Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Icecream

Well I have to say that although I am biased, I am quite proud of this effort.  This ice cream is so delicious and creamy and you only need 5 ingredients to make it (not to mention that I quickly got sick of paying $15 for 500ml of store bought coconut ice cream).  I tried out my ice cream machine for the first time with this recipe and although that simplified the whole process quite a bit, you can definitely do this without an ice cream machine.

- 800ml coconut cream
- 3/4 cup cacao powder
- 3/4 cup rapadura or raw sugar
- 2 free range eggs
- 2 tsp good quality vanilla

1.  Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and whisk together on a low-medium heat for a few minutes until warmed through and sugar is dissolved.

(Thermomix - add all the ingredients to TM bowl and cook 6min/80deg/sp4)

2.  Pour the mixture into a bowl and put into the fridge for a couple of hours to cool down.

3.  If using ice cream machine, you can churn the mixture at this point and once this is done, transfer into a freezer container.

If you are not using an ice cream machine, pour the mixture into a freezer container and freeze for a couple of hours.  Take the mixture out and blend on high speed to aerate (30sec/sp9 in Thermomix).  Put back into the freezer until completely frozen.

4.  Take out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you would like to serve the ice cream, to allow it to soften a bit and make it easier to scoop.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vegetarian Lasagne

So we in this house aren't vegetarian by any means, but somehow I ended up with so many different packs and types of lentils in my pantry, it's not even funny.  So hubby requested that I find ways to use them up!  This veggie lasagne was perfect.  My kids love lasagne but my son isn't overly fond of some veggies.... however even he didn't have any idea that this lasagne was vegetarian as he ate up multiple serves!  It's pretty important to soak the lentils prior to cooking them in order to make them easier to digest. 

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
Dry lasagne sheets (I used gluten-free ones)
100g sheep's milk pecorino (or parmesan), grated

White sauce:
1L milk of choice (I used Bonsoy)
100g butter, cubed
40g gluten-free cornflour
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of nutmeg

1 cup lentils, soaked for 8 hours, then drained and rinsed well (I used a mix of split red and Beluga lentils)
Optional - handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes
1 onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp cooking fat
4 large tomatoes, halved (or 400g can diced tomatoes)
1/2 red capsicum, cut into chunks
1 carrot, peeled, quartered
100g mushrooms
200g pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
Sea salt, pepper and Herbamare to taste

1. Grate cheese and set aside.  

2. Make white sauce: in a small saucepan on medium heat, melt butter and then whisk in cornflour.  Gradually add the milk, whisking the whole time.  When sauce has thickened slightly, add salt and nutmeg.  Set aside.

(In Thermomix, prepare a double quantity of white sauce by using the EDC recipe)

3. Make the lasagne filling: add diced onion, crushed garlic and cooking fat to a saucepan on medium heat.  Cook until softened.  In the meantime, puree in a food processor the tomatoes, capsicum, carrot, mushrooms, pumpkin and porcini mushrooms with soaking water (if using).  Add puree to the saucepan along with the remaining ingredients, including the drained and rinsed lentils.  Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for around 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft, stirring often.  Remove the bay leaf.

(Thermomix - add halved onion and peeled garlic cloves. Chop 2sec/sp7.  Add cooking fat and cook 2min/100deg/sp1.  Add tomatoes, capsicum, carrot, mushrooms, pumpkin and porcini mushrooms with the soaking water, if using.  Process 10sec/sp7 until finely chopped.  Add the remaining ingredients including the drained and rinsed lentils and cook for 20min/100deg/rev+sp2 and ensure that the lentils are soft at the end of that cooking time. Remove the bay leaf)

4.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees while you assemble the lasagne. In the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish, pour in 1/3 of the filling.  Top with lasagne sheets, then spread a thin layer of white sauce over the lasagne sheets.  Repeat this process 2 more times until you have used up all the filling, finishing with lasagne sheets.  Pour the remainder of the white sauce over the top and sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Place into the oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until the top is golden and the lasagne sheets are cooked through.  Serve with a salad.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

I make a lot of nut milk at home.  At least twice a week.  This means I always have leftover nut pulp that I have no idea what to do with!  So one of my new projects is to come up with ideas to use up the nut pulp so that it doesn't get wasted!  This is the first of these ideas.  This cake turned out very light and fluffy for a flourless cake, but it tastes very rich at the same time.  So a small square of this cake well and truly satisfies my chocolate cravings.

