DESIGNER EASTER EGG

As an Easter promotion of my book Harrison Braves The Hill I decided to do an Easter Egg raffle at Chloe’s Espresso

I looked into buying a Thornton’s Easter Egg and having it personalised as the prize. But it would have been boring…. The illustrations in the book are colourful and somehow a commercialised egg wouldn’t cut it.

I say this quite often… I’m lazy. And I don’t like gooey, messy cooking. Not my thing. So chocolate was way down my list of things to make. But I just could not find an egg to fit the bill for the Draw.

So I took a deep breath and decided to try my hand at making one in the Thermomix. After all, if I failed, there were Easter Eggs galore in town! And I am so glad I gave it a go. It was SO easy!

The trick to good chocolate is tempering it after melting. I found a recipe on Cookidoo – I used the filter option and chose Australian recipes and found one for Easter Eggs there.

This recipe melts chocolate for 6 minutes at the lowest temperature of 37C and then again for two more minutes before you turn off the temperature and just mix the chocolate for a minute on a slow running blade. This is the tempering that can be the make or break of the egg being dull or glossy and slip out or stick in the mould!

Traditionally you’d pour the melted chocolate onto a marble top and sloosh it with a palette knife to temper it and then pour it back in the bowl. None of that with my Thermomix (and I know, purists will not approve but I’m more than happy with this no mess method). My egg was shiny and the chocolate had a healthy sounding “snap” when broken.

If you haven’t already done it, download the Cookidoo App. Bed is a good place to lie and absorb the logic of a recipe before heading down to follow the method on the Thermomix screen! by the way, the new TM6 comes on 17th June. Please do contact me as advisor if you want to know more!

So, no recipe being posted as you can download it yourself! I’m just going to post the photos I took whilst making the egg in 15 minutes!

450g chocolate melted in 6 minutes on speed 1 – no standing around stirring. No danger of water from a Bain Marie leaking in and ruining the chocolate either!

Then melt again at 2 minutes/37C/speed 1 and then temper at speed 1 for 1 minute with no heat.

Then scrape down and give it a stir. A silicone spatula is a must.

Pour some into the mould and gradually start tipping and swirling to coat right up to the rim. Turn mould upside down to drip.

It is messy but it does solidify and you can pick up the drips and reuse.

When semi solid, use a palette knife to neaten the top. Once completely set, slowly ease out of the mould. Be patient!

Heat a flat baking sheet at 50C in the oven. Press the raw edge of each egg down on the hot tray to melt and then join together. To seal. Use the melted chocolate on the tray to seal gaps. You can fill one half of the egg with goodies and just heat the other and seal in the treasure too. Whilst the egg was setting I ran off to Lakeland and bought edible glitter and sprinkles.

I used melted chocolate to stick on sprinkles and to write a message. All I did was stick the chocolate drips on the tray lined with grease proof paper in the 50C oven for a bit to soften it. Here’s an amazing trick I learnt for painting on chocolate. Looks like a delicate Faberge egg.

And why don’t you make a trip this weekend to the bridge in Primrose Hill and do the quiz at Chloe’s Espresso? Can’t get to Chloe’s for the Draw? The questions are on the sheet above. Email me with your answers by noon on Sunday 21st and I will enter them for you for a chance to win! And I’ll throw in a special offer of a book if you win and want a Thermomix demonstration! You can then find out what Harrison does!

#TM5 #thermomix #TM6 #eastereggmade inthermomix #eastertreat #easyeastereggrecipe #eggdecoration #whitechocolateeasteregg #white chocolateegg #egghunt #easteregghunt #primrosehill #eggscavengerhunt #easter2019 #easterweekend #londonnw1 #chloesespresso #NW3 #NW1 #kidsactivities

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KUMQUAT MAY….

Kumquats are in season. I know it’s not May yet but I like the play on words for the title and am too excited to wait till the right month to share this recipe!

I’ve adapted an Epicurus recipe for kumquats poached in lime juice and vanilla syrup and teamed it with steamed Conference pears.

