Category Archives: What’s for Dinner?

Bo Ssam (Slow Cooked Pork)

I’ve been keeping this one to myself.  Largely because there isn’t a huge need for Thermomix activity.  But it is so good, as I was reminded by cooking it today, that I need to rave about it for a bit.

I discovered the recipe when following the Momofuku opening in Sydney.  No, I have not been to the restaurant, but as with many other foodie obsessions (The Fat Duck, elBulli, even the geographically attainable – Movida, Rockpool, Quay) though denied the lived experience of eating at my place of worship, I stalk the food through online recipes, write ups, TV shows and cookbooks.

This appealed for many reasons.  Pork is a reason alone.  The simplicity of preparation, though requiring time, also hugely appealing.  Also, the temptation of attempting new things – kimchi and pickled watermelon rind.  And as a dinner party meal it can be expanded at the last minute to feed extras, while still being very impressive.

Momofuku suggests using a shoulder of pork – skin off.  If it comes with skin, cut away, leaving all the fat and use skin to make delicious crackling as a side or as a secret indulgence when you are finally alone again.  I love the pork I get at our market butcher – the Stockman’s Choice at Kelvin Grove Markets.  You get to bask in wonderful Scottish accents while buying the most flavoursome, succulent pork I have ever had.  The cut they have is a porterhouse.  Don’t assume I actually know about cuts of meat, but this works very well.

Choose a close fitting oven dish for your piece of pork.  A lot of liquid eventuates, so high sides is a good idea.  A dish that can go from oven to table will also save time and washing up.  A little olive oil (or whatever oil you are using for cooking) drizzled on the bottom of the dish.  Sit your pork fat side up in its new house and score the fat with a sharp knife in a criss cross fashion.  Sprinkle a thin layering of salt over the pork, then get a big bag of brown sugar and pack it on in a layer at least 2cm thick, don’t let any pork peek through.  Put a lid or plastic wrap over the top and put in the fridge for 24 hours or until you remember it again.  This can be done the morning of your bo ssam dinner, but I find it does work just a little better if the sugar and pork have spent more quality time together overnight.

4 hours before you Bo ssamwant to serve up place your pork dish in a slow oven, uncovered.  I usually have my oven at 140 degrees for the first 2 and a half hours then put it up to 150 for the last hour and a half.  Depends on your oven.  I have a slow cook setting on my oven that only cooks things if left in all day.  I am not usually that well prepared first thing in the morning, but at least I know I don’t have to buy a slow cooker.  You want the sugar nicely caramelising to a dark brown, but not burning and the pork able to melt apart with some soft poking with a fork.  To serve use tongs, fork, spoons and tear it apart so there are nice shreds of pork mixing with caramelly sauce.  Serve with lettuce leaves to wrap (the actual meaning of bo ssam is apparently wrapped up), rice (where your Thermomix comes in handy), spring onions and ginger in soy sauce, pickled vegetables – watermelon rind recipe coming up, kimchi, grated raw carrot.  You could make all kinds of sides to go with this and turn it from a Korean dish to any kind of cuisine you like, just emphasising different flavours.  A few spices in with the pork while it cooks will lift it from delicious to sublime (I like a bit of star anise and lime zest).

Try not to have too many people for dinner for this one.  It is divine on a sandwich the next day.

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Fried Rice – in the Thermomix!

fried riceSeriously.  Okay, it took me a while to try the Chinese-style stir fry vegetables in the Everyday Cookbook.  I didn’t believe it would work.  Or it would be a very poor version.  A chopped up mushy horrible interpretation of a stir fry.  I really only tried it because my lovely area manager told me to.  Its part of my job as a Thermomix consultant to try the seemingly impossible and see if it is actually impossible.  Because not all the recipes are for everyone.  You’ll never guess what happened.  Lo, tasty, al dente vegetables in their julienned forms emerged.  I have now made it as a side for many meals.  The next step was imminent.

Fried rice.  That combination (as I know it) of left over roast meat, vegetables, rice and your choice of the sauce on hand – soy, fish, oyster.  Maybe an egg on top either omelette form or fried, so you can squish the viscous centre through the rice as its own unctuous sauce.  I do like to add some tabasco  through my cooked rice dishes too.  It might be sacrilege but I put it on risotto sometimes too.  You don’t have to.

