Monthly Archives: April 2012

Homemade: Pizza Dough

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I have made this pizza dough many, many times and it is fantastic. Easy to make, delicious to eat and, as a bonus, quite tolerant of young children kneading and rolling the life out of it before turning it into butterfly shaped pizza complete with little dough antennae!

It is  a Jamie Oliver Recipe from his first book The Naked Chef which I have converted for the Thermomix. To allow for proving time it’s a good idea to make the dough first then prep all your pizza toppings while it rises. This recipe makes enough for 6-8 thin crust pizzas. If you want to make more dough, do it in 2 lots as the thermomix can’t handle doubling this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 15g fresh or dried yeast
  • 15g honey
  • 300-350ml warm water
  • Water weighs 1:1 so 350ml of water is 350g of water
  • 250g white baker’s flour
  • 250g semolina flour
  • 15g pink salt
  • extra flour and semolina flour mixed together for dusting

Method

  1. Place yeast, honey and half the warm water in TMX
  2. Mix 5 sec, Sp 7 with MC in place
  3. Leave in TMX for 5 min to allow yeast to react
  4. Add flours then salt  and mix 5 sec, Sp 7
  5. Set TMX to closed lid position and knead for 1-2 min while slowly pouring in remaining water
  6. Turn dough out onto floured bench or into large bowl with a handful of flour in the bottom
  7. Knead by hand for 30 seconds then leave to prove in a warm, draft-free spot for at least 40 minutes

I like to turn my oven onto 100C for 5 min then switch off and put dough in there to prove. I place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and place a tea towel across the top to stop any drafts.

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Moist Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

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This chocolate cake recipe is a definite winner. Easy to whip up and works every time. I’ve made it many times as a ring cake (pictured), as little cakes for the kids or doubled the recipe and made slab cakes for birthdays. The recipe is originally from the Country Women’s Association Cookbook, with my own tweaks and thermomix conversion. It is delicious without icing,but this caramel icing (from The Australian Women’s Weekly Easy Baking Cookbook) takes it to a whole new level of decadence.

Moist Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 210g soft brown sugar
  • 220g milk used in 2 x 110g lots or 1 cup milk (divided between 2 half cups)
  • 30g golden syrup (1 tbs)
  • 270g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1tsp bicarb soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Thermomix Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Place cubed butter, sugar, golden syrup and 110g milk in TMX bowl
  3. Melt at 90C for 3min, Sp 1
  4. If butter hasn’t quite melted, whiz for 5 sec, Sp 4
  5. Add flour, cocoa, bicarb soda and cinnamon
  6. Mix 6 sec, Sp 4 then scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 6 sec, Sp 4
  7. With blades spinning at Sp 3, slowly pour in another 110g milk
  8. Mix for a further 20 sec, Sp 3
  9. Pour into lined deep 20cm ring pan or divide between patty pans
  10. Bake 180C: 25-30 min in ring pan, 20-25 min in 2tbls/40ml patty pans or 15-20 min in 1tbls/20ml mini patty pans
  11. Allow to cool completely on cake rack before icing

Non-Thermomix Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Place cubed butter, sugar, golden syrup and 1/2 cup milk in saucepan and heat together until melted
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa, bicarb soda and cinnamon
  4. Pour melted ingredients onto dry, sifted ingredients and mix together well
  5. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk and mix in lightly
  6. Pour into lined deep 20cm ring pan or divide between patty pans
  7. Bake 180C: 25-30 min in ring pan, 20-25 min in 2tbls/40ml patty pans or 15-20 min in 1tbls/20ml mini patty pans
  8. Allow to cool completely on cake rack before icing

Caramel Icing

Your cake or cakes need to have cooled completely before you ice them, otherwise the caramel icing will just melt off. The caramel icing needs to be poured straight onto the cake or cakes as soon as it has been cooked. As it cools this icing sets to a soft, caramel consistency. As a result you will need to work fairly quickly if you are icing little cakes. I usually only ice a ring cake and tend to make little cakes without icing, just to make life a little bit easier!

