I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silver Dory with Choron Bérnaise and Roasted Garlic Cheese Bread

On Friday night I attended a "Master Class" cooking demonstration for the Thermomix, hosted by Justine Schofield.  Those of you who are MasterChef fans will remember Justine from Series one.  Justine has only recently become acquainted with the Thermomix, but is a huge fan.  She is currently working on adapting a lot of her recipes using the Thermomix.  At this session she shared a few of her recipes with us.

She started the evening off by making a lovely Gazpacho that was topped with a sour dough crumble, or "Sand" as she called it, olive tapenade and quail eggs.  The main course was a piece of steamed barramundi, topped with Charon Bérnaise, and for dessert she divulged the ingredients for George's Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse, her twist was to serve it in a chocolate tart.  It was all very nice I must say!

I had already planned, as I always do, my menu for the weekend - we were going to have a salmon dish, but when I was at the fish shop I was persuaded to try the silver dory instead of the salmon.  As I really did not have a plan in mind for how I was going to serve the the dory I thought why not try the Charon Bérnaise to top the fish!

Now if you are like me, I was not entirely sure what a Choron Bérnaise was - I looked over the list of ingredients several times trying to discern what the "Choron" actually was, of course looking for a magical ingredient.  I have since found out that Choron is the rose tint given by adding tomato puree to either hollandaise or Bérnaise sauce, and is named after chef Alexandre Etienne Charon who invented the sauce.  

Reading a little about Charon I am inclined to think he may have been the Heston Blumenthal of his time - he was certainly a little out there.  Charon was at the height of his fame in1870, during the Siege of Paris.  During this time Parisians were reduced to eat domestic animals due to meat shortages.  Apparently the bourgeois didn't like this idea and so Charon started eying off the animals in the zoo (they were a little more exotic!)  For the 1870 Christmas feast he presented his patrons a meal that included the stuffed head of a donkey, elephant consomme, roasted camel, wolf in deer sauce, cat with rat and the piece de resistance - antelope in truffle sauce.  He achieved quite some notoriety for his elephant dishes these included Elephant in chasseur sauce and Elephant Bourguinon!!  Anyway I digress - there were no wild animals involved in this meal you can be rest assured!

Silver Dory with Choron Bérnaise 
From What's on the Menu with Justine Schofield

Serves 4

4 pieces silver dory
salt and pepper
olive oil

4 egg yolks
130g unsalted butter, diced
1 tbs taragon vinegar *
1/2 tbs tomato paste
1 tomato, deseeded, finely chopped
1 tbs tarragon, finely chopped

*  To make tarragon vinegar you can add some chopped tarragon to white wine vinegar, and allow it to steep for several hours.  Strain the leaves from the vinegar before use.

Season the fish fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Set aside until the sauce is ready.

Insert the butterfly into the Thermomix bowl.  Add the egg yolks, butter and vinegar.  Cook for 8 minutes at 80 degrees on speed 3.

Add the tomato paste, chopped tomato and tarragon and mix for 30 seconds on speed 3.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.  Cook the fish skin side down for 2 minutes, flip over, and cook the flesh side for 1-2 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.  My pieces were quite thin - so they needed very little cooking time.

Serve the fish with roasted garlic potatoes, steamed green vegetables and a dollop of the Choron Bérnaise.

Bérnaise sauce can be quite a tricky sauce to make.  If not made properly and watched carefully it tends to split very easily.  As you can see, making it in the Thermomix is a breeze - add all your ingredients and sit down and and have a glass of wine while you wait for it to cook!!!

"The Darlings" love to have bread with their meal so I thought I would try a little twist on the regular garlic bread.  Rather than add the garlic and the butter to the cooked bread I thought I would incorporate roasted garlic and a some cheese into the bread dough and cook it all together!!  One word - YUM!

Roasted Garlic and Cheese Bread

1 head (yes a whole head!) of garlic
520g bread flour
2tsp yeast
300ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
230g cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Place the head of garlic onto a piece of foil.  Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the garlic is lovely and soft.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cut the cheese into cubes, place in the TM bowl and process for 8 seconds on speed 7.  Remove the cheese from the bowl.  Set aside.

Place the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar into the TM bowl.  Pull the garlic head apart and gently squeeze the garlic from the skins.  Place the garlic puree into the TM bowl with the flour mix.  Add 120g of the grated cheese, and then the warm water.  Knead for 4 minutes.  Remove the lid from the TM.  Lightly oil a piece of cling wrap and place the oiled cling wrap over the top of the TM bowl.  I like to leave my bread for a long time to prove - once it had crowned above the top of the bowl I punched it down and let it rise again.

After the second proving I rolled it into a log shape and put it onto a piece of baking paper that was lightly sprinkled with polenta.  I then cut several incisions all over the bread and filled these incisions with the reserved grated cheese, make sure you pull the dough back together to cover the cheese up. Repeat until almost all the cheese has been "hidden in the dough" - but make sure to reserve just a little to put on the top!!!

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden, and it sounds hollow when tapped.

