Sunday, December 18, 2011

whisks' favourite gingerbread cookies

when my best friend from high school told me she liked gingerbread cookies, i set upon a journey to find a recipe for gingerbread cookies, and this is what i came up with. generally, i like to bake them slowly so they don't burn, yet come out firm. they do soften nicely and the flavours develop beautifully. once rested, this is a beautiful dough to work with and smells divine.

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
125 grams butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
a few strips lemon rind (optional)

place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and lemon rind in the thermomix bowl and mill for 10 seconds on speed 10 until well blended. set aside.
place butter, brown sugar, egg, golden syrup and vanilla into the thermomix bowl and combine for 10 seconds on speed 5. scrape down bowl and combine again for 5 seconds on speed 5.
add the flour mixture which was set aside earlier to the thermomix bowl and combine for 10 seconds on speed 6.
set dial to closed lid position and knead for 40 seconds on interval speed.
divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. this dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. return to room temp before using.
preheat oven to 170°C.
line cookie sheets with baking paper.
place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.
sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.
roll dough to a scant 2mm thick.
use additional flour to avoid sticking.
cut out cookies with desired cutter.
space cookies 3cm apart.
bake 1 sheet at a time for 10-15 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!).
remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.
after cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like - they look wonderful decorated with royal icing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

whisks' orange coconut custard

this is my answer to making a dairy, egg and gluten free pouring custard to serve with christmas pudding, or any cake, or anything (or nothing) for that matter.

the rind an orange
60 grams sugar
10 grams maize cornflour
500 grams coconut milk
orange liqueur, optional, but nice to add for something festive

place the orange rind, sugar and cornflour into the thermomix bowl and grind on speed 10 for 10 seconds. take a good long sniff of this mixture - it smells so good.
add the coconut milk and cook for 8 minutes at 90 degrees at speed 4.
if you're adding some orange liqueur, now's the time to add your discretion, and give it a stir in the thermomix on speed 4 for about 5 seconds.
pour this into a jug and serve. just a warning, this is hot, so if you want to have a taste, spoon some out to let it cool, then have a taste. very delicious. as with all custards, this one will form a skin. if you like the skin, you don't have to doo anything. if you don't want a skin to form, place a piece of baking paper on the surface of the custard and remove it before serving.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

hair by whisks

yes, you read correctly. hair by moi. miss k had a formal to go to (her own), and i did her hair. it was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. she was trying to do her hair herself, and i couldn't help myself and took over. then, when ohno offered her the corsage, what did i do? i put it in her hair...of course. this worked out to be quite a practical way of wearing the corsage as opposed to wearing it on the wrist where it often would get bashed around.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

just a little taste...

blutsie picked this little booklet up for me from kinokuniya last week, and it's a gem:
so often, being time poor and all, wanting to have a little browse at cookbooks can be a luxury, which makes places online like amazon useful, but i'm old fashioned and i like having a hard copy sometimes and this is the next best thing. there are recipes from rowie dillon, of rowie's cakes fame - the clever lady who has found a niche market for gluten free cakes, adriano "does he need a last name" zumbo with his self named publication, zumbo, and seven other delightful books of varying levels of sophistication; in other words, there's something to suit everyone. there's a recipe from each book which provides a nice introduction to what to expect.

good on kinokuniya for doing this and taking cookbook catelogues to the next level.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

cast iron cookware

on saturday, blutsie and i headed off to an organic cooking class where they were promoting cast iron cookware and there was some discussion on how to season the cookware. people have their own favourite method, but i quite liked the method they suggested. the way they seasoned their cookware was to lightly saute vegetables in a vegetable oil, so, today, i tried it, and the vegetable i used was some cut up red onion, and the oil of choice was rice bran oil. i set my induction hotplate to the lowest setting, poured my oil in generously and tossed in the onion and left it there to cook away slowly. not exactly saute, but i chose to do it slowly so the oil would have a chance to seep into the pores. i'm sure some of the onioniness will seep in, but that's fine. it will make for interesting buckwheat pancakes, won't it? just have to make sure that they're savoury pancakes.

another interesting fact i learnt at the class about the cookware was that not all cookware which a magnet will stick to is induction friendly. for example, cookware which has a copper base encapsulated in stainless steel is not as efficient on an induction hob as one which is totally steel, as a cast iron pan is. i have wondered in the past why some pots heated up faster than some others, and now i know! this has never stopped me from enjoying my induction stove, but it has answered a few questions. and it's a good excuse to get new pots and pans...sigh...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

chocolate brownies for tn

this is an oldie, but a goodie which i first made in 1991 when i was expecting miss c. never to do things by halves, i made a double or triple quantity batch in my large pan. i have since shown much more restraint and have been making single quantity batches of this. yesterday, tn and his family came over for a visit - they were in town from perth, and i had to make this because tn likes it...actually, i remember him liking chocolate truffles, as well, which i will save for the next time they come over for a visit.

