I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beef Rendang

This week I have had some wins, and some losses in the kitchen.

It's funny, I always feel that I should only tell you about the great meals that I make, and nothing about the dismal failures, but after having Madam T over for dinner the other night she persuaded me (she is very good at that!!) that I should tell you when a recipe just doesn't deliver - even when you have followed it to the T!  (no pun intended!!) Unfortunately, the meal I prepared for her was one of those dismal failures (I'm so sorry!)

Since setting out on the "Thermomix Consulting Journey" I have decided that I really need to cook a few more complete Thermomix meals so that I can guide my customers in a more knowledgeable way - and tell them what are great easy meals for them to try with their new mighty helper.

So in that vein this week I made a Beef Rendang (great!!) and a dish with a funny name - Kroppkakor - traditional stuffed Swedish dumplings or so the recipe said (these were not so great!!!).

 Perhaps I should have stopped at the Beef Teriyaki and Soba Noodles recipe - just because it has an enticing name doesn't mean that it will be an enticing meal (although looking around I see that mine possibly were pretty close to what they should have been - perhaps it was just us that didn't care for them?).

For my taste they were a little stodgy.  How would one describe them - kind of like a very large, stuffed gnocchi.  Inside the potato dumpling is a mixture of pancetta and ham.  It is then cooked (steamed) and served with a bechamel sauce and lignonberry / cranberry sauce.  Interesting - but just too heavy!  Not sure if I would ever go there again.  Any readers out there that have had these, or made these, please let me know where I went wrong!!!

No on to the success - I made Beef Rendang one night this week in the Thermomix - it was so easy, and so tasty - this will definitely be on my "Make Again List".

Beef Rendang
From EDC Cookbook - Thermomix

Serves 3-4

Paste Ingredients
1 large red chilli
1 tsp shrimp paste
2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp turmeric

Rendang Ingredients
4 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
150g coconut milk
30g grated/shredded coconut
30g palm or brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp white pepper
1kg chuck steak, diced into 3cm cubes

Place the paste ingredients, except the oil, into the TM bowl and chop for 6 seconds on speed 7, until finely chopped.

Add the oil and saute for 3 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 3 to form a paste.

Add all the remaning ingredients to the bowl except for the meat.  Cook for 5 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 3.

Add the cubed meat and cook for 40-60* minutes at 100 degrees on Reverse + soft speed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

* 60 minutes made the meat lovely and tender - I would recommend this.

Serve with Jasmine rice.

I also highly recommend that if you like a little more richness/spiciness to your curry that you include a garnish of Mrs. Balls Hot Chutney. 

This is a great South African Chutney that I have only recently stumbled across.  They also have a milder version - but for me the hot one is the way to go.  You can find it in some supermarkets - or at specialty delicatessens.  Check it out - it is really good!!

I know that a curry usually is something that is left to bubble away on the stove left to it's own devices, but I did find  that making a curry this was was an incredibly easy/quick way to make a good curry.  I am keen to give this recipe a go using chicken.

So Dear Readers, do you hang your head in shame and try to forget about the failures, or do you seek advice on how to rectify, and try the recipe again?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lamb Shanks with Tamarind and Prunes

It happened to me again!!!  I set off to do the grocery shopping with a list that included chicken to make chicken biryani - but somehow I ended up with lamb!

You see I went to the chicken shop, but then made the mistake of also checking out the butcher's window!!! I am not a great lamb lover, but these lovely little frenched lamb shanks seemed to be calling out to me!  I usually find lamb shanks a little too greasy for my liking, but these ones seemed very clean and relatively fat free!
I didn't really have a recipe in mind, but I bought them anyway.  I did seem to recall though that I had seen a recipe in the latest edition of the MasterChef Magazine, so into the supermarket to find the magazine and check out what I would need to cook these little beauties!  Of course I got caught reading the magazine by a friend, who asked me if I was too cheap to buy the magazine - "Of course not I replied!!!  I already have it at home - I just wasn't sure what I needed"  (I don't think she was convinced though!!)

The recipe I was thinking of was one of Marion Grasby's and it looked really good (of course taken in by the picture again!!!)   It was a nice combination of cinnamon, ginger, garlic and prunes, but with the interesting addition of tamarind.  

Oh if only you could have smelled my house that day - the aromas that were wafting from the kitchen were divine!!  

There really is nothing better on a cold winter's night than coming into a house that has lovely enticing aromas, and then sitting down to eat a gorgeous hot warming meal!

