Thermomix tips and tricks

I recently wrote about how special it is to share recipes.   Sharing tips and tricks that help us all get the most out of our Thermomix is also a wonderful thing to do.  I asked you all to tell me what your best Thermomix tip was via my FB page. Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas, there were some great ones!

  • Thermomagician – Making Magic in my Kitchen – Don’t throw liquid gold down the sink. When you make stock – use the water you use to self rinse the bowl as the next liquid stock you use.
  • Ali – My tip is: don’t worry about peeling veggies or coring fruit (e.g. Apples, pears) when making any recipes that will blitz them up anyway (soups, smoothies, dips). The skins hold additional nutrients (after being washed well!) and it avoids unnecessary waste. We’re too quick to throw away the good stuff!
  • Hillary – Remember to use the self-clean function. Especially after making dough, I like to put 1 litre of water a drop of dish washing liquid 3min/50 C/spd 4, when that’s done, turbo pulse 2-3 times. No sticky dough under the blades, no gummy TM brush or dish cloth, love it !
  • Rachael – The little bottle brush that you get to clean baby bottles teats make cleaning under the blades very easy work.
  • Maria – My tip for everybody would be to use the machine and accessories at the same time and you’ll not only save electricity but you can make a three course meal in about 25/30 minutes. Use the Thermomix glass to make a cream of carrot, the lower varoma tray can be filled with frozen beans, carrots, artichokes… and the top varoma tray with some chicken breast, salmon… Now, that is some healthy meal and best of all, while your machine works, you can just sit down and relax!
  • Minnie – When measuring, place a bowl on top of thermo and place items in that when correct, tip in. I weigh my flour, butter etc this way saves having to tip out.
  • Debbie – Not cooking related but I have sat my thermo on a bamboo place mat, this helps when needing to move it, which is every time I use it as I have limited bench space. I just slide it out saves having to lift it every time.
  • Thermomagician – Making Magic in my Kitchen – When you self rinse turn the blades on reverse and it swirls the water a little higher and gives the lid a good wash at the same time..
  • Yasmin – When using the Varoma to make an omelette or steamed veggies and meat (or anything really) I measure the water and turn the machine on to Varoma with the MC in place THEN start chopping/preparing the food. Takes roughly 6-8 minutes for it to get up temperature anyway so it means no time is wasted and saves 5 or so minutes in cooking time. Every minute counts when you are a full time working mum of two kids two and under!!!!
  • Nerissa – Pre plan what u r going to do when u do a big batch cook up so that u aren’t standing around doing nothing when your machine is cooking for you. ie make dough for your scrolls and biscuits and set aside until u have a hot meal cooking and then do the rolling out and cooking.
  • Bron – Place the butterfly to the left of the stamped blade (with TM symbol) when looking at it pointing ‘north’ – that way the butterfly has a high point of the blade on front of it, less chance of the butterfly flying off.
  • Helen – When milling/grinding powdery products such as sugar or flours, place a sheet of glad wrap over the mixing bowl before putting on the lid. This stops the dust getting all over the lid and also stops powder coming out.  You can then continue next steps without dusty powder dropping from the lid of thermi, saves a lot of mess.
Thanks so much for sharing everyone.  As mentioned on my FB page, there would be some prizes for contributing.  These were chosen using Random.org today  :)
Congratulations to:
- Ali
- Debbie
- Minnie
Please contact me to claim your prize.
Fiona xx

(too easy) Carrot cake

Sharing recipes of any kind is a very special thing.   Some of them involve family traditions and secret ingredients; many are not even written down and only learnt through teaching the next generation.  This is something that I have always loved about cooking and one of the things that drives me to continue teaching people how to make delicious and healthy food.  I also love the fact that cooking and eating are often about sharing.  Not only the food but also knowledge, stories, love and laughter.

Easter is one of those times of year that we connect with those special to us and sharing some good food is often on the agenda.  This recipe was very generously given to me by a dear friend, who I happened to meet through Thermomix.  Liz is a fabulous cook with many hidden (German) family secrets.  She is also an amazing lady who inspires me in so many ways, one of which just happens to be in the kitchen with my “Hermie”.

I love this recipe because I have NEVER liked sultanas in my carrot cake (sorry if you do – you can just add them) and it is also VERY simple with no added fat.  What could be better?

I hope you enjoy some time with you family and friends throughout the Easter period.  Blessings to you all :)

(too easy) carrot cake – (original recipe by Elisabeth Higgins, tweaked a little by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

cake – makes 1 x 26cm round cake
Ingredients
300g whole almonds (skin on)
200g raw sugar
zest of 1 lemon (peeled)
300g carrot, chopped in chunks
4 eggs
80g of flour (wholemeal/spelt/plain/gluten free)
20g/1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
20g baking powder
2 teaspoons sweet spice mix (below)
pinch of salt

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan-forced).  Line a 26cm round spring-form cake time with baking paper.

