Sunday, 30 December 2012

Thai style chicken & coconut salad

It's always lovely to be in my home country of Australia to celebrate Christmas with family, and I count myself very lucky to be part of a family that on both sides are very passionate about preparing good food whether it be at Christmas or anytime of the year :)  Christmas day, is of course an opportunity for everyone to come together to celebrate, and on my husband's side owing to the enormity of the get together . . . which is a tribute to a devoted family with many who travel from afar . .  everyone brings a plate or two of food rather than a gift, and the focus is on family, fun, conversation, and of course fabulous food (and wine).

As the guests arrive on the day, a large, long table is carefully adorned with the most delicious of creations. Some dishes are old family favourites that have a starring role each Christmas, and other dishes make their first appearance, but never disappoint due to the calibre of the cook that has prepared them! They meet the scrutiny of 60 plus people, and if we are lucky will return the following year. 

There is always an amazing spread of cold meats (turkey, ham, rare beef, chicken and even tongue for the more adventurous), with luxurious homemade condiments and simple, yet exquisite sides such as minted peas and glazed carrots among an assortment of gourmet salads from green salad, caprese, watermelon & mint, green bean & pine nuts and my favourites this year . . marinated citrus chicken, roast pumpkin rocket & fetta, pancetta & broad beans, Moroccan pearl couscous & chickpea, and coconut chicken salad . . . needless to say every plate was piled high and you were certainly the odd one out if you didn't come back for seconds or even thirds! 
 

We finished with two large glorious homemade steamed Christmas puds, one recipe handed down through generations . . served up with thick creamy vanilla custard and a lashing of hard sauce. 

The recipe below is my Thermomix version of the lovely Thai-style Coconut chicken salad or Yum Gai - which my gorgeous sister-in-law contributed to the festive feast. She was generous enough to share her recipe and I have made just a couple of tweaks. It is a perfect fresh flavoured Summer salad. I took it along to a friend's BBQ dinner and my girlfriend commented "this is a salad to impress". I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and friends do . . .

Thai-style coconut chicken salad


ingredients
2 chicken breast fillets, skin off, quartered
1 pink lady apple, cored
1 large pink shallot (or sml red onion)
2 handfuls of fresh mint leaves
1 large carrot
1 punnet cherry or baby roma tomatoes
100g baby spinach leaves
100g cashews (raw or roasted - optional)

dressing:
juice of 1-2 lemons (4 tbsp)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sambal olek (hot chill paste) - or to taste
4 tbsp coconut milk
2 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces
2-3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 handful fresh coriander leaves

method
1. Add 500g boiling water to the TM bowl and chicken pieces into the Varoma dish. Set the Varoma into position and steam the chicken for approximately 15 minutes on speed 1 or 2 or until cooked through. Remove the Varoma tray, set aside and allow the chicken to cool.  Rinse out the TM bowl ready to prepare the salad dressing. 

2. Add all dressing ingredients to the TM bowl and blend for 10 seconds on speed 7 with the MC lid in place - you could also add the shallot here if you prefer to blend it in with the dressing. Decant and set aside.

3. Add the cooked chicken pieces to the TM bowl and shred for about 3 seconds on reverse speed 4. Remove the shredded chicken into a large bowl. Isn't this just so impressive! 

4. Prepare your carrot with the apple etc. in step 5 below, or for a fussier look you could cut julienne-style or use a spiraliser, and then add to the large bowl with the chicken. 

5. Add the apple, shallot (or red onion) and mint leaves to the TM bowl and chop roughly on speed 4 for 5-6 seconds. Decant and add to the large bowl with the other ingredients. 

