Saturday, 31 December 2011

Yoghurt & Labneh

One of the very first things i tried in my Thermomix was yoghurt and unfortunately i called it a Thermie Fail. Perhaps i was mistaken as i think thermos fail was probably a more appropriate title. For Christmas i was lucky enough to receive a yoghurt making kit from Cheeselinks

So all set with my machine (which basically is an electric thermos that keeps the temperature at 37 degrees) my starter culture and my milk, i was ready to begin!

It is so simple! All you have to do is mix 1L milk (UHT is easiest because you don't need to sterilise it first) with 100g skim milk powder and 1/10th teaspoon yoghurt culture. Pop it in the machine and 12 hours later you have delicious yoghurt!

After the yoghurt has thickened you need to put it in the fridge however before doing this i mixed in 1 tbsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp agave to sweeten. You can make your yoghurt any flavour you wish - just add in the flavour/fruit puree/jam after it has thickened.  

Because i like my yoghurt thick, i used the extra milk powder, however you don't have to. I also used skim milk which worked fine. Another thing you can do if you like your yoghurt really thick is to drain some of the whey off but putting it in a clean chux or muslin.

Apart from being a bit chuffed that i'd made my own yoghurt (and hadn't given myself food poisoning in the process) i was also amazed by the cost. This yoghurt cost less than $2/kg which a massive saving when you think that supermarket yoghurt costs upwards of $6/kg.

So after my initial yoghurt success i set out to make some labneh or yoghurt cheese. It is so simple! All you need is 1kg yoghurt, 1tsp salt and a chux. If you don't have homemade yoghurt just buy any type of thick unflavoured greek yoghurt. For my yoghurt i used 1L full cream UHT milk and 100g skim milk powder plus the culture. 

All you have to do is get your chux, a colander and a bowl and immerse in boiling water to sterilise. Then, pop the colander over the bowl and line with the wrung out chux. Mix the salt into your yoghurt and pour into the chux then tie with a rubber band then pop it into the fridge. I left mine for 24 hours however i think 12 hours would be enough as i noticed that the majority of the whey drained in the first 12 hours.  

Once you think you yoghurt can drain no more, remove it from the chux. With any luck it should look like this.....

 Now the fun bit starts - rolling labneh balls! OK well it wasn't as easy as i expected as the yoghurt kept sticking to the spoons. I used 2 teaspoons and sort of quenelled the labneh. Luckily once you roll them in whatever coating you choose they end up as perfect balls! So i wouldn't worry too much about getting them pretty initially.
Dodgy uncoated labneh

I used za'atar to coat the balls. Za'atar is a middle eastern spice mix made from sesame seeds, sumac, thyme and salt. You can use any spice mix or fresh herbs to coat the balls. It really is up to you. Otherwise you can leave them uncoated and store them in an oil-filled jar.

They magically became round!

 Labneh can be eaten as part of a mezze, spread on bread or on biscuits. It can also be added into salads or eaten straight! Labneh doesn't always have to be savoury either. It tastes similar to cream cheese so can be used in sweet dishes (perhaps omit the salt!) Either way i'm really pleased how these turned out. Although it takes a bit of time to let it drain etc, it really is very easy and cheap to do!

I love my new toy and i'm sure it will be used very frequently from now on. I'm hoping to experiment with some dairy-free milk yoghurts in the future and see what happens!

Sarah xx

Friday, 30 December 2011

GF Banana & Walnut Cake

Today i craved to bake. Not too unusual for me but the family definitely doesn't approve of baking when the weather warms up! I felt like banana bread but had no manky bananas so went on a bit of a hunt nearby and ended up getting old bananas for 80c/kg! Bargain! I now have a zip lock bag full of chopped up bananas in the freezer for later use. I was tempted by a tray of mangos (12) for $10 but resisted.

I turned to my failsafe GF cookbook - Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts for a banana bread recipe, only to find there wasn't one, however there was a recipe for banana nut muffins so i baked that in loaf-form instead.

Check out her blog for more gluten free inspiration!

You can find the recipe here

Sarah xx

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Wrap Up


I hope you all had a fabulously festive Christmas! I apologise for the lack of blog posts recently, Christmas craziness got the better of me!

