Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Today I’m not giving a recipe but rather the steps to make fun cupcakes for Halloween. When I saw these witch cupcakes on the net a while ago,  I knew I had to make them for my little one’s Halloween party. They made a great impression and are quite easy to make. Here’s how:

  1. Make your usual cupcake buns and wait until they are cool to put the icing on top (any icing would do or even sugar paste).
  2. Take ice cream cones (I cut out a little at the end so they are less tall) and brush some melted dark chocolate all over. Let the chocolate harden (that shouldn’t take too long).
  3. Meanwhile, spread more melted dark chocolate on a tray lined with silicone sheet or greaseproof paper. Spread it thinly enough but try leave about 2 mm thickness so they are easy to lift out.
  4. Wait until the chocolate is almost hard (about 5 minutes) and cut out circles with a pastry cutter. Lift them up carefully using a palette knife when fully hard and place on the cupcakes.
  5. Make some buttercream and add the colouring of your choice and pipe a little all around the edge of the “hat” so you can stick it to the chocolate circle.
  6. Pipe more buttercream at the bottom of the hat to make a nice pattern and voilá !

I also made the famous cake pops using white chocolate coloured with a lime green gel food colouring.

All the chocolates were melted in my Thermomix of course. The usual timing is 5 minutes at 50C, then reheat at 37C when the chocolate starts to harden again…

Pumpkin and orange velouté

Almost Halloween and the orange colour is almost everywhere, including in our plates lately. The pumpkin season is not so long so let’s make the most of it. It’s a good source of beta carotene (vitamin A), which is great for the skin and hair, so what can be healthier than this fabulously orange soup? Also a great way to use some of my basil herb oil

Source: Woman & Home magazine, Autumn 2012

Ingredients

20g Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in quarters
300g pumpkin, peeled and cut in chunks
100g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 garlic clove
1 tsp ground coriander
400g vegetable stock
A few sprig of coriander, drops of cream and basil oil to garnish

Method

  1.  Put the oil, onion and garlic in the TM bowl and chop 3 sec/speed 5.
  2. Sauté 3min/100C/speed 1.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and pumpkin and chop 3 sec/speed 5.
  4. Add the stock, orange juice and zest and ground coriander and cook for 17 min/100C/speed 1.
  5. Blitz for 1 min/speed 10. Add more water if it’s too thick until you reach the right consistency.
  6. Garnish with the cream, coriander leaves, basil oil if using and correct seasoning.

 

 

Basil and Parsley oil

I love it when I find versatile recipes that are both tasty and easy to make. I had some basil and parsley lying in my fridge and was looking for something to flavour my cherry tomato and hummus salad. Hence came the idea of doing this Basil and Parsley oil. I was not disappointed with the luscious green and beautiful smell coming out of the bowl after everything was blended together. A great way to preserve your herbs!

Ingredients

A handful of basil leaves
A handful of parsley leaves
1 pinch of salt
150ml Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in the TM bowl and blend a few seconds speed 6.
  2. Scrape down the sides and continue blending at speed 6, scraping the sides until all the herbs are blended smoothly.
  3. Pour out into a jar.
  4. Use in salads, on pizza toppings, bruschetta, anything you fancy really!

Scallops with linguini and tomato sauce

This month, Piroma from the Supertoinette forum proposed a seafood recipe for us all Thermomixers to do at home for our monthly challenge. I love scallops but I think I might have developed an intolerance to them after a bad food poisonning episode. Anyway, I did the recipe yesterday and it was delicious (not so much the reaction I got to the scallops afterwards…).

Source: Piroma

Ingredients

Pasta dough
500g 00 flour (pasta flour)
3 eggs + 2 yolks

Sauce
4 shallots (peeled and cut in half)
2 leeks (white part only, washed and cut into chunks)
Roe from 24 scallops
70g tomato concentrate (or tomato puree)
50g red Port
100g single cream