Ingredients

  • 60g butter
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 2tbs milk
  • 120g icing sugar

Thermomix Method

  1. Place butter, sugar and milk in TMX bowl
  2. Cook at 100C, 8min, Sp 1
  3. Add icing sugar
  4. Mix 10 sec, Sp 4
  5. Pour over cake, using a spatula to gently spread as necessary

Non-Thermomix Method

  1. Stir butter, sugar and milk in a small saucepan over heat until sugar dissolves
  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue stirring for 2 minutes
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in sifted icing sugar
  4. Pour over cake, using a spatula to gently spread as necessary

Peek in my Pantry: Vanilla Beans

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I love scraping the vanilla seeds out of a fresh vanilla pod. They smell so wonderful and have such fantastic flavour. I am often disheartened by the ridiculous price of vanilla beans in the supermarket or even specialty store, and the fact that they are often so dry with very few seeds inside when you split them open. Well, I have the solution to both of those problems. Beautiful, fat, shiny, delicious vanilla beans at a very affordable price delivered to your door. e-bay. Yes, you read it correctly, e-bay.

I had read about ordering spices and vanilla beans through e-bay on a few blogs and decided to give it a go. There are quite a few e-bay stores selling them. I’ve bought through The Spice Mill with no problems at all. I haven’t ordered any other spices or spice mixes from them but I think I will in the future. They state that their spices and spice mixes are pure spices, no additives, preservatives or fillers.

How about the price? I ordered 12 vanilla beans from The Spice Mill for $13 including postage within Australia. To buy 12 vanilla beans from the leading supermarkets you’ll pay at least $45! and they won’t be anything like the gorgeous ones you’ll get delivered to your door. The beans come packaged in a high-quality, thick zip lock bag and mine have always arrived in perfect condition.

Once you have your fabulous vanilla beans, kick that vanilla essence, vanilla extract and vanila paste to the kerb and use fresh seeds or make your own vanilla essence and vanilla sugar. Plus, of course, you can scrape out the seeds and add them directly to your cakes, ice creams, custards, panacottas … yum!

Homemade: Vanilla Sugar

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To make vanilla sugar, I three-quarter fill a clean glass jar with raw sugar then place all my used vanilla pods in there to flavour the sugar. Once the seeds have been scraped out of the vanilla pod, simply poke it into the sugar and shake around a little. Over time the vanilla beautifully flavours the sugar. I particularly like using this sugar when making custard or a fruit crumble.

Usually I spoon out the sugar, leaving the vanilla pods behind then use as is or blitz in the TMX on Sp 9 for 3 sec to make vanilla castor sugar. Once there are 3 or 4 pods in the sugar I will start a new jar, eventually discarding the old vanilla pods. Alternatively you can make vanilla icing sugar. After the vanilla pods have been in the sugar for a few days you simply place the whole lot (sugar and pods) in the TMX and blitz on Sp 10 for 15 sec. Delicious!

Homemade: Vanilla Essence

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It couldn’t be easier to make your own vanilla essence. Simply grab a clean jar and fill with brandy or vodka, depending on wether you want that brandy flavour or prefer a more tasteless alcohol. Add 3 vanilla beans, split down the middle and cut in half. Leave the jar in the top of your pantry for 6 weeks, shaking once every week. That’s it! Use as you would store-bought vanilla essence, but without any nasty additives or preservatives.

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Choc Coconut Fudge

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You’re not going to believe me, but this dairy-free, refined-sugar free, wheat-free, gluten-free, nut-free fudge is delicious. More delicious than conventional fudge. Whoa! I hear you say. Is it really that good? Yes, it is. The main ingredient is coconut butter, which you can whip up amazingly easily in your thermomix and is, in itself, a great dairy-free butter alternative. Coconut does contain saturated fat, but it is in the form of medium-chain triglycerides which are easily digested, absorbed and utilised by the body. Much better for you than long-chain triglycerides found in saturated fat from other plant and animal sources.

The original recipe for this Choc Coconut Fudge is on Forum Thermomix. Here’s my version, with only slight changes to the method.

Ingredients

  • 400g organic desiccated or shredded coconut Regular coconut from the supermarket contains preservative 220, Sulphur Dioxide. Avoid this by buying organic.
  • 30g cacao powder You can substitute with organic cocoa powder but cacao is more nutrient dense.
  • 200g honey/maple syrup/agave syrup Feel free to use a combination of these.
  • Vanilla seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt

Thermomix Method

1. Prepare 23cm/9inch square baking tin by lining with baking paper.

2. Place coconut in TMX and process 2min,  Sp 8, scraping down the bowl midway. The coconut will have turned into a thick liquid, this is coconut butter. This step is very noisy!