This bread was good!!!  It was even better the next morning when it was toasted, topped with a poached egg and a dollop of the Choron Bérnaise - how's that for using up the leftovers????

I did make a dessert too - but you know what?  I was not entirely happy with it.  It was George Colombaris' Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse.  Perhaps it was the chocolate I used - I used Lindt 80% - but it just didn't do it for me - too earthy, too bitter (the only highlight was the boozy berries I topped it with!)  If I try it again I think I will not use such a bitter chocolate.

I was however so impressed with the roasted garlic bread that for pizza night tonight I am going to incorporate roasted garlic into the pizza dough!!!!  Should give us pizzas with a little punch!!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pasta to feed a small army and Pumpkin Soup

I know there are those of you out there (yet again - who won't leave comments here - but make their voices known!) that think that we are not eating.  Well let me set the record straight.  Yes, we are, but life is back into full swing, and what can I say, yes I often take short cuts - make meals that are going to provide the least resistance - meals that I can make in seconds flat - and you know what that means - UNBLOGGABLE!!!  Sorry!!

So in order to make amends,  I will share with you my day in the kitchen yesterday.

A dear friend of mine was having surgery, and I wanted to make life a little easier on her family while she tried (if that is at all possible in a hospital!) get a bit of a rest.  So I set about making a meal for them, and some soup for her for when she got home.  Oh, and I did think I would also make our family's dinner in there as well (sadly misguided I know - always attempting more than is actually achievable!!) - better not tell you that I also wanted to make a cake, and a slice to send to my friend's as well - (you guessed it - ran out of time!!!  As I am starting to make the dinner I decide why not just increase the amounts and feed two families at one - and hence the name Pasta to Feed a Small Army!!!

This is just a variation on my my 4 ingredient pasta - but there was a definite thumbs up from both camps after sampling!

Pasta to feed a small army!

750g dried macaroni pasta
800g can chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tomato soup
approx 1 - 1.5kg sausages (around 36 sausages)
2 x red capsicums
250g cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic crushed
2 onions, finely diced
250g cheddar cheese, grated
100g parmesan cheese, grated

Cut the red capsicums in half.  Lay on a baking tray that has been lined with foil.  Place the cherry tomatoes on the tray as well.  Spray liberally with olive oil spray.  Grill under a hot grill for 10-15 minutes, or until skin blisters and blackens.  Allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle remove the blackened skin from the capsicum, chop into small pieces.  Leave the cherry tomatoes - they will do their own stuff!!

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain and reserve.

Cut a small hole in the end of the sausages, squeeze small amounts (mini meatballs size) into a heated frying pan.  Cook in batches until all sausages (meatballs are cooked).  Drain on paper towels.

Remove the fat from the sausages from the pan with paper towels.  Add a small amount of olive oil and cook the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened.

In a large saucepan combine the macaroni, meatballs, canned tomatoes, tomato soup, chopped capsicums, roasted cherry tomatoes, onion, and garlic (everything except the cheese!!)

Place the combined mixture into baking trays (disposable ones if you are giving the meal away, or freezing for later!!)  Top with the combined cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.

Now if you are cooking right away - heat the oven to 180C.  Cook for 15-30 minutes - or until the top is golden, and the cheese melted.  Serve with additional grated parmesan cheese.

There were lots of happy faces around the place after this one!!!  Now you might like to vary it slightly - alter the sausages - use spicy, or chicken - you may like to add some chilli to the mix - but this is a great base that pleases everyone - and is also very thrifty on the budget!!!  Give it a go - it will become a dinner winner!

So in addition to the pasta I made a Pumpkin Soup, as Miss Twinkles was having surgery to her throat, and needed to eat soft food for a while.  Of course the Thermomix came in very handy for this!  I did alter the recipe slightly though.....

Pumpkin Soup
adapted from EDC - Thermomix Cookbook

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 tbs oil
500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, roughly cubed
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, core removed
1 tbs TM Stock concentrate (or 500ml chicken stock)
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs greek style yoghurt
2 tbs sour cream (this was because this was all I had!!!)

Place the onion into the TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7.

Add the oil and saute for 3 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.

Add the pumpkin, carrot and apple.  Chop for 15 seconds on speed 7.

Add the stock and cook for 20 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.

Blend for 20 seconds by slowly going from speed 1 to speed 9.

Scrape down the bowl, and repeat.

Add the sour cream, and yoghurt, season to taste, and combine for 10 seconds on speed 5.

So there you have it Dear Readers - I have been cooking - and as you can see - very simple, easy to please meals!!!

I must go now ..... off to a Thermomix Cooking Class - will tell all about it later.

Have a good weekend!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops with Zucchini and Apple Salad and Homemade Brioche Bread

When I saw this recipe in the latest edition of Good Food Magazine I just knew I had to try it.  It was one of Dominique Rizzo's recipes.  The last recipe that I made of hers, Middle Eastern Style Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree,  was a sure fire winner, and this one was too!  The flavours were beautiful.  Mind you saying that, if fruit and meat are not your thing - then this may not be the recipe for you!  We, however, loved it and I am sorry that my photographic skills do not do it justice!!!

