Saturday, 26 May 2012

Nutritious, child-friendly and ready to go!

Like any mum who is concerned about what her children put into their mouths, I am always on the lookout for wholesome child-friendly meal ideas that will keep not just my girls happy, but will also satisfy my desire to nourish their growing bodies with wholesome goodness :) 

Very often, quick and convenient is a necessity, so I have a few favourite recipes which I cook up and freeze, on hand and ready for those evenings when we are busy running the girls to after-school activities or working late.

The recipe below is one of our staples which I have made since Miss 8 was a toddler. I have recently converted it for the Thermomix. Other child-friendly recipes I like to make and pop in the freezer are my chicken & vegetable sausage rolls, tomato & vegetable pasta sauce (which I sometimes use to make a quick spaghetti bolognaise with lean beef rump minced in the Thermomix), as well as crumbed fresh fish or organic chicken nuggets

Spinach, fetta & rice fingers


250g organic frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
115g (1/2 cup) organic brown basmati rice
3 large eggs
200g fetta cheese, broken into chunks
freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and grease an oven proof rectangular dish 25 x 20 cm.
  2. Rinse rice thoroughly and cook in your rice cooker, steam oven or place inside the steamer basket in the Thermomix and cook for 35-40 minutes on Varoma temperature at speed 4. You can pre-cook the rice at anytime it is convenient and store ready to go in the fridge. 
  3. Add eggs to the TM bowl and whisk for 10 seconds on speed 4.
  4. Add the defrosted, drained frozen spinach, fetta and freshly ground pepper to the TM bowl. Mix on speed 4 for 10-15 seconds or until well combined.
  5. Add pre-cooked brown basmati rice and mix on reverse speed 2 for 10 seconds.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared dish and spread evenly using the spatula. 
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Slice into fingers to serve while still warm or at room temperature and dip into Thermomix tomato ketchup (pictured above). Serve as a side to crumbed fish or chicken with your children's favourite vegetable/s. Great with baked beans too! My girls particularly enjoy this recipe with Red Alphabet Soup.
You could also add other vegetables to this slice such as finely chopped capsicum and grated carrot. Drain the vegetables first on absorbent paper. 

no thermomix?
Lightly whisk the eggs with a fork and add to a large bowl with the pre-cooked rice and drained spinach. Crumble the fetta cheese over the other ingredients and mix well using a wooden spoon. 

 Find me on Facebook at Mixing it up in HK

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bread machine versus Thermomix

OK, so I have made the jump from bread machine to Thermomix, in the role of pizza dough maker, mostly so I could make a comparison between the two. After all, I've lost count of how many other machines in my kitchen are gathering dust since my Thermomix landed! There is my coffee grinder, food processor, Kenwood mixer, blender . . . but surely not my trusty bread machine too?! Well, I am certainly having fun using the Thermomix to make both delicious and nutritious gourmet breads, but until it can push out a loaf of bread without me having to transfer dough from TM bowl to pan . . .  I'm afraid I am going to be lazy and stick with my bread machine for our everyday loaves of bread . . . but don't hold me to this :)

So, on Friday night I whipped up my spelt pizza dough in the Thermie, the same recipe I use in my bread machine. It worked just as well, but involved a little more fuss with removing the dough from the TM bowl into another bowl to prove. Timing wise, it was much the same, approximately 45 minutes to make. The Thermomix really is outstanding for bread making, it mixes the ingredients in a matter of seconds and kneads the dough (on interval speed) in just a few minutes. So the time at your Thermomix is minimal. It's the proving when you allow the dough to double in size that always takes the time, but of course there's no need to stand over your dough as it proves :) You just need to plan ahead if you're making your own pizza base. 

So which machine would I rather use? Well, realistically, it will probably depend on what other jobs I have lined up for my Thermomix. If it's available I'll use it. But if you don't have a bread machine, I definitely wouldn't be buying one to make any kind of bread or pizza dough when you have a Thermomix to handle the job!

This recipe makes enough dough for two large pizzas or four smaller ones. I shaped one dough ball into a large pizza round and placed it on a pizza tray in the fridge to top later with my Thermomix prepared pizza sauce plus sliced lean ham, fresh pineapple pieces and a mix of grated parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella cheese . . . a Friday night treat for my girls. You can't go past a Hawaiian-style pizza now and then, I remember them being my favourite pizza growing up. Mum would make us her homemade version using a scone dough pizza base, but this was before the days of bread machines and of course the Thermomix TM31!

