Saturday, 3 August 2013


Ciabatta is a classic Italian bread that has a lovely chewy centre and the most delicious crispy crust. This is a simple and easy recipe to make as there is no need for pre-ferments (ie biga or poolish) and is made with only four ingredients: water, flour, salt and yeast - that's it.

I generally make the dough during the evening and let it sit on the kitchen benchtop overnight. In the morning all I need to do is shape it and place it into a hot oven for half and hour and it's done. Hot, fresh, home-cooked bread ready in time for breakfast. There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread and the taste and texture is amazing.

340g lukewarm water
1/4 tsp dry yeast
440g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp salt (eg Maldon Sea Salt Flakes)

  1. Place all the ingredients into the TM bowl in the order listed.
  2. Set the dial to closed lid position, and knead for 30 seconds/interval speed. (The dough should have the consistency of a thick cake batter.)
  3. Turn out the dough into a large bowl that has been well oiled (both base and sides) with olive oil.
  4. Cover with glad wrap and leave to prove for 12-24 hours. (It will triple in size and be full of large air bubbles.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celcius.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust liberally with plain flour.
  7. Carefully ease the dough out of the bowl and onto the baking tray, using either a spatula or dough scraper. Be gentle as you want to preserve the pockets of air. (You will have a relatively wet and roundish pile of dough sitting in front of you.)
  8. Using floured or wet fingertips to stop the dough sticking to your fingers, grab the edge closest to you and pull up and stretch over to the other side. Then grab the edge furthest from you and repeat the process. Gently shape the dough if necessary.
  9. Lightly spray the top of the dough with water (use a spray bottle or just flick some water with your fingertips.) This will help to form a crispy crust.
  10. Place the dough into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and sounds hollow when tapped. (To help to create some steam place an ovenproof bowl with 1 cup of water at the bottom of the oven. )
  11. When cooked, place onto a rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Easy Thermomix Ciabatta

TIPS: I used White Wings Plain Flour. Different flours and climatic conditions may require a slight adjustment to the amount of flour required. You're after a thick and wet cake batter consistency for the dough (make sure it's not dry or too runny.) After the dough has proved it will be quite sticky - use wet hands when you handle the dough to prevent it sticking.

You can flavour the bread by adding herbs, garlic or chopped olives during the initial 30 second knead.

After 12 hours proving

Oven tray lined with baking paper and well-floured

Scrape the dough onto the baking tray

The final stretch up and over the dough

Ready for the oven

Ready to eat!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Lemon Curd

Also known as Lemon Butter, this tasty lemony spread is absolutely delicious when spread between layers of sponge cake, and as a filling in tarts and lemon meringue pie. I like to swirl it through some plain yoghurt and serve it over a bowl of muesli topped with fresh blueberries - a "breakfast parfait" as my boys' call it. After my first failed attempt at making this in the Thermomix, I can definitely say that I nailed it this time.

Thermomix Lemon Curd
100g lemon juice
100g butter, cubed
100g sugar
1 egg + 3 extra yolks

  1. Insert Butterfly into the TM bowl and add all the ingredients.
  2. Cook for 8 minutes/80 degrees/Speed 2. (It is ready when the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. If not, cook for a further 2-3 minutes.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Substitute the lemon juice with orange juice or passionfruit pulp.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Porcini Salt

The other day I found a packet of dried porcini mushrooms languishing right at the back of the pantry. I decided to make a salt blend with them, something I have never thought of making before (don't ask me why as it's so easy peasy.) And ever since, I've been sprinkling the stuff onto everything like some sort of Fairy Godmother.  Porcini mushrooms imbue a robust, nutty flavour and is a great addition to meat, chicken, fish, potatoes, sauces and spice rubs.

Sprinkle porcini salt onto a whole chicken before roasting, over steak prior to bbq'ing or onto some hand-cut chips along with a drizzle of oil before popping them into a hot oven to bake.

20g dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons sea salt flakes

  1. Place the all ingredients into the TM bowl and blend for 5-10 seconds/speed 9 or until very fine.
  2. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Chocolate Tart with Orange Ice Cream

If you like Jaffa's you'll love this choc-orange inspired dessert. To save yourself some time, make the pastry shell in advance. Simply fill the tart with the chocolate filling and bake when you're ready to eat.

