Saturday, 28 April 2012

Red alphabet soup

I was thinking that it was about time that I posted a savoury recipe, you know, something with vegetables or meat in it! I do love to bake, so it tends to be what I most enjoy blogging about. However, opting not to blog about the meals that we make in the Thermomix would be contrary to how I use it most!  Almost every night I recruit the Thermomix to prepare and cook our family dinners. In fact, to simplify dinner preparation, I have converted many of our family favourites for the TM, and many of our new favourites are TM recipes that I have adapted slightly from the Thermomix series of cookbooks. 

Over winter, I probably make a soup a week because the Thermomix is outstanding in this role. I love how I can weigh, chop and cook all in the one machine, plus I absolutely adore using Thermomix-made stock. Have you ever read the ingredient list on a box of stock cubes?! They often contain additives such as colours, flavours, even MSG! I would always try to purchase the most natural ones I could find, and although I should have made my own stock from scratch on the stovetop, which I have done once or twice in the past, I was never fond of doing this, so it never really became a habit. These days of course I make my own in the Thermomix . . . much more enjoyable, so unbelievably easy and the result is fresh, nutrient-rich, flavoursome, absolutely divine stock concentrate! I try to use the freshest organic ingredients to make both vegetable and chicken stock paste, which I store in sterilised glass jars and always have on hand in the fridge. They really bring something extra to any dish that requires stock. I will never ever purchase commercial stock again! 

So now for this week's recipe, my girls usually enjoy it with my Spinach, fetta & rice fingers . . . . we call it Red soup with alphabet pasta!  The 'red' originates from the days when my younger daughter refused to eat tomato. But red soup quickly became a favourite, and mummy soon revealed what it was made from :)

I have been making this recipe for my girls for a few years now, but have recently adapted it for the Thermomix. Originally the recipe was very fussy and fiddly and involved de-seeding the tomatoes, chargrilling the capsicum & removing the skin . . . no longer with my Thermie! It is so powerful that it grinds the seeds and capsicum skin so that they are completely unrecognisable by my most loyal critics and mummy is grateful of the added nutrition (plus less fiddle & mess) of keeping these bits in!

I'm sure that your children will love this delicious, sweet roasted tomato (& red capsicum) soup with fun alphabet pasta. But it certainly isn't just for children! Often I reserve half of the soup to enjoy without the addition of the alphabet pasta or I use rissoni in it's place.

Red soup with alphabet pasta

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, quartered
1 kg vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
1 red capsicum, seeds removed, chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp sucanat (rapadura) sugar 
2 tbsp TM vegetable stock concentrate
600g filtered water
100g alphabet or risoni pasta

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Add the onion to the TM bowl and chop for 2-3 seconds on speed 7. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes at 100°C on speed 1.
  3. Add tomatoes, red capsicum, garlic cloves and sugar to the TM bowl and season well with freshly ground black pepper. With the lid in closed position, press the turbo button 2-3 times. 
  4. Empty the contents of the TM bowl into a deep casserole dish and roast uncovered in the oven. The mixture will be quite sloppy. Open the oven a couple of times to stir the tomato mixture. Remove from the oven after 20-25 minutes.
  5. Carefully pour the roasted tomato mixture into the TM bowl. Hold the TM cup firmly in place and slowly wind the dial up to speed 10 and puree for 1 minute
  6. Add the stock paste and water and mix for a further 30 seconds on speed 5. 
  7. Add the alphabet pasta and heat for 7-9 minutes (or as per instructions for the pasta) at 100°C on reverse, speed 1.
  8. Ladle soup into bowls or large mugs to serve. Enjoy!

No Thermomix? 

Roast chopped vegetables as I have described after sautéing the onion on the stovetop, and puree using a stick blender or food processor. I would char-grill the capsicum separate, peel and add at the blending stage. As mentioned, I would also de-seed the tomatoes.
Use 2 stock cubes or 600ml of liquid stock in place of the TM vegetable stock concentrate.

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cacao Anzacs!

April 25 is of course Anzac Day which commemorates the first landing of the Anzacs during WW1 at Gallipoli in 1915. For most Australians and New Zealanders, it is an important National day where we remember the sacrifice of those who died in the war. 

The traditional Anzac biscuit recipe is said to have been developed during WW1 and of course stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps. The story goes that during the war, Anzac biscuits were baked by the wives of soldiers and posted to their loved ones abroad. Due to the fact that the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation, they were a sought after package of much needed energy for the soldiers and not to mention a taste of home. 

