How This Started and My Hope For This Experiment

My Husband and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver. For Christmas I bought him Jamie's cookbook "Jamie's 30 Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast". As I read the preface of his cookbook I was inspired by his ideas. He felt that he was spending too much time cooking during the busy week and doing too much clean up. So he decided that for the week night meals there needed to be something quick and still healthy and yummy. He and his team did a lot of work and made the "30 Minute Meals". He has explicit directions for step by step getting the meal done in 30 min. He tells you what to do first, second, and third so that you have all dishes going at the same time, instead of making it dish by dish. Since we aren't doing once a month cooking right now I was captured by this idea and dying to start trying. I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen during the week and can't wait to be able to prepare good meals fast. My husband was all for it since he loves to eat great food and has a very particular palette. He will be making some of the meals on weekends when he isn't working because, this is after all, his cookbook :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mixed Berry Trifle

Trifle is an interesting thing. It can be done in so many many ways and they are not all created equal. Some trifle's are made with cake mix and a box of pudding and some are made purely from fresh ingredients that just taste better. If you are temped ever to use a box just remember that it doesn't take that much more effort to make it a desert everyone will remember. This Mixed berry trifle is THAT GOOD. You will remember it and yes-do make enough for leftovers.

I used THIS RECIPE and only changed two things. Instead of using the orange juice and orange liquor I peeled three oranges and put them whole into my Vita-Mix and blended them until they were frothy. I measured out what I needed and my kids fought over the leftovers. It tasted like the Orange Julius's my mom used to make for us when we were kids. So much better than regular orange juice.

The second thing I changed was not by choice. If I could have found the mascarpone the recipe called for I would have happily used that, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get my hands on any around here and so I ended up using cream cheese instead. 
A little tip for using the cream cheese: make sure it is really soft before you use it. Leave in out on the counter until it is warmish. Then beat it in a mixer, scraping down the sides until it is really soft and will easily fold into the whipped cream. If it isn't soft enough, it will end up in lumps in the whipped cream instead of perfectly blended. But remember if you can get your hands on mascarpone use that instead and if not then the cream cheese is a great second.


We recently had an exciting and wonderful family event at our house when my son was baptized. I struggled to figure out what sort of food to feed everyone for luncheon afterwards. I wanted something yummy and comforting but also beautiful. Quiche seemed to fit the bill just perfectly. I ordered some new quiche pans for the project and since I like my quiche deep I decided on two 10" deep dish quiche pans. I read lots of reviews on different brands and some people seemed to think that non-stick was the way to go, while others seemed to prefer plain tin arguing that the non-stick wears off eventually and the tin lasts longer. So, I got one of each to test it out myself, and in 6 months I will let you know how things turn out :)

This quiche below is an Herb Quiche I adapted from a recipe my mother-in-law gave me. It has spinach, bacon, and cherry tomatoes with gouda and a hard vintage cheddar cheese. The recipe below is the one I started out with, but I used Gouda and vintage cheddar for the cheeses and added spinach and cherry tomatoes. And I made a homemade Pie Crust that was a 10" to fit my deep dish pans. I also had to 1.5 the recipe to fill up such a deep pan. 


1/3 LB cheese - about 1 3/4 C finely shredded (Jarlsburg, Muenster, Port de Salut, Fontina, natural Swiss Gruyere) ... I personally like Jarlsburg or Fontina
1/2 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Marjoram, crushed
1 - 9 in frozen ready to bake pie crust (or fresh pie crust not pre-baked)
2 eggs
1 C heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp pepper
(recipe calls for 1 tsp salt but I find it too salty so I leave out)
4 slices of bacon (optional)  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl combine cheese with spices. Sprinkle evenly in frozen pie crust. In small bowl, beat eggs, cream and (salt, if using) and pepper until well blended. Crumble cooked bacon on top of cheese. Pour liquid over top. Bake 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Let set on counter at least 10 minutes before serving for eggs to set up.