Sweet Orange Pastry
250g plain flour
80g pure icing sugar
rind of 1 orange
30g hazelnut meal
pinch of salt
130g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk

Chocolate Filling
400g cream
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons caster sugar
6 egg yolks
30g orange liqueur eg Cointreau (optional)
cocoa, for serving
orange ice cream, for serving  (recipe here)
orange syrup, for serving (optional)

Sweet Orange Pastry
  1. Place flour, icing sugar, orange rind, hazelnut meal and a pinch of salt into the TM bowl and process for 5 seconds/speed 7.
  2. Add the butter to the TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds/speed 7 or until the mixture resembles a sand-like texture.
  3. Add the egg yolk, set to closed lid position and pulse turbo button for 4-5 times or until the mixture comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out and shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest. 
  5. While the pastry is chilling, make the chocolate filling - there is no need to wash out the bowl.
Chocolate Filling 
  1. Place the cream into the TM bowl and heat for 3 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1.
  2. Add the chocolate and sugar and stir for 60 seconds/speed 2 or until smooth.
  3. Add the egg yolks and liqueur and mix for 30 seconds/speed 3 or until the mixture is smooth. 
Putting it all together
  1. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out between sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3-5mm thick and place into a 22cm fluted removable base tart tin or tart ring. 
  2. Refrigerate to rest for another 15 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  4. Line the pastry with non-stick baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice or beans.)
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees.
  7. Pour the chocolate filling into the tart shell and bake for 30 minutes or until just set.
  8. Cool completely and dust with cocoa. 
  9. Serve at room temperature with ice cream and a drizzle of orange syrup.
Serves 8-10

To make the orange syrup, place 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar into a saucepan and gently boil until the mixture has reduced by half. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Orange Ice Cream

Included in the latest Gourmet Traveller magazine is a recipe for a Chocolate Tart served with a scoop of Orange Ice Cream on the side. It looks really delicious, but the recipe is a little too complicated. However, I have simplified it using the TM and the result is fantastic and so easy to prepare.

Home made ice cream is a cinch to make - and you don't need a fancy ice cream maker either. I like to use unhomogenised full-cream milk and free range eggs - if you use good-quality ingredients your ice cream will look and taste so much better. Serve this with the Chocolate Tart (recipe coming up next) or in a bowl on it's own. YUM

3 egg yolks
250g cream
280g milk
150g sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
pinch of salt
rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of orange marmalade

  1. Place all the ingredients into the TM (except for the orange rind and marmalade). Cook for 5-6 minutes/80 degrees/speed 4.
  2. Place the mixture into a stainless steel bowl and stir through the orange rind and let it cool.
  3. Place the bowl into a freezer for 5 hours, or until firm.
  4. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and place into the TM bowl. Mix for 20 seconds/speed 9, using the spatula to assist if necessary.
  5. Transfer the ice cream into a container (that has an airtight lid) and gently stir through the marmalade. 
  6. Return to the freezer to set.

Makes about 1 litre.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Thai Chiang Mai Beef Noodles

I'm a big fan of Asian noodle soups and this creamy, curry-spiced beef noodle soup is one of my favourites. It's similar to Laksa and so easy to prepare. When you're buying egg noodles, look out for brands that have no added colours (which are very hard to come by these days!) If you get stuck you can substitute them with Hakubaku Organic Japanese Noodles (eg udon, soba, etc) which have no added nasties - you can find them in the Asian groceries aisle in most major supermarkets. For a gluten-free option, use rice noodles instead.

1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon red curry paste
500g beef eye fillet, cut into strips
4 cups coconut milk (I use 2 x 270ml cans)
1/2 MC fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
200g fresh thin egg noodles
2 shallots, finely sliced to garnish
coriander leaves, to garnish
lime wedges, to garnish

  1. With the blades spinning on Speed 9, drop the onion and garlic through the hole in the lid until they are finely chopped. Scrape down bowl.
  2. Add the oil, curry powder and curry paste and sauté for 3 minutes/varoma/speed 1.
  3. Add the beef and sauté for 3 minutes/varoma/reverse + speed 1.
  4. Add the coconut milk to the TM bowl and cook for 10 minutes/100 degrees/reverse + speed 1.
  5. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice and cook for a further 10 minutes/100 degrees/reverse + speed 1.
  6. Blanch the noodles in boiling water (or cook as directed) and divide between serving bowls.
  7. Pour over the curry mixture and garnish with shallots, coriander leaves and lime wedges (and sliced chilli if you like it extra spicy!)

Serves 4

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Chocolate Frangipane Plum Tart

I always like to incorporate fruit into my desserts, and this chocolate tart studded with fresh plums is absolutely delicious. Of course you can swap the plums for pears or even leave them out altogether if they are not in season. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream - YUM!

Chocolate Pastry
50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
225g plain flour
20 cocoa
75g caster sugar
75g butter, cubed
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 egg

Chocolate Frangipane
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150g butter, cubed
130g caster sugar
165g almond meal
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6-7 plums, halved and stones removed

Chocolate Pastry
  1. Place the chocolate pieces into the TM bowl and grate for 10 seconds/speed 8. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add flour, cocoa, sugar and butter into the TM bowl and process for 10 seconds/speed 7 or until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (use the spatula to incorporate if required.)
  3. Add the sour cream, egg and reserved grated chocolate to the TM bowl, set to closed lid position and pulse turbo button for 4-5 times or until a dough forms. Turn the dough out and shape into a ball, flatten slightly into a disc then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. While pastry is chilling, make the chocolate frangipane - there is no need to wash out the bowl.