125g butter, cubed
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
250 grams brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
75 grams plain flour
25 grams self raising flour
125 grams chocolate chips

line a square 19 cm pan with baking paper. preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

place the chocolate and butter into the thermomix bowl and melt for 6 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 1. add the sugar. eggs and vanilla and combine for 10 seconds on speed 5. add the flour and combine for 10 seconds. scrape the nowl down and combine for another 5 seconds. add the chocolate chips and pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out the best you can. you don't have to mix the chocolate chips through the thick batter because they'll get mixed in when you pour this mixture out and spread it out. bake for 30 minutes. whatever you do, don't over bake the brownies. they should be cooked through, yet somewhat fudgey in the middle.

these brownies are supposed to have good keeping qualities, but i wouldn't know because they always get eaten up...even the triple quantity batches...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

hints on making sorbet

my hints on making sorbet in the thermomix.

more ice makes for a firmer sorbet. useful to know if using a fruit which gives a slacker mixture. alternatively, you can chill the fruit until firm.

homemade ice is far superior to using ice bought from the servo or supermarket. bought ice makes the sorbet very slack because it is too wet; homemade ice straight out of the freezer is dryer. the cubes of ice i use are actually very big, but they make a good sorbet.

if you want to make watermelon sorbet, freeze the fact you could use all watermelon and omit or use less sugar. on the subject of melon, rockmelon sorbet is divine. blutsie and i don't tolerate rockmelon well, but we find it quite irresistable, worst luck.

fibrous fruits, such as pineapple, give the sorbet a really lovely texture.

no need to peel pears for sorbet - can't tell the skin's there.

fruity dream is to fruit as is the stock concentrate is to veggies. waste not, want not.

oh, and this one is important, so you should commit it to memory. the addition of alcohol greatly improves the sorbet's keeping qualities (or non keeping qualities, depending on circumstances).

Friday, September 30, 2011

i can't believe all the fibre's there

i know. it doesn't have the same ring to it as i can't believe it's not butter, but that's the incredible thing about juicing in the thermomix. being the fibre sook i am, i was juicing the likes of oranges, pears, berries...nothing too tough, but on a trip to bankstown a couple of months ago, i bought some huge bethonga pineapples and decided to give pineapple juice a go, and boy am i glad i did - it's amazing. to me, bethonga pineapples seem really fibrous, but when juiced up in the thermomix, you'd never know it.

about half a large pinapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
a little sugar, to taste (or not)
about 400 grams ice cubes

pop all this into the thermomix bowl and blitz away on speed 10 for a minute or so. pour into a jug.
pour about 500 grams of water into the thermomix bowl and blitz to self clean and add this to the jug of juice, if desired. can you tell i don't like to waste a thing?

you can't tell that there's any fibre in the juice at all - the juice isn't thick, and it's very clean tasting - quite different from the juice from a juice extractor...and all the fibre's still there - isn't that wonderful? you might think there's a lot of water in the juice, but that's not a bad thing - we need to drink more water, and this is a easy way to have it - don't want to overwork our pancreas, do we?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

20 ways to get good karma

this is by the dalai lama and i thought it would be something i'd like to have in the blog.

1.take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2.when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3.follow the three R’s:
- respect for self,
- respect for others and
- responsibility for all your actions.
4.remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5.learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6.don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
7.when you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8.spend some time alone every day. your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10.remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12.a loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life. disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14.share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality. gentle with the earth.
16.once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
17.remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18.judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19.if you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
20.if you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


recently, i was asked about which cookbook was my favourite. my all out favourite is probably not the sensible person's choice, but i have a soft spot for the AWW quick mix cakes cookbook. baking a cake was one of those things i had always wanted to do well. whether it had anything to do with my mother not being able to bake, i don't know, but it was important to me. i wanted to be able to bake something for my children. you'd think that knowing how to cook a proper meal would be way ahead on the list, but no, cakes were by far, more important. i know i have my priorities right - i'm right there with marie antoinette when she said "let them eat cake", there's a woman who had her priorities straight! imagine the ball the two of us would have had on baking day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

vanilla custard, just like grandma's

on saturday, i got together with a few friends who were longing for some old fashioned comfort...old fashioned comfort food. so after having a nice comforting risotto, i made vanilla custard from scratch. no custard powder, and the yellow in the custard came from the eggs. yolks to be specific.

the verdict? one of the guys sighed and proclaimed it to be just like gran's and breathed in all the vanilla-iness. and everyone nodded in agreement and continued eating their custard. lol.

