Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Edible Garden

There's no way you can ever say that I'm a gardener. I pull out weeds sometimes and plant things sometimes, but often forget to water them.

The exception to that comment is my vegetable garden. I absolutely love being able to go out and collect herbs and vegetables to be used in my cooking.
I've been picking the last of the summer vegies and getting the garden ready for winter vegies in between caring for Rambo, the Wonder Dog after his brush with death.
Green Capsicums, Spinach, Basil, Oregano and Lebanese Eggplant have featured strongly in our menus recently.

Tomatoes were unsuccessful this year, all leaf and very little fruit. I didn't prepare the vegie patch properly and it certainly showed with yellow spotted tomatoes and a baby watermelon that struggled to survive as it's poor roots battled their way through heavy clay.

But, thanks to a couple of birthday Bunnings Vouchers, my vegie patch is having a wonderful treat with loads of mushroom compost, sulphate of potash and a new liquid fertiliser I found.
Sabrina Hahn was discussing a fertiliser on one of her Saturday morning radio shows. The person who developed it was talking about how our WA soils are so deplete of minerals and nutrients and she did a huge amount of research to develop a liquid fertiliser that was not only effective, but safe for river systems (not that there's any run-off into rivers here!), so I searched for something that appeared to be this fertiliser. I think I have the right one - they can't say brand names on the ABC!
I bought a heap of seedlings to plant and now have in my vegie patch and in my garden near the back door:

Asparagus (new, two and three years old)
Blackberry Bush
Capsicum, still going
Gai Laan (A Chinese Vegie)
Lebanese Eggplant
Lemon Thyme
Mizuna (Salad Leaves)
Passionfruit, really late, but loads of flowers and fruit
Spinach, still continuing to produce
Spring Onions
Raspberry Bush
Baby Watermelon, still struggling along

If I had my way, all my garden would be an edible one, with just a few landscape features like geraniums and fast growing trees. The trouble is, I'd forget to water it all!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Macadamia ANZAC Biscuits

These are the most delicious ANZAC Bickies ever! Truly Australian due to the Macadamia nuts in them.
Thanks to achookwoman from the Thermomix Forum for this recipe:

Macadamia ANZAC Biscuits
150g macadamias
120g butter
2 Tbsp Golden Syrup [100g]
100g rolled oats
180g plain flour
100g brown sugar
50g desiccated coconut
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
3 Tbsp of water

Preheat oven to 160c fan forced.
Chop macadamias in Thermomix for a few seconds, stopping and starting to ensure even chopping. Leave in the bowl.
Place butter and golden syrup in the bowl and heat for 2 minutes at 60c on speed 2.
Add remainder of the ingredients and process on the knead setting for 20 seconds or so until mixed.
Roll dessert spoonfuls into balls and place on lined baking tray. Flatten with wet fingers. For nice round edges that won't break off, place a cookie cutter around each bickie and circle around the edges.
Bake for 15 minutes (soft biscuits) or 20 minutes (crispy biscuits).
Remove from oven and cool on tray for minute or so, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thermomix Sponge Cake

Yes! You can make a sponge cake in the Thermomix. The recipe is one I normally make in my beloved Kitchen Aid. It has never failed for me, even once when I left out one of the raising agents.
When whipping eggs or egg whites in the Thermomix, it's advisable to use a little heat. I whip eggs on 37, but you can even go to 60C.

No Fail Thermomix Sponge
4 large eggs
100g castor sugar (or blitz your sugar in the Thermomix first)
100g wheaten cornflour (also known as wheat starch)
70g custard powder
1 tsp plain flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line two 20cm deep sided tins with baking paper. Grease the sides lightly and sprinkle with little cornflour.

Place butterfly into Thermomix bowl.
Add eggs and beat on 37C for 8 minutes on speed 4.
While this is beating, sift flour onto baking paper twice.
Scrape down lid.
Add sugar and beat on speed 4 for 3 minutes.
Remove butterfly.
Add flour and mix on speed 1 - 2 for about 20 seconds.

Pour evenly  into tins and bake for 25 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire rack and remove paper.
Carefully turn over. Allow to cool. Pop one in the freezer and eat the other!

Decorate as desired. For this particular sponge, I used home made Plum & Mulberry Jam in the middle, whipped cream and grated chocolate on top.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Melting Moments

Mmm, just the name conjures up the remembered taste of these delicious little morsels! This recipe comes from a favourite book, 'Family Circle Biscuits Recipes'. Whatever happened to Family Circle magazine? It's disappeared from the shelves, unfortunately.

