Sunday 1 December 2013

Pumpkin Soup

Hello everyone, Tonight I cooked some creamy basic pumpkin soup. It was also safe for my brother to eat. I love cooking, because I like making food that tastes good and pleases people. I'm not into food that looks good and tastes horrible. 

I needed lots of help from my sister Isabella, but my Mum only told me where the ingredients were so basically it was me who made it! 

My sister helped me chop the pumpkin and Sam helped with the leeks. I made some changes to the recipe because my brother is FAILSAFE, and can only tolerate moderate salicylates (thanks mum). So, instead of onions I used leeks, and instead of stock, I used some salt and garlic powder. 

When I'm cooking for my family, it feels as important as cooking for the famous Master chef people in the final round. When I get the recipe right then I feel like I won the car and the million dollars. When it doesn't work out the way I wanted, I just shrug my shoulders and hope it doesn't taste terrible. Next time I can improve. How does this soup taste - "like golden sunshine" says my big sister.


Saturday 30 November 2013

little lush cooks COOKING CLASSES

Welcome to my very very exciting adventure. The Thermomix has awakened my passion to see children delighting in healthy food, satisfied by the challenge of a creative dish and learning the joy of cooking food for others in a thoughtful way.  Enter the little lush cooks classes!

Children need to understand simple ingredients, the wonder of fresh produce plus learning a number of cooking techniques. There are numerous benefits to children's maths, language, fine motor skills and their confidence from becoming involved in cooking. Research demonstrates an alarming decline in food preparation skills and the loss of the benefits I just mentioned. We can change that in a fun way! Most importantly, involving kids with cooking is shown to have significant health benefits, including an increased desire to choose healthy food over fast food. 

However, my favourite reason for classes is the excitement of the children themselves. "I am an awesome cook" was the wonderful pronouncement of a little cook after our first class!

My fun with food started very young under the encouragement of a mumma that always had home-cooked meals for us, and had superhuman tolerance of kids messing in the kitchen. Many school holidays she would allow me to turn the house into a cafe for the day - and so probably turned the kitchen into a Jackson Pollock tribute. In every season of life, there has been someone encouraging me to explore new aspects of cooking adventures and flavour discoveries. And there has always been someone it has been especially delightful to spoil with good food!

Through the training and encouragement I received as a thermomix consultant, plus the inspiration of the little lush cook herself (Sophia - pictured below) I am proud to provide regular specialty cooking classes for children from 7-14 (though we happily welcome keen cooks younger and older!)

A little about myself professionally, (if you are wondering who will be teaching your children); I am a physiotherapist and childbirth educator of more than 15 years. Most importantly, I am a thankful mother of four and a blue card holder who loves seeing children grow through satisfying challenges. I still get a thrill every time when I see children's pride in their cooking achievement and enjoyment in serving others. I am acutely aware of the connection between the body's arousal state and ability to concentrate (hence a little pilates break during the class). Both students and teachers are always learning.

These cooking classes are specially designed to maximise your child's understanding of flavour combinations, textures, the art of beautiful food and the delight of cooking for others.
And of course, train children to understand health and safety in the kitchen!

The classes run for two and a half hours at my home in TOOWONG Brisbane with a short Pilates break to refresh bodies. The classes are intimate with only 8 places.

Easter Menu:
This exciting class aims to equip your child with the ability to make their own 'professionally decorated' cupcakes for their birthday (or Easter) and take care of a healthy family meal
Lime and Coconut 'Ice Cream'
Tomato Dip
Chocolate birthday cupcakes
Marshmallow Fondant
Tortellini in Tomato Sugo

Wednesday 16th April 9:30am
Wednesday 16th April 2pm

We are delighted by the feedback from class attendees. Here's what people are saying they loved about the Classes: 
"Appreciating how preparing healthy food can be fun and tasty."

From Be a Fun Mum's daughter: "Learning how to use the Thermomix properly".

"Learning to use the Thermomix and discovering new recipes that are healthy and delicious".

"It was great to see the child-centred approach you took, involving and explaining to the kids the whole way. I loved Liz's 'extra' explanations, about the chemistry of food, this was wonderful! "

"The supervised hands on experience"

"Trying new things and because they make them, they eat the result".

