What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: July, 2013

Spreadable Butter

Well, I can do butter. Easy. Done it at least three times now. But as the level slowly drops on the Western Star Spreadable, I know that it’s time to take the next step.

And I’ll tell why I’ve been hesitant. All of the Thermomix recipes for butter you can spread from the fridge are the same and look highly dubious to me. You weigh your butter and add the same weight of oil AND the same weight of water. Sounds like a recipe for a mess to me, and not terribly buttery. I don’t want to be able to pour the stuff onto my toast, I’d just like to be able to scrape off a curl rather than slice it from the fridge.

I’ve been putting it off long enough that one of the cartons of cream I have is old enough to fret about life and as a result is maybe a touch sour. The other pot is fine, though. What the hell, I’ll bung them both in, with half a teaspoon of salt. The sour one is a brand I haven’t used before, Country Valley, or something similarly bucolic. The fresh one is whatever I get from Harris Farm, I’ve always found it to be a little thick. So of course I get a result that’s delightfully different from the last three batches I’ve made, when there’s been no variables. It’s a much lighter colour, separated more easily and seems to be fluffier.

I still get four hundred grams of butter from six hundred millilitres of cream. Because I’m experimenting, I divide it in half. Half goes into the butter dish to be used as required in making dinner and baking.

Half goes back into the jug for a new life. I’ve weighed it, and it’s a bit under half, 180 grams. I think we’ll take this slow, so I only add forty grams of grape seed oil. I’m not going to add water because I’ve just had a whole lot of buttermilk sieved into a bowl, I use forty grams of that. I whip it at speed five for about a minute.

What we’re doing here is forcing the water and the fat to mix, with the help of the oil. It’s a bit counterintuitive, I’ve just separated the water from the fat to make the butter from cream, now I’m forcing some of it back in. You can do it with emulsifiers, or you can do it with brute force like we’re doing here. It seems softer than my butter control, so I slap it into a dish and stick it in the fridge.

And here we are after a needlessly longwinded P&F meeting, ready to have a bit of toast before going to bed. What do you know, it’s about the same consistency as the Western Star we use, needs a bit of persuading, but definitely spreadable. I wasn’t after a marshmallow foam type consistency. Just cream, water and grape seed oil, no emulsifiers, no colouring, no flavouring. Actually, you could do this with any butter you buy, cream it as if you were going to make a delicious biscuit, then before it knows what it’s about, whip some water and oil into it. Spreadable whatever you like.


Better Corn Fritters

I’ve made some Thermomix inspired improvements to the humble corn fritters that form about a monthly addition to the diet of my children. The original recipe that I seem to recall blogging about some time ago is basically a savoury pikelet with some corn added. See how far we’ve come.

I start off with buckwheat.

My source for this is The Source in Balmain, now that I’m getting less scared of parking in that fashionable suburb. You can buy buckwheat flour if you don’t have the means of grinding it, or The Source will actually grind it for you. I put a cup in the Thermomix and zap at high speed for about a minute. Add a four hundred and ten gram tin of corn (that’s an odd weight, doesn’t it sound converted from a pound? Close, but no cigar). And an egg.

I also put in a container of cheese that I’d Thermomixed for pizza, a mix of cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan. I’m really going to have to do some kind of analysis on how much cheaper is it to do your own processing of things like pizza cheese, or making yoghurt. I’m getting the feeling I’m saving quite a few bucks. And those of you out there trying to justify buying one might appreciate it.

Also four teaspoons of baking powder. Then enough buttermilk to make a thick batter. You mix it in the Thermomix on reverse speed two and pour the buttermilk through the lid, peeking to see what consistency you’re up to. Leave it for a bit while you go and compose a riveting email to your husband about superannuation.

Heat some fat in a frying pan, I’m using some chicken fat I saved from our last chicken roast. Gosh I’m getting frugal. Put soup spoons of batter in the pan, turning when some bubbles start appearing
on the surface. You want them all golden.

They’ve got a richer, nuttier flavour than the pikelet version. It doesn’t taste wholemeal at all. The baking powder and buttermilk makes it fluffy. Don’t tell the Moose it has cheese in it, he thinks he doesn’t like melted cheese. Rubbish, of course, everyone likes melted cheese.