Melting Moments
180g unsalted butter (I normally don't like unsalted butter in biscuits, but it works in these)
1/2 cup (70g) icing sugar (make in TMX first, if desired)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
1 cup (170g) plain flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
Place softened butter, icing sugar and vanilla in TMX and beat on speed 4-5 for about 3 minutes or until light and creamy.
Add sifted flours and mix on speed 2-3 until just combined. Scrape mixture into a piping bag and use a 1 cm star shaped piping nozzle to pipe rosettes of around 4cm in diameter.
Decorate with glace cherries or glace ginger.
Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Transfer to a cake rack to cool.
Alternatively, leave out the decoration and sandwich together, when cool, with a flavoured butter cream.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bean Stew

Bean Stew doesn't sound particularly appetising, but this is quite delicious! Of course, it's a vegetarian meal, but that shouldn't put any carnivores off. It could be served over a grilled chicken breast or a lamb steak. This is a recipe for the Thermomix.
I've been scouring my recipe books and the net for vegetarian recipes using legumes and pulses to replace the protein component that meat supplies in our diet. It's important to limit our meat intake as it is acid forming and takes a long time to digest unless accompanied by the right enzyme producing vegetables. Plus, meat is horribly expensive!

I wasn't really able to find a recipe that appealed to me, so I made one up instead, adapting a Gordon Ramsay (horrors - can't bear the man!) recipe.

Bean Stew
1 onion, cut into 8ths
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs oregano
3 sage leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes, (optional)
1 large carrot, diced
220g chopped vegies (I used baby aubergine, green pepper and a small tin of champignons)
2 bay leaves
400g water
3 tsp vegetable stock
2 tomatoes skinned, roughly chopped
Ground pepper
2 cans 4 Bean Mix
plain yoghurt

Chop onion, garlic and herbs by tipping on to spinning blades of TMX at speed 5. Scrape down and add oil and spices. Cook on 100c for 2 minutes at speed 1.
Add carrots, water, herbs and stock and cook on 100c for 5 minutes, speed 1, reverse. Add chopped tomatoes and vegies and cook on 100c for 15 minutes, speed 2, reverse. Add beans and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes as before. Add pepper.
Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and fresh chopped parsley. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

I know that Easter is over for another year, but I had a number of failures trying to make HXB's this year and finally discovered that I didn't read the recipe correctly!!
So, not to be outdone, I tried again. This time with the right amount of yeast...
The recipe I used is from the cookbook that comes with the Thermomix, Everyday Cooking.
I've modified it slightly.

Hot Cross Buns
235g warm water
2 Tbsp. milk powder
4 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp bun spice essence (available from All About Bread)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
70g butter
1/2 tsp lemon oil (or essence)

Add the above ingredients to the Thermomix bowl and heat to 90C on speed 1 for 50 seconds.

1 egg
500g bread mix (I used High Fibre White)
1 1/2 tsp Wonder Fresh (All About Bread)

Add the above ingredients to the liquid and knead on the dough setting for 3 minutes.

170g of any dried fruits. (currants and sultanas, dried apricots (chop in TMX first), cranberries, mixed fruit)

Add to dough and mix for about 10 seconds on speed 5. Turn out and knead gently to further incorporate fruit.
Place in a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel. Put in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size. This takes about an hour and a half.
Punch down dough and shape into a log. Cut log into three even pieces (I weigh mine).
Cut each piece into four (approx 93g each), making 12 dough balls.

Roll into balls and then press through your thumb and forefinger to make a mushroom shape, twisting the base of the dough ball. Put any exposed fruit to the bottom.
This ensures that the dough is shaped into a smooth ball and the fruit doesn't burn when the buns are cooked.

Place into a small baking dish lined with baking paper. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for 1/2 an hour or so, until doubled again. 15 minutes before cooking, pre heat oven to 220C.

To place crosses on buns, mix the following together and place in a ziplock bag.

60g  plain flour
60g water
1 tsp icing sugar

Squish together until blended.
Cut a small hole in one corner and pipe mixture in lines long ways then cross ways on buns.

Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until a nice golden colour.
While they're baking make the sugar syrup:
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp sugar
Place in a small saucepan and heat until bubbling and sugar is dissolved.

Brush with hot sugar syrup while warm.

 Next time, I'd prove the shaped buns a lot longer to create a softer, lighter bun. Also, oven should only be at about 180 if fan forced as I found these were a bit hard on the bottom.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jamie Oliver - not just the Naked Chef...

This video is fairly long, but well worth watching.
Jamie Oliver has taken on the obesity problems of the western world. His philosophy is:

"I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again, and empower people everywhere to fight obesity."
Jamie Oliver

We all need to take this on board. Teach your children to cook, teach them about fresh food, teach them about the hidden dangers of fast food, cool drinks and processed supermarket foods.