6. Shred the baby spinach with a knife or keep whole, add to the other ingredients and pour over the salad dressing. Use your spatula or salad servers to toss the salad to combine all ingredients and dish onto a large serving plate to serve. Sprinkle with cashews (optional) and garnish with a sprig of mint. Enjoy!

variation ideas
  • add red capsicum instead of cherry tomatoes
  • use fresh chilli in place of chilli paste
  • try chopping the baby spinach with the apple, onion and mint at step 5.

no thermomix?
  • Boil or steam chicken fillets on the stovetop & shred using two forks (oh no!)
  • Finely chop the spring onions and lime leaves and combine with the other dressing ingredients for a chunkier style dressing

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Dark chocolate fruit cake

I have created this recipe now with Christmas in mind, but the inspiration for this cake comes originally from my amazing wedding cake which I had made for the occasion 12 years ago this coming March! It was the perfect combination of mud cake and fruit cake, decorated in a white chocolate ganache and topped with a beautiful arrangement of white chocolate shards and roses . . . and I haven't had anything quite like it since :)  Mud cake has long been a favourite of mine, but I rarely bake it at home purely because it is just too indulgent! My chocolate brownie always hits the spot when I'm in the mood for a rich chocolate, fudgy fix.

This is my own healthy version of a chocolate mud fruit cake, and for me it's the right mix of dark chocolate and fruity fudginess, plus it's not too sweet.  Making it this close to Christmas,  I have added a little mixed spice & the zest of an orange for a more festive feel. It's not too late to add this to your 'To do' list, there's no need to soak the fruit for days ahead :)


Dark chocolate fruit cake



ingredients
80 raw almonds
100g good quality dark chocolate (or use your own TM made!)
150g organic dried prunes, pitted
150g organic dried dates, pitted
50g butter, chunks or coconut oil
100g goji berries
100g sultanas (or raisins)
100g currants
50g rapadura (or sucanat) or coconut sugar
2 tbsp raw honey
100g Baileys or Kahlua (coffee liquor)
juice of 1 organic orange (plus zest - optional)
3 tbsp raw cacao
3 large eggs
150g white spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
pinch salt

method
1. If adding orange zest, peel to remove from your organic orange and add to the TM bowl with the almonds and dark chocolate and grind for 15 seconds on speed 7 into a coarse powder. Decant and set aside.
3. Mash prunes and dates at speed 6 for 10-15 seconds.
4. Add butter or coconut oil, goji berries, sultanas, currants, rapadura, raw honey, coffee liqueur (or Brandy), orange juice, raw cacao and salt to the TM bowl and heat the mixture for 8 minutes at 90°C on reverse, speed 1. Stop once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
5. While the mixture is cooling, preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 20cm round or square cake pan (or 4 individual tins 10x10cm square pans).
6. Add eggs, spelt flour, baking powder, bicarb and return ground nuts and dark chocolate to the TM bowl. Also add ½ tsp mixed spice here for a Christmas cake. Mix with the aid of the spatula for approx 20 seconds on reverse, speed 3-4. You will collapse the structure of the dried fruit if you mix at a higher speed. If you prefer to blend the fruit, this is an option.
7. Carefully pour the mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 mins or until darkened on the edges and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to sit in the cake pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

no Thermomix?
Zest the orange using a grater, chop the dried fruits by hand or use a food processor and cook the liquor with the fruits etc. (step 4) on the stovetop.

variations
  • for more of a festive flavour add 1/2 tsp mixed spice and the zest of a whole orange. You could also use brandy instead of coffee liquor
  • this recipe also works well as individual cakes to package for xmas gifts. Keep it simple and decorate with a wide Christmas ribbon :)
  • you could easily make this cake gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour in place of the spelt flour.
  • for a grain-free cake, try using coconut flour in place of the spelt flour. In theory, it should work well as a substitute in this type of recipe. I'll be giving it a try next time!

update Dec 24, 2015
Grain-free (gluten-free) success! . . .Simply make these alterations:
- increase baking powder and bicarb to 1 tsp of each
- add 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 3 tbsp water)
- in place of the spelt flour use 50g coconut flour + 50g tapioca or arrowroot flour
- I also reduced the sweetener this year and used 30g coconut sugar + a little stevia powder and only 1 tbsp of raw honey :)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Gingerbread cookies

The festive season is upon us . . . doesn't it come around so quickly! Right on schedule my girls have been asking for gingerbread biscuits or 'cookies', depending on your inclination . . but we've already had this discussion here :) This is our second batch for the month as they're a popular addition to the lunchbox as well as a hit with playdates! It's always a fun activity to get out the cookies to decorate as an after school activity :) 

We do tend to associate this recipe with Christmas, but I have been known to make them at other times of the year. I developed this recipe a few years back and have now not only adapted it for the TM, but I also mill whole grains for the recipe rather than purchase ready-made flour. This does give a slight grainy texture to the cookies which my girls are very used too, but if you are only in the early days of experimenting with 'healthier versions' on your children, you might like to start with half white, half whole grain flour. This recipe is inherently higher in dietary fibre due to the wholegrains and also lower in sugar than most gingerbread recipes. There is the option to grind your own cinnamon and cloves too if you purchase them whole these days. 