Art of the Lolly Bag

I blame myself. I’ve passed on the sweet tooth gene combination to the Horror. Traditionally it has come through the female line, from my Nanna, who had packets of Pascalls Columbines stuffed down the back of all the lounges and into all her cardie pockets. To my mother, who made everything out of a packet, including mashed potato. But not toffee. That she made from scratch. Then there’s me, who’s been known to eat strawberry jam for dinner when not under adult supervision. And no we have the Horror, who uses a Lego head designed for storing different sized Lego pieces for storing his lolly stash, sorted into chocolate, wrapped, unwrapped and lollipops. I’m surprised he has any teeth at all. You can imagine he’s very particular about the lolly bag used for ejecting kids from his birthday party.

The institution that hosted his birthday party does actually provide lolly bags. They are pretty substandard, containing a no name lollipop, a facsimile packet of not Nerds, a strip of something acidic and chewy and various bits of plastic. Between us, the Horror and I have come up with something far more excellent. It has taken a few years of refining, but I think we have it about perfect.

For a start, birthday party attendees have no interest in the bag. Use a paper bag, seal it with packing tape. Actually, for girls you may want to use a horsie sticker, they pay slightly more attention. Next, brand name lollies. I’ve tried and tested, and it does make a difference. Now for the mix.

Variety is what it’s all about. I like to include a lollipop (ChupaChup), some chocolate (a Milky Bar cowboy, or a Dairy Milk tiny bar), some wrapped chewies (mini Mentos and a couple of Natural chews), some soft sweets (coca cola bottles, marshmallows, sometimes lolly bananas), some hard (lemon sherbets). Of late I’ve also been putting in two or three Clinkers and this year two Pineapple Lumps per bag made their debut. The crowning glory is the Wizz Fizz Sherbet Cone. If you haven’t tried them, get out and get yourself some, they’re a terrific sweet, chewy, crunchy, fizzy.


Next is assembly. After much experimentation I’ve found that its best to get all the bags out, so you know where you’re at, and load them up two or three batches at a time. One at a time is too time consuming, the whole batch into one bag at a time is just confusing. So you grab, say, a lollipop, two marshmallows, a mini Mentos and three coca cola bottles and put those into each bag. Then move on to the sherbet cone, three Clinkers, two lemon sherbets and two Pineapple Lumps. And so on. And so forth. Just this year I’ve been able to trust the Horror to help me with it and that cut down production time considerably.

Well, that’s birthday season over in our house, thank goodness. It’s very bad for the schoolgirl figure. Oh, except for one last party this coming weekend. I must get along to the gym.

Ninjabread Men, the Agony and the Ecstasy

I started something in 2002. Something of which I in no way understood the ramifications. I sent my son, the incipient Moose, to preschool with gingerbread men on his birthday.

The advantage of a winter baby is that you get a few months to see how the whole birthday thing works. Where the parties are held, how many are invited, do the parents stick around, that kind of thing. There was also what to do on your actual birthday, and that was to bring in something delicious to eat to share with the class. Through close observation I noticed that the preschool staff were least keen on a whole cake. You have to work out how many kids there are, cut the cake in that many pieces, find plates, clean up cake slice stumps after. It’s a palaver. To earn brownie points you work out for yourself how many are in the class, add teachers and admin staff, deduct the allergy kids, and send in something in individual portions. Like cupcakes. Or, in our case, gingerbread men. My kids aren’t that keen on cupcakes.

Little realising that I’d let myself in for a lifetime of gingerbread man making. The actual recipe isn’t hard, I’ll give you that in a minute. It’s the converting them into men that’s a very very tedious job, thank goodness I only have three kids. The Moose is at a stage where it’s lame to bring in cake for the class, but he won’t say no to a box of Snickerdoodles. At a girls school baked goods are never lame, but the Muffet now prefers to bring in a couple of trays of raspberry slice. It’s only the Horror from Outer Space who still needs gingerbread men. Only, a few years ago I found these cutters.

So now they’re ninjabread men. I’ve also seen zombie cutters, but that isn’t fun to say and they just look like you’ve been careless cutting out your men. I’m sticking with the ninjas.

