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, March 28, 2011

Jamie's Lamb and Vegetable Platter-more picts

When we had a guest in town we made Jamie's lamb and vegetable platter again. Here are the pictures we took from that. Some of these are better than the last pictures. These vegetables were even better than last time.

The lamb was great but just slightly less tasty that the time before. I couldn't put my finger on the difference though.

Sides for Smoky Beef Tacos

These are the sides for Martha Stewart's Smoky Beef Tacos. I will put the link to the recipes on this post. Really good! We quite enjoyed them-Thanks Cicily for putting us on to these.

Smoky Haddock Corn Chowder, Spiced Tiger Prawns, Rainbow Salad, Raspberry & Elderflower Slushie

Smoky Haddock Corn Chowder, Spiced Tiger Prawns, Rainbow Salad, Raspberry & Elderflower Slushie p. 164 I made this meal on a cold day and boy did it hit the spot. We LOVED it. This is the dressing for the salad. It was quite fantastic and very creamy unlike most of the dressings we make around here. The nice thing is that what makes it creamy is yogurt-so it is healthy and can be as low-fat as you want it. It is made with red chili, garlic, tarragon, red wine vinegar, yogurt and a lug of olive oil-seasoned with salt and pepper.

The salad was quite plain but you wouldn't know it because the dressing had so much flavor. It all went perfectly together. It was grated beetroot, courgettes, carrots and sprinkled with watercress. Very good!

These little guys had the most amazing spice combination on them. They are really quite good, and they look fantastic as a garnish for the seafood chowder. The problem with them is that they take so much work and you get so little from them. I would rather have shrimp that are shelled and de-veined for practical purposes and serve these on the side when you have guests. The kids finally started doing there own at the end but at first they wanted ME to peel each one and de-vein them etc... and when you are doing that for the whole table it is just too much work.
The spices produced such a unique flavor. We have used them before to "put another shrimp on the barbie" and that was good, but it was even better in the oven where they could sit in the butter as well. He (Jamie) uses a knob of butter, fresh thyme, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, Garlic, red chili, and 1/2 a lemon. YUMMY!
Here is the smoky haddock corn chowder: this was a great chowder and the only complaint from G was that there wasn't quite enough cream in it. I figured out that I had doubled everything but the cream and then decided not to add more because of the fat content. So if you are feeling indulgent go for the full 150ml's and if not then you can 1/2 it and it will still be great. The fish in here is not haddock because they don't have that here so instead I used smoked warehou (I think that is how you spell it). I think I would have liked the haddock better or tarakihi.

Here is the close up where you can see the potatoes, corn, thyme, shrimp, fish and broth. What you can't see is that he makes the broth with 4 rashers of streaky bacon, spring onions, bay leaves, thyme, chicken stock and cream.

This is the berry slushie. It is made from raspberries, soda water, elderflower cordial, ice and a few sprigs of fresh mint. The kids and G LOVED this drink. They each had several glasses. I thought it was good, but since I don't care for carbonation I just had a little and saved the rest for them. Garrett though it was so good he would like to take a pitcher to work and serve to the matte artists :) Elderflower cordial was new to me and it was wonderful. I would love to find other things to put it in. It has a nice herby taste. Very unique-
This meal took me an hour to make because I don't have a grater on my food processor and a few other shortcuts that Jamie uses to speed things up. It was given a 9 by G and I and a 10 by the kids. We will definitely be making this meal again, but serving it with some nice big crusty bread instead of crackers. This kind of chowder would be wonderful in a bread bowl.

British Picnic

Sausage Rolls, Mackerel Pate, Lovely Asparagus, Crunch Salad, Pimm's Eton Mess p. 250 This was a first for me, because I have never eaten or made sausage rolls before. They eat a lot of sausage rolls in New Zealand so I thought they would be a great thing to learn to make so I could serve them to our first American guest coming to visit. They turned out really well. But first: here is the salad. This was made with watercress, pickled onions, pear and 1/2 a lemon. This was really fantastic. Garrett and the kids were quite skeptical at first but they really loved the tart pickled onions with the sweet pears and the peppery watercress. We will be making this again.

Here is what the sausage rolls looked like wrapped up in the puff pastry. You just brush on some beaten egg, put in the sausage, freshly grated parmesan, and fennel seeds. Then you close them up and seal with a fork.

On the outside you brush with the egg again and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Slice them up and put them on a cookie sheet.