Stuffed Pork Chops with Zucchini and Apple Salad
Adapted From Good Food Magazine - March edition

Serves 4

4 x pork chops (I used cutlets as they were the thickest on offer at the butcher!)
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs honey
1/4 cup verjuice
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup mint *
1 clove garlic
1 tbs butter, melted
2 cups fresh brioche breadcrumbs
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs TM stock concentrate made up to 1/2 cup, or 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

* The recipe called for Apple mint - I was unable to find it so I just used regular mint

Zucchini and Apple Salad

1 tbs olive oil
1 yellow squash zucchini, cut into batons
1 green zucchini, cut into batons
1 large green apple, peeled, cored, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs verjuice

Cut a pocket into each pork chop (be careful not to cut all the way through).  Combine the mustard, honey and verjuice in a large ziploc bag.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the chops and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Process the walnuts, mint, garlic and butter until crumbs form.

Combine the walnut mixture with the brioche breadcrumbs.

Remove the chops from the marinade.  Stuff the chops with the breadcrumb/walnut mixture.

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over medium heat.  Cook the chops for 2-3 minutes each side, or until golden.  Transfer the chops to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm.  Add remaining marinade to the same pan and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove form the heat and set aside.

To make the salad, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Cook the zucchini for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from the pan.  Cook the apples for 5 minutes, or until golden.  Add the cooked zucchini, garlic, rosemary, thyme and vinegar.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Divide the chops between the plates, top with the salad.  Scatter the plates with the toasted almonds. Serve with roasted baby potatoes, and the remaining brioche bread.

Homemade Brioche Bread
From EDC - Thermomix Cookbook

30g sugar
330g warm milk
20g dry yeast
1 tsp salt
80g butter
650g baker's flour
1 egg

Place the sugar in the TM bowl and pulverise for 3 seconds on speed 9.  Remove from bowl.

Place the milk into TM bowl heat at 37 degrees for 1 minute 30 seconds, soft speed.

Add the yeast, salt, butter, flour, egg and sugar to the warm milk.  Mix to combine for 10 seconds on speed 7.

Set dial to closed lid position.  Knead for 3 minutes on Interval speed.

Remove dough and let prove for 30-60 minutes. (I actually went out, and left it proving for several hours - no harm done!!!!)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Place the bread onto baking paper that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil spray.  Bake in hot oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you don't want to have the brioche with your pork chop meal, then use the bread to make french toast tomorrow morning - yum!!!

All in all this meal was a huge success.  The bread was lovely, and the flavours of the pork with the apple, zucchini salad was superb.  On a swelteringly hot night in Sydney, when no one felt like eating, (let alone cooking) the plates were all licked clean!  (Well figuratively speaking!!!) In my book that signifies a good meal!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Black Pepper Prawns

Dear Readers this week I was thrilled to be approached by the lovely people at Le Domaine/The Eclectic Chef and asked if I would like to contribute on a regular basis to their website.

Le Domaine is the retail side of the operation.  Their store is located in Drummoyne, and they have the online store.  Both sites sell all kinds of wonderful cooking utensils and appliances - in fact I think you would be very hard pressed not to find something there that you just have to have!

There is also another facet to their business, and that is The Eclectic Chef  - at this site you will find lots of interesting culinary information from within the various sections such as Cooking Corner, Food/Health, Recipes, and Cuisine.   This blog aims to feature reviews of various types of cookware, restaurant reviews that contributing authors visit, and of course lots of recipes.  So I urge you to go have a bit of a wander around.  The site is only new, but they are promising that it will only get bigger and better!!

Of all weeks to be asked to write about my adventures in the kitchen!!  My problem was that this week I had had a particularly bad week.

In the kitchen you have your ups and downs - one minute you are riding as high as a lovely light fluffy souffle, and the next you are as low as a piece of flatbread!

This week I was as low as a piece of flatbread  - and there was not a single piece of falafel in sight to go with it!  I was determined to make amends though last night - I was going to go with food that I knew - food that always wins - prawns!!  Admittedly I was trying a new recipe - and one at that, that I had looked at in the past and flipped right by when I saw the words "deep fried" - but today even those words were not going to deter me. I wanted a win!!!

This recipe is in the latest edition of Delicious and is one of Ben O'Doughue's recipes.  It is called Ben's Peppery Prawns - and they certainly lived up to their name!  I know right now that there will be one particular reader out there who will say "you could have used the Thermomix for that!" (she prefers to leave her comments in my email inbox rather than here, where you can all enjoy her scathing wit!!!)  Even though I could hear her already I thought no, I am going to do it the way the recipe says - it's the mortar and pestle for me today!  (I guess I didn't want to jinx myself as the failures that I had this week all came with recipes I had made using my little buddy - not that I am blaming him of course - the fault lies entirely on my shoulders).

So back to basics tonight.

