Saturday, 25 October 2014

Softest White Bread Rolls - (includes Thermomix method)

These are lovely, soft and pillowy bread rolls - delicious warm and buttered on the side of a hot bowl of soup, or as burger buns, or encasing juicy thick slices of sizzling butcher's bacon...

I had to take one for the team here - me and wheat don't really get on - and especially white flour: that's a killer for me! However, for me, part of showing other people how to cook things, is finding the perfect way to cook them, and making it as 'no-fail' as possible for everyone (without fancy equipment). So it had to be done with my nemesis, white bread and all things white-bread-related! You don't have to make these with a Thermomix, you can mix and knead the dough by any method you choose, until the dough becomes soft and elastic (in the machine of your choice, or around 10 minutes or so by hand), and carry on from there.

For me two of the foremost 'danger' points of making your own bread (before you even get to the cooking part!) are using water which is either too cold, or too hot for the yeast ('lukewarm' can mean different things to different people!), so that it either doesn't activate, or you kill it - and then after the kneading part, the main area for failure is putting your bread somewhere which is the wrong temperature to rise.

I have always put my bread into the combination / convection oven to rise, as there is a setting for 40C which rises it perfectly. However, not everyone has an oven they can set to 40C, so it was time to get out of my comfort zone in rising bread (for the first time ever), and try a way of rising it which anyone else could do, along with making sure the water for the bread was the right temperature.

I took tips from a number of sources to put together a recipe which worked perfectly including the recipe for bread rolls from the TM5 demonstration, the 'Bestest Bread Rolls Ever' recipe from the Australian recipe community, my own preferences when making bread, and tips on getting the bread to rise from some of the lovely, helpful people on the Facebook group, 'Thermomix Owners UK'.

So, with thanks to all of the above, here is the amalgamation of ingredients and method to produce some rather delicious bread rolls, which I hope are as great a success for everyone else who tries them, as they are for us!

Makes 8 rolls, from 251 calories per roll, potentially in under 1 hour! 5 -10 minutes active time, 20-30 minutes rising time, and 25 minutes cooking time. [Calories in square brackets]

Monday, 20 October 2014

Beef Madras - Slow Cooked (with Thermomix instructions)

Without exaggerating, I can honestly say that I was gobsmacked by the success of this dish!

Unfortunately, I can't really take the credit for it either (I wish I could!), aside from offering tips gleaned from my own experience, and lots of warnings about what might happen to the meat in the Thermomix if it was cooked on the wrong setting etc.! Well I knew the flavours were going to be good, as we've been cooking our version(s) of beef madras for years, loosely based on an authentic recipe which has evolved over the years, but would probably originally have been cooked with hogget (sheep) or lamb; but this one is down to my lovely man, Mike. Don't worry, the non-Thermomix way of cooking it is included below, for once (rather than on top). But this is a bit of a breakthrough in Thermomix land, so it has to come first on this occasion!

I have resisted cooking anything which should be slow-cooked in the Thermomix ever since I've had one. Don't get me wrong, it's an absolutely amazing machine. It does things you can often only dream of doing without one. However, previously I wouldn't have dreamed of slow-cooking in it, much like I wouldn't dream of stir-frying in it either (although I do have ways around this for certain dishes which I think can work). I'm a bit anal about cooking (well, you might have noticed...!), to say the least and for me, slow cooking occurs in a large, earthenware, ceramic or cast iron vessel in a low oven (much like stir-frying generally occurs in a nice hot wok where I can toss the food around to my hearts content).

Ordinarily, I have great faith in Mike's cooking - which is well deserved as he is a fantastic cook (I don't think I could live with a 'can't cook, won't cook' type of person who didn't love good food!). But I was on tenterhooks for him, expecting at best tough meat that needed to go into the oven for an hour or so, and at worst, babyfood. Especially after the 'crime' caramels...

Anyway, it didn't happen. Fantastic curry happened, and without further ado, here is the recipe!

