Category Archives: Vegetarian

Mango Cheesecake

At this time of year Queensland really shows off.  Not with sweaty, but even temperatures, while the southern states suffer bipolar weather conditions.  Not with the sudden, yet inevitable thunder storms every other day.  Certainly not with the threat of cyclones in the far north, although I suppose that is a bit of extravert behaviour.  No, the turn of January into February brings the most abundant and wonderful fruit to woo all your senses.  The stone fruits in every market and every fruit shop call to you with fabulous sweet scents and parading of plump flesh and sumptuous colours.  The figs, my god, the figs!  All the sought after, rare fruits that appear briefly and expensively in Sydney are being offered by the trayful for weeks.  Mangoes are being sold at ridiculously low prices, possibly because there are mango trees everywhere in suburban streets, heavy with fruit, dropping produce on the pavement.  It is times of abundance such as these that call for creativity to use it all up.

mango cheesecake

I am toying with a few mango chutney recipes but not quite happy with them yet.  In the meantime I have always wanted to try the steamed cheesecake in the Everyday Cookbook.  I made the base out of crumble mix I had left over from a previous dessert making enterprise.  And I made enough mango coulis for cheesecake topping as well as several days of my daughter’s current favourite breakfast combination of mango and yoghurt.

For the base, add the following to the Thermomix bowl.  100g rolled oats, 100g plain flour (you can use any kind of flour you like really), 80g brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 100g butter (not too soft).  If you wanted lemony rather than gingery/cinnamonny first grate the zest of half a lemon, then add flour, oats, sugar and butter.  Mix 5-10 seconds Speed 5 on Reverse.  Check consistency.  Butter should have mixed evenly through so it all looks a bit bread crumby.  Grease and line a springform tin.  If you want to steam this in the Varoma you need a 15cm tin.  Or you could do it in individual portion tins.  I grabbed the first one I saw, which was 23cm.  This is why my cheesecake in the picture isn’t very high and why I steamed it in the oven instead.  Press crumble base mixture into the bottom of the chosen tin until it is mostly even and reaches the edges all around.  Bake in 160 degree oven for 10 minutes or until slightly browned and biscuit like.  Set aside to cool.

Rinse out and dry the bowl then move onto making the mango coulis.  Add 30g raw sugar and zest of 2 limes to the bowl and blitz on Speed 9 for 10 seconds.  Add flesh of mangoes that are starting to get black spots or really need using up.  I used 3 medium sized one.  If using more or less adapt other ingredients accordingly.  Ripe mangoes don’t need a lot of added sweetness, so you could skip the sugar altogether, but be sure not to add much more even with more mangoes.   You don’t want cloying.  You can be a bit more free wheeling with the sugar if the mangoes are greener or firmer.   Add juice of two limes (the ones you zested earlier perhaps), 50g water and cook 4 minutes, 90 degrees, Speed 3.5.  Set aside to cool, then transfer to the fridge.

Depending on your attitude to rinsing the bowl between things, either clean and dry bowl or be okay with a little mango/lime flavour in the cheesecake filling.  Definitely not a bad thing.  Just the layers aren’t as separated flavour wise this way.  Blitz 50g sugar and half a vanilla bean (or add a teaspoon of vanilla essence with the cream cheese) for 10 seconds (little more if the bowl is wet or still has residual mango coulis), then add 500g roughly chopped cream cheese and blend for 40 seconds speed 5.  Scrape down bowl.  Turn to Speed 4 and add 4 eggs one at a time through the hole in the lid until all combined.  Once eggs are in, blend 30 seconds on Speed 9 until smooth consistency.  Pour cheesecake filling onto cooled crumb biscuit base.

If steaming in the oven, cover cheesecake tin bottom and sides with foil so it is waterproof, then place in a roasting tin and pour water into roasting tin till 1/3 up to sides of cheesecake tin.  Loosely place tin foil over top of cheesecake to allow steaming, but avoid burning.  Place in oven on 150 degrees for 40-60 minutes.  It is cooked when its solid in the centre.  Not sure a skewer will come out clean but it shouldn’t be too wobbly or liquidy when gently wobbled.

If steaming in the Varoma, place 1L water into cleaned mixing bowl.  Place cheesecake into Varoma dish on top and put on the lid.  Steam on Varoma temperature, 50-60 minutes, Speed 2.  If individual portion sizes it will be shorter cooking time.  Check after 20 minutes.  Again check its doneness with a gentle wobble.

