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 :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trapani-Style Rigatoni, Griddled Chicory Salad, Rocket & Parmesan Salad, Lemoncello Kinda Trifle

Trapani-Style Rigatoni, Griddled Chicory Salad, Rocket & Parmesan Salad, Lemoncello Kinda Trifle p. 40

The actual meal I made was minus the Griddled Chicory Salad since I can't find Chicory yet. Still hoping Moore Willsons will have it but I haven't had the chance to check yet.

Here is what I started with-
Here is the beginning of the desert. One side I made with shortbread cookies and the other with the sponge fingers that Jamie uses. The sauce on the bottom is something I made up. It was supposed to be the juice of oranges and lemoncello, but since we don't drink alcohol I had to think of something to substitute. I saw the lemoncello at the Mediterranean Warehouse checkout and started asking Garrett if he though we should get some. I had momentarily forgotten that it has alcohol in it and the loud lady at the checkout couldn't say enough about how amazingly good it was. It was in a little bottle and I asked the lady if it would last a long time since it was $12 for a small amount. She laughed and said "not in my house". I laughed too and said does it have alcohol in it? She looked shocked and said "uh YEAH! that is why it doesn't last long. It's Vodka". When we left Garrett said "it would probably cook out". I mentioned that this particular desert isn't cooked at all and on top of that cooking with wine is one thing but cooking with hard liquor is quite another :) So I took a saucepan and put in some water, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon extract. I boiled it down to a syrup (the lemoncello is supposed to be very lemony and syrup like). I turned from the stove for a minute and then when I turned back it had burned slightly. It tasted OK so I used it anyway but it cooled VERY thick and sticky. Not good! So I used it anyway but it would have been so perfect if it had not been scorched.

Here is the salad. Not super great but ok.

The rigatoni was fast to make-full of almonds, garlic, red chillies, anchovies, and cherry tomatoes with parmesan cheese. Not as savory as the Pesto Alla Trapanese though so I might substitute that instead next time I made this meal.

This is the ciabatta bread. You drizzle olive oil over the bread and sprinkle with dried thyme on top and pop it into the oven. It was warm and crisp and so amazingly good. I could have eaten the whole loaf by myself and skipped the rest of the meal.

A little bit of everything together made a fantastic meal.

The salad is wild rocket, parmesan cheese and 1/2 a lemon. But since we didn't have the chicory salad I added some cucumber slices as well.

The desert is topped with mascarpone mixed with icing sugar, skim-milk lemon and vanilla, topped with blueberries, chocolate shavings and dusted with more icing sugar.

The meal took me 45 min, I think, but I can't remember for sure. I made it several days ago and can't quite remember all the details. bummer! But it was a good meal and worth trying again.

Shrimp Penne Pasta

I hadn't any plans for dinner and very few ingredients last night and so this is what I produced...

It was amazingly good. I heated olive oil and some oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes in a pan and added garlic and finely chopped fresh rosemary. I then added 2 TBS of thick pesto sauce and 6 chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I sauteed that for a few minutes and then added the raw frozen shrimp and toasted pine nuts. I was boiling penne pasta while making the sauce. While that was cooking I threw together a simple salad of rocket and watercress and some veggies. Then I added some cream to the sauce and grated some parmesan cheese over the top. Since the sauce was so fattening I used it very sparingly over the pasta so it wouldn't be too heavy. It was creamy, full of flavor, and it disappeared very quickly. My whole family loved the food and the big G' said the only problem was he didn't get enough :)

Pulled Pork-A Home Sickness Meal

This meal wasn't exactly what it would have been had we been in the states, but it hit the spot. My husband is very homesick right now and without knowing it he prepared a cure for dinner. He asked me for a roast when I went to the store Sat. night and pork shoulder was on sale so I got that. Plus I know it is Garrett's favorite. Sunday morning he made a BBQ rub for it (from our newest Jamie cookbook-"Jamie's America"), braised it in a pan and put it in the crockpot. When we got home from church Sunday afternoon I made our favorite Jamie Oliver salad to go with it and some rice with olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, ginger, and a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. It tasted wonderful with the pork.

