Sunday, 30 September 2012

Best ever chocolate brownies

I just love a good brownie. I'm a self-confessed chocoholic (like so many out there)! My theory is, that if I'm going down the road of a fat and sugar blowout, it has to be well worth it . . . so it has to be a GOOD brownie or there's just no point putting it past my lips! 

My ideal chocolate brownie is rich and dark with has a crisp, meringue-like exterior, a slight chewiness and a moist, fudgy centre. This is the 'Best ever brownie' . . . my personal opinion of course :)

I have made several variations on this recipe over the years . . . my favourites are triple chocolate chip and orange & pistachio . . . I will get around to adding these in case you are already drooling in anticipation?!

I have to tell you that this is not my usual style of recipe, particularly for this blog . . . the chocolate part is of course right on track . . . but the fat and sugar content!  But hey, what is life without the occasional indulgence! Go on treat yourself . . . . you won't regret it I promise!

250g butter, cut into chunks
275g good quality dark chocolate (or use half 70% + half milk chocolate)
400g raw caster sugar or sucanat . . . I know, I know
4 large eggs
180g plain flour (white spelt preferably)
50g raw cacao powder

  1. Preheat fan forced oven to 175°C. Line base and two sides of a large rectangular pan (20 x 30cm) with a sheet of baking paper. For best results use a light coloured pan or glass dish. 
  2. Break the chocolate up into pieces and add to the TM bowl. Grate for 5 seconds on speed 8.
  3. Add butter and melt with the chocolate for about 1-2 minutes at 60°C on speed 3 until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and velvety. 
  4. Add eggs and mix to combine on speed 3 for 5 seconds
  5. Add sugar and mix on speed 5 for 20 seconds, or until well combined. 
  6. Add flour and raw cacao and mix on speed 5-6 for 10 seconds until just combined. Do not over-mix. 
  7. Pour the gloriously gooey mix into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until the surface is shiny and cracked and the mixture no longer wobbles when shaken. It may be slightly sticky when tested with a skewer. 
  8. Place the pan onto a wire rack and allow to completely cool before cutting into squares to serve. If you can't wait that long, there's certainly nothing wrong with digging into a warm, gooey brownie :) Enjoy as is, or served with a dusting of icing sugar and/or a dollop of cream or scoop of good quality vanilla ice-cream to cut the richness. Best eaten fresh :)
no thermomix?
  • melt the butter & chocolate in the microwave
  • beat the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl using an electric mixer until light and creamy
  • fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture
  • sift the flour and cocoa over the liquid and mix until just combined

For the health nuts . . . I promise that some healthier variations will follow shortly! LOL

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Friday, 28 September 2012

Bacon, red lentil & coconut soup

Thermomix soups are the perfect solution for a night in. I often make one as a quick and easy, wholesome and nutritious mid-week meal. Find out why I love the Thermomix for soup-making here.

This recipe is based on one that I found in the Delicious 2012 diary. It's just gorgeous and so easy to make in the Thermomix . . . as all soups are of course!  My family loves a tasty soup and this one fits the bill. I have added it to our list of favourites, in which Quirky Cooking's chicken & brown rice and creamy smoked salmon soups feature prominently :) 

I must admit, that it does look a little anaemic in the photo below!? Think I'll add a carrot to the mix next time :) But don't let looks deceive you . . . this soup is deeelicious I promise! It goes a long way too. . . I usually end up taking the leftovers into work for a yummy lunch :) 

Bacon, red lentil & coconut soup

180g red lentils, rinsed, drained
400g middle bacon, trimmed (organic if possible)
20g coconut oil
4 garlic cloves
2 leeks, trimmed, chopped
1/2 - 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1.5 - 2 tbsp TM chicken or vegetable stock paste
700g filtered water
400g coconut milk
juice of 1 fresh lime (or to taste)
chopped fresh coriander & spring onion, to serve

1. Weigh red lentils in the rice basket, rinse well and set aside.
2. Place garlic, leek and bacon in the TM bowl, set to closed lid and pulse 3-4 times until evenly chopped. Add your carrot here . . ha ha
3. Add oil and sauté for 3 minutes at 100°C on speed 1.
4. Add rinsed lentils, chilli flakes, chicken stock paste, water and coconut milk to the TM bowl. Cook for 15 minutes at 100°C, speed 1.
5. To blend: Put the MC lid in place and slowly wind up the dial to speed 5 for 20 seconds.
6. Add lime juice to taste, then season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve garnished with spring onion and fresh coriander. 

nutrition tid bit
Wondering if it's OK to eat bacon? For a discussion which may surprise you, read this

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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wholesome & tasty chicken nuggets

I have always preferred to crumb my own strips of chicken, great for children's parties and relatively quick to make as part of an easy dinner dished up with colourful veg for my girls. But, I must admit, I do usually have of a box of supermarket bought, frozen chicken nuggets on hand for the convenience factor . . . they are the organic variety, 'made from chicken breast' . . . but still, buying a processed product like this to serve up to my girls has never really sat comfortably with me. So, needless to say, I have finally got around to developing my own nutritious Thermomix version, which freeze really well by the way! They are easy to make, (albeit a little messy) and so great to have on hand, ready for a quick and easy, child-friendly dinner. . . and what mummy is not on the look out for this?! 