Set aside to cool, then once cooled to room temperature, pour mango coulis on top then place in fridge to set for 3 hours or overnight.  Coulis should be thick enough not to dribble down the sides.  If it is a bit thin you can wait till you serve the cheesecake before you pour on the coulis.  And if you have left over mango coulis pour it on everything you eat from now on till used up.  It goes with everything!

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Gazpacho

Hot summery nights call for cooling dinners.  Or lunches, or brunches, because where I am it is pretty much the same temperature all day and night.  This dish cools you down, is packed with fresh vegetables AND can cope very well with adding vodka or sherry to it for a Spanish Bloody Mary.  Hey, a lot of people are still on holidays!

The beauty of making this recipe with a Thermomix is it takes away the need for the fiddly process of removing skins and seeds as blending it in the final step crushes everything into a smooth, smooth rosy liquid.  You can adjust the flavours as necessary.  Add more or less garlic.  Boost the vinegar.  I find many gazpacho recipes too heavy on the vinegar which makes the fresh flavours of the vegetables disappear under a face contorting tang.  The gazpachos we had in Spain (did I mention I’ve travelled?) were fresh and zingy with just a hint of vinegary sharpness.  Its all about balance.

This recipe is a conversion of the gazpacho andaluz in Movida, a beautiful cookbook from the Melbourne chef (and now Australia wide restauranteur) Frank Camorra.  I’ve never eaten at Movida, but I just heard that there is a new one at Sydney airport, so it could be something to cross off for 2014 next time I’m visiting family.  Thanks Kay for the heads up on that one!

Roughly chop (halves or quarters) 1kg tomatoes, throw into Thermomix bowl and puree on Speed 7 for 20 seconds.  Deseed one red and one green capsicum and quarter.  Roughly chop 2 lebanese cucumbers and a red onion.  Peel a garlic clove.  Throw them all in the bowl with the blended tomato.  Chop it all up on Speed 7 for 20 seconds then blend on 9 for 1 minute.  Add 100 ml olive oil and 10-20g vinegar.  The recipe says 60ml vinegar and to use aged sherry vinegar.  I prefer less vinegar.  I added apple cider vinegar because I don’t have aged sherry vinegar and because I have the apple cider vinegar with the mother and am still on the idea that it might have added health benefits.  If you want a clearer, crisper taste I would recommend adding just a nice dry sherry.  Whichever you add, taste as you go so you don’t wreck the flavour with too much sharpness outweighing the fresh flavours.  Add a teaspoon of salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper.  Blend again on Speed 5 for 10 seconds.

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At this point your Thermomix is going to be pretty full.  The last step is easier done in two batches.  Its a bit of a pain, but it does save cleaning up a lot of soup running all over the place if you don’t split it up.  Do this step just before serving so the soup is icy cold.  Pour half out and set aside.  Add two handfuls of ice cubes and blend on Speed 9 (go up slowly so as not to frighten your MC to halfway across the room) for 1 minute.  Do the same with the second half.  Check consistency and thin if necessary by stirring in some chilled water.  

Serve with some fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (mint, basil, chives, parsley – depends on your mood and international flavour profile).   If you are in a party frame of mind mix with vodka and serve in shot glasses.  Or go hipster with jar glasses and silver straws (thanks Miriam for mine!).  Or go 70s Bloody Mary style with a big celery swizzel stick.  Anyhow you have it – enjoy!

Cauliflower Salad (More Delightful Than It Sounds)

Christmas cooking is over for another year.  I realise it is a stressful experience for some people, but I had a great time being able to cook for visiting family.  We had a roast goose (turned out very well for a first time experience), plum sauce (I have blogged this recipe before), potatoes roasted in goose fat and assorted other roast veggies.  It was all very delicious, but the stand out was a surprising number.  It was cauliflower cous cous (named for the cauliflower pretending to be a wheat based thing), from Recipe Community.  Its another Matt Stone recipe, like the almond milk rice pudding, so no wonder it worked so well.  I chose it because of the Christmassy colours, but really had no idea how it would taste.