24 scallops

Method

  1.  Put all the ingredients for the Pasta dough into the TM bowl and mix 30 sec/speed 6.
  2. If the mixture is too dry, add water 1 tsp at a time until it clings together
  3. Knead the dough 1min30
  4. Tip out onto a piece of cling film, wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Cut the dough in 6 portions and roll the dough through a pasta machine until the setting before the smallest one is reached. Make sure to wrap the pasta portions until they are rolled because they dry quickly.
  6. Cut through a linguine or tagliatelle attachment.
  7. Hang somewhere to dry for at least 10 minutes.
  8. Make the sauce: chop the shallots and leek 6 sec/speed 6.
  9. Add 20g olive oil and sauté 5 min/100C/speed 1.
  10. Add the tomato concentrate and Port and cook 2 min/80C/speed 1.
  11. Add the scallop roes and the cream and mix 10 sec/speed 5, then cook 2 min/80C/speed 1.
  12. At the end of the cooking time, blend 30 sec/speed 10. Taste to verify seasoning.
  13. Boil 1 L water in a saucepan, add salt then the pasta and cook for 2min30. Check the cooking and strain.
  14. Meanwhile, pan fry the scallops in a little oil for 1 min each side (more if they are big), season and keep warm in the oven at 70C.
  15. Assemble the dish and enjoy!

Free Thermomix demonstrations in Dublin

I’ll be demonstrating the fabulous Thermomix at the Miele showroom in Citywest business park in November and December.

I will demonstrate a 3-course meal which showcases some of the functions of Thermomix. If you’re not sure what Thermomix is, why not see what it can do ?

You can book your free place through the contact form.

Dates: every Mondays and Tuesdays from the 5th November until the 4th December at 11:30 am (demonstration lasts about 1h30).

Venue: Miele Showroom

Cake Pops for Halloween

As we’re nearing the time for spookyness and Trick or Treat gallores, I found appropriate to give you a recipe for those yummy cake pops, which are a great hit with kids and can be decorated to your heart’s content. I only used spooky ghosts and bats sprinkles for these ones but you can be more adventurous and use white chocolate coloured in orange for the icing and make scary faces on each one.

Ingredients

Makes about 24 cake pops

For the gluten free chocolate brownie
150g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
3 eggs
100g ground almond
40g icing sugar (or granulated sugar turned into icing sugar in Thermomix)

For the chocolate icing
100g dark or white chocolate
100g cream
20g butter
Sprinkles of your choice

24 lollypop sticks

Method

  1.  Make the chocolate brownie a few hours in advance: put the sugar into the TM bowl and turn into icing sugar 20 sec/speed 10. Tip out and reserve.
  2. Place the chocolate chunks into the Thermomix bowl and blitz for a few seconds speed 6.
  3. Add butter, cut in dices and melt 5 min/50C/speed 1.
  4. Beat the 3 eggs and add to the chocolate mixture and mix 10 sec/speed 3.
  5. Add the ground almond and icing sugar and mix at speed 6 until combined.
  6. Pour into a 20 cm cake tin (buttered and lined) and bake at 190C for 25 to 35 min (check with skewer: if it comes out clean, it’s done).
  7. Leave out to cool completely on a grid.
  8. When the cake is totally cool, break it into chunks and place in the clean TM bowl.
  9. Blitz 3 or 4 seconds/speed 6 until it clings together.
  10. Make balls with this doughy mixture and insert a stick on each one of them.
  11. Leave to cool in the fridge for 1 hour.
  12. Make the chocolate icing: place the chocolate chunks into the TM bowl and mix 3 sec/speed 6.
  13. Add the butter and melt 5 min/50C/speed 1 until totally melted.
  14. Add the cream and mix 10 sec/speed 3. If using white chocolate, you can add a few drops of food colouring at this stage.
  15. Pour into a bowl, take out the cake balls from the fridge and dip each one into the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with the decorations that you want and place standing in a narrow glass to dry.

Macarons citron ou chocolat (lemon or chocolate macaroons)

I posted a recipe of macarons on this site before with a step by step. This recipe is a bit different because we are doing an Italian meringue instead of a French one. An Italian meringue is a meringue cooked with a sugar syrup at 118C. The French meringue is simply a meringue beaten with caster sugar until glossy. When using Italian meringue, you also have to add unbeaten egg whites to mix with the ground almond/icing sugar. I find the meringues made that way have a better shape but the sugar content is far higher! Also, I have learned not to fiddle with different colours with any batch of macaroons as there is a high risk of over-beating the mixture and ending up with flat macaroons as I sadly experienced during my month certificate. Just add the colour to the meringue while whisking and you’ll avoid that pitfall! Please refer to the step by step with pictures as the process is the same for any macarons after the meringue is made and ready to mix. I will give you the classic way to make macaroons (without Thermomix) and the Thermomix version. Just remember to have everything ready before starting (including the trays and all the bits and bobs you will need along the way) as once you start, you have to look after these babies without any interruption (they are very demanding little buggers!)