Place almonds into TM bowl and chop for 12 seconds on speed 8.  Remove and set aside.

Place sugar and lemon peel into TM bowl and mill for 20 seconds on speed 10.  Scrape around sides of bowl, add carrots and chop for 4 seconds on speed 5.  Add all remaining ingredients and mix for 15 seconds on speed 6.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into prepared tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.  Test that the cake is cooked in the centre by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick.  If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Cool in tin for 5 minutes then cool on wire rack.

My tips: *You can halve this mixture and bake it in a smaller cake tin and bake it for 30 – 40 minutes.  *If you would like to add some sultanas and nuts just add a small handful of each after the final mix.  Then mix it on reverse, speed 3 for 10 seconds to combine.  *The spice is subtle and different to just cinnamon.  *Don’t over bake this cake or it will go slightly dry.

Sweet spice mix – makes approximately 1 cup
Ingredients
12 cardamom pods or ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
40g/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
25g/5 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 small or ½ large nutmeg
½ teaspoon/20 cloves

Preparation
If using whole cardamom, place pods into TM bowl and mix for 2 seconds on reverse speed 6.  This will crack the pods so you can remove the seeds easily.  Pour broken pods into a bowl and remove shells.  Return seeds to TM bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and mill for 1 minute on speed 10.

Scrape around the sides of the bowl and pour mixture into an air tight jar and seal until needed.

My tips: *This mixture is best used within 3 months.  * You can use it to make a sweet spice butter to add to pancakes, or brush over scrolls instead of cinnamon.  *Mix it with a little icing sugar and sprinkle it over any cake.

Topping
I used this Cream cheese icing.  For a dairy free version you can just sprinkle with icing sugar if you prefer.

ease: 8.5/10.  Individually these are easy, and the whole thing isn’t too difficult
prep time: 20 minutesFor all three.
cooking time: 50 minutes 

total: 1 hour 10 minutes.

taste: 8/10 From G. Personally I would say 8/10 from me.  For a healthy cake I loved it.  This had a great flavour and the spice was balanced really well.  The cream cheese frosting is also delicious :) .

would I make it again:  Yes, this is too easy not to want to make it again.  I might even try a different vegetable :)

Healthy chocolate cake

I know the title of this recipe is almost an oxymoron, but it’s true.  I designed this recipe because G & I have been (attempting) a Paleo diet of late.  The concept is really interesting and (I think) we are starting to see some results.  I’ll elaborate a little more in the future.

For now I can tell you this month bring about many celebrations in the Food 4 Thought (my) world.  To begin with, Thermomix in Australia officially announced (to our staff) that for 2013 out of over 2500 Thermomix Consultants, I was the NUMBER 1 Consultant in WA, AND the NUMBER 2 in Australia.  Part of that was in capitals because I am really proud!  This HUGE achievement will be celebrated in Sun City :)

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who supports my business, who passes on my number to their friends and believes that I will give you the best service that I possibly can.  You all allow me to do what I love.  I am eternally grateful.

The second cause for celebration is that I am going to Sun City in South Africa!  We are off to Thermofest soon and will be staying in the Palace of the Lost City.  I’ve never seen anything like this and seriously can’t wait!!!  If past years are anything to go by this will be an amazing “business” trip.  Wonderful speakers, lots of fun, catching up with other consultants from all over Australia and even a safari.  What more could we ask for?  Oh, did I mention it is all paid for by Thermomix!  If you want to know how you can come with me on the next one let me know :)

And lastly, the other celebration this month is Valentine’s Day of course.  Although I’ve never been one to celebrate the day itself I respect those who do.  There are so many lovely gestures, gifts and wonderful meals that you can make for that special someone.

So, given all of the celebration this month I thought I’d design something that was worthy of celebrating with.  It is not only delicious but really healthy.  I must say I don’t feel guilty eating this at all.   Enjoy!

healthy chocolate cake – (recipes created by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

cake – makes 1 x 20cm cake
Ingredients
120g whole almonds (skin on)
50g hazelnuts
20g unsweetened shredded coconut
40g coconut sugar
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
½ teaspoon salt
40g raw cacao powder
100g coconut cream
50g coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30g raw honey
2 eggs

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan-forced).  Line a 20cm round cake time with baking paper.

Place almonds, hazelnuts and coconut into TM bowl and chop for 10 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and add coconut sugar, bicarb soda, salt and cacao powder.  Mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.  Add remaining ingredients and mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into prepared tin and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Test that the cake is cooked in the centre by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick.  If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Cool in tin for 5 minutes then cool on wire rack.