“How many do you want?” I really have to ask, not wanting to know. “We’ll, there’s everyone in my class, that’s twenty five, and my friends who aren’t in my class, and my teacher and my bassoon teacher and I have Art, so the art teacher. And I’d like to have two. What about fifty?” Shudder. From much experience I know that the recipe reliably makes twenty four, so to be on the safe side I’d better make a triple recipe. The KitchenAid is up to its apricots in it, if you’ll excuse a Bazza McKenzie phrase.

I’ll give you the amounts for one recipe. Cream together 125 grams of butter with half a cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of ground ginger. Beat in half a cup of golden syrup and an egg. Mix in two and a half cups of flour and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Press the dough into a ball, wrap it in Gladwrap and stick it in the fridge while you go pick up the Muffet from school.

Upon your return, place a large sheet of baking paper on your workbench, slap the dough on top of it and put another piece of paper on top of that. It’s a fairly sticky dough, but you don’t want to work more flour into it. Roll it out to about a centimetre thickness. Then you start stamping out those suckers and putting them on a lined baking tray. The bit I really regret starting is decorating them with silver cachous.

Two for the eyes and three for buttons. Fifty times. I managed to bake one sheet and get another in the oven before I had to pick up the Horror from basketball. One more as I made him and his sister dinner, before I went up to the Moose’s school to listen to the Languages Poetry competition. Don’t ask. But he was very good, I was very proud of his Latin pronunciation and the way he didn’t pace a twenty metre track as he recited like he did while practicing at home. He didn’t win. Then another sheet before bed, and we got up to fifty. I still have some dough left to make some more, and I will, really, I just need a day off from those eyes. Those many glittering eyes.


Not even Slightly Papa’s Ricotta Tarts

The Horror’s birthday is coming up and I like to get in early with cake requests. As anticipated it went something like this: “Strawberry cake. No, friands. No, caramel cake. Oh, some people like chocolate, how about half strawberry and half chocolate cupcakes? Or how about a ricotta cake?”

Anyone in the Inner West know that the the best ricotta cakes come from Papa’s Pasticceria. On weekends they have a line out the door and down the street of slavering hordes buying them as fast as they come out of the kitchen. Actually I don’t know if they are the best, I’ve never tried anyone else’s version. They are excellent. I knew I couldn’t replicate them, not with a week’s notice anyway, but I could have a stab at the ricotta tarts.

These are what you have if you just want a taste of ricotta cake. Not as widely known as the cake, I’m surprised they sell anything other than the cake at the weekend because the surging crowds rather obscure the long glass counter. You need to be in the know. I am, being a local, so I braved the throng last weekend and procured some for research purposes.

Hmm, pastry quite short, maybe some cream? And there are many recipes about for ricotta cheesecakes, I might just take an average. Here’s what I did.

Pastry. Into the Thermomix chuck 50 grams of cold Pepe Saya butter, two tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of cream, a cup of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder. Zap. In a few seconds you’ll get a jug full of damp crumbs.

I pressed these into fifteen fluted Bakers Secret tart tins, the ones with the removable bottoms. There was enough for sixteen, but I’ve lost the bottom out of one of them. Surprised its only one, really. Baked these for a touch over five minutes, until they just started to colour.

Cheesecake filling. Bung into the KitchenAid bowl an egg and two tablespoons of sugar. Beat until the stuff goes white.

In another bowl mix together 125 grams mascarpone, two tablespoons of cream, 250 grams of fresh ricotta and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can do this with a fork. The old skills remain. Fold the cream mixture into the egg. Spoon into the tart shells. Bake at 140 degrees for about forty minutes, I like to go easy on the cheese. Take it out when it’s just starting to tan a little around the edges. The cheese filling will be puffed up, but will subside once it cools.

I would recommend de tinning them before putting them in the fridge, though they’re pretty fragile at this point.

Oh, they were good, all right. “A lot like custard tarts”, remarked the Moose as he embarked upon his third. The pastry was quite fragile, but melted in the mouth. The whole lot was just sweet enough. The ricotta filling was light and fluffy, quite a bit lighter than Sam Papa’s version. And that’s what the Horror couldn’t get past. He couldn’t even finish one. “It just isn’t right”, he said, handing me half. “I can’t forget that they’re not Papa’s”. Well, he’s right, they’re not. I need a tougher pastry and a creamier filling.

