Thermomix

Mixadventures while entertaining and snacking

Another two months on and I’m still having mixadventures in the kitchen, although it would be fair to say things have slowed down a little, particularly when it comes to attempting new recipes.

I’ve made vegetable soup a few more times (I knew soup would become a staple for me!), plus I repeated both creme brulee and chicken cacciatore for my reading group when they came over a month or so ago — because they turned out so good the first time!

I will, however, continue to focus this series of posts solely on new things made in the Thermomix, or when I learn something interesting. And, rest assured, it will always be amateur hour on this blog!


CADA and muesli

CADA stands for coconut-almonds-dates-apple, and it has to be one of the simplest things to make in the Thermomix. Basically, you throw in 40g each of the first three, plus an apple, and pulverise it into chunks in a few short bursts. Takes about 5 minutes. (If that.)

It makes a nutritious and delicious snack on its own, or mixed with yoghurt (or porridge or custard or stewed fruit…) and easily lasts a week in the fridge (longer I daresay if you omit the fresh apple). You can of course throw in a mix of different yummy things — hazelnuts, dried figs, prunes, dried apricots etc…

There’s a fruit and nut muesli recipe in the basic cookbook resembling CADA and I made that too. Basically, anything in this family is quick and yum. I’ve made a few variations and have been eating it for either breakfast or an afternoon snack.


Beef Stroganoff

The beef stroganoff recipe in the Thermomix basic cookbook is delicious. I followed it more or less to plan, although I think I included more mushrooms (it was a month ago now!). Once again, it’s an ‘all in one’ pot kind of recipe, where you add ingredients and cook along the way. Very simple. And did I mention delicious?

The advantage for me of making these types of meals is they make three or four dinners, and if it’s yummy enough I don’t mind eating it all week.

beef stroganoff

It was good this recipe worked, despite my meddling with some of the quantities. I didn’t have so much luck with my attempted bolognese sauce, which I stuffed up completely when I tried to jam too many vegetables in and it wouldn’t all fit! I ended up chopping the vegetables in the thermomix but cooking on the stove. A trap for the unwary… Lesson learnt, I guess.


Entertaining

I mentioned earlier in this post that I hosted my reading group about a month ago. This event caused me to go a little catering crazy on the Thermomix front. (And I ended up a little crazy!)

I served the aforementioned chicken cacciatore with rice as a light meal or supper. Since cooking for friends is not something I usually do, this was a fairly big deal for me… But the Thermomix recipe is fairly foolproof (and I’d made it before)… ultimately it went down very well.

I also made a couple of fresh dips. One was guacamole, more or less as per the basic cookbook recipe. This was easy enough to make, but also kind of a fiddle… and annoyingly it needed to be made at the last minute. (Having said that, I made so much it lasted the entire weekend and was still delicious.)

dips

The other dip I made was a complete winner — capsicum and sundried tomato dip. I found this recipe on the Thermomix recipe community site, and I will definitely be making this one again.

It’s really easy to make: grate parmesan cheese then throw in the other ingredients (garlic, sundried tomatoes, fresh red capsicum, cashews, olive oil and vinegar) and pulse a few times. Once again, no more than five minutes.

This dip is yummy, nutritious and lasts for at least two weeks in the fridge. I made a double quantity, since I was going on a writing retreat to Phillip Island the following weekend, so there was heaps. While great on a cracker, it also made a great pasta sauce with fresh greens and diced tomato tossed through. Highly recommended!

Mixadventures with chicken cacciatore and creme brulee

Ohmygoodness I’ve turned into a food blogger. Except not really, because this isn’t about the recipes and it’s definitely not about the food styling. It’s basically about the Thermomix exploits of someone who doesn’t usually cook. You’ve been warned.

week 3 – Chicken Cacciatore

After a most impressive opening fortnight with my Thermomix, I was on a roll, and when the next weekend arrived I perused the Basic Cookbook with gusto. World. Oyster. All that…

But the thing is, some of those recipes, albeit simple, use a helluva lot of ingredients. (Der, that’s what happens when you cook things from scratch.) All those herbs and spices. What are they exactly? Where do you even get them?

I decided to work up to all the herbs and spices and selected Chicken Cacciatore for my second Thermomix meal. It looked manageable in terms of both ingredients and procedure: chop, saute, a few stages of cooking… All done in about half an hour.

And it came out really well, even if I messed with the recipe again. (It called for white wine, but I have dozens of cases of red. Which turned out to be more than fine.) It made enough for four generous meals, so I was eating it all week. Not that I was complaining.

I ate it initially with a microwaved potato and fresh leaves — yum. But then a few nights later I was ready to put the Thermomix into action again to make… RICE.

week 3 – Boiled rice

I don’t eat a lot of rice, mainly because I can’t be bothered cooking it. That could be about to change.