My tips: *Don’t over bake this cake or it will go slightly dry.  *Once you have iced and decorated the cake, it is best kept in the fridge and will keep for quite some time.  *You can switch the nuts for whatever you have or prefer.  If you don’t want to use coconut milk, you can just add more almond milk.  If you prefer a nut free option you could substitute coconut water or just chilled water.

“ganache” icing – makes approximately ½ cup
Ingredients
100g unsweetened chocolate (you can use non-dairy)
100g coconut cream
30g agave nectar or maple syrup

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl and cook at 70°C for 3 minutes on speed 2.  Remove from bowl and set aside to cool for 10 – 15 minutes until thickens slightly.

Pour approximately half icing over the top of the cake and use a spatula to gently push over edges.  If icing doesn’t stick to the sides of the cake place it in the fridge for 5 minutes to thicken a little more then try again.  You should be able to cover the cake completely.

My tips: *If you have any “ganache” left over you can put it into mini chocolate moulds.  Then when you need a chocolate hit you can have some healthy chocolate :).

raw coconut cashew hearts – makes approximately 20 hearts
Ingredients
200g unsweetened shredded coconut
50g cashew nuts
100g raw honey

Preparation
Line a 22cm square cake tin with baking paper.  Place all ingredients into TM bowl and blend for 30 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into prepared tin.  Moisten hands slightly and press into an even layer.  This will be quite thin.  You can also use a solid based glass to create a smooth top.  Place in fridge to set (about 20 minutes) then remove from tray and cut into desired shapes.

You can use these as decorations or to eat on their own as a “sugar hit”.  Store in fridge.

My tips: *You can roll these into balls if you prefer.  *These will keep for ages, unless you eat them as quick as we do :)   *Change the nuts to your preference, although if I was using a harder nut (such as almonds) I would grind them on their own for 8 – 10 seconds then add everything else and continue as per recipe.

ease: 8.5/10.  Individually these are easy, and the whole thing isn’t too difficult
prep time: 30 minutesFor all three.
cooking time: 30 minutes 

total: 60 minutes.

taste: 7/10 (on average) From G and other friends who tested it for me. Personally I would say 8/10 from me.  For a healthy cake I loved it.  I think I could get the cake itself a little moister (I’ll let you know if I do).  The “ganache” was silky and delicious, just sweet enough to balance the dark rich flavour of the cake.  The hearts are sweet and have a distinct honey flavour.  When used as a decoration they are the perfect balance for the dark chocolate flavour of the cake.  The good thing is that you only need a small piece to be satisfied :) .

would I make it again:  Yes, I think I will use it as a base and try a few different things.  Let me know if you do the same.

Recipe inspiration:
Paleo chocolate cake
Chocolate ganache
Coconut cashew delights – Rawlicious cookbook by Thermomix in Australia 

Paleo smoothies

The start of a new year seems to be the time that many of us make resolutions to change something in our life for the better.  While I’m not one to do so because I feel like I am setting myself up to fail, it is a time that I reflect on my achievements and challenges.

Last year bought about some minor health challenges for me that saw me changing my diet and having a new eating plan.  I’ve been sugar free for quite a while now and at times I might try something that has sugar in it, generally I steer well clear.  It has been interesting to see how my body has reacted to the dietary changes.  As to be expected everything tastes much sweeter than ever before and to be honest I don’t like things that are sweetened with “white” sugar.

I’ve always been one for testing things on myself just to see what happens, at least when it comes to food and exercise.  I’ve tried many different lifestyles including Ayurvedic principles, vegetarianism (for a long time), gluten-free and dairy-free.  Recently I’ve been reading about (and dabbling in) the Paleo lifestyle.  What an interesting concept, especially for an ex-vegetarian :) .

So part of the reason I developed these recipes was because they fitted the plan and also because I needed to feel “healthy” after the Christmas indulgences.  So if you want some New Year zeal then try these.

trio of paleo smoothies – mango and coconut, (yummy) green smoothie, chocana almond, (recipes created by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

mango and coconut – makes approximately 1 ½ cups
Ingredients
200g fresh mango flesh (cut into cubes)
100g coconut milk (slightly chilled)
50g ice cubes
100g almond milk (see tips for nut free options)

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 1 minute on speed 10.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into glass.

Serve immediately.

My tips: *If you don’t want to use coconut milk, you can just add more almond milk.  If you prefer a nut free option you could substitute coconut water or just chilled water.

taste: 6.5/10 From G and 8.5/10 from me.  This had an intense mango flavour.  I liked this chilled a little after making it.

“green” smoothie – makes approximately 1 ½ cups
Ingredients
50g celery, chopped into 3cm pieces
50g spinach, washed and dried
150g nectarine or peach flesh (approx. 3 – 4 small nectarines and 2 – 3 peaches with stone removed)
50g ice cubes
100g chilled water
10g raw honey
squeeze lemon juice (approx. 2 teaspoon)

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 1 minute on speed 10.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into glass.