This meal was not just yummy it was great comfort food that made G feel less homesick. He likes it here, but is also feeling very homesick for all the comforts, food, and people at home.

This is G's Jamie picture. Jamie's photographer takes lots of pictures of half eaten plates of food that somehow look really fantastic.

Ozzy Mushroom Risoto,Spinach Salad, Quick Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

Oozy Mushroom Risotto, Spinach Salad, Quick Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake p. 64 I made blueberry cheesecake instead since I couldn't get raspberries.
These are the crispy mushrooms that go on top of the risotto. They were the best part in my opinion. So good! You fry them up in a pan on the stove first and then pop them under the broiler in the same pan. Be sure it is oven safe :)

This salad was also very very flavorful and good BUT not quite as good as the salad in the last recipe. I loved it though and so did the rest of the fam.

The risotto cooking up. You do this differently than other rice. He uses water to slowly bring out the starch making it sticky and oozy.

I toasted my hazelnuts for the desert and then rubbed off the skin because I couldn't find blanched hazelnuts. Plus toasting the hazelnuts makes the flavor come out so much more than just using blanched nuts. These are crushed up with the gingernut biscuits for the crust of the cheesecakes. Very good!

These are the toasted pinenuts for the salad. They were a little harder to toast in a frying pan than they would have been in the oven I think. They seemed to have a hard time not burning before getting toasted and warmed throughout.

Here is the finished meal. We all enjoyed this one too. Like I said earlier the crispy mushrooms on top were delightful and added a texture and taste to the risotto that made the meal. The pinenuts and sun-dried tomatoes are what really made the salad.

Here is the cheesecake. The bottom I explained already. The filling is supposed to be lemon curd but my husband forgot it at the grocery store that night so I quickly figured out to use some chocolate mousse in it's place. The cheesecake part is made up of cream cheese vanilla, milk, and icing sugar. Then dark chocolate shavings on top. Quite the desert and very quick.

So this meal was also very quick but it got muddled up when I had to wait for some main ingredients from the store so I don't know exactly how long it took. I think it could have been made in 30-40 min for sure. Would definitely make it again.

Wonky Summer Pasta, Herby Salad, Pear Drop Tartlets

Wonky Summer Pasta, Herby Salad and Pear Drop Tartlets p. 46 and serves 4.
This pasta was light and refreshing. Had a strong lemon flavor and all around a big hit. My husband said it was a little too heavy on the lemon for him. He pointed out that we have been having a LOT of lemon and I pointed out that Jamie hasn't written a meal yet without at least one lemon and usually 1 1/2 or 2. But these last lemons I bought were exceptionally juicy so I promised to lay off the lemon a little in the future :) We have all had better pastas but it was quite refreshing for summer and different enough to be novel.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Herb garden. It is so nice to be able to have all the fresh herbs you want whenever you want at a small cost and without worrying about them going bad. The next thing I want is a lemon and lime tree/bush although I doubt I can do that here.

Here is the whole meal. This salad was the most delicious salad that I have ever made I think. The man of the house ate 2 huge servings of salad and would have had a 3rd had I not reminded him there was still desert to come. It has 8 rashers of pancetta cooked to a crisp with garlic and fennel and crushed over the top. Yummy! This was another first for me. I have never cooked with pancetta because it is expensive and not always easy to find in the states. I was very surprised when I cut open the package to smell something so good. It was raw but it smelled good enough to eat just like that. It was full of flavor. Be sure to get sweet crisp grapes to go in it. Don't use older, soft or mushy ones. The salad greens are rocket and watercress along with fresh mint and tarragon. I wouldn't leave any of those out because the combination is too good to be missed. Don't scrimp on the mint or the tarragon either because they really add a lot.