Having said that, I’ve just sampled one two days later and they age in the fridge very well indeed, as do Papa’s. The pastry is still fresh and delicious, but not nearly as fragile. The filling has compacted a little. I may see if the Horror can bring himself to try another one. But you know what? Papa sells these for less than two dollars each. I have an excellent tart recipe for my next afternoon tea extravaganza and I’ll buy the Horror his birthday cake from the Pasticceria.

Ah, Newtown

Newtown, I’d love shopping in you a lot more if there was somewhere to leave my car. Yes, I should catch the bus, but some of us haven’t got all day, you know. Kids to drop off, kids to pick up, washing to hang out, afternoon tea to produce, update my resume. Just in case.

It didn’t help that a whole block was taken up by what appeared to be a film rig in front of the Newtown Hotel. I wonder if the neon sign Smokes and Pokes was there for the filming, or if it’s a regular fixture? One never knows in this neck of the woods. You can also never pick who might be a film extra and who’s just a local. Girl with pink hair? Guy with a forked beard? School kid with dreadlocks? I’m going with local for all three.

Any trip to Newtown starts with a pilgrimage to Campos Coffee. Not one of those ones you see springing up all over the place. The original and the best.

Though I didn’t find it had its usual effect of taking the skin off my throat and causing my ears to ring. Perhaps they’re watering it down. It was still rich and satisfying.

I was going to make my first stop Pentimento, but they had a snarky sign up saying don’t you bring that coffee in here you clumsy plebeian. So moved on to the marvellous Elizabeth’s Bookshop where I found the girl with whom my sister has had her longest friendship. See what I avoided there? Rachel Ann (not her real name) was busy in the dark arts of the second hand bookseller, sanding the edges of the yellowing books, risking her health with the older ones that have been impregnated with arsenic, and polishing them with Spray’n’Wipe. Where’s the mystique? I chewed the fat with her a little and exchanged pleasantries with her colleague Roger, a very cute little black doggie. More shops should have doggies in them. I’m only looking for two things in second hand book shops, early editions of Wodehouse and elderly cookbooks. I struck gold, there was a facsimile copy of the 1902 edition of Mrs Beeton’s book of Household Management for a very bargain price. Who would let go of such a thing?

Rachel Ann said “if you like that, check this out”, hauling out from behind the desk an ORIGINAL of the thing, massive, dusty and leather bound. Laid by at three hundred and fifty smackers. I’m glad I didn’t have to choose whether to buy that.

I had to move on because my actual motive for visiting Newtown was to get some inspiration for the Horror’s birthday present. Putting together all of the things he likes, he is actually into steam punk without knowing what it is. He has a fob watch and a little brass folding telescope. Rachel Ann suggested Monster Threads for steam punk, and a very fine shop it is too. I really liked a lot of the clothes in there and there was certainly a steam punk aesthetic among the adornments but they were more for girls. And adults.

So on to Pentimento. I was rather tempted by the sealing wax and seals, but the Horror doesn’t write letters. He should, his great grandma would love some, but he can’t get past I’m fine, how are you? They have gorgeous cards and wrapping paper, soaps and lotions, a basket of Fair Trade string.

Not sure what you’d do with that, possibly tie up the top of your homemade marmalade with a piece of Japanese paper to be a whole lot more Inner West than the passè brown string and gingham. They also have ironic homewares and a selection of glossy books, some of which make me think that the local milieu has changed somewhat since the time that I lived here.

I ended up getting some organic washing implements.

The one that looks like a toilet brush is for the Thermomix, the lenticular one is for scrubbing potatoes and the nail brush will look lovely on the side of the new bath even after removing chunks of soccer field from the Horror’s knees. Then I saw another snarky sign warning mummy bloggers not to take photos, so I slunk out.