I used to poach pears in the simmering basket of my Thermomix but discovered many recipes on Cookidoo where pears are steamed instead with the same result so use this technique as you can do many more pears – good for a dinner party!

It’s an exquisite dessert served with ice cream or sorbet. I like it with a sorbet of nothing but frozen very ripe pears with stem ginger and/or a little Aleppo Chilli blended at speed 10 for a minute and then whipped up with the Thermomix butterfly whisk at speed 4 for a minute.

With yogurt and a sprinkle of nuts and seeds, a very posh breakfast it would make too.

The poached kumquats on their own would make a great topping for ice cream or maybe in a cocktail. Or one or two kumquat halves dropped into a Roku G&T with the mandatory sliced ginger! In fact, add a splash of this Japanese gin to the poaching liquid for a boozy dessert.

Endless ideas!

I used coconut sugar to try and keep things low on the GI index. You could also do it with honey or maple syrup or refined sugar if you will. Just adjust cooking time of the liquid till you reach the desired syrupy consistency. To be super healthy, don’t use sugar but poach the kumquats in 120g satsuma juice (I think orange juice would over power it). As ever, I use my Thermomix as my trusted cooker to adapt anything and everything!

The love just keeps growing! A quick note to the uninitiated who speak negatively of the Thermomix undermining culinary creativity and skill: think again.

Where did the idea come to me? Lying in bed in the morning browsing the net and my Cookidoo App, with the kumquats and pears lying dormant in the kitchen fridge downstairs. Less than half an hour later I’d created a gourmet dessert I’d never have bothered trying pre-Thetmomix! I never hesitate letting people know I am lazy. Really, really lazy. If I had to put immense effort into experimenting I would not bother. So thank you again my wonderful Thermomix for taking care of temperature control and time to minimise mistakes I make from being distracted or memory loss!

It has enhanced my culinary journey without a shadow of a doubt. And now the plug BECAUSE YOU REALLY NEED TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT… Get in touch with me for an inspirational, no obligation demonstration of the TM5 and learn more about the TM6 coming in June with its 160C, still blade cooking, sous vide and integrated recipe platform…..

INGREDIENTS

20 kumquats, halved crosswise & deseeded.

6 firm Conference pears, peeled, halved, seeds scooped out.

Juice of 1 satsuma/clementine

3 limes

1/2 a vanilla pod (slit & seeds scraped out)

500g water (for poaching pears and then reserve 120g of this liquid for the syrup)

120g sugar of choice

Pinch of salt

METHOD

1. Prepare the pears and kumquats.

2. Add zest of one lime to the pears. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and the orange/satsuma over the pears and toss.

3. Place pears in the Varoma tray (use both levels if your pears are large). Reserve the satsuma juice.

4. Add 500g water to TM bowl. Place Varoma on the lid and steam pears 20 mins/VAROMA/speed 2.

5. Squeeze the juice of the remaining two and a half limes in with the satsuma juice. Add the vanilla seeds and pinch if salt and mix.

6. Discard all but 120g of the water the pears were poached in. Note: if using just satsuma juice and no sugar to poach, then discard all the water. Add the lime juice mix with the split vanilla pod and the sugar to the TM bowl with the hot 120g of water. Cook 3 mins/100C/REVERSE/Speed 1. As soon as the temperature reaches 100C and the sugar has melted, add the kumquats.

7. Cook 3 mins/100C/REVERSE/Speed:Stir.

8. Place pears in a heat proof dish. Scoop kumquats out of the TM bowl and place on the pears along with the split vanilla pod. If you are happy with the consistency of the syrup pour this over the pears now. If you’d like a thicker syrup, return the TM bowl to cook at 100C for longer at speed 2. Then pour the syrup over the pears and chill for atleast two hours. Serve as you will and enjoy!

NOTE: I did the kumquats again and this time did not use the fruit from Spain that I bought at Costco but got some from my local greengrocer. They were smaller and much more tart than the Spanish ones so when I did them in just juice, they were not as good! I ended up adding a tin of lychees to the kumquats and pears. And I can’t say I liked the orange syrup as much …. should perhaps have used cinnamon or five spice powder instead of vanilla with the juice – vanilla and orange was reminiscent of cough muxture!

