Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sugar overload

EGS made some rather tasty ginger cookies using this recipe  He made these himself, asking for advice when he wasn't sure.

And then the next day, he made "shortbread biscuits" from the My Way Of Cooking book.  He made this without any supervision at all, although he did ask a few questions on the way.   I'm finding MWOC a bit hit and miss, the instructions aren't detailed enough for a newbie.   We found this hopeless for cutting out cookies.  We considered using a shorbtread mould, but I was concerened it would just stick,

In the end EGScame up with the bright idea of just making them like we had done the ginger biscuits, a small ball, fork pressed down.   We ended up cooking these for about 17 minutes.. They were very good,  but the centres were a bit underbaked. 

I might use this recipe again, but I'd probably try a couple  of others first.

The weekend's thermomixing was finished with a couple of jugs of passata.

And I can report that day-old brownie was even better than fresh brownie. For me, anyway/

Friday, 29 August 2014

Sweet tooth

Eldest Grandson, (EG), has been staying for a few days.  He has a sweet tooth, so we've been baking.

First up was Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The internet is awash with Thermy cookie recipes,  and eventually I chose this one because it had such high ratings:

We used white chocolate and 70% dark chocolate. I had some white chocolate cooking buttons, so we chopped those in Thermy.  Thh first attemp was hopeless, I really overdid it.  We put those aside to use in something else, and I did them again.

Surprisingly easy, and they were lovely!

The next day (Thursday, yesterday), we made milkshakes. EG wanted to use up the excess chopped white chocolate, so I whipped up some milk, frozen banana, and the white chocolate from the previous day.  I blended for a long time (about 3 minutes, which my ears were sure was much longer) to give the chocolate chance to blend.

It was too sweet for me, but EG really liked it.

For the main sweet treat of the day, EG went been through lots of Thermy recipe books and had picked recipe after recipe.  Eventually he settled on making brownies, and picked the Chocolate and Pecan recipe from the I love Chocolate, I love Thermomix book.

MH supervised this.  The result was outstanding.  Incredibly rich (thank goodness we had decided to cut them into single bite squares), they were amazing!  We popped some round to my next door neighbours, and they reported back that they were the best they had had. I'm sure part f that was kindness, but there is probably some truth in it as well.

I'm not sure what oday's choice will be.

Hopefully something sans chocolate. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mushroom Risotto and Arancini. Again.

Dh was away, so I used Thermy to make mushroom risotto, usin gthe recipe in the Fast and Easy cookbook. I used half dried porcini mushrooms and half fresh mushrooms.   Unlike last time, this time I let it stand for 5 minutes, and it was lovely.

I put the leftover risotto, when cold, in the fridge.  The next day, I made arancini - deep fried risotto balls - and some Tzaziki to serve with it.  Thermy helped out again, making the tzaiki, and making the breasdcrumb/parmesan/parsley coating.   Very good.    They could have done with  a bit more seasoning, so I'll do that next time...remembering that I want to do it while the lefotver risotto is still warm, or certainly befor it goes into the fridge overnight.

I couldn't eat them all, despite pigging out.  I put the remaining cooked balls in the fridge,  and I've just eaten them cold.   They were amazing!  If they were smaller, they would make excellent cold buffet or picninc food...  they'd need to be mini scotch egg sized I think.

I had toyed with the idea of making some risotto balls and freezing them, before the deep frying stage.   Maybe I'll have enough leftover next time to try that.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Little things

Thermy has been in action so much that I've often ended up with both bowls in the dishwasher.
Nothing major this week, just little things.

I made an enormous Teviot pie on Wednesday. Teviot pie is a minced beef pie with a suet crust pastry.

I chickened out of using Thermy to chop my kilo of beef braising steak into mince, fearing that it might puree it.  I used my Sage food processor, which has a blades at two levels,  which means that you don't end up with puree at the bottom and mince at the top.  I will try Thermy another time, on a smaller quantity.