Lamb Shanks with Tamarind and Prunes
Adapted from recipe by Marion Grasby, printed in MasterChef Magazine - August Edition

Serves 3-4

5 x 300g frenched lamb shanks
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup olive oil
50g butter
3 onions, halved, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 cinnamon quill
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup tamarind puree *
255g pitted prunes
50g flaked almonds
1/4 cup coriander leaves

Garlic Paris Mash and steamed green beans to serve

* I used 1 tbs tamarind concentrate.  Use according to your taste.

Place the lamb shanks in a large ziploc bag.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with the flour and toss to coat.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish over medium-high heat.  Shake the excess flour from the shanks.  Cook, turning for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned on all sides.  Transfer to a tray.  Drain all but 2 tbs oil from the pan.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Return the casserole to medium heat.  Add the butter and the onions.  Cook stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until aromatic.  Add the cinnamon, stir for a minute or so, or until fragrant.

Add the stock, tamarind and prunes.

Return the lamb to the casserole dish, ensuring that they are all submerged in liquid.  Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 2 1/2 hours or until the lamb is almost falling off the bone.

Serve garnished with flaked almonds and coriander leaves and Garlic Paris Mash and steamed green beans on the side.

As I said before I am not a big lamb fan, but this dish was delicious!  Lovely warm fragrant flavours, and oh so perfect on a cold night.  I will definitely be making this one again!!

So now I have to question myself - am I better off heading to the shops with a list in hand, or should I be more laid back in my approach, and just buy something that beckons me on the day?

What is your approach Dear Reader - are you organise, or do you just "wing it?"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moroccan Lamb and Pumpkin Casserole with Couscous

By now Dear Readers you should know that when it comes to the Thermomix I am a raving fan!!!

Yes, I know that I am now a consultant, and I am supposed to promote it, but I just love "Thermie" so much that I can't stop talking about him.  So  many days, in so many ways, he helps me in the kitchen.  I may make a small component of the meal in him, or like tonight I might make the whole meal in him (should I say that - doesn't sound quite right does it??)  Anyway tonight's meal is utilising the varoma as well as the bowl - so it is a complete meal in one!!!

Moroccan Lamb and Pumpkin Casserole with Couscous
Adapted from Meat on the Menu - Thermomix Cookbook 
recipe contributed by Sandra Harris, WA

Serves 4

1 onion, peeled, and quartered
1 cloves garlic
1 tbs butter
400-600g cubed lamb
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
400g can chick peas, drained
100g pitted dates
30g honey
50g tomato paste
juice 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into large chunks
1 cup couscous

Place the pumpkin cubes into the bottom of the varoma receptacle.  On the top layer place a piece of baking paper that has been crinkled and rinsed in water.  Rinse the couscous liberally with water and place on the wet paper.  Place the lid on the varoma.

Place the onion, garlic and butter into the TM bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 5.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and saute for 3 minutes at varoma temperature on speed 1.

Add the lamb and the spices and cook for 7 minutes at varoma temperature on reverse and speed soft.  Make sure to place the varoma on top while this is cooking.

Add the reminaing ingredients and cook for a further 10 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse and speed soft (again with the varoma in place!).

Place the meat and the pumpkin into the thermoserver and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

If the couscous is still not quite cooked, rinse out the TM bowl and fill it with boiling water.  Place the couscous and varoma receptacle back on top and cook at varoma temperature for 10 minutes on speed 4.

So there you have it a meal cooked in 30 minutes, all in the one place.  How easy is that?  The flavours in this dish were really lovely.  Adding the pumpkin added another lovely element to the dish, and perhaps a little more sweetness.

I'm not going to bang on here about Thermie - you know I'm having an affair with him!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shredded Chilli Beef Burritos

No matter what type of filling I make, if it ends up being wrapped in a tortilla, it seems to be a winner!  In fact they love burritos so much that even if we are having a "make your own" dinner more often than not "The Darlings" will make some form of burrito - usually baked beans and cheese (which I am not complaining about, because it's vegetables, and they are eating it of their own free choice!!!).

I tend not to make the plain mince type that often, I like to experiment, so when I saw a recipe in the July edition of Good Taste Magazine for Shredded Chilli Beef I was pretty sure I was onto a winner!

This is one is easy to prepare, then you just let it simmer away for around 4 hours - trust me you will not be disappointed!