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Cauliflower is the tofu of the paleo circuit.  It is used to stand in for other grains, such as rice or cous cous dishes.  It also features in a lot of raw recipes.  Thermomix makes the required transitioning of large vegetable into tiny grains very easy.  You chop the stalky bits on 6 for a 10 seconds, checking they are evenly chopped (if not, another few seconds after scraping down the sides) then put in the florets on reverse, Speed 5 for 2-3 seconds.  You don’t want to make a puree, but rice sized pieces, so keep an eye on it while chopping.  Once you have a big bowl full of cauliflower ‘grains’ put them into a large salad bowl and get to work on the rest.  No need to rinse the bowl in between all these steps.  It all ends up in the same salad.

Shell a bowl full of pistachios.  You want to end up with around 100-150g of shelled nuts.  Put them in the Thermomix bowl and chop 2-3 seconds Speed 5.  Add to cauliflower in salad bowl.  Tear up a big handful of parsley and another of coriander.  Throw into Thermomix bowl and chop 2 seconds on Speed 6.  If you don’t have coriander just double the parsley.  Thats what I did.  Add  to salad bowl.

Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the salad.  I used almost a whole pomegranate’s worth of seeds, but its up to you and your relationship with pomegranates.  I love the sharp and sweet taste with a little crunch.  There is a YouTube video of how to deseed a pomegranate in a Thermomix if you are interested, along with quite a number of handy Thermomix how to videos.  I just did it by hand with a few splatters to add to the Christmas outfit.

The dressing calls for pomegranate molasses, which you can of course make in a Thermomix, but I didn’t have any on me on the day, so I mixed a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, 80g olive oil, the juice of two lemons, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a liberal grinding of pepper and a sprinkling of salt.  I was mixing it in the Thermomix, so thought why not throw in a handful of pomegranate seeds that I was about to add to the salad.  Mix it all up, Speed 6 for 10 seconds and you have a tangy dressing with a little sweetness that just melds the whole thing together.  Drizzle on dressing and toss salad thoroughly so all components are nicely mixed.  You will have people asking for the recipe.

Bakey Beans

I continue to explore new breakfast options and this one not only makes a great breakfast, but is my husband’s favourite at any time of day with eggs, or sausages or just some buttery toast.  You will never go back to tinned baked beans again after you have tried Thermomix baked beans.

I’ve tried a couple of baked beans recipes for the Thermomix and they all work really well, its just a matter of adjusting for taste and texture.  If you like a hot and spicy number add some fresh chilli at the beginning or tabasco sauce.  If you like it with a tangier taste splash some vinegar in.  If you want your beans mushy soft add a few more minutes to the cooking time.

This one is mainly based on Quirky Jo’s recipe, but also takes a little from a Recipe Community contribution because that is the first baked bean recipe I tried.  Quirky Jo’s version has a delectable sweetness, the recipe community one has a fresh taste because of the herbs.

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First, choose your bean.  Cannellini beans work very nicely, but you can mix it up with some kidney beans or your four bean selection.  3x 400g cans of beans, drained, will make a good amount for 4-6 or for enough leftovers for breakfasts during the week.  If you are using dried beans you need to plan ahead.  Soak them for a day beforehand and then cook them in the steamer basket for 45 minutes (as per the recipe community baked beans recipe – see tip) prior to commencing this recipe.  

Next, put a peeled, halved onion into the bowl with 2 peeled cloves of garlic and a long red chilli, halved and chop 3 seconds on Speed 5.  Scrape down the sides then add 20ml oil and sauté for 2 minutes on 100 degrees.  Insert the butterfly.

Add the drained beans, 400g fresh or canned tomatoes, a tablespoon of veg stock concentrate, 70g tomato paste, 100ml of water (MCful), big handful of fresh parsley or basil or a mix of both, 40g sugar (you can use around this amount of any sweetener, e.g., golden syrup, honey – I used 20g raw sugar and 20g treacle because that is what I had in the cupboard), salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 20 minutes on 100 degrees at Speed 1 with MC off.  There isn’t much splatter so the steamer basket probably won’t be needed on top, but you can put it there just in case.  Test seasoning and texture of beans.  If beans still a little too al dente cook for a further 3-4 minutes (this may be the case with the dried beans).  Cooking a few more minutes will also reduce the sauce further, so do this if you feel its not thick enough.  Serve topped with chopped fresh parsley.

Blue Cheese Souffle

This is a recipe I have been making for a while pre Thermomix.  A friend suggested it as a solution to my soft cheese craving during pregnancy.  I was awash with guilt if I stepped off the listeria no go list that helpful doctors have to give you when pregnancy is first confirmed.  The list contains most foods, so is not particularly helpful in any way, except to give you a horrible case of anxiety that you will be poisoning your foetus if you eat soft cheese, salads (might be unwashed!), chicken of any kind and cured meats. Kind of felt like fast food was the only option, which works brilliantly with a first child, but makes you share said salty crap if you already have a toddler attached to your every waking hour.