Chocolate Frangipane 
  1. Place the chocolate pieces into the TM bowl and grate for 10 seconds/speed 8.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the plums) and mix for 30 seconds/speed 6 or until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and place into the fridge.
Putting it all together
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out between sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3-5mm thick. 
  3. Place into a 22cm fluted removable base tart tin or tart ring and prick the base lightly with a fork. Line the pastry with non-stick baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice or beans.)
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Spread the chocolate frangipane mixture into the cooked base then push the plums (cut side up) into the mixture.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the frangipane is set.
  7. Cool completely and dust with icing sugar. Serve with thick cream or ice cream.
Serves 8-10

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Spicy Thai Cucumber Relish

This is an easy to prepare traditional Thai condiment that is usually served with fish, satays and barbecued meats. The cucumber and coriander leaves are tossed in a homemade sweet and sour dressing - and the crushed peanuts add a nice textural element to the dish. Make the dressing in advance and mix it through the relish ingredients just before serving.

120g white vinegar
110g white sugar
splash of fish sauce
1/2 large telegraph cucumber
1/2 long red chilli, finely chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
1/4 cup coriander including stems, chopped

  1. Place the vinegar, sugar and fish sauce into the TM bowl and cook for 3 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1. Pour into a glass dish and set aside until it cools to room temperature.
  2. Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Using a teaspoon, gently scrape out the seeds and chop into small dice.
  3. Place the cucumber, chilli, peanuts and coriander into a bowl. Pour over the dressing and gently toss.
  4. Serve as an accompaniment with your favourite Thai dish.
Makes 1 cup

Friday, 3 May 2013

Thai Chilli Chicken

I have had this recipe flagged and have been wanting to make it for ages now. Today I just happened to have all the necessary ingredients handy, and it made for a perfect lunch. I halved the recipe below as I didn't have quite enough chicken as some was used for last night's dinner, but the result was still great and ample to feed 2-3 people served with a side of steamed Asian greens.

1 handful of basil
1 handful coriander, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
1 red chilli, deseeded
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon kecap manis
600g chicken thigh fillets, sliced
400g coconut milk
coriander leaves, to garnish
1 red chilli, sliced to garnish

  1. Place basil and coriander into TM bowl and chop for 4 seconds/speed 6. Set aside.
  2. Place onion and chilli into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds/speed 7.
  3. Add oil and sauté for 5 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1.
  4. Add fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce, kecap manis, basil and coriander and cook for 1 minute/varoma/reverse + speed 1.
  5. Insert Butterfly. Add sliced chicken and coconut milk and cook for 10 minutes/100 degrees/reverse + soft speed or until chicken is tender and cooked through.
  6. Garnish with coriander leaves and sliced chilli. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and a side dish of cucumber relish.

Serves 4

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms

Every Thermomix owner knows that making risotto is an absolute cinch - set and forget! Here's an adaption of mushroom risotto using pearl barley instead of aborio rice. The porcini mushrooms give it that extra punch of mushroom flavour. Serve with slices of fresh parmesan cheese if you can't get your hands on curd cheese.

20g dried porcini mushrooms
300g hot water
1 leek, trimmed and cut into pieces
20g extra virgin olive oil
30g butter
200g pearl barley
60g verjuice (or white wine)
750g water
3 teaspoons vegetable stock concentrate
250g portobello mushrooms, sliced
40g butter, extra
120g fresh curd cheese, to serve
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

  1. Place dried porcini mushrooms into a heat-proof bowl and fill with hot water. Leave for 5-10 minutes to rehydrate. (Put aside the mushrooms and reserve 1 cup or 250g of the porcini stock.)
  2. Place leek into TM bowl and chop for 2 seconds/speed 6. Scrape down bowl.
  3. Add olive oil and butter and sauté for 3 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1.
  4. Insert butterfly. Add barley and verjuice and sauté for a further 2 minutes/100 degrees/reverse/soft speed.
  5. Add water, 3 teaspoons of vegetable stock concentrate and 1 cup of the reserved porcini stock. Cook for 30 minutes/100 degrees/reverse/soft speed.
  6. Add the porcini mushrooms to the TM bowl and cook for a further 5 minutes/100 degrees/reverse/soft speed.
  7. While the risotto is cooking, heat a pan over medium-high heat, add the extra butter and sliced mushrooms and cook until caramelised. Place half the mushrooms into ThermoServer and top with the cooked risotto. Stir and set aside until ready to plate up.
  8. To serve, place risotto into individual bowls, top with some of the caramelised mushrooms, a tablespoon of fresh curd cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Serves 4

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Roast Tomato Soup

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which has been shown to protect against cancers and cardiovascular disease. This is a wonderful way to use up what's left of the Summer's harvest.