Serve immediately.

My tips: *You can use whatever “greens” you prefer.  Try cucumber, a little mint and even some basil or coriander.  *If you like it a little thinner in texture add a little bit more water.  *Chill this before you drink it, it makes it much nicer and taste a little less “green”.

taste: 9/10 From G for healthiness and as a choice of drink 5/10 and 8/10 from me.  Given that I’m not into “green” smoothies at all, I thought this was really good :) .

chocana almond– makes approximately 1 ½ cups
Ingredients
1 frozen banana (approx. 120g)
150g almond milk
2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon raw cacao or cocoa powder
small handful of spinach (optional)

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 1 ½ minute on speed 10.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into glass.

Serve immediately.

My tips: *You could make this nut free by adding your favourite milk, however some options may not be paleo.  *I would suggest a mixture of coconut milk and coconut water as a great paleo nut free option.

taste: 9/10 From G and 9/10 from me.  We both love this shake.  Quick, easy and delicious!  The end.

My overall tips: *For nutritional reasons, smoothies are always best consumed soon after they are made.  However, if time dictates, you could make these and store them for use in the morning.  *Make these for breakfast to give you a morning full of energy or as a healthy snack.

ease: 9.5/10.  Healthy is easy.
prep time: 15 minutesFor all three.
cooking time: 0 minutes 

total: 15 minutes.

taste: 7.4/10  (on average) From G and 8.5/10 from me.  A great healthy start to the day.

would I make it again:  Yes, yes and yes. 

 

St Nicholas Speculaas

Christmas is a time for giving.  A time for helping those less fortunate than ourselves, for showing our appreciation by passing on gifts of thanks.  It is also a time that many of us use to spend with our families and loved ones because we realise how important they really are.

For me this year has meant that I am extremely grateful to all those who have supported me in my Thermomix business.

When I started working with Thermomix in Australia almost 3 years ago it was because I saw an amazing product that I wanted to be able to show as many people as I possibly could.  Of course journeys evolve on a natural and maybe somewhat directed path with many trials and tribulations along the way.  I can honestly say that my tribulations have far outweighed my trials, for which I have immense gratitude.

For many years I have always made an edible gift for family, friends and work   colleagues.  In the past it has been pistachio, white chocolate and cranberry nougat, white chocolate and pistachio fudge, passionfruit curd, panforte, shortbread, tomato relish and many more.

This year I decided to make to make something a little more traditional, that had a little more meaning and also gave back.  So I purchased the Devil of a Cookbook by Fiona Hoskin.  This gorgeous book has some delicious (and simple) recipes and the all the proceeds from the book go to a great cause – the Devil Island Project that is trying to save the Tasmanian Devil.

These yummy biscuits are a Dutch creation traditionally made for St Nicholas.  Make them for those you love and cherish!

St Nicholas Speculaas – recipes from “Devil of a Cookbook” by Fiona Hoskin.  Buy it here.)
Makes LOTS!

Ingredients
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
550g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
300g sugar
200g butter, softened
2 eggs

Preparation
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

Places spices, flour and baking powder into mixing bowl and mix for 5 seconds on speed 5.  Remove from bowl and set aside.

Place zests, sugar and 2 tablespoons of reserved flour mixture into mixing bowl and mill for 10 seconds on speed 9. 

Add butter and heat for 1 minute on 60°C at speed 4. 

Add eggs and beat for 10 seconds on speed 5.

Add remaining flour mixture and mix for 40 seconds on speed 4.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if required and mix for a further 7 seconds on speed 4.

Roll out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into the shape of St Nicholas or other shapes of your choice.  Place onto prepared tray and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.

My tips/alterations: *I cooled these on a wire rack.  *When “zest” is used in a Thermomix recipe as above I use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the fruit.  By mixing it with the sugar the Thermomix will create the fine zest that is needed.  *This recipe makes a lot of biscuits (depending on how thin you roll them) and could easily be halved.  *Not sure what I may have done wrong but I found this dough quite stiff when combining it all in the Thermomix.  I decided to mix it in two batches and it worked well.  *I rolled these quite thin because that is what I have seen Dutch biscuits look like but you can roll them thicker if you like.  *I put mine into little cellophane bags and tied them with ribbon to give as gifts.  *Get the kids involved in making the shapes, they will have loads of fun!

ease: 9/10.  The hardest part is the shapes.
prep time: 30 minutesOnce again the cutting out is what takes the time.
cooking time: 15 minutes 
(I did several batches)
total: 45 minutes. (depending on how many you make)

taste: 9/10.  These are delicious!!

would I make it again:  YES!!  My first batch has all been given away so I am making another batch tomorrow :)

(healthy) Ice cream

It never ceases to amaze me how popular the Thermomix has become.  It seems to be the “BBQ conversation” for both men and women.  Many more husbands are buying the Thermomix as a Christmas gift and lots more Mums want them before Christmas to help with the festive food.  Mmmmm Christmas cocktails :)   In future posts I’ll tell you about some great ideas for Christmas gifts made in this amazing little machine.

