I don't claim to be an expert cook. Or a fancy cook. In fact, I never used to really enjoy cooking. So this is mostly about low fuss, filling and tasty meals, and really just anything I have a go at and decide to share along the way!! My top priority is avoiding additives and preservatives wherever possible closely followed by using whole/less processed/healthier ingredients. But for those who would like conventional options that are quick tasty and cost effective, I would like to share tips on all of these as well!!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Going grain free, sugar free, dairy free, meat free..... Banana Blueberry Bread!

So I haven't been cooking the usual foods lately... I am doing a bit of a detox and am not allowed grains, meat, dairy, sugar, hydrogenated oils..... I don't find too much of it a challenge.. except no grains!  And no meat or chicken leaves me quite hungry all the time!  I am allowed SOME eggs, as I am not supposed to lose weight, and they help bulk up a meal a little.
Thermomix boiled eggs and steamed some potato wedges at the same time.
Do you still use a frypan? I then browned the potatoes in the oven
and sauteed chopped mushrooms, onion, zucchini, capsicum
for about 9 minutes, 100C Reverse + Speed Soft, adding some
semi-dried tomatoes near the end... was yummo! (even though it might
not look it by the pic!)

But a week in, I am starting to look for cheats way out!!  I came across a completely fruit and nut based treat here: http://www.recipecommunity.com.au/node/17448 and they are good to just have a little snack here and there.

CADA has also been good (Coconuts, Almonds, Dates and a Green Apple all turbo-ed a couple of times in the Thermomix), as well as lots of soup with the Thermomix Vege Stock!

But having a look through the Gluten Free Wheat Free Cookbook, I came across the Banana Blueberry bread.  Seeing as it was made on buckwheat flour (which is technically NOT a grain!) and mostly banana and blueberries with raw honey or pure maple syrup, and macadamia nut oil, I decided I could treat myself to this.

I found that it had a few too many blueberries in it - I would usually add less.  But the rest was good, and I ground the buckwheat myself seeing as there was some in the cupboard.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Fast Chicken Curry and Larger families

I am often asked about the Thermomix catering for larger families. Some of the recipes in the Thermomix are based around a 4 adult serve size. But that doesn't have to be all you get out of it. Sometimes you can just add more quantity, sometimes you might serve a 3 course meal instead of 2, eg soup with bread rolls, a main and dessert. Sometimes just adding a side dish is enough. But I cook plenty of meals that easily serve 6 adults, some with leftovers too. Dishes like the Tomato Pasta with Vegetables and Feta (a dish often seen at the cooking classes and can be found in the Taste of Vegetarian cookbook), you cook the tomato sauce, add pasta (and I add a bit of extra) and steam 2 layers of veggies in the Varoma at the same time. A really super cheap, easy, nutritious filling meal that can feed a lot!

Whenever I do a rice dish, I will steam about 650g of cubed chicken in the top layer of the Varoma and veggies in the bottom. I automatically did that when I got my Thermomix because that was how chicken I used to add to my dishes, so I knew it was enough to feed us. The rice basket is deceiving also - when it is filled with cooked rice it is more than enough - up to 400g of rice is how much you can add to the basket.

The mashed potato recipe makes heaps - we don't normally eat 1kg of mashed potato so I usually lessen that for us. But here is an example for you of how you can just alter a recipe to suit a larger crowd.

Do 2 batches of something that is quick, and have all your food prepped together so you just pop the first batch in the Thermoserver while you cook the second batch.

For entertaining a larger crowd, have a couple of different dishes to serve with rice for variation and choice.  Eg, I do a Thai theme, or Indian dishes, so just 2 of each to serve with rice.  Again, the Thermoserver is ideal!

If you have kids coming, make up some homemade pizzas for them - if you use toppings that don't need cooking in advance, you can have your dough rising earlier, have all the topping chopped and ready to pop on and put in the oven 20-30 minutes before the guests arrive.  Eg, ham and pineapple, corn kernels, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, even green prawns, and just use some tomato paste for the base and a generous sprinkling of cheese.

We almost always just add more quantities than the recipes whenever they ask for meat, chicken, prawns etc etc.  Just make sure if it is mincing, that you do 2 batches to stay under the processing weight suggestions in the front of your Everyday cookbook so you don't overload the blades.

This is based on the Fast Chicken Curry recipe from the Everyday cookbook, made for a larger quantity, and less curry paste to make it very mildly spicy rather than quite spicy.


2 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and quartered
20g oil
50g red curry paste
2 x 270ml cans of coconut milk (Ayam brand is good and comes in 270ml cans
4 potatoes cut into bite size pieces
650g chicken (I use organic thigh pieces) diced in 2-3cm cubes
200g mixed veggies of choice (cut into small pieces - eg small broccoli florets, sliced carrots, peas whatever you like)
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (optional)

1. Chop garlic and onions 4 seconds speed 5
2. Add oil and curry paste, sauté 3 minutes, 100C on Speed 1
3. Add coconut milk and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes at 100C Reverse + Speed Soft
4. Add chicken and veggies, cook for 17 minutes at 100C Reverse + Speed 1 (add longer if need to cook through a bit more)

Can add coriander with 3 minutes remaining.