Quirky Jo had a fried rice recipe.  I have come to trust this woman knows what she is talking about with her recipes.  She can cook tasty things.  As always, though, I have my own tweaks.  My leftover roast meat is a slow cooked pork (no skin, just a nice covering of fat, scored), that was marinated in a little salt and a lot of brown sugar for 24 hours, then cooked slow for 4 or 5 hours until it is soft and you can shred it into a molassesy deliciousness.  It is beautiful in its first incarnation served with iceberg lettuce as a wrap, filled with rice, shreds of pork, chopped spring onion mixed with ginger and soy, and some kind of pickle – my favourite being watermelon rind pickle – all a version of a momofuku dish, taken from various blogs on this fantastic combination of flavours, e.g., the bitten word.  As the meat in a fried rice it is almost as divine.  Paired with some fried bacon its particularly awesome.  I try to limit pork consumption to once or twice a month.  When I have it I like to make it worthwhile.

So, here is what I did.  Pour a 400ml can of coconut milk (or cream, as it is what I had in the cupboard) in the bowl.  Pour another 500g water in as well.  Insert steamer basket and weigh in 400g basmati or jasmine rice.  Close the lid, put the MC on and swish the water around for 20 seconds on Speed 7 or 8.  You want all the rice wet so it steams through.  Heat on Varoma for 20 minutes, Speed 4.  As it heats up, chop some veggies to add to the Varoma basket – chopped carrot, broccoli, zucchini, snow peas, bok choy, spring onions, whatever you have on hand and you can convince yourself have some Asian affiliation.  Put them in the basket as you chop – harder veg like carrot first – replacing the lid each time so the steam can do its cooking.  Quirky Jo steamed some chicken or prawns or bacon underneath the veg at this point.  I draw the line at steaming bacon.  I want it crispy.  And I want my leftover slow cooked pork crispy.  So in the fry pan they went, helped with some rendered fat from bacon rinds I like to turn into pre dinner crisps.  Crunchy, salty with the sweetness of the melted sugar.  Mix with rice and vegetables when each are done.

Whisk 4-5 eggs with some garlic chives or parsley (if you happen to have them growing in the garden as I do) or just some salt and pepper.  Wet a sheet of baking paper, screw it up and wring out extra water, then line Varoma tray with it, place on top of vegetables and pour in egg mixture.  I was supervising bath time at the same time, so the eggs went on a little late.  I removed rice and veg and mixed together in the Thermoserver, added some more water to the bowl and put the eggs back on to steam until it sets.  Chop roughly and mix through rice, pork, bacon and vegetables.  Serve with or without tabasco.  Throw your wok away.

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.

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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Prawn Bisque

My last post was a recipe that could have easily been done Thermomix or no Thermomix.  Not so this one.  I mean, you could do it in a saucepan and colander and a lot of attention but it would be more of a pain and not something I would have bothered attempting.

I happened to have frozen some prawn heads and shells after our last prawn supper and was wondering what to do with them.  Bouillabaisse?  Stock?  And then I came across this recipe.  It looked involved – it has more than one stage!  But the stages only involved adding more things to the Thermomix bowl and cooking again.

First peel around 250g of prawns.  Set prawn meat aside in Varoma bowl awaiting Stage 3.  Throw the shells in the Thermomix bowl along with 20g peanut oil, 10g sesame oil, 2 red chillies (deseed if you don’t want too much heat), 3-4 cloves garlic.  Cook at 100 degrees for 15 minutes on Speed 1.

Next roughly chop 3 spring onions, 2 medium carrots, 2 sticks celery, 2 stalks lemon grass (or use the bottled variety – its what I had on hand.  I used about 4 teaspoons) and add to bowl along with 50g ginger (peeled if old, if young and thin skinned go mad and leave the skin on) and another 10g peanut oil.  Chop on Speed 8 for 5 seconds.  The recipe on the website says longer, but I don’t think you want it too fine as this is all strained out later.  I prefer prawn shells in the basket, not in the final soup.  Thankfully I had cross checked recipe on Tick of Yum and she had added this tip.  Cook at 100 degrees for 5 minutes on Speed 2-3.

