Monday, December 29, 2008

Beetroot, Dill & Caraway Rye Bread

Joanna over at Gourmet Green Giraffe has a painful account of struggling with the directions to make this wonderful bread which she found in New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant. This is a beautiful bread to look at and to eat, the beetroot pieces glisten a vibrant ruby when you slice it. With the fragrances of dill, caraway and molasses, it can be difficult to decide if this is a sweet or savoury loaf - you choose, either way it is delicious. My apologies to everyone involved for further simplifying the method, I don't think it compromises the finished product too much and it is certainly easy to make doing it like this with the Thermomix. The most difficult part of the recipe is waiting for the dough to prove for two hours. And thanks to Joanna for bringing this one to the light of day. For a lighter bread grind up whole wheat, but if you are a dedicated rye lover then go with the whole rye grain and enjoy a heavier texture.
Beetroot, Dill & Caraway Rye bread
100g rye grain (or any other whole grain eg wheat or spelt)
1 beetroot (150-200g) peeled and quartered
15g fresh dill
2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
300g bakers flour
100g rye flour
40g blackstrap molasses
100g boiling water
100g room temperature water
20g olive oil
1 sachet of instant yeast (7grams)
1 teaspoon of salt

Measure grain into your thermomix bowl and mill on speed 10 for 40 seconds
Put the resulting flour to one side in a bowl.
Place your dill and beetroot in the Thermomix bowl and grate on speed 5 for 2 seconds or until it is coarsely grated.
Add blackstrap molasses, all the water, caraway seeds, flour, oil and salt (all the remaining ingredients) 
*Make sure you add the yeast last to avoid killing it with the boiling water
Mix on speed 5 for 10 seconds
Knead on interval setting (the wheat symbol) for 4 minutes
Add a tiny bit of room temperature water if you need to, but only add a small amount at a time, as it is easy for this dough to become quite sticky. 
Tip out the resulting dough and form into a ball by hand, clean the Thermomix blades by pulsing on turbo and collect the flicked out dough adding to the main mass.
Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, put your ball of dough in and cover with cling wrap (oil the cling wrap to prevent the dough sticking to to it. Leave in a warm spot eg a sunny windowsill for an hour. 
After an hour your dough should have doubled in size, knead it by hand briefly and slice the dough into three equal pieces. Form into three balls and tuck these into a large bread loaf tin. Sprinkle liberally with caraway seeds. Leave the tin for another hour covered by cling wrap that has been brushed or sprayed with olive oil on the inside surface. 
Preheat your oven to 200˚C and leave a heavy baking tray in the bottom to heat up as well.
After the second hour, the balls should have risen considerably, remove your cling wrap, splash with water. Handle the tin gently so as not to deflate the bread. boil the kettle.
As soon as you put the bread in the oven, pour a cup of boiling water in the hot baking tray at the bottom of the oven, shut the door quickly to keep the resulting steam inside.
Bake for about 45 minutes at 200˚C until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it and when a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Turn the loaf out onto a cake rack to cool. Don't slice this until it is completely cool.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Parmesan Grissini

It has been a little while since my last post, and I think these grissini are the perfect way to break the drought. This recipe is from Made in Italy: Food and Stories, the quite lovely book by Giorgio Locatelli. For me, Italian breadsticks are a promise of something more... an introduction to a leisurely meal in the shade on a sunny day, happy days with a cold glass of beer and an idle nibble on a grissini or two or three. It's not really a serious entree, just something to do while you unwind and wait for the real food to come along. 
And just as appealing is the impressive spectacle that these 40cm long, hand made beauties create. Knobbly, twisted golden brown sticks with a rustic untamed appearance that cannot fail to impress. A glass filled with these grissini in the centre of the table is indeed a beautiful sight and for this reason alone it is worth firing up the Thermomix and to start baking.

Parmesan Grissini
75g ungrated parmesan cheese
50g unsalted butter
200g whole milk
1 Packet of dried yeast
375g bakers flour
10g sea salt

Chop the parmesan into walnut sized cubes, place into the Thermomix bowl and grate on speed 10 for 4 seconds
Transfer the grated parmesan into a bowl and set aside
Rinse out the Thermomix bowl and dry

Place the butter in the Thermomix bowl and chop on speed 5 for 2 seconds.
Melt the chopped butter at 90 degrees on speed 1 for 2 minutes
Add 200g of whole milk and your Thermomix bowl temp should be registering 37 degrees
Add your packet of yeast, flour, salt and parmesan. Stir on speed five for 3 seconds
Now knead the mixture on interval setting (the wheat symbol) for 4 minutes. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and stretch into an A4 sized rectangle
Work your way over the entire surface of the dough making deep indentations with eight fingers at once.
When the surface of the dough is covered with indentations, fold it in half  turn it ninety degrees, stretch it out to an A4 sized rectangle and repeat the indentation making process again.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Turn on your oven now to 200 degrees.

Repeat the dimpling and folding process and leave to rise in the covered bowl again for another 30 minutes

Cut the dough in half and roll each half out into a large rectangle about 30cm or more on its long side.
Slice this rectangle of dough into 1cm wide strips, 30cm in length.

