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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: Pregnant Jooles's Pasta, Crunchy Red Endive and Watercress Salad

Last night was the second of my Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes cookbook test.

On the menu:
  • Pregnant Jools's Pasta (essentially pasta with meat sauce)
  • Crunchy Red Endive and Watercress Salad (I used baby arugula which the book gave as an option)
I pretty much followed the recipe exactly except for a few simple swap outs. I changed the type of pasta from penne to farfalle (bowties) and instead of using sausages in the sauce I used ground veal. The recipe in the book included a dessert (little frangipan tarts) but since we try to eat somewhat healthy during the week I decided to skip it. The tarts looked and sounded delicious so I will probably test the recipe out on the weekend and bring them to a friend's house.

Here are my thoughts:

Ingredients: Just like last time all the ingredients were easy to find in my local supermarket. Besides being incredibly easy to find the ingredients were also very reasonable. My whole bill for this meal cost just over $20.

Method: This time around, the method was a little tougher than last time. This was partly my fault since I skipped the dessert. Because of this, I had to skip the steps based around the tarts and often found myself losing my spot on the page. Other than that, this recipe was easy to follow. My only other complaint was that the recipe called for the meat to be cooked on a high heat, I found for the time given to cook the meat I had to turn the temperature down a bit about halfway through the cooking time as my sauce was starting to burn but like any recipe you have to pay attention and adjust accordingly.

Cook Time: This meal was even quicker than the last one. I had dinner on the table in just under 30 minutes! In fact, when I called Jordan to the table his response was "What??? Already???"! Granted, I skipped the whole dessert section of the recipe but if you included it it would probably only add about 10-15 minutes to the cook time.

The Food: Once again, DELICIOUS! The meat sauce tasted like it had  been cooked all day and was the perfect comfort food for a cold winter's night. The salad was fresh and crunchy and was the perfect accompaniment for the pasta. Another satisfying meal from Mr. Jamie Oliver!

Tonight I am cooking my own recipe so make sure to check back tomorrow for a post on:
  • Roasted Herb Chicken
  • Caramelized Shallot Gravy and
  • Shaved, Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: Green Curry, Crispy Chicken, Kimchee Slaw and Rice Noodles

As discussed in my post the other day, for the next few weeks I am going to be putting Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes cookbook to the test.

The book is divided up into different complete meals (3-5 dishes each) so last night I decided to cook:
  • Green Curry
  • Crispy Chicken
  • Kimchee Slaw
  • Rice Noodles
You can find the recipe on Jamie's website here.

Here is what I thought of the recipe:

Ingredients: All the ingredients were easy to find in my local supermarket. There was nothing strange or unusual, in fact I had most of the ingredients in my fridge and pantry.

Method: The recipe is written as one long process instead of individual recipes for each dish. This is a super handy feature as it allows you to do many things at once and ensures that all the dishes will be ready at the same time. My only complaint was that because the recipe was written this way, I didn't have much time to clean as I went (one of the number one rules taught in culinary school) so I (and by "I" I really mean Jordan) was left with a sink full of pots, pans, utensils and appliances.

Cook Time: This book definitley delivered on it's title. I got home from work at around 6:30 and Jordan and I were sitting and eating ALL the dishes at just past 7pm. Granted, I have a lot of experience in the kitchen, but  the everyday home chef can definitley complete this recipe in 30-45 minutes.

The Food: First of all, the chicken was AMAZING! It was perfectly crispy on the outside but still juicy on the inside. The honey and green curry paste added a delicious sweet, slightly spicy and sticky glaze that had Jordan and I licking our fingers and plates. The green beans and slaw were delicious as well. We probably could have done without the rice noodles as the three other dishes were enough to fill us, but they came in handy to soak up leftover green curry sauce from the beans.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my first meal from this book and am looking forward to the next. Thanks Jamie!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes

Without a doubt, my favourite celebrity chef is Jamie Oliver. Besides being adorable and his charming accent the reason I love him the most is that his approach to food is very similar to mine. He keeps things simple and lets the food speak for itself. A few weeks ago I caught some back to back episodes of his show Meals in Minutes and instantly fell in love with his approach of cooking delicious meals quickly and efficiently. This weekend I decided to purchase his accompanying book; Meals in Minutes for some weeknight cooking inspiration.