 Ingredients

For the macarons:
100g egg whites (about 3 egg whites left at room temperature)
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
125g egg whites (to mix with the “tant pour tant”: mix of ground almond/icing sugar)
300g caster sugar
75g water
Food colouring of your choice in powder form

For the Chocolate Ganache
400g dark chocolate (either in callets or ground with your Thermomix)
250g single cream
1 tbsp of any flavouring you like: coffee essence, Kalhua, rum…)

(Lemon macarons are made with a Lemon Curd filling)

Method

  1. Make sure you have everything out before starting the macaroons: a spatula, a stand mixer or hand whisk if not using Thermomix, a saucepan, a 1g precision scale, a piping bag with a large round nozzle, at least 2 trays (4 is better). If using 4 trays, place 2 on a grid at the 2 lower shelves of your oven. No need to preheat just yet. If using 2, just place one in the oven (lowest shelf). You will need to have the trays that are not in the oven lined with either greaseproof paper or silicone sheet. Have a large bowl and a sieve ready also. A food thermometer is also useful if making the sugar syrup (no need if using Thermomix!).
  2.  For the non Thermomix Method: sieve the weighed ground almonds and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Mix with 125g of egg whites and set aside.
  3. Whisk the 100g of egg whites until fluffy and white.
  4. Meanwhile, place the water and 300 caster sugar in a saucepan and stir a little before bringing to the boil (make sure there is no sugar stuck on the side of the pan). While boiling, check that no sugar was spat on the side, if it happens, use a brush dipped in cold water and brush the sugar back down. This step is necessary to ensure there is no cristallisation.
  5. When the sugar syrup has reached 118C or more (it’s ok if it’s a little higher but do not let your syrup colour!), pour slowly on the beaten egg whites while whisking at low speed until the whole syrup is used. Continue whisking at high speed to cool down the meringue (touch the side of the bowl and you will see it is quite hot to start with). The cooling down can take a while, so if using a hand mixer, you will end up with a very muscley arm 😉 Stop when it is below 25C. Add your colouring while whisking the meringue until you’re happy with the intensity (the colour always goes paler after it’s cooked).
  6. Now, it’s time for the macaronage: use a third of the meringue to loosen up the ground almond/egg white mixture. At this stage, you can mix quite vigorously.
  7. Next, add the rest of the meringue and fold it gently using a spatula with the almond mixture. You should make a round movement starting at the center of the bowl, then dragging the spatula along the side of the bowl to lift the mixture up and back down again. Turn the bowl after each folding motion.
  8. When the mixture is ready, it should form a ribbon when you pour some from your spatula (see step by step).
  9. Place in piping bag with nozzle in, remove any air pockets by smoothing with the edge of your hand).
  10. Pipe the mixture at a slight angle and with your nozzle almost touching the greaseproof paper/silicone sheet. Make your rounds smaller than you want them as they will spread a little. Make sure you leave enough space between each macaron.
  11. Lift the tray and tap it strongly against your worktop a couple of times to burst any air bubbles.
  12. Let them dry for 30 min to an hour (they should not be sticky when touched with your finger).
  13. While they are drying, preheat your oven at 150C for light coloured macarons to 170C for dark ones. I used a fan oven so I am not sure of the temperatures if using a conventional oven (gas ovens are absolute no-no for making macaroons!).
  14. Place cold trays on the trays you have placed in the oven before starting (the doubling of trays will help the feet forming) and bake for 11 min for small macarons at 150C (8 min at 170C) and 15 min for bigger macarons (12 min at 170C).
  15. Let them cool down before lifting them up with a hard spatula.
  16. You can store them in a plastic container with a lid for up to a week.
  17. To make the chocolate ganache: boil the cream in a saucepan. Add the flavouring, stir and pour over the chocolate. Mix until it’s all melted (you might need to reheat gently if some of the chocolate is not melting and the mixture is cold). Place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and spread it with a spatula. Cling film and leave to cool 30 min at room temperature. Place in a piping bag (no need of a nozzle) and pipe on one macaron shell and place another shell on top and press slightly. Leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating to soften the macarons).