Now roll the strips one at a time on the work surface with your hands to form long thin sausages
Press down on one end to create a flattened spoon shape.(I don't know why)

Place on a non stick baking tray, big enough to accommodate your rather long breadsticks and rest them for 10 minutes.

Bake for ten to fifteen minutes until golden brown, keep checking them.

The result is truly magnificent, these grissini are totally impressive. Serve a bunch of these standing in a glass and watch them disappear.
Giorgio Locatelli says these breadsticks make great breadcrumbs, but we have never had any left over. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Spring is a great time for dips and salads, so today in celebration of the warm weather we had a salad. Roquette, cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum and tuna with lashings of babaganoush on top.
The best thing about cooking babaganoush is you get to be a bit primitive, charring the eggplant on the open flame. I remember my surprise at the smoky flavour of this dip on my first encounter and I'm not sure that I immediately loved it. But I char with gay abandon these days filling the kitchen with an aroma reminiscent of marijuahna burning (so I am told). 
The smoky richness of babaganoush goes well with salads, barbecued meat and fish, especially lamb or just plain old carrot sticks, pita bread or water crackers. 

1 medium to large eggplant (aubergine)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 clove of garlic
75 grams tahini
75 grams olive oil
50 ml water
Half teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 large lemon

The smoky flavour of babaganoush is developed by placing a whole uncooked eggplant directly onto the gas flame of your stove top. Turn the flame on full and let the eggplant cook until it is charred on the underside then turning it over with a pair of kitchen tongs repeat the process on the other side. You will find the peeling process, which comes next, easier if the eggplant is well charred, so don't pull it off the stove too quickly.
Once this is done, put the charred eggplant aside in a bowl to cool 
Dry roast your cumin and coriander in a heavy based pan until they darken slightly and release their aroma. 
Place the seeds in the Thermomix bowl and grind on speed 10 for 60 seconds
Add the garlic and chop on speed 7 for 5 seconds or until evenly chopped
Now that the eggplant is cooled slightly, peel the charred skin away. Make sure that you leave as much of the browned layer beneath the charring as possible, this is where the flavour is. 
When you have removed all of the skin, cut off the stem and place the eggplant in the Thermomix bowl. 
Add the other ingredients ie tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, water
Blend on speed 5 for 30seconds.
Turn out into a bowl and sprinkle with soumak more for the decoration than for flavour
Eat whilst still warm (which I think is the only way to go) or at room temperature.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Za'atar Bread

They say you recognise soulmates from past lives by their smell. A hint of something familiar, alluring, attractive or comfortable caresses your nostrils, the earth moves and you remember. For the past week I had the flu and my sense of smell (and taste) deserted me.  I spilled half a bottle of tea tree oil on the floor and could smell nothing- no smell, nothing at all. I could have met a thousand soulmates and passed them by without a clue. So you can imagine that eating food was nothing like what it should have been either: salty, bitter, sour, sweet but nothing in between. What a strange world it is without smells, happily removed from and oblivious to the stinky things in life, but isolated from the pleasures that smell brings without really knowing it. Anyway my sense of smell is back and the richness of life awaits.

Za'atar is a herb mixture from the Middle east which is used to flavour kebabs, chicken, fetta cheese and more. However I know it best as the distinctive aromatic topping on Middle eastern herb bread. Za'atar lends piquancy and a herby aroma to the bread and it is very addictive. You have to love anything that starts with a Z don't you?
Soumak is the only ingredient which might be unknown to you. Well perhaps you might know it as the tangy red speckles on Arnott's barbecue shapes.  It is a crimson red powder with a sharp lemony tang and is available at the Queen Vic market or at middle eastern grocers. 

Za'atar Herb Mix
15 grams Sesame seeds toasted
35 grams Soumak powder
10 grams Oregano
10 grams Marjoram
10 grams Thyme
1 teaspoon Seasalt

For za'atar you will need to toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying-pan on the stove. The Thermomix isn't set up to cook at such high heat because of the damage this does to the food, but despite the damage, toasted seeds do taste very nice. Put the seeds in a cold pan and place over high heat, agitating the pan constantly to brown the contents without burning. When the seeds are toasted to a light brown remove them to the Thermomix bowl immediately to prevent burning.  
Empty your packets of herbs and the salt into the Thermomix bowl. I actually used packets of herbs that weighed 8 grams and didn't fuss about finding the extra 2 grams. 
Pulverise all of the ingredients on speed 10 for 30 seconds or until you have a fine powder.
Pour your za'atar powder into a screw top jar.