- 100g dark chocolate, broken up into pieces
- 50g butter, cubed
- 1.5 cups raw hazelnuts, ground into hazelnut meal (or you can do what I did and use leftover nut pulp which I dehydrated in the oven after making my nut milk)
- 2/3 cup rapadura or raw sugar
- 3 free range eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp baking powder

- 100g dark chocolate
- 1 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease a square cake tin with butter, then line the base with baking paper.

2. In a food processor, grind the chocolate for a few seconds until finely chopped.  Tip the chocolate into a saucepan and add the butter.  Melt on a low heat, stirring continually.

(Thermomix - add chocolate pieces to TM bowl and grind 5sec/sp7.  Add butter and melt 3min/50deg/sp2)

3. To the saucepan, add sugar, hazelnut meal/pulp, eggs, vanilla and baking powder.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour into the prepared baking tin.

(Thermomix - into the TM bowl, add hazelnut meal/pulp, sugar, eggs, vanilla and baking powder.  Mix 30sec/sp3.  Scrape down the sides and mix another 20sec/sp3.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin)

4.  Bake approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely.

5. Make the icing by melting the chocolate and butter on a low heat and stirring until smooth.  Pour over the cake.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cottage Pie

So after my recent holiday in southeast Queensland, the kids and I sure got a big chill when we stepped off the plane as we arrived back in Perth last week!  Having lived in Perth for 6 months now, I am still surprised by how cold it can get.  So I think the cold weather is the perfect opportunity to make some really warming winter food such as this cottage pie!

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp cooking fat
500g beef mince (preferably organic and grassfed)
1.5 cups diced veggies (I used carrot, capsicum, green beans and some frozen peas)
300g tomato puree
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Sea salt and pepper

Boiled veggies (I used white potatoes, sweet potato and pumpkin), drained and mashed with some butter, milk of choice (I used Bonsoy) and seasoned with sea salt and pepper
100g cheese, grated (I crumbled some sheep's milk feta)

1.  Into a saucepan on medium heat, add diced onion, crushed garlic and cooking fat.  Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until softened.

(Thermomix - add halved onion and garlic cloves.  Chop 2sec/sp7, add cooking fat and cook 2min/100deg/sp1)

2.    Add the mince and cook, stirring, until browned.

(Thermomix - add mince and cook 3min/100deg/rev+sp1)

3.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

(Thermomix - add remaining ingredients and cook 15min/100deg/rev+sp1)

4.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees while you assemble the pie.  Pour the meat sauce into the base of a large rectangular baking dish. Top with mashed veggies and then sprinkle with grated/crumbled cheese.

5.  Bake the pie for around 20 minutes or until golden on top.  Serve with a salad on the side.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hopewood Health Retreat

I'm back in Perth now from my holidays on the east coast and decided that for my first blog post back, I would blog about the time last month which I spent at Hopewood Health Retreat in Wallacia, located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains and approximately an hour west of Sydney. 

After a pretty intense first few months of 2013, I was in desperate need of a break by the time the end of June came around.   So I flew to Sydney where I met up with a friend and off we went to Hopewood for 4 nights. 

Our days at Hopewood were spent enjoying taking time out for ourselves which, as all mums know, is a rarity!  So to have 4 days of it was fantastic.  When we first arrived, I was thinking that with 4 days to myself I wouldn't know what to do with myself!  Well I found ways to fill the time and the 4 days were over so quickly!

For me, spending time surrounded by nature is something that is extremely therapeutic.  No matter what is going on in my life, if I can spend some time soaking up the beauty of nature and some sunshine, without fail I end up feeling better.   

Hopewood offers various types of packages depending on what your requirements are.  Because I wanted some "time out" to recharge my batteries, I opted for the Perfect Pamper package which included a choice of various spa treatments - I chose an organic facial, full body exfoliation, deluxe massage and reiki.  In addition, I also had a spa pedicure. 

The rest of my time was spent going for bush walks along the river, doing yoga classes, meditation classes and activities such as aqua aerobics and boxercise.   The food at Hopewood was a selection of beautiful vegetarian food which, as lovely as it was, I must admit was the one thing that I struggled with a little because I am usually a big meat eater!   

At the end of my 4 day stay, I felt ready to see my family again as I was starting to miss them and felt like my batteries had well and truly been recharged... though an extra day or 2 at Hopewood would've been even better!  My friend and I are already planning to go back there again in a year.  I highly recommend Hopewood Health Rereat to anyone wanting to take time out for themselves from the stresses of everyday life and I also look forward to going back there!