The two quiche on the left are the Herbed Quiche and the two on the right are an Asparagus Leek Quiche that I adapted from here: Asparagus-leek-and-gruyere-quiche. Since I already had so much Gouda and Hard Vintage Cheddar cheese I just used those, but I suspect the gruyere would have been heavenly. 
One recipe of this wasn't enough to fill a 10" deep dish quiche pan either, so in the end I quickly added some more half and half,  a few more eggs, a few slices of cooked bacon broken up, and a handful of grape tomatoes sliced in half.
All in all the quiche were wonderful. The one thing I wish I could have done differently would be to have served them room temperature-warm. Because I made them all the day before they were cold out of the fridge and didn't have enough time to warm up to room temperature. But next weekend we have another big event coming up and I will get the chance to do this all over again and this time-they will NOT be cold.

I would love to know if you have a favorite quiche recipe so please share yours in the comments.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Aubergine and Mint Bruschetta With Beetroot, Red Apple and Watercress Salad

These meals are not from the J.O. 30 Minute Meals cook book but they are from his website  They are fantastic and I highly recommend them even if you aren't used to eating either beetroot or aubergine/eggplant.
Disclaimer: I have never been a big fan of aubergine or eggplant as it is called where I grew up. I have always found it to be foamy when raw and gooey when cooked and particularly lacking in flavor or bitter. But as my favorite vegetarian pointed out to me once-"you probably don't like it because you have never had a good eggplant before". I think that was true, but really it was only one of the problems. The second problem was that I had never cooked it in the right way before.
So tip #1 Picking Your Eggplant
If your eggplant sounds hallow it will turn out to be the foamy kind inside. Pick them heavy, shiny, on the smaller side, and give it the thumb press test. Press your thumb into the side and if indents and springs back it is ripe :) I don't know if it is true but I read that you should look for an eggplant that has the smallest dimple in the bottom, rather than those with larger dimples.
 For the first time in my life I picked the right egg plants. They made the most wonderful bruschetta ever. This Aubergine and mint bruschetta is now one of my favorite J.O. recipes. The crusty bread soaks up the olive oil, mint, garlic and other flavors from the aubergine and tastes healthy and refreshing. 
Tip #2 Cooking the eggplant
Most things I have read tell you to sweat your eggplant before cooking to avoid the bitter taste, but in this recipe I didn't find that necessary. I simply grilled the eggplant dry without oil and they dried up in cooking and never got soggy. 
 Now on to the beetroot, red apple and watercress salad. This was wonderful as well. It has a light taste full of complicated flavors. Sweet apples and beets contrast the more peppery taste of the watercress. The highlight of the salad though for me, has to be all the fresh marjoram. It does something wonderful to the salad that is hard to describe. It seems to pull it all together and make your mouth say YUM!
I do have a tip for making this salad as well though: make sure your watercress is really fresh. It starts to loose its nice flavor and gets old more bitter.To do this look for dark green leaves and stems that are firm. Avoid any that are turning yellow or feel slightly slimy. The other tips for the salad have to do with the beats. One is to wear gloves when thinly slicing your beet root to avoid red fingers for the next three days :) The other is to peel them. He says just to wash and not peel but if you are even slightly worried about the flavor of the beets I would peel them. I always peel mine and I never get that dirty bitter taste.
Overall this meal was a huge success with the family and and will now be added to our list of favorite summer dishes. Here are the links on Jamie's website for the recipes.

FYI: I didn't have any white wine or herb vinegar for the bruschetta so I substituted red wine vinegar instead and it was wonderful.

Back to Blogging

Wow, it has been way too long since I have added any new posts to the blog here. We have been traveling around for the last half a year and have been living in and out of hotels and temporary housing where good Internet was expensive and/or hard to come by. That has meant this poor blog has been left largely alone. It is finally time to get back into the swing of things and start blogging about food and JO's 30 minute meals :) Check back for the next post soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sea Bass & Crispy Pancetta, Sweet Potato Mash, Asian Greens, 1-Minute Berry Ice Cream and Sprarkling Lemon Ginger Drink

Sea Bass & Crispy Pancetta, Sweet Potato Mash, Asian Greens, 1-Minute Berry Ice Cream and Sparkling Lemon Ginger Drink p. 182 
This meal is probably my favorite meal so far out of the JO 30 Min. Meals Cookbook. If not my favorite then in my top 3 for sure.  It was amazing.  We had a small cooking competition at our church recently and I made this for it. It won first place for best tasting. It really is GOOD!!  I am big into textures in food and this one has so many textures and flavors too that complement each other. It is a symphony in your mouth for sure. 
These are the Asian greens. Asparagus is out of season here so we went with broccoli alone. You can tell in the picture that they are overcooked as well. Once you loose the bright green color of your veggies you know it is too late-they're over cooked.  I am learning more though about resting your meat after it is cooked though and I can't see why this wouldn't work for veggies. A famous chef here in New Zealand said something in a class I took from him that made me think a lot about the way we do dinner at my house.  He said that home chef's always think they need to serve food piping hot, but really it is good for your meat to rest and better that your food is served less hot than overcooked!!  Good point don't you think? Next time we are waiting dinner on dad we will take the food out early and let it rest rather than trying to keep it hot and letting it overcook.