Bake until golden brown.

My family went wild about these. The boys loved them. My daughter loved the sausage but wouldn't eat the pastry and I like them, but since I am not wild about sausage they aren't my favorite food.

This is the eaton mess it was amazing. We all loved it. The light airy and crunchy meringue with the sweet and juicy strawberry mess was just amazing. Then with the creaminess of the creme fraiche you just can't beat this desert. It was definitely a 10 and will be a repeat when we have company :)

You start out with strawberries, caster sugar, blood orange juice and zest, vanilla paste and a splash of pimms (we didn't use the pimms). Then you stir in some creme fraiche and broken up meringue nests.

They you top with more crushed meringue nests and a couple of sprigs of fresh mint.

We couldn't make the asparagus since we can't buy it here and the mackerel pate is coming in a different post. I haven't made it yet because I couldn't at first find the smoked mackerel. I have found it since though and will be making it in the next few days so stay tuned :)

This meal was really fast to make because I didn't make two of the dishes (the asparagus and the pate), but I think it would probably take me an hour if I made all of it together.

The family gave it a 9 but I would give it an 8. The desert was a 10. We have already made it for a guest and she LOVED it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken, Pan-Fried Asparagus & vine tomatoes, Cabbage salad, St. Clement's Drink, Vanilla Ice Cream Float

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken, Pan-Fried Asparagus & vine tomatoes, Cabbage salad, St. Clement's Drink, Vanilla Ice Cream Float p. 116 This is a JO meal that was made by Garrett. Garrett's first 30 min. meal. It took him much more than 30 min. to make, but since this was his first meal and it was quite involved I think he did really well. It tasted wonderful. This is the drink--none of us were really that enamored with it. We don't drink a lot of carbonated drinks around here because they are so unhealthy, and this was definitely not worth the carbonation. It was made with soda water, ice, mint leaves, the juice and halves of a lemon and an orange. No sugar or anything. We all thought it would have tasted better with regular water and not soda water. The soda water gives the impression that it should be sweet and something more than just a nice drink of flavored water. It would be rather tasty though if it was made either with plain water or if you added sugar to the original. We don't have very good pictures of this one-sorry. You can kind of tell here that the chicken is stuffed-It was amazing! Inside the chicken has sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, rosemary, and feta cheese. SO GOOD! The flavors complement each other very nicely and it made the chicken breast so much more than just a piece of meat. It was fantastic. The cabbage salad was made with onion, basil, red chili, 2 lemons, parsley and of course cabbage. This was wonderful as well. Like many of Jamie's salads there are few ingredients but lots of flavor. His salad combinations are always surprisingly good and we are "far from indifferent to [them]".

The vegetables had to be modified once again because we can't get asparagus here. So originally it should have been asparagus, black olives, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic and cherry tomatoes. But he used baby carrots and long beans instead of the asparagus. Everything else he left the same. They are roasted in a pan on the stove and they were also really great BUT it would have tasted better if it was asparagus as intended. I look forward to trying this dish again when we move back to the states and can get asparagus.

I don't have a picture of the flatbreads. They were good but he made the mistake of putting them in the oven wrapped up and frozen so as they thawed some of them got soggy. Jamie takes plain ordinary flatbread from the store and makes it wonderful. He puts a little dried oregano, garlic and olive oil and bakes them in the oven until they are (supposed to be) crisp :) The ones that were crisp were quite good.

The kids were quite naughty that night so we didn't have desert but Jamie makes his ice cream float with coffee and serves it with cantucci biscuits which are basically biscotti. We make our floats with root beer when we can get it and other exotic soda when we can not. Root beer floats are G's favorite desert (along with old fashioned strawberry shortcake) so not being able to get root beer for this is a little disappointing. We did however find out that you can sometimes get A&W at the local Asian market ;) It is not made in the USA it is made in an oriental country and so it doesn't taste quite the same (or so we have heard).

This meal is a great combo of flavors and textures and I would leave it as is except for the drink. I also wouldn't normally serve a carbonated drink with a meal and then serve ice cream floats for desert since I make those with carbonated beverages.

G gave this meal a 7, I gave it an 8, and the kids gave it a 10.

More Omelets-(frittata)

Here is the second one I made. It had sweet little cherry tomatoes and green onions, garlic, basil, pancetta, a little cheese, milk, eggs, salt and pepper and red chillies and I can't remember what else. Very similar to the last one but I served it to the kids on tortilla's
and the adults on leftover ciabatta bread toast. It was fantastic!

