Monday, April 30, 2012

What's Cooking This Week

Radio silence is over, hopefully!  My apologies - we've just been B.U.S.Y.  We're always busy (who isn't!), but these past few weeks have been crazy busy - you know the kind where you curse the fact that there are only 24 hours in each day because that's just not enough!!!  That's been us for the past month, but thankfully we've made it through - mostly still in tact too!

I sewed my first zip during these last few weeks.  I was reflecting the other day why I didn't do home-ec at school.  It was the sewing aspect that put me off.  I cook.  I do not sew.  My Mum taught me not too - everytime she'd sew, we'd all clear out of the house.  It's not that she couldn't sew - she absolutely could.  It was just dangerous to be around when she did in case you got hit with something she'd throw in a fit of rage at her machine.  No wonder it never looked appealing to me. 

So, when faced with the fact that I had to hand sew a 2m zip into the chicken pen netting, I was less than confident.  It took forever but, so far, it's holding.  Let's just say, I'd rather cook than sew, any day.  I should have bribed crafty sewing capable friends with food - why did that not occur to me before now!!!

Anyway, the good news is, we're back on deck.  Which means, I've finally gotten around to menu planning for the week again, rather than pulling out a previous week's plan and giving it a re-run (which I find is always an excellent back up).  So, here's what's appearing on our table this week.

Monday:-  We're having Quirky Cooking's Roast Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic which is delicious.  Thermomix mashed potato and greens on the side.  Sensational rainy day food.

Tuesday:-  I have about an hour from the time we walk in the door after swimming on Tuesdays until Sam wants to go to bed.  If I can feed him early we avoid the drawn out agonising mealtime, where every spoonful is an effort for him.  So I often make something before school pick up and then throw it in the Thermosever, so it's ready to dish out as soon as we get home.  This week we're having Quirky Cooking's Lentil Bolognese - perfect Thermoserver food!

Wednesday:-  A friend emailed me her recipe for Coconut Prawn Curry, which she swears is as good as my adaption of Jude Blereau's Fragrant Fish Curry.  It looks fabulous, so I'll keep you posted.

I'm also baking on Wednesday and replacing some pantry staples.  I'm out of Umami paste, chicken stock concentrate, green chilli paste and bbq sauce.  I need a bigger fridge.

Thursday:-  We're having Aush.  I'm going to try a recipe for Pain Viennois from a Thermomix blog I just love - Journal of a French Foodie

Friday:-  My boys are running their Cross Country on Friday and then again on Saturday.  We're having Barley & Pumpkin risotto - they'll need something nourishing but also easy to eat.  This fits the bill.

I hope you all have a fabulous week and that there's lots of delicious and nourishing things appearing on your plates.  Feel free to share, as always!

Happy Mixing,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cook-A-Long with Brooke-A-Long: Edition 8

Mmmmm, sauce!
My Mum always says to me "just because you CAN do it all, doesn't mean you NEED to do it all" and she's so right. It's all gone a bit pear shaped around here the past couple of weeks while I've tried to do too much.  We're using menu plans from previous weeks (the benefit of keeping your menu plans and shopping lists in a folder to re-use when things get crazy!), there's no bulk bread baking happening and I feel a little bit like if I shake my head too hard all the things I'm trying madly to remember will simply fall out.

So, in an effort to delegate out something that I don't actually have to physically do, I've started getting my boys to pack their own lunchboxes.  Jack supervises Sam to make sure he doesn't forget one of the essential items on their little checklist and I give their lunchboxes a thumbs up before they get packed into school bags.  So far, so good.  It works well because they don't often have sandwiches and so there's no mucking about while they butter bread, find a filling etc.  They tend to have leftovers from dinner or breakfast or savoury items I've baked like mini quiches etc.  Their all time favourite lunch time savoury item are Cheese Puffs or Mini Pulled Beef & Beer Pies, with a little container of tomato sauce.

Which leads me, obviously, to the Cook-A-Long.  I'd love for everyone to try and do their own tomato sauce.  It is not hard.  It doesn't take long.  It's not expensive.  It's a staple that everyone has in their pantry and, once you make it yourself just once, you'll never buy it again!

This is the recipe from the Everyday Cookbook, the Thermomix Bible!