The Thermomix hasn't gone to the back of the cupboard - in fact it's been used almost every day. Over the past week or so i have made:

-Lychee sorbet
-Roast peach sorbet
-Raspberry sorbet
-Vanilla icecream
-Tropical sorbet
-a million different smoothies
-Basil pesto (EDC)
-GF crepes

And today - the easiest béchamel sauce (EDC) ever!!! 1L milk, 100g butter, 100g flour, nutmeg all thrown in, 90C and 12 mins later added 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and voila! Lump-free, thick and delicious béchamel! Very happy! I have to admit, béchamel has never been my forte. I used to resort to using the stick blender to get out the lumps!

My béchamel was for a lasagne that i made for my cousin.
Dodgy, rushed iPhone pic!

This is not a vegetarian recipe. I have adapted a Guy Grossi recipe that was in the newspaper a few years back. This is what i do when i don't use a Thermomix. The Bolognese sauce quantity makes enough for the lasagne plus a couple of extra tubs of sauce.


1L milk
1 small onion
1 bay leaf
1 clove
80g butter
80g flour
½ cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper


50ml olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
500g minced beef
500g minced pork & veal
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
4 bay leaves
2 cloves, crushed
Grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
200g tomato paste
200ml red wine
2 x 800g tins diced tomato

OtherLasagne Sheets
1 cup grated mozzarella or tasty cheese

Béchamel Sauce
Warm milk, onion, bay leaf and clove in saucepan until simmering. Rest for 15min off the heat, then strain.

Melt butter in saucepan , add flour, stir with wooden spoon to a smooth paste. Cook stirring continuously, for 2-3min, without colouring.

Stir in milk gradually, ensuring no lumps form and bring to the boil beating vigorously. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and slow simmer for 10min. Take off the heat and stir through parmesan.


Heat oil in a large pot. Sauté onion and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add the meats and sauté until well browned.

Add herbs, spices, salt and pepper and tomato paste and cook for 1-2min, then add the wine and boil to reduce by half. Add tomatoes and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 hours (you may need to keep an eye on the liquid level, add water if required.)

To assemble

Personally i make my own pasta sheets, and for this lasagne i use 2 eggs, 1 tbsp olive oil and 200g 00 flour. You can use pre-made sheets if you wish :)

Spread 2 ladlefuls of bolognese sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and cover with lasagne sheets. Top with approximately 4 ladlefuls of bolognese and half the bechamel. Cover with lasagne sheets. Spread another 4 ladlefuls of bolognese and top with lasagne sheets. Pour over the remaining béchamel and top with grated cheese. Cook at 180C for 30-45mins or until golden.

Note. If freezing lasagne it is easier to refrigerate overnight then cut.

I'm not sure how much i'll be able to post over the upcoming month... holiday time!

Until next time,

Sarah xx

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Turkish Torte

Today was one side of my family's Christmas party and i was in charge of supplying a dessert. As soon as i saw the picture for the Turkish Torte in the Dec/Jan edition of Delicious Magazine i knew i had to make it. I love the colours of the pistachio, pomegranate, mint and rose petals sprinkled over the oozing chocolate glaze. It was a very easy recipe to make - whip egg whites, add sugar and fold in almond meal, dates, orange zest, chocolate halva and choc bits. Cook, drown in brandy and cover in choc glaze. Simple, really!

Sarah xx

P.S. i'm not sure if i'm allowed to post up the recipe due to copyright issues. As it is one by Valli Little i assume it will come on in the near future. As soon as it does i'll paste the link!
EDIT: Here is the link

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Masterchef Risotto

I love beetroot. I think it has overtaken eggplant as my favourite vegetable. Beetroot salad, dip, relish and RISOTTO! This recipe is only for beetroot lovers so steer clear if you're a fence sitter!

Beetroot Risotto (adapted from this one)
serves 4

3 large beetroot, roasted then diced (or use tinned but it wont taste as good!)
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
40g olive oil
250g arborio rice
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
100ml red wine
600ml vegetable stock
400ml beetroot juice (or extra stock)
100g walnuts, roasted
125g goat's cheese
rocket leaves
balsamic glaze

Put onion and garlic in Thermomix and chop on speed 6 for 5 seconds. Add oil and cook for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 2. Add rice and thyme and cook for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse + speed 2. Add wine and cook for 1 minute at 100 degrees on reverse + speed 2. Add stock and juice and cook for 15 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse + speed 2 or until most of the liquid has absorbed. Add beetroot and some ground pepper and leave to sit for 5 minutes.

Serve into dishes and sprinkle with walnuts and goat's cheese. Serve with dressed rocket.