I use blackstrap molasses in this recipe which imparts a robust flavour as well as a deep brown pigmentation to the gingerbread. Molasses is the dark sticky syrup which is removed from cane sugar during the process of making refined white sugar. It is also a very good source of iron, calcium and a variety of other minerals. If you prefer a lighter-style gingerbread, golden syrup also works very well, or try half and half. Have fun!

Gingerbread cookies (oat & spelt)
makes 3 dozen medium-size cookies



















ingredients
150g whole oats
350g whole spelt grains (or use wholegrain spelt flour)
100g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
100g rapadura (sucanat) or raw caster sugar
170g unsulphured blackstrap molasses (or golden syrup)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or 2 cinnamon quills)
1/4 tsp ground cloves (3 whole cloves)
1/4 tsp salt 

method
Add whole oats and spelt grains to the TM bowl and grind into flour on speed 9 for 2 minutes. Decant the flour and set aside. You could also grind your own whole cinnamon and cloves at this step.

Add the butter, molasses and sucanat to the TM bowl and mix together for 1-2 minutes at 60°on speed 2 or until the butter has melted. If you don't have unsalted butter, use salted butter and omit the 1/4 tsp salt. Add the egg and bicarb soda and mix on speed 3 for 10 seconds

Return the oat and spelt flour to the TM bowl with the ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt - I like to use Himalayan salt, which is pure, uncontaminated and unrefined. 

Set the lid to closed position and combine on interval speed for 30 seconds or until the ingredients just come together to form a stiff yet slightly sticky dough. You may need to add more flour here if your mixture is too sticky, particularly if you are using white spelt in place of wholegrain spelt. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (or your Thermomat), then use Turbo pulse 1-2 times to clear any dough from under the blade. Shape the dough into a smooth disc and wrap up inside your Thermomat (or cover in plastic wrap) and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Don't be concerned that the dough is sticky, it will stiffen in the fridge. 

Preheat fan forced oven to 180°C. Roll out the dough to approximately 6mm thickness. Cut into your shapes of preference and place on lined baking trays. Press the dough scraps together and roll out again. My girls love to get involved here . . . we have accumulated a beautiful collection of cookie cutters over the years :)

Bake 10-12 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown a little on the edges. Cool slightly on the trays before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Once your cookies are cool, decorate with homemade royal icing if you like. I make my own icing sugar from raw sugar, hence the off-white colour of the icing which gives a lovely rustic, homemade touch to the cookies and sure beats loading my children up with corn syrup, artificial flavours, colours and an assortment of other additives you'll find in the commercial ready-made stuff! I use a piping bag with a small tip, but you could easily pop some icing in a small ziplock bag, cut of the very tip and let little fingers do the decorating :)


variations
  • As mentioned above, for a lighter coloured cookie without the robust flavour of molasses, use golden syrup or half & half
  • Use half white spelt flour and half wholegrain flour
  • Use 100g of whole raw almonds in place of 100g wholegrain spelt if there are no nut allergies in your family
  • I used this combination for the dry ingredients recently, which worked really well. Simply grind the almonds, spelt grains and oats first, set aside and return to the TM bowl with the white spelt flour at step 3. 
    • 100g raw almonds
    • 200g spelt grains
    • 100g whole oats
    • 200g white spelt flour

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dark choc & ginger muesli bars

It has been far too long between posts I must apologise . . to myself mostly, because developing new recipes, playing with my Thermomix and taking photos of food is very therapeutic for me . . really it is :) I am sure that some of you can relate? 