3. Add other ingredients and process 10 sec, Sp 8

4. Spatula thick mixture into tin and flatten with back of a spoon. Cut into squares with a knife or small pizza cutter.

5. Put into fridge to chill for a couple of hours until firm. Recut the squares.

You can incorporate other ingredients such as cherries or nuts to add to this fudge. Just mix through for 3-5 seconds, Rev Sp 3.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERMIX as the coconut oil starts to separate out. When you push the mix into the tin you might find you get some coconut oil pooling on top. This will just set hard in the fridge and tastes yummy, but if you prefer you can soak it up with a little paper towel.

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Butter Chicken

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This is an amazing recipe. It is from a delicious. magazine publication – a little book of ’70 Essential Recipes for Stress-Free Entertaining’ that came with a 2008 issue, with a few little tweaks by me. I made this meal just last week with the intention of photographing it for you all, and then promptly forgot! It did receive rave reviews from my Husband, Kids, Mother-in-Law and Aunties-in-Law who were here to enjoy it. I will endeavour to get a few pics next time it’s on the menu. I usually serve this with basmati rice and steamed vegetables. For the kids I serve the vegetables but also add a few cubes of frozen pureed carrot to the butter chicken when I reheat it. The carrot is deliciously sweet and the orange colour is conveniently masked by the tumeric in the dish.

Ingredients

  • 500g chicken cut into 3cm chunks
  • 70g cashews
  • 40g butter
  • 1tbs rice bran oil
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 410ml tomato puree (350g)
  • 1tbs  thermomix vegetable stock concentrate (if cooking in a pan use 150ml chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 250ml thickened cream (150g)
  • Basmati rice, steamed veggies & papadums to serve

Marinade Ingredients

  • 125ml pot-set natural yoghurt
  • 1tbs lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala

Thermomix Method

  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl . Stir well then add chicken and toss to coat. You can cover and chill for 4-6 hrs which gives amazing flavour, however I often only marinate for as long as it takes to do the first few steps of the recipe and it still tastes fantastic when you serve up.
  2. Place cashews in TMX and grind 10 sec, Sp 9. Place in separate bowl.
  3. Place onions in TMX and blitz  3 sec, Sp 7.
  4. Add butter, oil, cardamon, cinnamon stick & bay leaf. Cook 5 min, 100C, Rev Sp 1.
  5. Add chicken & marinade, paprikas, tomato puree, ground cashews & stock. Give a little stir with the spatula. Cook 20 min, 100C, Rev Sp Soft.
  6. Add cream. Cook 10min, 100C, Rev Sp Soft.
  7. Serve with basmati rice, steamed veg & papadums.

Non-Thermomix Method

  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl . Stir well then add chicken and toss to coat. You can cover and chill for 4-6 hrs which gives amazing flavour, however I often only marinate for as long as it takes to do the first few steps of the recipe and it still tastes fantastic when you serve up.
  2. Finely grind cashews in a food processor. Place in separate bowl
  3. Melt butter with oil in a pan over medium heat.
  4. Add finely chopped onions, cardamon, cinnamon stick & bay leaf and cook for 2 min until onion softens.
  5. Reduce heat to low, add chicken & marinade, paprikas, tomato puree, ground cashews & stock (150ml). Simmer for 20 min.
  6. Stir in cream and cook for a further 10min.
  7. Serve with basmati rice, steamed veg & papadums.

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Spinach & Sun-dried Tomato Frittatas

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These simple yet scrumptious frittatas are the answer to your prayers. Yummy, nutritious and easy to make, they are fantastic for a snack, lunch box addition or party food. They also freeze fabulously. Just pop in a zip lock bag, freeze and pull out as needed. You can defrost and eat them cold or warm up under the grill. I often put them in the kids lunch boxes frozen, knowing they’ll be defrosted by lunch time.