My parking time was up, even though there was much left to explore. I reluctantly betook myself to a soulless mall at which I purchased a size twelve waistcoat with a pocket for the Horror’s fob watch and one for his rather unsatisfactory plastic monocle. That’s a start. He’s been wearing a waistcoat that my mother bought for herself in 1983 and has been complaining about the lack of pockets. I wonder where you can buy top hats?

Marmalade Adventure

We don’t eat a great deal of jam in our house. The husband alleges that he likes all kinds of jam. But it’s simply not true, he actually will only eat IXL plum jam, the jam of his youth. So I needed a push to get me to make marmalade, despite having had it on my long list of things to have a go at making for some time. That push came this weekend.

If you have sons and they play any kind of sport that involves weekends and mud, you will have been called upon to provide cut up oranges at half time. This weekend was my turn to provide for the mighty Jedis, and I like to think Frank’s bargain navel oranges propelled them to their two one win. Seriously, a bag of oranges for three dollars. Nice ones too. Of course the Tupperware container came back full of skins and sucked on bits and quite a few untouched segments down the bottom. I’m not going to be fooling anyone into eating those, so it must be marmalade making time! Oh, I rinsed them off first. You don’t want grass in your marmalade.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the official Thermomix cookbook was so very rubbish I’d have less material for this blog, so I’m quite thankful. But the official recipe does very much deceive the novice jam maker. Here’s how it went.

You put a kilo of citrus fruit in the jug. My leftover rinsed orange segments were only 400 grams, so I added a Valencia I had in the fruit bowl, plus a couple of blood oranges and a couple of mandarins to make up the weight. The recipe suggest slicing the fruit finely, giving large circles. What arrant nonsense. You have a Thermomix! You chop the buggers up!

A kilo pretty much filled the jug. Once chopped it took up a lot less room.

I’m also dubious of the next step, which is to add 300 grams of water and cook at 100 degrees for ten minutes on reverse speed soft. With that amount of stuff in the jug, speed soft is just not going to mix it properly. The idea is to soften the peel. I wonder if you need the water at all? Anyway, I went on to the next step, which is to add 800 grams of sugar and cook at 100 degrees for five minutes on reverse speed two, which at least gets the mix moving. This dissolves the sugar, so that step can be left in.

Then you get to the jam making bit. The only useful piece of information in the final paragraph of the recipe is that you do it at Varoma temperature, whatever that is, and you use reverse speed 2. I cooked it for ten minutes, as suggested. I did wander off at one point to talk my husband through picking up movie tickets for WWZ that I’d booked online and wandered back to find a marmalade coated kitchen.

The recipe did warn that it might spit a bit, so put the little clear cup on the lid a little on the side, which I’d done, being a follower of rules. The cup had blown off clear to the other side of the stove. What did contain it was an upturned sieve.

I was fairly sure that it wasn’t cooked, so I gave it another five minutes. The only advice the recipe gave to test for it being cooked was that “it gels when tested”. Well, that’s less than helpful. I know about testing toffee, but toffee is cooked when it gets to a certain temperature. Jam is when the water content is reduced enough and the pectin has been extracted from the skin and seeds enough for it to start to set. Different. And this stuff was very pulpy, so a teaspoon full of it did just sit there, looking a lot like jam.

I decanted it, dear reader, into a litre jar and a half litre jar. Then I paced about a bit, occasionally mopping a bit of marmalade from a wall. It certainly tasted very good. But was it jam? As it cooled I became convinced that it wasn’t. Finally I slopped it back in the jug and set it going again on Varoma temperature at speed two, with the sieve back in place. Unfortunately in the excitement I forgot to put it on reverse, so it’s a bit more chopped up than I’d like. I let it go for twenty minutes. When that was done I had a look at it and I knew I’d got it right. It was shiny. I dropped a teaspoonful on a saucer, and raced to show the Muffet, who hadn’t been interested in a zombie movie. “Look at this!” I said, shoving the saucer under her nose. Then I tilted it to vertical and the blob of jam stayed where it was for a second or two before starting to slide very slowly towards her school blazer which she really shouldn’t have left on the floor. She scooped it up and pronounced it to be delicious, though possibly a little too hot.

It had reduced to being just over a litre of jam. After a night in the fridge it was the perfect consistency (and temperature).

That was fun. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to top it with a square of gingham tied with rustic string. It spoils the flavour.