3rd stage – are we all ready?  Add to the bowl 20g tomato paste, 3-4 lemon myrtle leaves (I did not have these – I used 3 strips of lemon peel), 3 kaffir lime leaves (I happen to be growing these in the garden), 4 coriander roots roughly chopped, around 10 basil leaves, 2 tbsp Thermomix veg stock concentrate, 1000g water, 25g fish sauce, 50g palm sugar (recipe says dark palm sugar, I didn’t have any palm sugar, light or dark, so used brown sugar), 200 ml coconut cream.  Cook at 100 degrees for 20 minutes at Speed 1.  Then, Stage 3.5, put the Varoma with prawn meat inside on top and cook it all at Varoma temperature for 20 minutes, Speed 1 or until prawns are cooked.  Remove Varoma, add 20g cornflour to ingredients in the bowl and cook at 100 degrees for 3 minutes on Speed 4 – Stage 3.75. Stage 3 has a few parts.

Place the cooked prawns in serving bowls.  Strain soup through steamer basket into Thermoserver.  Ladle into serving bowls, garnish with coriander leaves and eat with crusty bread.  Or with the coconut foam that is suggested in the original recipe.  I may attempt this another time.

Prawn bisque

The photo does not do service to how awesome this tasted.  It was one of the best soups I have ever had, home cooked or restaurant. It even reminded me of a lobster bisque I had at Marque in Sydney once.  That was served with a parmesan custard.  That I think I could make – there is a recipe in the Thermomix 2013 calendar.  I’ll keep you posted.

Indian Inspirations

I have been playing around with some of the new ingredients I find in my pantry.  I bought chickpea flour to make Cyndi’s Gluten Free Bread (new Everyday Cookbook).  There was quite a bit left.  Then I saw a cooking show where they were making onion bhajis with chickpea flour.  They looked delicious and what’s more like something my children might consider worth trying.

I looked up some recipes and came across one in my old favourite cookbook, Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion.  She had a recipe for carrot fritters that looked similar to the bhajis, so I thought lets give that a whirl.  The kids seem to prefer carrot things to onion things anyway.  Also, the recipe required me to open a beer and being that kind of evening that was all the excuse I needed.

I roughly chopped 2 medium sized carrots and some spring onions and threw them into the Thermomix, chopping finely on Speed 5 for 5 seconds (I wanted the pieces pretty small, so cooking would be even as well as children not being able to pull out bits).  I added 150g chickpea flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric, 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin, sprinkling of salt (recipe called for 1 teaspoon, I think you can sprinkle more on the cooked fritters if they need it rather than put too much in the batter), 1 egg and half a cup of beer.  Recipe also called for 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but I left it out in case children found them too ‘zingy’ (their word).  If you would like it more zingy put it in, or throw in a chilli or two with the carrots and spring onion at the beginning.  Mix on Speed 5 for 5 seconds or until all incorporated.

Heat oil in a frying pan.  You need enough oil to be covering the whole pan and also coming up the sides a bit.  You will need to top up oil in between batches.  Remember to wait for it to heat up when you do this.  Splodge small spoon sized batter in a pleasing pattern around the pan, leaving a little room between each so you can lever a spatula in to flip em over.  When they start to brown around the edges, flip and wait a few more seconds to brown on the other side.  Standard pancake procedure.  Flip out onto kitchen paper lined plate.  Eat some.  Share them with children if you so desire.  Or if there are any left.

I served mine to the grown ups with cauliflower roasted till crispy with a good splashing of oil and a sprinkling of ground cumin, pappadums, rice and a spinach curry that I found here.  So easy in the Thermomix.  And TASTY!  I left out the cheese, because I didn’t have the time to make it and it would have been overkill with everything else on the plate.  And I was tired by then.

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Plum Sauce 1 – Duck with Plum Sauce

I meant to make plum jam.  I am new to jam.  Quince paste worked a treat, so I thought why not try my hand at jam?  The school fete is a couple of months away, time to start sending in boxes of the stuff to do my part.  There is a plum jam recipe in the Everyday Cookbook, easy peasey.  And now I have plum sauce.