Personally, one of the things that I love most about using the Thermomix is that it makes it VERY easy to eat healthy food.  I’ve been on a low – no sugar eating plan for quite a while now which has meant that I have needed to find new ways of cooking certain things and using different ingredients to get a similar result.  I’m happy enough to go without something sweet but not everyone in our house feels the same :)

So when the temperature hit 33°C over the weekend I decided to make some ice cream.  But of course it needed to be healthy and most of all it had to taste good.  These are what I came up with.  While these may not be exactly the same as the store bought version (which is a GOOD thing) they turned out pretty good.

So when you need something healthy to cool down this summer true one of the three healthy ice cream recipes.

And if you need to convince your husband to buy you a Thermomix (before Christmas or) as a Christmas present, maybe promise that you’ll make him a mean cocktail once it is on the kitchen bench :)

(healthy) trio of ice cream – mango coconut and lime, choc banana, fruity berry soft serve (recipes adapted or created by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

mango, coconut and lime ice cream – makes approximately 1 ½ cups
Ingredients
250g frozen mango (cut into 2cm cubes)
100g frozen coconut milk (frozen in ice cube trays)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds on speed 9.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and mix for 30 seconds on speed 5, or until creamy texture is achieved.

Serve immediately.

My tips: *You could add toasted coconut on top of this if you like. *This will freeze quite well.  You will just need to sit it on the bench for 10 – 20 minutes before you want to scoop into it.  *If you don’t have frozen coconut milk then just use it as a liquid.  If the ice cream isn’t thick enough then add a couple of ice cubes or a little extra mango.

taste: 7/10 From G and 8.5/10 from me.  I thought it was fresh and delicious.

choc banana ice cream – makes approximately 2 cups
Ingredients
300g frozen banana
1 tablespoon raw cacao (or less if you prefer)
30g (1 tablespoon) raw honey

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 20 seconds on speed 9.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and mix for 30 seconds on speed 6, or until creamy texture is achieved.

Serve immediately.

My tips: *You could add nuts and/or shredded coconut and mix on reverse, speed 3 or 4 for a few seconds to combine. *This will freeze well.  It seems to freeze more like ice cream which means that you could make this a few hours ahead of time if you wanted to.  *You could also use organic cocoa as a substitute for the cacao if you prefer.

taste: 7.5/10 From G and 9/10 from me.  I love this ice cream.  I could taste all three ingredients and could have eaten the 2 cups myself!

fruity berry soft serve - makes approximately 4 cups (this is adapted from the Everyday Cookbook from Thermomix in Australia)
Ingredients
400g mixed frozen berries (or your favourite frozen berry)
50g raw honey
1 egg white

Preparation
Place the berries into TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape around sides of bowl, add honey and mix for 30 seconds on speed 5.  Insert butterfly, add egg white and mix for 45 seconds on speed 4, or until a soft and fluffy consistency is achieved.

Serve immediately.

My tips: *You can use mango or peaches if you prefer. *This will freeze, however it does become solid and more “icy” than the other two recipes.  Leaving it on the bench before you want to eat it will allow it to soften slightly and some of the icy texture will disappear.  *If you don’t like the seeds of raspberries then use other berries.

taste: 7.5/10 From G and 7.5/10 from me.  This was nice but next time I’d use berries with no seeds :) .

My overall tips: *I made these in the order of the recipes, which meant that I actually never rinsed the bowl.  I just made sure that I got everything out of the bowl by putting the speed dial onto closed lid position then pressing and holding the turbo button for a few seconds.  This will spray everything off the blade and onto the sides of the bowl so that you can scrape them away.  *Make these as a healthy kids snack.

ease: 9.5/10.  Ice cream has never been so easy and healthy.
prep time: 20 minutesFrom walking into the kitchen to walking out again.
cooking time: 0 minutes 

total: 20 minutes.

taste: 7.5/10  From G and 8.5/10 from me.  A great summer snack.

would I make it again:  Absolutely. Whenever we need that ice cream hit.  Bring on the sunshine so I can make these more often!

3 ingredients cupcakes

As those who own a Thermomix know, there are many advantages in doing so.  One of the things that I never actually considered when I was purchasing the machine was just how much money I could save on the very basic things that many of us buy pre-packaged.  Items such as stock, yoghurt, butter, juice and peanut butter are things that we can all make in a very short space of time and they will also save our hip pocket.