Anzac biscuits, much loved by Australians and New Zealanders, are a big favourite in our household. My girls love them in their lunchbox and they are often my snack of choice. They are also so quick and easy to make, especially in the Thermomix :) I have a favourite 'traditional' recipe which I haven't made for quite a while, but this is because traditional recipes rarely remain traditional once I add them to my repertoire! . . .I just can't help myself :) 
My most recent take on the Anzac biscuit is the wholesome version below featuring freshly ground raw cacao beans. . . yummo!

I just love a crunchy Anzac with a chewy centre, and my latest version definitely meets my expectations, and best of all is powered by chocolate! These Cacao Anzacs also happen to be vegan, wheat-free and higher in fibre than conventional ones. I have used coconut oil in place of butter and added some extra nutrition by using freshly ground oat and brown rice flour instead of white flour and also adding flaxseeds to the mix. I have also used sucanat sugar (which is easy to find in Hong Kong) in place of conventional brown sugar. For more about sucanat, see the Nutrition tid bits below. 

Cacao Anzacs

60g organic raw cacao beans 
2 tbsp flaxseeds
40g brown basmati rice
90g whole rolled oats (or steel cut oats)
110g organic virgin coconut oil
60g golden syrup
1-2 tbsp water
1 tsp bicarb soda
60g desiccated coconut
90g whole rolled oats, extra
150g sucanat (rapadura) sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place the raw cacao beans, flaxseeds, 90g oats and basmati rice in the TM bowl and grind for 1 minute on speed 9. Decant into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place coconut oil, golden syrup and water in the TM bowl. Mix at 60°C for 1-2 minutes on speed 2 or until fully melted and combined. Use less water for thicker, chunky biscuit and more for a thinner, chewier one :)
  4. Add bicarb soda and mix for 5 seconds on speed 3 until dissolved.
  5. Return the ground cacao beans, flax, oats and rice to the TM bowl along with the remaining dry ingredients, including the extra whole oats, and mix on reverse, speed 4 for 10-15 seconds until the mixture is just combined and comes together.
  6. Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared trays and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon, leaving enough room for spreading. Bake for approx 10 minutes or until they just darken evenly. First you'll see the edges brown and they'll just be a minute or so more. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on a tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

No Thermomix?
Use my list of ingredients and make these using the traditional method for making Anzacs. Grind the cacao beans and flaxseeds in a coffee grinder, use any combination of flour instead of grinding your own to 130g (you could even use plain wheat flour if you prefer) and combine with the other dry ingredients. 

Nutrition tid bits
Sucanat or rapadura sugar as it is also known, is essentially dried cane juice. It still retains the vitamin and mineral rich molasses which is removed during the refining process to make white sugar. Brown sugar is commonly refined white sugar with added back molasses. 

Raw cacao beans, hailed as a superfood, are of course best eaten in their raw state in order to reap their potential health benefits. They are nutritionally a better choice than conventional cocoa or roasted cocoa beans because many of their active ingredients are preserved and not destroyed during heat processing. I utilise them raw in my Raw Cacao treat ballsRaw cacao beans are a rich source of a range of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. 

Variation ideas
There are so many! 

For White Chocolate Cranberry Anzacs:  use 1/2 cup dried cranberries in place of the cacao beans, add 1 tsp cinnamon & drizzle with 100g melted white chocolate.

For Orange & Almond Anzacs: add 1 tbsp orange zest and 70g of flaked almonds in place of the cacao beans.

You can use raw cacao powder in place of the cacao beans and butter in place of the coconut oil if you don't have these in your pantry :)

The basic recipe for Anzacs is so versatile! I have made Anzac slice, Anzac muffins (recipes not as yet converted for the Thermomix) and have also been known to sprinkle crumbled homemade Anzac biscuits over stewed fruit as a quick fruit crumble. Try it sometime :)

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Friday, 13 April 2012

Back to School!

Cheesy-mite scrolls . . . shh don't tell the kids they are healthy!