2kg vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
370g chicken stock
3 teaspoons sugar
Pesto, to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Place the tomatoes (cut side up) and garlic onto a tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake for 40 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool slightly. Squeeze the garlic flesh from its skin and place in TM bowl along with the tomatoes.  Blend for 2 minutes/speed 10.
  3. Add stock and sugar and cook for 10 minutes/100 degrees/speed 2.
  4. To serve, ladle into bowls and serve with a spoonful of pesto and some freshly baked bread.

Serves 4

There is no need to skin or de-seed the tomatoes - the TM blends the mixture until its silky smooth.
Add 1 MC of soup pasta at Step 3.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Cheese and Onion Pull-Apart

This cool, wet weather we're having screams for a comforting bowl of soup. And what better to serve it with than a tasty, homemade pull-apart.

270g milk, room temperature
100g lukewarm water
7g sachet dried yeast
540g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
20g olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped
150g cheddar cheese, grated
olive oil, for topping
extra grated cheese, for topping

  1. Add milk, water, yeast, flour, salt and oil to the TM bowl and mix for 5 seconds/speed 6.
  2. Knead on interval setting for 2 minutes.
  3. Place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  5. Divide the dough into 12 even portions and press or roll each piece into a rough circle.
  6. Place the shallots and cheese onto the middle of each circle, fold dough in and shape into a ball. 
  7. Place the balls of dough into a lightly oiled round cake tin with removable base.
  8. Sprinkle the top with a little olive oil and/or some grated cheese.
  9. Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. 
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The flavour combinations are endless - replace the filling ingredients above with the following:

Spinach and Feta
Cheese and Bacon
Herb and Garlic
Ham, Cheese and Sweet Chilli

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Protein Balls

It's back to school, and these protein balls are a great addition to the kid's lunch boxes. They are dairy-free, nut-free and have no added sugar. Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega 3, calcium and protein.

220g pitted dates
65g rolled oats, toasted
1 heaped tablespoon coconut oil
50g white chia seeds
1 tablespoon organic cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, for rolling

  1. Place all the ingredients, except for the dessicated coconut, into the TM bowl and process for 10 seconds/speed 7, or until mixture appears crumbly.
  2. Take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and form into a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  3. Roll the balls in the desiccated coconut and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Makes 16

To toast the oats, heat a frypan over med-high heat and add oats, stirring until lightly browned. Alternatively, you can weigh them into the TM bowl and toast for 5-6 minutes/varoma/speed 1, then continue with the recipe.
Substitute the desiccated coconut and coat the protein balls with crushed nuts, cocoa or goji berries instead.
Check the dates, as occasionally you can find traces of pits.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Tuna + Rice Vegetable Puree

I haven't made a lot of  babyfood lately - as soon as Oscar turned 12 months old he would only eat what his big brothers were having. This meal, however, was on high rotation when he started getting his first teeth and is still a huge favourite of his.

1/4 onion
160g carrots (about 2) peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
160g tomato passata (or fresh tomatoes)
90g rice
95g tin tuna
grated parmesan cheese, to garnish
squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

  1. Add onion, carrot, and olive oil into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds/speed 5. Scrape down bowl.
  2. Saute for 4 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1.
  3. Add tomato passata, rice and enough water to cover the mixture by about 1 inch.
  4. Cook for 18 minutes/100 degrees/speed 2. (At this point check the consistency and puree the mixture if required. )
  5. Add tuna to the TM bowl and stir through with spatula.
  6. To serve, place into a bowl and grate over some fresh parmesan cheese and a little squeeze of lemon juice.
Makes 4 serves

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Apricot & Almond Crumble

One of my fondest childhood memories was climbing up the heavily laden fruit trees growing in our backyard, picking off the naturally ripened fruit and tucking in. Our apricot tree never failed us. Apricots contain nutrients such as beta-carotene, Vitamin A and are a great source of fibre.

This is a great way to use up what's left of the Summer harvest, if you're lucky enough to have an apricot tree in your backyard. If not, now's the time to buy them when they are at their best and cheapest.

1kg apricots (about 20), halved and stoned
1 tablespoon raw sugar
120g flour
100g raw sugar
100g ground almonds
170g cold butter, diced
60g flaked almonds
icing sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Place apricot halves into an oven-proof dish and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, ground almonds and butter into the TM bowl and chop for 5-10 seconds/speed 5 or until mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.
  4. Spread the crumble mixture over the apricots and top with flaked almonds.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until nice and golden.
  6. Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick cream or vanilla bean ice-cream.