#thermomix #cookidoo #kumquat #pears #poached #poachedpears #dessert #glutenfree #cooking #healthydesserts #gin #roku #LowGi #icecreamtopping #lime #vanilla #limejuice #poachingliquid #seasonal recipes #kumquats #whattodowithkumquats #howtocookkumquats #icecream #sorbet #dessertswithkumquats #poachedfruit #poachedkumquats #pearpudding #seasonaldessert #fruitdesserts #noaddedsugaroptions

MOTHERING SUNDAY PEPPER CHICKEN

A tribute to my mother Lalitha. She was a doctor who worked full time. Whilst she did not cook very often because we always had a live-in cook in Singapore, when she did, the flavours were simple but unforgettably delicious.

I only wish she was still alive as I know she would have really enjoyed roasting her own spice mixes for South Indian dishes like rasam and sambar in my Thermomix rather than the three stage process, doing them in a pan, leaving them to cool and then using the mortar and pestle or the little coffee grinder.

Anyway, one thing I did do was make a little recipe book I called Curry Base in which I preserved some of her recipes. I share a video from my ebook for her pepper chicken here – a truly warming stew.

When I wrote the recipe I did not know of the existence of Thermomix (I’m still astounded by that given that it has been around since 1971!). Watching the video 12 years on, I realise how much easier cooking is now!

The aim of this post is to illustrate how any recipe can be adapted for the Thermomix and take flavours to another dimension!

My own Mother’s Day wish is that one day my children (one of whom already owns a Thermomix) will dig out this post and make their “Ammama’s pepper chicken” themselves and also pass the recipe on to their off spring keeping the memory of this wonderful woman alive!

Watch the video. If you don’t have a Thermomix you can follow the video. If you have a Thermomix, these are the simple steps to remember (I am not going to copy the whole recipe here so you will have to watch the video for quantities or email me (address in contacts) and I will send it to you).

1) do all the “dry” things first. With MC on, roast the cumin and black pepper for 8 minutes on 120C at speed 2. Then grind it for 1 minute/speed10. Then transfer to a small bowl.

2) next chop the ginger and garlic by dropping them through the hole in the lid onto the blade running at speed 8. It takes 3 or 4 seconds. Scrape down the sides and then with MC on, mince again for 3 secs/speed 5. Transfer to a small bowl.

3) now add 30g of oil in the TM bowl. Put the cinnamon bark in. With MC on, cook 3 minutes/100C/REVERSE/speed 2.

4) With tongs, take out the cinnamon.

5) Add halved onions in the TM bowl. Chop 5 seconds/speed 5. Put the cinnamon back in. With MC on, cook 5 minutes/100C/REVERSE/Speed 1.

6) Add the ginger garlic mixture. Cook 1 minute/100C/REVERSE/Speed 1.

6) Add the pepper and cumin powder and a teaspoon of turmeric and salt. Cook 1 min/100C/REVERSE/Speed 1. Scrape the bottom of the TM bowl with the spatula to ensure the masala doesn’t stick.

7) Now add the chicken thighs and tomatoes. Use the spatula to stir the chicken round to coat the meat in the spice mix. With MC on, cook for 25 minutes/100C/REVERSE/speed stir.

8) Add coriander leaves as garnish before serving with rice.

Notes: if I am cooking large amounts I use the Thermomix as my sous chef to chop and cook the initial curry base and then transfer the mixture with the chicken into a casserole dish and cook it on the stove whilst I make my rice in the Thermomix and also chop salads in it so the whole thing is ready in one go!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

GORMEH SUBZI SO PERFECT IN THE THERMOMIX!

Elli Bakhtiar-Gharbi (amazing banker turned founder of Grip Pilates was the first of my friends to invest in a Thermomix.

I am so grateful to Elli for introducing me to the staple Iranian stew Gormeh Subzi. It was only quite recently when I was helping Elli to adapt her Iranian dishes for the Thermomix that I discovered the “green” was not spinach at all.