Tomato Sauce
(Everyday Cookbook)


*  400g ripe tomatoes
*  1 clove garlic
*  120g ripe plums - washed and de-stoned
*  100g sugar
*  50g white wine vinegar
*  1 bay leaf
*  2 cloves
*  1 small dried hot Chilli - deseeded
*  Salt to taste


1.  Wash the tomatoes, cut in half and leave to drain in TM basket for about an hour with the cut sides facing down.

2.  Place the garlic into the TM bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.

3. Add the tomatoes and plums and mix for 30 seconds on speed 7.

4. Add all other ingredients and cook for 30 minutes at 100 on speed 1.  At the end of cooking, take out the bay leaf and cloves if you can find them and then blend for 1 minute on speed 8.

Pour into sterilised bottles and keep in the fridge.


Carla, from A Foodie Mum, has successfully made the sauce without sugar by replacing that component with 3 dried pitted dates.  Another friend mentioned during the week that if you can't source any plums, replace them with pitted prunes.

If after blending the sauce is too thin for your liking, try cooking it a little longer with the MC removed (put the basket on top of the lid though, to prevent tomato sauce spitting everywhere).  I generally give mine 10 minutes on 100 on speed 2 afterwards to get it to a consistency I like.

Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pork Cutlets with Stuffed Apples and Cider Cream Sauce

Pork Cutlets
Sometimes I think that if ever anything were ever to happen to my Thermomix, and I had to revert to non-Thermomix-assisted cooking,  I might physically melt down.  It would be that painful.  (Okay, now I'm just being dramatic, but you get my point!) 

I use the Thermomix a lot.  It gets used at least (in all honesty) at a minimum of 4 and 6 times a day.  The somewhat annoying and possibly only detracting element of the machine that I've ever been able to think of birdsong of the Thermomix beeps 3 times before we're even done with breakfast:  porridge or cada, smoothies and juice.  It is almost always used at dinner time, whether it be that the main is getting cooked in it or that I'm just using it for a side dish.  Basically, if there's a way I can shortcut a recipe by using the Thermomix instead, I'll find it.

Which brings me to this recipe.  It's an old favourite of ours, from before we had a Thermomix and dinner prep used to take a lot longer.  I wanted to share it with you as an example of how the Thermomix can help, even when it's not being used to prepare the main meal, as such.  (It's also super yummy, which is always a good reason to share a recipe!).

Pork Cutlet with Stuffed Apples and Cider Cream Sauce

(from a very old, but well loved, Women's Weekly Clipping)


*  25g butter
*  1 brown onion - halved
*  1 clove garlic - peeled
*  70g bacon - roughly chopped
*  15g breadcrumbs
*  20g prunes
*  2 tbsp chives
*  10g butter - melted
*  2 large granny smith apples - cored
*  4 pork cutlets
*  125g sparkling apple cider
*  1 tsp vegetable stock concentrate
*  100g pure cream
*  1kg sebago potatoes - peeled and roughly chopped
*  250g full cream milk
*  1 tsp salt
*  30g butter


1.  Preheat the oven to 160° (fan-forced).

2.  Add onion, garlic and bacon to TM bowl.  Chop for 2 seconds on speed 7.

3.  Add butter and saute for 3 minutes at 100° on speed 1.

4.  Add prunes, breadcrumbs and chives.  Chop for 10 seconds on speed 7.

5.  Pierce the apples a couple of times with a fork and then stuff them with the breadcrumb mixture.  Unless you're using the largest apples known to man, you'll have mixture leftover - I usually shape it with damp hands into dumplings and place the dumplings next to the apples in a large baking dish.

6.  Brush the apples with the melted butter.  Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

7.  While the apples are cooking, start the mashed potatoes cooking.  Place the potatoes, salt and milk into the TM bowl and cook for 20 minutes at 100° on speed 1.

8.  Once the mash has started, brown the pork cutlets for about 2 minutes on each side in a hot pan.  Once all the cutlets are cooked, place the pork in the same dish as the apples for about 15 minutes further cooking time.

9.  When the mash finishes cooking, add the butter and insert the butterfly.  Mash for 20-30 seconds on speed 4.  Place into Thermoserver to keep warm.  (At this point you can wash your bowl out if you want to, but as long as you scrape the majority of the potato out, you don't need to.)

