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

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.


  1. Um, don't know what pancetta is but maybe I'll try that yummiest salad ever.

  2. pancetta is not so yummy for vegetarians so I don't know if it would be the same for you. You need something with a crisp and a lot of flavor to substitute. Hmm...thinking for you.

  3. Did Jamie leave something out of the tartlet recipe as it doesn;t match the picture of him pouring caramel over the tarts?

  4. I wondered about the tartlet recipe myself but wasn't able to figure out an answer. I did find this link below but wasn't able to watch it in my "area" according to the websight. Hope this helps.

  5. Looking forward to making this myself! I've done a few of Jamie's pasta dishes from the 30 Minute Meals book, and so far they've all been slightly lacking in flavour. I think the key is using lots of fresh, ungrated parmesan cheese which our local supermarkets don't supply. If we could get our hands on some, perhaps that would make all the difference!

  6. Stephanie, I couldn't agree more. The Parmesan does make a difference but even so we have found the pasta recipes lacking in flavor as well. I did find one though last week on Jamie's blog and loved it.
    For for some reason it won't let me post the link but if you go to his website and search pasta peperonata it will come up. I used the mascarpone and it made a huge difference to the taste. If you can't find mascarpone it might not work out for you. Cream cheese could work though. Let me know how this recipe goes for you and if you try the pasta peperonata I would love to hear about that too. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by my blog. I love to hear from others :)