How much better do I feel serving up a wholesome Hawaiian-style pizza for my children, made with a wholemeal spelt pizza base & fresh pizza sauce! Below is my recipe for both. This is a quick tomato pizza sauce which utilises a can of tomatoes (be sure to use a good-quality one). In Hong Kong, I like to use Muir Glen Fire roasted stewed tomatoes. But hey, even better if you can stew your own fresh tomatoes, especially if you have the luxury of organic home grown ones! This recipe makes enough to generously coat the base of one large pizza with a small jar-full leftover to use for your next pizza night :)

Wholesome spelt pizza dough

330g tepid water (or use half milk of choice)
1 tsp dry yeast
40g extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
2 tsp raw caster sugar
250g white spelt bread flour
250 wholemeal spelt bread flour
1/4 mixed seeds and/or grains of choice (optional)

  1. Place the water, yeast, sugar, salt and oil into the TM bowl. Mix for 5-10 seconds on speed 4 until well mixed. 
  2. Add the flour (and seeds if using) and mix for 6 seconds on speed 8 to just combine. 
  3. Set dial to closed position. Knead the dough for 2 minutes on Interval speed.
  4. Transfer the pizza dough to your Thermomat or a floured bowl and allow to rest to double in size. I use a stainless steel bowl and place the mixture in a preheated oven at 45°C for 30-40 minutes with a damp tea towel placed over the top. Allow the dough to double in size.
  5. Divide the dough into two (approx 460g) pieces and shape into a ball. Allow to rest for a further 15 minutes on a floured tray. Shape dough balls into two large pizza bases. 
  6. Top pizza base with your favourite topping and cook in a preheated hot oven 220°C. The cooking time will depend on your topping. My oven has a setting which is supposed to be as good as a pizza oven (intense heat at 330°C) and my pizzas cook in about 8 minutes.
NOTE: If you can't find spelt bread flour, strong bread making flour will of course work too. Freeze any extra dough for another day, just wrap in plastic and seal within a ziplock bag and store in the freezer. 

Wholesome quick & easy tomato pizza sauce 

half an onion
1 garlic clove
20g extra virgin olive oil
1 x 400g can good quality crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste


  1. Chop the onion and garlic on speed 7 for 5 seconds. 
  2. Add olive oil and sauté for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.
  3. Add tomatoes, vinegar, herbs, salt & pepper and cook for 8 minutes at 100 degrees, speed 1 or until it reaches your desired thickness. This will vary with canned tomato varieties. Place simmering basket over lid and allow sauce to thicken. 
  4. For a chunky sauce leave as is or for a smoother sauce blend on speed 5 for 10 seconds.
  5. Store extra sauce in a sterilised jar in the fridge or freeze in an ice cube tray.
no thermomix?
Sauté your finely dice onion and crushed garlic in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add all other ingredients and simmer until the sauce thickens. 

variation ideas:
For a richer sauce, add 40g semi-dried tomatoes, drained
Use fresh oregano and/or basil if you have available (1 tsp dried = 1 tbsp fresh herbs)
Add a fresh date for extra sweetness (instead of sugar)

Some yummy pizza topping ideas . . . .

  • Roasted vegetable, semi-dried tomato, fetta & rocket pizza: top your pizza with tomato pizza sauce and your choice of roasted vegetables such as red capsicum (pepper), marinated artichokes, eggplant plus semi-dried tomatoes, olives and crumbled fetta. Scatter pizza with fresh rocket leaves to serve. 
  • Smoked salmon, fetta & artichoke pizza: my sister-in-law raves about this topping combination, use the tomato pizza sauce as your base, then top with spinach leaves, smoked salmon, marinated artichokes, thinly sliced zucchini, and lastly crumbled fetta and slices of fresh bocconcini
  • Pesto & tomato: make basil pesto in your Thermomix and spread over the pizza base, top with slice tomato and (basic but gorgeous!). Sliced fresh bocconcini also goes great with this pizza!

 Find me on Facebook at Mixing it up in HK

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

We love 100's & 1000's!

As a child I loved 100's and 1000's, and even though I make it my mission to fuel my little girls with nutrients rather than artificial chemicals, you've got to let your kids have some fun right?! So what better way to compromise than by giving them a wholesome cookie topped with a little of what they adore! Mummy's homemade goodies need to have an element of fun after all or they won't be back for more!

These biscuits remind me a little of chocolate digestive biscuits . . . that wholegrain crunchy texture with a layer of chocolate. Of course, it's much lovelier to bake your own additive-free version with 'real' chocolate rather than compound chocolate. These are perfect for the school lunchbox. They are nutritious, pretty and fun all wrapped into one biscuit! You could even serve them up at a children's birthday party.

