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!

HANDSFREE FISHCAKES

I do love fishcakes. Tend not to make them often. Hate the telltale fishy waft hours (sometimes days) after cooking so I avoid pan frying fish. Don’t like fishy smelling hands after handling it raw either.

For days my fussy eater 17 year old had been harping on about fish cakes. For as many days I found excuses not to do them.

Ran out of excuses. Got the fish out as well as some of my homemade Tikka Paste (made in the Thermomix – it is the best make once a month condiment!).

Once again, my Thermomix has me saying, “Fool! Why didn’t you try this earlier?!”

I threw all the ingredients in the TM bowl. It took six seconds using the “Turbo” function to chop and mix ingredients. Yes, SIX SECONDS.

And it is not mushy because? The blade on the Turbo setting is fine tuned to go to the highest speed (10) for split seconds (half, one or two – you choose) so the ingredients are chopped (not blended) to perfection.

Then, to avoid touching the fish mixture (I hear all you Master Chefs groaning and see your rolling eyes. I apologise – just being honest – I’m squeamish!), I used a silicone spatula to scoop enough out to fill a small bowl. I then tipped the contents out onto oiled grease proof paper.

Again, using the spatula, I flattened the top and patted it into a nice neat circle.

I brushed the tops with olive oil and baked them in a pre-heated 180C oven for 20 minutes.

No photos of the cooked cakes because they were devoured! They don’t look as good as shallow or deep fried fish cakes or fish cakes coated in breadcrumbs. They are not a light as fish cakes bound together with cornstarch, potato or egg. The flip side is I used very little oil to cook them, they are so quick to make, are gluten, egg and carb free and they still taste amazing! And my kitchen doesn’t smell!

A brilliant new addition to the quick dinners list to make me appear goddess-like to non Thermomix users! And just think: instead of Tikka Paste, add a Thai, Cajun, Mexican, Chinese, Middle Eastern or other cuisine equivalent and you have an international recipe!

Oh, and a quick 60 sec self wash of the TM bowl at 60C at speed 6, with a drop of washing up liquid before putting it in the dishwasher, ensures there’s no fish smell in there either!

Just when I think there are no more time and effort saving discoveries, my Thermomix finds another show stopper to get excited about! Three years on, the love affair continues!

If you are not familiar with the Thermomix, want a demonstration? Contact me (details above). No obligation, just lots of enthusiasm!

And right now, till the beginning of February you have the chance to buy this amazing (approx) 30x32x41 cm kitchen (well, not quite: you will need a chopping board, knife, bin and oven!) on a 10 month interest free plan! Don’t wait…. this is the kitchen of the future! That’s my plug done!

RECIPE:

500g cod (skinless and boneless fillet)

1 heaped tbsp Tikka Paste

Small handful of coriander leaves

8-10 green beans cut into thirds

1/2 tsp salt

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lightly brush paper with olive oil.

Put all ingredients in TM bowl. With MC on, set to Turbo and blitz on 1 second intervals 5 times. Lift MC and peer in. If need be do 1 more second to make sure it is chopped but no more!

Using a silicone spatula, scoop some of the mixture into a small bowl and gently firm down. Invert the bowl onto the baking tray and let the moulded mixture drop out. Using the spatula, gently flatten the top and round the edges into a disc. Repeat till all the mixture is used (I made 4 large and 2 medium patties). Brush the tops with olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Serve as you will!

PASTA, PRESENT & FUTURE

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In 2010, in a bid to keep my (then) 10 year old from getting bored during the summer vacation, we embarked on a project to cook from scratch and one of the items on the list was pasta.

It was fun and we made pasta a number of times.  For a little while. Not long though.  I got fed up of cleaning the floury mess on the work surface and the floor and the stairs where the flour on the floor was trailed up. Not to mention the scraping off of sticky bits.

I packed away the pasta machine when we moved home 5 years ago. I got my TM5 3 years ago but never bothered making pasta because:

a) I couldn’t find the handle for the pasta machine and

b) I hadn’t completely forgotten the chore of clear up.

Well, all that changed yesterday! The handle for the pasta machine had been in the utensil drawer all the time. When moving things around in the kitchen I spotted the pasta machine itself and united it with its missing arm and had a go at making pasta.

The recipe is in the Basic Cook Book that comes with the TM5 and on the Cook Key for step by step instructions. Weigh directly into the TM bowl 300g 00flour and 70g fresh spinach and mix 20 secs/speed 9.

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Then crack two eggs into the bowl and weigh in 15g extra virgin olive oil and set the TM5 to knead for 2 minuets.

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Tip the crumbly mixture onto a sheet of cling film, gather the dough together into a ball, cover and leave to rest 15 minutes.

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No mess. And perfect pasta which needed no more than a fine dusting of flour when rolling it through the pasta machine. Delicious. Why did I wait so long to try it?

Want to check out how amazing this appliance is? Contact me!

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Sambal Heaven

I am so excited to share the recipe for Dried Shrimp Sambal, or to use its Nonya name, Hae Bee Hiam that I discovered in the Daily Asian Cook Book.