Black Pepper Prawns
From Delicious Magazine February edition

Serves 4 (or 2 people that love prawns!!!)

1tbs dried shrimp *
2 cloves garlic
2cm piece ginger, peeled
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, roughly chopped
2 tbs whole black peppercorns **
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbs ketchap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
2 tbs oyster sauce
2 cups sunflower oil ***
800g green prawns, peeled and deveined, leaving heads and tails intact, if desired
1/4 cup fresh curry leaves
6 spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle
50g unsalted butter
2 tbs coriander leaves

* Found in Asian supermarkets
** I used 1 tbs and found that it was spicy enough for me
*** I opted out on the deep frying and used only a couple of tablespoons of oil

Soak the dried shrimp in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes.

Drain the shrimp, then place in a mortar and pestle with the garlic, ginger, red chilli and whole black peppercorns.

Pound until you have a smooth paste, then set aside.

Combine the chicken stock, ketchap manis and oyster sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok over medium high heat.  In 3 batches, add the prawns to the wok, be careful, as they will spit!!.  Cook the prawns, turning so that they cook evenly, for approximately 3 minutes, or until they turn pink in colour.  Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels.  When you are cooking the last batch of prawns add the curry leaves for the few final seconds of cooking.

Drain off any excess oil - you only need to have 2-3 tablespoons left.  Add the shrimp paste and half of the spring onions to the wok, then cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes, or until lovely and fragrant.  Stir in the stock mixture, and bring it to the boil.  Whisk in the butter.

Reduce the heat to medium, then return the prawns and curry leaves to the wok.  Toss to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the prawns are heated through.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice, and garnished with additional spring onions and coriander leaves.

One word for these little beauties - YUM!!!!  Any recipe that has fresh curry leaves in it is a winner with me!!

I feel redeemed now, reinforced with confidence and ready to head back into the kitchen!

So Dear Readers do you have a comfort food - one that you know you can always produce a winner with?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cake with a Chocolate Heart

Don't you hate how in Blog Land life is always rosy.  Meals are always achingly picture perfect, and everyone is happy!

Well I am here to tell you that life is not always so.

This week has been a week of dismal failures.  Sure it started out well with the Valentine's Feast on Monday - but things took a decided down hill turn after that.

As all my regular readers will know I have recently acquired a Thermomix - I have been steadily getting more confident using it - trying new things and getting accustomed to how it all works.  Last week I made some lovely sweet and sour meatballs - no I didn't blog them because I thought well - it's only sweet and sour meatballs, and if you don't have a TM well the recipe was pretty pointless.  Buoyed on by how well they turned out though I was anxious to try Swedish Meatballs - which I have made in the conventional manner and were a surefire winner!!!  Not so with the TM version!!!  Man those puppies took forever to cook - perhaps in the TM's defence I had overcrowded the varoma, but looking on the Thermomix Form (ps this is a great place to learn more about what the TM can do) I was not the only one to experience this particular problem.

These were the Sweet & Sour Meatballs - they were great!!

No photo taken of the Swedish Meatballs - they didn't even look pretty!!

OK failure # 1.

Next thing I attempted was to make a Marble Cake for "The Darlings" when they came in from school.  All things went well - was careful not to swirl the batter too much and just end up with a mottled coloured cake.  It sat there on the bench - proud and beautiful waiting for the first incision into it's multicoloured heart.  First piece - and it wasn't swirled enough!!!  D2 was kind enough to tell me though that it looked like the cake had a Chocolate Heart!  So from hereon in it will be referred to as the Cake with the Chocolate Heart!! (small success!!).

Almost failure #2.

By this stage I was getting pretty desperate - I needed a win to blog about.  Thinking about how lovely the mousse (and the leftover "mousse sausages") were on Monday I decided to have a go at making my own sausages - and steaming them in the varoma - much more healthier than pan frying!  What flavour to make?  I know Pork, Apple and Macadamia.  Headed off up the road to purchase all the necessary ingredient, and set about making them - all looked good.  Was even pretty chuffed about how good they looked all rolled up in their cling wrap casings ready for steaming.  Put as they say - the proof is in the pudding!!

Now we all know that sausages never claimed to be healthy fare - but there are those out there that do claim that theirs are low/er in fat.  Let me tell you - they are lying!  A sausage without fat is a dry boring, mouth circling bit of sawdust!!!  Even the dog tried to bury his leftovers!!!

The mashed potato was the saving grace - did I tell you the TM makes a lovely smooth creamy mashed potato???

I will not even begin to tell you how I made them, or what I put in them, as I do not want to be responsible for any Heimlich Maneuvers that may be deemed necessary after the consumption of these!

So order to feel a little bit better about this week's offerings from the kitchen here is the recipe for the Cake with the Chocolate Heart - see if you can replicate it!!!

Cake with the Chocolate Heart
From EDC- Thermomix Cook Book

300g butter, softened
270g Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
5 eggs
370ml self raising flour
70g milk
1 tbs cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 180C.