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maize cornflour
3 egg yolks
1/2 litre milk
vanilla bean paste to taste

pop it all into the thermomix bowl and set the thermomix to cook at 80 degrees for 7 minutes on speed 4. so good. so easy. no comparison could be made with the bought stuff.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

whisks' eggplant chutney

having just run out of my favourite indian wedding pickles, i decided to whip up a batch of my favourite eggplant chutney so i'd have something on hand to liven up my sandwiches and cheese platters. add salt and sugar at your discretion, but remember that you want it to be well flavoured.

1/2 cup salt
1 kilo skinny eggplants
2 large onions
1/4 cup crystalised ginger, chopped
5 red chillies, chopped
5 cloved garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons madras curry powder (or a mixture of ground cumin, coriander, fennel)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup your choice of dried fruit

cut the eggplant into 1 cm cubes, combine with the salt and cover with water. leave overnight. next day, drain and rinse the eggplant, squeezing out as much water as possible.
place the eggplant, onion, ginger, chillies, garlic, salt and oil in a large stockpot stir to coat ingredients with oil and place on a low to medium flame. stir frequently to avoid the relish from sticking to the base of the pot. once the onions and eggplant are soft,sprinkle in the curry powder, sugar, vinegar and dried fruit. cook a further 10-15 minutes. pour into sterelised jars and seal whilst hot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Let me introduce myself


What can I say about myself? I have a ton of cookbooks and I'm working my way through them and I thought it might be fun to post a cookbook recipe each time as I go along, or you have any recommendations or requests, please let me know.

I do have a tendency to dislike typing as a general rule, so unless there's a good reason to post a long recipe, I'll be posting short and sweet recipes.

See you around!

Monday, May 2, 2011

dorothy floate's secret of success cookery book

i actually have three copies of the dorothy floate's secret of success cookbook - one for me and one for each miss c and miss k, but have realised i really only need 2 because they will only need one each when i'm dead and gone. i guess the spare will be up for grabs.

that aside, it is an excellent read and dot takes her cooking very seriously, explaining everything so very carefully.

dot was never shy in letting her readers know which of her recipes won prizes, and good on her. and good on her for sharing her tips on achieving the finest results from each recipe. after all, why waste good ingredients with a bad recipe?

i was looking at an article about old or new recipes and decided that i, too, should share one of dot's gems - in fact, her (prize) gem scones, no less. i'm copying her recipe just as she wrote it - i think there's a certain charm about it. ask me if you need help with conversions - can't have anyone wasting good ingredients.

(prize) gem scones

1/2 lb s.r. flour
2 eggs
3 ozs butter
4 level tablespoons castor sugar
9 tablespoons milk

cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat a litte, then add a little sifted flour and beat well. then a little milk and flour alternatively until all milk and flour has been used. add a few drops of essence of lemon. bake in gem irons. put irons into oven and get them very hot while you are mixing the scones. gem irons should be so hot that when greased the butter will sizzle. it is a good idea to have butter melted and use a glazing brush for greasing irons. have your mixture ready before taking irons out of oven, grease and put about a teaspoon of the mixture into
each iron, bake in moderate oven 10 to 15 mins.

Friday, April 15, 2011

my little bread rolls

i had such a big response to these rolls, so i thought i had better respond by posting the recipe quick smart for everyone to try.

300 grams water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
a good slurp of extra virgin olive oil
500 grams strong bakers' flour

extra olive oil
cornmeal for dusting
sprigs of rosemary
extra sea salt

place the water, yeast, salt and oil into the thermomix bowl and set the thermomix to 37 degrees, soft stir for 1 minute.
add the flour and mix to combine - 10 seconds on speed 6.
set the dial to closed lid position and knead for 4 minutes.
tip the dough out onto the thermomat, wrap up and go and have a shower or do the dishes in the sink...or maybe some laundry is your thing...or sit and relax a bit...only 15-20 minutes, mind you. you could always prepare the trays for the rolls if you wanted to...line a couple of trays with baking paper, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with some cornmeal.