Sarah xx

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Sorry for the lack of posting recently - work has gotten hectic and i barely have time to eat let alone cook! Hopefully things will calm down soon and i can spend some quality time in the kitchen!

I love dips. On a hot night i'd much prefer to eat dips with vegie sticks than a proper meal.

These are my 2 of my favourite dips and they are so quick and easy to make. Normally i'm all for making something with the longest ingredients list, method and time spent in the kitchen but these are an exception.

Eggplant dip is everywhere and i have made many, many versions but this is my favourite and it's also the easiest with only 2 ingredients plus salt & pepper. I don't like mayo but this dip doesn't taste of mayo and it makes it delicious!

Eggplant Dip

2 Eggplants
2 tbsp good quality mayonnaise
salt & pepper

Barbecue the eggplants until the skin is blackened and the eggplant is floppy. Leave to cool. When cool remove skin and blend with mayonnaise (10 seconds speed 4). Add salt and pepper to taste.

This dip is also tasty and very, very moorish. It has a secret ingredient - pomegranate molasses. If you've never tried it you should! It is a tangy syrup and is available from delis and middle eastern stores. It makes awesome salad dressings too!

Roast Capsicum and Walnut Dip

3 red capsicums
75g roasted walnuts (you can have raw but they taste better roasted!)
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional - i'm not the biggest fan of raw garlic)
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper

Barbecue the capsicums until the skins are completely black (alternatively bake in the oven or hold over a flame.) Leave to cool. When cool, remove the blackened skin and place in a Thermomix/food processor/blender along with all other ingredients. Turbo 3 times. Enjoy!

Sarah xx

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Butterfly Cake

Flourless orange and almond cake
This is my latest creation. It was originally going to be a two tiered cake but sometimes things change and this was the result. I'm still really happy with it. I think it'd make a lovely wedding cake!

The cake is Planet Cake's orange and almond cake which I adapted so I could make it in the Thermomix. It then has a layer of buttercream then fondant. The butterflies are fondant + tylose and with white edible shimmer powder.

It really is a beautiful cake and makes a nice change from a mud cake. Still gives you the same sugar coma after eating!

Sarah xx

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Chocolate Salami

Need an edible gift idea for Christmas? Well this might just be it!

Chocolate salami was originally a portuguese dessert. It is basically a soft chocolate filled with biscuits, nuts and fruit or whatever you desire! It is similar to a fridge cake or even hedgehog. There are many recipes for the chocolate, some are a ganache, others use condensed milk, some use cocoa, some real chocolate i think you can use whatever you have on hand. Traditionally chocolate, yolks, butter, sugar and port are used.

The recipe i found is from The British Larder and it has both a Thermomix and a normal method. The original recipe can be found here.

I amended my version slightly - i used shortbread biscuits, pistachios, macadamia nuts and dried cranberries in the filling. It also took me 3 minutes to melt the butter and 2 minutes to melt the chocolate.

Here is what i did

Chocolate Salami - adapted from The British Larder

Makes 2 logs

80g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
200g shortbread biscuits
80g macadamia nuts, chopped
80g dried cranberries
80g pistachios
2 egg yolks
80g Port Wine (or other liqueur)
1tsp vanilla extract
80g condensed milk
Pinch of salt

¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup icing sugar

Break biscuits into small chunks and place in a bowl. Add nuts and cranberries and stir to combine. Add 40g port. 

In the Thermomix add butter and melt for 3 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 2. Add chocolate and melt for 2 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 2. Add yolks, sugar, condensed milk, salt, port and vanilla and cook for 6 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 2.  Pour over biscuit mixture and stir to combine. Let mixture rest for 20 minutes before shaping into two logs on clingfilm. Roll up clingfilm and tie up both ends to seal before placing in the fridge. When the logs are almost set roll log in a sushi mat to achieve the ridges, put back in fridge to set solid. 

Combine cocoa powder and icing sugar. Coat salami in icing mixture then wrap in clingfilm or paper  and store in the fridge. 


Sarah xx

Willim, Malvern

Wandering around Malvern this morning we came across this little cafe just off Glenferrie Rd. I had heard it mentioned somewhere before and it was packed full of people so we thought we'd give it a shot. Willim uses only the finest produce - 5 senses coffee, green eggs and le Madre sourdough. The cafe is tiny and was fairly crowded yet it wasn't noisy.

