Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lemon Vanilla Choo-Choo Train Cake

Party Cakes for KidsCookbook Adventure #12 - Party Cakes for kids

This is more a cookbook decoration adventure than a cookbook recipe adventure (since the recipe required "1 1/2 packets of cake mix".) But who needs cake mix when you've got a Thermomix?!

I was given the link to Thermomix Never Fail Cupcakes and converted it to a whole cake recipe with a few tweaks to the method and some additions.

Here is my Thermotalk version:

Ingredients 
250g raw sugar
rind of 1 lemon
340g butter
6 eggs
400g self raising flour
2tbs milk
2tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line cake tins. I used a 9cm x 22cm x 7cm loaf tin and a 20cm x 30cm x 5cm cake tin.
Place sugar and lemon rind into TM bowl. Grind on speed 8 for 3 seconds. Add butter and mix for 2 minutes on speed 4. Scrape down sides and mix for a further 1 minute on speed 4 until light and creamy.
Add eggs one at a time whilst the TM is on speed 4. Scrape down sides after adding 3 eggs and then continue adding remaining eggs one at a time.
Add flour, milk and vanilla essence.
Mix on speed 4 for 30 seconds.
Place into tins. Bake until golden on top and skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean - the loaf tin took about 25 minutes and the larger cake tin about 35 minutes.
Once baked leave for 5 minutes and then remove from tins and cool on racks before icing.
(This recipe can be halved.)


For the icing I used a Thermomix conversion of a copha-buttercream icing from Gastronomy. The icing was a bit stiff and hard to work with for a winter birthday but I would have no hesitation at using it in summer (when it's been 40C outside) and my previous attempts at a pure buttercream icing have been a melty mess!

Happy Birthday Sam!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Double chocolate muffins

Cookbook Adventure #11 - Sweet & Savoury Muffins

Hubby said he had a craving for chocolate muffins and given our excess of leftover Easter chocolate I was only too happy to oblige.

I've had this cute little recipe book for years. It was an often used one in my early baking days - muffins being one of the easiest and quickest treat for a hungry amateur cook.

I have to admit that I was slightly sceptical as to whether the Thermomix would achieve the right texture for a muffin - the trick to muffins (as some of you experienced bakers would know) being a very gentle short mix - otherwise overstirring = tough muffins.

But shame on me for my lack of faith! They were moist and soft and everything you could want in a chocolate muffin.





Here's my Thermotalk version:

Ingredients

200g milk chocolate chips (or easter eggs!)
150g butter
3 eggs
180g milk
270g plain flour
50g cocoa
3 tsp baking powder
130g brown sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 190C. Grease muffin tin or line with paper cases. Makes about 12-15 (depending on the size that you want).
2. If using easter eggs - place them in TM bowl and chop into choc chips for 1-2 seconds on speed 5. Set aside.
3. Place butter in TM bowl and melt for 3 minutes on speed 3 at 50C.
4. Add milk and eggs and mix for 10 seconds on speed 5.
5. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, sugar and choc chips and mix for 5 seconds on speed 4 with the aid of the spatula. Check to see whether all ingredients are just combined, otherwise mix for another couple of seconds. Take care not to overmix!
6. Three-quarters fill each hole in the muffin tin.
7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched.

Variation: Use white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sausage Rolls

I was a reluctant attendee of school holiday care in my childhood, but I do have them to thank for sparking my early interest in cooking and this is when and where I started making sausage rolls. After that I would bulk  make them a couple of times a year with my Mum, and now they make a weekly appearance in my kids' lunch boxes, as well as at their birthday parties and byo plate events!

I didn't want to put the word "healthy" in the title, as if you have ever made (or seen the making of) puff pastry I think those words are mutually exclusive, but because they are chock full of vegies they are healthier than the ones that come in the refrigerated/freezer section at the shop. 

Talking about vegetables, one reason this makes it on to Thermolicious is because now that I have the Thermomix, the sausage rolls don't contain that tasty bit of grated knuckle anymore!

The other reason - I am always asked for the recipe for them (which there isn't a real written down one, being one of those foods that you can make from 'a little bit of this and a little bit of that') but anyway here goes:

Ingredients
100g breadcrumbs
300g carrot
200g onion
2 garlic cloves
100g zucchini
200g red capsicum
750g sausage mince (best sausage mince is from your local butcher)
750g lean beef or premium beef mince
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp tomato sauce
1 egg
salt and black pepper
approximately 10 sheets of 20cm x 20cm puff pastry (you can make your own, but even Jamie Oliver on his 30 minute meals show (episode 21) said he didn't think it was worth the effort for the home cook!)
extra egg for egg wash