Shredded Chilli Beef
From Good Taste Magazine - July Edition

Serves 6 +

1.2kg beef chuck Steak, cut into thick slices
1 tbs olive oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp allspice
500ml tomato passata (tomato pasta sauce)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbs finely chopped pickled jalapenos
3 dried bay leaves

To Serve:
Flour tortillas
Sour Cream
Grated Cheese

Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over high heat.  Cook the beef in batches, for 3 minutes each side, or until golden.  Transfer to a plate to keep warm.  Repeat with remaining beef.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook the onion, stirring for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Add the garlic, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Mix the cumin, paprika and allspice in a bowl.  Add to the onion mixture, and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Add the passata, water, jalapenos, and bay leaves.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 hours, or until the beef is almost tender.

Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 1 1/2 hours, or until the liquid is reduced and the beef is very tender.

Using two forks, take pieces of the beef from the liquid, and gently shred.  Place in a bowl, and repeat until all the beef is shredded.  Season with salt and pepper, plus a small amount of the cooking liquid.

Place a tortilla on a paper towel, on a plate, and warm in the microwave for 20 seconds.  Add grated cheese, and the beef, roll up, and then garnish with avocado, sour cream and salsa.

We have just bought a sandwich press so we like to make our burritos in that now - they end up nice and crispy on the outside, and toasty warm in the middle!

So Dear Readers how do you like your burritos?  Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share with us?  Do you like yours crispy on the outside, or just regular warmed tortillas?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mandarin Miso Salmon

Recently a gorgeous photo arrived in my inbox via Food Buzz - if you haven't fallen across this site yet - then you owe it to yourself to take a look.  Serious food porn happening there!!!

Anyway the photo that took my fancy was a salmon recipe - not only was the photo drool worthy - but it was salmon - you know I can't resist a good salmon recipe.  Now I have nowhere even duplicated her lovely photography, but I have made the recipe.  Let me tell you it is lovely.  Of course I have made a few alterations......

Mandarin Miso Salmon
Adapted from recipe at SpiceFoodie's blog

4-6 salmon fillets
5 small mandarins, peeled
reserved skin from 1-2 mandarins
4 cloves garlic
2-3cm fresh ginger
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs red miso paste
1 tbs honey
1 additional mandarin for garnish

ketchap manis and honey to serve

Place the 5 small mandarins, garlic, and ginger in the bowl of the Thermomix (or food processor).  Process for 20 seconds on speed 9.  Add the rice vinegar, miso paste and honey and process for 10 seconds on speed 4.  Put the mandarin mixture in a large bowl.  Add the salmon fillets.

Cut the reserved skin into matchstick size pieces, and add to the salmon and mandarin mixture in the bowl. Cover with cling wrap and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, longer if time permits.

Cutting between the membrane, cut the additional mandarin into segments (do this over the bowl to catch any juice that drips!!).   Reserve until cooking time.

Remove the salmon from the marinade.  Heat a large frypan over medium high heat.  Add a splash of olive oil, and cook the salmon for 3 minutes.  Turn the salmon over and add the additional mandarin segments.  Drizzle with a little honey and cook for 3 minutes, or until the salmon is done to your liking.

Serve salmon with steamed vegetables, and smashed potatoes.  Drizzle a little ketchap manis over the plate as a garnish.

This dish was lovely!!  Beautiful fresh vibrant flavours - and mandarins are at their prime at the moment here in Australia.  Please, do yourselves a favour, and if you love salmon - give this recipe a try!!!  You will not be disappointed!

Now you are probably going to wonder how - but there were some leftovers (one of "The Darlings" didn't like it too much) - so the leftover piece ended up on a pizza the next night!!!! Double the yum factor!!!  His loss, my gain I say!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Hazelnut Cake with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

I was on dessert duty the other day.  Actually I was on more than that, but I was coming down with the dreaded "lurgie" and I couldn't think, let alone contemplate what I was going to make.  In fact, I was not even sure I was going to attend the event - but you know, sometimes you have just got to go the extra mile!!  Especially when there are birthdays (and death anniversaries) involved!

I had about a million ideas running through my head of what I thought I was going to make for dessert - but as for motivation.... zipo, zilch!!!  I unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it,  had to make a mad dash to the local fruit and vegie shop, and it was there that I found the recipe for a Rhubarb and Hazelnut Cake.  It looked interesting.  I had all the necessary ingredients.  I also had some strawberries, that I was going to do something else with, but had just never got around to it.  Perhaps we can combine them all???

So here is what eventuated.....

