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.
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.
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.