Thermy was used to make the mire poix (or is it soffrito) which was fried in oil at the beginning. It was made up of onion, celery and carrot.  I  used it to chop garlic and courgettes, and  mushrooms.  I also ground 40g red lentils to a fine powder to use as  a thickener. Definite successes.

It was also used to make a simple banana milkshake (milk and frozen banana) for granddaughter Kaitlyn, and a simple strawberry milkshake (milk and frozen strawberry) for grandson Hayden.  Definite success.

I put some cheese and cherry tomatoes in and blitzed it, which made an excellent sandwich filling. It didn't turn into a cream, because i didn't add anything else to help it do that... but it made it very easy to spread and to get a good even coating, right to the edge.  It was less fiddly than grated cheese, and more even (and economical) than sliced cheese. Definite success.

Later,  I used the same thing to make cheese on toast. It was much easier than working with grated cheese (which I invariably drop onto the hot grill pan), or sliced cheese.  Definite success.

Last night I made a small amount of cake mix, as I had a craving for it.  I've been eating a lot of carp (crisps, sugary bread)  lately, and I shouldn't have given in to the craving.

MH used it to cook fish, which he was pleased with.  I was out, so I don't have any more information about it, lol.

Another good week.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bits and pieces

Yesterday we had Arancini (deep fried risotto balls) , using the leftover risotto.    I seasoned it, even more, this time.   

I made parsley and parmesan breadcrumbs in Thermy (fantastic, thank you).

Next time, I think I'll add the additional seasoning to the leftover risotto before I put it in the fridge.   This is because the risotto was very well set, perfect for forming into balls... but I had to stir it up to stir in the seasonings, and that made it all loose again.

They were very good. 


I also made another batch of hummus,  this time I added some moroccan seasoning.   I think it was a bit too thick, I should have slackened it off more. I also should have added more lemon juice.  

I'd bought a new jar of Tahini, as I hadn't got round to ordering sesame seeds to make my own. (That's now rectified - or it will be when my Wholefoods order arrives - so I'll be in good shape when the Tahini jar runs out).  

While I was shopping, I also took some photos of Waitrose's hummus varieties - the backs of the packs, anyway, so I could see what they put in theirs.  I saw that I can use Tahini to make Baba Ganoush, so I bought an aubergine as well...but I haven't go round to it yet.   Hopefully I will do so before the Aubergine walks out of the fridge.

This time, I cut the ginger into hald and 1 inch pieces before freezing. Ha!

 Millet Flour
I decided to try Rye and Millet bread, in my breadmaker.  I had both millet flakes and millet seeds, from when I was buying grains to tempt my housechook to eat.    I  needed some millet flour as well,  and was childishly excited that I could use Thermy to do this.    I feel very proud of my 50 grammes of millet flour.  No idea what the bread is going to taste like, but that isn't the point.

It's just gone into the oven, so I'll find out later.

Pizza Dough
I took the frozen pizza dough out of the freezer, so it could defrost for dinner tonight.  The wrapping said "needs second rise",  so I after it was defrosted, I put it in a bowl in the airing cupboard. 

I realised that it would probably have been quicker to have made fresh dough from scratch. I used to make my pizza dough by hand, painstakingly stirring the middle while the flour gradually slips in.  Then I started to cheat, and used my KitchenAid, on the basis that the planetary action is sort of similar to doing it by hand.  In both these cases it's been worthwhile making double and freezing one.    Now I'm not so sure. It was really quick in Thermy, and the taste and texture was fine.  

That's a bit of a Thermy revelation.  


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Chicken Risotto, revisited

So, Sunday's roast chicken  became yesterday's chicken with a cheese sauce (courtesy of Thermy), and today's second attempt at chicken risotto.

This time, I used Carnaroli rice, and more seasoning.  I followed (sort of) Quirky Cooking's recipe for Chicken and Mushroom Risotto. I say "sort of" because I only had about 90g of mushrooms,  I used 400g homemade chicken stock  and some tomato passata as part of the cooking liquid, and I used leftoevr chicken which I added in the final 5 minutes of cooking time. And I added grated parmesan at the end.