The kids loved the grapes in the salad and felt privileged to have them since we don't normally buy them here. They cost about 13-15$ a Kg which is about 2.2 lbs. BUT I have discovered a local farmers market on Sat. mornings here and it is so much cheaper than the groceries. I got these CA grapes :) for only $3 NZD a Kg. Not at all bad! I will be shopping there weekly from now on. I bought my eggs there too for almost 1/2 the normal price.

This little ballerina loved the salad but didn't eat too much pasta because we didn't cut it up small enough and after we realized our folly she was done bothering with the food.

He doesn't look to happy here but really he loved the food. Below are the tartlets which tasted amazing but didn't look very good. I was so excited to make these because they looked so pretty in the cookbook, so I was even more disappointed that they turned out so ugly :(

I need some help with them. This was the first time I have made meringue and it just didn't turn out quite right. I need some advice from those of you who have experience here. It wouldn't brown properly and then it ended up a little too brown. Then it didn't peak properly either. I don't think it was stiff enough when I started. Any suggestions on meringue?

All in all the meal was an easy 30 min. Super quick and yummy and it went really smoothly. Would do it all again. The pasta wasn't the best ever but it was still quite good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Newest Kitchen Acquisition

This is one of my newest acquisitions. I finally found a serving/cutting board I admired enough to pay the price (Thank you D and G for the Christmas money). This board is made out of Fijian Rimu wood and it is quite beautiful. I bought a retangular one with a slight lip around two sides that I also love that is made out of Pacific Rosewood. I am sure you will be seeing that one soon as well. The man who makes these boards (Sirname-Conway) lives in the same suburb I do. I found that slightly romantic actually since it is so small here that he must live within walking distance of my house. The boards will last forever as long as I take great care of them and "Reoil often with liquid paraffin oil sold only at Chemists" .

Cheats Pizza, 3 Delish Salads, Kiwi and Vanilla Mascarpone Cream

What's on the menu today? Well it is Cheats Pizza, 3 Delish salads, Squashed cherries (or other seasonal fruit) & vanilla mascarpone cream. P. 58

The cheats pizza is delish. We loved it! It was amazingly fast to make and tasted so good that we made it two days in a row. Well One reason we made it two days in a row was because when I was taking pictures of it the first time there was no SD card in the camera. But we were all craving it again the second day anyway, so we were glad for the excuse to make it again.

We didn't have the ingredients to make all 3 salads again so here is a picture of the one we did make again. It was light and delightful. Looks a little plain to your eyes but with the red chili and balsamic vinegar you can't really see here, it was a huge hit. Perfect summer salad.

Here is the finished Pizza. The crust was made in the food processor in less than 2 min. It wasn't even measured really. One mugs worth of self-raising flour, 1/2 a mug of tepid water, a lug of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. You just mix it in the food processor and then dump it on your floured surface and pat it out. Stick it in the frying pan and it ends up so spongy and crisp. It was almost addicting.
oh and since the fresh mozzarella wasn't at the grocery I was at I just went with what they had-the bagged stuff. It was still quite lovely.

The first day I made it I just made the one pizza for the 5 of us and it was plenty. The second day without the other 2 salads and the desert we made two pizzas to fill all 5 of us up. If you are feeding more than 4 people you will need more pizzas but since they were so fast I knocked both of them out in a very short while.

One of our most favorite things about this pizza was the sauce. It was so easy and seemingly plain but the splash of red-wine vinegar added a lot. And the fennel seeds on top of the pizza were also quite lovely. That was the first time I have added fennel seed to the toppings of a pizza; and even though I didn't grind mine like he did in the pestle and mortar it was fantastic.

Here is the desert. Since cherries here are 13-19$ a Kg we decided to go with Kiwis instead. They were gorgeous. The vanilla mascarpone cream was wonderful but since I couldn't find the right kind of biscuits and there is a recipe coming up with these sponge fingers we had those. I didn't really care for them though.

The biscuits he used looked much much better.
The orange zest really added a lot to the desert as well.

