Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Seasoning Mixes

Many spices and herbs have wonderful healing properties. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, while chilli has been shown to  reduce cholesterol and clear congestion. Cardamom is a good source of minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium as well as containing high levels of iron and manganese. Cumin is also a great source of iron and assists with digestion. Nutmeg is known to aid sleep while also protecting teeth and gums.
Herbs have also been used for hundreds of years in healing, before antibiotics came on the scene. Many such as oregano are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Herbs in the mint family are well known for their use as breath fresheners, but they also soothe the stomach and aid in digestion.
Parsley is another herb used to freshen the mouth due to its high levels of eugenol. Parsley and clove oils have long been used in dentistry as anaesthetic and anti-bacterial agents. Parsley is also highly nutritious, containing many minerals and vitamins.

So, while flavouring our food, herbs and spices are also helping us to digest it and nourishing our bodies at the same time.  I love to use herbs and spices in my cooking, but prefer not to have the additives that are found in many commercial mixes. I've come up with a couple of my own mixes, one of which I've included here. As I perfect my herb and spice mixes, I will update this post.

The following All Purpose Seasoning is exactly that! Use as a flavouring for meat loaf or rissoles; as a rub for roast chicken; as a sprinkle for wedges in the Air Fryer; to flavour soups and stews.

All Purpose Seasoning
The Bush Gourmand

3 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp Celery Salt
2 Tbsp icing sugar
4 tsp paprika
4 tsp rice flour
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chilli powder, ground black pepper, garlic powder
½ tsp nutmeg, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cardamom

Blend on speed 5 for 3 or 4 seconds. Place in a jar and label.

The next spice mix recipe has been developed by a friend from forumthermomix.com, known as achookwoman. It makes the most outstanding Southern Fried Chicken. Marinate chicken strips or pieces in yoghurt or buttermilk with two Tbsp of the seasoning. Coat in a mixture of plain flour mixed with another 2 Tbsp of the seasoning and shallow fry to brown. Finish off cooking in the Air Fryer

Southern Fried Chicken Seasoning

2 Tbsp ground white pepper
3 Tbsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp pizza herbs or oregano
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp rice flour
1 Tbsp cumin, cardamom, ground cloves, garlic powder, allspice, celery seed 

Blend on speed 5 for 4 seconds. Place in a jar and label.

The following recipe is a copycat of McCormick's Steak Spice. It's delicious as a roast beef rub or sprinkled on steak. Use in place of All Purpose Seasoning to coat wedges for the Air Fryer.

Steak Spice
The Bush Gourmand

4 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp celery seeds
2 Tbsp black pepper (2 1/2 Tbsp peppercorns)
2 Tbsp Rapadura sugar
1 Tbsp rice flour
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp ground coriander (3/4 Tbsp coriander seeds)
1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary

Blend on speed 5 for 4 seconds (longer if using whole spices). Place in a jar and label.

I am working on a Lemon & Herb Pepper Spice.  I'll post to Facebook when I have perfected this.



Sweet Chilli Chicken Strips

Harvest is in full swing after a few breakdowns, some rain and some harvest bans due to hot, windy weather. Harvest brings with it our two lovely boys who take holidays from their regular jobs to come home and help.
We couldn't manage without them and are so grateful that they continue to use their time off this way.

Of course, this means I have extra mouths to feed and extra lunch boxes to fill. It's always a bit of a battle thinking of savoury foods to pack. Foods must be able to be eaten with one hand as most times the boys are driving a header or a truck. I often make sausage rolls, mini pasties, meatballs and such, but was wanting some roadhouse food that they both love. The healthiest I could think of was the Sweet Chilli Chicken Strips. I've created my own version and they're pretty good. There's also some variations on the theme with my other spice mixes as well as using fish and pork instead of chicken.

It's best to start the night before to marinate the chicken strips. When ready to coat, allow an extra couple of hours refrigeration if you are able.

Sweet Chilli Chicken Strips
The Bush Gourmand

1 cup Buttermilk
3 Tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce (Woolies Homebrand)
1 Tbsp All Purpose Seasoning
2 Chicken Breasts, sliced into strips
Marinate chicken strips overnight in buttermilk mixture.

2 cups cornflake crumbs (blitz in Thermie, speed 6/3 seconds)
2 Tbsp or so of either millet or quinoa puffs
1 Tbsp All Purpose seasoning

Mix together in a wide bowl.
Scrape strips on container to remove most of buttermilk mixture. 
Place into coating and press down firmly, coating both sides. Place on a baking tray and refrigerate for 2 hours, if possible.
When ready to cook, pre heat oven to 200C and place some coconut oil into a large frying pan.
Gently fry to brown both sides of strips. 

Place back onto clean oven tray and into oven for 10 minutes or so until completely cooked through. 

Serve with Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise.

Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise
The Bush Gourmand

½ cup good mayonnaise
¼ cup plain yoghurt
2 Tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 tsp white vinegar

Mix together and serve with chicken strips.


Southern Fried Chicken Strips
Replace Sweet Chilli Sauce and All Purpose Seasoning with mayonnaise and Southern Fried Chicken Seasoning in the buttermilk mixture.

Use the following coating:
½ cup rice flour
½ cup plain flour
1 - 2 Tbsp buttermilk mixture

Mix together lightly to make a lumpy batter. Coat drained chicken, refrigerate and cook in the same manner. A double coat works well.

These are delicious served hot with gravy, though BBQ sauce works better in a lunch box.

Parmesan Chicken Strips
Coat chicken in ½ cup mayonnaise mixed with ½ cup plain yoghurt.
Add ½ cup grated parmesan and 1 tsp All Purpose Seasoning to the cornflake crumbs.
Proceed as per recipe.

Lemon Fish Strips
Use firm white fish - shark works well.
Coat fish in mayonnaise mixture as per Parmesan Chicken Strips.
Add 2 tsp grated lemon rind and 1 Tbsp Lemon Pepper to cornflake crumbs.
Proceed as per recipe. Do not place in oven as shallow frying should be enough to cook fish through.

Serve with a mayonnaise/plain yoghurt blend with lemon juice, lemon rind and lemon pepper.

Honey Mustard Pork Strips
Use strips of pork steaks and marinate in the following:

1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp seeded mustard

Coat with cornflake crumbs blended with 1 Tbsp All Purpose Seasoning.
Serve with mayonnaise mixed with some Dijon mustard.

I encourage you to experiment with other marinades and coatings. There are so many different flavour ways.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Soft, Fluffy Bread

I'm happy to eat tough sourdough and seedy wholemeal loaves, however, my nearest and dearest likes only soft white bread in a packet. I've tried to make a loaf like store bought for some time, but have never quite achieved the right texture.

However, I think I've found it! Over at The Road to Loving My Thermomix, Peta has developed a great recipe and has loads of tips on bread making. I learned that I have had my oven way too hot for this sort of bread. I cook at 180C now and have been making some lovely loaves and rolls using her recipe.

Rather than copy it, I'll pop a link here so you can read all the tricks of bread making yourself.

Here's one of my lovely loaves with some rolls made from the dough. This is double her normal recipe for rolls, that is, it uses 750g flour. This particular loaf has 620g strong white flour, 80g wholemeal flour and 50g white spelt flour. It made a large loaf plus 6 rolls. I leave my dough to rise until it's tripled, rather than doubled. My bread tin measures 28 x 14 wide x 12cm high. The rolls were baked in a 20cm tin.

Do try this fabulous recipe. I'd love to know how you go with it.