Za'atar Focaccia Bread
I followed the recipe from the Australian Thermomix Cookbook, but I did find I needed to add quite a bit of extra flour because the dough was sticky.
200 g boiled water
200g cold water
1 sachet of dry yeast
20g olive oil
500g white bakers flour
Pinch of salt

Place water in the Thermomix bowl add the oil then the yeast. Mix for 5 seconds on speed 6
Add flour and salt and mix for 20 seconds on speed 6
Set dial to closed lid position and knead for 2 minutes on interval speed
Add extra flour as the dough kneads if it feels sticky.
Remove dough from the Thermomix and leave covered in a warm place for up to 1 hour to rise.
After an hour take a large sheet of silicone baking paper and on it stretch your dough into an A4 sized rectangle.
Dip your fingers in flour to stop them sticking and press all eight fingers into the dough to make a line of indentations without going all the way through. Repeat until the entire rectangle is covered in indentations.
Fold the dough in half, stretch out to an A4 sized rectangle again and repeat the indentation process. 
Repeat two or three times and then leave the A4 sized rectangle with indentations covered with a teatowel or gladwrap to rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 220˚ C
Sprinkle the dough heavily with your za'atar powder and drizzle liberally with olive oil, don't hold back, the herb powder needs to be moist with the oil.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

We made tuna, rocquette, red capsicum and parmesan cheese sandwiches with this bread and they were magnificent. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Savoury Steamed Custard

I saw this recipe in The Age Epicure last week and had wanted to prepare it for the family. Alas no-one seemed too thrilled about the idea of a savoury steamed custard except me (and I had my doubts as well) So tonight everyone else is sick, getting sick or getting better from being sick and I am left to prepare dinner for myself. I have decided to go ahead and make savoury custard for one.
I don't know why I had doubts, this was really good and quick to prepare... a lovely, simple pleasure. Thank-you to Elizabeth Chong for this recipe Age Epicure 26/9/2008.

Jenny Lee's Savoury Egg Custard (with a few small changes)
1 teaspoon dried shrimp
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
luke warm water
60 g minced pork
50g spring onion snipped into 4 cm lengths
Toasted sesame oil
Oyster sauce
250 grams of basmati rice
600-800 grams of brocolli florets (enough for four people)

Chop the shrimp on speed 10 for 5 seconds, then add the spring onion and chop on speed 6 for 2 seconds or until it is chopped finely.
Add your eggs, minced pork and 100ml water to the bowl, beat on speed 3 for 5 seconds
Pour the egg mixture into four individual ramekins or small bowls and rinse out your Thermomix bowl with cold water. 
Fill your Thermomix bowl with 900 grams of water. 
Add the basmati rice to your steamer basket, wash under the tap and place the basket in the TM bowl.
Fit the Varoma onto the top of the Thermomix. Place the ramekins into the Varoma, you will probably have to take out the tray and place them in the bottom section.
Cook on Varoma temperature for 15 minutes, taste the rice, it should be done and if so remove it to your Thermoserver.
Put as much broccoli as will fit in the now empty steamer basket and the remainder in the lower section of the Varoma with the ramekins and steam for a further 5 minutes.
When the custards are cooked, serve them up with a good sprinkling of toasted sesame oil and a dessertspoonful dollop of oyster sauce. Unlike every other oyster sauce I have looked at, housewife brand has nothing artificial in it, so I use that.
Serve with rice as part of a larger meal as Elizabeth suggests, or if you want to do it how I decided to have it... with a big bowl of steamed broccoli and a bowl of plain rice.
Simple pleasure. (Serves 4)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Steamed Blue-eye with Chermoula

Make up a batch of chermoula and you'll find a million ways to use it. This paste of middle eastern herbs and spices is wonderfully fragrant and goes well in a variety of dishes whether they be roasted, baked, steamed pan fried or barbecued. Use chermoula as a marinade, a stuffing, curry paste, as a filling for bread scrolls or as a pasta sauce, it is versatile and completely delicious. This steamed fish is based on a Neil Perry recipe in 'The Food I Love' and is an impressive way to start steaming. If you haven't started using the Varoma you are really missing out, so get going with it. You don't have access to good fish? Use chicken breast fillets bashed flat with a rolling pin instead. For vegetarians, do warm chermoula  poured over steamed or roasted vegetables and rice. 
You need to steam this fish in a bowl of marinade inside the varoma, so make sure you select a bowl or flat dish that can sit securely inside the varoma without rocking or wobbling. The bowl can go either on the tray (up the top) or on the bottom with the tray removed. 
Rind of a lemon peeled with a vegetable peeler
10g cumin seeds
10g turmeric (ground)
1 tablespoon of chilli flakes
5 grams sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of seasalt
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves
70gram flat leaf parsley
40g coriander leaves stems and roots (washed well)
150g extra virgin olive oil
20g lemon juice

Place lemon rind in the Thermomix bowl and grind for 20 seconds on speed 9
Empty the bowl and put the lemon rind aside
Add cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli flakes paprika and salt to the Thermomix bowl and grind for 30 seconds on speed  8 or until the spices are powdered.
Add garlic cloves and process for 3 seconds on speed 6
Add coriander and parsley, onion, olive oil and lemon juice processing for 15 seconds on speed 5 or until a smooth paste has formed.
Scrape the resulting chermoula into a bowl, leaving 100g in the Thermomix bowl for the Blue-eye marinade.

