Thursday, 31 January 2013

Jamie Oliver Round Up, Vol. I

I've always wanted to choose a recipe book and cook every single recipe in it. So, as I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been steadily cooking my way through Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meal recipe book, and have really enjoyed it so far. The recipes are very easy to follow, and usually take me around the 45 minute mark. The ingredients lists are usually quite extensive so I doubt this is something you could cook every night as he suggests. However there's some really tasty special feeling meals in there that I'll definitely be cooking again. I think where he really excels are his exciting salads, which is something I never think to include with a main meal, especially a hot one.

So, here's my round up of the first five dishes I cooked.

1. Tasty Crusted Cod, my mashy peas, tartare sauce, warm garden salad.

The herb crust on the fish was a crunchy, well seasoned match for the clean fresh tastes of the cod fillet. The mash held all sorts of exciting textures and the mint sauce gave it an unexpected kick. Since making this recipe I've made the tartare sauce numerous times as it's easy and much more satisfying than buying it in. Also, it means the big jars of cornichons and capers that we wouldn't usually buy can be put to good use. The salad had crispy pancetta that gave the leaves a naughty fatty edge which is always welcome. Overall, an excellent alternative to an ordinary fish n potatoes tea. I'm giving this one 8/10.

2. Oozy Mushroom Risotto, Spinach Salad, and Quick Raspberry & Lemon Cheesecake

Lots and lots of STUFF was chucked into this risotto; rosemary, garlic, thyme, dried porcini and a variety of wild mushrooms. So I was very surprised when it actually tasted quite bland. Perhaps it was the quality of the stock that I used but it needed more seasoning and I just expected it to deliver more of an earthy mushroomy smack to the face. The actual risotto was easy enough and the consistency was perfect. Whilst the sun dried tomotoes gave the salad a much needed bit of excitement, plus I LOVE pine nuts. The quick dessert was the highlight of this meal and led to me discovering how ace lemon curd is. I've never been a fan before but it's lovely and sweet, and I got it from our new local family run village shop. How virtuous of me. A 6/10 because of the slightly disappointing risotto.

3. Summer Veg Lasagne, Tuscan Tomato Salad, and Quick Mango Frozen Yoghurt

I love different takes on lasagne and this one was really scrummy. The bulk of it was made from my favourite green veggies; broad beans, peas and asparagus. Then a creamy mix of cottage cheese and stock. It all got a bit messy and some parts of the pasta was a little chewy for some reason but overall it was summery and very satisfying, especially considering it was meat free. This was one of the best salads I've ever had. Big chunks of bread with fresh tomatoes and basil; sort of a deconstructed bruschetta. A proper revelation for me. I swapped mangos for strawberries which worked very well, only I made it ahead and froze it for too long which spoiled it a bit. Very quick and healthy though. An 8/10 for this meal.

4. Seared Pork Fillet & Catherine Wheel Sausage, Meaty Mushroom Sauce, Celeriac Smash, and Garlicky Beans

I always think fondly of this meal as when I was deciding which one to make, the man himself tweeted me! I always tend to veer away from pork as I've been put off by dry and bland chops. However, I went to  Chadwick's and picked up a bloody lovely piece of pork fillet along with some kidneys for the sauce and sausages. This new (on me) cut of pork was a real revelation as it was tender and tasty. But what made this meal was the sauce; the kidneys made it so much more exciting than an ordinary mushroomy sauce, so it was meaty as well as creamy. I couldn't get hold of celariac in any of the supermarkets I visited so we just had ordinary mashed potatoes which is always nice. The apples and sausage complimented each other really well but I think it was all a bit too much altogether. Especially considering the Catherine wheel sausage is the main component of another meal in the book. Overall a 9/10 mostly because of that pork and the sauce.
5. Super-Fast Beef Hash, Jacket Potatoes, Goddess Salad, Lovely Butter Beans & Bacon

This was one of those meals that I didn't think would be anything to write home about, but ended up being one of the nicest I've had in a long time. Avocado still feels like a bit of an exotic treat to me and I enjoy it in all its forms so the salad and dressing were lovely. The hash was hearty and comforting but still full of interesting flavours. The butter beans were absolutley gorgeous; meaty and fresh with lots of different textures going on. At all tasted very nourishing and everything really came together beautifully; a 9.5/10 as I feel I should reserve the big 10 as you never know what might come along!

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