Spring Lamb, Vegetable Platter, Mint Sauce, Chianti Gravy, Chocolate Fondue

Spring Lamb, Vegetable Platter, Mint Sauce, Chianti Gravy, Chocolate Fondue p.268

I wish that the pictures of this meal could do it justice. It was BY FAR the most beautiful and impressive of all the meals I have made from the "Jame's 30 Minute Meals" cookbook. It was definitely fine dining. There were so many complementary flavors in this meal that really you should have had bread to sop up the leftover sauces. It was an incredible amount of flavor that was almost shocking when you ate it. As impressive as it was to look at it was even more so when you took a bite.

I have strong feelings against eating lamb, but I have to admit it has been so long since I ingested the information I was so opposed to that I can't remember why. So I relented and bought the lamb and cooked it. It wasn't the lamb though that was so amazing. It was the tomatoes and sauce that it was cooked in. It was the mint sauce and the Chianti gravy.

The vegetables were supposed to be different but we couldn't get the ones he called for so we got as close as we could. But really it didn't matter. The spices and the sauces were to powerful to leave any vegetable wanting.
For my vegetarian friends I would say you could use the mint sauce and the herbs and sauce the meat was cooked in, but the gravy just couldn't be the same without the smoked bacon.

The mint sauce was very simple only 3 ingredients really: fresh mint, red wine vinegar and golden caster sugar. Then you use salt and pepper to taste and add two tablespoons of cooking water from your cooking vegetables. Amazing flavor for a sauce so small. It was great on the vegetables or the meat.

The gravy was smoked bacon, rosemary, flour, and 1/2 a glass of red wine which I substituted water from the vegetables for since I don't drink wine and so didn't have any. You can't get cooking wine here either. There is no need since drinking here is what they do. Alcohol is a VERY BIG problem here, but that is a discussion for another day. Alcohol takes up such a large amount of the supermarkets that you would think it was it's own food group.

the lamb was seared with a little salt and pepper on it in olive oil. Then you put it in a baking dish with a dressing you make in your pestle and mortar. It is fresh rosemary, garlic, Dijon mustard, and white wine vinegar. You cook the lamb with the cherry tomatoes and this dressing poured on top. It was amazing.

Here is the desert. We have mango, blueberries, pineapple, and what my kids call apple pears. Their real name escapes me at the moment. They are the shape of an apple and hard like an apple but they taste like a pear and have a crispness and water factor that reminds you of a waterchesnut. They are very good. So we had this fruit with the chocolate fondue with the emphasis for us on FRUIT and not chocolate. You don't need much chocolate to make it taste fantastic anyway. Especially since all these fruits are great by themselves anyway.

This meal took me about 45 min but I think it would be faster for me next time now that I know what I am doing. The lamb was a first for me since I have never made it before. Also I still don't have a pestle and mortar so I had do be inventive and put more work into the sauce.
Garrett gave this meal a perfect 10 ladies and gentleman. That is a first for him. I also gave it a 10 and that might be a first for me too. The kids have been generous with there 10's but they also gave it a 10. They said their only complaint was that there wasn't enough lamb. it only made 8 small pieces since I couldn't find the neck that he used in addition to the rack of lamb.
I meant to make it to the butcher but it just didn't happen. I am grossed out a little by the butcher so I send Garrett and he wasn't available to go and I was too busy anyway :)

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca, Crunchy Salad, Garlic Bread, Silky Chocolate Ganache

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca, Crunchy Salad, Garlic Bread, Silky Chocolate Ganache p. 54

The garlic bread was really interesting. You take grease proof paper (wax paper) and scrunch it up under the tap and then you flatten it out and rub olive oil, garlic, and chopped parsley with salt and pepper on it. Then you put the loaf of bread on there and cut it in slices only 3/4 of the way down. You then use your hands to rub the oil mixture all over the inside and outside of the bread. And you bake it. Fantastic! It was so good. We used ciabatta bread as is called for by Jamie.

The paper starts to get brown on the outside and the bread crisps up and is lovely on the inside.

This is the finished product. The Italian parsley I got from the market Sat. morning was really good in this bread. Very aromatic.