Steamed Blue-eye with Chermoula
100g Chermoula
30grams of honey
10grams of lemon juice 
100g water
Grated lemon rind (reserved from chermoula recipe)
2 Blue-eye fillets 200g each
200g basmati or jasmine rice
Broccoli and snow peas

Combine all ingredients except the lemon rind in the thermomix and mix on speed 3 for 5 seconds. 
Place your fish fillets into a bowl or plate, pour the chermoula mix over the fish and top with grated lemon rind. 

Measure 200g rice into steamer basket and rinse under running water
Measure 500g water into the Thermomix bowl and place the basket of rice in on top
Close the Thermomix lid and place the varoma on top
Put your bowl  of fish into the varoma and on with the lid
Cook for 15 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 4

When there are eight minutes to go, being careful not to spill the fish marinade, add brocolli florets to the varoma and allow to steam, then add the snow peas in the last 2 minutes.

Neil Perry says a flat fillet of fish will only take 4-5 minutes to steam and this has also been my experience. So if using flat fillets rather than chunky ones, leave the bowl of fish out of the varoma until the last 6 minutes of cooking time.

Serve on a bed of rice with marinade poured liberally over the top, place broccoli and snowpeas on the side. Magnificent!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Steamed Seafood Nori Rolls

I have been promising to post this really special steamed nori roll for a few weeks now. This dish was one of the many gorgeous offerings at the Melbourne restaurant, Madam Fang when it still existed. I don't go out to dinner much these days and I haven't even looked down that lane where it used to be, so I like to pretend its still there.  In my mind I walk in and have it all again: steamed seafood nori rolls to start, silky bantam poached in coconut stock for main and glutinous black rice for dessert. 
How lucky are we that Beh Kim Un from Madam Fang published this recipe in the Sunday Age, an eternity ago, and my wife cut it out and filed it away. So thank-you to Kim, I am grateful to you.
Cook these as a starter for your next dinner party, they are easy to prepare beforehand. Just pull them out of the fridge and let the Thermomix do the cooking while you enjoy the company of your friends. 
Prepare the cashew cucumber dipping sauce first for the most efficient use of the Thermomix and your precious time. 

Cashew Cucumber Sauce
50g roasted unsalted cashews
1/4 onion
3 coriander roots
100g palm sugar broken into walnut sized pieces or brown sugar
60g cucumber chopped into 4cm pieces
60g lemon juice
50g fish sauce

Add cashews to the Thermomix bowl, lock the lid and pulse on turbo two or three times until the cashews are roughly chopped. Put these cashews aside in a small serving bowl.
Add onion, coriander roots and palm sugar into the Thermomix bowl
Pulverise on speed 10 for 5 seconds
Add cucumber and chop on speed 5 for 1 second

Add lemon juice and fish sauce, stir on speed 1 reverse blade until sugar is dissolved
Pour the sauce over the chopped cashews

Steamed Seafood Nori Rolls
300g Gemfish fillet or any mild white fleshed fish without skin
200g shelled prawns (about 10 large prawns)
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 red chilli 
6 coriander roots
3 cloves of garlic
10 kaffir lime leaves
2 egg yolks
50 ml fish sauce
1 packet nori sheets
1 sushi mat (bamboo mat to roll nori rolls with)

If you bought prawns in the shell, you need to shell and devein them now.
Chop the lemongrass with a knife, (shock horror you still need one sometimes) into two centimetre lengths and place in the thermomix bowl
Add chilli, coriander roots, garlic and lime leaves
Chop on speed 10 for 10 seconds. Doesn't that look beautiful, don't forget to smell it!
Roughly chop your fish (with a knife)
Add the fish chunks, prawns and egg yolks to the Thermomix bowl
Process for 15 seconds on speed 7. You should now have a smooth fragrant paste.
Lay a nori sheet on your sushi mat and with a kitchen spatula, spread the paste on the nori along the edge closest to you in a strip 3cm wide and 2cm high. 
Roll up the nori sheet around the fish paste to form a firm cylinder. The nori will probably form a double layer or more around the fish mixture.
You should end up using about five nori sheets ie five rolls.
Put 1000g of water in the Thermomix bowl, Put the varoma in place, lay the nori rolls on the Varoma tray, putting one in the bottom part of the Varoma if they don't all fit. 
Cook on Varoma temperature speed 3 for 18 minutes

Slice the nori rolls into four centimetre lengths. Serve warm or at room temperature, dipping in cashew nut sauce or better still, pour the sauce over the top.