Before I started my blog earlier this year, I posted this recipe to the Official Thermomix Recipe Community, a great site to find and share TM recipes. My Thermie and I are still separated by several thousand miles :( . . so this was an easy recipe to post this week! 
Rather than use a scone dough, I wanted to use a yeast-based dough to achieve the authentic Cheesy-mite taste. This recipe is based on one by Thermomix Australia. You could also make this by hand or partly in an electric mixer. I've made adjustments to improve the nutrition, so these are both high-fibre and low GI. Luckily Vegemite is available in Hong Kong, but I'm sure Marmite or Promite would also work well. These will be great in the lunchbox on Monday. Enjoy!

Cheesy-mite scrolls
makes 10
150-200g mixed cheeses of choice (e.g. tasty, vintage cheddar, parmesan)
250g white spelt bread flour
250g wholemeal spelt bread flour
¼ cup mixed seeds of choice (e.g. chia, golden flax)
2 tsp dried yeast
40g extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
good pinch sea salt
300g tepid water
20g butter, melted
1-2 tbsp Vegemite

  1. Make dough by placing flours, seeds, yeast, EVOO, salt and tepid water into TM bowl and mix for 6 seconds on speed 6.
  2. With dial set to closed position, knead for 2 minutes on Interval speed. Place dough in an oiled glass or stainless steel bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea towel and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled. (I used my oven at 40°C for 15-20 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, cube the cheese and place into TM bowl and chop for 8-10 seconds on speed 8 (or use a food processor or grater)
  4. When dough has risen, pre-heat oven to 220°C. Use a little of the melted butter to lightly grease a rectangular dish.
  5. Sprinkle a surface lightly with flour and roll dough into a large rectangle. Brush with a little melted butter and the vegemite (a silicon brush works well). Next sprinkle almost all of the cheese on the dough being sure to cover all the edges. Carefully roll into a large sausage shape and use a serrated knife to cut into 4cm thick rounds. Turn filling side up and arrange in baking dish next to each other so there are no gaps. 
  6. Brush with a little butter, sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Best eaten fresh from the oven or frozen for later, ready to send to school with your happy little vegemites :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Nutty (and not too naughty) choc chip biscuits

I developed this recipe a while back and thought I'd share it this week while I have a little more free time on my hands to compose a post . . .

Do you say "biscuits" or "cookies" 

Well, I suppose it depends on where you are from.  Although I use both terms interchangeably (which comes with living among a community of expats from all over the world), I do tend to more frequently stick with my Australia-British heritage and use the term 'biscuit' . . . but what really matters is how they taste right?

My challenge was to make a healthier version of the everyday chocolate chip biscuit / cookie which could still hit the spot . . you know, that spot that only a good biscuit can possibly reach when you are craving that fix of carbohydrate for a mid morning or afternoon snack. Of course, you don't want to be feeling oh so guilty for eating them if you don't have to . . . would you agree? A good biscuit which has that crisp, crunchy, even chewy texture does need both fat and sugar. I have opted to use plant based fats and dehydrated cane sugar in the form of sucanat (or rapadura) in place of refined sugar. I have swapped refined white flour (the other carbohydrate ingredient) for wholemeal spelt flour and oats. You could try gluten-free flour. The addition of dried fruit to sweeten the biscuit further or used in place of the dark chocolate is an option of course, but then we would be moving away from the basic choc chip formula wouldn't we! That is for another recipe :)

My version is not over-sweet, making the dark chocolate a welcome addition. Good quality dark chocolate is great for you, as it is loaded with antioxidants. The added fats in this recipe are nutritious cold pressed plant oils from nuts and coconut rather than butter, so this recipe can be adapted to be vegan if you replace the egg with a flax-egg and use a dairy-free chocolate which you can make in your Thermomix! Owing to the nut component you couldn’t send these to school, but they would certainly be a fab high-energy and nutritious after-school snack. They are loaded with dietary fibre, and if you use walnuts, omega-3 fats too!

Nutty (not too naughty) chocolate chip biscuits


80g whole oats
90g raw walnuts or cashew nuts
40g virgin coconut oil
50g sucanat (rapadura) sugar
50g raw caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 large egg
100g wholemeal spelt flour
20g water or milk
120g semi-sweet (dark) choc chips


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place whole oats in TM bowl and grind at speed 9 for 30 seconds. Decant into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add walnuts or cashew nuts to the TM bowl and grind for 5 seconds at speed 10. Add coconut oil and blend for 5 seconds more on speed 4, scrape with spatula. The mixture should similar to the consistency of peanut butter.
  4. Add caster sugar, rapadura and vanilla and mix on speed 4 for 1 minute. 
  5. Add egg and beat on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
  6. Return the ground oats to the TM bowl and add spelt flour and 20g of water or milk. Mix for about 10-20 seconds on speed 4 or until combined.
  7. Either add choc chips and mix on reverse speed 1 until evenly distributed, or use a spatula to incorporate by hand.
  8. Roll heaped tablespoonfuls of cookie dough into balls and place on prepared trays. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Stand on trays for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze.

add 2 tbsp of desiccated coconut
swap dark choc chips for white
use a flax-egg instead of a chicken egg

no thermomix?