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Hazelnut Cake with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Adapted from a recipe found on a card produced by Sydney Markets

Serves 8

125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
100g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 bunch of rhubarb, trimmed, washed, cut into 2cm lengths
1 x 250g punnet strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tbs icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.  Grease and line a 22cm round springform pan with baking paper.

Either with electric beaters (or in the Thermomix) beat the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy (in TM speed 5 for approximately 1 minute - scrape down bowl and repeat if necessary).  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  (TM - still on speed 5 - for approximately 15-20 seconds).

Gently fold in flour, milk and half of the hazelnuts (speed 2-3 - 10-20 seconds).

Spoon mixture in to prepared pan.

Evenly top the cake batter with the rhubarb and strawberries.  Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts.  Gently press the mixture into the cake batter.

Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is cooked when tested with a skewer.

Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Dust with icing sugar.

Serve warm with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream (or Thermomix Vanilla Bean Custard!!!)

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

500ml Whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2-3 tbs icing sugar

Whip cream until soft peaks form.  Add the vanilla bean paste and icing sugar.  Continue whipping until stiff peaks form (dont't go too far - or you will have vanilla cream butter!!!!)


So tell me Dear Readers do you have times when you just can't get your head around what you are going to make, and wander aimlessly until an idea lands literally right in front of you!  Please tell me it isn't only me?!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chilli Lime Prawns and Caramel Chicken

What to have for dinner - the never ending dilemma!!

I raided the freezer to see what we had - I didn't really want to go out and buy anything as it was the end of the week and the big shop was looming.  I knew I had some chicken thighs somewhere in the freezer.  Now just what to do with them?  Lots of grand ideas - I could make a chicken and bacon gnocchi - had all the ingredients, but the trouble was I didn't have enough time in between taxi runs with afternoon activities.  Pasta? No - going to have that tomorrow!  A quick flick through the current cooking magazines and I found a recipe for Caramel Chicken.  Great that will do, but will there be enough for us all?  Probably not, another scrounge through the frozen tundra resulted in some green prawns.  Ok we will have 2 dishes now!!!

Chilli Lime Prawns is an old stand by in this house.  Always quick and simple to make - great on the BBQ, and always a welcome addition to any meal.

Chilli Lime Prawns

500g green prawns, peeled, but tails intact
juice from 1 lime (if you like it extra sour you might like to add the zest as well)
1/2 bunch of coriander, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce

Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour - longer if time permits.

Heat a large frypan or wok over high heat, quickly stir fry the prawns until they turn pink, and are cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Caramel Chicken with Pickled Cucumber and Carrot
Adapted From Super Food Ideas Magazine - August Edition

Serves 4 

800g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
juice of 1 lime

Pickled Cucumber and Carrot

1/4 rice vinegar
2 tbs caster sugar
2 lebanese cucumbers, cut into thin ribbons
1 carrot, finely shredded

To make the pickled cucumber and carrot.  Place the vinegar and caster sugar in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 tbs cold water.  Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved (approx 2 minutes).  Place mixture in a heatproof bowl.  Make the cucumber ribbons using a vegetable peeler.  Place the cucumber ribbons and shredded carrot into the vinegar mixture.  Set aside to cool completely.

Caramel Chicken

Heat a small amount of oil in a wok over medium high heat.  Cook the chicken in batches, stirring until just cooked. Transfer to a bowl.

Add a little more oil, then the onion, cook stirring for approximately 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.  Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add  the chicken back to the pan.  Add the soy sauce.  Cook, covered for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the sugar, and cook stirring for 1 - 2 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling.  Add the fish sauce and lime juice.  Cook stirring for 1 minute, or until the sauce thickens.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice, and the pickled cucumber and carrot.

If you have tried my Chinese Spag Bol and liked it, then you will love this recipe too.  Lovely sweet, juicy pieces of chicken - a good one for the kids!!!  Yes, "The Darlings" liked it, but one did pick out the onion!!!!

Oh if only it would stop raining.

I have to go out now and get a new battery for the car - don't you just love it when the battery starts to go,  and it is the most absolutely crappiest weather outside.  You don't want to go out - but you know that if you test the boundaries, that battery is going to fail you in the worst possible way, at the worst possible time otherwise!!!  Wish me luck - now I have to sit at the mechanics, held a prisoner in the waiting room because of the weather!!!

Hope the weather is nicer wherever you are reading this blog!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Asian Style Beef Pot Roast

Yesterday was cold, cold, cold!  I don't think the temperature climbed much above 12 degrees C all day, and as the afternoon progressed it seemed to get even colder.