open up the thermomat and cut the dough into 4 or 5 lengths with the spatula (not the knife, unless you want to cut up your thermomat). position one length of dough on the mat so it is easy to cut, and cut it as if you were slicing a roll into little slices. each of these little lengths of dough will form the little finger length rolls.

place rolls as you make them on the prepared trays. when these are all done, go back to the first tray and drizzle a little oil on each roll, stud it with a little rosemary and sprinkle on a little sea salt.

start up the oven and heat it to 220 degrees celcius. when it's at temperature, it's time to pop the rolls in for 10 minutes or until golden.

that's it. and they are so easy to eat...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

a dip with sundried tomatoes and capsicum

my friend, bez, has just opened up her own studio for alternate therapies and invited me to the opening, and i couldn't resist asking if i could bring food. that's me, i can't help it. so from the title you're thinking i brought a dip...but i brought more - little rolls. little rolls about 7 centimetres long and 2 centmetres wide, if you must know. up until the day, i was toying with making pizzettes, passionfruit curd tarts ... anything and everything. it finally dawned on me that unless i make something less fiddly (yet delicious), the party would be over before i even got there. so i made these little rolls, for the first time, and definitely not the last. when the rolls were done, it all looked a bit boring, so to spice things up, i went with a dip. this dip .... because it was so fast (and yummy)!

100 grams sundried tomatoes
1 red capsicum, seeded and cored, cut into chunks
100 grams roasted cashews
50 grams verjuice
50 grams extra virgin olive oil

pop everything into the thermomix bowl and set the dial to close lid position. pulse the turbo button 2-3 times for a second each, or until the dip is the consistency you like.

did you know contribution disappeared even before the party had started? and i made a mountain of rolls and dip...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the reason why i go with the flow...

the early bird gets the worm...but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

cheese sticks

these are seriously very good, and they beat the bought stuff hands down - no contest. to make life simple, i slice my cheese rather than grate it - it falls off too easily otherwise.

300 grams water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
50 grams extra virgin olive oil
500 grams strong bakers' flour
cheese slices

line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sprinkle cornmeal over them.

place the water, yeast, salt and olive oil into the tm bowl and mix at 37 degrees for 2 minutes on speed 1.

add the flour and mix for 10 seconds on speed 6.
turn the dial to closed lid position, knead the mixture for 4 minutes on interval speed.

turn the dough out onto your lightly floured work surface and cut the dough into about 20 strips. stretch these strips as you place them onto the prepared baking trays. place slices of cheese onto the dough and set aside in a warm place to proof.

heat the oven to 220 degrees and when it comes to temperature, place the first tray of cheese sticks in the oven for 15-20 minute - they will be golden when they are done. repeat with the second tray.

enjoy these however you like...they leave the store bought ones for dead...

i love sly

sly's my nephew. he's in primary school, and i love him. he's soft and smooth, and a really wonderful person to give a mushy cuddle to. it's even better when he doesn't really want to return the cuddle and i can see it on his face. nothing worse than getting a smooch and cuddle from a smelly old aunt. i don't regard myself as smelly and old, but i'm sure i am in his eyes (and nose). i just gotta get me some of that lavender soap and talcum powder.

a couple of weeks ago, he and his classmates had to tell the teacher something special about know, something like i'm sporty, i'm a maths nerd, i'm good at jumping...that type of thing. well sly...did i tell you i love sly? well sly told his teacher he's smooth!!!! and indeed he is. he has the smoothest, softest skin, but when i heard this little morsel of delight, only one thing came to mind - sade's song - smooth operator.

i love sly. he's smooth.

Friday, April 1, 2011

converting recipes for the thermomix

take a photocopy of the recipe, enlarged it - it will make it easier to work with. if there are cup or scooped quantities, after scooping each thing, write down the weighs - that way, the next time go to make this recipe, you won't have to use your measuring cups. look at which method to follow by looking at the edc - find something in the edc which is similar and go from there. write the timings down as you go being careful not to overmix or overchop or overcook, whatever the case may be. err on the side of caution - you can't go back, but you can always chop/mix/cook more. take note of the timings - this will simplify and add precision to your results.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

portuguese custard tarts filling

200ml. fresh milk
20g. corn flour
1 pinch cinnamon
4 large egg yolk
100ml. water, extra
200g. sugar

boil the sugar and water for 2 minutes then set aside.

dissolve the corn flour in a bowl with a little cold water. bring the milk to the boil then pour over the cornflour, whisking thoroughly to mix. add the boiled sugar/water mixture and egg yolks and whisk thoroughly.

pour the custard mixture into the tart cases, almost to the top. bake the tarts in a very hot oven of 250°c. for about 15-20 minutes or until golden. sprinkle with a hint of cinnamon and serve warm

Monday, January 10, 2011

shortcrust pastry

this pastry makes a beautifully short and delicate pastry ideal for tartlet cases. miss k made a pile of the pastry cases yesterday which she filled with passionfruit butter...and me? i brought a jar of passionfruit butter and a box of the pastry cases to the concert i went to at the domain. very, very yummy. the concert wasn't bad, either.