It is large bunches of parsley, coriander, mint, fenugreek and dill that give the stew the deep verdant hue. That explains why Persian, Middle Eastern produce stores like MiladGreen Valley and Phoenicia always have an abundant supply of said herbs on offer. Just think of all the amazing beneficial properties you are putting in your body when you eat this delicious dish!

The Thermomix chops the herbs in a matter of seconds making this rather labour intensive dish so simple. The best way is to drop the herbs, stalks, leaves and all through the hole in the lid onto the running blade at speed 8. This a also a neat way of chopping garlic, ginger and lemongrass!

Traditionally the herbs are cooked for quite awhile (some recipes talk of frying herbs till almost browned) and (often made with red meat) the dish is then stewed on the stove or in the oven for 2- 4 hours. My version, made with chicken thighs and tinned or pre-cooked black eyed peas is only cooked for 20-25 minutes. And again, traditionally leeks are used instead of onions… So forgive me in advance – I love it this way; it tastes as fresh and vibrant as it looks as it is perfectly temperature controlled.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS

A

600g onions peeled & halved/quartered

300g water

1/2 tsp salt

B

4-6 skinless boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper, ground

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp tumeric powder

5g extra virgin olive oil

C

1 large bunch each:

parsley, coriander, dill, fenugreek, mint

15g extra virgin

D

400g cooked kidney, cannellini or black eyed beans

E

Seasoning:

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 or 2 * dried limes pricked all over

1/2 to 1 tsp salt

Black pepper

1. Place ingredients A in TM bowl. Cook 30mins, 100C, speed 2.

2. Whilst the onion cooks, mix Ingredients B together. Heat a frying pan and when hot, flash fry the chicken till nicely browned. Set aside.

NOTE: when the TM6 arrives on 17th June 2019, you can brown meat in the Thermomix as the new model reaches a much higher temperature: 160C (the highest in the TM5 is 120C).

3. When the onion if done, blend it for 1 minute, Speed 5 gradually increasing to speed 10. Pour into a container and set aside.

4. Without washing TM bowl, without the measuring cup, set the blade running at speed 8 and push large handfuls of herbs (see ingredients C) through the hole in the lid. Use the spatula to scrape herbs from sides of the bowl whilst the blade is running (see video above).

5. Scrape down sides of TM bowl. Weigh in 15g of oil. Cook the herbs 3 minutes, 100C, speed 2.

6. Add the reserved onion “stock”. Add Ingredients E. Cook 10 mins, 100C, speed 2.

7. Add the browned chicken and Ingredient E (beans) to the TM bowl.

and cook a further 10 minutes, 100C, speed 2 on REVERSE.

8. Optional: Whilst the stew is cooking, I often wash, dry and season with salt, pepper and paprika and lightly toss in olive oil. Without washing the pan the chicken was fried in, i flash fry the okra.

9. Optional: transfer the stew to a serving bowl and keep warm.

Rinse TM bowl. On Cookidoo find and cook the Taste of India Cumin Rice – it is the perfect side!

*dried limes are a traditional condiment and add a lively depth of flavour. I have often made this stew without the lime (which my children prefer) and it is still absolutely delicious.

ONE ARM CAN COOK

It has been a long long time since I wrote a post but I have a good excuse!

Long story short, I had surgery to remove a myxoid cyst at the end of May and what should have taken 6 weeks to heal has taken far longer (such a long story not worth going into but plastic surgeon has a lot to answer for!).

Anyway, I have had to be careful about using my hand. Typing was an issue for some time but because I have a Thermomix, cooking wasn’t!

You may think that this means I was still doing all the cooking as a good wife and mother would …. well, I wish I was so dedicated but will put my (bandaged) hand up and confess: I’m not that person!

The best thing was this: with the Thermomix I could and did cook but a lot of the time I sat back and the rest of the family (most of whom generally couldn’t be bothered to cook) pitched in and with the Cook Key had access to 22,000+ recipes and cooked incredibly delicious meals guided on screen step by step so mistakes didn’t happen! And everything in the kitchen remained neat and tidy (mostly!).