Worst was yet to come though, overnight New South Wales was lashed with a severe storm - icy winds, and rain, rain rain.  I am thankful that even tough we live in an incredibly bushy little hollow, the winds tend to whip over the top of us - I can lie in bed and watch the trees whip from side to side - one day I am sure we will not be so lucky - but keep your fingers crossed!!  Rain however, that is another story - we still live with a room that leaks every time it rains (bad renovation and litigation still pending).  I'd like to tie the builder up and leave him to rot under the leak sometimes!!!

Thank goodness I had the foresight to prepare a lovely warming meal for last night's dinner.  It was supposed to be a pot roast that was cooked on the stove top, but I thought I would put it in the crock pot instead.  This was not your usual run of the mill pot roast - there was no thick gravy, instead a lovely Asian style broth.  At first I was going to serve it with rice and steamed Asian greens, but in the end I made Garlic Paris Mash (in the Thermomix of course) and some steamed veggies.

Asian Style Beef Pot Roast
Adapted from recipe found in Super Food Ideas Magazine - August Edition

Serves 4-6

1.2kg piece beef silverside roast
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced into wedges
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
the peel of 1 mandarin, (medium-large size) into strips
juice of 1 mandarin
1/3 cup Shao-Hsing cooking wine
1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups beef stock

Place a small amount of oil into a large frypan over medium high heat.  Brown all sides of the piece of beef.  Remove from pan.

In the same pan, add another small amount of oil, if needed, then add the onion, and cook stirring for 5 minutes, or until softened.  Add the  garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and orange rind.  Cook stirring for 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add the cooking wine.  Simmer for 1 minute.  Add the soy sauce, sugar, mandarin juice and beef stock.  Bring to the boil.

Place the piece of beef in the crock pot.  Cover with the liquid.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  You could also now cook this on the stove top.  Simmer, covered for 3 + hours, or until the beef is very tender.  You want the meat to be falling apart!!!

Serve with steamed veggies of choice and mashed garlicky potato!!!!

This was a deliciously light meal, I just loved having lots of the broth on the plate, and being able to mop it up with the garlicky mash!!!

All in all great flavours, and really simple to make!!!

If you live in New South Wales try to keep warm and dry Dear Readers!!!!

What to make to keep warm on the inside tonight???  Time to go raid the freezer and the pantry and see what we have in stock - don't want to go out in this weather!!

Do you have any suggestions Dear Readers, what do you like to make when it's cold and wet outside???

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beef in Sweet Soy Sauce

Firstly I have to start this post by saying thank you to all my loyal readers who have made such beautiful comments to my last couple of posts.

Life in blog world can be very strange - you sit here somedays and think that the whole world is listening to every little gem of wisdom that you offer up to the stratosphere. Then there are other days you feel like you are absolutely insane, and sitting here blabbering away to yourself.

I went through a couple of weeks there where I didn't feel like talking (not even to myself), didn't check my stats, didn't even want to post.  You know what - it made not an iota of difference. People still came and went, just random visitors that left no comments.  Then, I don't know why, but I felt the need to post something - anything to explain my absence - and the outpouring of love and heartfelt emotions overwhelmed me.  So thank you Dear Readers, I know now that I have some true friends out there, that do take notice when I am not here.

Last night was a quick and easy dinner, but a really tasty dish that was enjoyed by all  (some to more degrees than others) of course "The Darlings" didn't go for the tomatoes - but hey - you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time!!!

Beef in Sweet Soy Sauce
Adapted From Super Food Ideas Magazine August Edition

Serves 4-6

6 eschalots, peeled, quartered
6 cloves garlic
3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
pinch white pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp tamarind concentrate (suit to taste)
1kg beef or veal schnitzel, cut in strips approx 5 cm in width
vegetable oil
4-5 small tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup ketchap manis
1 green shallot, sliced on the diagonal
small handful of baby spinach

Place the eschalots, garlic, pepper, tamarind concentrate, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of water in the thermomix bowl (or a small food processor).  Pulse on turbo until you have a thick paste.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Cook the schnitzel in batches, until just browned.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add the eschalot paste to the pan and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Return the beef to the pan.  Add the ketchap manis and tomaotes to the pan, and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until all well combined.

Top with the sliced green onions and baby spinach.  Serve with steamed rice.

The trick to this recipe is not to cook the schnitzel too long, or it will become tough.  Just a light frying to golden it up.