The texture was much, much better than the previous attempt.   I think that was partly down to rhe Carnaroli rice instead of Arborio. And partly because I put it in a serving dish for 5 minutes before serving.

The flavour was better, thanks to more seasoning and dry white wine (instead of the floral Gewurtztraminer from last time).

It was still a little lacking in seasoning, so next time I think I'll use even more chicken stock (and less water),  and/or I'll add a Knorr chicken stock pot, and/or more salt and pepper. I might also throw in some herbs.

But it was definitely a success, and I will use it again.

And I have leftovers to make risotto balls again.

Double yum!
More salt and pepper
More chicken stock (and/or stockpot and or maybe use soaked dried muchrooms and their liquor)
Herbs. Maybe mushroom ketchup or similar.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Yorskhire Puddings

We followed the recipe in the Fast and Easy cookbook.  I halved the quantity, and could see that there was a lot more liquid than we would normally use.  I decided to follow the recipe and see how it turned out.

It was OK... but I will reduce the liquid next time. I'll also use either buttermilk or milk and water.

Roast Chicken, again

We tried a different recipe this time, this time based on the "One chicken - 3 ways" recipe that I found online.

This was a much smaller chicken, and it fitted into the varoma properly.

The recipe said to stuff it, but I didn't.  Instead, I put half an onion, some tarragon, some thyme, some sage and some garlic butter in the cavity. I put a puece of garlic butter under the skin against each breast. Salt and pepper.

We steamed it for just over half an hour, then put it in the oven at 160 fan (180 equivalent), to brown. I'd already put the roasting tray in to warm up

We had one breast between us as part of a quick roast dinner.  We'll have the other one tomorrow in a cheese sauce, followed later in the week by risotto and then maybe risotto balls again.

I liked this method more than the other, and I will use it again.

Next time I will put some butter on the bird just before it goes into roast.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Courgette Bread

We have plenty of courgettes, so I thought i'd make this.

It's from one of Lesley Shapter's Bread Machine books.

I didn't have any buttermilk left, so I substituted ordinary milk with a bit of yoghurt mixed in. It didn't make much of a dent in the courgette pile.

Where did Thermy fit in?  I used thermy to grate the courgette.  It took all of five seconds to get super small chopped courgettes . (Obviously I had to rinse out Thermy afterwards, so possibly not much of a time saving - but certainly effort saving)

My breadmaker did a sterling job of making this while we went out for the evening.

Just had some for my breakfast.  If you didn't know it had courgette in it, you wouldn't guess it had courgette in it.  A lovely, light, multigrain loaf.

Except I put the breadmaker on the ordinary setting instead of the "raisin" setting.  So the multigrains are still sitting in the raisin dispenser.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Dips - Hummus, and Cucumber Raita

I made Hummus yesterday in Thermy, using a tin of chickpeas, a jar of out of data Tahini,  some lemon juice, some garlic.

I wasn't too sure about it. I don't really like the texture of hummus, always reminds me of baked beans (shudder).

Today, after 24 hours in the fridge, it wasn't bad at all.  MH liked it, which was a bit of a miracle.

I have a hummus recipe book on my kindle, and I think I'll try some alternative flavourings.

I'm wondering whether to buy more tahini, or whether to buy sesame seeds and  make my own.

Watch this space!

I also made cucumber raita.  I can't remember how long the instructions said to blitz for, it was seconds,  it was too long.  I had a kind of pulverized cucumber.

However, it worked surprisingly well.  I'll try mint and cucumber next time.

Well done Thermy!


Today I made Arancini, or risotto balls.

I had these when out for lunch last Friday,  and I wanted to try them myself.  In fact, the reason we had risotto earlier in the week was so that I would have leftover risotto to make Arancini.

Cold risotto, shaped into balls, then flour-egg-breadcrumbed, and deep fried.

I should have added extra seasoning to the cold risotto, but they were still delicious.  I suspect they will become a staple second-risotto dish and will stretch our chicken for a further day.