Grease a fluted ring pan/bundt tin

Place butter into TM bowl and mix for 1 minute on Speed 5.

Add 250g of the sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix to combine for 45 seconds on speed 5

Add the eggs one at a time through the opening in the lid and mix for approximately 15 seconds on speed 5.

Add flour, 40g of the milk and blend for 20 seconds on speed 5.

Place 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan.

Add the cocoa powder, remaining 20g of sugar and remaining 30g milk to the rest of the mixture and mix for 5-10 seconds in speed 5.

Place the chocolate mixture over the white mixture and slightly swirl with a fork (I used a skewer!!) to create a marble effect.

Bake in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Dust with icing sugar to serve.

D2 did love it - so as long as he is happy I guess that is all that matters - he thinks Mummy made him a cake with a heart in it (of course I did Darling!).

So what should I make for dinner tonight now - I live in fear of abject failure!!!

So tell me (please) Dear Readers do you often have a string of failures - please tell me you do - even if you don't - just to make me feel better!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Recipes

So how was your Valentine's Day?  I hope you had a lovely meal with your loved one somewhere.

We had a quiet night in at home.  As promised, here are the recipes from last night's dinner.

For starters we had Souffle Oysters.  I am not a huge fan of raw oysters, so I always tend to cook them some how.  I am kind of tired of the usual of Oysters Kilpatrick, so decided to make Souffle Oysters this time.  Years and years ago I had a go at making these, but for the life of me I couldn't remember where the recipe was (don't you hate when that happens?).  So after several google attempts, and not finding the recipe I wanted here, is what I I ended up making (I think it was kind of close to the one I made many moons ago!!!)

Souffle Oysters

Serves 2

12 oysters on the half shell
2 tbs finely grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, separated
2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
1 tbs snipped chives
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard

Prepare a small baking try by either spreading rock salt on the tray or by placing a piece of foil that you have crinkled up on the tray (you want a decent amount of crinkles to hold the oyster shells in place!!)

Place the oysters on your prepared baking tray.

Combine the parmesan, egg yolk, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice and dijon mustard in a small bowl.  Mix well, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a separate small bowl beat the egg white until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg white into the parmesan mixture, until just combined.  Fold in the remaining egg white, being careful not to mix it too much and break up the air bubbles.

Spoon 1 -2 teaspoons of the souffle mixture onto each oyster shell.

Place the oysters under the grill, and grill for approximately 3 minutes, or until the topping is lovely and golden.

So how were they - delicious!!!  not overly cooked, but not raw either.  The lovely light cheesy souffle topping was just what I was searching for!

For the main I wanted to try something a little different, and decided to try steamed salmon (in the Varoma). The recipe actually had the salmon being stuffed with a salmon mousse, but I wanted to vary it a little, so I gave it a prawn and salmon mousse filling!

Salmon with Prawn and Salmon Mousse Stuffing with Curried Mango Sauce
Adapted from Full Steam Ahead - Thermomix Cookbook

Serves 2

Mousse Stuffing
180g green prawn meat *
60 g salmon (these were the off cuts from evening out the fillet pieces) *
15g butter, softened
200g cream (30% fat)
2tbs snipped chives
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Place the salmon pieces and prawn meat into the TM mixing bowl.  Mince for 15 seconds on speed 5.
Add the cream, salt and pepper, nutmeg, chives, and cayenne pepper.  Mince for 15 seconds on speed 6.

Transfer mousse mixture to a bowl.

* You can either use approximately 250g of salmon, or prawn meat for the mousse, or do as I have done and make a combination.  You will have slightly more than is needed for stuffing the fillet, but wait.... and see what I did with it!


I purchased 2 x large tail pieces, skinned

Trim the tail pieces so that they match each other exactly in size, and you have a nice even sized pieces of fish.

Spread out a large piece of cling wrap on the kitchen bench.

Place one fillet on the cling wrap.  Spread the fillet with a generous amount of the mousse.  Place the second fillet on top of the mousse.  Wrap the cling wrap tightly around the fish, making sure that you have completely enclosed the fish.

Place the wrapped salmon fillet into the Varoma receptacle.

Now I hear you asking what I did with the left over mousse mixture???

Lay out another piece of cling wrap.  Place the mouse onto the wrap, and roll it into a sausage shape.  Place in the Varoma along with the salmon.

Curried Mango Sauce
250g of fresh mango pieces
50g brandy
1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g fish stock
200g cream (30% fat)
100g plain yoghurt
2 tsp cornflour

Now here is the beauty of cooking with the Thermomix.  You can steam your fishand vegetables, and cook your sauce all at the same time (while you are still sitting at the table having a glass of wine!!!).  There are two levels to the Varoma - on the bottom level you have your fish, and the top level the vegetables that you are serving with the fish.  Leave the vegetable layer out for the first 2 cooking stages.

Place the mango pulp, brandy and salt and pepper into the TM mixing bowl.  Cook for 5 minutes/Varoma/Speed 1.

