Category Archives: Recipes

THE BEST crusty and super amazingly soft and tasty bread 

Viva la Thermomix!

I’ve tried unsuccessfully for goodness knows how long to make bread at home. I have access to delicious German Volkhorn (wholegrain) bread from across the road at Baker & Cook, but the allure of the smell of freshly baked bread has kept me going back to try again and again. 

My bread always came out doughy and heavy. And while I like the concept of taking your aggression out on dough, I never seemed to have the muscles or stamina to knead it enough. 

Enter the Thermomix. 

There is a kneading function on it, that you could get from using your stand mixer with the dough attachment. 

This recipe doesn’t even use sugar. I don’t normally have an aversion to sugar, but bread in Singapore (unless you have access to specialty or artesian bakeries) has this slightly sickly sweetness to it. The second ingredient after flour in most of the commercial bread is sugar. Ugh. 

The few simple rules I found helped me get my bread crusty on the outside and super soft on the inside:

1) You need to keep the yeast and the salt separate. Easily done by adding the ingredients in a particular order. Water and yeast first, then a layer of flour before adding the salt. Salt apparently “kills” yeast, and you need yeast to do their amazing work and create those lovely bubbles of air in your bread (I love how yeast is this living thing!)

2) Knead. A lot. A lot of recipes for bread in the Thermomix call for just two minutes of kneading. I get that the blades are super powerful, but I honestly think bread kneading needs time. This recipe calls for six minutes. Be patient. It’s worth it.

3) More patience required: you can’t go “I fancy a freshly baked loaf of bread, and expect to do it in under 2 1/2 hours. Yeast (that lovely living thing) needs time to work it’s magic. And on to my next tip…

4) Prove (or second ferment) the bread in the fridge overnight, or for at least eight hours. The coolness of the fridge slows down the fermentation, giving the yeast more time to give bread a better flavour.

5) I’m still playing around with ratios of plain bread flour and wholemeal spelt flour. Every time I have previously tried to make things completely wholegrain, the bread felt a little too healthy. And I figure, you have to enjoy what you eat, right? Everything in moderation, so I think at most I’d try 50:50, but I haven’t gotten there yet. 

Finally (I know you’re thinking it) here is the recipe:

Ingredients makes one standard loaf

  1. 225g lukewarm water
  2. 1.5 teaspoons yeast
  3. 375g bakers flour
  4. 3-4 tablespoons of mixed seeds (I use flaxseed, sesame and poppy)
  5. 3/4 teaspoon of salt

Method

  1. Add the ingredients in this order: water, yeast, flour, seeds, salt.
  2. Blitz on speed 7 for 10 seconds to roughly combine.
  3. Knead for 6 mins.
  4. Remove dough and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and place into a warm spot. (In Singapore that’s anywhere that isn’t airconditioned)
  5. Leave this to rise for approximately an hour or until doubled.
  6. Remove dough from bowl, knock out the air by shaping your dough into a free form loaf, rolls or placing it in to the desired tin.
  7. Allow to rise overnight in the fridge overnight until almost doubled in size. Alternatively you can just let it rise in the same warm place for another 50-60 minutes. 
  8. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  9. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Banana bread with cream cheese icing

Today I have a guest helping me. So today’s post is brought to you by my talented niece, Saisha!

I had a surplus of over ripe bananas and decided to make banana bread in the Thermomix, and found a recipe adapted from Donna Hay (thank you Robin!). I added extra bananas just because I didn’t want to waste any, and also more bananas, make the bread even more moist.