Pickled Beetroot

“He’s got twenty eight kilos that he has to get rid of by the end of the day, no questions asked. Can I put you down for a kilo?” Who finds themselves in possession of twenty eight kilos of julienned beetroot, possibly contraband? I’m not sure that I want to know the story, but I love a random ingredient. So I take a kilo.

The only thing you can do with that volume of beetroot, unless you’re on a salad diet, is to pickle it. I’ve never pickled anything in my life before. I know my Nanna used to pickle beetroot, but she used a pressure cooker. The stain left by a thermonuclear temperature jet of death dealing beetroot would still be on her kitchen ceiling if her house hadn’t been demolished by soulless developers. I don’t trust pressure cookers. Or developers. So I’m not doing it that way.

There appears to be the American way of pickling beetroot and the Australian way, so I take a recipe from the ABC Tasmania site and use that. Except because I have julienned beetroot I decide not to cook it. I think it would be great crunchy. First you have to sterilise your jars. I had to get down my second biggest stockpot for that.

I have 700 grams of beetroot as it turns out, so I reduced the recipe I found. Place in a non reactive saucepan 700 mls of white vinegar (I would have used a fancy apple cider vinegar or something, but I wanted to get these babies pickled while they were still fresh off the back of the truck), a scant three quarters of a cup of brown sugar, a bay leaf, half a cinnamon stick, six cloves, ten peppercorns, a bit under a teaspoon of allspice and a teaspoon of salt.

I heated that until it boiled, then covered it and let it simmer for a bit to extract those flavours. Meanwhile I managed to get the jars out of their boiling water bath without burning myself too badly. I packed the beetroot into them using tongs, trying to be all sterile and everything. They filled the jars neatly to the top with a bit of squashing. I let the pickling liquid sit for about quarter of an hour to cool down and infuse a bit more. I got the liquid into the jars using a funnel with a sieve in it.

The liquid wasn’t enough to fill the jars, curses curses. But while poking at the beetroot in frustration I found that it packed down quite a bit more in the warm liquid and there was enough after all, oh me of little faith.

I think you’re supposed to leave it for a couple of weeks alone with its thoughts, to mature and develop and a whole lot of other anthropomorphic stuff. But I couldn’t wait and had a taste today. It tastes like bought beetroot, only sparkly and crunchy and alive. Oh man, it’s good. We might have to have hamburger night very soon. Or it would go so well with rocket and walnuts and a soft feta, or goats cheese, and cracked pepper and a splash of olive oil. Maybe I should have got two kilos. I’d need to go to The Source then and buy some more jars. Oh the horror.

Blood Orange Sorbet

Every suburb needs a fruit shop like Frank’s. In original condition, as the real estate agents would say, staffed by Frank and his relatives, festooned with boxes and sacks and handwritten signs. A chef I’m related to has seen Frank early in the morning at the markets, picking over the produce, haggling, looking for the best. You can trust the fruit from Franks. He even stocks produce from local gardens, don’t buy your tomatoes anywhere else. He’s just got in blood oranges.

I haven’t seen them anywhere else. The kids have been eating iceblocks again and demanding new and more exotic flavours, so I thought I’d lay on them a blood orange sorbet. A quick google of recipes shows an astonishing consistency. You juice them, add a quarter of a cup of sugar to every four oranges, and then opinion diverges on treatment after that.

Of course a Thermomix allows you to use the whole fruit. I used twelve oranges, zesting them first because one is a frugal housewife. You just slice off the rind and pith (teehee, pith), cut them in half and poke out the seeds.

Put those in the Thermomix jug, added three quarters of a cup of white sugar and a tablespoon of zest, just because YOLO as I’m trying to stop my kids saying. I zapped that on speed seven for about a minute. I tasted it and it was still a little fibrous, though the sugar had dissolved. Another minute made it better. Look at that colour.

I poured it into a metal dish and into the freezer overnight.

This morning it was rock solid. And I learnt a lesson, dear reader. If you insert your favourite Wusthoff cooking knife that you got as a wedding present twenty years ago into a bowl of frozen blood orange juice and attempt to leverage out a chunk, you will snap off the tip.