They serve breakfast until 3pm which is a big tick in my book - i mean who doesn't want to have breakfast for lunch?!. The menu is smallish with only 8 offerings for breakfast however all looked amazing. I was tossing up between the smashed avocado, persian fetta, toasted grain sourdough, slow poached egg (62.5degrees) $10.50 or the brioche french toast, poached rhubarb, hazelnut streusel, yoghurt, smoked maple syrup $13.50 however i settled on the savoury. It was delicious! The egg (and there was only 1) was perfectly poached and the avocado/fetta smash was creamy, salty and packed full of flavour.

Unfortunately i was slack hungry and started eating before i remembered to take a photo. Apologies!

The coffee was perfect and the service friendly and efficient. They also do sandwiches and salads and have a cabinet full of baked goodies.

I would definitely recommend Willim for breakfast or even just a coffee on the go. Check out their website for more info and pictures

Sarah xx

Friday, 2 December 2011

Oaty Fruit Squares

This is not a Thermomix recipe. I suppose you could do bits of it in the Thermomix but it's so simple so it's probably not even worth it.

This recipe is my favourite recipe that Grandma used to make. It's basically a crumble slice and uses general pantry ingredients. It is hard to cut, very unphotogenic but tastes delicious!

Give it a shot!

Sarah xx

P.S. it is easily veganised - sub Nuttlex for the butter.
Ok so it looks really ugly - but believe me it's delicious!

Oaty Fruit Squares

1 cup raisins, chopped
1 cup apricots, chopped
2/3 cup water
1 cup chopped pecan nuts
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tsp lemon juice
1¼ cup plain flour
½ tsp salt
1½ cup cooking oats
¾ cup brown sugar
170g butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine fruits and water in a saucepan and simmer until water is absorbed (5 minutes.) Stir in nuts, peel and juice. Combine dry ingredients. Melt butter and put into flour mixture. Stir until crumbly. Remove 1 cupful for topping. Press remaining mixture into a lamington tin. Spread on fruit mixture then top with crumbs.
Bake for 25 minutes.  

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Turkish Delight

I was set a challenge by a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous but let's just say he enjoys travelling ;) He wanted to see if turkish delight could be easily made in a Thermomix and i'm pleased to report it can! Now i know turkish delight is one of those things that divides people so if you don't like the rosewater flavour you could easily flavour it with other things such as lemon, vanilla, orange, peppermint etc etc. The great thing about turkish delight is that it sets as a gel - without gelatine! If you don't like eating it straight consider putting it in rocky road, icecream, slices... the list goes on. I'll try and make a few things with turkish delight in the upcoming weeks.

Although I gave it a test in the Thermomix which made the whole process very easy you could definitely do it in a saucepan. I halved the recipe as i wasn't sure if it'd work and i didn't want to make a huge quantity but it really is up to you. 

Here's what i did (this is the full recipe)

Turkish delight (makes about 40 large pieces)

950mL water
900g sugar
225g cornstarch (cornflour made from corn)
20mL rosewater (or whatever flavour you like)
10mL lemon juice
6.5g cream of tartar
red or pink food colour 

To coat
60g cornstarch
225g pure icing sugar.

In a heavy based saucepan place 250ml water, sugar and lemon juice and heat until the mix reaches soft ball stage (about 115*C). Do not stir. 

While this is happening place butterfly attachment into Thermomix bowl and add cornstarch and cream of tartar. Set time to 5 mins, temperature varoma, speed 2 and gradually add in remaining water ensuring no lumps are formed. At the end of this time it should be boiling and a thick paste should have formed (looks like clag!)

Set time to 60 mins, temperature 80, speed 2 and slowly pour in sugar syrup. In the meantime line a 20cm square tin with clingwrap. When the time is almost up (1 minute left) add rosewater and a drop of food colouring.

Quickly pour mixture into tin and smooth as fast as possible. It will set quite quickly. Allow to cool to room temperature then cover with cling film and leave to cool overnight.

Mix together coating ingredients.  Unwrap turkish delight and cut into squares. I found my knife cut through it easily with no sticking but if it starts to stick you can oil your knife. Toss pieces in coating mixture and enjoy! If you don't plan on eating straightaway i would advise not coating the pieces in the icing mixture as mine melted into the turkish delight after awhile. Just coat before serving :)

Sarah xx

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

It's a Cakewich!

Peanut Butter and Jam Cakewich!
For my birthday this year my brother bought me an awesome novelty cake tin - a sandwich! It is a silicone tin made by Fred & Friends - a very cool but quirky company. You might know them as the maker of babushka measuring cups. You can find them here.