Possibly not enough pectin, possibly played a bit fast and loose with the recipe.  I found a tip for easy removal of the plum stones by cooking them whole first in the Thermomix.  It worked, but then you have to hunt through the resulting mush for plum stones and can only really be sure they are all out if you mix it all up on Speed 3 or 4 and hear the stone knocking around the bowl.  I think it might be easier to just cut the plums in half and remove the stones before you start.

Follow the plum jam recipe in the Everyday Cookbook and if it turns into jam or ends up a bit more saucey you can put both to good use.  Because of the cloves and cinnamon in the recipe its a nice winter pudding sauce (see next post), but also pairs nicely with duck. And if you don’t like duck?  Well, I think Basil Fawlty has an answer for you.

Make some mashed potato and pumpkin in the Thermomix according to the mashed potato recipe in the Everyday Cookbook.  Add extra parmesan before mashing for an extra cheesy mash.  This was a hit with the children who have previously turned their nose up at mashed potato and any kind of pumpkin.  I never know what they are going to love or hate.  Sometimes it can be both reactions to the same thing on a different night.  They keep me on my toes.  Of course I would never be crazy enough to try them with duck for dinner.  They are still underwhelmed by any meat that hasn’t been minced or shaped into a different form.  So crunchy fish to match their cheesy mash tonight.

Back to the grownups, score the skin of two duck breasts, rub in a good amount of salt and fry skin side down in a hot pan to render and crisp the fat.  Season meat side, then, once the skin is a dark golden all over, turn over to sear the meat for 2 minutes.  Transfer duck to an oven pan, spoon some plum sauce over the crisp skin and place in a medium oven for 5-10 minutes depending on how pink you like your duck.  Once cooked rest the meat in the oven pan for a few minutes outside the oven.  Meanwhile add a couple of whole peeled cloves of garlic to the pan with rendered duck fat, perhaps add a little butter to make it all the more French.  Throw in some sliced mushrooms.  Add some greens halfway through cooking the mushrooms (I did asparagus, wilted spinach would do very nicely also).  Spoon the mash on a plate, place the duck breast on top and scatter mushrooms and greens around in a pattern that most pleases you.  Prepare to do the yumskidoodle march.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

I visited Sydney over the weekend which reinforced that soup weather feeling.  It was COOOOLLLLDDD!!  We have been accused of turning into Queenslanders by our Sydney family.  Requesting electric blankets for the bed may have encouraged this kind of statist labeling.

A delightful roast chicken on our first night made chicken soup making irresistible.  Chicken noodle soup has held a place in my heart since Kirralyn Rayworth gave me a sample of what was in her Mickey Mouse thermos in primary school.  So warm on a cold, rainy day in the playground.  So flavoursome with the added bonus of slippery soft little strips of noodle.  It could have been from a packet mix or a can for all I knew, I just knew it was really good and I wanted a Mickey Mouse thermos.

F0A8611CBFC7468CTo the soup making then.  Strip the remaining meat off the cold chicken carcass for adding later to the soup.  I also cut the carcass in half so it fits into the Thermomix basket.  Next throw a peeled, quartered onion and some peeled garlic cloves into the Thermomix bowl.  Match amount of garlic cloves to amount of sneezing and coughing in your house.  Chop em up for a couple of seconds on Speed 7.  Spatula the sides to put it all back in the bottom.  Add 20g olive oil then saute for 2 minutes on 100 degrees, Speed 1.  Meanwhile roughly chop some carrot, leek, celery, whatever you have looking soup worthy in the vegetable drawer.  Put them in the basket with the chicken carcass and a handful of any herbs you have at hand.  Perhaps pop in a bay leaf.  I have never been convinced that bay leaves contribute anything at all, but they are always in recipes so I figure what the hey.  One day I plan to grow some bay leaves so I have them fresh and can really tell what flavour they are.  Some whole peppercorns on top.  A sprinkling of salt.  If you are going for a slightly Asian flavour a hunk of fresh ginger.  The Everyday Cookbook often suggests adding Kombu (seaweed) to stocks.  I think it adds nutritional value.  Probably should look that up.  I have never sought it out, but plan to one day.  Chuck a small piece of that in if it does live in your pantry.  Set temperature at 100 degrees, speed 2 or 3 for 35-45 minutes.  Go see what the kids are up to.  Or make yourself a beverage.  Or catch up on shows taking up space on your TV hard drive.  Don’t bother hanging out the washing because if it isn’t currently raining it will be soon.