 

Macarons with chocolate ganache

  1. Thermomix version: sieve ground almonds and icing sugar (you can make your own icing sugar with Thermomix by mixing granulated sugar 20sec/speed 10). Mix with the 125g of egg whites.
  2. Only use 150g of the sugar needed to make the syrup. With Thermomix, we don’t need to make a syrup as you can whisk your whites while heating at the same time. You’re gaining lots of time and effort!
  3. Place 150g of granulated sugar in the TM bowl and turn it into icing sugar (see step 1).
  4. Tip out and reserve.
  5. Place the butterfly whick in the TM bowl and measure 100g egg whites.
  6. Whisk for 5 min/speed 3/70C with measuring cup OFF and when it starts foaming, pour a little bit of the icing sugar.
  7. Continue adding more icing sugar, about 20/30g at a time until all absorbed.
  8. If the 5 minutes are not over, turn off the speed and press the ON/OFF button to clear the temperature setting. Continue whisking at speed 3 with no temperature until the light under the 37C is off.
  9. Proceed as in the classic recipe above from step 6.

Macarons with lemon curd filling

Week 3 and 4 at Cooks Academy

I have finally completed my 1 month certificate and boy was it intense! I remember going home every day totally exhausted but also inspired by all the dishes we’d made on the day. I still have a clear preference for sweet dishes (the afternoons were dedicated to baking and desserts) but I certainly will try again some of the savoury recipes I have learned. Here is a snapshot of some of them:

From left to right and top to bottom:

First column: moules marinieres, Prawn cocktail, seared tuna, seabass ceviche with fresh salad of shredded celeriac, pears, fennel and lettuce

Second column: Confit duck with fondant potatoes, braised red cabbage and pan fried apples, 3 dishes on the seafood day (prawn cocktail, moules marinieres and salmon en papillote), rack of lamb with potato croquettes and madere jus

Third column: Sushi day! Pithivier (frangipane, pear and chocolate in puff pastry), tarte tatin

Fourth column: Lemon meringue tart daisy style (that was the dessert I presented at the exam), quail Wellington (our starter for the exam),  lemon macarons, Brandy snaps

On week 3, we had Graham Neville from the restaurant Forty One at Residence who presented 2 dishes: a Lamb tartare and a Brill with Cracked wheat, garden cucumber and white chocolate Vermouth velouté.

 

Graham Neville (right) with our head tutor, David Rice plating up the lamb tartare

The fish was filleted by Graham in record time, vacuum packed and cooked in a water bath at 50C for 12 to 14 min, he then prepared a fish stock with the fish bones, oil, fennel, onions, celeriac, peppercorns, mushrooms, bay leaf, water and vermouth. He let it simmer with a cartouche (a piece of greaseproof paper, cut to fit the pan and placed on top of the stock to keep the steam in). He then added white chocolate to the strained stock and added it to a roux for thickening. The fish is then plated up with pickled turned cucumbers, the velouté and some salad leaves.

The other dish he presented was a stunning Comeragh Hill lamb tartare. The list of ingredients is mind boggling: lamb loin of course, red onion, caper sprouts, soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, tarragon, chives and Pommery mustard. Everything has to be chopped very finely and before chopping, Graham seared quickly half of the loin of lamb to give 2 textures and flavour to his tartare. The garnish consists of wild herbs and flowers, boiled eggs, garden onions, cucumber ribbons, garden radishes, creme fraiche and some of the garnishes are fried in a light tempura batter (same quantity of corn flour and plain flour and water). He uses a gaz canister to make his tempura light and airy but sparkling water works really well too!

This ends my journey at Cooks Academy. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would encourage anyone living in Ireland who wants to build strong skills in cookery to go for it, what you will learn there will last you a lifetime!