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