Fennel and Tomato Gratin

I just made a Thermomixer's Fennel and Tomato Gratin, I didn't get a picture because it went too quickly. There is something about a dish with cheesy breadcrumbs on top that is a formula for success don't you think? The family give this one a big thumbs up. So jump over to Thermomixer's blog and get the recipe, then go and buy some lovely bulbs of fennel. If you have never tried fennel bulb before, this is definitely the dish to start you off. And it is a very quick one to put together, even better!  Thank-you Thermomixer 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Makowiec: Poppy seed roll

What should you do if a loved one has a poppy seed prominently caught between their teeth in public? I have always thought it best to let the person displaying the offending poppy seed keep talking until a natural pause in the conversation, then gently let them know about it. No big deal. However there are those who believe that allowing a loved one to appear in public with a poppy seed caught in their teeth for a minute or two, is itself a big deal. What to do? I shall have to consult the Ita Butrose book of etiquette for the final opinion. This is something you too will need to be clear about, when you share this Polish poppy seed roll with your loved ones. 
Makowiec (pronounced mak o vee ets) is traditionally made around Easter and Christmas, a kind of celebratory bread/cake made from brioche dough rolled up with a sweet and spiced filling of poppy seeds. The texture and colour of the filling are unusual, it is the sort of thing my mother would say tastes like squashed up ants, but pay no attention to her because this is quite delicious. This recipe may read like an epic, but it is really quite simple and well worth the effort, it makes two rather large rolls, but I can tell you they won't last long, they certainly don't around here.  The method is still a work in progress, submit your criticisms or refinements and I will endeavour to streamline the process.

Makowiec: Polish Poppy Seed Roll
500 g poppy seeds
110g sugar
100g butter
50g raisins
120g almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
90g honey
1 egg white
1 beaten egg

330g milk
30g sugar
650g Bakers flour
80g Butter
10g Salt
1 Egg
1 Sachet Dry Yeast

Boil your kettle then pour the hot water over your poppy seeds and let them soak for 20 minutes
While your poppy seeds are soaking, start making your brioche dough (taken from the Thermomix cookbook) 
Place cold milk and sugar in the in the Thermomix bowl and heat for 5 minutes at 60˚on speed one.
Add flour, salt, butter, egg and yeast to the Themomix bowl. Mix to combine for 10 seconds on speed 7
Set dial to closed lid position. Knead for 3 minutes on interval speed (wheat symbol)
Remove the dough and place in a bowl covered with clingwrap and allow to rise in a warm place whilst you make the filling. 
*Most recipes for Makoviec don't prove the dough first, so it is not necessary to let the brioche dough expand to twice its size. 
Clean your Thermomix bowl and move on to the filling

Line a colander with a clean teatowel and pour your poppyseeds in to drain.
Bundle your poppyseeds up in the teatowel, squeeze the excess water out of them and empty the seeds into the Thermomix bowl. It will be a miracle if you don't get poppy seeds all over the kitchen.
Add 110g of sugar and 120g almonds then grind for 1 minute on speed 10 at 90˚, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the Thermomix bowl if necessary. 
Add the rest of the ingredients to the Thermomix bowl except for the egg white and the whole egg. Process a further minute on speed 10 at 90˚, you may need to stir with the spatula or stop a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
You should now have a relatively smooth black paste. 
Empty this paste into your Thermoserver or a large mixing bowl and put to one side. 

Eggwhite: When beating eggwhite it's important to clean and dry your Thermomix carefully making sure it isn't hot from the washing water. 
Insert the butterfly attachment and leave the measuring cup off to allow greater aeration 
Put your eggwhite into the Thermomix and mix on speed 4 until there is no more liquid left in the bowl, the eggwhite is stiff and forming peaks. 
Gently fold this beaten eggwhite into the poppyseed paste with your spatula.

Back to the dough.
Divide your dough into two balls
On a floured work surface or preferably a silicone mat, push and stretch the first ball into a square about 30cm by 30cm. 
Spread the rectangle with poppyseed filling about a centimetre thick leaving a centimetre strip down the right and left sides unspread.
Fold the spread dough into thirds by bringing the top third of the dough down toward you, sandwiching the poppyseed filling, then bring the bottom third of the dough up over the whole lot
Moisten and seal the ends of the resulting roll and place on a large baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper. As you transfer the roll to the baking tray, turn the whole thing over so that the weight keeps it all closed during baking.
Beat up  the whole egg in the Thermomix on speed four for 5 seconds and brush the top of the roll with beaten egg. 

Now go back and make the second roll
Bake for 20 minutes at 200˚ C or until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the base. 
Cool on a wire rack and slice to serve

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sorry: This week's post is unavoidably delayed!

Apologies to those who are looking forward to this week's post. It's coming soon.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cashew Nut and Vegetable Stir Fry

Neil Perry says that "the art of stir frying is the art of organisation". Yep that would be right and there's my problem. Why do so many things in life have to revolve around being organised? I think I would be much happier if the art of mild to moderate chaos and disorder was more highly valued in society. Sure I can be organised, I just need a little more time than ordinary people to get things that way. So the fast art of stir frying demands something from me that I can find difficult to give. Thermomix to the rescue!
It's one of those things that seems unlikely-the Thermomix stir fries vegetables?  This isn't 'authentic' stir frying, the action isn't frenetic, the oil isn't overheated, there is no smoke, you can't taste the sizzling Wok in the finished product and for some people this might be a disappointment. However if you want to taste the vibrant flavour of vegetables simply cooked without overheating and to stir fry without being the master of organisation then this is for you. 
With this dish you need to chop the vegetables by hand, rather than by Thermomix, so that you get nice textures and shapes that encourage the vegetables to cook at a similar rate
Wombok however can vary in texture, from fine and lacy at the top, to more solid and chunky as you reach the base of the cabbage. The finely textured tips of the leaves require less cooking and so I add them to the Thermomix in the last two minutes of stirfrying. 
The choice of vegetables nuts and sauce are up to you, use this recipe as a starting point and move on from there. If I am feeling like meat, I marinate chicken breast in honey, soy and oil then cook in a pan while  the vegetables are stir frying.