"Their increased confidence and knowledge of cooking"

Would you like to enquire about booking your child into a class? Please contact me and I will let you know the next class details or provide any information you need.

A note about pricing: These specialised classes are only $60 for two and half hours. I used to wonder why specialty cooking classes were so expensive (especially when I can cater for a crowd at $10 per head) Simply, there are an enormous number of hours (and details) that go into cooking classes, however we hope to make them accessible for as many parents as possible. 

For those who cannot afford classes, we suggest you make your own! Choose recipes that you and your child(ren) want to explore and your children will thank you for the focused time with them. It works best if you pre-prepare as many ingredients as possible.

I hope to inspire your budding cook one day! With love from all the little lush cooks. 

Thursday 31 October 2013

An Unexpected Journey - my season as a Thermomix Consultant

Given that my first response to the Thermomix (based on a picture and the price tag) was 'That's immoral", there's going to be an interesting story to my decision to start selling them!! And a curious journey it has been. Some things have been expected (like trying to swallow massive slabs of humble pie) and many other things have been unexpected, like opening new doors, discovering my passions and growing me in areas that needed to be pruned.

The key to the story was my mother in law, who had seen it in action and thought this would be a life changer for us. An enormous gift she thought would be a wonderful change she could make in our lives. I was pityingly sceptical and (barely politely) turned down the offer.

After 5 months, some arm bending, and an interstate visit from my in-laws, we had a lovely and straightforward woman (Julie Ann Allen) come and put us through the Thermomix paces. Not before I had given her some scornful "no thanks, I don't do party plans". I had hated feeling pressured to buy over-priced items that I could live without and didn't want to put my friends through any such experience. I was suspicious but relieved when I found out about the straightforward structure of the demonstration.

That soon gave way to excitement and amazement. My husband and I could see this would be a worthwhile investment, and thanked my kind parents-in-law and decided to pay half ourselves. It wasn't a stupid move. That half we paid was re-paid in grocery savings in 9 months, and I was keen to see people I loved helped like I had been. I had been given fun and time back in the kitchen.

My physiotherapy work was proving a little tricky to dovetail around my husband's commitments and the family needs, and my sister in law had turned my world up-side down by starting with Thermomix and having a ball, so I took the plunge and committed to do what I had criticised others for doing; started a direct selling business. (My sister-in-law and I are pictured above when I had just qualified).

Part of me still cringes at the phrase because of the connotations it brings up, including my rudeness. My first three months I kept looking for the 'evil' in the business. I was waiting for the 'ah-ha, I was duped, they are all monsters'. Instead, I got work. Hard work. Loads of training, support, some wins and losses, encouraging managers and group leaders and lots and lots of fun, creative people. The support has been amazing. My group leader has been generous, my branch managers incredibly encouraging. I have had a very fun team to play with and create yummy food.

Much of the last eighteen months has mostly been about meeting gorgeous folks I would have never had the chance to get to know and reconnecting with family. Some I still regularly pray for as I have discovered the struggles in their lives. I hope that the Thermomix would be some practical help as it has been for me. I have made some life changing cyber acquaintances as well, as the indomitable Leonie of ThermoFun and I discovered a shared passion for perfect recipes and life's hard twists and turns.

It's also been about having my preconceptions challenged. I have come to discover a whole world of brave folks setting up direct selling businesses of great products in order to work around family needs. I now own a lot of Norwex and some Mary Kay, and find them well worth their price tag!

It's been about extreme time management as I have tried to juggle ongoing therapy needs for my fourth child, some learning challenges for my first, lots of involvement in our church and college community and my husband's many commitments. I am much better at working out how to make things all fit, and also, know when there is just too much to fit.

The Thermomix experience has definitely opened doors for me. The small business training has been very good with an excellent focus on customer care. Information that my physiotherapy degree sorely lacked. On the horizon for me are small business opportunities that I would have never had the courage or knowledge to take, but have now I'm looking forward to. And that's because it has helped me realise my passions. Like seeing children confident and excited about the healthy food they can prepare!

