach Margarita

IMG_0740With liquor in the cupboard and a Thermomix on the kitchen bench, it’s easy to get a party started.  This blended cocktail has the consistency of a granita, and the punch of a prizefighter (tone it down with extra ice, if desired).  Prepare the icy base the day before or the morning of your soiree.

Peachy Rose Mix

100 grams peach flesh

1 teaspoon rosewater

100 grams sugar

Place the peach, rosewater and sugar in the TM bowl and reduce for 10 minutes/100 degrees/speed 2/MC Off. Blend for 30 seconds/speed 10.  Pour into ice cube trays and set in the freezer.

Sweet and Sour Mix

120 grams sugar

80 grams of lemon or lime juice

120 grams hot water

Mix the sugar, juice and water in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Pour into ice cube trays and set in the freezer.

Assembly

pre-prepared peachy rose mix

pre-prepared sweet and sour mix

270 grams tequila

90 grams triple sec

500 grams ice

lemon or lime wedge

salt, to coat the rim of the martini glass

Remove the peachy rose and sweet and sour mixes from the freezer and place the cubes in the TM Bowl.  Because of the sugar content, the mixtures will be slightly soft, even when frozen, and you might need to scoop them out of the ice cube moulds.

Add the tequila, triple sec and ice.  Blend for 30 seconds/speed 9.

Run a lemon or lime wedge around the rim of each martini glass.  Tip the salt onto a plate and invert each glass, dipping the rims in the salt.  Pour the margarita into the glasses and serve immediately.

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

 

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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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Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse with Passionfruit Curd and Coffee Crumb

Quite possibly, this is the best dessert I have ever made!  Certainly it was voted so at family dinner on Sunday night.  It took a while to make, but the good news is that you can make each of the components separately and assemble them once you’re ready to eat – and you can pre-prepare and make this a couple of days before you need it – so it’s a great dinner party dish, that you could even prepare over a few days if necessary.

This recipe is from Darren Purchese, from Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio in Melbourne.  I’ve never been, but I am going to have to get there one of these days.

I’d be lying if I said this was the easiest dish I’d ever made – in fact I had one aborted attempt at it a few months ago.  Nothing went terribly wrong, but I must have used old cream which went to soft peaks in a matter of seconds, so once I added the caramelised white chocolate to it and mixed it in, it almost went to butter and sort of split.  It still tasted amazing but it didn’t look so good. Hence, this attempt.

It’s not difficult as much as it can be time consuming, and making the mousse you need to watch, watch, watch that cream.  I heard just the other night at a thermomix cooking class that the older the cream (that is, the closer it is to its’ use by date) the quicker it turns to butter.

What got me started on this recipe again was seeing passionfruit down at the greengrocers the other day.  When I had been going to make it before, they were not available, so I had bought two small tins of the John West Passionfruit Pulp.  I tried to find the passionfruit puree Dani mentions, but could only find it in large quantities – now I know this recipe is so good I’m tempted to buy it – but waste not, want not – I used the tinned pulp and scaled down the added sugar component in the curd recipe.  It still tasted fantastic.  My only criticism of it was that the seeds didn’t keep the lovely golden orange bits around them and ended up looking a little like mouse poo – hence why you don’t see them as a garnish in the photo.

Caramelised White Chocolate

The caramelised white chocolate is pretty easy – a bit of powdered milk and lots of white chocolate.  I was momentarily thrown about how I would work out what the fat content was of the powdered milk, but somewhere in the back of my mind my mathematic skills returned and the easy way is to look for one that has about 3.5 grams of fat per 100 mls of milk.  I used the Sunshine Full Cream Milk Powder and it was fine.  It goes without saying – the better quality white chocolate you use, the better the result will be.  I skimped a bit on this recipe, not because I’mm cheap, but because the supermarket had run out of the really good white chocolate.  The result was still sublime, so I can only image how good it would taste if you used amazing chocolate as a base. I had a few hard lumps in my caramelised chocolate, but nothing that caused any issues.

I left my caramelised white chocolate to cool but not to go completely cold.  Likewise, I don’t think I’d be adding it to the cream mixture if it was too hot – I think this might have played a part in my downfall last time.  So be prepared to do the caramelised white chocolate and the subsequent mousse within a few hours of each other, or you could be courting disaster (well, maybe not disaster, but something that may not look so great).

Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse 

When it comes to whipping the cream in the thermomix, remember less is more!!  And do pay attention to the use by date on your cream – and watch it like a hawk.  Even if it doesn’t look like it’s thickening up, it us – so stop the thermomix every little while and check on the progress of the cream.  I really erred on the side of caution this time and took it very slowly – even slower than the speed 3 that was recommended.  It took some extra time, but it was time I was willing to take as I didn’t want to repeat my previous mistake!

Passionfruit Reduction

As I mentioned before, I had a bit of a cheat in this recipe and used (gasp!!) the John West Passionfruit Pulp.  It worked perfectly, but make sure you reduce the sugar content in the curd component otherwise you’ll end up with it being far too sweet.

Even after reducing, mine was a lot more than 75 grams, so I have put the remainder in a zip lock bag in the freezer, as I know I’ll be going this again before too long.  I think it should freeze ok.