I know it might be fairly obvious, but here are some benefits of making your own “basics” and everything we eat I guess.

  • You know what is in everything,
  • Allergies are easily controlled
  • It saves lots of money
  • (which means) The Thermomix is paid for with the money you’re saving
  • You can make it taste the way you like it
  • You can make it whenever you want to

I’m sure there are many more.  Leave me a comment and tell me what your biggest benefit is.

I’m sure you’ve seen this recipe going around.  It is the one that uses Nutella with eggs and flour to make a brownie style mini cupcake.  When I first read it I couldn’t believe that it would work so (of course) I had to try it, my way.  So after making the chocolate hazelnut spread myself I used it in the mixture.  I’ve never been a Nutella fan until I made it myself, I always found it too sweet but this version is delicious.

These little bites are an absolute treat.  Do yourself a favour and make them as soon as possible.

3 ingredient cupcakes – (recipe adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought after reviewing many recipes)
makes 10 – 12 mini cupcakes

Ingredients
150g chocolate hazelnut spread (at room temperature)
1 large egg
30g SR flour

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan-forced).  Line mini muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners.

Add all ingredients to TM bowl and mix for 15 seconds on speed 3.  Scrap around sides of bowl.  Repeat if necessary until mixture is combined.  Divide mixture evenly into cupcake liners.

Bake 10 minutes, until slightly risen and just set in centre.  Allow to cool on wire rack.  Decorate as you like (see tips).

My tips/alterations:  *I used SR flour because I wanted these to be light and fluffy rather than like a brownie.  If you’d like a brownie consistency just use plain flour and cook these for 2 minutes more.  *To divide the mixture evenly I used a mini ice cream scoop but teaspoons will work just as well.  *To get as much mixture as possible out of the bowl, put the dial on closed lid position then hold the Turbo button in for about 4 – 5 seconds.  *Before rinsing the bowl with water, you can add about a cup of milk mix it up and you have a glass of choc milk.  *The chocolate hazelnut spread that I used is not sweet, so I iced my cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and hazelnut granules (that I bought already chopped).  You can just sprinkle them with icing sugar if you prefer.  *If you’re spread isn’t at room temperature just whip it for a few 5 – 10 seconds on speed 3 then add the egg and flour.

ease: 10/10. Couldn’t be simpler.
prep time: 5 minutes if the spread is pre-prepared.
cooking time: 10 minutes + cooling time and decorating time.
total: 15 minutes + cooling time.

taste: 9.5/10. These are a mini bite wonder, especially when you use the icing and crushed nuts on top.  I love that they are not too sweet and have a deep rich chocolate flavour.  Just what I need to make my afternoon run smoothly.

would I make it again:  YES. Now and forever :)

Chocolate hazelnut spread (aka nutella)

The last few weeks have been a little nutty (pun intended!), in more ways than one.  I am very grateful to say that the world of Thermomix has been crazy busy thanks to many of you wanting this amazing tool in your own kitchen.  Unfortunately that has meant less time for recipe development and trying new things.  I have soooo many ideas to share with you all but that illusive little thing called “time” keeps running away from me.

The latest thing in the Food 4 Thought kitchen is that for some reason I seem to have been slightly addicted to recipes with hazelnuts.  Maybe it is because I am starting to explore the world of Paleo in the Thermomix.  While this recipe doesn’t comply with the Paleo philosophy it is a great option for families that want to be able to make something that would normally have a LOT of sugar, preservatives and other things you may not want to eat.

This is my “adult version” because I use good quality dark chocolate, Dutch cocoa and very little sugar.  You can adjust it to suit your palate.  I really encourage you to make it rather than buy it, because this is delicious.

chocolate hazelnut spread – (recipe developed by Fiona at Food 4 Thought after reviewing many recipes)
makes approx.

Ingredients
60g raw sugar
120g hazelnuts (toasted and skins removed)
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
40g cocoa
50g butter
100g milk (or milk alternative)

Preparation
Place raw sugar into TM bowl and mill for 10 seconds on speed 9.  Add hazelnuts and chocolate and mill for 20 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl.  Add cocoa, butter and milk, heat on 50°C for 3 minutes on speed 3.

Mix for 10 – 15 seconds on speed 9 until desired consistency is reachedStore in sterilised jars.  Keep refrigerated.