Ingredients – banana bread
  1. 4 large bananas
  2. 125g butter
  3. 170g brown sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 80g maple syrup
  7. 255g all purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  9. 1 tsp baking powder
  10. good pinch of salt
  11. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  12. small handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
 Ingredients – cream cheese frosting
  1. 100g cream cheese – at room temperature
  2. 50g butter – at room temperature
  3. 150g icing sugar
  4. good pinch of salt
  5. 1 tbls milk
Method – banana bread
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C
  2. Blitz bananas on speed 5 for 30 seconds
  3. Set them aside in a separate bowl
  4. Add the butter, sugar and vanilla to the Thermomix bowl and mix on speed 5 for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times, till light and creamy
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and beat them on speed 5 for 10 seconds (each)
  6. Add the banana mix with the maple syrup and combine everything on speed 5 for 45 seconds
  7. Pour wet mixture into large bowl
  8. Add all the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatular.
  9. Once all the ingredients are combined, scoop the mixture into a lined baking tin and bake for 90 minutes, or until a skewer/knife is placed in the middle and pulled out clean
  10. Allow to cool and ice with cream cheese frosting

Method – cream cheese frosting

  1. Blitz cream cheese and butter for 30 seconds, speed 5
  2. Add icing sugar and salt and mix for 1 minute, starting speed 3 and gradually up to speed 8 until light and creamy
  3. Add milk and mix 30 seconds, speed 5

Enjoy ! Saisha signing off 🙂

IMG_6956


Thermomix Adventures – Pumpkin Soup

DSC_0211

After months and months of deliberation, I finally caved and bought a Thermomix. It means that I can streamline my kitchen from several appliances (Kitchenaid, blender, food processor) and I’m loving it so far.

Easiest way to tell you is with my pumpkin soup. Now, sure, you can make pumpkin soup the way I have always made it. But if you look at my earlier post, blending it with a immersion blender, purees, and if I wanted that incredibly silky texture you get in restaurants, you sieve it – if you can be bothered.

Or….you can make it all in the Thermomix. One bowl, that chops and sautees the onions, then cooks the pumpkin and then blends it to a smoothness that’s hard to describe. Well, I guess you can see from the photo. It’s really quite amazing. And the addition of raw cashews makes the soup rich and creamy without the addition of any dairy. From start to finish in 20 minutes.

I’m trying to keep all my favourite Thermomix recipes in one place so here goes:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 large onion, halved
  2. 1kg pumpkin, skin off and cut in to pieces
  3. enough stock (I used vegetable) to come up to roughly 5cm under the top of the pumpkin
  4. handful of raw cashews
  5. basil (to serve)

Method:

  1. Chop onions 5 seconds/speed 6
  2. Add 10ml olive oil and cook 2 minutes/varoma/speed stir
  3. Add pumpkin pieces and stock and cook 15 minutes/100C/speed stir
  4. Check pumpkin is cooked, add cashews and blend 1 minute/speed 5 increasing to 9
  5. Enjoy with a loaf of crusty bread !

Yorkshire pudding


My husband often catches me sitting in front of my oven as I watch my food bake. It’s certainly better than TV. Cookies brown, pork roast crackling goes crunchy, cakes rise. And Yorkshire puddings are one of the most satisfying rises of all, starting out bubbling around the edges, then blooming dramatically into wonderful bowls of crispy dough, the perfect vehicle for gravy.

I tested various recipes, with Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith’s recipes rendering suprisingly disappointing, heavy Yorkies. The recipe below follows Mary Berry’s. The batter is thin but this produces the lightest Yorkies, which work so well with the mandatory roast beef.

I also prefer to make one or two large Yorkshire puddings rather than trying to quickly and accurately pour equal amounts of batter in to 12 muffin tins.

Ingredients

Makes 12 muffin sized Yorkies or 1 greedy large one

  1. 3 eggs
  2. 115g/4oz flour
  3. 275ml/½ pint milk
  4. beef dripping or oil with a high smoking point
  5. salt

Classic Chocolate Mousse

Adapted from Bon Appetit (where their picture is SPECTACULAR and just wants to make me dive right into the photo with my mouth open), this is not for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious eater. Nor is it for someone that wants a “quick chocolate mousse” – it takes several processes to get this divine dessert, just right: decadently chocolately and rich at the same time as being lighter than air. I reduced the coffee because I want the coffee to boost the chocolate flavour, and I found that at 1/4 cup, it almost overpowered the chocolate flavour. I also doubled the salt from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 because I think salt makes desserts and other sweets taste better.

