TOM’s Chocolate Brownies

IMG_1270There are times when you are craving something insanely chocolaty but also maybe just a little bit healthy. I give you my triple chocolate brownies with brain healthy walnuts, hidden spinach and optionally blood tonic beets for a ‘red velvet’ version.

Yes I just said I put spinach into my brownies! And even my little girl who enthusiastically helped me stuff spinach leaves into the blender flat refuses later to acknowledge they went in. But they are, in there, hidden and only adding to the deliciousness with a moistness and flavour that surprisingly compliments chocolate (also slightly bitter and astringent).

 

Triple Chocolate Brownies 

100g butter
100g dark chocolate
2 eggs
¼ cup water
½ cup apple sauce or beet puree or a banana
½ to 1 cup spinach leaves
1 cup almond meal
½ cup green banana flour (or buckwheat flour)
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp coconut flour
¼ cup sugar of choice (xylitol, coconut sugar or maple syrup)
¼ cup cocoa powder
pinch baking soda
1 cup walnuts
¼ tsp sea salt or flakes

50g walnuts
50g dark chocolate
50g ‘white’ chocolate (loving earths cashew white choc)

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Start by melting the butter and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave or over a boiler. ThermoMix: 10 mins/60’C/sp1.

Add the eggs and whisk in. TM:10sec/sp4

Then add the water, apple sauce or beet puree (for red velvet brownies) and the spinach (optional). Blend in a food processor until completely smooth. TM: 20sec/sp10

Add the flours, cocoa and baking soda and mix in well. TM: 10sec/sp6

Stir in the walnuts and the salt then spread in a greased and lined tin and sprinkle over the extra walnuts and chocolate.

Bake at 170°C for 30-45 minutes or until set but still gooey in the middle.

Enjoy!

 

The Ultimate Roast Chook (chicken)

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This is a Thermomix recipe. What is a Thermomix? See end.

It can be done with a stove, pans, pots and a steamer. But this is where the Thermy really shines. It steams the chook, pre-cooks some of the vege and cooks the rest completely, it makes stock then makes gravy from it and it does it all in an hour while you fluff around and drink a glass of something (maybe broth or maybe wine, the chook does also benefit from some). Heck the Thermy can even make the butter to make the tarragon butter! But, it can’t grow the tarragon (well actually I suppose you could use an old bowl as a pot given it would have a nice hole in the base if you took the blades out… hmmm interesting).

I would almost (actually I would most definitely) say that its worth getting a Thermomix just for this recipe. If you cook roast chook every Sunday then honestly this is the best recipe I have ever tried – and I’ve tried Maggie Beers and several other notable chefs. Yet to try Heston’s… but honestly getting a chook this good on the table in an hour… well thats just magical.

 

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Stone Soups Ultimate Roast Chook 

INGREDIENTS

The Chook
4 teaspoons tarragon butter, plus extra
fronds (leaves) of a fennel bulb, and/or the tarragon stalks
1 free range or organic chicken, (size 16 i.e. 1.6 kg)
pinch sea salt
pinch ground white pepper, or nutmeg or paprika
700g water (or 350g white wine & 350g water)

Tarragon Butter
250 grams unsalted butter
4 stalks fresh tarragon, leaves only, or your favourite herb like oregano
1 pinch sea salt, use course or flakes, not rock

The Sides (Paleo, Primal or Potatoes is up to you) 
2-4 parsnips, or 1 large sweet potato, or 2 large potatoes
1 bulb fennel, or an apple or onion
1 bunch asparagus, or greens of choice

The Gravy!
200g + 2Tbsp stock from steaming
1/2 brown onion
1 tbsp chestnut flour (or ½Tbsp green banana flour)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/2-1 tsp EDC vegetable stock concentrate, or sea salt

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Tarragon Butter

In the mixing bowl chop the tarragon for 4 secs./speed 5.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix 6-8 secs./speed 3.

Scrape into a small jar to keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
The Chook & Sides
A big chicken wont fit, so max of 1.6 kilos.

I wash my chook in cold water, season and leave covered for 1-2 hours to come to room temperature before cooking – depending on the heat of the day. If this makes you nervous skip.

From the base of the chook put your fingers under the skin and loosen so you can smear 1 teaspoon of tarragon butter onto each thigh and breast under the skin. Season with sea salt and white pepper and stuff the fennel fronds inside.

Put your chook onto the Varoma base breast side down. Place the base on top of the upturned lid, to rest for as long as you feel comfortable – or at least while you get everything else ready.

Dice your sweet potato and slice up your fennel. Then arrange the sweet potato and fennel around and a little under your chicken – this helps the steam to get around it.

Weigh the water into the mixing bowl, place the lid on and Varoma with your chook on top. Careful with the Varoma lid, it will have a little raw chicken juice in it, tip in or rinse.

Set to cook for 25 mins/Varmoa/speed 3.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to around 220’C.

After the 25 minutes take out the vegetables and toss into a baking dish with a little extra tarragon butter. Put them in the oven to roast and turn over your chook so it is breast side up in the Varoma.

Set the chook to cook for 15 mins/Varoma/speed 3.

When the 15 minutes are up transfer your chook to a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes or until cooked through and golden.

Trim the asparagus and place into the Varoma tray.

When the chook comes of the oven, carefully tip the liquid inside the cavity into the mixing bowl with the steaming liquid.

Let the chook rest for 10 minutes while the vege roasts some more and you make the gravy.
The Gravy
Pour the steaming liquid (now gorgeous chicken stock) in the mixing bowl into a jug and leave to settle while you wash and dry the bowl.

Chop the onion for 4 secs/speed 5 and add some of the fat/butter that floats to the top of the stock.