Cashew Nut and Vegetable Stir Fry
30g Macadamia oil (olive oil will do if that's all you have)
1 Garlic clove
2 pieces of ginger the size of a 20 cent piece
50g Red capsicum cut into batons
200g Broccoli cut into florets
15 Snow peas sliced on the diagonal into thirds
250g Wombok (chinese cabbage) shredded
1 Dessertspoonful of Oyster sauce (Housewife brand)
Raw cashews
Basmati or jasmine rice

Set some rice cooking on the stove or cook it in the thermomix and keep separately in the Thermoserver until ready to serve.

Start with a clean, dry Thermomix bowl. Add garlic and ginger to the Thermomix bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula so that the chopped garlic and ginger are all down the bottom on the cooking surface of the Thermomix
Add your oil and saute on varoma temperature for 3 minutes
Then add all of your vegetables except the wombok and cook for 6 minutes at 100 degrees, reverse and speed soft(that's the spoon symbol) 
You may not believe that the vegetables are going to circulate down to the cooking surface and up again, but they will. Try not to spend all of your time gazing into the Thermomix
After 6 minutes, add the Wombok cabbage and oyster sauce, cook for another 2 minutes at 100 degrees reverse and speed soft (spoon symbol). 
Watch the Brocolli to see when it has become the vibrant green that signals perfectly cooked. You may have to stop early or add another couple of minutes to the cooking time to get it right.
Aim for slightly under, rather than over cooked, remember the vegies will continue to cook slightly as you serve them up. 
When you are happy, pour the stir fry over a bowl of steamed rice and sprinkle liberally with raw cashews.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cinnamon, Apple and Oat Porridge

Tired of plain old porridge?
We loved our breakfast so much this morning I had to post this so that everyone could have some mid winter joy first thing. No fancy ingredients, hearty and sustaining. Just what you need to get you going on these cold mornings. You spend a small amount of time preparing the ingredients and let the Thermomix look after the cooking while you have a shower or get the kids ready. This is when you really appreciate the time-saving capability of the Thermomix.

Cinnamon, Apple and Rolled Oat Porridge
2cm cinnamon stick
15 grams brown sugar
2 apples quartered remove the seeds
80 grams rolled oats
625 grams water

Throw cinnamon and sugar in the Thermomix bowl (make sure the bowl is dry)
Process on speed 9 for 20 seconds or until cinnamon is powdered
Add the apples and grate for 3 seconds on speed 5
Add oats and water, cook at 100 degrees for 10 minutes on speed 1
Go and have a shower, come back in ten minutes and pour out 3 large bowls of porridge.
Serve with yoghurt, milk of your choice or just as is.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sticky Black Rice

There's a book called the Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet where the author Gabriel Cousens says that you should try to eat all the colors of the rainbow every day. Activate your base chakra with red food, the solar plexus with yellow, some other one with green, the next with pink, some other ones in between and then the crown chakra with purple food. I love this way of looking at nutrition, but not all purple foods can be equally spiritual. I just can't see myself walking into heaven with an eggplant in my hand. However, I am totally willing to believe that I can eat my way to Nirvana with a big batch of sticky black rice. Well maybe two or three batches. Because it's not really black is it, I'm sure it's purple, in that burgundy kind of way. So put the purple cabbage aside for a moment and accelerate your spiritual growth the Indonesian way.

Get your glutinous rice, pandanus leaves and palm sugar from the Asian supermarket. Despite its name glutinous black rice contains no gluten, I am absolutely sure. Pandanus is a strappy leaf, the Asian equivalent of vanilla, that imparts a pleasantly sweet fragrance to the rice, you can leave this out if you like, but it is worth chasing up in the freezer or fresh at the market. Palm sugar is sold in compressed cylinder shaped blocks, you can substitute dark brown sugar if you like. 
Are you worried about the fat in coconut milk? Well the fats in coconut aren't as unhealthy as we have been led to believe in the past, just don't overdo it.  There are some nasty coconut milks out there that are worth avoiding, I use Ayam brand,  certainly don't go with light coconut milk, it contains things that are unhealthy despite the light label, always check the ingredients. 
For me a cinnamon stick is preferable to ground cinnamon, not only because the flavour is better, but also because you can fish it out at the end and suck it clean, YUM. Is that disgusting? Sorry, I love cinnamon.