This will cause you to stand aghast for several minutes, wondering where all the air in the room went. My favourite knife. What I should have done, and subsequently did, was to run the knife under hot water, jam it in the ice and wiggle it to the bottom in several places until it starts breaking up. It wouldn’t have killed me to let it soften for a few minutes either.

I got the chunks back in the Thermomix and very cautiously turned it on at a slow speed. The idea is to break up the ice crystals. The smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the consistency. You can achieve small ice crystals by freezing the stuff really quickly like they did the last time I watched Mastchef some years ago with a flash freezer. Or you can churn it while frozen, like you do in an icecream maker. The Thermomix did a fair job (two minutes at speed four with a lot of poking with the spatula through the lid) but it might have been better if I’d let it soften some more. Or if I’d put a few egg whites in the initial mix. You could serve it at this point.

I spooned it into iceblock moulds, the kids prefer to eat it that way.

The Moose happened to be around, he had a late start due to having to be in town at 10.30 for a giant music rehearsal today. I gave him a taste. He pulled a face. “Ooh, it’s a bit sour,” he opined. “It isn’t strawberry, it’s blood orange.” “Oh, in that case it’s great. Can I have some more?”. It’s all in the marketing.

Thermomix Friands – Orange and Poppyseed

My Thermomix had its own holiday while we were away. It went to visit a friend and made a variety of beverages and butter and many other things that I’ll find out about next time I barge into her house and demand she makes me a coffee. I missed it as soon as I got home, I had to go and retrieve it and immediately make porridge and yoghurt and raisin bread in it. Not all at the same time. Over several hours. I know I’ve discussed friands before, but they’re just one more thing that’s a lot easier in the Thermomix.

The order is a little different to doing it by hand, as are the ingredients. You put in the jug 200 grams of white sugar and 110 grams of blanched almonds. Zap it, zap it good. Probably about speed eight for a good thirty seconds. Rub the mixture between your fingers after it stops, if you want it finer go another thirty seconds. It depends whether you’re using caster sugar or regular, or slivered almonds. You want really fine. Tip this mixture into a bowl.

Put 125 grams of sweet butter into the jug and melt it at 60 degrees and speed two for about three minutes. Actually, I got this completely the wrong way round today, I did the butter first. I had almond meal, last time I went up to the IGA that’s all they had. I forgot about turning the sugar into icing sugar. So after the butter had melted I put in the two hundred grams of sugar and kept it at sixty degrees for another three minutes on speed three to dissolve it.

Then you put back in the sugar and almond mixture, plus three quarters of a cup of plain flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder, three eggs and your flavouring. I’m doing orange and poppyseed because blood oranges have just come in. I want to make something with the insides of the blood oranges, so in pursuit of my snout to tail philosophy when it comes to citrus fruit I’m saving the zest. Ignore the instructions for doing citrus zest in the Thermomix, you need a Microplane. You can’t Thermomix everything, you know.

I tend to use a lot of citrus zest, so the zest of twelve blood oranges should disappear quickly from the neat little glass dish I’ve stored it in. You want the zest of two oranges for this recipe, it’s about a tablespoonful. You also want a tablespoon of poppy seeds, put those in the jug too. Have I got everything? Sugar, butter, almond meal, flour, baking powder, egg, orange zest, poppy seeds. All right. I zapped it on speed eight while looking through the hole in the lid, stopping when it looked well and truly mixed.

I did use the friand tin this time, they do look a lot more appealing in that shape.

As you only get six to a tin I also used a patty cake tin inherited from my Nanna. I put the tins in the oven for a couple of minutes, then cut off a chunk of cold butter to grease them with. I’ve tried the spray oils and they don’t work as well as butter. You have to be a bit careful releasing the friands, wait until they’re cool and maybe run a knife around them if you can’t ease them out.

I overcooked them a little because I like the tops crunchy. Not that I get to eat them. They really are quite a bit lighter in texture done this way than by my old fashioned manual labour way. I going to have to think of some other flavours than orange and poppyseed and pistachio. If I did hazelnut and cocoa powder that would be a Nutella flavoured friand. Now there’s a thought. Wow, stream of consciousness invention right there.