Anyhoo, back to the soufflé.  It goes wonderfully well with steak.  The juice from the meat combined with the fluffy, blue cheese flavoured souffle is fabulous.  And, of course, the Thermomix makes it so easy to do.

First, insert the butterfly into your clean, dry bowl.  Separate four eggs (over the bowl if you are feeling lucky), adding the egg whites to the bowl and the yolks aside for the next step.  Add a pinch of cream of tartar or salt and start whipping on speed 3.5.  I don’t know why the pinch, but the Everyday Cookbook says to and it worked (I used cream of tartar – its in the Thermomix playdough so I have it on hand), so I’m all for it.  Watch through the lid for it forming soft peaks.  It takes about a minute and a half.  Remove from the bowl and set aside.

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Throw some chunks of blue cheese into the bowl, about 60-70g.  Chop at Speed 5 for 3-4 seconds.  Set aside.  It will be a little paste like.  Feel free to add other kinds of cheese, parmesan, gruyere, they all work well.

Next, add the reserved egg yolks, 60g corn flour, 300g full cream milk, 50g butter, some ground black pepper and a little salt to the bowl and cook for 3-5 minutes Speed 3 on 90 degrees.  Make sure its reached 90 degrees and check if the mixture is thickening.  Add the reserved cheese and, if the mixture is still thin, cook at 90 for a further 2 minutes.  If thickened, just mix at Speed 5 for 5 seconds.

Add a little of the reserved whipped egg whites and incorporate with the rest of the mixture.  Add the rest and softly fold in so the fluffy egg whites don’t break down too much.

Butter or oil spray a soufflé dish or several individual ramekins or something with high sides and line with grated parmesan cheese.  Pour the souffle mixture in to three quarters full.  Bake in a 180 degree oven until risen, browned on top and not wobbly when gently shaken.  My oven took about 15 minutes.  Small ramekins will take around 10, bigger dishes may take more.

Eat with gusto.  And red meat.

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Naked Ginger Slice

Naked Ginger

I was given this recipe by a great Thermomix loving family who have been very generous, sharing several family recipes with me.  They call this one ginger crunch slice, but a key ingredient is something they introduced me to – naked ginger.  It is dried, uncrystallised ginger.  So, naturally the high school child in me insisted it be called Naked Ginger Slice.

Still sweet and intensely gingery naked ginger gives a lovely chewiness to this crunchy and gooey slice.  This slice has grown on me since I made it first earlier in the week.  I’ll be making it again very soon.  And I will bring Grandma some too on my next visit, nursing home dining room rules be damned.

For the base, put a handful of pieces of naked ginger (around 6-8 pieces) in the Thermomix bowl with 100g raw sugar and chop for 3 seconds on Speed 8.  Put the butterfly in and add 125g softened butter.  Cream butter, sugar and ginger for 15 seconds on Speed 4.  Add 200g of plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder and mix for 10 seconds on Speed 4.  Remove butterfly and press mixture firmly into a greased slice tin until it looks slightly less crumbly.  The texture appears weird, but it does work.  Bake in 190 degree oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown all over.  Cool in the tin while making the icing.

For the icing, blitz 90g raw sugar into icing sugar on Speed 9 for 10 seconds.  Add 80g butter, 20g golden syrup and 2 tsp ground ginger. Heat for 5 minutes on 60 degrees, Speed 2.  Pour icing over the still warm ginger crunch base.  Cool in the fridge until icing is set (as I clearly did not in the picture) then slice.

Naked Ginger Slice

Orange and Poppyseed Cake

I have been experimenting with lots of new recipes lately after my jam frenzy.  A lovely family of Thermomix owners have shared their recipes for brownies, chocolate cheesecake and ginger slice among others and I have been trying them all.  I will be blogging about some of them shortly.

First, I thought I should share with you something I didn’t experiment with at all, just slapped together one night on the request of my mother in law for her birthday cake.  It was a great request because I knew I would have all the ingredients and I hadn’t tried making it before.  My perfect combination.  There is an orange/lemon cake recipe in the Everyday Cookbook which I have since tried (I made a lemon poppyseed cake this time) and works very well.  However, for the first time I followed the recipe on Chonny’s Thermomix Delights because a) I hadn’t realised I already had a recipe and b) this recipe used oil instead of butter and I had run out of butter.  I loved this recipe because you just chop a whole orange into quarters and bung it in the Thermomix and whiz it till its smooth.  No big chunks of orange peel.  No peeling zest, no mess, no fuss.

