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 :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Swedish-Style Fishcakes, Roasted Baby New Potatoes, Sprout Salad, and Fresh Zingy Salsa

This is my first attempt at a 30 min. meal from Jamie Oliver's cookbook "Jamie's 30 Minute Meals".
It can be found on p. 146 and consists of:
Swedish-style Fishcakes, Roasted baby New Potatoes, Sprout salad, and Fresh Zingy Salsa.

For the first time in my life I live on an island where real fish markets are plentiful, and fresh fish is superb. When I was shopping for the fish I was giddy waiting in line for my turn to order. I looked around hoping not to make too big a fool out of myself since this was my very first trip to a fish market. I watched as those in front of me ordered it what seemed like a foreign language but is really only partially a foreign language to me. They seemed so smart and knew just what they wanted. I was nervous and excited and I glanced around for the fish I had come to buy. There's the Salmon, I thought, there's the Tuna-shoot that tuna doesn't say Tuna Steaks I wonder if it is the same thing? It looks like the same thing. And no Haddock? What should I get for the haddock? I have no idea! OK, I told myself, just be calm and don't worry about looking like an idiot. Just ask all your questions so you get all the right stuff. Well, it didn't go quite the way I had imagined, but I did get fish that was fresh and beautiful and looked like it would suit. They laughed at me when I asked if the cut of tuna was the same as a tuna steak (it was by the way), but I got the last laugh when two of the three guys working there had NO IDEA what kind of fish haddock was :) The third guy told me it came in little tins like a sardine and I explained humbly that it didn't come that way where I am from and was there another fish he could recommend to me for my fish cakes. Success! Tuna, Salmon and Tarakihi-skinned and sealed before my eyes.
It seemed almost wasteful to go to a beautiful fish market and buy really beautiful and high quality fish and then plop them into the food processor and grind them all up. That seems like something you do with leftover fish, but that's not Jamie's style I guess. Just so you know...the fish alone in this recipe cost $50. Gasp! I know I know. But it was restaurant quality food and we got 2 and 1/2 meals out of it so that made it not quite so terrible.

If you are going to cook like Jamie you can't be afraid to get your hands dirty. He mixes, stirs, fluffs, and kneads everything with his hands. After making the fish mixture into a ball you flatten it onto the bread crumbs that make your crust. Jamie makes his own bread crumbs in the food processor, but since I have a large bag of high quality wheat breadcrumbs I just used those.

This is what they looked like when it was time to turn them over. Some of them were a little dry from over cooking, so I had to cook them less time than the recipe specified. I realized after that this was because I made my fishcakes a lot thinner than he did. Next time I will make them thicker.

Golden brown on both sides means time to take them out.

Roasted bennes with a little butter, salt and fresh rosemary. He used new potatoes but since it is benne season here, and since they are so delicious I used these instead.

Here is the food: fishcakes, salsa, and salad. The salad has sprouts, fresh mint, avocados and punnet of cress (which I couldn't find although I finally figured out what that is), and crisp breads or carta di musica. Simple but very amazing when you get a little of everything all at once. LOVED IT! Next time I am going to make my own Carta di musica and have that on hand for the salad.

There were some sprouts in there that were radish sprouts and those pack quite a punch. I would recommend just using alfalfa sprouts when feeding this dish to kids. My little ones couldn't handle them very well.
One of the best things about this salad is the drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon that are the dressing. It is fun to drizzle and squeeze your dressing right there at the table. The kids loved it too, and kept squeezing more lemon on their fish and salad.

The zingy salsa was FANTASTIC. We loved it. It has bell peppers, fresh red and green chillies, garlic, cucumber, red wine vinegar, lime juice, and fresh basil. It is so fresh tasting and we had lots of leftovers so I put it over scrambled eggs for breakfast the next day and it was divine.

My sweet husband squeezing his fresh lemon. Doesn't he look like a pro squeezer?

Now for the timing: This meal took me 1 1/2 hours to make. NOT 30 min. I am a slow cook. I pour over the recipe for way to long and far too frequently. I realized that this process he uses is an art form all it's own and is going to take some time to be able to master. Good thing there are 49 more recipes in the book for me to practice with :) Here's to great food, great friends and family to eat it with, and Jamie Oliver! Bring on recipe # 2.

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