However, more than anything else, the "Thermomix Consultant journey" has been about some much needed growth. And not just my 'direct selling' generalisations and rudeness. I was quickly shocked by how vulnerable I felt at presentations. I was used to instant respect and desire for my services as a physiotherapist. It was a scary feeling to be 'needing' people's business and starting skills training all over again. I had to face up to my pride and my judgementalism and decide that if I knew how good the Thermomix was, it didn't matter what other people were possibly saying or thinking, I just needed to get on with providing an excellent and helpful service. And the growth has been ongoing as I have faced tricky situations that brought out my fearfulness and had professionalism and generosity modelled to me by my group leader.

And I have to stop and say what an incredible support my group leader, Fleur Cole, has been. Riding the waves with me as I tried to fit everything in, she has been generous every step of the way. Over 12 months, I realised that I needed more than 20 hours per week to make my Thermomix business really effective, and just for this season, I can only invest 4-8 hours per week in work. Seeing this, my group leader has opened doors for me as a Thermomix Ambassador to continue sharing my passion for helping others cook well and enjoy their Thermomix, at a pace that suits my family. I look forward to continuing to develop recipes for those on the FAILSAFE diet (and hopefully a cookbook), and inspiring many.

So that's it. No bogey men. Just lots of support, learning and precious people. I'm very thankful for it all!

Thursday 10 October 2013

Chilli and Ginger Jam

You know - sometimes you just want to have fun...and play with flavours that get the salivation really rolling.

This little jam was inspired by Dani Valent's "In The Mix" Apricot and Cardamom jam. So many options....
A little bit with grilled fish, or BBQ'd lamb, or my Thai steamed fish. Go on, you know you want to!

Chilli and Ginger Jam:

Toast 3-6 dried red chillies (to taste – we love HOT)
And 20g of dried coriander seeds
TOAST 5 minutes 100 degrees speed 1.

Mill for 2 minutes speed 8-10 (turn it up as the bowl cools down)
They won’t be perfect powder – don’t worry.

Add 190g crystallised ginger, chop for 8 seconds speed 8

Add 50g sugar and 50g water and cook for 5 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 2.
Blitz for 10 seconds speed 6, repeat if necessary to form a coarse paste.

I have experimented with a dash of lime juice and fish sauce, a slug of sesame oil and it is seriously moreish

Steamed Fish with sticky sauce and crunchy garnishes

This is a 'test the limits' recipe. It's about discovering the cool things you can do with your thermomix, like making crunchy garlic garnishes as well as steaming your fish and your rice all at once.

There are a lot of sections to this recipe, but they are all simple and you can just cut down the time by preparing the garnishes on the stove top while the steaming is happening. Just be aware - you need to soak your sticky rice for 6 hours before cooking. (just factor that one in :)


Fish and Sticky Rice
2+fillet firm white-fleshed fish,e.g. barra, up to six pieces
2+banana leaves ,for steaming and serving
2+cups of sticky rice, (SOAKED FOR 6 HOURS)
pinch salt and pepper for seasoning fish

Crunchy Garnishes
80g vegetable oil
2 clove garlic,finely sliced
handful thai basil leaves,washed and dried
few coriander leaves,washed and dried
1/3MC of Fried Asian Shallots
1/3MC of sesame seeds

Sticky Sauce
5cm piece of ginger,peeled and halved
2long red chillies,halved, deseeded optional
100g palm sugar,roughly shredded
60g lime juice
60g fish sauce
2 tablespoon tamarind paste (40g)


Rice Cover the rice with water generously and leave to soak at least 6 hours


Crunchy Garnishes

Toast sesame seeds for 5 minutes, Varoma Temperature, reverse speed 1. Tip out and wipe TM bowl. 

Pour oil in TM bowl and set to 14 minutes, varoma temp, reverse speed 1
After 2 minutes, drop the garlic in and allow to fry
When there is 4 minutes to go, drop in the thai basil leaves.

When finished, pour onto a piece of paper towel over a small bowl.

Add the ginger, take the reverse button off ans chop 4 seconds speed 7, add chilli to the TM bowl chop for 3 seconds speed 7

Pour back 20g of the reserved oil and sauté for 3 minutes varoma temp speed 1
Weigh in the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind paste and cook for 6 minutes, varoma speed 2.
Tip into a small jug or bowl and wash out the TM bowl
The remaining oil is a beautiful seasoned basil and garlic oil for stir fries.