  • use oat flour instead of whole oats
  • use a commercial nut butter instead of the nuts and coconut oil or try grinding the nuts in a food processor
  • use an electric mixer for steps 4-7

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easter egg cake pops!

Happy Easter everyone! I'm currently out of Hong Kong for the school holidays and a little sad to be away from my Thermomix (sick I know), but it's lovely to be enjoying some quality family time in my homeland of Australia. I'm a little late with this entry which I created for a get together for my big girl and her baby group a week ago now. These are my first attempt at real cake pops and I'm pleased to say that they were a huge hit! 

I decided to go with an Easter theme, owing to the time of year, and naively thought that my egg idea was an original one . . . of course no idea is original these days! Just Google it and you can be sure that someone has thought of it before you :)  Of course, you could always make the traditional ball-shape cake pops with this recipe, for anytime of the year. 

I used my Nanna's faithful vanilla cupcake recipe for the cake crumbs which I have converted for the Thermomix. Nan always made butterfly cakes (also known as fairy cakes), with this recipe which were a big favourite of her grandchildren growing up. Her recipe works well for cake pops because it is not overly sweet like so many cake recipes. There certainly is enough sweetness in this recipe coming from the buttercream used to combine the cake crumbs and of course the white chocolate covering. 

This is also my favourite buttercream recipe at the moment. Something I have developed after playing with a few different recipes, and adapted for the Thermomix. I have made it several times now with great success. The meringue powder is a recent recommendation from a friend, it helps to stabilise the buttercream. Using a Thermomix you achieve a light and fluffy result in a fraction of the time you would normally need to spend beating the mixture using a traditional mixer. If you like to decorate cupcakes with buttercream, this recipe is just perfect! 

Easter egg cake pops 
makes 14

Directions for making the cake pops . . 

You will need:

500g Nanna's vanilla cupcakes (recipe below)
100g Light & fluffy vanilla buttercream (recipe below)
350g white chocolate melts
14 lollypop sticks (or use paddle pop sticks or bamboo skewers)
a thick slab of styrofoam to hold your cake pops
  1. Line a baking with a sheet of wax or baking paper.
  2. Break cooled cupcakes into pieces and add to the TM bowl (my daughters love to help with this). Crumb on speed 4 for 20-30 seconds or until the cake resembles breadcrumbs. 
  3. Add 100g freshly made buttercream (see recipe above). Combine for 10-20 seconds on reverse speed 4. Test a small amount between your thumb and finger, it should be fudgy and hold together well. 
  4. Squidge a tablespoon (20ml size) against the side of the TM bowl. Remove the cake mixture from the spoon and shape and roll into an egg shape. Carefully place the egg shapes onto the prepared tray.
  5. Melt 20g white choc melts in a small microwave safe bowl on MEDIUM for about 30 seconds. 
  6. Dip the tip of lollypop sticks in a little of the melted chocolate and insert into the cake pop eggs (insert less than half way). Place the tray in the fridge for at least 5 minutes to set the sticks and firm up the cake balls. 
  7. Melt half of the remaining chocolate melts in the microwave on MEDIUM. Always remove the chocolate from the microwave and check at 30 second intervals. Do not wait for the chocolate to melt completely. Stir well until smooth. 
  8. Carefully dip firm cake pops into the melted white chocolate by holding the lollypop stick and rotating until completely covered, then remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate drips off. Don't tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off too :( 
  9. Place your coated Easter egg cake pops in the styrofoam block and allow to dry. 
  10. Decorate to your liking using a toothpick and melted chocolate as an adhesive for sprinkles and coloured sugar. I tried to use edible pens but they didn't write well on the chocolate. 
Nanna's vanilla cupcakes
makes 12 

120g butter
120g raw caster sugar
240g self-raising flour
2 eggs
120g milk (I like to use buttermilk)
1 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan or line with patty cases. 
  2. Chop butter into chunks and add to the TM bowl with the eggs and buttermilk. Beat for 1 minute at 37°C on speed 4.
  3. Add the caster sugar and SR flour to the TM bowl. Mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix for a further 5 seconds or until just combined.
  4. Spoon into the muffin holes, filling almost to the top edge.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until done when tested with a skewer.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack.
Light & fluffy thermomix buttercream
This recipe is half quantity of what I usually make to ice about 2 dozen cupcakes. The buttercream will keep well stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month. Simply bring to room temperature and re-whip for a couple of minutes in the Thermomix to use.

