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 .