Seriously. 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.
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.
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.
To 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.