The ‘recipe’ called for 350g of rice in the ‘simmering basket’. However, I cooked half a cup (105g), which typically does me for two meals, and the reduced amount worked fine. It took 20 minutes and came out fluffy and fairly perfect.

I did freak out during the cooking, when the goopy water burbled out the top, but the lid is clearly designed to deal with this type of behaviour, because there was no overflowing.

week 4 – Torta caprese

It was only a matter of time before I got into the cake section of the cookbook. And since I’m a chocoholic from way back, it was a no brainer to try out this flourless almond chocolate cake. The excuse was a family dinner. (Much as I would have loved to make it just for meee.)

The fun thing about this was I got to grind almonds into almond meal! In six seconds. The recipe called for the chocolate to be ground up as well (10 seconds), then everything got mixed together before baking in the oven.

Stage two was making a chocolate ganache icing, which I had never made before. It involved grinding more chocolate and then melting it into cream at 50C for three minutes.

To my mind, this type of thing is where the Thermomix really shines. The ganache was quick as anything to make, and took no time at all. I like the fact the Thermomix controls everything and there’s no chance of stuffing it up!

week 6 – vegetable soup

Oh no, I missed a week! But I have an excuse: I went away for Easter. Which brings me to my sixth week of mixadventures. On Friday night I made vegetable soup for me and a couple of friends who came over for Gin Night (that’s another story entirely).

Since I don’t make a habit of cooking for other people, this was kind of a big deal… but not really because it was very casual and, well, I was cooking soup. It’s hardly cordon bleu. And since Thermomix soup is one thing I can see me making rather frequently, I was keen to give it a go.

Once again, it was extremely quick and easy. I even had a kitchen helper to peel and chop the vegetables, so all I had to do was chuck them into the Thermomix and press the right buttons: dice (onion and garlic) and saute to start, followed by cooking/stirring for some 25 minutes, then blend for 1 minute. Voila! Soup! All while hanging out with friends.

It tasted pretty good too. Not to mention I went ‘manual’ for the first time — that is, I didn’t rely solely on the pre-programmed recipe chip to tell me what to do. The cookbook gave optional instructions for chopping and sauteing the onion/garlic before adding the rest of the vegetables… Negotiated successfully! (Again, hardly rocket science…)

week 6 – creme brulee

I mentioned in the previous mixadventures post that I am rather partial to custard. Which is something of an understatement. More to the point, I became a huge fan of creme brulee (crema catalana) when I was in Spain several years ago. Yum yum yum.

But I’ve never actually made creme brulee before. It’s not like I’m going to make it for myself, right? Right? I mean, what would I do with six serves of creme brulee sitting in my fridge. Eat them ALL?

Ahem. I had a pint of cream I needed to use before it expired. That’s my excuse. (Ohmygod, how embarrassing.)

The worst/best of it is that it was so ridiculously easy that I will now need to control myself of there will be more. (Add cream, eggs, sugar –> cook for 15 minutes at a controlled temperature.) Once again, there was no chance of it going wrong. And it didn’t. I ended up with several ramekins filled with delicious yum.

Of course, the key thing with creme brulee is the torching and caramelising of the sugar on top. Needless to say, I do not have a blow torch of any kind, so I attempted the ‘under the grill’ method — which took far too long and with limited success. I did it once (see photo), but I think I’ll just eat the rest as they are!


You may note I ended the last post intending to make a risotto. This hasn’t actually happened yet. Maybe next month?

Right now, I’m off to eat soup and creme brulee – heh.

Mixadventures in Thermomix

It’s time for a new series of adventures (misadventures?) — this time along culinary lines. I recently acquired a Thermomix and will now proceed to torment you all with accounts of my hapless kitchen exploits.

I say “hapless”, because I am not a “foodie” in the sense of creating — only in the sense of consuming. (And I do LOVE to consume.) But that is all about to change (kinda).

thermomix1

First, why a Thermomix?

I have to admit people are asking why I, who doesn’t cook a lot, now have a $2000 mega-appliance sitting on my kitchen bench. It was, in fact, a very generous gift from my parents, but I thought long and hard about accepting it.

In the end, I was convinced by a few things:

  1. I really like the idea of getting back to basics — i.e. preparing foods from natural ingredients, rather than relying on jars etc from the supermarket. Examples of processed foods I’m hoping to eliminate from my diet include stock, pesto, dips, relishes, cakes/slices…
  2. I want to cook more frequently and more diversely. I’ve become too reliant on Lite n Easy meals (which are healthy and good quality for frozen foods, but still…), and when I do get around to “cooking” it’s very simple. (I always try to ensure I’m eating fresh salad/vegetables whenever possible, but my repertoire is not large.) If a Thermomix can cut out a few steps, not to mention time, then I’m more likely to make the effort.
  3. My sisters each had one and I got jealous.