Anyway the time had come to road test this cool looking pan. On the back of the box was a pound cake recipe and a recipe for peanut butter buttercream.The recipe for the pound cake is posted on many blogs - you can find it here or just google it! I winged the buttercream recipe to suit my taste. I used 125g butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter and about 1/2 cup icing sugar all creamed up in my Kitchenaid mixer (a Thermomix would work too, or a strong arm!) 

To assemble it's easy - just cut a thin layer off the top of the cake so it looks like a slice, slice through the centre then fill with buttercream and jam. Yum!

Overall it was a huge success. My friends and I wolfed it down. I'd never had peanut butter and jam before but it was a great cake filling. I'm not sure about on toast - i'm yet to try it! The pound cake was moist and moorish. I think i'll use that recipe again in the future.

Big cake decorating job ahead on the weekend... stay tuned ;)

Sarah xx

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bluecorn St Kilda

It was one of those dinners that has been on the cards for months, yet we could never find a night to suit us all. Finally we secured a date and headed off to Bluecorn in St Kilda. After reading several recent poor reviews i was a little concerned as i had had some brilliant meals there in the past. We managed to get in at 7.30pm on a Monday night with no booking which was fabulous!

The 3 of us ordered drinks and had 1 entree and 2 mains between us. We chose:

Nachos with cheese, black beans, guacamole and an awesome salsa
Despite the cheesiness on top, the nachos weren't bombarded in cheese Taco-Bill style and were very crispy and tasted quite fresh. Underneath was a layer of black beans which made the dish feel slightly healthy. The red salsa was delicious - i want the recipe!

Vegetarian Burrito
This was my favourite. An awesome burrito filled with corn, beans and potato, again with the awesome salsa and guacamole.

Blue corn goat's cheese quesadilla
This dish was also delicious and the blue corn tortillas were so pretty! It was quite strong in goat's cheese which i love but others may find it overwhelming. The sauces were fabulous again! I think this was a cashew crema but i'm not 100% sure...

All in all our meal was fabulous! Thankfully i remembered the excessive size of their dishes so we only ordered 2 mains which was more than enough. Given the price ($$$ for mexican), i think they would do better to cut the size and the price. Having said that for us food + drinks was $30pp which isn't too bad. I had the mocktail (lime & mint) which was beautiful.  Also the waitress we had was very attentive and helpful and wasn't at all impatient with our indecisiveness! 

It was a fabulous night and i'm so pleased that we had a fabulous Bluecorn experience. Maybe they have turned a corner and are back to their previously excellent standard.

Sarah xx

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Chocolate Almond Slice

I managed to find another reason to bake - that pesky jar of homemade nutella! It is so incredibly moorish that i needed to get rid of it before i ate it all! So i decided to share the love and bake a slice using nutella which i'll take into work tomorrow for everyone. I found this recipe on Taste which sounded good so i thought i'd give it a shot - without a Thermomix in sight! You see, i have to give the Kitchenaid mixer a turn sometimes!

The slice was very easy to make. The crust (which is more like a pastry) was hard to press into a tin so i rolled it out first then lined the tin but apart from that it was simple. I used vanilla extract, not almond essence which contributed to it being a very dainty slice. It is not sweet - it would be quite bland without the nutella to be honest, but altogether it makes for a slice that i think my work friends will enjoy.

Sarah xx

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Cookies

The time had come to bake. The house still reeked of onions and i thought the smell of cookies baking would be the only solution to eliminate the pong. With no butter in the house, options were limited so i went back to an old favourite - peanut butter choc chip cookies. Unless you have been living under a rock you are probably fairly aware of this recipe as it is widely published on the internet. I first saw it on Taste -Peanut butter & choc chip cookies. The great thing about this recipe is that it is gluten free, yet tastes 'normal' and it only has 5 ingredients - peanut butter, brown sugar, bicarb soda, egg and choc chips. You can also make it just with a bowl and spoon! No fancy appliances required!

The result is chewy, moorish cookies perfectly flavoured. The hardest bit? Not eating them all at once!

Sarah xx

Friday, 25 November 2011

Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella

I made what!?!? Yup it's nutella!!!! A bit of an adults version as i made it with 55% cocoa dark chocolate so it isn't sickly sweet, it is quite rich though! You could probably add some sugar or use 50/50 milk to dark or all milk chocolate if you wanted it to be a tad sweeter.

It was really easy to make... just roast, blend, melt, blend!