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line baking trays with baking paper.
2. Take puff pastry out of freezer and leave on benchtop to thaw.
3. If you don't already have breadcrumbs, use fresh or frozen bread, place in TM bowl and chop for 15 seconds on speed 8. Set aside into a large bowl.
4. Place carrot, onion and garlic into TM bowl and chop for 3-5 seconds on speed 7 until finely chopped. Scrape down sides and chop for a few more seconds on speed 7 if necessary. Place into strainer basket (which should be placed over another slightly larger bowl or plate) so that excess juices can drip through.
5. Place zucchini and capsicum into TM bowl and chop for 3-5 seconds on speed 5 until finely chopped. Add to strainer basket. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze excess juice out of the vegetables (this is to prevent the juice leaching out during the baking process). 
6. If you are using lean beef, mince it by placing semi-frozen cubes of beef in TM bowl and chopping for 8-15 on speed 7.
7. Place all ingredients in the large bowl with the breadcrumbs and mix with your hands. (If you are making a half batch you could place all the ingredients in the TM bowl (once they are chopped/minced as per above) together with the condiments and the egg and mix for 30 seconds on speed 4 with the aid of the spatula, until well combined.)
adult size
8. To make sausage rolls cut pastry into half (adult size) or thirds (child size) or fourths (really mini!). 
child size
9. Place meat mixture lengthwise across the pastry slightly before the middle of each portion. Roll tightly to encase the meat.

10. Place on baking tray ensuring seam side is on the bottom. Repeat with remaining meat and pastry. 




11. Brush with egg wash, cut the rolls with a sharp knife (but you don't need to separate them) and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (and delicious!).


Tip 1: Try adding other vegies in place of those listed above. Just remember to chop the hard vegies (eg carrot, onion, sweet potato, pumpkin, celery) separately to the soft vegies (eg mushrooms, zucchini, capsicum).
Tip 2: Not enough pastry but you've got leftover meat? Make meatballs!
Tip 2: Freeze sausage rolls for school lunches or byo plate days. Just take out of the freezer and reheat at 150C for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Choc Fudge Brownies (with a twist)

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good FoodCookbook Adventure #10 - Deceptively Delicious

This is the newest book in my collection and even though I am reluctant to obtain any more cookbooks (see my first Cookbook Adventure post), when I heard about the recipes in this one from a dance school mum (amazing what you learn sitting around waiting for your children during their extra curricular activities), I just couldn't resist. 

Now I am a big fan of including vegies in all food and have done so for years (getting 5 serves a day into kids and even hubby can be difficult), but this book takes it to a totally different level. Essentially it is based on batch cooking vegetable purees and then including them into everyday foods where other ingredients disguise the taste of the vegetable. 

So you can start with this:


and together with a few other ingredients, you can produce this:


Interested? The Disney website has the original recipe and here's my slightly adulterated (and a bit more wicked) Thermotalk version:

The vegetable purees
Ingredients
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise into thin sticks
1 bunch of spinach, washed

Method
Place 600g water into TM bowl. Place carrot sticks into Varoma receptacle and tray, each in a single layer. Steam at Varoma temperature for 20 minutes on speed 2 or until carrots are tender. Remove carrots and steam spinach at Varoma temperature for 3 minutes on speed 2.
Reserve a small amount (about 20g) of steaming water and remove the rest from the TM bowl. Place steamed carrots into TM bowl and blend for 20 seconds on speed 6 or until you get a smooth puree. Remove carrot puree and set aside.
Place steamed spinach into TM bowl. Blend for 20 seconds on speed 6 or until you get a smooth puree. Remove spinach puree and set aside. If making brownies immediately after making the purees there is no need to wash the bowl.

The brownies
Ingredients
100g dark chocolate (I used 85% Lindt but next time I would use the 70% Lindt)
30g butter
120g carrot puree
120g spinach puree
120g brown sugar
20g cocoa powder
2tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
110g plain wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60g milk chocolate chips (or smashed Easter eggs!)

Method
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20cm x 20cm tin with baking paper.
Place chocolate into TM bowl. Grind for 20 seconds on speed 8. Add butter to TM bowl and melt at 50C for 90 seconds on speed 3.
Add carrot, spinach, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and egg. Mix on speed 5 for 30 seconds.
Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
Add chocolate chips and mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in the tin. Decorate with sprinkled icing sugar or drizzled milk chocolate ganache (see EDC page 160 (but substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate to get the contrast in colours)). Cut into squares or bars.


Serving tip: best eaten at room temperature (apparently if eaten warm you can taste the spinach). Due to the vegetables' moisture content, the brownies get fudgier and more dense the longer you keep them. I love the fudgy texture but my kids were more keen on them when freshly baked and lighter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Japanese Cabbage Salad

Since I mentioned that I made some Japanese salads (plural) in a recent post, I thought I should follow up with the other salad that I made for our sushi night.

This salad doesn't sound all that glamorous but it is deceptively delicious AND stunningly simple to make. The combination of garlic, ginger and spring onion gives a really fresh hit to the tastebuds and is complimented by the crunchy nutty sweetness of the almonds and sesame seeds. An incredibly healthy (only 15g of oil!) but surprisingly flavoursome salad.

I found the original recipe on All Recipes.com and here is my Thermotalk version:

Ingredients
1 clover of garlic
1cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled
15g sesame oil
30g rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
750g cabbage
150g spring onions
150g slivered almonds, toasted
50g sesame seeds, toasted

Method
Place garlic and ginger in TM bowl. Chop for 3 seconds on speed 8. Scrape down sides.
Add sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix for 30 seconds on speed 2.
Add spring onions. Chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.
Add cabbage. Chop for 5 seconds on speed 4. 
Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with almonds and sesame seeds.