So my slightly adapted version is to pour 200g raw sugar into the bowl.  Zap into castor sugar by whizzing on Speed 9 for 4 seconds.  I love milling the sugar so I usually do this step even if its not necessary.  Throw in quartered orange (peel, pith, everything, though if there are seeds try to take them out as they can add a bitter flavour) and blend on Speed 7 or 8 for 15 seconds.  I really didn’t want any peel chunks so really blended that orange to liquid.  If you don’t mind your orange bits a bit bigger blend on Speed 6 for 6 seconds.

Insert the butterfly with a little twist so it holds on when mixing, then add 300g plain flour, 3 tsps baking powder, 1 tsp cream of tartar (handy to have in the cupboard for making your own baking powder and playdough),  3 eggs, 250g oil and 2-3 tbsps poppyseeds.  Mix for 10 seconds on speed 4.  Pour into a greased tin – I used a bundt tin – and bake for about 40 minutes on 180 degrees.

While the cake is baking make an orange syrup with 30g sugar and the juice of one orange.  Place both into cleaned Thermomix bowl and heat at 100 degrees for 2 minutes on Speed 2.

Test the cake with a skewer to see if it comes out clean, then cool in the tin a little before turning out onto a plate and drizzling over some orange syrup.

Orange and Poppyseed Cake

Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

This is one for the people I disappointed with my Green Juice post last week.  And anyone who likes chocolate.  And nuts.  And things only the Thermomix can make seem hilariously easy.

Hazelnut Chocolate Spread appears as a recipe in the Everyday Cookbook.  I implore you to try it.  It kicks Nutella right in the bottom.  It is rich, but not overly sweet.  You could pour it straight from the Thermomix bowl into a cooked pastry case, leave it to set in the fridge and have an extremely good chocolate tart.  You could use it as a filling for biscuit sandwiches or macarons.  Or you could pour it into some jars and have tablespoon ready chocolate fix sitting in your fridge.   I have been spreading it on lightly toasted sourdough for an after school dropoff pick me up with my morning coffee.  My eldest is choosing it as her dessert, spread on fresh bread, if she makes a good effort eating her dinner.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

There are a few different recipes that vary from the Everday Cookbook version.  As usual, I took them all into consideration and came up with my own.  First I ground on Speed 9 for 10 seconds 60g raw sugar to icing sugar (for easy dissolving).  Next throw in 150g chocolate (broken into small pieces) and 90g hazelnuts and grind at Speed 9 for 10 seconds.  Check texture and grind again if not fine enough for you.  I didn’t bother skinning or roasting the hazelnuts, but I’m sure if you did it would produce an even lovelier toasty flavour.  I used Lindt 70% cocoa dessert chocolate.  This is the one I usually have in the fridge for my chocolate cooking needs.  I can buy it at Coles and it gives a nicer flavour than any of the other cooking chocolates I have tried from the supermarket.  One day perhaps I will look into finding a source for some higher quality chocolate like the Callebaut Muttering Housewife swears by. One day.  Vary sugar according to the chocolate you use, and your sweet palette.  If it is a milk chocolate it will be much sweeter than dark.  Most recipes suggest between 50-90g sugar.

I skipped the cocoa powder because I had added an extra 50g chocolate.  Add either 70g butter or same of a flavourless oil such as grapeseed.  A nut oil would add a nice flavour too.  Or coconut oil if you have it around.  Not olive oil.  Too fruity for this.  I used oil instead of butter as I was going to sell a couple of jars at my school fete jam stall, so trying to reduce degradable ingredients and also wanted it to be spreadable out of the fridge.  Add 100g milk and heat at 50 degrees for 6 minutes on Speed 3.  Check the consistency after it has finished, cook a couple of minutes more if you think it too runny.  It does firm up once in the fridge.  Pour into your sterilised jars, transfer to fridge and try to resist eating in one go.  They make a fabulous present.