You don't need a Thermomix to make this - a decent food processor/blender will suffice!

Homemade Nutella

200g hazelnuts, roasted and skins peeled off
100ml milk
25g skim milk powder
150g dark chocolate

Place the hazelnuts in the TMX bowl and turbo until crumbs form (you will need to keep scraping down the side of the bowl.) Blend at speed 6 for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl at least once. Hopefully your hazelnuts will miraculously liquify!

Remove the liquid hazelnuts from the TMX bowl. 

In the TMX bowl add milk, milk powder and chocolate (don't worry about cleaning the bowl.) Heat for 2 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 3 until chocolate is melted and well incorporated. Add hazelnut mixture and blend on speed 6 for 1 minute, scraping down as necessary, until you have nutella!

This is the way i did it - i made it up as i went along. You may be able to just add the chocolate and milk to the hazelnut mixture and heat and blend - i'll have to try this next time!

Sarah xx

PS. The house still reeks of onions! Luckily the taste of the caramelised onions more than makes up for it!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Caramelised Onions

Caramelised onions make everything taste better. Unfortunately making them involves stinking your house out with the pong of onions but that's something i'll endure if it means a massive supply of caramelised onions in the fridge. Cooking caramelised onions usually involves a long cooking time with lots of stirring - that's where the Thermomix comes in handy. Unfortunately the cooking time wasn't decreased, but i didn't have to worry about standing and stirring the whole time.

Given that i already had the crumbed tofu from last night i decided to make a tofu parma. I blended some leftover ratatouille with tomato pasta sauce and topped the parma with caramelised onions and cheese. It was lip-smackingly good! I love it when leftovers taste better than the original!

Now onto the caramelised onion recipe....

Caramelised Onions
1.2kg brown onions, sliced
1/2 MC olive oil
75g butter
1/2 MC balsamic vinegar
100g brown sugar
salt to taste

Put the onions, olive oil and butter into Thermomix bowl. Cook for 50 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse and speed soft. Add in balsamic, salt and sugar and cook for 30 minutes at varoma on reverse and speed soft. ENJOY!

note: My onions had quite a bit of liquid which wouldn't evaporate so i strained it off before adding the vinegar and brown sugar. Next time i might experiment with cooking the onions on varoma temperature for the entire time although it may be at risk of burning.

Have you got any hints for the perfect caramelised onions?

Sarah xx

Crumbed Tofu with Ratatouille

Don't you hate it when you don't know what you feel like for dinner? Well this was one of those nights. My housemate suggested tofu but i didn't really feel like doing something Asian. In the end i had an idea to make tofu parmigiana. However i also felt like eating a ton of vegies so the tofu parma morphed into crumbed tofu with ratatouille.

Not the most photogenic of dishes, nor the greatest photo but i was hungry!
 The result was pretty pleasing. The tofu was delicious! I'll definitely make the tofu again. Incredibly flavoursome and crunchy yet there was no frying involved! The ratatouille was so-so - i've definitely made better and had better. It was just a bit boring.

Looks like Weetbix!
I'll type out how i did the tofu but i don't think there is much point typing out the ratatouille, i'd recommend choosing your favourite recipe and putting it on the tofu. Otherwise caponata would be a really nice addition - this is my favourite recipe OR you could make a parma like i'd originally intended.

Crumbed Tofu 
serves 4
3 slices bread (i just used the crusts of some multigrain bread)
1 1/2 cups roasted chickpeas
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp tomato powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated parmesan
3 eggs
1 tbsp vege stock concentrate
500g very firm tofu (dried with paper towel)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a tray with greaseproof paper.

Put the bread in the Thermomix bowl and pulse for 3-4 times or until breadcrumbs form. Add in the parmesan and ground pepper and stir on reverse and speed soft for 10 seconds or until incorporated. Tip onto a dinner plate and set aside.

Place the chickpeas into the Thermomix bowl and blend on speed 9 for 6 seconds or until powder. Add in garlic, oregano, tomato powder, salt and pepper. Stir on reverse and speed soft for 10 seconds or until incorporated. Tip onto a dinner plate and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the stock. Whisk lightly with a fork. (I suppose you could do this in the Thermomix but i didn't.) 

Place your tofu on a chopping board and cut into 3 horizontally. Cut each piece into 3 strips. 

For each piece of tofu place it in the chickpea mixture, ensuring it is well coated, then dunk into the egg then cover in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the prepared tray and repeat, until all pieces are coated.