Serves six as a main meal on its own, or more with other dishes. 655 calories per portion - worst case scenario (for a sixth) - however this is based on full fat stewing steak, plus every tablespoon of oil you skim off at the end is about 145 calories, so if you're counting, you can get this down a fair amount! [Calories in square brackets]

Rustic Wholemeal Spelt and Linseed Loaf (with Thermomix instructions)

A small family-sized loaf, perfect to throw together for lunch with soup, or a selection of sliced meats and cheeses, or whatever you fancy really... making fresh bread always makes lunch feel special for us!

Spelt is an ancient form of wheat which is not gluten free (and therefore not suitable for coeliacs, or those who are intolerant of wheat or gluten), but which many people find easier to digest than wheat. The addition of linseeds adds extra nutrients and healthy omega oils to the bread.

You don't need a Thermomix to make this loaf, just mix together and then knead for ten or so minutes until the dough is elastic, as you would with ordinary bread (or put the dough in a bread machine or similar to knead it for you!), then follow the instructions from putting the dough into the tin onwards.

We really enjoyed this yesterday, with my cream of celeriac soup - I have to confess, we didn't wait for it to cool down, and butter may have dribbled down peoples' chins along with soup - what a delightful bunch we are!!

Cream of Celeriac Soup with Fresh Thyme and Truffle Oil (includes Thermomix method)

The delicious, earthy flavours of celeriac, thyme and truffles compliment each other perfectly in this beautifully smooth and sophisticated soup

There's just something about the flavour of certain root vegetables. They have a real, rich, earthy depth to them which is complimented by so many other flavours and celeriac is possibly my favourite of them all.

I chose to use fresh, young thyme leaves in this - adding most at the beginning to meld in with the other flavours during cooking, and then a few more leaves at the end to add that beautiful fresh-picked taste, together with just a little scattering on top, and a luxurious drizzle of extra truffle oil on the top (well, I do have a big bottle bought for me last Christmas by my children which I realised needs using up!). It would have been amazing to have shaved some fresh truffle over the top, and maybe a little blended into the soup right at the end, but one must save these luxuries for special occasions (or find an amenable pig and an appropriate area in the woods to find one's own truffles...still, there's nothing stopping you doing this if you want to impress your guests!).

I think crispy pancetta, would make a delightful topping too, sprinkled on right at the end. To be honest, I was *this* close to doing so, but I thought it might not look quite so pretty and refined in the photo - but go on... do it to yours, it will taste delicious! (Unless you're a vegetarian, of course!).

Makes around 2 litres of soup, hence 8-10 servings. From 63 calories per skinny portion (for a tenth using 300ml extra stock at the end instead of cream and milk), to 152 calories for an eighth of the full fat version. [Calories in square brackets].

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Tom Yum Gai / Goong (Hot and Sour Chicken / Prawns) two ways in the Thermomix TM31 or TM5

This fragrant and healthy, hot and sour Thai soup is deliciously simple and tasty, and what's more you can make it into a filling meal with the addition of rice or noodles

You can choose to take full advantage of the Varoma dish, and steam a whole chicken over a bowl of simmering stock which you then use for your soup base (using around half of a chicken to feed four people, giving you enough leftovers for another meal or two, plus a carcass for stock/broth), or you can use raw or pre-cooked chicken breast or thigh, weighed out to suit you, whilst steaming vegetables in the Varoma tray to add to your soup (if cooking a whole chicken, you do this whilst it rests).

You can also make this with prawns instead of chicken if you prefer, adding them right at the end to make Tom Yum Goong, the popular prawn version of the dish (you can even make the stock up from the prawn shells, cooking them in a little oil until pink, then adding a litre of water and simmering for 20 minutes before straining), or make a vegetarian version with vegetable stock.

A more recent version of the soup, Tom Yum Nam Khon involves adding some coconut milk to the finished broth (usually when making with prawns), and a small amount of toasted dried chillies, if you fancy something a bit creamier - just splash some in at the end - you could also use 100g creamed coconut, or to taste, whizzed in at the end to avoid diluting the soup unduly.

Serves four to six, from 206 calories per serving for a quarter portion (served between four) made with home made curry paste and chicken breast and vegetables as stated. Add on 165 calories per portion, per 50g raw rice. [Calories in square brackets].

Tom Yum Paste (includes Thermomix method)

A fragrant blend of Thai aromatics, and the perfect base for hot and sour Thai soups

No need to buy expensive jars with questionable additives and ingredients in them, you can whizz up your own healthy, fresh paste in minutes from just six ingredients and the taste is incomparable!