Just a word on bottling your own freshly made goods.  I realise some are a bit worried about things going off when its homemade.  There are no use by dates on your jar of lovingly prepared stuff.  From a lot of Google research and many conversations to home jam makers in my preparation for jam stall convening I came across a few basics to help with this.  Hot things should be poured into hot jars, so glass doesn’t crack.  Don’t use plastic, it is harder to sterilise without compromising and different plastics behave in different ways.  Stick to glass.  Clean and collect jars from your current stock of bought goods.  Sterilise your cleaned jars and lids (steam in the oven, boil on the stove, steam in the Varoma if the jars fit) while you are cooking your jams, etc.  10 minutes on full steam should do it.  Drain on a clean tea towel, then turn over to pour stuff in.  The tea towel helps in clean up too – I have taken some practice to get most of the goods in the jar.  Don’t use screw top lids or stopper lids because they don’t seal properly.  Use jars and lids that most jams come in, ie, that have metal lids that twist a little to open.  Pickle or olive jars are good, but you have a hard time getting the pickle flavour out, so use them for savoury things like sauces or your own pickles.  Leave as little surface area as possible so oxygen has a harder time getting in.  This means fill right up to the neck and try to use smaller neck jars.  Fasten the lid and turn upside down for 10 minutes or until you remember to turn them upright.  This not only helps to show you whether your lid is fastened tight, but also helps with the seal.  Or so I have  been told.  Once opened to use, always store in the fridge.  Lastly, check it for mould when using each time.  Also, as my father would say, suck it and see.  A sniff and a tiny taste will tell you whether it has passed its prime.  My father would probably still eat it anyway, but he has some hardy gut bacteria from a life of indifference to use by dates.

 

Green Juice

Its been an under the weather week in this house.  I don’t know about you, but after spending too many days housebound with the dreaded lurgy I feel like burning all pajamas and bedding associated with the illness.  I may have read too many plague books.  Luckily that urge isn’t strong enough to act on, it just tends to lead to a lot of washing in hot water.

My illness was in the throat, so I was off my tucker for a bit.  Horrifying I know.  Instead of thinking of all the tasty creations I could make for dinner I turned my thoughts to what my giant tonsils would let pass them with the least amount of pain.

I tried soup.  No.  Heat = pain.  Also, my lovely husband, who was learning how to make soup in the Thermomix while looking after a sick wife and children, thought it was a good idea to throw in a chilli.  In normal circumstances that would be fine with me.  In this case, no.  Heat two ways = lots of pain.

Next I tried sorbet.  Yes.  Ice worked much better.  An added bonus was using up some fruit from our ever abundant fruit bowl.  I did pink grapefruit.  Some vitamin C there.  I ate some shortly after I made it, then put the rest in icicle containers so I could access some icy soothing as many times as I needed.

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Then I figured I should go for something that had a bit more oomph in the nutrition, or at least ingredients quarters.  I had read about green smoothies on several Thermomix sites. Like so many things in the Thermomix world, I had not encountered them in my previous life.  Now, suddenly, they are everywhere.  I might be moving in slightly different circles nowadays because Green Smoothie was a menu item at a cafe I visited last week.  I hadn’t been moved to try them before, because, well, frankly they sounded gross.  I think the smoothie bit isn’t helping.  There isn’t a dairy component in most of the recipes I have read.  Its more of a juice.  And, to my great surprise they taste great.

As I often do when faced with unfamiliar things I turned to Quirky Jo.  She has some very good green juice recipes.  I tried the Shrek Juice for the kids (cup of ice, peeled orange x 3, handful of spinach leaves).  They actually like it!  Look!  Image

For a grown up version, I went with Jo’s Favourite Green Smoothie, which is a frozen banana or two, snapped into thirds and thrown in, 2 apples in quarters (I did core, though Jo suggested you don’t need to), 1 peeled lime, 2 cups of ice (or a few more cubes – I wanted it icy cold to numb the tonsils), 300g water and a torn up smallish bunch of washed kale.  You could use spinach, or even lettuce instead.  I had bought some kale and wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Muttering Housewife hadn’t said nice things about it, in fact, compared its taste to horse blankets, so I was a bit scared.  It had started looking a bit sad and soggy in the fridge so I thought I should chuck it into this juice mix before it went too far.  Mix all this up on Speed 10 for 2 minutes for a completely smooth texture.  It makes a good amount, enough for 4 serves.