Thermy didn'r help with this, but it did make the accompaniments.

More on that in a moment.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Coleslaw, revisited

I tried Coleslaw again today.

I used Delia's Four Star Slaw recipe (from her Christmas cookbook)  as a base.

I didn't have one of the "stars", celeriac, nor did I have any soured cream. Nor spring onions.  But, apart from that, I used her ingredients and proportions.

I halved her recipe and, with my substitutions, this is roughly what I did.

  • Peeled about 150g of carrots, then cut them into 2 inch pieces.  I dropped these on the running blades at about speed 6 to make them a bit smaller.  They need to still be too big, as there will be further chopping shortly.  Scrape down bowl.
  • Added about 150g of white cabbage, 
  • Added half a stick of celery (cut into 1 inch pieces, should probably have done this with the carrot
  • Added some red onion - I didn't weigh it, sorry
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon mayo
  • 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt (I used greek style)
  • A further 75g of yogurt to compensate for no soured cream
  • 1 tablespoon oilive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder1/2 tablespoon cider apple vinegar (should have been white wine vinegar, but I picked up the wrong bottle)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • I added some parsley to enhance the colour
  • salt and pepper.

I blitzed on speed 4 four about 6 seconds.

Lovely and fresh.  If you like your coleslaw a bit sweeter, I'd probably replace some of the yoghurt with mayonnaise.

Naan Bread

I usually make the dough for naan bread in my breadmaker. I then put the rolled out naan into an oven (which has been on its hottest setting)  for a few minutes, then under the grill (which has also been on for 10 minutes or so to get really really  hot.

The recipe in the Indian Cooking cookbook was very similar, slightly different proportions perhaps. The cooking method was the same as I already use.

It worked really well.  Lovely fluffy naans.   I also brushed the finished naans with melted ghee, which the Thermy boook didn't mention but I normally do anyway.

The downside of the Thermy method is that I had to use (and then clean) a bowl for rising, and I had dirtied Thermy.

The upside of the Thermy method is that the overall time is a little shorter than using the breadmaker.

This is a close call.


I think it might depend on whether I was already using Thermy,  and how long I had until I needed the naans.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Chicken Risotto

It's finally time to try cooking risotto in Thermy.

I used the recipe in the Fast and Easy  cookbook, substituting cooked chicken for the asparagus. And using part oil/butter (as per the Milanesi recipe)  instead of all oil. And I didn't have any dry white wine, so I used Gewurtztraminer, which is an aromatic, floral wine.

The process worked well, and it was fast.

I wasn't worried by the soupiness of the risotto, indeed the recipe warned that it would be so.

Upon reflection and tasting I would
  • ignore the instruction to serve immediately, and instead let it stand for 5 minutes
  • allow an extra minute or two cooking time because I was using real, home made, chicken stock...and it was cold from the fridge.
  • go to the shop and buy some dry white wine instead of using my very-not-cheap Gewurtz.
 It was OK.

It wasn't exactly a great success, but it wasn't a fail.

I've saved some risotto to see if I can make deep fried risotto balls.

Buttermilk Bread

While I have some buttermilk left, I like to make Buttermilk Bread.  I usually do this in my bread machine, but I thought I'd see what happens in Thermy.

I'm not convinced that Thermy will replace my breadmaker.  If I didn't have one,  Thermy would possibly make buying one unnecessary, but I like the convenience.

Anyway. I started off with my usual recipe, although I swapped out 50g of flour for 50g of milled seeds.  I think this was a mistake, I should have added the milled seeds as an extra and not replaced the flour.

All the ingredients went into Thermy, and I mixed on speed 3 for 20 seconds to combine. I then put it on to knead for 1.5 minutes, all as per Fast and Easy Cooking instructed.

The dough was very wet. Too wet. I tipped it out onto a floured surface, and kneaded more flour in.   This is why I think the seeds should have been extra rather than a flour substitute.

I then put the dough into a floured banneton,  put it in a huge plastic bag and tied, and left on the windowsill to rise.