This recipe is a variation of our favourite wheat, nut and dairy-free snack which I always have on for my girls to take to school and for hubby and I to take to work. I knew it wouldn't take me long to make this variation owing to my love of chocolate :) The original recipe is here

Dark chocolate & ginger muesli bars (aka granola bars)


















ingredients
65g raw brown rice
1 tbsp golden flaxseeds (linseeds)
1 tbsp chia seeds
half small Pink lady apple (or any sweet apple)
100g dried dates
80g mixed dried fruit of your choice, e.g. apricots, sultanas, berries
40-50g good quality crystallized ginger
90g whole oats
70g wholegrain rice bubbles (or use more oats)
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
25g coconut, desiccated (or shred your own from fresh flesh)
20g sucanat or rapadura sugar (a little more if you're a sweet tooth)
40g coconut oil
2 large eggs
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
50g raw unpasteurised honey
80g dark chocolate, preferably 70% cacao, chopped (or use choc chips) - optional

method
Pre-heat fan forced oven to 180 degrees C. Line the base and sides of a 3cm deep, 20 x 30cm rectangular pan with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang.

Add the flaxseeds, chia seeds and brown rice to the TM bowl and grind for 20 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a bowl and set aside.

Place the crystallized ginger in the TM bowl and grate for 10 seconds on speed 5. Add the apple half and grate for a further 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add all the dried fruit. Turn to the lid closed position and pulse on Turbo 3-4 times until the dried fruit is evenly chopped.

Return the grounds seeds and rice to the TM bowl together with all of the remaining ingredients. Combine on reverse for 20-30 seconds on speed 3 until well combined. Check that the dry ingredients are completely coated in the wet.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan using the spatula. Use the back of a metal spoon or the bottom of a heavy glass to press the mixture evenly into the pan and smooth the surface.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes in the pan before lifting onto a cooking rack to cool completely before cutting. Cut the muesli slice into 16 bars. I didn't add the dark chocolate this time, but it is a lovely addition :)


No Thermomix?
  • use 65g brown rice flour in place of the whole rice
  • grind seeds using a coffee grinder
  • chop the crystallized ginger and dried fruit in a food processor or by hand
  • combine all ingredients by hand or using a food processor or mixer
Here are some more lunchbox legends that you might like to check out . . .

Monday, 8 October 2012

Mexican tortilla pies

I decided to have some fun with my first ever batch of TM made spelt tortillas! Thank you Quirky Cooking :) I made them with 200g white and 100g wholemeal spelt flour, but I'll add more water next time as they were probably a little too thick (as you can see in the photo below) . . . . anyway I'm sure I'll get better with practise! I've added a tortilla press to my wish list too :)

To fill my tortilla pie crust, I wanted to make a taco-type filling completely from scratch, i.e. no commercial taco seasoning in sight! I am also liking that I now have a gorgeous healthier alternative to corn taco shells . . . I avoid corn and corn derived ingredients these days due to the controversy surrounding it and other genetically modified crops, (read more here). If you like tacos, you should enjoy these. They are both fun and nutritious for your children, with hidden veg inside :)

The filling for these pies makes heaps, so you'll most likely need two batches of tortillas or a full bag of purchased ones, (but if you are still buying it's time to try TM made!). You can make the homemade tortillas ahead of time. Simply store them in a large ziplock bag or freeze them, if you are making more than one-day ahead. You can also prepare the pie crusts up to a day ahead from your freshly made tortillas. Just follow step 1 & 2 below, and store them in an airtight container. They will remain crisp and ready to use. 

I topped our Mexican tortilla pies with freshly made guacamole and grated cheese, but you could also add fresh tomato salsa and sour cream. 




























ingredients
TM made spelt tortillas
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp dried coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 1/2  tsp oregano leaves
3 tsp paprika
1 sml dried red chilli - or use chilli powder to taste
1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
1/2 punnet mushrooms
1/2 green capsicum or zucchini, cut into chunks
500g beef rump steak, trimmed & cut into chunks
1 sml red onion, halved
2 large cloves garlic
30g EVOO
1 x can organic BPA-free crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 x can organic BPA-free red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
2 tbsp TM vegetable stock paste
handful fresh chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

guacamole topping
1-2 ripe avocadoes
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
grated tasty cheese, to taste


method
1. Preheat oven to 180°C fan forced. Grease 6-8 holes, 3/4 cup capacity texas muffin pan with oil. You could also use large ramekins. 