OK, now down to brass tacks-Loved the meal. I gave the meal a 10 and so did my kids. The Man around the house gave it an 8.5. He said the pizza was a 10 but he wasn't as wild about the salads as the rest of us. Oh and he didn't care for the sponge fingers in the desert either. I finally achieved making a meal in 30 min. It was so fast to make that I had no trouble getting them all done in the time allotted. Hurray for me! I definitely feel like celebrating :)

Ideas For Breakfast:

I have several Jamie posts coming soon but in the mean time here is a oldie but goodie breakfast idea. Last night I was in charge of making some delicious rice that would complement the spicy grilled shrimp and vegetables my husband was making. The shrimp and vegetable marinade was a combination of cayenne, lemon, cinnamon chilies etc... SO, I used the juice from a lemon, the juice from an orange some butter, cinnamon, and some zest of orange to make it pretty. I started to add a little spice but decided not to in favor of using the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. So this morning I took the leftover rice put it in bowels added milk and sprinkled a little sugar on top. Microwaved it and then sprinkled a little nutmeg and more cinnamon on top with a little more orange zest. The kids saw what I was doing and complained and one said "I'm fasting! and walked out of the room". Another one complained but tried it and brought the other back in by his gesticulations of "Oh wow! This is SO good. Can I have more?"

All three loved it and it is quite filling and healthy if made with brown rice and very little sugar.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It is my time . . .

Hey Everyone, This is Garrett. I have hijacked Ashley's Blog because I think that it is about time I had a voice on the blog, if only for this one time. Ashley has forbidden me from making posts in the worst kind of censorship, but now I am exposing this whole operation!

The reality is, I am right now eating the dinner leftovers for lunch at work--and wow, I love it.

I can tell you that I have enjoyed very much Ashley's new venture in cooking. I come home and my taste buds feel like they are in some kind of musical and want to stand up and start singing and dancing. Ashley is a great cook and the kids and I have been thoroughly enjoying this time.

Before we did once a month cooking which was great because we got to tackle some really complicated recipes but what it came down to was a lot of "one pot meals". Now the variety and the many different sensations of flavor with all the side dishes is really refreshing, tastes great and is healthy.

Last night we had the carrot mash and thought that it was a little bland. But I realized you have to rate the meal on everything--sides, main, desert and sometimes a specialty drink. With the peas and other things being so rich it was ok to have one side a little bland--it actually balanced the meal. So I think the new way Ashley is cooking adds a deeper level of complexity our meals. Before we were painting with one color (one pot meals) and now cooking with a variety of colors (JO 30 min meals).

Ashley works really hard and is an amazing wife and mother. How could you not be inspired by her? Thank you Ashley for the blog and your passions you make a reality.


PS Hey Ashley could you SP this? thanks

Gwenn this one is for you:

I LOVE Salads! I agree here with Jamie and I LOVED his bit on dressings at the end. I didn't know that the oil and acid in the dressing were so important for digestion. Also I love that he has made it so easy to make dressing into whatever you want. Thanks Jamie!

Chicken Pie, French-Style Peas, Sweet Carrot Smash, Berries, Shortbread & chantilly Cream

What's On The Menu Tonight?: Chicken Pie, French-Style Peas, Sweet Carrot Smash, Berries, Shortbread & Chantilly Cream P. 90

Sous-Chef of my kitchen sat on the bar and the counter-top through almost the entire process. Here she is playing in a bag of frozen corn and signing cheese because she would like some to go with the corn. She was given the bag of frozen corn because her brother sat in a chair whose leg happened to be on her four little toes and she was so sad. I didn't have any ice so I put her up there with a bag of frozen corn on her foot. She eventually got it open and filled her little pursy with corn :) Set back on my timing :(
Carrot smash. This was the most bland part of the meal and if you were to eat it alone might be a great disappointment. But you have to think in terms of meals. These are totally healthy with not butter or fat really to speak of and they go well with the other two sides that are much more flavorful and a just a little rich.