Ingredients makes six small teacups/ramekins

  1. 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream (you can use cooking or whipping cream)
  2. 4 large egg yolks
  3. 1/8 cup espresso or strong coffee, at room temperature
  4. 3 tbls sugar, divided into 2tbls and 1 tbls
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped
  7. 2 large egg whites
  8. 1/4 cup whipping cream to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Beat 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill
  2. Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl
  3. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water and cook, whisking constantly until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume (about 1 minute)
  4. Remove bowl from pan
  5. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth
  6. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature
  7. Using an electric beater with clean, dry beaters, beat egg white in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy
  8. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 tbsp sugar
  9. Increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form
  10. Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions
  11. Fold whipped cream into mixture just to blend
  12. Divide mousse among six teacups or 4-oz. ramekins
  13. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours
  14. DO AHEAD: Mousse can be made 1 day ahead; cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving
  15. Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse

Quinoa bake with spinach and ricotta

As we head in to the festive season, I find that I need to balance out the indulgences of this time of year, with home cooked, healthy (at least semi-healthy) meals.

Packed full of goodness, and also gluten-free (for any of you who are gluten intolerant), this baked quinoa “pie” with spinach and feta is as comforting as it looks. Hot from the oven, the quinoa are almost pillowed amongst the ingredients, adding a lightness that you wouldn’t get if I omitted them. I only need to cook for two, so I made enough for four, split the mixture in to two small pie tins, and will freeze the other portion for a time when I need something easy, quick and delicious. All I have to do is warm up and eat.

This recipe is really versatile – adding in ham or bacon would work too.

Ingredients (for one large pie to feed four or two smaller pies)

  1. 1 cup quinoa
  2. 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
  3. 200g feta (you can also substitute ricotta or even cottage cheese)
  4. 4 large eggs
  5. Splash of milk
  6. 1 cup of grated parmesan, divided in to two portion
  7. salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F
  2. Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until tender and the germ is visible
  3. Stir in the spinach leaves as you fluff the quinoa – the residual heat will wilt the leaves
  4. Crumble the feta in and mix
  5. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk and one portion of the parmesan
  6. Add a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper – don’t over-salt as the cheeses will already add some savouriness to the dish
  7. Loosely spoon the quinoa mixture into your pie dish, pour over the egg mixture and combine the two in the dish
  8. Flatten the top and sprinkle the second portion of parmesan over the top
  9. Bake for 30-35 mins until the top is golden
  10. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then enjoy hot !

Spiced roasted butternut pumpkin soup – two ways

I love soups. And it makes so much sense to make a giant pot of soup, have it as leftovers, or even freeze those that are suitable.

My problem is that I don’t always seem to want soup from the freezer, and often end up throwing it away. It’s very un-frugal of me and the waste upsets me.

Over the weekend I found a beautiful butternut squash – at $2 instead of the $10+ that I spend across the road for the same thing. Of course I just had to buy it.

I decided that I would do two types of soup with it, to try to give some variety, and hope to tickle my tastebuds enough to want to eat it again. And again.

The first way was to push a ladleful of it through a fine sieve, yielding the most silkily smooth soup that reminds me of the amouse-bouches that you sometimes get in fine restaurants. It’s such a treat and I don’t know why but the same soup seems to taste sweeter somehow ?

The second way was to keep it rustic (the sieving also takes time and any time saving is a good thing, right ?). This leftover I’ve frozen, but when I reheat it, I’ll add a dollop of cream and a glug of good olive oil to make it taste like the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever had.

Roasting the pumpkin intensifies the sugars and flavour and the spices just add an extra dimension to the soup.