10.  Remove pork and apples from the baking dish.  Strain the juices into the TM bowl and then return pork and apples to the dish and keep warm in the oven while you make the cider cream sauce.

11.  To the juices already in the TM bowl, add cider and stock.  Cook for 2 minutes at 100° on speed 1.

12.  Add cream and cook for 5 minutes at 100° on speed 1.

Serve the mash with the pork, apple, sauce and vegetables.


Even though the potatoes are only cooking at 100, I steam my greens for about 10 minutes in the Varoma above them while the potatoes are cooking.  I usually only do beans or snow peas, and so the temperature is enough to cook them through.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April News!

For those of you not Facebook connected or on the mailing list, here's the April newsletter.  Happy Easter everyone!

Gubana - Italian Easter Treat

Okay, weird name, I know.  The whole time I was adapting this recipe I kept singing "At the Gopa, Gopa Gubana" and cracking myself up.  I'm easily amused, what can I say.

I wanted to try this out because (a) it had chocolate chips in it and (b) if I made another batch of hot cross buns I was going to go slightly loopy.

This is sensational when it's still warm (I must say though - it's better fully cooked...  I pulled it out too early and had to put it back in to cook through properly).  After it was properly cooked, it was delicious - though be warned, a little bit goes a long way.  I'm planning on serving slices of it tonight with some brandy cream sauce on the side, which should go down a treat.

I've got plans to try this again tomorrow but I think I'll make smaller ones and set them into a baking tray together, rather than do another big one.  The big one really is quite large, so if you don't have a crowd around to help devour it I think small ones would be a better option - some for now, some to freeze for later.

Try it out, you won't be sorry!

(Sweet Italian Easter Bread - Adapted from Annabel Langbein)


Fruit Mince:-

*  1 lemon - rind and juice
*  3 whole cloves
*  1 granny smith apple - quartered
*  100g currants
*  100g sultanas
*  120g rapadura sugar
*  3 tbsp Grand Marnier
*  100g hazelnuts
*  1 tsp ground cinnamon
*  1 tsp ground nutmeg

*  150g chocolate chips


*  65g butter
*  250g full cream milk
*  1 & 1/2 tsp yeast
*  85g caster sugar
*  420g bakers flour
*  1/2 tsp salt
*  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Fruit Mince:-

1.  Place lemon rind and whole cloves into TMX bowl and grate for 20 seconds on speed 8.

2.  Add apple and nuts.  Lock the lid and turbo the mixture 2-3 times.

3.  Add all other fruit mince ingredients.  Mix together for 3 seconds, on reverse, on speed 3.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4.  Cook the mixture for 10 minutes, at 100°, on reverse, on speed 1.

Set aside in a bowl, cover and leave out overnight.


1.  Place butter in TM bowl and melt  for 2 minutes, at 50°, on speed 1.

2.  Add milk and warm for 1 minute, at 90°, on speed 1.

3.  Add remaining dough ingredients and mix for 5 seconds on speed 7.  Lock the lid and knead for 3 minutes.

Turn the dough out into a silicon mat and leave to rise somewhere warm for 40-60 minutes (or until doubled in size). 

Assembly & Cooking:-

1.  Line or grease a 28cm round cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 170 (fan forced).

2.  When dough has doubled, roll it out into a 60 x 30cm rectangle.

3.  Spread the fruit mince over the rectangle, leaving a 2cm border the whole way around.  Sprinkle the choc chips over the dough.

4.  Roll the dough up along the longest edge to create a long sausage shape.  Form into a scroll and place into tin.  (At this point, I found it easier to place the sausage onto a piece of baking and form the scroll on there, as it was easier then to just lift it into the tin.)

5.  Cover the tin with a clean, damp teatowel and leave to rise in a warm place for a further 40 minutes (until almost doubled in size).

Bake for 45 minutes.  Dust with icing sugar and serve.


 I really love the stickiness of hot cross buns, so I brushed the gubana with a sugar syrup when it was hot out of the oven before dusting it was icing sugar.  Simply place 2 tbsp of water with 2 tbsp sugar in the Thermomix, cook for 2 minutes at 100° on speed 4 (as per hot cross buns)Brush the buns with the syrup, while both are still hot.

