You all know how thrilled I am with my not quite so newish Thermomix. It’s the one kitchen appliance that if someone stole it today I’d fret until I got another one. I don’t feel that way about my food processor or even my Kitchen-Aid which I used to love above all others. So imagine my excitement when I heard that Dani Valent, who wrote the cookbook In The Mix, was putting on a masterclass for Thermomix in Brisbane. I’m too cool to say I couldn’t contain myself but if truth be known, I couldn’t.
I bought my ticket and didn’t receive a confirmation and was so worried that I’d drive all the way to Brisbane (1 1/2 hours South) and find there was a glitch and I couldn’t get in. I tried to get confirmation but the head office for Thermomix is in Perth who had a public holiday. I decided to chance it and go anyway.
The masterclass was held at the new Market Kitchen at the Brisbane Markets. What a fantastic venue with a wonderful kitchen that people can rent for events. Brisbane Markets is a pretty big place and there were no signs saying, “this is where the kitchen is” (insert major grumble here) so I picked the building that looked like it matched the kitchen photo on the web and I was in the right spot.
It was lovely to see my favorite Thermomix consultants on the Sunshine Coast, Cheryle and Karli helping out behind the scenes. I had a quick chat to the lady sitting next to me (in the front row) and she’d only had her Thermomix a few days. She told me she hadn’t stopped cooking since it arrived. She’d made 6 upside down chocolate puddings that morning before she left for the masterclass. I had to laugh. “Been there, done that,” I thought.
The class began with Dani telling us how she began her journey into cookbook stardom. Five years ago she lived in Melbourne and worked as a journalist. She got an assignment to interview chefs around Melbourne for a story about what kitchen gadget they’d most like to have. One after another said, “Thermomix!” Dani didn’t know about this fancy blender looking thing that cut, chopped, stirred, whipped, sauteed, cooked and steamed but she was determined to get the story.
She began by getting a home demonstration of a Thermomix. Those of you not familiar with a Thermomix, they’re only sold through a demonstration by a consultant. The machine costs $1939 Australian dollars (Australian dollar is about equal with the US dollar) so they want to be sure that everyone who invests in a Thermomix knows how to use every feature. Once she’d had her demo it took her a few months to decide that she couldn’t live without one and her life hasn’t been the same since.
Like me, she quickly worked her way through the cookbook provided by Thermomix. She’d heard about all the snazzy things that chefs were doing with their Thermomixes and kept waiting for someone to create a cookbook with masterchef quality recipes. She waited… and waited… and finally she decided that as a writer, she could do it herself. She’s not a trained chef but she’s a very well trained eater. She’s been writing a weekly restaurant review column for The Age newspaper for quite a while.
In the Mix has recipes that Dani has created as well as recipes from well known chefs who love their Thermomix. Imagine Pumpkin Soup with Virtual Bacon Dust by George Calombaris, kirsch ganache from The Fat Duck’s James ‘Jockie’ Petrie, and Cath Claringbold’s delicious chicken tagine with harissa and cous cous. While all of the recipes are relatively easy to make, I’m pretty sure every one is fantastic. Out of the 12 recipes made in 1 1/2 hours, there was nothing I didn’t think was wonderful. Seriously. Wonderful.
The best bit for me was that nothing that went on today seemed above my skill level. The class today gave me real confidence to try the cucumber, mint and lime sorbet made with dry ice. The texture and taste was sublime and perfect as a palate cleanser. Why dry ice? Most sorbet made in the Thermomix calls for the main ingredients, plus ice cubes and a big whiz and a couple of minutes it’s sorbet. With this method there is no diluting the sorbet mixture. The dry ice doesn’t add anything to the ingredients but cold. Be warned though, depending on the batch of dry ice you get, there could be major splashage in your kitchen. Like this. The cheerful Thermomix group leaders and helpers weren’t fazed at all and quickly cleaned it all up.
Another dish she made was gluten free gnocchi made from gruyere cheese and kuzu served with pea soup and drizzled with parsley oil. Creamy, cheesy and I could have eaten a tubful.
Dani also taught everyone how to temper chocolate using a Thermomix. Simply heat the milk chocolate to 50°C and then let it cool to 37°C to get all the crystals going the right way to ensure a crisp glossy snap to the chocolate. She made a tray of milk chocolate and peanuts and a white chocolate and cumin crisp. Yes, cumin and it was fantastic! I normally don’t enjoy white chocolate but this was a real treat.
The one dish that surprised me the most was the beef stir-fry made in the Thermomix. When she said she was going to marinate a thick beef steak and then steam it in the Varoma I thought she had lost the plot. I expected the meat to come out gray and unappetising. I should have known better because who would do that for a masterclass?
To make the Beef Stir-Fry she took the Thermomix bowl she’d made the marinade in and added 700 grams of water. She inserted the basket and added the rice and whizzed the machine to rinse the starch and get all the marinade flavour into the rice. While the rice was cooking, she put the Varoma pan on top and cooked an omelet on top of a piece of baking paper. When the omelet was finished she plopped the steak in the Varoma complete with the marinade. Once cooked she placed the rice, omelet and beef into a covered bowl that works like a thermos. With a clean Thermomix bowl she added the garlic and ginger, whizzed it, then added oil and warmed it up before adding the vegetables which cooked for 8 minutes. That took just the right amount of time for the steak to rest.
I only had a second to take a photo before the dish was whisked away so that everyone could get a serving before it got cold. It was delicious. If I hadn’t seen it go into the Varoma steamer, I wouldn’t have believed it was cooked in there. The meat was deliciously medium-rare and the vegetables were done but still had a bit of crunch.
The list of dishes goes on and on. There was the chlorophyll paste that she used in the green smoothie, the parsley oil or the cauliflower sausages that tasted very mousse-like. She even let heaps of her guests help to make the gnocchi and the cauliflower sausages.
When the class ended, Dani talked to nearly everyone, signed cookbooks and seemed genuinely glad to have the opportunity to talk with people about the food. I had such a good time and I’d cheerfully pay to go to another masterclass with her.
You can find Dani online on Twitter or Facebook or her website Dani Valent. In the Mix is available exclusively through Thermomix Australia. I know I don’t normally make a post that doesn’t have a recipe but hopefully I can take some of these techniques and build something wonderful very soon.