Chocolate spelt and oat biscuits

100's & 1000's fun for the children . . .

. . . or simple & lovely with a cuppa!


110g sucanat (rapadura) sugar
110g organic wholegrain oats
90g butter (or coconut oil), cut into chunks
1 large egg
20g desiccated coconut
110g wholemeal spelt flour
185g good quality dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, melted


  1. Grind sucanat sugar for 3 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a small bowl. 
  2. Add whole oats to the TM bowl and grind for 10 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a separate bowl to the sugar.
  3. If using butter straight from the fridge, add to the TM bowl and soften for 40 seconds at 50°C on speed 4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Coconut oil will not require softening. 
  4. Add ground sucanat and beat for 1 minute until smooth on speed 4, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the egg and beat for a further 10 seconds, scrape the sides.
  6. Return the ground oats to the TM bowl with the coconut and wholemeal spelt flour. Combine on reverse speed 4 for about 10 seconds until the mixture comes together. Don't worry if it is a little sticky. Remove biscuit dough and press together into a ball. 
  7. Roll dough between two sheets of baking paper until 5-6mm thick. Carefully place on a tray in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare two oven trays with baking paper or silicon sheets.
  9. Cut 7cm rounds or fluted rounds from the dough and place them about 2cm apart on trays. Press the scraps together and roll out again to make a total of 18-20 biscuits.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on trays before removing to a cooling rack.
  11. Spread bases of biscuits with melted chocolate. Make a pattern with a fork if you like or sprinkle with 100's and 1000's. Stand at room temperature until set. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator if the weather is hot. 

no thermomix?
Grind your oats in a food processor or use a 50/50 mixture of porridge oats and oat flour. Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer, add your egg, mix again, then add your dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together. 

  • use brown rice flour in place of the wholemeal spelt to make these wheat-free
  • use coconut oil and dairy-free chocolate and make these dairy-free!
  • spread with white chocolate instead of dark
  • ice with royal icing instead of chocolate & decorate as you please :)
  • try adding some cinnamon, plus dried fruit such as cranberries or currants at step 6 . . I might try this next time!

May 22, 2012 
Today I tried the cinnamon (1 tsp) + dried cranberries (60-70g) variation idea . . .

. . . and topped with white chocolate they are even more devine!

I chopped the dried cranberries using Turbo before I ground the sugar (step 1). Whatever you do, don't try the biscuit dough or you'll have a hard time stopping at one taste! I lurve this variation! 

 Find me on Facebook at Mixing it up in HK

Saturday, 12 May 2012

From bread-making to pizza dough and Moroccan lamb

When I first moved to Hong Kong 11 years ago, I considered owning a bread machine to be essential as I found it very difficult to locate good 'western style' wholesome bread. Unfortunately, I have never been a fan of the white, sweet breads available at Chinese bakeries. I have always favoured the more rustic, wholegrain breads from both a personal and of course nutritional point of view! These days the situation has improved, although, we still make our own fresh, preservative-free bread. When in Australia I love Irrewarra sour dough and other rustic breads, but, I have found nothing surpasses our homemade bread in HK. 

Using a bread machine is too easy for loaf making, so the Thermomix will probably never take over this job for me. However, thanks to the Thermomix, I often grind my own flour from whole grains such as quinoa, oats etc. and seeds to supplement my spelt bread flour as a nutrient boost for our homemade bread. I also have lots of fun making gourmet breads such as yeast-based savoury and sweet scrolls and I do have plans to venture into making flat, turkish and flavoured twist breads. I have some recipes on hand and others I'd like to develop, so I'm definitely no expert and would love to hear from anyone who has really delved into this area. Please leave a comment on my Mixing it up in HK Facebook page or directly on this blog :)

Moving from breads to pizzas . . . my family are also a big fan of homemade pizza using a homemade pizza base of course, but I still like to make my pizza base in the bread machine. I make my dough from half white and half wholemeal spelt flour and usually add 1/2 cup of seeds such as flax. If you don't own a bread machine, you could use the Everyday Cooking Book recipe or try Quirky Cooking's gluten-free or spelt pizza dough.

Here is a recent pizza topping family favourite of ours . . . Moroccan lamb pizza. You could easily use Moroccan seasoning for this recipe but I like to blend my own seasoning using freshly ground spices where possible. Also, Moroccan seasoning is difficult to come by in Hong Kong. 