Sauté the onion for 3 mins/Varoma/speed 3 with the Varoma on top with the asparagus in it.

Add 200 grams of the stock to the mixing bowl and cook for 5 mins/Varoma/speed 3.

Mix the flour with 2 tablespoons of reserved stock and add to the mixing bowl.

Cook for 2 mins/Varoma/speed 3 with the asparagus back on top.

Taste and add the rest of the ingredients to taste. Stir for 4-6 secs/speed 3.

Add the juice that gathers on the platter with the resting chook to the gravy or to the left over stock.

The gravy may look thin, but by the time everything is served it will thicken up.
To Serve
Take the roasting vege out of the oven.

Toss the steamed asparagus with a little extra of the tarragon butter (optional but highly recommended).

Pour your gravy into a gravy boat.

Serve your lovely golden, moist and succulently flavourful roast chook with the golden vege, buttery herbed asparagus and luscious gravy.

 

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Paleo?
This recipe is of course Paleo by nature. The only thing is if you eat butter, if not use ghee, bacon/pork fat or even coconut oil. Use sweet potato for Primal or parsnips for Paleo or good old spuds if you want to.

Chestnut Flour gives a gorgeous nutty flavour to your gravy and everyone will be asking your secret. It is however seasonal and hard to find so you can use green banana flour or any other ‘flour’ thickener.

Happy cooking, and eating!
TIPS
Adding more vegetables you could easily stretch this out to serve 6. We get 2 adult and one toddler dinner serves plus 4 lunches of sandwiches or salad – both of which you can add the left over sweet potato, fennel and asparagus.

You should have some chicken stock left over to use for soups or to have as a light starter. Or you could just double the gravy recipe and make up the extra liquid needed with white wine, if you like your chicken swimming. But, I find this roast so moist that it doesn’t need much gravy and I am a gravy fiend.

For a lower fat option, don’t use the tarragon butter for the chicken, vege or asparagus. But, lovely Aussie grass fed butter is full of omegas and vitamin D so I even have it spread on left over chicken sandwiches the next day.

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A Thermomix is a crazy machine that can make sorbet and risotto or steam a chook. See their website (yes I was a consultant once, now I’m the head chef of a cafe that uses Thermys in their kitchen in place of a stove/oven/food processor and many other typical bench top items. Not because I was a consultant but because they work).

www.thermomix.com.au

Dark Chocolate Waffles – Paleo

_DSC2247Rich, dark and full of molten chocolate… everything you could want in a waffle. Originally created for an Easter brunch, along with Hot Cross Waffles (OMG YUM), these chocoholics delight would be perfect anytime or anywhere for any reason. Served with tart berry compote they really are fantastic. Would also be lovely with fresh raspberries and whipped coconut cream or with orange spiced cream… so many options. Just make sure the accompaniments have a little tartness to cut through the rich chocolateyness.

There are so many variations possible by adding different additions to the base recipe.

Rich Dark Choc Waffles just add the dark choc chunks – serve with berry compote

Tripple Choc Fudge Waffles add both ‘white’ & ‘mylk’ choc – serve with caution!

Jaffa Waffles add the orange zest and the choc chunks – serve with orange cream

Black Forest Waffles add dark choc & cherries – serve with whipped or coconut cream

After Dinner Mint Waffles add mint – serve with minty whipped or coconut cream

Choc-Raspberry Waffles add the frozen raspberries – serve with extra berries & cream

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Dark Choc Chunk Waffles

WET
150g butter (or coconut oil or ghee or half/half)
100g dark chocolate
1 cup water or almond milk
4 eggs

DRY
150g (1 ½ cup tightly packed) almond meal
50g (½ loose cup) tapioca starch
50g (½ loose cup) green banana flour
¼ cup coconut sugar or honey
¼ tsp baking soda

EXTRAS – choose one or three extra additions
150g dark chocolate in pieces
100g ‘white’ or ‘mylk’ chocolate (loving earth brand recommended)
½ to 1 cup frozen rasberries
½ to 1 cup sour cherries (fresh or drained jarred)
zest of an orange (use the juice as liquid in place of water)
mint essence or ½ cup fresh mint leaves

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THERMOMIXING IT

Grate the dark chocolate for 5-10 seconds on speed 10. Add the butter and melt at 60’C/for 3 minutes/speed 2.

Turn to speed 2.5 and crack in the eggs one by one. Then add the water.

Add the dry ingredients and blend on for 20 seconds/speed 10.

Add the additions and mix for 5 seconds/speed 3.

Pour into your preheated waffle iron and cook to its directions.
DARK CHOCOLATE WAFFLE BATTER (no thermy)

Melt the butter and chocolate.

Whisk in the eggs. Then whisk in the water.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Add the additions and mix to combine.

Pour into your preheated waffle iron and cook to its directions.
For a Breville Smart Waffle Iron
Use ‘Chocolate’ setting and cook as normal.

 

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Jaffa variety: Peel the orange with a peeler to get the zest. Then juice it and make it up to a cup of liquid by adding water or almond milk. Grate the orange zest in the Thermomix for 15 seconds/speed 8 then melt with the butter and proceed as normal. Add the dark choc chunks later.

Mint Variety: if using mint leaves add with the dry ingredients so they get blended into the batter. For mint whipped cream first blend ½ cup of mint leaves and ¼ cup of xylitol in the Thermy for 20 seconds/speed 10 to make mint sugar. Add the cream or chilled coconut cream and whip.

Berry Compote: in a small pan heat 1 bag of frozen organic mixed berries with maple syrup to taste (start with 2Tbsp and add up to ¼ cup).

Orange Whipped Cream: Zest and orange and whip into the cream/coconut cream with 1Tbsp honey.