The flavours in this dish were really simple, but they worked so well together.  A good quick easy dinner to prepare.

Tonight I have an Asian Style Pot Roast in the Crock Pot - and boy am I glad, it is absolutely freezing here!!!  There is snow close by, just don't tell "The Darlings" or I will be making a 3 hour drive before dinner!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Asian Style Mussels in the Thermomix

It's not so much that we haven't been eating, but I have been a bit down in the dumps of late.

As you know I have a son with Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS), and for us life, and food is a constant challenge.

Well PWS raised it's big ugly head in a very big way over the last few weeks, and to tell you the truth it all just became a bit too much for me.  So anything relating to food was something I just didn't want to deal with.  Meals were produced, but I didn't have the enthusiasm that I usually did about them.  Meal time in this house can be a challenge at the best of times - but when food is the BIGGEST issue in the house - you really don't want to think about meals, or taking photos of them.

We are becoming very close to living our lives with food in total lockdown.  How hard is that going to be??  Incredibly hard on all of us - but to make it easier for "The boy who can never be filled" it is probably something that we need to do sooner rather than later.  You see life for him is one constant thought about how, and where he is going to get his next bit of food from.  This can be regardless of whether he has just eaten or not.  His brain is always telling him he is hungry.

But enough about that......

One of the meals that I made last week was a one pot wonder in the Thermomix.  (By the way I have officially graduated from Thermomix school and I did my first demonstration on the weekend - boy was I nervous - I actually think nervous is a bit of an understatement!!!).

Asian Style Mussels

Serves 3

1kg mussels, de-bearded and cleaned
250g green prawns, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 tbs yellow curry paste
2-3cm piece of ginger
1 lemongrass, pale section only
270ml light coconut cream
400m light coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs palm sugar, grated
1 tsp sesame oil

various vegies - such as asparagus, bok choy, broccolini
Chopped coriander to garnish

Steamed rice to serve.

Place garlic, ginger and lemongrass into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape down bowl with spatula and repeat if necessary.

Add the sesame oil and saute for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.

Add the remaining ingredients to the TM bowl.

In the varoma receptacle place the vegetables in the bottom layer, and in the second layer place the mussels and prawns.

Place the varoma receptacle in place and cook for 20 minutes at varoma temperature on speed 3.

Place the steamed rice in a serving bowl.  Top with vegetables and the steamed seafood.  Pour over the coconut sauce.

Easy, peasy, and oh so tasty!!!!

So Dear Readers bear with me and my lapses in posting - food just can be the root of all evil sometimes!!!

What do you do when you get down in the dumps?  How do you dust yourself off and get back up again?  I'm sure I know the answer to that - food!!! Wonderful food!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'll be back!!!!

Dear Readers, I apologise for the break in transmission.  I am feeling a little down in the dumps, unmotivated, unloved, and greatly unappreciated in the kitchen at the moment.

But don't you worry, I will dust myself off, pick myself up.......and in those immortal words that Arnie once uttered..........

"I'll be back!!!"

Watch this space!

PS: Looking for new family that likes to eat good food - applications now being accepted.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beef and Guinness Casserole with Parmesan Dumplings

On a blustery, cold, windy, wintery day like today is there anything better than a big warm casserole to end off the day?

There are so many beef casserole recipes out there, all with a few minor tweaks here and there - but the all important part of the dish is the beef that has has been simmered slowly until it is so tender it just falls apart.  You see lots of recipes using red wine, but I had some Guinness lurking in the back of the cupboard that I wanted to use.  I simply adapted a recipe that I found at Taste.com.au to utilise the Guinness.

Beef and Guinness Casserole with Parmesan Dumplings
adapted from Taste.com.au

Serves 6

1.5kg gravy beef, cut into cubes
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 rashers bacon, roughly chopped
500g mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbs plain flour
2 cups beef stock
1 cup Guinness
2 thyme sprigs
3 fresh bay leaves
50g butter
2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  In batches, brown the beef until it is sealed on all sides.  Remove to a plate, and keep warm.

Add the onion, bacon, mushrooms, and garlic, cook, stirring for 5 minutes, or until soft.  Stir in the flour. Add the beef, beef stock, Guinness, thyme, and bay leaves.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender and the meat is starting to fall apart.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

To make the dumplings, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  Add the milk and mix well to bring all the ingredients together.  Roll into approximately 20 small balls.

Spoon the meat in to a lightly greased casserole dish.  Top with the dumplings, making sure to push the dumplings at least halfway down into the sauce.

Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lovely and golden, and the dumplings are cooked through.

Serve with a green vegetable, and you have a lovely warm, winter hug!!!!

Stay out of the wind today if you are in Sydney, and try and keep warm!!!!!

So Dear Readers what are you do to keep warm on cold winter's days.  Do you snuggle up next to the fire, or do you go back to bed with a good book?  Perhaps you get cooking, and warm the heart of the house up by baking?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Salmon with Mushroom and Fennel Ragout

Since reading The Salt Book I have been much more aware of how, and with what type of salt, I salt my food.  I have in my possession a small amount of Fleur de Sel, and have been anxious to try it out to see if it is the miraculous seasoning it is claimed to be.  I gave it a road test on two totally different dishes this weekend.

The first road test was the humble boiled egg.  Now I am not usually a big fan of the boiled egg - I like my eggs poached in salty, vinegary water (no glad wrap pouch for poaching for this girl!!)  Actually this was a double test - they had been banging on at Thermomix training about making boiled eggs in the Thermomix.  They kept going on about how wonderful they were - they were virtually steamed eggs - the yolks were perfectly centred, yadayadayada!!  OK let's test this out.  Yes, they were good - yes the yolks were perfectly centred - but they did not sing in my humble opinion until I added the Fleur de Sel.  It made the humble boiled egg a delightful, rich yolky wonder!!!

Now the second test was on the salmon dish that I made for dinner.

Whenever I see a beautiful photo of a salmon dish I just have to give it a try.  This was a Curtis Stone recipe, and he didn't steer me wrong with the last seafood dish of his that I tried.  This meal was though, perhaps a little bit of a let down compared to that last one.  It was lacking in those oopmhy flavours that the last one had - but even so, it was a lovely winter's night meal.  Kind of soupy, yet the salmon gave it a main meal feel.

As I have learned reading The Salt Book, you should layer your salting, tasting after each addition.  I layered the salt within the ragout, and achieved a good flavour.  I salted the piece of salmon with the Fleur de Sel and freshly ground black pepper.  It all came together really nicely, however, when I added the Fleur de Sel to the meal at the table the salt seemed to make the meal sing!!!  It somehow brought out a subtle sweetness in the sauce, so there was a lovely combination of salt, but yet with a very subtle undertone of sweetness.

Salmon with Mushroom and Fennel Ragout
A Curtis Stone Recipe in MasterChef Magazine, July Edition

Serves 4

4 x 180g pieces of salmon (I used tail pieces, but if not make sure they are pin boned)
1 tbs olive oil

Vegetable Ragout
500ml (2 cups) milk
30g butter
1 tbs flour
1 tbs chopped thyme
60ml olive oil
250g swiss brown mushrooms, halved, or quartered if large
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 potato, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes (I was feeling lazy and used new potatoes, and did not skin)
2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 bulb fennel, trimmed, finely chopped, fronds reserved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

To make the sauce for the ragout heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm, then remove from heat.  Melt butter in second saucepan over low-medium heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until grainy.  Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth, then increase heat to medium high, and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring for 4 minutes to cook out the taste of the flour.  Add the thyme and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Remove from heat and cover surface with plastic wrap. *

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.  To make ragout, heat 1 tbs oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring , for 5 minutes or until golden.  Season and transfer to a plate.  Heat remaining 2 tbs oil in pan, add onion and potato, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add leeks, celery, fennel and garlic, then cook, stirring for a further 5 minutes, or until the potato is almost tender.  Return the mushrooms to the pan, stir in the wine and simmer  for 2 minutes or until almost evaporated.  Stir in the white sauce to coat the vegetables.  Remove from the heat and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cover to keep warm.

To cook the salmon, heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. **  Season the salmon with Fleur de Sel and freshly ground black pepper, then cook, skinned side up for 2 minutes or until the underside is light golden.  Turn the salmon over, then transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 6 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked.

Divide the ragout among the bowls, top with the salmon and scatter with the fennel fronds.  Season to taste with Fleur de Sel salt.

*  I prepared the white sauce using the Thermomix using the Bechamel sauce recipe, but halving the recipe and the cooking time.

** I lined a baking tray with foil and transferred the salmon to the baking tray (this helped considerably with the cleaning up!!)

This was a lovely warming winter meal.  It reminded me a little of a soup, it was creamy, and very warming. The flavours were great, added greatly to by the addition of the Fleur de Sel.