Here is the whole meal. The salad on the side was delish. It was made with grated radishes and fennel bulb. The fennel is so strong it helps cover up the bitterness of the radish. The lemon you squeeze on top also helps. Even the kids liked it.
The spaghetti was just OK. The kids LOVED it but I have a thing about hot tuna fish and so I didn't really like if very much. It had Tuna and anchovy fillets, red chillies, parsley, olives, cinnamon, tinned tomatoes, lemon, and capers. Garrett thought it was just OK and I ate it only because it was dinner :) I wanted to just fill up on bread and salad and would have if I had thought it would have been healthy.

Here is the chocolate Ganache. 70% cocoa solids for the chocolate and then butter and cream. This of course couldn't go wrong. Who doesn't like fruit and chocolate right?

Served with nice biscuits and mandarins since we couldn't find clementines at the farmers market.

This was great but when I asked if they liked this or the ice cream balls Garrett and I said ice cream balls and the kids said this-split down the middle with the littlest one not big enough to vote.

We will be making the fennel and radish salad again but not the pasta. There are other pastas we like much much better. The bread will also be something we make again and even the ganache if the right occasions comes.
OK so this meal took me 35 min or so to make. It was fast and easy and would have been perfect if we had liked the pasta. Great for a quick meal when you have guests though if you can substitute a fast pasta that fits your tastes.

I've Discovered A New Way To Do Breakfast

Call it what you will-omelet, frittata anything you like but it is wonderful and so easy (this is not a Jamie meal but it was inspired by his cheats pizza). My boys LOVE omelets-especially my Ezra. He is mad about them. But it takes a long time to make all of us an individual omelet for breakfast so I thought I might try to make a gigantic one the same way Jamie makes the cheats pizza. Cook the bottom on the stove top and then pop it under the broiler to finish it off on top. For this one I cooked some streaky bacon in the over while I mixed up the eggs, milk, tomato, scallions, spices, basil, fresh red chili and garlic. I heated olive oil and a little butter together in the pan and then poured in the mixture. When it was cooked about 3/4 of the way through I crunched the bacon over the top, sprinkled a little cheese on and popped it under the broiler and cooked the top.

The results were amazing. Everyone loved it and wanted to have it again. It was fast and easy and since I put Ethne's in a tortilla she ate most of it. She HATES eggs unfortunately.
I reproduced this one and will post the results soon. I have better pictures of that one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Catherine Wheel Sausage, Horseradish Mash, Apple Salad, Sage and Leek Gravy and Stuffed Apples

Catherine Wheel Sausage, Horseradish Mash, Apple Salad, Sage and Leek Gravy and Stuffed Apples p.256
Here is the apple salad. Served with multigrain Ryvita crackers spread with cream cheese.
Very simple salad, just watercress, apple, lemon and the crackers with cream cheese. Light and tasty. Loved it!
This is the Catherine wheel sausage. Two strings of 6 each good-quality linked sausages. You just roll them up and then stuff sage leaves in between them and put them under the broiler. Easy as pie :)

You turn it over half way through cooking. One thing of 6 were pork and the other were venison.

To serve I pulled the sticks out and just cut them up for the kids.

This is the leek and sage gravy-before the sage. It was really quite good. just leeks, sage, chicken stock, flour and cider with a splash of boiling water.

The whole meal served! This was a really hearty fall or winter meal. I can see eating it on the very first cold day of the year. It is warming and smells like Thanksgiving dinner. We will be eating this again when it gets cold. Don't forget to serve this meal with chilled cider.

The salad was devoured by some of us and others thought it was just good.

Here is the desert. Baked apples like you have never in your life tasted. These were so so good. Again perfect for fall or winter. The were stuffed with a mixture of dried apricots, blanched almonds and caster sugar all ground up in the food processor with an egg. The egg keeps it all together and makes it easier to stuff. It also gives it a nice custard taste. Don't forget to pour over a little cream when serving. Quite indulgent if I do say so myself.

Don't forget to score the apples all the way around the middle so that they don't blow up in the microwave. You will loose all your insides.

This meal took me 50 min to make but I think I could make it faster. You bake the apples in the microwave while you are cooking the sausages under the grill. The salad is super fast. I just had some set backs while cooking. This meal was also a 9 by the big critic and by me. The kids gave it a 10 but they weren't wild about the stuffing in the apples. I was so surprised when the two older ones complained about the stuffing in the apples. They thought it was a little too nutty.
This will definitely be a repeat during winter.