I managed to finish a schooner of it and I couldn’t taste any horse blankets.  It wasn’t too sweet, but flavoursome.  More a fruit juice taste than a vegetable juice taste.  The banana gave it a creamy texture, so I suppose smoothie could be used to describe it.  I still prefer to call it juice.  And I will call it that when I make it every time I have any greens on hand.  It is a great breakfast option as it has a great nutrition boost and good for iron absorption with leafy greens and vitamin C.  Also quite a good afternoon pick me up.

I realise there may be friends who knew me in my 20s who may wonder what has happened to me.

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Pear and Ginger Jam

After my earlier attempt at jam (see Plum Sauce I & II) I decided to have another crack.  In order to motivate myself, I put my hand up for the jam stall at the school fete.  Also, the P&C chair is a lovely woman and she put in a late tuckshop order for me.  So I owed her.  I’m new to the school and you never know how the P&C is going to work.  I figure most people work on a mob-like favour system, hopefully with less violence and horse heads.  I want the neighbourhood to know I know how to return a favour.

Jam is not something I would have bothered with before Thermomix.  It sounded like something that you need to clear the kitchen for, get in heavy equipment and risk burns and ruining a large pot of something just because you forgot it was on.

There are some excellent jam recipes in the Everyday Cookbook.  I plan to make the citrus marmalade and the strawberry jam, but first I wanted to try something more my Grandma’s style.  She is a ginger fan.  Ginger wine (by the thimble, she doesn’t want to get silly), crystallized ginger and, when the local markets are on, ginger jam. This keenness on ginger is interesting because aside from this she has a rather bland palate.  Forget spices, salt and pepper are exotic and unnecessary in her meals.  Her tea is taken with a mere wave of a teabag over some hot water, with very weak powdered milk added.  On a night out at the club she will occasionally order a shandy with strict instructions for only 1 finger of beer, with the rest of the glass filled with lemonade.  I like my shandies the other way around.

I found a pear and ginger jam recipe here, which suits because I needed something to bulk out the more expensive ginger and pears were a pretty good price from the apple man at the Kelvin Grove Markets.  He sells produce from the orchards around Stanthorpe.  Mainly apples, but also whatever else is dropping from the trees at any particular time of the year.  I have bought quinces from him (short season this year – too much rain to keep them from rotting), huge Golden Queen peaches and every variety of apple you can think of.  He had some called Champagne Apples, which I had to buy.  They look very interesting and I am mulling over how to use them.

So with piles of fruit around me I peeled and cored a kilo of pears and half a kilo of pink lady apples.  Keep the apple peel and core to add pectin to the jam.  Peel 125g ginger and cut into chunks.  To chop the ginger finely I put it in the Thermomix first and blitzed at Speed 7 for 3 seconds.  Scrape and blitz again if not fine enough for you.  Add the rest of the prepped fruit and chop at Speed 5 for 3 or 4 seconds.  Check if the right texture for your liking.  If you like it extra chunky maybe even just Turbo it a couple of times.  Add juice of two lemons, reserving the seeds to add to the apple offcuts.

Add 800-1000g sugar.  I didn’t want it too sweet, so I stopped at 800, but the original recipe said 1kg.  It will take it right up to the maximum level in the jug, but it cooks down, so I didn’t get overflow during the cooking.  Mix it all up on Speed 5 for 2 seconds.

I tied the apple peel, core and lemon seeds into a clean chux cloth and rested it on top of the fruit and sugar.  You could also blend the peel and core (but not seeds – will add bitterness) all first up with the ginger so they are very fine and incorporate them in the jam mixture.  I didn’t think of that until now, so went with the bouquet garni style.  According to the lady I buy milk from you could also just stick a whole apple in the mix as it cooks and pull the core out at the end, the rest will have cooked down with the rest of the fruit and sugar.  If you use the chux method just remember to check now and then that the bundle hasn’t become caught up in the blades.  It is not a chux jam we are making. I found it stayed on top quite well and cut down splatter through the lid.  Close lid, cook for 20 minutes at 100 degrees, speed 1.  If you have blitzed apple peel, core and lemon seeds with the ginger you can increase speed to 2 as no issues with getting anything caught up. Put a clean saucer in the fridge.

After 20 minutes check jam is setting by spooning small amount onto the cold saucer.  If its ready it will set in 30 seconds and be jelly like instead of runny.  If still runny cook again in 5 minute increments until you are happy with it.  This recipe filled 5 of my jam jars which I figure is the biggest yield possible, given we started out with a maximum capacity amount in the jug.

Its intensely gingery.  I wonder if Grandma will like it.Image

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