Add the stock, place the Varoma (with the fish inside!!) into position and cook for 20 minutes/Varoma/Speed 1.

Set the varoma aside.  (Keep covered) Add the cream through the opening in the mixing bowl lid, place the varoma back in place, with only the vegetable layer in place.  Cook for 5 minutes/90 degrees/Speed 1.

Add the yoghurt that you have combined with the cornflour, blend for 30 sec/speed 10.  Season if needed.  Add both levels back to the varoma, and cook for an additional 4 minutes/varoma/speed 1.

Carefully remove the fish, and unwrap from the plastic.  Cut neatly into two serving portions.  Unwrap the mousse "sausage" and slice up and serve along side the salmon.

Serve the salmon with potatoes and steamed vegetables of choice.

The reason I split up the vegetables and the fish was that last time I cooked the vegetables in the varoma for the length of time the recipe specified I found the vegetables too soft for my liking - you may alter this if you like.

Now of course if you do not have a Thermomix - do not despair.  You can make the mousse filling in a food processor - and steam the fish in a similar way using other steaming methods.

Now onto the piece de resistance!!!  Dessert.  I pondered long and hard over this one - I was going to make my favourite Creme Brulee - but Precious wanted to bake cupcakes for her new beau - so we compromised, and split one batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes between us - and had fun making them together.  I had seen many and various recipes for these floating around the internet - but this is the one we tried to adapt to the Thermomix.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from recipe found at joyofbaking.com
Makes approx 12-13 (you want a "spare" to sacrifice for crumbs!)

200g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 grams cocoa powder
60g butter, at room temperature
180g white caster sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbs red liquid food colouring
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp bi carb soda

Cream Cheese Frosting
250g crem cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g icing sugar, sifted

I will give you both methods for making these - the regular version and in bold the TM method.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (non fan forced)

Prepare muffin tray with liners.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

In the bowl of electric mixer (TM) beat the butter until soft. (1.30 minutes 50 degrees - Speed 4).   Add the sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy (30 seconds speed 5).  Add the egg and beat until incorporated. (10 seconds speed 3).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. (5 seconds speed 6).

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food colouring.  With the mixer on low speed (speed 3) alternatively add the flour mixture, and then the buttermilk mixture to the bowl.  Do this in three additions, ending with the flour mixture.

In a small cup combine the vinegar with the bi carb soda.  Allow the mixture to fizz, and then quickly mix into the cake batter. (10 seconds speed 6).

Now they said to work quickly - but we couldn't and it didn't seem to make much of a difference. Divide the batter amongst your prepared muffin cups.  Smooth the tops.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack until completely cool.

To make the cream cheese frosting place the cream cheese in the bowl of your electric mixer (TM - with butterfly attachment) Beat the cream cheese until smooth (20 seconds speed 4) scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and icing sugar, and beat until the mixture in nice and smooth (20 seconds speed 4).  You may need to add more icing sugar to get the right consistency.  Now you can either pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes (but we found this took way too much frosting!!) - or you can use a spatula knife.

Crumble your "sacrificial" cupcake and top the frosting with those lovely red crumbs!!

So how were these lovely little red cakes?

Pretty darn good ........

Even the taste tester said so!!!!

So I hope you enjoyed your Valentine's Day as much as we did.

.... and in answer to the question that I know you are going to ask.... no "The Darlings" did not partake of this meal with us - I fed them earlier - on 4 ingredient pasta!! So everyone was happy last night!!!

I apologise if I have not given exactly accurate directions with the TM - but it got a little frenetic at times in the kitchen yesterday while we were baking!!!

As you all know I am signed up for the 2011 Cookbook Challenge.  This fortnight's theme was LOVE!!!  So last night's meal I thought fit pretty well into that theme!!!  Go check out the site to see what others have been making.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day!! 

So tell that special someone just how much you love them.  If you can't say it with words say it with flowers, or say it with food - bake a cake, make a special dinner, or just open up a bottle of bubbly!!  Just share the looove!!!

So what is on the menu here tonight.......

Souffle Oysters

Salmon with a Salmon and Prawn Mousse stuffing and Mango Sauce

then Red Velvet Cupcakes!!!

Stay tuned for the recipes........

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Macadamia Crusted Barramundi

Wouldn't you know it - the first recipe that I feel is truly bloggable this week and the camera's battery is "depleted"!!! Aarghhhhh

Well I got one photo - so that will have to do.  I wasn't going to sit and watch this get get cold while the battery recharged!!!

Macadamia Crusted Barramundi
Adapted from a recipe in Delicious Magazine - February edition

Serves 2

100g roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
zested rind of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 - 1 tbs dill, chopped
1/2 - 1 tbs chives, chopped
1/2 - 1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 pieces of barramundi

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

I placed the macadamias, lemon zest, lemon (with the white pith removed), garlic, and herbs in the thermomix and processed for 4 seconds on speed 9.  Scraped down the bowl, added the olive oil and pulsed on Turbo twice.  Season with salt and pepper.