Fragrant Fish Curry

Fragrant Fish Curry
Before the Thermomix came into my world, I didn't make a lot of curries.  To be frank, I couldn't really be bothered.  Now of course, it's so easy that we'll have curry quite often and I love the fact that I can make my own paste quickly and easily.

I made the Yellow Curry Paste from Tenina's book, For Food's Sake, the other day and thought of a couple of different ways to use it up. 

This is an adaption from one of my favourite recipe books, Coming Home To Eat, by the beautiful Jude Blereau.  I had the pleasure of meeting Jude last weekend and she is even more lovely in person than I imagined.  She reiterated the importance of fish in childrens' diets, and both my boys loved this curry, so I think this one will be making a regular appearance on our menu plan.


Fragrant Fish Curry
(adapted from Coming Home To Eat by Jude Blereau)


*  1 tbs coconut oil
*  1 sml red onion - peeled and halved
*  3cm piece ginger - peeled
*  1 clove garlic - peeled
*  20g yellow curry paste
*  250g coconut milk
*  3 kaffir lime leaves
*  1 red chilli - deseeded and halved
*  2 carrots - thickly sliced
*  300g butternut pumpkin - 2cm cubes
*  100g sweet potato - 2cm cubes
*  1/2 lime
*  10 snow peas
*  300g firm fish - cut into large chunks
*  Handful coriander
*  300g basmati rice - soaked and rinsed


1.  Add oil, onion, ginger, garlic & chilli into TM bowl.  Chop for 2 seconds on speed 6.

2.  Cook for 5 minutes, at  100°, on speed 1.

3.  Add curry paste and cook for 5 minutes, at  100°, on speed 1.

4.  Add coconut milk and 125g water, lime leaves and juice, carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato.  Cook for 15 minutes, at  100°, on reverse on speed soft.

Remove to Thermoserver to keep hot.

5.  Rinse out bowl and weigh in 900g water.  Place basmati rice in basket and place into bowl.  Cook for 13 minutes, at Varoma temperature, on speed 3.

6.  While rice is steaming, place fish into Varoma receptacle and then place Varoma into place.  Steam for approximately 10 minutes (depending on the size of your fish chunks).

7.  During the last two minutes of steaming, add snow peas to the top Varoma tray to steam.

8.  When fish is finished steaming, stir gently through curry in Thermoserver.


Place rice onto plate, top with curry and snow peas.


Aush is an Afghan soup which seems to take a handful of rather random ingredients, throw them together in a bowl, and call the end product a soup. 

When I looked at the recipe I thought it was an odd mix - lamb, chicken stock, noodles, chard, beans.... 

I continued regardless and I have to say, I loved it.  I particularly love the addition of the yoghurt at the end, so don't skip that bit.

It is really tasty and something a bit different - definitely worth a try!

(adapted from various recipes on the web)


*  1 onion
*  2 cloves garlic
*  300g lamb leg - chopped (slightly frozen - about 15 mins in the freezer)
*  20g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*  1 tsp ground coriander
*  1 tsp paprika
*  1 tbsp vegetable stock concentrate
*  2 tbsp tomato paste
*  100g spaghetti
*  35g chicken stock concentrate
*  400g mixed beans - rinsed and drained
*  100g chard (or spinach or kale, whichever takes your fancy)
*  1.25kg water

Natural Yoghurt to garnish


1.  Place onion and garlic in TM bowl.  Chop for 2 seconds on speed 5.

2.  Add lamb.  Lock lid and press turbo button 3-4 times.

3.  Add EVOO and saute for 5 minutes, at  100°, on reverse, speed 1 (with MC off).

4.  Add coriander, paprika, vegetable stock concentrate and tomato paste.  Saute for a further  5 minutes, at  100°, on reverse, speed 1 (with MC off).

Remove lamb mixture and place in Thermoserve to keep hot.

5.  Without cleaning the bowl, add water and chicken stock concentrate.  Cook for 5 minutes, at  100°, on speed 1.

6.  Add spaghetti through the MC hole.  Cook for 6 minutes, at  100°, on reverse, speed 1.

7.  Add beans and chard/spinach/kale.  Cook for a further 8 minutes, at  100°, on reverse, speed 1.


Pour some of the soup mixture and noodles into a bowl, top with a spoonful of lamb and top with natural yoghurt.