Once the time is finished what you have is chicken stock.  At this stage you gingerly remove the basket with the spatula and dump contents (maybe cool it down in the sink for a bit so it doesn’t melt your garbage bag).  Taste the remaining liquid to check for seasoning.  If it needs a flavour boost you can always add a tablespoon of vegetable stock concentrate (the one you made when your lovely consultant delivered your Thermomix).  To make soup add some thin slices of carrot or mushroom or both, the shredded chicken pieces you reserved earlier and a couple of handfuls of dried noodles to the liquid in the bowl.  I picked up some perfect soup noodles from our local butcher who sells an amazing variety of things in quite a small shop.  These noodles appear to be German in origin and are just the right texture for soups.  Set temperature to 100 degrees and cook for 3-4 minutes on Reverse, Speed Soft.  Timing depends on your noodle, so check on these after a couple of minutes to see how much longer they need.  The carrot, mushroom and chicken pieces don’t really need cooking, just a little softening and warming through.  I like the carrot to retain a little crunch so cook for longer if you want them softer.  To add a bit of heat and fresh flavour sprinkle the finished soup with some fresh parsley, chopped spring onion and chopped long red chilli.  Match with Tsing Tao beer to take you back to the days you spent taking in an early dinner at Happy Chef in Sydney’s Chinatown on a lazy Sunday evening, before walking all that liquid off on the way back home.

Cauliflower Soup

E62B6CEDCA3741A7Sure.  It doesn’t sound like the most exciting soup.  Or vegetable.  But whiz it up with some potato to thicken, perhaps some truffle oil if you are being fancy (I just happen to have some in the pantry at all times), sprinkle with cracked black pepper, fresh parsley and some crisped pancetta chips (bacon will do) and you have yourself a high end meal.  Even for those ‘soup is not a meal’ folk out there, pair this soup with some gruyere on toast melted in the grill and it will be hard to argue that all the food groups are not getting fair representation.

Having a Thermomix has made me enjoy making soup in a way I have never before.  I have dabbled with soups in the past.  They have never met my standards.  The cooking of the vegetables then transferring to a food processor was the kind of hassle that loses that therapeutic feeling most cooking gives me.  Or the draining of a giant stockpot into a colander over a bowl in the sink.  I’m not very coordinated so many times hot liquid was splashed about causing not only interesting shaped burns but also a mess that made me regret embarking on the whole process in the first place.  Also I have a talent for always choosing a container that is too small for whatever I am trying to pour into it.  I don’t know why.  But I do it every time.

However, forgive my bias, the Thermomix has changed things.  Soups are a breeze, a joy.  Just chop onion and garlic in the bowl.  Add around 20g oil and saute on 100 degrees for 2-3 minutes on speed 1.  Fill the basket with your vegetables of choice (in this case mostly cauliflower, plus about 2 peeled potatoes cut in half).  Pour 1 litre of water plus 3 tablespoons of your concentrated vegetable stock (or if you want to keep the soup a whiter colour use 1 litre of chicken stock, which you have of course made previously in the Thermomix) into the bowl.  Place the vegetable laden basket inside the bowl and cook for 15 minutes at 100 degrees on Speed 1.  Test that the veggies are soft.  If not, cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add a good splash of truffle oil at this stage, maybe some cumin if you feel like another layer of flavour.  Then blend it to a smooth puree (with the MC on) on Speed 9 for 1 minute.  Decorate as described above for maximum wow.

The Everyday Cookbook has another version.  Recipe Community has a Neil Perry conversion as well which sounds extremely tasty.  Of course it has more cream and such.  Thermomix recipes are there for the experimenting.  Its so easy to do.  You’ve just got to try it.

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