June 27, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Slice

Brownie Mission #1

(Background) I was at a friend's place for a playdate and she brought out a plate of fabulous looking brownies, which tasted even better than they looked. Never one to be shy of asking for a recipe, I was surprised to learn that they were courtesy of Betty Crocker! Now Betty Crocker used to be my best friend in the pantry until I got married (yes even way before my TM acquisition). Hubby (who's mum is a fantastic baker) said cakes from scratch taste so much better than those from the packet. And I tended to agree, that is, until, I tried those Betty Crocker brownies! So now I am on a mission to replicate the fantastic fudgy goo-iness of them without having to buy the pre-mix.

If you have a great brownie recipe that you want to share, feel free to send it to me (whether in TM format or not) and I will happily (and lovingly) put it through my TM test kitchen (and tastebuds!)

In the meantime, I thought this Caramel Pecan one was a good way to start. I took my inspiration from recipes posted by Burn Me Not and Cook Like a Champion. I didn't have caramel but I did have caramel filled chocolates from my Cookbook Adventure #12 that I wanted to use up (rather than devour all by myself).

The chocolate / caramel component made this a bit too dense to call it a brownie, but it is a really delicious slice (albeit one that you slice vertically rather than horizontally)! The roasted pecans combined with the salty caramel make it very more-ish and very hard to stop at just one piece!

Here's my Thermotalk version:
80g pecans
180g dark / milk chocolate (yes, I am still using up Easter Egg Chocolate!)
100g unsalted butter
50g raw sugar
50g brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
90g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g caramel filled chocolates
50g pouring cream

1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 20cm x 20cm tin with baking paper, leaving some overhang over two sides so that you can easily remove after cooking.
2. Place pecans in TM bowl and chop for 2 seconds on speed 5. Then roast for 5 minutes on Varoma reverse speed 1. Set aside.
3. Place chocolate in TM bowl and grate for 10 seconds on speed 8. Add butter and melt together for 2 minutes at 50C on speed 3.
4. Add sugars, vanilla and eggs and mix for 10 seconds on speed 4.
5. Add flour and salt and mix for 5 seconds on speed 5.
6. Pour mixture into baking tin.
7. Without washing TM, place caramel chocolates into TM bowl and grate for 5 seconds on speed 10. Add cream and melt together for 90 seconds at 50C on speed 3.
8. Add half of the pecans and mix for 10 seconds on speed 2.
9. Pour pecan caramel mixture onto cake batter and use spatula to swirl through cake batter.
10. Sprinkle remaining pecans on top and bake for 40 minutes (or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean).
11. Cool in tin, remove, slice and eat! Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if not consumed before then!)

June 23, 2011

Chinese Ravioli (aka Wontons)

So I was shopping with child no.2 the other day and as we walked past the refrigerated section, she pointed at the packets of ravioli and said "can we have that Mum?"  B.T. (Before Thermomix) I probably would have just picked up the packet without a thought (and without even looking at the ingredient / preservative list!), but in my TM mindset I thought - how hard could it be to make that?

It wasn't hard (particularly with the TM making the mixture), but it was a bit time-consuming and fiddly, but the more I made the faster I got, so next time I reckon I could give Jamie Oliver a run for his money!

So how did I end up making Chinese style ravioli rather than the Italian type? Well my daughter actually wanted to eat it in a broth style soup rather than with a sauce, so I thought a wonton in the shape of ravioli would make sense, and also I had just seen a wonton wrapper recipe in the new A Taste of Asia TM cookbook so I was doubly inspired to give it a go. 

Using my pasta maker to roll out the wrappers made them fabulously thin - just remember to use a lot of flour to prevent it sticking.

I didn't have any pork in the freezer (which I understand is the traditional wonton filling) so used chicken thighs instead and took my inspiration from a recipe by Honey and Spice.

Here's my Thermotalk version:

450g chinese cabbage, roughly chopped
1tsp salt
7 dried shitake mushrooms
400g chicken thighs, chopped into 3cm cubes
2cm knob of ginger
3 cloves garlic
3 spring onions
couple of garlic chives (optional)
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp white pepper
Approx 100 wonton wrappers

1. Place mushrooms in a bowl of  hot water.
2. Place cabbage and salt in TM bowl. Chop on speed 5 for approximately 5 seconds or until all cabbage is finely shredded. Use spatula to assist if necessary.
3. Place rice basket into a slightly larger bowl and place cabbage inside. Set aside to allow the water in the cabbage to leach out. 
4. If you are making your own wonton wrappers, give the TM bowl a quick rinse and then make wonton wrapper dough. Set aside.
5. Place chicken into TM bowl. Mince on speed 7 for 10 seconds. Set aside.
6. Place ginger, garlic, spring onions and garlic chives into TM bowl. Chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.
7. Squeeze water out of mushrooms and add to TM bowl. Chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.
8. Squeeze water out of cabbage and add to TM bowl, together with chicken, sesame oil, soy sauce and white pepper. Mix for 5 seconds on reverse speed 4.
9. Place mixture onto wonton wrappers and make any shape that you want. Check out this website for wonton folding techniques.
10. Cook in hot soup for 3 to 4 minutes or freeze for another day.