My tips/alterations:  *If you would like this less “adult” you can leave the cocoa out and use 50% cocoa chocolate.  It won’t be quite as thick but will set well in the fridge.  *You can purchase hazelnuts that have the skins removed already.  Get these from health food stores or bulk food stores.  *If you would like to roast your own, place them on an oven tray and in a pre-heated oven at 170°C for 10 – 12 minutes.  The skins should look like they are falling off.  Remove them from the oven and pour them into a tea towel.  Rub them firmly, the skins should come off and you can remove the hazelnuts.  *Before you clean out the bowl, add 1 cup of milk, mix on speed 4, then turbo for 5 seconds.  This will clean the machine and make a chocolate milk at the same time.  If you want it warm just heat it for a few minutes.  *Use this on toast, in crepes or stirred into hot milk.  You can even make these great muffins.

ease: 9/10.  It is easier if you purchase the hazelnuts pre-roasted with the skins removed.
prep time: 5 mins. 
cooking time: 3 mins.

total: 10 minutes + cooling time.

taste: 9/10. This is a delicious and healthier than store bought.

would I make it again:  Absolutely.  I have been caught with “my hand in the cookie jar” or rather a spoon in the hazelnut chocolate spread jar.  Needless to say this doesn’t last too long in our house. :)

Pizza pockets

Making dough using the Thermomix is one of the simplest and most enjoyable things to do.  This is mainly because the effort is minimal in comparison to the delicious results.

You can let your imagination run wild to create any flavour, shape and texture that you like.  In the past I have made chocolate banana bread, sourdough loaf, burger rolls and yeast free crackers.

My inspiration for this recipe comes from the lovely Miss Meagan.  One of my gorgeous Thermomix team mates.  She is not only an amazing Mum to two adorable boys, she is a (born again) fitness guru and fabulous buddy.  She is also affectionately referred to (at least by me) in Thermomix circles as the “bread queen of Vic Park”.  I’m so lucky to be surrounded by talented people that I can call my friends :)

This is something similar to a dish that she demonstrated at our last cooking class.  I loved the idea so much that I played with it a little and made it my own.

Lunches are one of those things that are usually leftovers or something really quick to grab in the morning.  So you can imagine G’s excitement when he discovered a pizza pocket in his lunch bag one day.  Even better that it had a filling that he loved and there were more for the rest of the week.  I think I was number one in the house that day :)

You could fill these with whatever you like.  What have you used in the past and what is the next thing you’ll try.  I’d love to hear your ideas, so please leave me a comment.

Pizza pockets (recipe adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought.  Original recipe by Meagan Quantock)
makes 6 – 12 packets, depending on what size you want them to be.

dough
Ingredients
290g warm water
1 sachet or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
510g Bakers flour
2 teaspoons fine rock/sea salt
15 – 20g olive oil

additions
25g parmesan, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
50g tasty cheese, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
15g fresh spinach
20g sundried tomatoes

Preparation
Place the parmesan and tasty cheese into the TM bowl and grate for 10 seconds on speed 8.  Remove from bowl and set aside.  Add all the ingredients for the dough into the TM bowl in the order they are listed.  Turn the dial slowly from speed 1 to 6, then mix for a further 10 seconds on speed 6, until the dough is well combined.  Set the dial to closed lid position, then knead the dough for 1 minute on interval.  Remove dough from the bowl by tipping it upside down and gently shaking.  Place the dough onto your Thermomat, then divide it into three equal portions (I used my TM scales to weigh each batch – I had 3 x 280g portions).

This is where you can add your variation.
For green, add spinach to TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 6.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and add one portion of the dough (I also added and good pinch of extra flour to prevent the dough from being sticky) and mix for 10 seconds on speed 6.  Then set the dial to closed lid position, then knead the dough for 20 seconds on interval.
For red, add sundried tomatoes to TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 6.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and add one portion of the dough (I also added and good pinch of extra flour to prevent the dough from being sticky) and mix for 10 seconds on speed 6.  Then set the dial to closed lid position, then knead the dough for 20 seconds on interval.
For white, leave the dough plain.  Place each portion in separate bowl and cover with cling wrap.  Set aside in a warm place for 20 – 30 minutes until they have doubled in size.

Once they have doubled in size it is time to roll them out.  I divided each portion in half but you could easily get three or even four from each.  Roll them into whatever shape you like then add your choice of filling.  I used tomato paste mixed with a little homemade tomato sauce for the base then sprinkled them with the grated cheese.  Then the filling.
For green, I used sliced chilli salami, chopped red capsicum, chopped sundried tomatoes and a small amount of feta cheese.
For red, I used some leftover cooked chicken, chilli and garlic green olives and spinach.
For white, I actually decided to make salami, anchovy and olive mini pizza.

You can do whatever you like.

Heat the oven to 200°C (190°C fan-forced).  While the oven is coming up to temperature.  Set the pizza pockets aside and let them rise again.  Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, place the pizza pockets onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or onto a pizza stone and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.  Cool on a wire rack, then serve hot or cold, or wrap and freeze until required.