Moroccan Lamb Pizza


1 x lamb backstrap (360g) or leg lamb, diced
1 large garlic clove
1 red onion, halved
20g EVOO
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
a few grinds of sea salt & black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
8 sml vine ripened tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes), sliced
175g butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, thinly sliced (optional)
150g feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp pinenuts
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C and prepare two pizza pans with olive oil and a sprinkling of flour.
  2. Mince lamb strap in TM bowl by pulsing the Turbo button a few times. Put the mince aside.
  3. Add the red onion and garlic to the TM bowl and chop 5 seconds on speed 7.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add spices and oil and sauté for 2 minutes at 100°C on speed 1.
  5. Add the mince and cook for 10-15 minutes at 100°C on speed 1 or until any liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the mince from the bowl and set aside.
  6. Rinse out the TM bowl and fill with 500g water. Use the Varoma to steam your pumpkin. I didn't have any in the fridge when I last made this pizza (see photo), but it is a lovely addition to the pizza. 
  7. While the pumpkin is steaming, spoon the tomato paste over the pizza bases. Divide the lamb mixture, sliced tomato, pumpkin, fetta and pine nuts between the two rounds. Place on preheated trays and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the pizza base is browned. 
  8. Scatter with freshly chopped mint and serve immediately.

no thermomix?
Use a stovetop to prepare your Moroccan lamb in a saucepan and steam your pumpkin. You can mince your own lamb using a food processor or mincer (or buy lamb mince). 

  • Add extra cayenne pepper for more kick and use rounded teaspoon measures for a more intense Moroccan flavour. This recipe is child-friendly :-)
  • Use natural yoghurt blended with freshly chopped mint in place of the feta or you could make this pizza dairy-free by omitting both! 
  • add fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Use chopped baby beetroot (drained from can) instead of pumpkin. Scatter over pizza with mint after cooking. 

 Find me on Facebook at Mixing it up in HK

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Scrumptious spelt date scones!

These sweet, wholesome, high-fibre spelt & date scones are so soft, moist and yummy that they'll disappear within minutes of serving them up . . . this is the case at our place anyway! My family enjoys homemade scones for a lunch treat on a weekend. Sometimes I also make an extra batch to freeze and then send into school with my girls for lunch. These date scones are lovely split in two with a slice of tasty cheese inside . . yum!

Spelt & date scones with flax


2 tbsp golden flaxseeds (or white chia)
120g filtered water
220g white spelt flour
220g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp raw caster sugar
40g butter, cubed
100g dates, roughly chopped
160g natural yoghurt
160g milk

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and line two oven trays with baking paper.
  2. Add golden flaxseed to TM bowl and grind for 20 seconds on speed 9Decant into a small jug or bowl containing 120ml of water (6 tbsp). Whisk with a fork. The soluble fibre which you have released through grinding will absorb the water and turn the mixture into a gel.  
  3. Add the dried dates to TM bowl and pulse 2-3 times until roughly chopped. Put aside.
  4. Place the spelt flours, baking powder, sugar and butter into TM bowl and mix for approx 5 seconds on speed 8 until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  5. Add natural yoghurt, milk and the flaxseed gel mixture to the TM bowl and mix for 8 seconds on speed 5, or until the dough almost comes together.
  6. Return the chopped dates to the TM bowl. 
  7. Set dial to closed position and mix for 20 seconds on interval speed to form a soft, sticky dough. 
  8. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a disc shape. Divide into two equal portions and shape each piece into a disc of 2-3cm thickness. Slice each disc into six triangle wedges.
  9. Carefully lift and place scones on the prepared tray. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown on top. Turn onto a wire rack to cool or serve in a large bowl wrapped in a clean tea towel. Best enjoyed fresh with a little butter, lemon butter or served with tasty cheese. 

add a little extra flavour interest with cinnamon and/or mixed spice
add 1 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
use 50g oats in place of 50g of spelt flour
use 280-300g of buttermilk in place of the yoghurt and milk

No Thermomix?
Make the scones following your usual method for making scones. I would always use an electric mixer before I had my Thermomix. Or rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers, then make a well in the flour and pour in your liquid ingredients. Mix until just combined. You should never overwork a scone dough, thats why the Thermomix is perfect. Less is more when it comes to making a successful scone.

Nutrition tid bit
The addition of flax provides not only a nutrient boost, but also functions as a fat substitute in this recipe, helping to impart a soft and moist texture. In fact, these scones are so moist that I enjoy them as is, without a lashing of butter.