Monday, 23 June 2014

My love affair with Bellini (the thermal cooker that is)

Oh I really ummed and arrhed for months about buying a thermal cooker. I have a KitchenAid mixer, a large food processor, a stab blender with whisk and chopper, not to mention my slow cooker and rice cooker!! Seriously do I need yet another appliance? What could I possibly do in the thermal cooker that couldn't be done in one of these other appliances?
Ok, so it can't compare in the looks department!
I originally came across this beauty at my Mother-in-Law's house, the Thermomix or Bimby as they are affectionately called in Italy have been around in Europe for decades, who knows why it took so long to get to Australia! On a trip to Australia my Mother in Law's sister bought over her old Bimby as she had upgraded hers. It really is a monstrosity of a thing, but we were all intrigued how this machine let you weigh ingredients and even boil water (um, hello people have you ever seen scales and a kettle?!). Anyway whilst living at my Mother-in-law's for a while I did use it to make Pesto once but since the instruction book and cook book was in Italian I didn't manage to use it for anything else. At the time the Thermomix hadn't made big in Australia yet so it sat in the corner of my MIL's kitchen, taking up half of the bench where until this day she still only uses it to make breadcrumbs!

Fast forward to today and the Thermomix is the most lusted after kitchen appliance of all home cooks (I think even a KitchenAid has taken a back seat to it!) but since the exorbitant price tag is out of reach of a lot of people, including me, the Bellini has done a pretty good job at filling a corner of the market who would otherwise have not had a chance to experience the wonders of a thermal cooker!

So after yet another discussion with my friends as to whether it is worth buying I caved, went straight to Target (where it was on special) and bought it! 4pm on a Sunday I bought it home wiped out the parts and immediately started an All-in-One meal in it! Oh geez what was I thinking?!
The recipe was a super popular one from Quirky Cooking- Creamy Paprika Chicken. It used nearly every attachment belonging to the Bellini! I can say it was a little bit ambitious of me to pull it straight from the box and attempt this recipe as it does take you a while to get your head around how to use it but I did manage to pull it off and it tasted great! (As a side note both the kids had a mild reaction to the cashews in it- who knew? But apart from that it was a winner!).
Since then I have used it every day! One machine that has the ability to do so many things really opens up a whole new world of cooking, I am hooked!
So far I have made quite a few different recipes (all sugar-free of course) some needed a little finessing but all ended up tasting great. (Note: From my own limited experience and from Bellini owners you do have to adjust cooking times some what when using Thermomix recipes but all of mine so far have turned out great!).

Here are some of the ones I have tried so far, why don't you give them a go!:
Quirky Cooking- Coconut Caramel custard (I have made this 3 times, substituting rapadura sugar for some stevia granules)
Bellini cookbook- Cottage Pie (needed extra time to thicken)
A Little Bit of Homemade Heaven- Cacao Coconut Brownie Slice (again I used stevia instead of rapadura sugar)
Quirky Cooking - Creamy Chicken brown rice soup (this is awesome! Highly recommended)
Wholefood Simply- Bounty Bars (I used macadamias instead of cashews)
I also used it to make macadamia butter, which it managed to do so much quicker than my high powered food processor and also a crumble topping for an apple crumble.
I also managed to make one of my own recipes as well! A Banana Cake with Cream Cheese icing. It worked out great and although I did use a tin that was too small, it was so super easy and tasted delicious! Here is the recipe:
My first Bellini cake!

Bellini (Thermomix) Sugar-free Banana Cake


3 tbsp Stevia (or 150g caster sugar)
125g butter, room temperature
2 x medium ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
110g plain flour
110g wholemeal plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi carb soda
150g milk


(Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celcius. Line a 22cm round cake tin)
1. Place stevia, butter, bananas, vanilla and eggs in bowl on Speed 6 for 1 minute
2. Add milk and mix on Speed 6 for 10 seconds
3. Add flours, baking powder, bi-carb soda and mix on Speed 4 for 4 seconds (or until combined)
4. Pour into lined tin and bake in oven for approx. 35 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
5. Remove cake from tin and leave to cool on wire rack.
6. Once cool spread with cream cheese icing
(I made a combo of cream cheese, butter, milk powder and lemon juice for the icing, I didn't use any specific amounts but if you start with 90g cream cheese and 45 grams of butter, you can adjust other quantities until desired consistency is reached)
*CONFESSION- The first time I made this cake I threw everything in at the same time and whizzed it up on Speed 6 for just over a minute, Bellini did seem a bit perturbed at first but it still came out great!

So stay tuned, I look forward to sharing some of my favourite Bellini recipes here soon!

Are you a Thermomix/Bellini addict?

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