There are tons of blogs, forums, and Facebook pages with recipes for thermal cookers. These sources (and the manual for your machine) are a great place for new users to start for step-by-step instructions to build your confidence. Using recipes that are specifically written for thermal cookers also helps you try out all the functions of the machine.
Soon though, you’ll probably want to branch out and start adapting other recipes. You might have a much-loved cookbook, an online recipe, or have a family favourite to adapt. Below are some recipe techniques that will work particularly well in the thermal cooker.
Using a food processor/ blender or finely chopped ingredients
All thermal cookers have the ability to blend or chop ingredients so this will work well. Note that you can only chop, you can’t grate or thinly slice. However, sometimes it’s possible to substitute chopping for these functions (thermomix coleslaw recipes make finely chopped vegetables instead of grated). They chop very quickly so if you are adapting a recipe for the first time, check the consistency every couple of seconds so you don’t over-chop.
Sauteing onion/ garlic/ celery
Many savoury meals start with a base of sauteed aromatics. To chop onion or celery, peel and quarter then chop on Sp5-6 for 3-8 seconds until you are happy with the size of the pieces. If you are chopping 1-2 cloves of garlic, start the machine on Sp7 then tip the cloves onto the spinning blades using the measuring cup. Then add a splosh of olive oil to your chopped vegetables and cook for several minutes on Sp1, 100C. You can also cook it on ST temp/ Varoma. I think the higher temp does a better job of releasing the flavours, but it tends to leave a burn mark with the Bellini. I’m happy to scrub this off with a scourer but if you are more cautious/ sensible, stick to the lower temp.
Even if the rest of meal isn’t suitable for the Bellini (e.g. a slow cooker recipe), I often do this first step in the Bellini to save time. For example, when I make a double or triple quantity of bolognese. I chop 3-4 onions, 6 cloves of garlic and 2-3 carrots in the Bellini in seconds, then saute them in the machine while I prepare the other ingredients. Then I tip it into the stove top pan to brown the mince.
Sauces with a roux base
Sauces with a roux work brilliantly in the thermal cooker. You can add all the ingredients at once (milk, butter, flour, etc) then set it to cook at 90C. After 7 minutes or so, you’ll have a finished sauce. See here for a Bellini cheese sauce and here for a white sauce.
Soups are fantastically easy in the thermal cooker. You can start with an aromatic base, soften the vegetables in stock and then blend to a silky finish, all in one jug. Here’s a Bellini recipe for leek and potato soup, and here are some instructions for safely blending hot soup.
Cake recipes that begin with melting or cooking ingredients
If you need to melt butter or chocolate before blending the ingredients for the cake, a thermal cooker makes the process so much easier. I’ve adapted several recipes using this technique including date slice, lemon bars, fresh ginger cake and chocolate mandarin cake.
In part 2, I’ll look at recipe techniques that can be more challenging to adapt to the thermal cooker, and list some tweaks to make them more successful.