500g plain flour
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
250g butter
1 tablespoon water

preheat oven to 150ºC. lightly grease a nonstick tart tin and set aside.
place all ingredients into thermomix bowl and mix for 30-60 seconds on speed 7. pinch off small portions of dough and roll into balls about the size of a unshelled macadamia nut. use the (floured) measuring cup to press the dough flat into discs. place these discs to line each tart cavity.
bake until golden.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

passionfruit butter

citrus and fruit butters and curds were something i had always avoided making. i just didn't want to know about them because if they were delicious, i knew i was going to eat them, but when i bought 3 boxes of passionfruit, i knew i had to try this. because i'm me, i made a triple batch and made 3 jars. one to give away (to dear em, if you must know), one for miss k and her friends you want to know? no...maybe not. and a jar as a spare. here's a tamer quantity.

pulp of 2 passionfruit
80 grams butter
100 grams sugar
2 eggs

place everything in the thermomix bowl for 8 minutes at 80 degrees on speed 3. you will have a smooth and rich mixture which will pour into sterilised jars easily.

this is wonderful in short little tart cases...or a spoon if you don't have any tart cases handy.


congee is a rice porridge commonly eaten for breakfast in asia, but i love it any time of the day for its comforting qualities. it is basically rice cooked in lots of water until the rice is soft; the amount of water used depends upon one's preferences and the region where one comes from. while i'm not cantonese, this is a cantonese version.

2 cloves garlic
a small knob of peeled ginger
a generous slurp of sesame oil
a generous slurp of rice bran oil
100 grams jasmine rice, rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
a splash or chinese rice wine
1750 grams water

place the ginger and garlic into the thermomix bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.

add the sesame and ricebran oil to the thermomix bowl and saute the ginger and garlic for 3 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 2.

add the rice, salt and rice wine and saute for 3 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse speed 2.

add the water. bring to the boil at 100 degrees, reverse speed 2, and reduce the temperature to 90 degrees. cook for 25 minutes. raise the temperature to 100 degrees and allow to come to the boil. add your choice of meat and vegetables and allow to cook for a few moments before serving.

my favourite addition is chicken...i also like preserved bean curd with it...sigh...

Monday, January 3, 2011

soft bread rolls

i've been making these rolls for months now and everybody loves them. they are so soft, light and fluffy...very versatile as well.

more recently, i made them on new year's eve and for breakfast for new year's day (they were THAT popular) for the wigs and miss k and her friends, who stayed over after watching the fireworks with us over the harbour. i have to say the fireworks this year were especially spectacular.


120g water
25g strong bakers' flour

remaining dough

500 grams strong bakers' flour
200 grams water
2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
30 grams sugar
20 grams butter

place the water and flour for the roux into thermomix bowl and cook for 3 minutes at 70ºC on speed 3.

place the remaining ingredients into the thermomix bowl. mix for several seconds on speed 6 until a dough forms. it is a slightly sticky dough. with dial set to closed lid position, knead for 4 minutes on interval setting.

remove dough from thermomix bowl and throw several times onto a lightly floured surface (this will improve the texture). thwack it onto bench and consider it exercise or therapy. that said, i must admit that i have on 2 occasions forgotten this step and can't say the bread suffered too much - still delicious and eaten to the last crumb

divide the dough into 16 portions and form into rolls and arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper. allow to rest for 1 or 2 hours (time permitting) before baking for 20 minutes at 180ºC. i find the rolls are really fluffy with the longer resting time. i rest my dough in a cold oven to get it out of the way and prevent them from drying out too much.

after baking, if you prefer a soft crust, cover the rolls with a clean teatowel as they come out of the oven.

if you're feeling adventurous, you can fill the rolls prior to forming and baking - some suggestions - cheese, ham, chocolate (uhuh...chocolate), custard (make sure the custard is nice and firm; alternatively, you could pipe it in).