Passionfruit Curd

This is almost like lemon butter, but it’s just passionfruit butter without the seeds.  It tastes absolutely incredible.  The fat in the butter means that the flavour stays in your mouth, and it’s such a beautiful flavour.  I can imagine it would be fantastic too in between layers of sponge – yum!!

Be careful with the leaf gelatine and don’t let it soak too long in the cold water, and make sure the water is pretty cold, or the whole thing will disappear before your eyes.  Three minutes was just about perfect for the leaf I used.

Once you pour the curd into a container and put it in the fridge, you let it cool for a few hours.  It really sets quite firmly.  Once it’s like this, the you put it back into the TM bowl with the butterfly in, and it whips it up to a beautiful light fluff and smooths it out completely.  I bet you find yourself licking the butterfly!!

Coffee Crumb

Our whiz bang coffee machine that grinds the beans for us was going to be the death of me – I couldn’t work out how to just get it to grind the beans, but not to make the coffee.  Derrr – I just grabbed 10 grams of coffee beans, threw them in a clean TM bowl, and ground those bad boys up in a matter of seconds.  Perfect!!  All the other components of the crumb are really straightforward and the recipe makes a lot more than you’ll need for your desserts.  It stores quite nicely in an airtight container, and is quite delicious sprinkled on ice cream.

I didn’t pipe the curd or the mousse into the glasses I served it in – but it still looked ok and of course tasted absolutely phenomenal!

So, in summary – one of the best – if not THE best dessert – I’ve ever made.  Do give it a go!!

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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Pavlova

I’ve always been sceptical about the ability of the thermomix to beat egg whites.  I’ve done it a couple of times with mixed results, but we all know how fiddly egg whites can be – and how they hate the merest speck of yolk, oil, water… whatever. Sometimes I think they just don’t like me!!  Personally, I have nearly always used my hand mixer to do egg whites – mainly because I like to be able to see how they are progressing and just how ‘peaky’ they are, but yesterday I relented and decided to make Marg Rossi’s Pavlova.

I am a huge fan of pavlova – it’s one of my fail-safe crowd pleasers and so, so easy to make. I say this as someone who has always had the pavlova knack – but some of us are born lucky in that department, and others are miserable failures.  Don’t think I’m smug, I can rattle off a list of a million things I’m bad at, but pavlova won’t be on it.  I usually use Delia Smith’s recipe – which is literally egg white and sugar and nothing else, and the only look in the thermomix gets it to mill my raw sugar down to caster sugar.

There are also two distinct pavlova lovers – one that loves the whole thing to be crunchy, and the other who loves a crispy outer shell and marshmallowy gooeyness underneath.  So, depending on your preference, this might just be the recipe for you!

To make sure your egg whites will fluff up, it’s imperative you have a scrupulousy clean bowl and lid.  Do this after you’ve milled the sugar down.  I actually put mine through the dishwasher, and then did the recommended vinegar clean as well, with the butterfly in place to make sure the butterfly was squeaky clean a well.  I must admit, I was delighted when the egg whites whipped up as I was scared that I was going to waste the 225 grams of egg white.  To make you really jealous, I actually used egg whites I had frozen previously, and they stood at room temperature to thaw out for a few hours, not the up to 24 hours that was suggested in the recipe.  Call me a daredevil!!  I needed to see that it could work if they were a little cold, as I mentioned previously – I see a pavolva as a great short notice dessert that you can make when you’ve got practically nothing in the cupboard, and getting egg whites to room temperature for 24 hours isn’t possible or practical a lot of the time at my house.

Because there is quite a lot of egg white in this recipe and quite a lot of sugar too, it makes quite a large pavlova.  It also spreads quite a bit, so make sure you pile your meringue high and dome-ish, rather than they way I usually do, where I shape it to the way I want it to be when I pull it out of the oven.  I’m not sure if this was just the way mine turned out, but the mixture was a little looser than my usual egg white and sugar only version.

I’ve heard that the trick to the gooey centre is to leave the pavlova in the oven once you’ve turned the oven off – but I’m not sure how true that is.  It certainly does seem to work from the experience that I’ve had.

I really liked the vanilla essence in the mixture, but it wouldn’t be necessary if you are not a vanilla fan.  I love vanilla, and recently bought a massive tube of the lovely vanilla bean paste at Costco – such a deal compared to the $10 for the little jars I had been buying at the supermarket.

So – what was it like?  Well, it looked amazing – perfectly smooth and a lovely light gold colour.  I was thrilled!  Then when I went to lift it off the baking paper, it just wouldn’t budge.  It cracked. And what was underneath felt really, really super gooey.  I peeked under and there was a caramelised saucy liquid, which, to my knowledge means that I hadn’t incorporated the sugar and egg white well enough, or there was too much sugar for the egg white.  Whatever the cause, I erred on the side of caution and put the oven on again at about 100 degrees for another 20 minutes, and let it cool down again.

I was very nervous about getting the pavlova off the baking paper again, so I was a complete lightweight and left it on the baking paper.  Presentation fail, but it was only for family dinner on Sunday night.  If I had been taking it somewhere I would have at least trimmed the baking paper off and worked more on the presentation.

I wasn’t optimistic about the end result, and against every bone in my body willing me to bin it, I put the cream on it and served it up… where it was, I must admit, completely delicious and not a bite was left.  There was still some syrupy caramel sauce, but the family all agreed this was the best pavlova I’d ever made…And that’s really saying something!!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Sweet Things

 

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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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