Frittatas (Makes 32 mini muffin sized frittatas)

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 10g butter
  • 100g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 180g mixed cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, mozarella)
  • Pink Salt & Pepper
Thermomix Method
  1. Pre-heat oven 200C
  2. Place butter and spinach in TMX with a good pinch of salt and pepper
  3. Cook 3min, 100C, Rev Sp2
  4. Blitz 10sec, Sp 9
  5. Transfer spinach to bowl to cool
  6. Add sun-dried tomatoes to TMX and blitz 6sec, Sp 9
  7. Transfer sun-dried tomatoes to same bowl as spinach
  8. Add cheeses to TMX and blitz 10sec, Sp 9
  9. Leave cheeses in TMX, add prepared spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, eggs and pinch of salt and pepper
  10. Mix 10sec, Rev Sp 2
  11. Spoon mix into mini muffin tin
  12. Bake 20min until puffed up, golden and delicious
Non-Thermomix Method
  1. Pre-heat oven 200C
  2. Crack eggs into large bowl and whisk
  3. Heat pan and melt butter
  4. Add spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper to pan, and cook gently until wilted
  5. Remove spinach from pan, finely chop and allow to cool before adding to bowl with whisked eggs
  6. Finely chop sun-dried tomatoes and add to bowl
  7. Grate cheeses and add to bowl
  8. Mix eggs, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and cheeses together, with another pinch of salt and pepper
  9. Spoon mix into mini muffin tin
  10. Bake 20min until puffed up, golden and delicious

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Paella

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I have been developing a love of paella for the past year or so. It is absolutely delicious. I have made 3 paellas with a good friend of mine and we’ve trialled a few different recipes. I flew solo for the first time the other night and made this one on my own with a combination of recipes and a few of my own additions. It was fabulous. After you’ve made paella a couple of times you’ll have the confidence to just leave it to it’s own devices for the most part, which makes it a great mid-week meal.

To make an authentic paella it is necessary to have a paella pan. This, and the fact that you don’t stir the paella while it’s cooking, gives the signature crusty base that paella is famous for. My friend has a paella pan and the crust is spectacular. I don’t have one yet (but it is definitely on my wish list!) and just used a large frypan to cook mine. The flavour was excellent but there wasn’t really a crust. If you’re keen I would give paella a go in a pan you already have, and if you’re loving the flavours and how easily this dish comes together then invest in a pan.

Paella (Serves 4)

  • 3tbs rice bran oil
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 150g chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 300g chicken thigh or tenderloin, cubed approx 2cm x 2cm, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 12 fresh prawns, shelled and deveined
  • optional seafood – 8 mussels & 12 pippies
  • 200g fresh or frozen peas
  • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g calasperra rice (can substitute for arborio rice)
  • 800ml stock (my preference is 400ml veggie stock & 400ml fish stock)
  1. Prep all ingredients. You can chop celery, onion, garlic and capsicum in thermomix or food processor.
  2. Heat oil in pan.
  3. Add celery, onion, garlic, capsicum, chorizo, chicken & rice to pan. Fry & stir for 3 min.
  4. Add stock, paprikas and saffron and stir for 1 min.
  5. Gently spread ingredients evenly across bottom of pan.
  6. Bring to the boil and simmer 10min. DO NOT STIR.
  7. Add seafood to the pan by gently pushing prawns, mussels and pippies (if using) into the rice, then simmer for 10min. DO NOT STIR.
  8. It is important to taste a couple of grains of rice and ensure they are cooked through, not hard in the centre, after step 7. By this time the rice should have absorbed most of the liquid. If the rice is undercooked, pour another 100ml of water over the paella and check rice again once it has been absorbed.
  9. If using mussels and pippies, shells should be open after step 7.
  10. Sprinkle parsley and peas over paella and cook for 5 min. DO NOT STIR.
  11. Serve and enjoy.

Little People: Easter Colouring-in

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If you Google ‘easter colouring’ you will find a pile of sites with free, printable colouring-in and other Easter activities for the kids. I found a site today with some really nice colouring-in pictures and activities for this kids called Activity Village.

My kids favourite activity from the page was the ‘sticker’ colouring page. A printable page with lots of little Easter pictures surrounded by dashed ‘cutting-out’ lines. The kids could colour them in, cut them out and glue onto cards or the printable basket picture. Hours of entertainment for the Easter long weekend!