Ingredients makes four bowls of soup

  1. 1 large onion, diced
  2. 1 medium sized butternut pumpkin
  3. salt and pepper
  4. ground tumeric
  5. ground cumin
  6. chicken stock
  7. thick cream
  8. good olive oil to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 220CC/430F
  2. Remove skin and seeds from pumpkin and cut into chunks
  3. Coat with olive oil (doesn’t need to be the good stuff) and season with salt and pepper
  4. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes
  5. Sautee onion in some olive oil on low heat until translucent – about 5 minutes
  6. Add the tumeric and cumin and fry off the “rawness” of the spices for another 5 minutes
  7. Add the roasted pumpkin and add enough chicken stock to cover the pumpkin
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes
  9. Blend with an immersion blender until desired consistency (I like to keep it relatively smooth but still with some bits of pumpkin)
  10. Option 1: Take a ladleful and push through a fine sieve and serve with just a few drops of good olive oil
  11. Option 2: Serve hot, with a big dollop of cream, and a good glug of the good olive oil

 

 


Quiche Lorraine

I cheat and use store-bought shortcrust pastry with my quiches. If you have the time to wait for the dough to rest, and don’t mind clearing up the mess (which I always seem to make tons of whenever making pastry) go right ahead.

Quiche Lorraine reminds me of growing up in the suburbs in Sydney and having a slice of quiche with a salad on the side. You can’t really not like it – salty bacon and sweet sauteed onions enveloped in a warm eggy pillow – with pastry. It’s pretty easy, too – just make sure you blind bake your base properly, or it will end up soggy instead of crispy and short, giving you good contrasting textures with each bite.

Ingredients

  1. 1 -2 sheets ready made shortcrust pastry
  2. 1 large onion, diced
  3. 6 rashers (or more if you want) bacon, diced
  4. 200ml heavy cream
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 1 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
  7. salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/390F
  2. Line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry
  3. Prick the base, line with baking paper and add pie weights/rice/beans before blind baking in the oven for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the baking paper and pie weights and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned
  5. While the base is baking, make your filling
  6. Sautee the bacon on medium-high heat until brown and crispy and remove from frying pan to cool
  7. Reduce the heat to low and cook onions until soft and translucent
  8. Mix cream, eggs, cheese together in a jug.
  9. Season with salt and pepper – remember not to oversalt as the bacon and cheese will provide additional seasoning
  10. Once the base is ready, sprinkle your bacon and onion on the base, and pour in the eggy/cheese mix over
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/320F and bake quiche for 30 minutes or the middle is just wobbly (it will continue to cook a little more once out of the oven)
  12. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before removing quiche from the tin
  13. Enjoy hot or cold as leftovers the next day 😉

 

 


San Choy Bau

I love san choy bau – the crisp lettuce balances out the rich pork and vegetable mix in one handy (albeit a bit messy) “cup”. It’s one of those dishes where I am sure you can substitute chicken for pork, and also add in any vegetables you have on hand, but I found water chestnuts at my grocery store and that inspired me to cook this dish – it adds another dimension to the dish with a nice crunch.

Ingredients – 6 portions as a starter or enough for 2 hungry people for lunch

  1. Iceberg lettuce – whole
  2. 1 large onion – diced
  3. 200g pork mince
  4. 100g baby corn – sliced about 1/2cm thick
  5. 50g water chestnuts – peeled and diced into small pieces
  6. 50g mushrooms – any sort, I used swiss brown
  7. 3 tbls oyster sauce
  8. 1 tbl light soya sauce

Method

  1. With the core of the lettuce facing down, bang the head of lettuce, on the core – this will make it easier to remove the leaves whole
  2. Remove any wilted outer leaves and carefully remove the inside leaves, trying to keep them as whole as possible
  3. Place in a bowl of iced water to keep them crisp
  4. Over low heat, sweat the onions until soft
  5. Increase the heat to high and brown the mince
  6. Add in the vegetables and cook for 3 minutes until vegetables are cooked through
  7. Add in the oyster and light soya sauce and stir to combine
  8. You can trim the lettuce so it makes a nice neat “cup” to hold the stir fried mixture
  9. Spoon mix into lettuce cups and enjoy hot !