To help retain the moisture during oven baking, I have incorporated ground flaxseed into the chicken mixture, plus I have also enlisted Quirky Cooking's chicken stock paste as an ingredient, for it's delicious flavour :) This is a basic, yet very tasty recipe. I don't try to hide any veggies inside, (there's just onion for flavour and apple for moisture and sweetness). But, that's OK because I serve steamed veg on the side for mine, together with a generous helping of Thermomix made tomato ketchup of course! If you haven't got around to making your own tomato ketchup (tomato sauce for the Aussies), you just have to try it! 

2 tbsp organic golden flaxseeds
50g parmesan, chunks
1 large thick slice homemade wholegrain spelt bread, toasted, broken into chunks
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
600g organic chicken breast or thigh fillet, skin off, cut into cubes
1 heaped tbsp TM chicken stock paste
1/4 onion
1/2 small apple
1 clove garlic
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp (60ml) milk
splash of coconut oil (liquefied)

  1. Preheat fan-forced oven to 180°C.
  2. Add golden flaxseeds to TM bowl and grind for 30 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add parmesan cheese, chunks of toasted wholegrain bread and a good grind of black pepper to the TM bowl. Chop on speed 8 for 10 seconds, or until breadcrumbs form. Decant and set aside in a shallow dish (separate to the flaxseeds), ready for crumbing the chicken mixture.
  4. Add onion, apple and garlic to TM bowl and chop on speed 8 for 5-10 seconds, or until finely chopped. 
  5. Return the ground flaxseeds to the TM bowl with the cubed chicken and chicken stock paste. Mix on speed 8 for 20 seconds, or until well minced and blended. The mixture will be very moist and sticky but this is exactly what you want :) If you are not ready to shape the mixture into nuggets at this stage, the mixture can be stored in the fridge until later. 
  6. To a medium-sized bowl add one egg, milk, and a splash of coconut oil. Whisk well to combine.
  7. Now for the messy part . . . pick up a heaped teaspoonful of the chicken mixture and dollop or scrape off the spoon into the egg mixture. Shape into a ball using two teaspoons (or your fingers), then transfer to the breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture. Roll to coat well, then place on an oven tray lined with a baking sheet. Flatten and shape to resemble chicken nuggets as best as you can! I shape into a flat oval first, then gently press in the sides at the middle :) 
  8. Cook the chicken nuggets in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over halfway during cooking. I sprayed the nuggets with a homemade oil spray made from 1 part coconut oil & 4 parts filtered water for extra crispiness, but the splash of oil mixed into the egg dip should be sufficient. 
If you plan to freeze the nuggets to have them on hand for quick and easy mid-week dinners, cook until lightly golden (about 20 minutes). Reheat as needed from frozen at 200°C for about 10-15 minutes or until piping hot. 

variation ideas

  • Add fresh parsley to the breadcrumbs at step 3. 
  • If you so desire, try hiding some vegetables inside, such as a small carrot or half a zucchini. Finely chop with onion and apple at step 4. 

no thermomix? 
Grind the flaxseeds using a coffee grinder and make the mince mixture using a food processor.

For more child-friendly dinner ideas check these out . . . 

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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cacao, vanilla & raspberry marble cake

My girls love mummy's marble cake which is a favourite addition to their lunchbox . . . plus I feel a little better that I've managed to health-ify the traditional recipe :) This recipe is considerably lower in fat and sugar than the EDC version and others you will find online. I've used a combination of dates and rapadura to sweeten, (you can boost the sweetness further with a little stevia powder), plus I have incorporated flax or chia seeds and wholegrain flour for a nutrition boost. The raspberries may not be as vibrant as pink colouring for the swirl, but they are healthier!