2. Microwave tortillas on HIGH about 10 seconds each or until warm to soften (if needed) and form the pie crust by pressing one into each muffin hole, (you will need to fold in the sides of the tortilla a couple of times to make it fit). Spray or brush with coconut oil and bake for about 8 minutes or until golden & crisp. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile add all of the dried spices to the TM bowl. Grind for 30 seconds on speed 9 or until finely groundDecant and set aside. This is your additive-free taco seasoning!

4. Add vegetables (except onion) and chop for 5 seconds on speed 5. Decant and set aside in a separate bowl to the spices.  

5. Place red onion and garlic (+ fresh chilli if using) into TM bowl and chop for 6 seconds on speed 7. Add the beef and set dial closed lid and mince by pulsing Turbo button 2-3 times. NOTE: Don't overdo the pulsing, remember that your mince will break up more during cooking. 

6. Add the oil and return the ground spices to the TM bowl and sauté for 4 minutes on 100° C, on reverse + speed 1

7. Return the chopped vegetables and add remaining ingredients, except the fresh coriander to the TM bowl.  Cook for 15-20 minutes at 100°C on reverse + speed 1. Stir through the chopped fresh coriander using the spatula. Pour the mince mixture into a thermosaver and clean the TM bowl ready to make the fresh guacamole . . . or use your second bowl if you have one :)

8. To make a basic guacamole, add avocado flesh and lemon juice to the TM bowl. Season well and mix on speed 5 for 5 seconds or until a desired consistency. 

9. To assemble the tortilla pies . . . spoon the Mexican mince mixture into the tortilla cases. Dollop with guacamole and sprinkle with grated cheese. Enjoy!

variation ideas

  • I have also prepared mini versions of these using smaller tortillas in a muffin tin - a fab finger food or children's party idea!
  • If you have leftovers, you could whip up some spelt bread dough and make bread pockets with the taco mixture as a filling.
  • Enjoy gluten-free by serving up the taco mixture with rice  :)


no Thermomix?
  • grind the spices in a coffee grinder
  • use minced beef & cook on the stove top
  • use 2 stock cubes in place of the TM vegetable stock

The inspiration for my TM Mexican tortilla pies comes from this recipe.

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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Best ever chocolate brownies

I just love a good brownie. I'm a self-confessed chocoholic (like so many out there)! My theory is, that if I'm going down the road of a fat and sugar blowout, it has to be well worth it . . . so it has to be a GOOD brownie or there's just no point putting it past my lips! 

My ideal chocolate brownie is rich and dark with has a crisp, meringue-like exterior, a slight chewiness and a moist, fudgy centre. This is the 'Best ever brownie' . . . my personal opinion of course :)

I have made several variations on this recipe over the years . . . my favourites are triple chocolate chip and orange & pistachio . . . I will get around to adding these in case you are already drooling in anticipation?!

I have to tell you that this is not my usual style of recipe, particularly for this blog . . . the chocolate part is of course right on track . . . but the fat and sugar content!  But hey, what is life without the occasional indulgence! Go on treat yourself . . . . you won't regret it I promise!



ingredients
250g butter, cut into chunks
275g good quality dark chocolate (or use half 70% + half milk chocolate)
400g raw caster sugar or sucanat . . . I know, I know
4 large eggs
180g plain flour (white spelt preferably)
50g raw cacao powder