Pour into Thermoserver (you could add a small amount of baby peas into Thermoserver also and stir through curry)

Cook rice as in Everyday Cookbook

More than you would normally add, but it cooked down
into the sauce and was fine - see notes 1 and 2
Notes about this recipe:
1. I pushed the Thermomix to it's max - the veggies when first added, sat above the max line in the bowl. By the time it was all cooked, it was sitting a tiny bit over the line.

2. Because I put so much more food in, I increased the speed to speed 1 rather than speed soft because it was struggling to stir it consistently at speed soft.

3. Add more curry paste if you like spicy!

4. If you want even more food, why not steam extra veggies while your rice is cooking?

Single layer of peas defrosting in Varoma while chicken
is cooking - see note 5
5. Just to add a bit extra, I put a single layer of peas in the bottom of the Varoma to defrost during the last 17 minute cook time. This didn't cook them, it just defrosted them (because it is only cooking at 100C not Varoma temp). I then added those peas into the Thermoserver with the rest of the curry while the rice is cooking, and that is enough to cook them gently.
I really have resorted to quick and easy pics on the iPhone
and I know they aren't great, but better than nothing!
Curry doesn't look appetising, but was yummy, easy and healthy!

So this is just an example of a yummy, quick and easy curry to feed a larger family!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pull aparts and pizza breads

I'm going to set aside my dairy free and low gluten efforts for the sake of this post for those that don't need dairy or gluten free! Just a quick post about pull apart breads and how handy it is to be able to throw together an amazing side dish for guests or just a tasty snack or easy lunch for the kids!

I had these posted in an old post, but thought I would update with other options...
Pullapart ready for baking!
This pull apart was done using the 1.5 times bread dough quantity using the recipe found here: http://www.recipecommunity.com.au/recipes/herb-and-garlic-pull-apart-bread/26180 .  I used the same instructions for the herb and garlic, however for half of the bread, I made it into a cheese and bacon pullapart. Delicious straight out of the oven and the whole thing cost a few dollars!  You could do pesto (just make sure it is in the folded strips so you don't dry it out too much), sun dried tomatoes etc etc.

Hubby was hungry the other day and made a thick pizza bread using the basic bread recipe (replacing the grain with an extra 100g bakers flour) in the Everyday cookbook, let rise for approx 25 mins, kneaded a little, pressed the dough out relatively flat (about 2cm thick) then sprinkled chopped bacon and a generous serving of cheese over the top.  Put it in the oven as it was still heating to 220 degrees.   It turned out beautifully, like a cross between a pizza and a cheese and bacon bread... Just like you would buy from the bakery!
Yummy vegie pizza bread - pineapple, olives,
mushrooms, capsicum and cheese
Another option is to make thin and crispy pizza breads. Make a batch of pizza dough, rise for 30 mins, punch out and knead a couple of times, roll very thin, brush with chopped garlic covered in olive oil, sprinkle a small amount of salt over the top and bake in a preheated oven approx 215 - 220 degrees for around 15 minutes (depending how hot your oven is). Another option is to add Sundried tomatoes and olives (but watch how hot the oven is, maybe decrease if you find they are browning quickly). These breads are beautiful with soups.
Crispy garlic pizza crust ready for baking 

Use these ideas and be as creative as you like with fillings or toppings adding mushrooms, pineapple, different cheeses, turn into scrolls, pizza pockets etc etc!!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Torta Caprese

I just tried the Everyday Cookbook recipe for the Torta Caprese but made it dairy free... Yum!! Even hubby said it was good and he can usually tell if I have made something gluten and dairy free and is a little.... Hesitant!!

Here is the recipe:
250 grams almonds
250 grams dark chocolate broken in pieces(use a Lindt dark chocolate with no milk solids for total dairy free)
210 grams sugar (I lessened it from 250 as in original recipe)
100 grams coconut oil (use a good quality non refined oil - generally found at good health food shops)
1 tablespoon cacao powder (or cocoa)
1 tablespoon of baking powder (make your own Witt the Thermomix)
6 eggs

 Preheat oven to 180c

 Grate chocolate for 10 seconds Speed 8. Set aside

Chop almonds for 6 seconds speed 6 (add a bit longer if chunks of almonds are too big). Add to chocolate

Place eggs, sugar, baking powder, cacao and oil into bowl, mix 20 seconds Speed 7.

Add chocolate and almonds, mix 30 seconds Speed 6.

Pour mixture into 22-24 tin lined with baking paper on bottom (I just put the whole lot in because I wasn't worried about the edges - speed and less washing supersedes neat edges for me!!).

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour. (I made 4 muffin size cakes as well - they were in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. But don't do both at the same time if you don't want you cake to flop in the middle when you take the cupcakes out!

My cake was a bit fudgey in the middle which I loved but could have cooked a little longer or maybe a tiny bit less oil. Can serve with a dairy free custard (use normal everyday cookbook recipe with rice-almond milk or other dairy free milk) either vanilla or chocolate flavor, or some strawberries!