And the other amazing thing: they really got into it and now don’t think twice about volunteering to cook!

And one more amazing thing. I was the butt of many a “Thermomix fanatic” joke bandied about largely by my 22 year old son.

Well, look who’s talking now; he has just moved into his own flat and what do you think he has asked for? Exactly! “I will use it because it is quick and easy and I won’t have any money to eat out now that I am paying rent.” So, along with his collection of electric bass guitars (that cost twice as much as the Thermomix), being the good mother I can be, I have packed him off with a TM5 in the full knowledge that this is the kitchen of the future and he won’t be relying on expensive, unhealthy junk food!

This post is a short one to say I am now back on track with typing and cooking (a bit more experimental than full fledged) as the wound has finally started to settle down (just) and I have come up with some amazing dishes using the Thermomix to simplify things and will be posting again so do stay on board please!

The Colour Purple

I have been quiet on this blog for too long but it is not because I have nothing to say – quite the opposite, I could not decide what to say! So here is 3 months worth of it in the form of purple food!

Anthocyanins are compounds that give purple foods their colour and have been scientifically proven to have high antioxidative (radical scavenging) activity. They are found in cranberries, blueberries and aubergine, purple cabbage, pomegranate, purple sweet potatoes.

You would think that beetroot would also fall in this category but no, beetroot gets its deep purple colour from plant chemicals called betalains. Enough of the science, whether or not these food have all the nutritional values claimed, my Thermomix has helped me colour my table deliciously purple! I hope it inspires you to try different things too.

CRANBERRY HUMMUS

Make hummus in your Thermomix – I don’t even bother with tahini – I grind sesame seeds with lemon zest and garlic before adding the cooked chickpeas – at the end I chuck in the cranberries and coriander leaves and a green chilli goes quite well too. Look up Cookidoo for recipe inspiration!

RED ONION SOUP

Who’d have thought a kilo of red onions, half a litre of water, a teaspoon of salt cooked for 30 minutes at 100C and then blended for 1 minute at speed 10 with 30g of extra virgin olive oil could taste so exquisite? Well, I know it does and this soup is now a firm favourite at our table. I owe Leonie, a fellow Thermomix Advisor, for introducing me to this Polish recipe using brown onions.

STEAMED PURPLE SWEET POTATO

It is so simple steaming purple sweet potato in the simmering basket of my Thermomix. Yes, you can do it so easily on the stove but I am so scatty, I often forget I have something cooking and end up with mush. Given how expensive this tuber is, because time and temperature are set precisely I never ruin it!

Just pour 500ml water into the TM bowl, add the peeled and sliced potato to the simmering basket and steam for 20mins/Varoma/speed 2.

I keep a bowlful in the fridge and serve it cold with a drizzle of my soy, mirin and sesame oil dressing and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds,spring onion and coriander leaves. It’s delicious with sliced red chillies pickled in soy sauce. Combine yellow, orange and white sweet potatoes for a colourful salad.

Steamed sweet potato whizzed up at speed 10 with cold milk and some maple syrup makes a great shake. Heat it up at 90C speed 1 for a yummy Korean sweet potato latte.

Serve cubed sweet potatoes with coconut milk and a drizzle of Gula Melaka (or date syrup if you can’t be bothered to make this coconut sugar syrup) for a lovely Nonya inspired dessert – have it hot or with crushed ice.

BEETROOT SOUTH INDIAN STYLE

Heat 5g coconut oil in the TM bowl with a stick of cinnamon 1min/120C/speed stir. As soon as the cinnamon is fragrant drop 1 tsp of black mustard seed and cumin seeds through the hole in the lid. They should start to sputter. If they don’t, add more time. Add a sprinkle of asofoetida to the hot oil. Using tongs, remove the cinnamon stick. Add 500g peeled and quartered beetroot, a small shallot, a green chilli (deseeded for the faint hearted!) and salt to taste. Chop 5 secs/speed 4. If you want a finer dice then chop it at speed 5 instead. Cook 5 mins/100C/speed 2. Garnish with young coconut shreds (or desiccated) and coriander leaves and a dash of lemon juice. Stir through some yogurt and you have a delicious beetroot raita.