method
  1. Preheat fan forced oven to 175°C. Line base and two sides of a large rectangular pan (20 x 30cm) with a sheet of baking paper. For best results use a light coloured pan or glass dish. 
  2. Break the chocolate up into pieces and add to the TM bowl. Grate for 5 seconds on speed 8.
  3. Add butter and melt with the chocolate for about 1-2 minutes at 60°C on speed 3 until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and velvety. 
  4. Add eggs and mix to combine on speed 3 for 5 seconds
  5. Add sugar and mix on speed 5 for 20 seconds, or until well combined. 
  6. Add flour and raw cacao and mix on speed 5-6 for 10 seconds until just combined. Do not over-mix. 
  7. Pour the gloriously gooey mix into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until the surface is shiny and cracked and the mixture no longer wobbles when shaken. It may be slightly sticky when tested with a skewer. 
  8. Place the pan onto a wire rack and allow to completely cool before cutting into squares to serve. If you can't wait that long, there's certainly nothing wrong with digging into a warm, gooey brownie :) Enjoy as is, or served with a dusting of icing sugar and/or a dollop of cream or scoop of good quality vanilla ice-cream to cut the richness. Best eaten fresh :)
no thermomix?
  • melt the butter & chocolate in the microwave
  • beat the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl using an electric mixer until light and creamy
  • fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture
  • sift the flour and cocoa over the liquid and mix until just combined

For the health nuts . . . I promise that some healthier variations will follow shortly! LOL

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Friday, 28 September 2012

Bacon, red lentil & coconut soup

Thermomix soups are the perfect solution for a night in. I often make one as a quick and easy, wholesome and nutritious mid-week meal. Find out why I love the Thermomix for soup-making here.

This recipe is based on one that I found in the Delicious 2012 diary. It's just gorgeous and so easy to make in the Thermomix . . . as all soups are of course!  My family loves a tasty soup and this one fits the bill. I have added it to our list of favourites, in which Quirky Cooking's chicken & brown rice and creamy smoked salmon soups feature prominently :) 

I must admit, that it does look a little anaemic in the photo below!? Think I'll add a carrot to the mix next time :) But don't let looks deceive you . . . this soup is deeelicious I promise! It goes a long way too. . . I usually end up taking the leftovers into work for a yummy lunch :) 

Bacon, red lentil & coconut soup



























ingredients
180g red lentils, rinsed, drained
400g middle bacon, trimmed (organic if possible)
20g coconut oil
4 garlic cloves
2 leeks, trimmed, chopped
1/2 - 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1.5 - 2 tbsp TM chicken or vegetable stock paste
700g filtered water
400g coconut milk
juice of 1 fresh lime (or to taste)
chopped fresh coriander & spring onion, to serve

method
1. Weigh red lentils in the rice basket, rinse well and set aside.
2. Place garlic, leek and bacon in the TM bowl, set to closed lid and pulse 3-4 times until evenly chopped. Add your carrot here . . ha ha
3. Add oil and sauté for 3 minutes at 100°C on speed 1.
4. Add rinsed lentils, chilli flakes, chicken stock paste, water and coconut milk to the TM bowl. Cook for 15 minutes at 100°C, speed 1.
5. To blend: Put the MC lid in place and slowly wind up the dial to speed 5 for 20 seconds.
6. Add lime juice to taste, then season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve garnished with spring onion and fresh coriander. 

nutrition tid bit
Wondering if it's OK to eat bacon? For a discussion which may surprise you, read this


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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wholesome & tasty chicken nuggets

I have always preferred to crumb my own strips of chicken, great for children's parties and relatively quick to make as part of an easy dinner dished up with colourful veg for my girls. But, I must admit, I do usually have of a box of supermarket bought, frozen chicken nuggets on hand for the convenience factor . . . they are the organic variety, 'made from chicken breast' . . . but still, buying a processed product like this to serve up to my girls has never really sat comfortably with me. So, needless to say, I have finally got around to developing my own nutritious Thermomix version, which freeze really well by the way! They are easy to make, (albeit a little messy) and so great to have on hand, ready for a quick and easy, child-friendly dinner. . . and what mummy is not on the look out for this?! 