Crispy pancetta-this is 8 slices of pancetta that goes on top of the fish. it's cooked in a drizzle of olive oil until crispy. When crisp you remove it from the pan and leave the fat in the pan to cook the fish in.  Put the fish in the pan skin side down and press it down onto the pan with a spatula(the recipe calls for 4X 150g fillets of sea bass).  Next pound up 1 tsp of fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar and scatter them over the fish with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then finely grate over the zest of 1 lemon. Cut the lemon into quarters and save for serving.
Sweet Potato Mash- take 700g of sweet potatoes and wash, trim and stab with a knife. Put in a large microwave safe bowl. Halve a lime and add it to the bowl cover with cling wrap and microwave on full power for 12 minutes  or until cooked through.  While that is cooking, finely chop the coriander on a large wooden board and set aside a few leaves for the garnish. Add the mango chutney, a good splash of soy sauce, a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 a lime and 1/2 a chopped red chili.
Take the sweet potatoes out of the microwave when cooked through, then use tongs to squeeze over the juice from the hot lime halves and discard them.  carefully tip the sweet potatoes on top of the mango chutney mixture and use a knife or masher to chop and mash everything together, including the skins. Season to taste, adding more fresh lime juice if needed.
I added just a tablespoon or two more of the mango chutney to it because it tasted so good.
Here it is with the sea bass and pancetta on top, lemons on the side, and a little coriander (cilantro) to garnish. Magnificent food!  Can't wait to try it again.
Here is a picture of the second batch of broccoli I cooked up and didn't over cook. It is bright green and not dark at all. It tasted SO much better.
And if you just couldn't tell--here it is with the flash on :) I should add that I didn't make the berry ice cream for desert but will try to go back and try it another time and put up a post later.
This meal got a 10 from everyone in the family as well as wining the cooking competition at church. I had so many people come up to me afterwards and ask me about the meal. The purpose of the competition was to let people try different recipes that were healthy and under a certain price per/serve as they would say in New Zealand and this was one of Jamie's less expensive meals and one of my favorites so I chose this one. It was fantastic.
I highly recommend that you try this meal, so to get you started I found this link:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shrimp Tacos

These shrimp tacos had cilantro/coriander, tomatoes, onions, lemons, guacamole, red chillies finely chopped, tamarillos, some people had a dollop of creme fraiche, and of course shrimp.
This shrimp was cooked in a lot of fresh lime juice, a small knob of butter and sprinkled with red chili and coriander/cilantro.  It was cooked perfectly (not overcooked like people tend to do with shrimp).
How can you go wrong with all this goodness wrapped up in a tortilla??  My husband loves to put kiwi fruit hot sauce over the top to finish them off.
If it's been a while since you have eaten fish or shrimp tacos I suggest you get on that and serve them for your next meal :) So good! The only problem is that you usually want to eat more than is needed to fill you up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fish Tacos

These fish tacos are one of our default meals. They are fast, comforting and full of fresh ingredients. And they taste AMAZING!! Plus you can throw whatever is in fridge on top :) 
Usually we do tomatoes, onions, cilantro, fish, cabbage, fresh lemon, tamarillos, cheese and either tartare sauce or sour cream and/or guacamole. Sometimes I grate carrots on top or capsicum/bell peppers. You can also grate a little beetroot over the top for some yummy and really healthy crunch. The problem with beetroot is that the dark red color of the beets stain :(
This time we ate them on flour tortillas (because that is really the only thing you can find here), but sometimes we make our own corn tortillas which are really yummy!
The next post will have our shrimp version of these tacos.  I usually keep some frozen fish on hand for these so that they are something I can make when I don't have the ingredients for anything else or when I need to use up some leftover fresh ingredients getting a little ripe in the fridge.