June 14, 2011

German Apple & Pear Cake

Cookbook Adventure #13 - "Du jour"

Winter has finally arrived (judging by today's rain and brisk temperature!) and apples and pears are in their prime. Perfect for this cake (my second adventure from this cookbook - slightly more adventurous than my first).

Easy to make, healthy, rustic and ideal for afternoon tea or as a light dessert after a heavy winter meal.

Here's my Thermotalk version:

120g butter
120g raw sugar
2 eggs
150g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
1 pear, peeled and cored
extra 50g raw sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 22cm springform tin.
2. Place sugar in TM bowl. Grind on speed 8 for 3 seconds.
3. Add butter to TM bowl. Mix for 30 seconds on speed 4. 
4. Insert butterfly and mix for 90 seconds on speed 4. Scrape down sides and mix for another 90 seconds on speed 4.
5. Add eggs one at a time whilst on speed 4. Scrape down sides after all eggs added.
6. Add flour, baking powder and vanilla. Mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
7. Spread batter into base of tin.
8. Slice fruit thinly and combine with extra sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. 
9. Arrange fruit on top of cake batter.
10. Bake for about 1 hour or until done when tested. Leave in tin for 5 minutes and then leave to cool on wire rack.
11. Serve with whipped cream (make it a bit fancy by adding 1tsp cinnamon!) or custard (see page 155 of EDC) or icecream (see page 150 of EDC) or just by itself.

June 6, 2011

Potato Crusted Silverbeet, Leek and Feta Quiche

My fruit & veg delivery this week (AKA my "Mystery Box" (for all you Masterchef fans)) contained this huge fresh and vibrant looking silverbeet and a very nice looking leek. Along with that came the usual kg of potatoes which we sometimes struggle to finish within the week. So when my googling found this recipe, I was very excited.

But I should have googled a bit further and figured out exactly what kind of potatoes I was dealing with. So my lesson learnt from today's cooking expedition is "Know Your Potato"! (More information can be found at the Cook and the Chef.)

The crust (apart from the top) didn't turn out quite as crusty as I hoped but the filling was silky and tasty and the potato did complement the leek (which I had used instead of red onion).
Here's my Thermotalk version:

Ingredients (Crust)
800g floury potatoes, scrubbed (floury is important!)
1 egg
1 clove of garlic
3 tbsp melted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients (Filling)
25g parmesan cheese
250g silverbeet leaves
1 leek, roughly chopped (or red or brown onion)
1 tablespoon thyme (or rosemary - but I would use less as it is a stronger flavour)
1 clove of garlic
30g olive oil
250g sour cream
150g feta cheese
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
freshly ground black pepper
5 eggs
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved


By doing things in the following order, you will only have to wash the Thermomix once - at the end!
1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line base and sides of 24cm springform tin (I didn't line the sides and had a bit of trouble removing it - but then again this could be due to my inappropriate potatoes!)
2. Place parmesan cheese into TM bowl and grate for 3 seconds on speed 8. Set aside.
3. Place garlic clove into TM bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 7. Place into a large bowl.
4. Add 1 egg, melted butter and salt and pepper to large bowl and whisk lightly.
5. Grate potatoes (I left the skin on and didn't really notice it in the final product - so this definitely saved time from the original recipe which required them to be peeled).  
6. Squeeze the grated potatoes to remove excess water and add to the egg mix and combine well.
7. Press the mixture into the tin, bringing it up the sides.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, until crisp and golden (my potatoes took almost an hour because of their high water content).
9. Place the silverbeet in the TM bowl. Chop on speed 5 for 3 seconds.
10. Cook at 100C for 5 minutes on reverse + speed 1.
11. Remove silverbeet and place in steamer basket and press with the back of a spoon to drain excess water.
12. Place leek, thyme and garlic in TM bowl. Chop on speed 7 for 3 seconds.
13. Add oil to TM bowl and fry at Varoma temperature for 5 minutes on speed 1.
14. Leave to cool with TM lid off for about 5 minutes.
15. Add cooked silverbeet, sour cream, 100g feta, mustard, pepper and eggs into TM bowl. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 5.
16. Pour filling into cooked potato crust. Sprinkle 50g feta over the top followed by the parmesan cheese. Dot the tomatoes on top.
17. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is firm to touch. (If the top of the crust is starting to go too brown before the filling is set then cover the edges with foil to protect it).
18. As suggested by food4thought gourmet you might want to carefully remove the sides of the springform pan as soon as most of the filling is set, so that you brown the lower outside of the crust during the remaining cooking time.

Variation: You could use a standard blind baked short crust recipe for the crust (eg from page 119 of the EDC). Just skip steps 3 to 8 above.