The puff pastry on top of the Chicken pie. This was delightful to eat and beautiful to look at with the egg brushed over the top before baking.

Here it is with the insides. They are simple but full of flavor. No cream or milk but just a heaping TBS. of Creme Fraische that goes a long way.

Here is the meal as a whole. The peas were overcooked waiting for the man of the family to bike himself home from work. :( BUT they were still good and full of flavor. I decided that it would have been better to let them cool completely and they re-heat them on the stove top then to try to keep them warm. Lesson learned! The peas loose a lot of their bright green color when they are overcooked as well so they don't look as appetizing. This was the only part of the meal I was worried about because it is really different than what we would normally eat. There was cooked/wilted lettuce in them and that sounded terrible to me. BUT once again Jamie came through and the meal was superb. More of a cold day kind of meal but with a light summer kind of desert I thought. The kids gave it a perfect 10 but then they had a little bit of a struggle getting through ALL of the veggies. At the end the were ready to quit eating them.

Sous-Chef escapes from kitchen and is CAUGHT IN THE ACT of eating the desert on the table I was in the process of setting on the back porch.

Finished product was lovely. The berries were delish, the cream creamy with just a little too much vanilla extract, and the shortbread not the finest quality. Could have been better shortbread. But no one complained. The berries are supposed to have elderflower cordial on them but we didn't have access to any so I improvised and used a little orange extract. No where near the same flavor, but great nonetheless.

OK now for the moment of truth. I didn't have the attachment needed to slice everything up so I gave myself time before to chop it all. It took me 11 min. to do all my prep. Then it took me 45 min to make the whole meal BUT the carrots weren't done because I didn't slice them thin enough I guess SO it took time for that and then one-two min. after they finished softening to mash them. BUT while I was waiting for the carrots I was able to clean up the whole kitchen so I didn't have to do anything but wipe off and wash what we used to eat. So all in all not bad timing BUT still not 30 min.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Your Own Personal Herb Garden

I have come to the conclusion that if you want to cook this way you really must have your own personal herb garden. I have found that buying a herb plant costs less than buying one package of any given herb. It is a lot cheaper and they are just beautiful. I have had herbs planted outside in my vegetable garden before but never enough.

I started recently by buying the basics (Thyme, Mint, Sage, Basil, Parsley, lemon basil...) that were available at my local markets and used them as a decoration in my kitchen. My kitchen garden was getting really big though and, so I finally planted them outside like this:

But I am missing them in my kitchen after just a few days. I like knowing where they have been and what has been on them and they add an element from the outside to my home that I love. So I think when I buy more I am going to find some way to keep them in my kitchen. I liked Jamie's ideas for Herbs. Here is a short video by "The Naked Chef" Hope you enjoy!

This last one is short and hilarious. If you watch it to the end you will laugh.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Excuse the mess:

We are currently under construction right now so things aren't looking their very best. Feel free to look around anyway :) Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One More Meal With The Zingy Salsa

This meal is not a Jamie Oliver meal. They are Fajitas My Style and they are supurb. My husband grilled the chicken for me.
Here he is taste testing-
Chicken, peppers, onions and spices-

These are the homemade refried beans. This isn't a really great picture, but it is all I have. These were so easy I couldn't believe it. My sister has been telling me how easy these are for a long time but I thought it would be a lot more complex than it really was. I soaked the beans overnight, drained the water and refilled, then started them in the crockpot for the day. Then when it was time to make dinner I drained the liquid off saving about two cups of it and then put the beans in a large frying pan. I added a cup of the bean liquid, 1/2 cup of milk, salt and pepper, lime and chilli seasoning, and then I mashed them with a potato masher. They were great!

Kids having appetizers. Zingy salsa with chips and guacomole with chips.

We put the fajita mixture on warm tortilla's and topped with guacamole. We left out the sour cream and cheese for health reasons but they weren't missed.
This meal took more than 30 minutes as well-darn! It took about an hour but that includes the time that it took for dad to get home and grill the chicken.