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 1, 2011

Spinach & Feta Filo Pie, Cucumber Salad, Tomato Salad, Coated Ice Cream

On today's menu we have Spinach & Feta Filo Pie, Cucumber Salad, Tomato Salad, Coated Ice Cream p. 70 This meal was VERY good. My kids all liked it and my youngest ate much more than I had expected from one her age.

This is the cucumber salad. Sorry the pictures are so dark-I hope you can still see it. It is a mixture of Cucumber, red pepper, and fresh mint. The dressing is a balsamic vinegar with black olives, spring onions, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Very fresh and yummy!

Here is a much better picture. This is the cucumber, mint and red pepper. So colorful and pretty.

Here is the spinach, feta and filo pie. It cooked beautifully. You are supposed to cook it in a frying pan and then throw the pan in the oven but I didn't feel confident putting this particular pan in the oven, so I transferred it to a casserole dish.
First you cook the bottom in the frying pan on greaseproof paper (careful it burns easily) and then you pop it into the oven under the broiler/grill until the rest is cooked through. Just like you did with the "Cheat's Pizza".

This pie has so much cheese in it. I think next time I will put less in there. However, the strong feta is a great balance for the strong taste of the spinach. The toasted pine nuts in here really made this dish for me. I LOVED the crunch in the midst of the soft gooey cheese, the crisp and flaky filo, and the mushy spinach leaves. My favorite thing I learned doing this meal was how he has you prepare the filo dough. You layer several pieces on top of each other and rub in some olive oil. Then you sprinkle on a little salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper. Then you put more sheets of filo and do it all over again until you get three layers. The cayenne gives just the slightest kick to the flaky dough that is almost imperceptible, but adds so much to each bite. You know you are enjoying it but you aren't sure why it is quite so good :)

This is the tomato salad. It is really simple but quite tasty. You make the dressing and pour it in the bowl and then all the sliced cherry tomatoes on top and garnish with Greek basil. The dressing is made from basil, garlic, and white wine vinegar and a pinch or two of salt.
The finished meal was lovely. Vibrant in color and the combination of textures was perfect. The tomatoes were sweet, the cucumbers crunchy and salty, and the pie had a whole array of textures and flavors that complemented each other perfectly.

The kids gave this meal a 10 and they fought over the leftovers the next day. I didn't get more than a bite of leftovers :) My 19 month old has a weird thing for strong (or any) cheese so she was in heaven. She stuffed herself on cucumbers, tomatoes and pie.

Now for desert-this desert was so much better than we all expected. The simplicity of it fools you into thinking it will just be alright, but when you take a bite and it all starts combining in your mouth it is unbelievably satisfying. Four out of the five of us started eating desert at the same time and everything went quiet except for the one child still eating his dinner. After the initial shock we all started moaning about how good it was.

you take the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften just a bit so the pieces will stick to it. Then you scoop it and drop it in the crumbs until coated. The crumbs in Jamie's recipe are made from coffee beans, hazelnuts, and good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids). We don't do coffee at our house so I substituted the coffee beans with gingernut biscuits. So it was gingernut biscuits, hazelnuts, and 72% high-quality dark chocolate. Don't skimp on the quality of your chocolate and expect to get the exquisite taste we are talking of here :)

The biggest food critic-Big G- gave the meal a 9. He even went to far as to say that it was a 9 not only because it was so good but because my execution was so perfect. Everything was made to perfection :)
I made the meal in 45 min. Not too bad but not sure how he does it in 30. I don't think even when I make it again that I will be able to do it in 30 min. This will for sure be a repeat meal in our house though since it seemed to satisfy each palate so well. We won't make it again for a while though because the spinach pie is rich and you need a break from it for it to be so good I think.

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