This makes enough to make soup (or a meal) for four to six, in 800ml to 1 litre of stock. It is easily doubled or tripled (just blitz for a little longer), and will keep in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze for more long term storage to preserve the flavour, as it does not contain oil or salt to preserve it.

[Calories in square brackets, average 84 calories per quantity for 4-6]

Juicy Whole Roast Chicken in the Varoma (or Steamer) - Thermomix TM31 and TM5

Have you tried cooking a whole chicken in your Varoma (steamer) yet? Skeptical? So was I! But read on, pleasant surprises were in store, and my chickens won't be going back into the oven to roast from now on...

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm pretty particular about my chicken, and to put it politely, I'm really not a fan of dried out chicken breast - you might have seen just how serious I am about this, if you've seen my blog on how to cook chicken breasts sous vide (includes how to do it in a Thermomix, of couse!).


So, it took me a fair few pokes to actually reluctantly give this a go. I was finally persuaded to have a go by the proclamations of it being deliciously moist chicken, by a few members in the Thermomix Owners UK group on Facebook who had given it a try (Facebook has a lot to answer for!). I wasn't really expecting great things, so I have to say it was a very pleasant surprise when I actually went for it! I mean... steamed chicken? As you can see from the photo, if you wish to serve it as a roast rather than using the meat for other dishes it can have a final 'browning' but only needs 10 or so minutes in a high temperature oven, just to give the skin that lovely golden crispiness, giving it that delicious roast-chicken flavour, but with infinitely moister meat! So I had a bit of a tinker, and came out with a method and timings to suit us in the TM31, and then in the TM5 too...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Thermomix TM5 - An Overview, and Free Cookery Demonstrations in England and the UK

Have you seen this machine and its predecessor, subtly gracing the kitchens of Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen and wondered what exactly it is and what it does?

Maybe you've just started to notice it being featured in the National Press here and there, since the release of the lastest model recently, the TM5 - perhaps a review, or an article? Or maybe you've even heard of them being used in professional kitchens, in Michelin-starred restaurants?

Maybe if you're a regular visitor to my blog, you've wondered why some of my recipes say "includes Thermomix method" in the title, with some short instructions for people with these futuristic machines below the 'normal' method?


Attention: If you click on play, be prepared for quite a futuristic Star Wars kind of experience, with Very. Dramatic. Music. It might even bring a lump to your throat, or make you feel sudden and unexpected powerful emotions. I can't be held responsible for this - I'm just trying to show you what it officially looks like. It's a bit intense and there's a hint of thematic elements and mild terror...

Well, this is why I include Thermomix instructions, and this is why I have one (well, two now, as it happens!). It's my little kitchen not-so-secret secret. (If you've already got a Thermomix TM31, and you therefore already know how amazing they are and what they can do - feel free to scroll past my eulogising in the next paragraph or three to the bits about The 'New Thermomix TM5' below - you'll see the photo!). 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Crab and Spinach Ohitashi with Mixed Mushrooms (Thermomix Method)

A deliciously light and tasty Japanese dish, perfect as lunch, or an elegant starter, or as part of a selection of Japanese dishes.

Although it is a beautiful looking dish, it's actually incredibly simple to cook and plate up. You just add the ingredients for the broth to the bowl, with the mushrooms and spinach in the varoma and press go! If you would like to cook this without using a Thermomix, see here for my original recipe with a method on the hob. This serves two to four people (timings for both in method, and if you're counting calories, it's a mere 121 calories per person!).


Feel free to tweak this dish to suit you. I've converted this version to Thermomix with a dashi broth substitute I came up with for Japanese soups, as I am aware that most people won't be making their own dashi broth, and the majority of 'instant dashi' powders and concentrates you can buy contain MSG as an additive. MSG does actually occur naturally - the white residue you find on seaweed, i.e. Kombu (kelp, one of the two ingredients dashi is made from) is naturally occurring MSG but I don't think most people want to add it to their food, or include it in chemical form, although opinions are mixed. Also, I thought it might make a nice use of a light bone broth, for those who make them.

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