My tips/alterations:  *If you’d like to use these for lunches, you can freeze them, take them out on the day you want them and by lunchtime they are ready to eat.  *Use these doughs for pizza, scrolls even as a flat bread base.   *When you add ingredients to the dough you will have to adjust the flour, most likely you will need to add more.  I usually like to watch through the hole in the lid to see if it looks like it is sticking to the blade.  If it is I will add a pinch of flour then more until it comes away from the blade.  *The Thermomat is a great product that makes life a lot easier to roll and rise the dough.  *When you are rolling these up, try not to overlap the dough too much but make sure they are well tucked in so that they don’t come open while cooking.

ease: 7.5 – 8/10. Not too difficult, just a few steps.
prep time: 5 minutes for the dough plus rising time plus 15 minutes for the rolling and folding.
cooking time: 20 minutes.
total: 40 minutes + rising time.

taste: 7.5 -8/10. The score depends on whether they are fresh from the oven or not.  Of course when freshly baked they have a great crunch but this is slightly lost in the lunchbox.  However the flavour is still really good.

would I make it again: Yes. Anything that is a make ahead, tasty, freezeable, healthy lunch is a winner in my eyes.

Berry crumble slice

 

Several times I have mentioned that the inspiration to create a new recipe can come from many and varied places.  Although this recipe was developed more out of necessity than inspiration.

Most places I’ve lived I have been fortunate enough to have two fridge/freezers or at the least a large fridge and a chest freezer.  This meant that I have always been used to having enough food to feed a small army at any given moment.  It has also translated into a particular way of shopping for ingredients.

Growing up in a farming household, I was always taught to “save the pennies and the pounds would come”.  We used to buy things when they were cheap/in season and store them where we could.  To this day I still live by the same mantra.  If something is on special at the supermarket, I have been known to buy five of the same thing and store them until I need to use them (taking into consideration use by and expiry dates of course).

So it should come as no surprise that as of last count I had no less than 11 boxes of frozen berries in the freezer section of our second fridge.  This was never a problem until recently when the thermostat on the fridge section decided to give up the ghost.  I’ve been able to empty the fridge and am slowly working my way through the freezer so that we can have it repaired.  My main problem has been what to do with 11 boxes of berries.  In summer we have shakes and smoothies, even berry ice-cream but in winter it is a little more challenging.

I wanted to use them for something a little different, so I designed this recipe.  I hope you like it.

What is your favourite thing to do with frozen berries?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

berry crumble slice – (recipe developed by Fiona at Food 4 Thought after reviewing many recipes)
makes 22cm x 22cm slice

crumble
Ingredients
220g butter
250g plain flour
140g oats
100g sugar
100g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation
Do the first step of the berry filling#.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan-forced).  Line 22cm x 22cm cake tin with baking paper.

Add butter to TM bowl and melt on 70°C for 3 minutes at speed 1.

Add remaining ingredients and mix for 30 seconds on reverse, speed 3.  Scrap around sides of bowl and repeat for another 30 seconds until well combined.

Remove from bowl and press half the mixture into prepared tray and set the remainder aside.

Bake base for 15 minutes, until slightly risen and lightly golden in colour.  Once baked, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before pouring over berry mixture and sprinkling crumble topping.

My tips/alterations:  *Press the base down firmly before baking.  It will seem like you don’t have enough but it rises a little.  *When I halved the mixture, I used the scales to weigh it out.  *This base/crumble mixture would make a great crumble topping for a pudding.  I would pile it high for a great crunch.  *You could top the base with anything you like, a custard topping or other fruit.

filling
Ingredients
250g frozen berries, thawed
100g raw sugar, milled for 3 seconds
1 tablespoon/20g lemon juice

Preparation
#Place berries into sieve and set aside to defrost.  Once defrosted, drain as much juice as possible.

Add sugar to TM bowl and mill for 3 seconds on speed 9.  Add lemon juice and well drained berries into TM bowl and cook at 100°C for 12 minutes on reverse, speed 1 with MC off.  If mixture starts to splatter, place simmering basket on top of lid.

Pour berry mixture over base and sprinkle remaining crumble over the top.  Bake for an additional 30 – 35 minutes until crunchy and golden.  Cool in tin for 10 minutes then remove from tray.  Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.

My tips/alterations:  *This filling can also be used as a jam.  Just pour it into a sterilised jar and allow to cool before storing in fridge.  *Use any berries you like, adjust the sugar slightly depending on what berries you use.

ease: 8/10. Not too difficult, just a few steps.
prep time: 5 minutes for the crumble plus 5 minutes for the berry filling.
cooking time: 45 minutes in total + cooling time.
total: 55 minutes + cooling time.

taste: 9/10. This is a yummy slice, especially if you are a berry lover.  So easy for a great result.  The sweet crumble and slightly sharp berries worked really well together.  Everyone who was lucky enough to get a piece loved it.

would I make it again:  Absolutely. In fact I have made it twice since developing it, need to use up more berries :)