To help retain the moisture during oven baking, I have incorporated ground flaxseed into the chicken mixture, plus I have also enlisted Quirky Cooking's chicken stock paste as an ingredient, for it's delicious flavour :) This is a basic, yet very tasty recipe. I don't try to hide any veggies inside, (there's just onion for flavour and apple for moisture and sweetness). But, that's OK because I serve steamed veg on the side for mine, together with a generous helping of Thermomix made tomato ketchup of course! If you haven't got around to making your own tomato ketchup (tomato sauce for the Aussies), you just have to try it! 


ingredients
2 tbsp organic golden flaxseeds
50g parmesan, chunks
1 large thick slice homemade wholegrain spelt bread, toasted, broken into chunks
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
600g organic chicken breast or thigh fillet, skin off, cut into cubes
1 heaped tbsp TM chicken stock paste
1/4 onion
1/2 small apple
1 clove garlic
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp (60ml) milk
splash of coconut oil (liquefied)

method
  1. Preheat fan-forced oven to 180°C.
  2. Add golden flaxseeds to TM bowl and grind for 30 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add parmesan cheese, chunks of toasted wholegrain bread and a good grind of black pepper to the TM bowl. Chop on speed 8 for 10 seconds, or until breadcrumbs form. Decant and set aside in a shallow dish (separate to the flaxseeds), ready for crumbing the chicken mixture.
  4. Add onion, apple and garlic to TM bowl and chop on speed 8 for 5-10 seconds, or until finely chopped. 
  5. Return the ground flaxseeds to the TM bowl with the cubed chicken and chicken stock paste. Mix on speed 8 for 20 seconds, or until well minced and blended. The mixture will be very moist and sticky but this is exactly what you want :) If you are not ready to shape the mixture into nuggets at this stage, the mixture can be stored in the fridge until later. 
  6. To a medium-sized bowl add one egg, milk, and a splash of coconut oil. Whisk well to combine.
  7. Now for the messy part . . . pick up a heaped teaspoonful of the chicken mixture and dollop or scrape off the spoon into the egg mixture. Shape into a ball using two teaspoons (or your fingers), then transfer to the breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture. Roll to coat well, then place on an oven tray lined with a baking sheet. Flatten and shape to resemble chicken nuggets as best as you can! I shape into a flat oval first, then gently press in the sides at the middle :) 
  8. Cook the chicken nuggets in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over halfway during cooking. I sprayed the nuggets with a homemade oil spray made from 1 part coconut oil & 4 parts filtered water for extra crispiness, but the splash of oil mixed into the egg dip should be sufficient. 
If you plan to freeze the nuggets to have them on hand for quick and easy mid-week dinners, cook until lightly golden (about 20 minutes). Reheat as needed from frozen at 200°C for about 10-15 minutes or until piping hot. 

variation ideas

  • Add fresh parsley to the breadcrumbs at step 3. 
  • If you so desire, try hiding some vegetables inside, such as a small carrot or half a zucchini. Finely chop with onion and apple at step 4. 

no thermomix? 
Grind the flaxseeds using a coffee grinder and make the mince mixture using a food processor.

For more child-friendly dinner ideas check these out . . . 

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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cacao, vanilla & raspberry marble cake

My girls love mummy's marble cake which is a favourite addition to their lunchbox . . . plus I feel a little better that I've managed to health-ify the traditional recipe :) This recipe is considerably lower in fat and sugar than the EDC version and others you will find online. I've used a combination of dates and rapadura to sweeten, (you can boost the sweetness further with a little stevia powder), plus I have incorporated flax or chia seeds and wholegrain flour for a nutrition boost. The raspberries may not be as vibrant as pink colouring for the swirl, but they are healthier!




















ingredients
2 tbsp chia or flaxseeds
160g filtered water
100g frozen raspberries (or mixed berries) + 1-2 tsp raw honey or molasses (optional)
120g butter, softened
100g organic rapadura sugar (or sucanat)
1 tsp stevia powder
100g dried dates, pitted
1-2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 eggs, room temperature
100g wholemeal spelt flour
200g white spelt or plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g natural or Greek yoghurt
25g raw cacao powder