Spray the tofu with oil before putting in the oven and baking for approximately 1 hour, turning over halfway. 


Note: i only used chickpeas because we had some in the pantry that weren't getting eaten. You could substitute any kind of flour.

Sarah xx

Monday, 21 November 2011

The 60 Degree Egg

Looks like a normal egg doesn't it?

This isn't your run of the mill boiled egg. It is an egg cooked at 60 degrees for 60 minutes. Why bother? Why should you have to plan your breakfast an hour in advance? Well i have no real answer except to say i was intrigued. Supposedly by cooking an egg in this manner, some of the proteins denature, yet others still stay in their natural form which results in a cooked, but not tough/rubbery egg. Technically you are supposed to cook the egg at 62.7 degrees in order to only set some of the proteins in the egg but you can't set a Thermomix to such a precise temperature.

After 60 minutes
Upon peeling the egg it was obvious that it was different to the run of the mill boiled egg. The egg was jelly-like and the colour almost opaque.

The texture of this egg is unlike a poached egg nor a boiled egg. The yolk was cooked to the same degree throughout and had an almost custardy texture. The white was a soft as silk without a hint of bounce and without the raw gooby bits that you get in some undercooked poached eggs!

So was it worth an hour? If you are not hungry definitely!

Sarah xx

The very quick recipe
60 Degree Egg - Put eggs in the Thermomix basket, fill Thermomix bowl to 2L and pop the MC on to prevent evaporation.  Set time to 60 minutes, temperature to 60 degrees and speed to 3. Wait for an hour then enjoy!

Edit: If you don't like a really runny yolk you might prefer cooking the egg at 70 degrees for the last 5-10mins.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Cake Decorating

Apart from cooking one of my favourite hobbies is cake decorating. I only do it for fun and the cakes that i make are just for friends and family. I always get excited when a big birthday comes up because it gives me the chance to decorate! I've never done any courses and most of the cakes i just make up as i go. I'll get inspiration from flickr or google images and youtube has helped along the way but most of the time it's just pure luck how it turns out! Anyway i thought i'd post some pictures of the cakes i've done in the past just to keep a record. Most of them are by all means no perfect but hey, i'm not a pro! I've got another birthday coming up in a fortnight so i'm really looking forward to decorating again soon!

Sarah xx

 Sandy's 60th music themed cake (white and dark choc mud)

 Sam's 21st Dr Pepper cake (cherry choc mud cake)
 My 21st cake (white mud with raspberry ganache)
 Dr Pepper cupcakes
Dad's 50th Thunderbird 3 (buttercake)

 Sam's 21st Burger & Fries (white choc mud with brownie 'pattie' and sugar cookie fries)
 Anna's 21st Apple (white choc mud)
 Ginny's 21st Stars (flourless orange & almond and choc mud)
Mum's 50th Chocoholic (white & dark choc mud)

Smoky Eggplant Hummus

I'm always stuck with random vegies and leftover bits and pieces in the fridge. In winter these usually become soup but as the weather warms up they are more often becoming dip. So what happens when you find 3/4 eggplant and a cup of chickpeas in the fridge? You turn it into eggplant hummus of course!

Smoky Eggplant Hummus

1 small eggplant
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chickpeas (cooked or tinned)
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper to taste
sumac to sprinkle on top

Cook your eggplant over a naked flame or in a barbecue until the skin is black and the inside is soft and squidgy. When cooled remove flesh from skin and set aside. Place garlic and olive oil into the Thermomix bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7. Scrape it down off the sides then cook for 2 minutes at 100C. Add remaining ingredients and blend for 20 seconds on speed 5-6. Depending on how runny you like your dip you can add a bit of water to thin it out if desired. Scrape into a bowl and sprinkle with sumac. Enjoy!

Sarah xx

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Taxi Dining Room @ Federation Square

It's degustation time! I have wanted to have a degustation meal for years however no one seems to share my enthusiasm for such an affair... until last night! We opted for the 7 course degustation which was a good call - good luck eating everything on the 9 course menu! Overall i thought it was fabulous - the venue was great, the wait staff pleasant and helpful although we would have had at least 5 different staff during the evening and the food was delicious. Admittedly, i wasn't completely blown away by the food however my expectations were probably a tad unrealistic. The waiter coming around with a tray of sunglasses during sunset was a bit humorous - from the look of the full tray i don't think there were many takers! For modern asian cuisine in Melbourne i still prefer Gingerboy and for high class Japanese i'd head for KoKo @ Crown.