NOTE: If you don't mind using the stove top and want to save time - you can prepare the garnishes in a pan while the fish and rice are steaming. Simply fine slice the garlic, chiffonade the chilli and grate the ginger.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat. Add garlic and cook until golden (don't burn it or it will be bitter). Transfer to paper towel. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil and fry the basil until crispy and reserve on baking paper. Tip out all but 1 tablespoon of oil and add the ginger and chilli and stir fry for 1 minute. Then add the sugar, lime juice, tamarind and fish sauce (you may need extra tamarind, lime juice and fish sauce if cooking in a pan) and cook until syrupy. Transfer to a jug.


Fish and Sticky Rice

Season the Fish with a little of the reserved oil, salt and pepper and a little of the sticky sauce, sprinkle with half the toasted sesame seeds and wrap in the banana leaves.
Rinse out the rice, and put in the bottom tier of the Varoma, shaping into a donut to allow the steam to pass through well.
Put 1000g of water into TM bowl, set to 28 minutes, varoma speed 2

Place fish in the top layer of the Varoma, and place all levels on top of the TM.

Stir the rice 1-2 times in the cooking time.

To serve – place cooked fish on banana leaves, pour a small amount of sauce on top and sprinkle with the crunchy garlic, basil leaves, remaining sesame seeds, shallots and fresh coriander. 

Madame Pa's Signature Thai Green Chicken Curry - for the Thermomix

Madame Pa’s Green Chicken Curry
Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine

This is just one of those magic recipes. That one you perfect and feel it's your own signature dish...except of course, it's some one else's! I would love to know more about this Madame Pa, as my journey into Thai food (beginning 15 years ago) was made all the more exquisite by the Blue Elephant cookbook. I'm sure there is many a story to tell.

I would love to hear your experience with this dish - I think it's an exciting and rather different way to use the Thermomix. 

·      1 cup fresh coriander leaves

·      3tbsp vegetable oil
; just over ½ line on MC - use upside down til oil is needed.
·      1 ½ Tbsp green curry paste

·      pinch freshly ground coriander seeds
1 pinch freshly ground cumin seeds

·      370ml/13fl oz/1 ½  cups coconut milk

·      1 boned and skinned chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces

·      2 green aubergines (eggplants),
·      quartered 
sprig pea aubergines (eggplants)

·      1tsp sugar

·      1 ½  Tbsp fish sauce

·      2 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half

·      6 Thai basil leaves

·      1/2 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced

For the garnish
·      2tsp cream of coconut milk
fresh Thai basil for sprinkling

Thermomix Method

Toast cumin and coriander seeds for
2 ½ mins 100 degrees speed 2, cool 1 min

In the meantime wash and spin/pat your coriander leaves

Put a tissue just under the MC and grind
1 min speed 8-9. When finished, lift bowl out and gently tap lid on bowl to loose spices, then tip into the tissue. The coriander will still have shape.

Put coriander in and blitz
2 seconds speed 7. Scrape and remove into a small bowl.

Place oil in TM bowl, set to
23 mins, varoma speed 2 heat for 1 min

At 22mins add the coriander through the hole in the lid and fry 1 min

At 21mins add the paste and ground seeds and fry for 2 mins

At 19 mins press 90 degrees and start adding the coconut milk through the lid ½ a cup every 30 seconds

At 17 mins, press REVERSE, add the chicken through the hole in the lid, press 80 degrees, speed to 1.

At 5 ½ mins add your
·      eggplants (or zucchini and squash as replacement – can add a handful of snowpeas in the last minute)
·      sugar
·      fish sauce (I measure 1/3 of the MC)
·      kaffir lime leaves
·      thai basil leaves
·      chili

When finished, check balance of flavour. If you have used coconut cream instead of milk you will need to add lime juice to cut through the cream and balance the tartness. Otherwise, just balance the salty/sweet/hot and turn on for 1 min 80 degrees reverse, speed 1.
Serve with garnish in thermoserver.