Line a baking tray with foil, lightly oil the foil.  Place the barramundi on the foil.  Top with the macadamia mixture.  Press lightly to make sure it is firmly on the fish.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the crust golden (this will depend on the thickness of your fish!!)

Serve with salad and golden roasted "smashed potatoes".

The fish was wonderful - so you will have to take my word on that and give it a go yourself - and if you do happend to make it perhaps you can send me a photo!!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spicy Fish with Avocado and Lime Salsa

The weather has been a real turn off for me as far as cooking is concerned.  It has been too hot to think about food, let alone eat it.

I am sure you are wondering if we are eating here, but rest assured we are.  It's either been a case of I have slapped something together and thought that it was "un blog worthy" - which one night was a huge mistake, or I just haven't got around to writing it up yet.  I know, I know I am failing in my duties!!

So in order to try and make up for my arrears, this a meal we had over the weekend (after I came back from the stinking hot day at the Athletics Carnival - and yes, if you are wondering I did get rained on the next day!!!)

Spiced Fish with Avocado and Lime Salsa
From The Delicious Quick Smart Cook Cookbook

Serves 4

1 lime, plus 2 tbs lime juice, and extra wedges to serve
1-2 avocado (depending on size), flesh cut into 1 cm cubes
1 lebanese cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, halved lengthways, cut into 1 cm cubes
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1-2 small red chillies, finely chopped
1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil **
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbs plain flour
2 tsp each ground coriander, cumin, and paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 x 180g fish fillets - such as swordfish or tuna (I used moonfish)

Remove the skin and white pith from the lime.  Holding the lime over a bowl to catch any juice, use a small sharp knife to cut the segments away from the inner membrane, then finely chop.

Place the chopped lime in a bowl with the avocado, cucumber, onion, chilli and coriander.  Combine the oil ** (I didn't use the full amount - I didn't think it needed it), fish sauce, and lime juice in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss this through the salsa.  Set aside.

Combine the flour with the dry spices in a shallow dish.  Brush the fish with a little oil, then dip in the seasoned flour to coat.  Shake off the excess.

Heat 2cm of oil in a large frypan over medium heat.  Cook the fish, in batches if necessary), for 2-3 minutes each side until browned, but still a little rare in the middle (if you are using tuna or swordfish!!).

Serve the fish topped with the salsa and extra wedges of lime.

This was really the first time that I have tried moonfish - it was a lovely thick piece of fish, and surprisingly moist.  If you haven't tried this fish I strongly urge you to give it a try - at $22 per kilo it waas much more affordable than tuna or swordfish - and certainly as good in my books.

Apart from that I have been cooking away with the Thermomix - I have made Strawberry Jam and Tomato Ketchup  - but figured these really weren't "blogworth" enough  ( actually too lazy in this heat!!!!  I promise Dear Readers I will try and make up for the lack of recipes......

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

As the mercury rose to an unbearable 44 degrees C (thats around 111 degrees F!!!) we sat huddled under a small patch of shade provided by a lone tree at the end of a dusty sports field watching "the Darlings" and their friends, compete in a "Zone" Athletics Carnival.

I hear you asking why????  Why indeed??  Finally sense prevailed and the meet was cancelled (but only after waiting it out for another hour to see if the gods would smile down on us in some way and reduce the temperature somehow.  With nary a cloud in sight the odds were not looking good.

I did use this hour layover as a chance to relish the only good point of the day - and that was my pre-packed lunch.  I decided that I was not going to endure a sausage sandwich or sausage roll, as is regular fare at these kind of events, and planned ahead and made a lovely healthy lunch for my friends and I.

So as we sweated out the final decision on the postponement (yes, I now have to go back tomorrow!!!) we pulled out the pre-packed take away containers and enjoyed our lunch.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad
Adapted From the Delicious Quick Smart Cook Cookbook

Serves 4-6

1 cooked chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded (to give 3 cups)
2 carrots, finely julienned *
1/2 chinese (wombok) cabbage, shredded
1/2 red onion, finely diced *
1 lebanese cucumber, finely julienned *
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup each thai basil, mint and coriander leaves, toughly chopped
1/3 cup nuts (optional) - either cashews or peanuts


1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
100ml fresh lime juice
1 small clove garlic, finely diced (optional)

* If you have a mandoline this will make the job so much easier!!!
I did not add the garlic - and I am glad I didn't - but that is up to you!

For the dressing, place the fish sauce and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, or until sugar disolved.

Place the sugar mixture in a blender/thermomix with the chilli, ginger (and garlic if using).  Process until smooth.

Stir in the lime juice, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine the chicken, carrot, cabbage, onion, cucumber, chilli and most of the herbs.  Pour over half of the dressing, toss well to combine.

Divide among the serving bowls.  Garnish with the remaining herbs and nuts and drizzle with remaining dressing.

This was oh so cooling on a hot day.  It had a bit of a chilli kick to it, and the flavours were great.

It was the highlight of my swelteringly hot day!!!