Just a bit of a disclaimer - although i tried my hardest to hear the waiter's description of the course, i may have gotten some of the elements confused with the omni version as the waiter had to explain both to the table.

Course 1: Apple and mushroom salad with ponzu dressing.

 A deliciously fresh and tangy salad with a moorish tangy dressing. I wish i hadn't scoffed the bread earlier so i had something to mop up the last skerrick of dressing.

Course 2: Avocado and cucumber roll.
 Not wrapped in nori - no idea what the white wrapper was although it didn't have a strong taste. This course was so-so - not all that different from something you'd get at your local takeaway sushi store.

Course 3: Gingered carrot soup with coriander shoots. 
Very creamy soup. To be honest it was probably my least favourite course - a tad boring. The omnis' soup looked fabulous! It was a broth with a fried wonton. Not sure why they couldn't have vegetarianised it :(

Course 4: Tempura.
Zucchini flowers, tofu, eggplant, asparagus, enoki and king oyster mushrooms. This course was fabulous! Deliciously thin and crispy tempura batter, not in the slightest bit oily with a delicious sweet chilli tomato dipping sauce.

Course 5: Vegetarian tasting plate
Check out the oozy filling!
 Chinese turnip cake with black bean and seaweed pickle (bottom right), pumpkin and tofu with a sesame crust on a coriander puree (top right) and stuffed zucchini flower with buffalo mozzarella (left). The final savoury course. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it was different to anything i'd ever tasted (except the zucchini flower.) The turnip cake was made from finely grated vegies, cut into a cube and fried. The pickle was a fantastic salty condiment. The tofu pumpkin was deceiving. On the outside it looked like a firm cube of sesame crusted fried tofu, but cut into it and it was soft and oozing. A very subtle flavour which complemented the strong sesame coating and coriander salsa. The zucchini flower was delicious but i thought it a tad repetitive as the previous course featured a zucchini flower - perhaps another protein-based dish would have been more appropriate.

Course 6: Frangelico jelly, crusted hazelnut parfait, milk chocolate ganache.
What can i say - it's a chocolate based dessert... how can it not be delicious?

Course 7: Petit fours and coffee
Green tea macarons, Kahlua cups, mandarin truffles, lemon curd. Although i make macarons all the time i have never made, nor eaten, green tea macarons. I dislike green tea to say the least and unfortunately i didn't really like these macarons. The Kahlua cups were deceptively runny but they were delicious and given Kahlua is my favourite liqueur,  they weren't going to disappoint! The mandarin truffles were smooth and creamy as was the curd. I love lemon curd and this tasted just like my grandma used to make. Give me biscuit sticks and lemon curd any day!

Overall it was a fabulous experience. The degustation way of dining is definitely my style. Bring on the next one!

Sarah xx

Homage to My Brother - Tempeh 'Non Carne'

It's widely known in my family that my brother's famous dish is his chilli con carne. It was in fact his only dish for several years! So when i stumbled across a recipe for Tempeh Chilli Con Carne in the Thermomix Vegetarian cookbook i knew it had to be made asap. I actually didn't end up following the recipe as i wanted to make a version that would remind me of my brother's as i haven't eaten his dish for many years since becoming vegetarian. In addition to the chilli, i also made a quick guacamole (1 avocado, juice of 1 lime and 5 sprigs coriander blitzed up) and cooked my rice in the Thermomix.

It took all of 20 minutes to cook the chilli then another 12 for the rice and 1 for the guacamole. I'd say that's a quick meal given that you don't need to actually stand and cook the whole time - you can write blog posts in the meantime!

Thank for the inspiration Sam - i had a delicious dinner! Hope i didn't completely bastardise your version! I think some of the leftovers will be turned into jaffle fillings, on baked potato and in wraps. I love versatile recipes!

Sarah xx

Tempeh 'Non Carne' serves 4
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1 long red chilli
200g tempeh, roughly chopped
15g oil
400g tin diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tbsp vegie stock concentrate
400g tin kidney beans.

Place onion, garlic and chilli into Thermomix bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 6.
Add tempeh and oil into bowl and pulse twice then saute for 4 minutes at 100C on reverse & speed soft.
Add all other ingredients except kidney beans and cook for 8 minutes at 100C on reverse & speed soft.
Add kidney beans and cook for 1 minute at 100C on reverse & speed soft.

Serve with guacamole and steamed rice.