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, June 11, 2012

Aubergine and Mint Bruschetta With Beetroot, Red Apple and Watercress Salad

These meals are not from the J.O. 30 Minute Meals cook book but they are from his website  They are fantastic and I highly recommend them even if you aren't used to eating either beetroot or aubergine/eggplant.
Disclaimer: I have never been a big fan of aubergine or eggplant as it is called where I grew up. I have always found it to be foamy when raw and gooey when cooked and particularly lacking in flavor or bitter. But as my favorite vegetarian pointed out to me once-"you probably don't like it because you have never had a good eggplant before". I think that was true, but really it was only one of the problems. The second problem was that I had never cooked it in the right way before.
So tip #1 Picking Your Eggplant
If your eggplant sounds hallow it will turn out to be the foamy kind inside. Pick them heavy, shiny, on the smaller side, and give it the thumb press test. Press your thumb into the side and if indents and springs back it is ripe :) I don't know if it is true but I read that you should look for an eggplant that has the smallest dimple in the bottom, rather than those with larger dimples.
 For the first time in my life I picked the right egg plants. They made the most wonderful bruschetta ever. This Aubergine and mint bruschetta is now one of my favorite J.O. recipes. The crusty bread soaks up the olive oil, mint, garlic and other flavors from the aubergine and tastes healthy and refreshing. 
Tip #2 Cooking the eggplant
Most things I have read tell you to sweat your eggplant before cooking to avoid the bitter taste, but in this recipe I didn't find that necessary. I simply grilled the eggplant dry without oil and they dried up in cooking and never got soggy. 
 Now on to the beetroot, red apple and watercress salad. This was wonderful as well. It has a light taste full of complicated flavors. Sweet apples and beets contrast the more peppery taste of the watercress. The highlight of the salad though for me, has to be all the fresh marjoram. It does something wonderful to the salad that is hard to describe. It seems to pull it all together and make your mouth say YUM!
I do have a tip for making this salad as well though: make sure your watercress is really fresh. It starts to loose its nice flavor and gets old more bitter.To do this look for dark green leaves and stems that are firm. Avoid any that are turning yellow or feel slightly slimy. The other tips for the salad have to do with the beats. One is to wear gloves when thinly slicing your beet root to avoid red fingers for the next three days :) The other is to peel them. He says just to wash and not peel but if you are even slightly worried about the flavor of the beets I would peel them. I always peel mine and I never get that dirty bitter taste.
Overall this meal was a huge success with the family and and will now be added to our list of favorite summer dishes. Here are the links on Jamie's website for the recipes.

FYI: I didn't have any white wine or herb vinegar for the bruschetta so I substituted red wine vinegar instead and it was wonderful.

Back to Blogging

Wow, it has been way too long since I have added any new posts to the blog here. We have been traveling around for the last half a year and have been living in and out of hotels and temporary housing where good Internet was expensive and/or hard to come by. That has meant this poor blog has been left largely alone. It is finally time to get back into the swing of things and start blogging about food and JO's 30 minute meals :) Check back for the next post soon.