Sticky Black Rice with Coconut Cream
280 g  Glutinous black rice 
110 grams palm sugar 
750 g water
2 pandanus leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 slices of fresh ginger size of 50 cent piece
270 ml can coconut cream

Remove the measuring cup (MC) 
Place a medium sized bowl on top of the Thermomix and set your scales to zero
Weigh 280g of glutinous black rice into the bowl,  cover with water a leave to soak overnight.
The next morning discard the soaking water, it will be a spectacular bergundy. 
Bash your palm sugar with a rolling pin or something heavy to break it up and weigh 100g into the Thermomix bowl.
Pulverise the sugar on speed 9 for 5 seconds
Add the soaked black rice, cinnamon, ginger and pandanus leaves (knot the leaves into a ball so that you can get them out easily after the cooking is done)
Add 750g of water
Cook in reverse at 90 degrees for 60 minutes, speed 1.5
At the end of the hour the mixture should be thick and soupy, transfer to the thermoserver and stir in the coconut cream. 
Fish out the pandanus, cinnamon and ginger replace the Thermoserver lid and allow the rice to cool.
Or pour yourself a big bowl and enjoy warm 
Transfer the leftovers to the fridge where it will set. 
Serve with sliced banana, mango or papaya.
Serves 4

Monday, June 30, 2008

Field Mushroom Sandwich with Garlic butter

Cold clear days in early Winter take me back to my childhood when we would spend entire days tramping across the paddocks of my Auntie's farm collecting field mushrooms. We would each have our own bucket and it wouldn't take all that long to fill them.  So back at the farmhouse, our load would be cooked into an evil smelling black stew that adults devoured enthusiastically.  But not the kids. What kid could eat anything that smelled so awful? I must have collected thousands of those mushrooms and never ate one. Since then, I have developed a taste for fungus, but sadly the farm and my aunty are both long gone. My parents tell me, you can't buy mushrooms with flavour like those ones we collected, but at the moment you might find large organic Swiss browns that go really well in this sandwich.

Garlic Butter
To cook the mushroom you first need garlic butter, make up a batch and keep a jar in the fridge at the ready, where it will keep for a week or so. Once the butter is made, other than the field mushroom sandwich, garlic bread is a simple and popular snack for adults or kids to prepare.  Just split open a bread roll and spread liberally with garlic butter, wrap in foil, leaving a little opening in the top to let the steam out. Bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. 

5 cloves of garlic peeled
100g unsalted butter chopped into two or three pieces
Small handful of parsley
Pinch of salt to taste

Make sure your Thermomix bowl is dry. If you have just washed your Thermomix it is a good idea to briefly pulse on turbo to flick residual water out from beneath the blades.
Place garlic in the Thermomix bowl and chop for 10 seconds on speed 7
Add parsley and chop again for 10 seconds on speed 7
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula
Add butter (there is no need to bring it to room temp) and salt. 
Chop/mix on speed 5 for 8 seconds.  
Transfer the resulting butter to a jar or roll it in baking paper now it can be kept in the fridge or freezer

Field Mushroom Sandwich
I can't pretend that this is my idea, I have to acknowledge The Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. A great meaty vegetarian lunch or light evening meal that is simplicity in a sandwich and just a little bit decadent (but you would expect that from Nigella wouldn't you?). This is something that is really worth trying. If you can't get field mushrooms, use the biggest Swiss Browns you can rustle up. 

Large field mushroom per person
1 dessert spoon of garlic butter per person
Seed mustard
Turkish bread or bread of your choice

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees
Remove the stalks of the mushrooms and spread a dessert spoon of garlic butter evenly over the underside. 
Place the mushrooms buttered side up, in an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes at 200 degrees (the longer the better I reckon)
When the mushrooms are almost done, spread your Turkish bread with seed mustard
Place a mushroom on the bread, squeeze lemon over it and put some roquette on top, close the sandwich then go ahead and eat it. 

There's not that much butter, you have to try it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chestnut soup

Chestnut and Fennel Soup with Sherry. 
Oh and Duck if you want
So wasn't I the one who said I was too impatient to wait for persimmons to thaw out? Hmm I'm not sure how I ended up spending the better part of a half hour getting the shells, skins or whatever you call the outside bit of the chestnut, off a bag full of them. It wasn't too bad I suppose, but for anyone in a hurry I heartily recommend purchasing a bag of frozen peeled chestnuts for this recipe. Whatever you do, don't buy bargain basement chestnuts in the shell, there will be many rotten or hard ones, to be discovered only when you start peeling them, a waste of money and time. 
Soup is one of the many things the Thermomix excels at, all the chopping cooking and blending done in the one bowl and once the chestnut peeling is done, this soup is a snap.  I am sorry to all the vegetarians out there, this tastes good on its own, but it's much better if you add some duck. I just bought a half a duck from the Chinese restaurant and added the deboned meat to warm through before serving. Do make sure you find some kind of sherry, tokay or similar to add once the soup is in the bowl, it makes quite a difference. Everyone has a dusty bottle of sherry or tokay in the back of their cupboard don't they or is that just us? 