2 tbsp chia or flaxseeds
160g filtered water
100g frozen raspberries (or mixed berries) + 1-2 tsp raw honey or molasses (optional)
120g butter, softened
100g organic rapadura sugar (or sucanat)
1 tsp stevia powder
100g dried dates, pitted
1-2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 eggs, room temperature
100g wholemeal spelt flour
200g white spelt or plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g natural or Greek yoghurt
25g raw cacao powder

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C and grease a large fluted ring cake pan.
2. Add chia or flaxseeds to the TM bowl and grind for 30 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a small jug, then weigh 160g filtered water into the TM bowl and add to the ground seeds. Whisk well with a fork and set aside.
3. Add frozen raspberries to the TM bowl and mash on speed 8 for 5-10 seconds. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Add a little honey or molasses to sweeten the berries if you prefer. Rinse and wipe out the TM bowl with water.
4. Add dates to the TM bowl and chop on speed 6 for 15 seconds
5. Add softened butter, rapadura, stevia and vanilla to the TM bowl and mix to for 1 minute on speed 4. Scrape down side of the bowl. 
7. Add chia mixture and eggs to the TM bowl and mix for 30 seconds on speed 5.
8. Add the flour and baking powder with the yoghurt and mix to combine for 5-10 seconds on speed 5-6. Do not over-mix. 
9. Use the spatula to dollop one half of the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan, then spoon a layer of the mashed frozen raspberries over the cake batter. 
10. Add the raw cacao powder plus a little milk or water (1 tbsp) to the remainder of the mixture in the TM bowl and mix for 5-10 seconds on speed 5.
11. Pour the chocolate mixture over the vanilla and raspberry layers and swirl with a knife to create a marble pattern, lifting the bottom layers of mixture over the top as you work. 
12. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean (with no batter on, as it may be sticky from the raspberry swirl). Turn out onto a cooling rack. 

This cake is best eaten within a few days or sliced and frozen in pieces ready for school lunches :) It is also gorgeous as a warm dessert with EDC chocolate sauce. 

use TM made berry jam in place of the frozen raspberry mixture

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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Spelt English muffins

I've been meaning to try my hand at making English muffins for ages. My family loves them, but I choose to avoid the supermarket variety here in Hong Kong, because they are made from all white flour. . . and I just don't do white! When in Australia, I do enjoy wholegrain English muffins, but I'm not sure I'll bother ever again, as you would expect, they just don't compare to a version made in the thermomix :)

The following recipe is based on this one from The Opies Family Food blog, with a couple of changes. My version uses wholemeal spelt flour and added mixed seeds for better nutrition, plus I have sprinkled the muffins with ground millet instead of cornmeal. You can make your muffins ahead of time, and pop them in a ziplock bag ready to toast for breakfast the next day. Or you can go as far as making up the mixture, allow it to prove overnight, and cook your muffins fresh the next morning. They also freeze very well, just split and pack into a ziplock bag ready to enjoy another day.

Spelt English muffins

30g whole millet
240g full-cream milk
50g butter
25g raw caster sugar
2 tsp yeast
240 filtered water
375g white spelt flour (or plain flour)
375g wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup mixed seeds/ wholegrains (e.g. chia, flaxseeds, millet, steel cut oats) optional
1 tsp Himalayan salt

1. Add millet to the TM bowl and grind for 10-15 seconds on speed 9. Decant into bowl and set aside.

2. Add the milk and butter to the TM bowl and heat for 3-4 minutes at 90°C on speed 1 until the butter is melted. Add the sugar and mix to combine for 5 seconds on speed 3. Decant into a small jug or bowl and allow to cool.

3. Place the water in the TM bowl and heat to 50°C for 1 minute 30 seconds on speed 1. Sprinkle yeast over the water (take care to avoid the blade) and allow to stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.

4. Add the milk and butter mixture to the yeast mixture in the TM bowl together with 375g of the flour. Mix for 15 seconds at speed 6 until smooth with the MC cup in place. Add the salt and the remaining flour. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 4. Set the dial to closed lid and knead for 3 minutes. Leave in the bowl with the lid on, until doubled in size. The dough will expand to fill the TM bowl - it will overflow through the hole in the lid if you leave it too long :)

5. Use your fist to punch down the dough and remove onto a thermomat. Roll out to approximately half an inch thick. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass. Sprinkle a sheet of baking paper (or the thermomat) with the millet meal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops with more millet meal, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

6. Grease a large non-stick frypan with a little butter and preheat on low.  Cook muffins for 5 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and turn over, cook for a further 5 minutes or until cooked through. I have a gas cooktop and used the lowest setting possible. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

7. To serve: use a sharp knife to score the muffin around it's middle and carefully split open by hand. Toast and top with your favourite spread, such as butter, honey or jam. They are gorgeous with lemon butter. Or serve with your favourite egg breakfast.
toasted muffins waiting to be topped!
I'll be trying my hand at a spiced fruit version next yum! I'll keep you posted :)

For more breakfast ideas see Thermomix does breakfast

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