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

A much better sauce made from a reduction of the braising liquid

***UPDATE***

Third attempt – same sauce as second attempt (straining, skimming the fat and then reducing), over quinoa. Full disclosure – I served it with the smallest onions I had just so that there was *some* semblance of vegetables. And they were excellent ! Really brings out the sweetness of the onion. If you want to do this, then add the peeled onions to the mixture during the last hour of braising.

First attempt – beef short ribs braised in red wine on soft polenta

The picture above is my first attempt at beef short ribs. The second attempt was far far better. So much better, in fact, that as soon as they were out of the oven, they were eaten (ie before I could remember to take a photo – oops). But I will update this post again with the new (!) and improved (!!) version, as I want to share what I did differently, and why.

Beef short ribs are uh-mazing. I bought two large packs of Australian beef short ribs from the Barbie Girls, each containing three gorgeously meaty, English-cut ribs. Ribs need time to cook to break down the connective tissue to make them t-e-n-d-e-r, and both times the ribs were cooked with the same ingredients.

The first time I was so eager to eat, that I forgot that ribs are a fatty cut of meat, and a lot of that renders out during the long cooking process. The end result was beautifully tender meat, but in an overly oily and thin sauce.

The second time I made this dish, I spent the time and effort to strain the sauce, skim as much fat as possible, and reduce the sauce, before adding the ribs and the sauce back in the same pot, and putting them back in the oven for another hour. It’s a little more effort for a far superior end result, with a rich, gravy-like sauce coating the entire rib. Full of flavour without the oiliness from my first attempt.

I also served the ribs the first time, over soft polenta. Weirdly, unlike pork ribs, which I like to serve with something contrastingly crunchy and refreshing, like a fresh coleslaw, I want to eat beef ribs with a similarly soft texture. But I think the polenta, while texture-wise was perfect, was carb-heavy, leaving a feeling of being really very full (OK, perhaps that was also down to pure portion size). The second time, I served it with cauliflower cheese. Yes, it’s rich from the cheese, but I think it’s the lack of carbs in that pairing … that left us with space for dessert (because let’s face it, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious – it’s pure indulgence).

Looong story over. I’ll have to make it again just so I can update the photo with the improved recipe.

Beef short ribs braised in red wine

Ingredients:

  1. Beef short ribs – bone in – about 2.5kg
  2. 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  3. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  5. Half a bottle of red wine – something heavier like a cabernet or even a shiraz I think works best
  6. 400ml beef stock
  7. *optional* Splash of brandy or port for a nice intense sweet undercurrent
  8. Sprig of rosemary
  9. Sprig of thyme
  10. 2 bay leaves

Method (the best way)

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ribs well – this will add depth of flavour from the caramelised sugars in the meat.
  2. In a large, heavy-based dutch oven or casserole dish, saute the onions, celery and carrot in some olive oil until soft
  3. Drain the oil from the skillet and transfer the meat to the dutch oven
  4. Add the wine, stock, brandy, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the pot. Ideally the ribs should be submerged in the liquid. Add additional stock or water if there isn’t enough
  5. Cover, and pop into your oven at 160C (320F) for 3 hours
  6. After 3 hours, take out the pot, take out the meat (it will already be tender and starting to fall off the bone) and carefully strain the liquid
  7. Discard what you’ve strained out – all those vegetables and herbs have imparted all their flavour in the sauce
  8. Return the liquid to the pot on high heat, and reduce by at least 30% – this will take about 20-30 minutes
  9. Pop the meat back in to the pot, cover, and return pot to the oven for another hour. There will be less liquid so the meat won’t be entirely covered, but don’t worry, the steam will help to cook any uncovered meat
  10. Serve with cauliflower cheese