It didn't.

I put it in the airing cupboard to rise.

It didn't.

I put the oven on and put the breadstone in. Much, much later I remembered to go and get the dough out of the airing cupboard,

It hadn't risen.

I cooked it anyway,

The resultant texture was a bit like soda bread,  so I think it was a yeast activation fail.

I hadn't warmed anything and I used cold buttermilk and a non-chemical yeast.  The fault was most likely mine.

It tasted OK, but not at all how it should have done.

I think I'll go back to brad basics with Thermy, and start from the beginning.  In the meantime, I'll continue with my breadmaker.   

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Roast Chicken

We've been approaching the Thermy thing by deciding what we want to cook and then working out if it is possible to do it in Thermy.

I wanted to make chicken risotto, mainly because I wanted to have leftover risotto to make deep fried risotto balls (Arancini di Riso). I had these for lunch o Friday, and they were amazing.

Now, the Thermy is well known for its ability to produce risotto, so I wanted to make risotto.  And to make risotto, I really needed some cooked chicken.   So, I had a look to see what was possible with whole chickens.

I found a range of recipes for "Roast Chicken", which involve steaming a chicken for about a hour, then sticking it in a hot oven to brown.   Let's give that a go.

We hoiked our last whole chicken out of the freezer.  We raise our own table birds, and this lad was rather large (by our slow grown chicken standards): well over 5 pounds.  He seemed to fit in the Varoma whilst frozen, so we left him out to defrost.

The defrosted chook was a tad too large for the Varoma.  This must be on the wishlist for any new model, some sort of extension to make the varoma higher. I did look, but couldn't see any hacks for it. We cut the leg off, and then we managed by scrnching up foil.

We used a honey and soy "marinade", and steamed for 1 hour.  A skewer showed that most of the chicken was cooked, but one leg was still pink. 10 more minutes.  Still pink, so we turned it round, ten more minutes.  It then was still slightly pink, but we put it in the hot oven, along with the rest of the bird, for 10 minutes. We were thinking we could leave it in for longer if necessary.

However, all was well.

The chicken was very moist.  I think I'd  put it in to brown for longer next time,  and I might experiment with bastes.

But I would definitely consider doing it this way again.

One "note to self": make the Yorkshure pudding batter using Thermy, before you put the chicken on.

Passata en masse

The Thermy passata worked really well!   We divided it into three. One lot went in the feezer, one lot was used with pasta, and the third lot was used with meatballs and rice.

MH and  I were discussing whether, for the mass production we do,  it was better to make it in small batches in Thermy or to oven roast and then use the passata machine.  He grows kilos and kilos and kilos of tomatoes, paste varieties, specifically so we can make our own delicious tomato sauce. Home grown tomatoes have all that gorgeous flavour....

We speculated that there are advantages and disadvantages to both theThermy method and our own hand made method.

We decided to try Thermy for a bit of batch passata-ing today. We used the Tomato Sauce recipe in My Way of Cooking as a base.

The main downside for Thermy is that it can really only deal with 1kg of tomatoes at a time.  However, it processes the tomato skins and pips resulting in a thicker sauce (and there is less washing up).

Usually we (well, MH actually, I just act as sous chef and washer upper) would work with 3-5kg of tomatoes in one go.   Today, MH decided to try working with 3kg of tomatoes in 3 batches in Thermy. 

For the Oven method, these would be cut and placed on three enormous baking trays, each of which takes up the full width and depth of the oven (the trays replace the shelves).

Cutting time was slightly quicker with Thermy, because we didn't need to arrange the tomatoes on the trays.  The garlic didn't need as much preparation either.  We could also get the second bowl ready while the first was cooking

Cooking time - our non-Thermy method is faster on the cooking part. We had to do 3 x half hours with Thermy, and we would probably have spent 45 minutes with the oven.

Processing time - a minute in Thermy, much longer by hand.  Even though we had to do the processing 3 times (once for each bowl), it was much faster.