750 g chestnuts in the shell or 500 g peeled and frozen 
Quarter teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion cut in half
1 medium sized fennel bulb cut into quarters
1 stick of celery roughly chopped into quarters
1 dessert spoon of Thermomix stock concentrate and 500ml water (or 500 ml chicken stock)
2 medium potatoes cut into quarters

Cooking and peeling chestnuts
If you have bought chestnuts in the shell, take a Stanley knife and carefully cut a slit in the flat side of each one then place them in the Varoma (top or bottom it doesn't matter). 
Pour 1000 grams of water into the Thermomix bowl and set the Varoma on top to steam your chestnuts. 
Cook for 20 minutes on Varoma temperature speed 4 
The inner layer of skin is easiest to remove when the chestnut is hot and moist so only peel one at a time and leave the others in the Varoma with the lid on. 
Empty and dry the Thermomix bowl

If you bought frozen chestnuts already peeled then this is where you start.
Place onion celery, fennel bulb and seeds into the Thermomix bowl and chop on speed 5 for 5 seconds. 
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
Add 20 grams of butter and saute on 100 degrees speed 1 for 4 minutes. 
Add the chestnuts, potato, thermomix stock concentrate and 500ml of water to the Thermomix bowl
Cook at 100 degrees for 20 minutes on speed 1
After 20 minutes puree the soup by slowly increasing the Thermomix speed to speed 9 for 45 seconds.  This can be a little bumpy because of the chunky contents, make sure the measuring cup remains in place.
Check there are no lumps left and process again if required.
If the resulting soup seems thin, set it cooking again for another ten minutes to reduce and thicken.
Pour into bowls add a teaspoon of sherry per bowl and shredded duck meat if desired.
Serve with bitter salad leaves.
Stephanie Alexander recommends that you pass chestnut soup through a fine sieve because it can be grainy, I found that after a day in the fridge any graininess had disappeared and sieving was unnecessary. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Persimmon and Vanilla bean Sorbet

Persimmon and Vanilla Bean Sorbet
I just bought forty really ripe and squashy persimmons at the Vic market today for two dollars, that's five cents each! Looks like sorbet is on the menu again 
Of course I could never use forty persimmons before they go bad, so they'll get washed and frozen as hard as cricket balls. So how patient are you? I am used to making a sorbet in a minute, so waiting for things to thaw seems like a really long time. To avoid the wait, take the frozen fruit and leave them out for five minutes, they'll be soft enough to chop into quarters, to remove the calyx (that thing on top) and pips if there are any. Having done this you can go on and use these frozen quarters for your sorbet. This impatience however must have an antidote and fortunately its quite straightforward, simply add 300 ml of water and the sorbet will cooperate and emulsify properly. For those using fresh fruit or who have managed to let the persimmons thaw out completely, you can happily forget the water.
Now as far as I'm concerned, vanilla bean comes straight from heaven but vanilla essence, it can only hope to be half as virtuous. So for that heavenly result, it's definitely the bean for me. But if it's all you've got, then a tiny splash of vanilla essence will have to do.
Its still cold outside, but I know you won't complain, just rug up and enjoy. This is really good!

100g sugar
3cm vanilla bean
300g of squashy ripe persimmon (3 small or 2 large)
700g ice cubes (4 trays)

Starting with a dry Thermomix bowl, add the sugar and vanilla bean 
Pulverise on speed 9 for 15 seconds

Add 300g persimmon. If the fruit is frozen add 300ml of water as well.
Now add three quarters of the ice holding the rest back until after you begin processing
Pulverise on speed 10 for 1 minute
After 15 seconds while the machine is still running, add the remaining ice through the lid of the Thermomix and stir the mixture with the spatula. Persimmon seems to need a bit more work with the spatula to get the machine churning on its own so stick with it.

Turn the sorbet out into a serving bowl. Enjoy even more because this classy dessert cost less than one dollar!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Persimmon and passionfruit sorbet

Persimmon and Passionfruit Sorbet
Persimmons are an Autumn fruit almost past their best now that Winter is here. You can pick up a tray of really squashy persimmons for a few dollars at the market right now and these are perfect for making sorbet. I know the weather is cold, but this sorbet has a creamy texture too good to miss no matter how cold it is!  
For me the subtle flavour of persimmon can struggle to carry a sorbet alone, aren't we lucky that passionfruit are so good at the moment!

Don't bother to add eggwhite, this is perfect on its own; ice, fruit and sugar.

100 grams sugar
2 really squashy persimmon, seeds and stalk removed
Pulp of 3 passionfruit
700grams/4trays of ice cubes

Make sure your Thermomix bowl is dry and cold
Put your sugar in the Thermomix and pulverise on speed 9 for 6 seconds
Now add fruit and 3 1/2 trays of ice

This sorbet can get really thick, so hold back a half a tray of ice-cubes just to give the Thermomix a chance to get on top of the job. 

Pulverise on speed 10. Keep the machine running and after about ten seconds add the remaining ice through the lid and stir with the spatula as required to help incorporate into the mix. 

This process might take longer than the usual minute: keep going until the sorbet is churning smoothly without assistance. 

Turn out into a serving bowl and enjoy (in front of the heater)

Oh and the other 22 persimmons in the tray? 
Wash and freeze them whole, use them at your leisure. 
Perhaps persimmon and vanilla bean sorbet .