Now, I know that most things made in a Thermomix can be made using more traditional tools — food processors, saucepans etc. If I wasn’t making the effort before, what would make me change?

I figure it’s all about habit. And confidence. Both of which could be acquired without a Thermomix, but probably with more rigmarole. After all, I’m far more likely to adopt new habits if they are more efficient.

OK, that’s enough rationalising. I have a Thermomix now. Deal with it. There’s no going back.

My pledge

To help create my new habit, grow confidence, and avoid my fear of harboring a dormant Thermomix, I have pledged to create at least one thing every week from one of the Thermomix cookbooks.

These do not need to be new — it’s OK if I repeat recipes, but I figure the more confident I get with using the machine and creating particular dishes, the more I’ll want to try new things. Simple is fine as well. As long as I make something.

So how did the first two weeks go?

Day 1 — Vegetable stock

My Thermomix was delivered on 16 March. As part of the commissioning process, we made vegetable stock. This involved roughly chopping a bunch of vegetables and herbs and throwing them into the Thermomix with a little oil and a heap of salt.

veggiestock

It cooked for 20 minutes, then we zhooshed it while still hot. I now have SO MUCH vegetable stock for soups, casseroles, pasta sauces, risottos etc. It will last in the freezer for months, and because of the salt doesn’t freeze solid. It’s freaking cool.

  • I was really really glad I made this under supervision, because that thing growled and nearly jumped off the bench when pureeing (which took a minute). I would have freaked out and turned it off.
  • The ability to cook and blend all in the one machine is magnificent. It’s quick and easy and I will be using this functionality for soup repeatedly. Can’t wait!

Day 3 — Vitality Truffles

I went for something really easy for my first solo effort. Vitality truffles are essentially blended dried fruit (apricots/peaches, dates, figs, raisins), hazelnuts and rolled oats. The most time consuming part was the (manual) rolling into balls.

vitalitytruffles

  • I daringly made these under some time pressure, since I was taking them to our afternoon D&D session. The making of them was fine. What I neglected to take into account was the cleanup time. (Note to self!)
  • Not that cleanup was particularly arduous or time-consuming. But it was the first time, so I was naturally more tentative and careful.
  • My D&D team enjoyed the vitality truffles and I would definitely make these again as a quick and healthy snack for when I need to take a plate of food for some event.

Day 11 — Chocolate custard

I’m going to get so fat. The Thermomix has three built-in, fully automatic recipes, one of which is custard. Thick and creamy custard. I adore custard. Basically, you follow the prompts when adding ingredients (milk, cornflour, sugar, eggs, cocoa – if desired) and then press “go”. Less than 10 minutes later, there is thick and creamy custard. Noms. (You still have clean up, though. Bleurgh.) But custard!

Day 12 — Pasta in tomato sauce with ham and chorizo

Made last night, pasta in tomato sauce etc was my most daring mixadventure yet. I diligently went shopping for all the ingredients on the weekend, and made sure I started cooking before I was tired and hungry. It involved more steps than the previous recipes — grating parmesan and setting aside, chopping the meats and setting aside, then a few chopping and cooking steps involving onions (sauteed), canned tomatoes, pasta. But everything was cooked in the one vessel and it tasted delicious. MUCH more tasty than it looks. (Food styling is clearly not my thing.)

pasta

  • I’m still using the “assisted cooking” process via the Basic Cookbook electronic chip. In other words, the Thermomix touchscreen steps you through the addition of each (weighed) ingredient and cooking stage, and automatically sets the temperatures and times.
  • Even though I know you’re not supposed to mess with the recipe the first time, I messed with the recipe. I added additional vegetables and meat and considerably less pasta. It came out a little more runny than it should have (I didn’t adjust the water), but cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. It will still do me three meals. (I didn’t particularly want four meals worth.)
  • It took me an hour from start to finish — at which point I stuck it in the oven with the parmesan cheese on top to make a pasta bake. The recipe says it should take 20 minutes. Considering there is more than 20 minutes cooking time in the recipe, I think the book is delusional. You still have to gather your ingredients, wash the bowl after the parmesan, peel the onions etc. I daresay I would get quicker, but 20 minutes? No.

So I think the first two weeks went pretty well!

I’m serious about my pledge to make something at least once each week, and will continue to work my way through the Basic Cookbook (which comes with the Thermomix) as a starting point. I might try a risotto next.

My intention is to drop in from time to time to let you know how I’m going! Until the next mixadventure…