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.
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.
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.