PLUM, PLUM & NOTHING BUT PLUM!

800g of the sweetest plums dumped whole in my Thermomix and cooked for 35 mins at 100C with the blade in reverse. Came back from school run to beautiful plum sauce which just needed the stones strained out. A drop of my favourite natural rose extract from Spice Drops to make a great dessert or cereal topping or purée for alcoholic or non alcoholic beverages. 1/2 tsp of home (Thermomix) roasted and ground 5 spice powder, a dash of sesame oil and Tamari soy for a delicious Asian plum sauce for duck. And save some for your baby if you have one!

Warning: I had the blade running at the slowest speed and made sure the bulky contents in the Thermomix bowl weren’t causing the appliance to bounce around and was far back from the edge before leaving it unattended. When I returned 20 mins later and was around to keep an eye on it, I cranked it to speed 3 on reverse (by which time the plums had softened anyway) so the machine didn’t jump around!

Incase you have not noticed:

I LOVE MY THERMOMIX!

YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS

One very wet February day, a mouse (3 cm max) scurried through the open back door and hid in the kitchen for three terror filled, sleep deprived (mine, not the mouse’s) days.

Having watched, loved but been more than slightly repulsed by the movie Ratatouille (however cute the cartoon character, the thought of a rat crawling around the kitchen turns my stomach!), paranoia set in whilst the rodent was in residence and every morsel of food was removed from every kitchen surface.

I was stuck for a place to hide four very ripe plantains.

What to do? I checked Cookidoo for banana recipes. I love this Thermomix recipe platform with its 20,000+ recipes which can be streamed to the Thermomix. It took me less than a minute to find (from the Sugar Free Collection), a banana bread recipe, save it and synchronise the Cook Key with the TM5 so the recipe appeared on my Thermomix with preset measures and method. It even let me add a note to remind me that I could adapt the recipe from banana to plantain and add peanuts instead of walnuts due to a family member’s allergy to the latter.

It took a total of 2 mins (inclusive of weighing in ingredients and 40 seconds of mixing) to make the batter and stick the loaf tin in the oven.

During the 40 minute baking time, I did a quick web search into the difference between the banana and plantain and I discovered that the latter has less sugar so that was a plus.

This info made me remember a news clip about Paignton Zoo banning commercially cultivated bananas from their monkeys’ diets as the fruit has been engineered to satisfy the ever increasing sugar saturated human palate and this makes the monkeys aggressive (would that explain some human behaviour too, I wonder?) and susceptible to diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

As I was pondering this (bread rising nicely in the oven), the song “Yes We have No Bananas” was playing in my head. So I googled it. I discovered some fascinating and somewhat worrying facts about banana cultivation. 95% of today’s banana are a monoculture variety called Cavendish. Monoculture is good for mass production but makes the herbacious plant (inaccurately referred to as a tree) rather vulnerable. It is under threat by Black Sigatoka.

Prior to that, the main monoculture variety Gros Michel was wiped out by Panama disease in the 1950s. Interestingly, the onset of the disease in 1922 gave rise to the aforementioned song!

The story goes that songwriters Frank Silver and Irving Cohn heard the phrase “Yes we have no bananas” from an immigrant Greek greengrocer in 1922. There was a shortage of bananas that year due to the onset of the disease and apparently the green grocer amusingly used the phrase rather than state the negative! So Silver and Cohn wrote the song with that title. It was introduced and sung by Eddie Cantor in the Broadway revue Make it Snappy and became a major hit in 1923.

As the wonderful aroma of my delicious bread filled the kitchen and no doubt drove the wee mouse crazy as it hid under the fridge, I found this most delightful mouse/banana song cartoon from 1930 featuring the song (please watch it!):

Well, the end of my story is that the mouse was caught and humanely shooed out of my kitchen. I spent 5 hours disinfecting the whole room.  We ate and loved the plantain bread and I now make it all the time.  Thanks to my Thermomix …. and the mouse!