It is a condiment that with a good blender is easy enough to make but without a Thermomix it is a chore as you have to stir, stir, stir for a good half hour till the oil separates from the chilli and onion so that you can then add the shrimp and cook and stir for a further 40 minutes to get that deep rich flavour. Anything less and it tastes flat and not worth the effort.

With the Thermomix, all the ingredients are thrown in together (including the oil) and chopped in 5 – 10 seconds and then without transferring any ingredients you simply cook them in the same bowl at a precise 120C for 45 minutes whilst you wash your hair, read a book, watch a movie, do some work or some mundane chore you have been putting off or do the school run, go to the dentist or doctor or pop out for a meeting. When it’s done, transfer it to a sterilised bottle and it will keep for up to three months in the fridge. Cooked with love in another dimension with beautiful, beautiful flavour.

Now a staple in my kitchen, this umami packed condiment adds depth to so many dishes. I make it with organic coconut oil (which means it is quite solid when cold) use dried Kashmiri chillies as I like the flavour and it is less ferocious heat-wise. I also use coconut sugar rather than white sugar. Sometimes I add a couple of lemon grass stalks to the mix. In addition I sometimes add kefir lime leaves too (you can chop them with the rest of the ingredients but I cook a couple whole and remove later).

Just on its own with plain rice and a side of steamed veg…. simplicity yummified! With hot rice and a hard boiled egg on the side (which incidentally I cook along with the rice and veg in the Thermomix), it tastes like Nasi Lemak without having to cook rice in coconut milk due to the fact that I use coconut oil in the paste). Easy, easy dinner (although it is traditionally a breakfast dish).

A few shallots whizzed with ginger, fresh turmeric and a dollop of vegetable stock paste and the sambal and a medium/small butternut squash and water to just cover the top of the vegetable and cooked for 20 minutes at 100C and then blended, makes a simply delicious soup

Hei Bee in crustless soft white bread makes amazing finger sandwiches or bring your cucumber sandwiches to life by adding a fine layer of this incredible paste and serve as an hors d’oeuvre. Or do as I do and dollop some on a slice of homemade bread or toast for breakfast or lunch – it’s addictive.

I throw some in curry, in rendang, in an omelette or stirred into fried rice or on steam okra or stir fried morning glory or simple green beans. I’ll stop: the uses are endless!

I do get teased constantly by friends who have not yet grasped the wonders of the TM5 and erroneously see it as an extravagance. It is a kitchen investment without a doubt. What the sceptics don’t understand is that unlike your normal cooker or steam oven (that cost more if you believe in buying quality) and if you eat out a lot or buy processed ready made food, the Thermomix pays for itself in no time at all in time and restaurant bills!

With my own Hae Bee Hiam I have my own Singapore Garden or Green Cottage (previously regularly our local go to take away or restaurant fixes for South East Asian food) in my own kitchen.

I have no qualms in saying that the food I produce in less time than it takes for Deliveroo to drop it off is far superior in quality and flavour thanks to my Thermomix! With no effort!

RECIPE

150g cooking oil

150g dried shrimps (washed and drained)

100g dried chillies (deseed and soaked till soft)

100g shallots, peeled

40g garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1. Weigh in all ingredients into the TM bowl. Grind 20 secs/speed 10. Scrape down the sides of the TM bowl. Repeat if necessary.

2. Cook 45 mins/120C/Reverse/Speed 1.

Store in a clean jar in the refrigerator and I dare you to make it last three months!

Roasted Cauliflower Mock Rice


Mock rice made with cauliflower is a great alternative to rice. With 25 calories per 100g of cauliflower compared with 125 calories per 100g of steam white long grain rice, it’s a no brainer that if you are counting calories or looking for a low carb alternative, mock rice is the way forward. Actually, even if you are not dieting it makes a great side dish!

I love the flavour and texture of cauliflower rice. You can steam it or sauté it (and you can use your Thermomix for both these processes) but the way I like it is seasoned and roasted in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes at 230C. I add my homemade parsley and garlic oil to the mix for a roasted garlic flavour.

Before I owned a Thermomix I was reluctant to make it only because to prepare it I had to grate the florets which was a time consuming messy job.

Now, with my Thermomix,  it takes a couple of minutes and no mess. What makes it so easy and effective to make mock rice in the TM5? It’s the blunt side of the amazing blade which is activated by the REVERSE ENABLED function. It whacks the cauliflower rather than chops it so it isn’t too fine which is what happens in most other food processors.

The other brilliant thing is that you can add all your chosen seasoning and oil of choice and that way, when you “whack” the florets on reverse for 5 seconds at speed 5, you have prepared it for roasting in the oven in one go! Five seconds – no exaggeration!​​

So do try it! It is delicious. If you don’t own a Thermomix then grate the cauliflower into a large bowl on the course side of your grater – watch your fingers and have your broom ready as it does go everywhere. Then add the seasoning and gently blend with a spatula till the cauliflower is well coated.

Ingredients:

500g cauliflower florets

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 mild chilli flakes

1 – 2 tsp pesto or garlic & parsley oil

10g extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 230C. Place florets in the TM bowl.
  2. Add seasoning and oil.
  3. With MC on, whack the cauliflower on 5 SECS/ SPEED 5/ REVERSE ENABLED.
  4. Tip the grated cauliflower onto an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and spread out thinly.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.