I highly recommend you trying some of the more "exotic" salts that are out there on the market.  They certainly add a new element to your dish.  Yes, they are more expensive, but the amount you add to your dish is so minimal, that they will last a lot longer than regular "table salt".

I say ditch your table salt usage, and experiment.  I also strongly recommend researching, and becoming more aware of how you use, and what type of salt you use.  Of course The Salt Book is a wonderful resource tool.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Couple of Quick and Easy Meals in the Thermomix

Life has been a bit of a blur this week - as in everyone's house, there are weeks when you can just never seem to get your head above the s..t.  We have been eating, and I have been taking the photos, but getting to the posts.... well that is another issue.

What I have made, I have made quickly and easily in the Thermomix.  I know that I am in training to become a consultant, and that I should be saying good things about the Thermomix, but I was absolutely blown away this week with how easy the lasagne was to make.  Lasagne is usually a thing that takes several hours, and many dirty pots, before you get it onto the table.

From grating the cheese to sitting down to eat the lasagne I swear it took about an hour and a half!!  How good is that?  Bechamel sauce - took all of 15 minutes - and was perfect and lump free!

Adapted from EDC Thermomix Cookbook

Serves 6

Before starting the recipe - grate all your cheeses.  8 seconds on speed 8.

Bechamel Sauce
1000g milk
100g flour
100g butter
1 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg

50-100g pecorino cheese
Pre-cooked-lasagne sheets

Place all ingredients in the TM bowl and cook for 12 minutes at 90 degrees on speed 4.  Add the pecorino cheese to taste.  Mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.  Remove the sauce and set aside in a jug.

Wash and dry the TM bowl.

Bolognaise Sauce

1kg mince
1 onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
2 zucchini, roughly chopped
3 rashers bacon
25g oil
50g red wine
2 tbs vegetable stock concentrate
2 tbs tomato paste
400g can chopped tomatoes

Place the onion, carrot, celery, bacon, zucchini, garlic into the TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 5.

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

Add the mince and cook for 10 minutes at varoma temperature on reverse and soft speed.   At this stage you may need to move the meat around with the spatula - due to the large amount of meat in the bowl.  If there are still lumps of uncooked meat, cook for an additional 5 minutes, breaking up with the spatula.

Add the wine, vegetable stock concentrate, tomato paste and tomatoes.  Cook for 15 minutes at Varoma temperature on Reverse and soft speed. (remove the MC and place the basket on the top to avoid the sauce spitting out the top).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Lightly grease a large  rectangular baking dish.  Place a layer of lasagne sheets in the bottom of the dish.  Cover with a layer of bolognaise sauce, top with a layer of bechamel sauce, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.  Repeat layers, ending with a layer of pasta, and bechamel sauce.  Top with parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges are bubbling.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

This has got to have been one of the easiest lasagnes I have ever made!!!  I certainly won't be relegating lasagne to the "too hard" basket any more!

Another quick and easy dinner winner this week was a Tomato and Meatball Risotto.  As you know Risottos are oh so simple in the Thermomix - this one was just a tweak of ingredients to make it tomato based - and the meatballs were just sausages squeezed into meatballs and steamed in the varoma - too easy!

Tomato and Meatball Risotto
Adapted form Super Food Ideas Magazine - July edition

Serves 6

1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
30g olive oil
400g arborio rice
100g white wine
1100g liquid (made up of chicken stock and canned chopped tomatoes)
1kg Italian style sausages

Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings, forming small meatballs.  Place the meatballs in both levels of the varoma receptacle.

Place the onion and garlic in the TM bowl, chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.

Add the oil and saute for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1 (with the MC off).

Insert the butterfly, and add the rice and wine into the TM bowl, saute for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse and speed soft.

Set the scales to zero - add the canned tomatoes, and make up the difference in weight with chicken stock.  Place the varoma tray on top of the TM.  Cook for 17 minutes at 100 degrees on Reverse and speed soft.

After the 17 minutes season the risotto with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and place it in the Thermoserver.

Half fill the TM bowl with boiling water and place the varoma trays back on top of the TM bowl.  Cook at varoma temperature and speed 4 for 15 minutes.  Add the meatballs to the risotto.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side.

This week I graduate from Thermomix Training, and then I am out in the big wide world telling all and sundry how wonderful this machine is.  Wish me luck!  While I know how wonderful the Thermomix is, I don't know how successful I will be in actually turning that enthusiasm into sales.  I hope I am not too nervous at my first demo!!!