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.

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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

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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Muffins

School holidays are here (in Queensland at least), which means I try to fill up our time with lots of playdates. My aim is to minimise long stretches of time at home and maximise both tiring activities for the children and adult company for me.  Both visits to other homes and receiving guests means a need for morning or afternoon tea.  Having been in a mothers group for five years (a lovely group of people who are the very best of what other parents can be – non judgmental) I have found there is such a thing as cake overload.  However, you still need to cater for the varying states of parenthood:

1. Pregnant. Eating cake is mostly guilt free (making exceptions for those with gestational diabetes, where you just have to say ‘I realise there is hardly anything here you can eat and I am really sorry for that.  Have a cracker.’).  When you are pregnant these days it is often necessary to feel guilty eating almost anything but cake once you have been handed that listeria pamphlet by your well meaning doctor.  Any food prepared by others, especially your healthy choices of salads and sandwiches, are possibly harbouring this horrifying bacteria.  And under no circumstances eat chicken, deli meats, soft cheeses or anything else that might allow you an enjoyable life.

2. Breastfeeding.  Need cake even more than pregnant.  Operating on very little sleep, possibly forgetting meals in the constant fog of calculating times between feeds for the wee one and requiring a larger calorie intake than usual due to having all nutrients sucked out every two to four hours.

3. Trying to lose weight.  Once breastfeeding stops that larger calorie intake needs to be curtailed quicksmart or the continued lack of sleep and irregular meals seems to start working against your body and weight gain happens while you are worrying if the house is child proofed enough for the junior Houdini who recently emerged from babyhood.  Which means cake playdates can be very hard to do.

4. Maintaining sanity.  The rest of the parenting experience.  Sleep is either still being caught up or just a new level of deprived.  Children’s needs continue to outweigh parents’ needs by everything to none.  Cake is appreciated but when playdates are more than once a week it is useful to have another choice.

Which brings us to muffins.  Sure, they are cake like.  But I find a bit more room to move in the healthier options department.  And nutritional value.  For example, you can stick either fruit or vegetables in there and children won’t necessarily run from them.  Also, because muffins are supposed to be only barely mixed together they are very quick to make.

I have loosely followed a recipe from a blog I googled while looking for a way to make use of an excess of bananas – Cat Can Cook.  It seemed to be a fairly robust, simple recipe that could be adjusted easily to fit in whatever you have in the fruit bowl or in the vegetable drawer.  Firstly I did banana and sultana muffins.

Peel 3 or 4 bananas and break them into pieces as you put them in the Thermomix bowl.  Add half a cup of sugar (I used rapadura sugar for these as I had it and am finding it gives a lovely caramelly flavour to things), a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of bicarb soda (while you have the teaspoon out), 1 egg, a pinch of salt, 60-70 grams melted butter (or oil – depending on your tastes and what is in your stocks) and 220 grams (or one and a half cups) of plain flour.  Mix on Speed 5 for 10 seconds.  Check on it, maybe spatula the sides and if need be mix for another 5 seconds.  Add a handful or so of sultanas and mix again, but on Reverse this time, for 5 seconds.  Decant to muffin tray with patty pans if you can’t be bothered greasing the little indents.  Bake in oven on 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Everyone’s ovens are different so keep an eye on them and don’t do what I did and forget until they are quite brown on top and you can smell them through the house.  Or do if that is how you appreciate time.

ImageI have also tried apple and blueberry muffins, where you make an apple sauce first (there is one in the Everyday Cookbook – add some cinnamon if you wish) then follow as above, substituting blueberries for sultanas.  Adjust sweetness depending on the fruit by tasting the batter.  If it tastes as if you could keep eating it without bothering with the oven you should have it about right.

As for savoury, I have found if you substitute, say, grated zuchinni and/or carrot (blitzed from roughly chopped to itty bitty pieces prior in Thermomix) for the fruit and grated cheese for the sugar the flavour is about right.  You may need to add some salt depending on the saltiness of your cheese.  Depending on your child’s tastes you could throw in some spring onion during the grating process to add a zing to the flavour.

And there you have your basic muffin.  Breakfast substitute for the perpetually foggy minded.  Nutrition for the kidlets.  Close enough for the cake deprived.

Plum Sauce 2 – Rice Pudding with Almond Milk and Plum Sauce

There is a new Thermomix YouTube video featuring WA chef Matt Stone making almond milk and then making a rice pudding with it.  I was tempted to make almond milk because it sounded like a challenge and I tasted a lovely version at a Thermomix consultant gluten free cooking class.  So away I went.

I ended up following the recipe given by Quirky Cooking for rice and almond milk.  I soaked 50g brown rice and 40g whole almonds plus 4 or 5 pitted dates in 1 litre of water overnight then blended them in the Thermomix on Speed 9 for 2 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of either flavourless or complementing flavour oil (eg, macadamia, grapeseed, coconut) to give a creamier texture to the milk.  Cook for 6 minutes at 60 degrees, Speed 4.  Puree on Speed 9 for 1 minute.  Let it cool for a bit.  Strain into a vessel through muslin if you have some handy, or a nut bag if you are even handier or through a fine sieve if you are me and new to the requirement for fine straining of nut milks.  Keep the resulting sludge and either put it in some kind of cake batter if you are baking straight away or dry out in a low oven for a bit to make it less sludgy and more like an almond/rice/date meal to use later.  Or you can look at the video mentioned above and do it his way.

Rice pudding I have not had much patience for.  My mother was very good at making it, therefore I have a nostalgic hankering for it now and then.  Until Thermomix, however,  I have only attempted it once or twice before.  Like custard it just takes too long on the stovetop and is too fraught with burning opportunities or an unpleasant outcome that makes me want to throw the saucepan in the bin contents and all and storm off to bed.  Now I had made almond milk no problems and I really wanted to see if it would taste nice in a rice pudding as Mr Matt so confidently assured us it would.

The recipe given was a bit large for the two of us, so I halved it.  I didn’t bother with the poached rhubarb bit, not having any on me and because I was wanting to use that plum sauce again.  I found it interesting that the recipe calls for half almond milk, half pure cream.  So if you are non dairy I am guessing all almond milk should work okay, just maybe end up with a bit thinner result.  I put in 240g almond milk, 240g cream, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste I made a few weeks ago (you could use half a vanilla bean split and scraped, or even vanilla essence) and cooked for 8 minutes on 90 degrees on Speed 2.  I then added 100g arborio rice (as I am unaware of Rainfed rice as specified in the recipe, something I am sure will be corrected next time I see some of my extremely knowledgeable Thermomix colleagues) and cooked 20 minutes at 90 degrees on Reverse, Speed 2.  Matt Stone didn’t say to put on Reverse but I was a little scared not to, not wanting to make rice paste for dessert.

On tasting, the rice was cooked but it needed a little more sugar, so I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar in and poured some plum sauce in then mixed on Speed 1 for 5 seconds (again worrying about turning it into a paste).  It made a good amount for two.  Sploshing some more plum sauce on top made it look prettier and gave it a great flavour.  The almond milk didn’t make itself strongly known, but I did notice that after finishing I didn’t feel like I had a brick in my tummy as I did the last time I ate rice pudding.  I think I shall make this again.

Rice Pudding with Plum Sauce

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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