Over the next few weeks, mixed in with my regular blog posts I will also be posting reviews of Meals in Minutes after cooking exact meals and recipes from the book.

Stay tuned as tomorrow I will be completing my first meal from the book:
  • Green Curry
  • Crispy Chicken
  • Kimchee Slaw
  • Rice Noodles

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Product Review: Valentine's Day Whoopie Pies

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day yesterday full of love, chocolate and candy!

I spent the evening working a Couple's Cooking class but wanted to leave Jordan a little Valentine's Day treat for when he got home. Since I didn't have much time in the morning before I had to head to work I turned to the help of a boxed mix.

I decided whoopie pies were the way to go and so I went with this mix:
Click here for info.
I added my own twist on the mix by using a piping bag to make the whoopie pies into a heart shape and then using food dye to make the icing a lovely hot pink. Overall I was very satisfied with this product. The baking time was a little off, but I think that is because I piped the hearts larger than the size directed on the box. Jordan was satisfied with the mix too, which I was able to tell by the crumbs left on the plate when I got home This was definitley a great boxed mix perfect for whipping up a quick and delicious sweet treat!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bobby Flay Inspired Dinner

When I was in Las Vegas in September I ate at a variety of delicious restaurants including Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. I was so impressed with my meal at Mesa that I ordered the restaurant's cookbook as soon as I got home. Since then I have made a few things out of the book and was very impressed with all of them. Last weekend Jordan and I had my friend Mandy and her fiance Jason over for dinner. They are both HUGE fans of southwestern cuisine so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to prepare a meal from this book. I combined my own recipes with Bobby's (I like to pretend we are on a first name basis) to make the following menu:
  • Ginger and Pineapple Mojitos
  • Fresh Guacamole and Salsa served with Fresh Tostones
  • Warm Cornbread with Honey Butter
  • Shrimp and Corn Tamales with Roasted Garlic Sauce
  • Chipotle-Honey Glazed Steak with Roasted Pepper Relish
  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Ancho Chili Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  • Warm Chocolate Cakes with Dulce de Leche
The tostones, tamales, steak and chocolate cake recipes were all from the cookbook which can be bought on . You can also find a lot of the recipes published online on various food websites.

Here are the recipes for the dishes I made:

Ginger and Pineapple Mojito
Makes 4 Glasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
  • 4 shots (about 1.25 oz or 2.5 Tbsp each) dark rum 
  • a bunch of mint
  • 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup finely diced pineapple
  • ice
  • 2 cups club soda
  1. In a small saucepan combine the water, sugar and ginger. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved and the liquid is just simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the ginger to steep while the mixture cools. (this step can be prepared ahead of time)
  2. Set up 4 tall glasses. In the bottom each combine, 1.5 Tbsp of the ginger syrup, 1 shot of rum, a few sprigs of mint, 1 Tbsp. of lime juice and a 1/4 cup of the pineapple. Using a pestle or a spoon, muddle the ingredients together.
  3. Top each glass with some ice and 1/2 cup of club soda
Fresh Guacamole
Serves 4 as an appetizer
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and quartered
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. red onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • course sea or kosher salt
  1. Combine all the ingredients into a mortar or into a large mixing bowl. Using the pestle or a fork mash all the ingredients until the desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Season with salt and garnish with some more cilantro and diced tomatoes. 
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Serves 4 as an appetizer
  •  6 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, dice (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea or kosher salt
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Season with salt.
  2. Let rest for at least minutes before serving.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4
  •  2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted and pureed 
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place the cubed potatoes into a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiled, lower the heat and cover. Let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and place back in the pot. Add the butter, cream and mashed garlic. Using a garlic masher, mash the potatoes until smooth the fold in the chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Ancho Chili Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Serves 4
  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts, tough leaves removed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl toss the brussel sprouts with the oil, chile powder, paprika and a couple of pinches of salt. Spread out onto an aluminum lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the oven in tender and brown, about 20-25 minutes, tossing occasionally.  


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