240g butter, softened, cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 cups icing sugar, (TM made preferably)


  1. Add cubed butter to the TM bowl and chop on speed 5 for 10 seconds.
  2. Add vanilla paste plus the icing sugar one cup at a time, mixing at speed 4-5 until well combined after each addition. Scrape down sides of the TM bowl if necessary. If your icing sugar is a little lumpy you may need to mix for up to 2 minutes. There is no need to sieve when you have a Thermomix! The buttercream should be very smooth, light and fluffy. . . almost velvety :)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cool crumpets mum!

I have always been one of those unusual people who really enjoys a good, healthy start to the day and have never understood how anyone could skip this important meal. My motto is that regardless of how busy you are, you should make time for a nutritious breakfast. If you are a busy person, you are probably most in need of the healthy start to your day!

I usually wake up hungry and go through phases of enjoying either my homemade, nutrient-packed fruit loaf smothered in ripe avocado, CADA+P (fresh coconut, almonds, dates, apple + pear) turbo pulsed a couple of times in the Thermomix and served with a dollop of yoghurt, or my healthy version of Swiss breakfast which was introduced to me by my mother-in-law many years ago. A good smoothie and homemade low-fat, high-fibre muffins also feature . . . or when in Australia, my favourite veggie cafe breakfast. Recently, I have added spelt crumpets to my repertoire thanks to my Thermomix :)

In Hong Kong, despite our British history, it can be hard to come by a good English-style crumpet, and you'll definitely have no hope finding the wholemeal variety! I stumbled across a Thermomix recipe online and since making them for my family several times now, I have discovered that the shop bought version just doesn't cut it in comparison. Try it for yourself!  My girls devour 2-3 for breakfast . . . honestly, they would eat them anytime of the day, and are always pleading with me to make more! I love that this recipe makes a lot. You can refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for a few days or freeze with a piece of baking paper in between each one. Simply pop in the toaster (on crumpet setting) and enjoy!
This is my version of Thermomixers’ crumpets recipe.


For best results use bread (baker's) flour for this recipe. If you can't find spelt baker's flour, you can use spelt plain (all purpose), although you will need to prove the mixture for longer. This mixture can be made the night before and refrigerated overnight after proving. The longer you prove the better for more bubbles! Handle the mixture lightly so not to destroy any 
of those precious little babies.  

200g white spelt bread flour + 1 tbsp
170g wholemeal spelt bread flour
1 tsp raw caster sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
300g tepid milk
200g tepid water
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
4 silicon egg rings
oil or butter for greasing

Add the sugar, yeast, 1 tbsp of flour and 100g of the milk to TM bowl. Set to mix for 4-5 minutes at 37°C on speed 2. The mixture should be frothy.
Add remaining flour, milk, water, egg and salt. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 7. The mixture should resemble a thick batter. Mix further for 8 minutes at 37°C on speed 1.
Leave the mixture in the TM bowl to prove for at least 1 hour until the batter expands and bubbles at the surface. You can leave for a few hours if you need to.
After proving, add the bicarb soda and gradually increase the speed to beat the mixture for 2 minutes at speed 5. Allow the mixture to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes longer. You can leave the mixture to prove for even longer to develop more bubbles.
Oil the egg rings and frypan with a little butter or oil. Place the rings in the pan and heat for 1-2 minutes.
Pour batter slowly and carefully into each ring to about half the depth of the egg ring and cook on very low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the surface appears dry and is studded with holes. If there are no holes you need to prove your mixture for longer.
The mixture will rise to fill the rings. If it overflows, pour in less next time :) As the mixture is almost sets on top, puncture a few extra holes for visual authenticity :) Flip the crumpets over to cook on the other side for a minute or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Clean and oil rings and frypan and repeat process until all batter has been used.
Serve warm with your favourite topping! You can pop them in the toaster for a crisper surface.