Preserving time - with Thermy, we had to reheat the tomatoes. WIth the hand method, they were already hot and ready to go into jars for canning.  The rest of the preserving time is the same for both,

Yield Even though Thermy does not discard the skins, the end product is much thicker and therefore the yield is lower.  HOWEVER, unless we're making chilli or something which calls for a tin of tomatoes,  we usually reduce the sauce to make it thicker anyway. This means there is an additional time saving for Thermy here, because the reduction time at the point of using the sauce will be less with the Thermy-fied tomatoes.

Cleaning up  - Thermy wins hands down.  2 Thermy bowls, which are fairly small and can fit in to the dishwasher together, plus one large saucepan (from heating up).    When we do this by hand, I have 3 huge baking trays to clean,  plus the passata machine,  plus the bowl which holds the passata-ed tomatoes, plus the bowl which holds the discarded skins and pips.    I also have to give the oven sides and inside door a good wipe down.

On the prep and cleaning, I think Thermy comes out on top. The time-and-effort saving on this outweighs the fact that we had to do 3 batches.

Truth be told, I'm a little sad that it makes the tomato transformation process a bit more of a mechanical thing rather than a hand-made labour of love.      However, I love that we are making good use of our Thermy investment.   

And it does still taste really good.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Pizza Dough

I normally make pizza dough in my Kitchen Aid.  I found a pizza dough recipe in the Thermomix book.

I decided, of course, to use Thermy but not the Thermy recipe. This was because I use 00 flour, not strong flour,  and so the quantities for water etc were different.

Yhe Thermy method worked well. I had to add more water to my dough, as it didn't come together enough.

When it was kneaded though, it looked pretty good.  I rolled it into a sausage, took hold of each end, and then flipped it up and down gently to see how it stretched.... it looked good.

I let it rise for a couple of hours, then cut it in two, One half went into the freezer, with a note that it "needs 2nd rise". The other lot had its second rise.

I emptied a 500ml jar of home made passata into a small frying pan, and put it on to reduce. 

After 15 minutes, I put the oven on with the pizza stone in.

After 3/4 of an hour, the passata was a very reduced thick paste. I stirred in some Italian Herbs from a tube (very lazy on my part, I know), and turned the heat down to a simmer.  5 minutes later I turned the heat off and left it.

One hour after putting the dough in for its second rise, I retrieved it. Rolled it out, put it on a pizza peel, turned up the edges to stop the toppings sliding off. Then I put on the reduced tomato sauce, some mozzarella, and marked the half way point. I put mushrooms on my halg, MH put garlic sausage on his.  I sprinkled black pepper, and then some parmesan.  Then, slid it on to the pizza stone.

5 minutes later, we were almost done, just another minute to crisp the crust.



I love semolina. 

My mum used to make it on the hob, I didn't realise until very late on that it was possibe to put semolina in the oven to bake.   Even when I discovered that,  it seemed to take too long, and I found I could get a lovely type of "skin" by letting it simmer away on the hob in a non stick saucepan.

I was interested to see if I could cook Semolina in my Thermy, mainly because the thermy would do the stirring part for me.   I searched online for recipes, and found all sorts of semolina recipes - but none of them were the simple milk+butter+semolina+sugar one that I was looking for.

Eventually I decided to make it in the Termy, but use my standard recipe and timings.

I fitted the whisk, then  put milk and a knob of butter on to heat.  After a couple of minutes, I added the semolina, turned the heat up to 100, and let it carry on stirring at speed 1 for about 12 minutes. At the end of the time, I added some sugar (don't add before, it interferes with the cooking process), and then put thermy back on for 5 minutes at temp 100 speed 1.

It tasted cooked, but was a bit gloopier than normal.  I'm not sure why - I suspect it was because I had continued to stir with the whisk. On the hob I wouldn't have stirred at all.   It might have been because I had the temperature too high,  and it might have been because it cooked for longer than was necessary.

It was very edible.  It had also started to catch on the bottom of Thermy , and because Thermy isn't non stick,  that part was wasted.

I will definitely try again, with some adjustments.