method
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C and grease a large fluted ring cake pan.
2. Add chia or flaxseeds to the TM bowl and grind for 30 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a small jug, then weigh 160g filtered water into the TM bowl and add to the ground seeds. Whisk well with a fork and set aside.
3. Add frozen raspberries to the TM bowl and mash on speed 8 for 5-10 seconds. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Add a little honey or molasses to sweeten the berries if you prefer. Rinse and wipe out the TM bowl with water.
4. Add dates to the TM bowl and chop on speed 6 for 15 seconds
5. Add softened butter, rapadura, stevia and vanilla to the TM bowl and mix to for 1 minute on speed 4. Scrape down side of the bowl. 
7. Add chia mixture and eggs to the TM bowl and mix for 30 seconds on speed 5.
8. Add the flour and baking powder with the yoghurt and mix to combine for 5-10 seconds on speed 5-6. Do not over-mix. 
9. Use the spatula to dollop one half of the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan, then spoon a layer of the mashed frozen raspberries over the cake batter. 
10. Add the raw cacao powder plus a little milk or water (1 tbsp) to the remainder of the mixture in the TM bowl and mix for 5-10 seconds on speed 5.
11. Pour the chocolate mixture over the vanilla and raspberry layers and swirl with a knife to create a marble pattern, lifting the bottom layers of mixture over the top as you work. 
12. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean (with no batter on, as it may be sticky from the raspberry swirl). Turn out onto a cooling rack. 

This cake is best eaten within a few days or sliced and frozen in pieces ready for school lunches :) It is also gorgeous as a warm dessert with EDC chocolate sauce. 


variations
use TM made berry jam in place of the frozen raspberry mixture




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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Spelt English muffins

I've been meaning to try my hand at making English muffins for ages. My family loves them, but I choose to avoid the supermarket variety here in Hong Kong, because they are made from all white flour. . . and I just don't do white! When in Australia, I do enjoy wholegrain English muffins, but I'm not sure I'll bother ever again, as you would expect, they just don't compare to a version made in the thermomix :)

The following recipe is based on this one from The Opies Family Food blog, with a couple of changes. My version uses wholemeal spelt flour and added mixed seeds for better nutrition, plus I have sprinkled the muffins with ground millet instead of cornmeal. You can make your muffins ahead of time, and pop them in a ziplock bag ready to toast for breakfast the next day. Or you can go as far as making up the mixture, allow it to prove overnight, and cook your muffins fresh the next morning. They also freeze very well, just split and pack into a ziplock bag ready to enjoy another day.

Spelt English muffins


















ingredients
30g whole millet
240g full-cream milk
50g butter
25g raw caster sugar
2 tsp yeast
240 filtered water
375g white spelt flour (or plain flour)
375g wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup mixed seeds/ wholegrains (e.g. chia, flaxseeds, millet, steel cut oats) optional
1 tsp Himalayan salt

method
1. Add millet to the TM bowl and grind for 10-15 seconds on speed 9. Decant into bowl and set aside.

2. Add the milk and butter to the TM bowl and heat for 3-4 minutes at 90°C on speed 1 until the butter is melted. Add the sugar and mix to combine for 5 seconds on speed 3. Decant into a small jug or bowl and allow to cool.

3. Place the water in the TM bowl and heat to 50°C for 1 minute 30 seconds on speed 1. Sprinkle yeast over the water (take care to avoid the blade) and allow to stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.

4. Add the milk and butter mixture to the yeast mixture in the TM bowl together with 375g of the flour. Mix for 15 seconds at speed 6 until smooth with the MC cup in place. Add the salt and the remaining flour. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 4. Set the dial to closed lid and knead for 3 minutes. Leave in the bowl with the lid on, until doubled in size. The dough will expand to fill the TM bowl - it will overflow through the hole in the lid if you leave it too long :)

5. Use your fist to punch down the dough and remove onto a thermomat. Roll out to approximately half an inch thick. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass. Sprinkle a sheet of baking paper (or the thermomat) with the millet meal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops with more millet meal, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

6. Grease a large non-stick frypan with a little butter and preheat on low.  Cook muffins for 5 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and turn over, cook for a further 5 minutes or until cooked through. I have a gas cooktop and used the lowest setting possible. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

7. To serve: use a sharp knife to score the muffin around it's middle and carefully split open by hand. Toast and top with your favourite spread, such as butter, honey or jam. They are gorgeous with lemon butter. Or serve with your favourite egg breakfast.
toasted muffins waiting to be topped!
I'll be trying my hand at a spiced fruit version next yum! I'll keep you posted :)

For more breakfast ideas see Thermomix does breakfast


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