So spare a thought for me tomorrow, and pray that the weather gods bring cooler weather - they actually are predicting rain - so I could be sitting there under an umbrella LOL!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oaty Chocolate Caramel Rice Bubble Bars

Well by now the kids will have settled back into school.

If you are lucky/unlucky enough to be here in Sydney, the poor kids will have not only had to settle back into the classrooms, but they have had to deal with the extreme heat that we have been experiencing  (I feel like I am melting!!!).

If you are looking for a little something to add to their lunchboxes here is a really easy recipe that they will love to eat.

Oaty Chocolate Caramel Rice Bubble Bars
adapted from a recipe found in Good Taste February edition

Makes 14 bars

Melted butter to grease pan
4 cups rice bubbles
1 cup rolled oats
1 can (395g) condensed mik (skim if you like)
60g butter
80ml (1/3 cup) honey
230g milk chocolate chips

Grease a 20 x 30cm cake pan with the melted butter.  Line the base and both long sides with baking paper, just make one long piece and drape it in!!

Place the rice bubbles and the oats in a large bow, mix to combine.  Make a well in the centre.

Combine the condensed milk, butter and honey in a small saucepan.  Stirring constantly over low heat, cook for 10 minutes, or until the mixture turns pale caramel in colour. (Do not take your eyes off the mixture, or stop stirring - or it will turn on you in an instant!!!!.

Add the caramel mixture to the oat and rice bubble mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Add approximately 1/2 of the packet of chocolate chips to the mixture - they will melt - but that is OK - it makes it kind of chocolately and caramel at the same time!!

Press the mixture into the prepared baking tray, pressing firmly.

Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips, pushing them gently into the mixture.

Place in the fridge for several hours to set.

Cut into bars - and voila - you have happy kids!!!!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge!!

PS the big kids like these too!!!

So Dear Readers do you have any tips for surviving the heat - please tell!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs in the Thermomix

While last night's meal was not particularly gourmet or spectacular I thought I would tell you about it anyway, just to show you how versatile the Thermomix is.

Those of you that live in Sydney will have suffered along with me in the sweltering summer heat yesterday.  At my house it was 42 degrees C at 5 pm (for those of you in the U.S that is over 107 degrees F!!!)  It was HOT!!!!  So I got to thinking what can I make for dinner that is not going to have me slaving away over a hot stove (and much and all as I would like a salad - "The Darlings" ain't never going to go for it - so I will have to cook for them anyway!)  Also we had afternoon sport (oh what joy, now that school is back!!!)

So..... I decided to experiment a little with my "toy" and see how I could "multi task" with the Thermomix and make my life a little simpler/cooler.

My meatball recipe was pretty simple

Serves 5-6

500g lean pork mince
500g chicken breast mince
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbs dried basil leaves
1 tbs dried oregano leaves
1 tbs vegetable stock concentrate
freshly ground black pepper

Place the onion and garlic in the TM bowl and chop for 4 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Chop again if necessary.

Add the minces and seasonings.  This is where I experimented - I used the "knead" function of the TM to combine the mixture - I "kneaded" the mixture for approximately 1 1/2 minutes until all the ingredients were combined.  Perfect - meant I didn't have to get my hands in there!!!

Next I just took small spoonfuls of the mixture and rolled them into balls (I know I still had to get a little dirty!!).  I placed the meatballs on the two levels of the varoma (the tray and the receptacle).  Then put them in the fridge while I got the sauce going.

Now onto the sauce.  I basically used the recipe from the Everyday Cooking for Every Family Cookbook - but made a couple of changes.

Tomato Sauce

1 kg fresh ripe tomatoes
1/2 red capsicum
35g olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch fresh basil
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs vegetable stock concentrate

Place all the ingredients in the TM bowl and pulverise for 1 minute on speed 10.  Make sure that all the ingredients are fully pulverised - repeat if necessary.

Cook for 30 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed soft.  Make sure you leave the measuring cup at an angle to prevent too much "spitting" of the sauce.

After 30 minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Place the varoma with the meatballs on top, and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes.  Place the meatballs and sauce into your thermoserver (it keeps things hot or cool - kind of like a thermos!!)

Rinse out your TM bowl.

Now place water into the the TM bowl (approx 1200g), add a little salt.  Cook for 14 minutes at 100C on speed 1.

Add your required amount of pasta, then cook for an additional 8-10 minutes at 100 degrees on Reverse and speed soft.

Drain, and serve with the meatballs!!!

As I said, nothing fancy or exotic - but look how easy it all was using the Thermomix!!!  No slaving over the stove stirring - Thermie did all the hard work for me!!!

Washing up was a breeze - the TM is so easy to clean.  I should know I had used it several times already yesterday afternoon to make homemade peanut butter and nuttella.  I don't know what I did before I had my little "buddy" to help me in the kitchen!!!

So Dear Readers how did you survive the heat yesterday???  Better batten down the hatches - it's going to be a scorcher again today - what is this day three or day four??  I have lost count - the brain is fried!!!

Keep Cool Dear Readers!!!