Saturday, August 29, 2009
1. Humble Home-Cooked Beans (Jamie At Home, page 124)
Food Network recipe link
I've done this one twice, using some neat 'cranberry' beans I got at farmer's markets this summer. It's quite simple but the flavours are great, and it makes a nice lunch with toast. I also appreciate the fibre content. ;)
2. Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara (Jamie At Home, page 134)
Food Network recipe link
Again, I've done this one twice, however once I substitued fresh green & yellow beans for the zucchini, and the second time I used a lovely pattypan squash. I also have not used penne, but this dish goes well with any fresh or dried pasta you have on hand. Quick and easy, although not exactly low fat (I used either light cream or milk instead of the heavy cream called for both times).
3. Cheat's Pappardelle with Slow-Braised Leeks and Crispy Porcini Pangrattato (Jamie At Home, page 332)
Food Network recipe link
This was was really eye opening for me, because I'd never had leeks, nor had I ever used bread crumbs on pasta! I skipped the white wine (didn't have any) and parma ham (I don't much like ham) and instead used parchment paper on top of the leeks, as Jamie suggested on the show. I was tempted to skip the pangrattato but am so glad I didn't, because it really makes the dish. I served this to one of my kids who dislikes mushrooms and most veggies, and he gobbled it up, with left overs the next day to boot. I used the left-over pangrattato as my bread crumbs in some home-made burgers for the other mushroom hating kid.
4. Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous (Jamie's Food Revolution, page 26)
I am the only one in the house who will eat anything remotely fishy, so I ended up eating this dish for 3 days! I liked it, but I found it made WAY too much couscous for me, and if I did it again I wouldn't use lemon juice in the couscous...the lemon juice in the stew was more than enough. It was also a bit too tomatoey (but that could have been me adding too many tomatoes, since I didn't really measure accurately). I used a green chile from my garden (instead of the red chile called for, which are very hard to find here!) and for some reason they don't seem very hot, so I didn't get the 'spicy' part unfortunately. All in all I'd say that Moroccan probably isn't my favourite food...putting cinnamon in a savoury dish just seems a little odd.
5. Chicken Chow Mein (Jamie's Food Revolution, page 60)
JamieOliver.com recipe link
I made this one a few times before I'd even bought the book. I was following along with Jamie's online video on his web site, and I made a lot of substitutions each time, depending what I had on hand, and who I was cooking for. No water chestnuts, green onion for scallion, button for shitake, beef or shrimp for chicken, etc. But the combination of fresh ginger, garlic, chile and cilantro is what makes this dish for me! Plus the speed of the 3 minute chow mein noodles. I can whip this one up in no time!
6. Barbecue-Steamed Fennel (Jamie at Home, page 86)
OK so I didn't use a barbecue, I put this in the oven at 350F alongside a roasted chicken, but otherwise I followed the recipe to a 'T'. I have to say that I much prefer fennel root raw, thinly sliced, as a salad, even if it does give me a horrible skin rash when I go for a long walk in the sun after dinner. ;)
This week's menu: I gave my youngest the choice of recipes from either book, and he chose 'something with lamb'. I can't recall ever having lamb (unless I had it in a curry at some point) but I'm game to try it. Perhaps the Incredible Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Veg and Greens on page 49 of Jamie at Home would be good (if I can find a shoulder of lamb, that is). Personally, I'd like to try one of the chicken curry recipes from Jamie's Food Revolution. I love curry but until fairly recently didn't even realize that there were different types, as the lady who taught me Indian cooking used the same spice combinations in all her recipes. She was from Liverpool and her husband was from the Punjab region of India, so I can only assume that her recipes had a Punjabi flair to them. She also never used fresh garlic or ginger or chile, everything was of the dried powdered variety. So I'm keen to attempt my first chili paste.
Off to the farmer's market this morning!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
So I have recently become somewhat obsessed with mastering Jamie Oliver's methods of cooking. I love his outlook on food (other than his sometimes excessive use of olive oil and butter) LOL. Ok, and maybe I don't eat so much pork or lamb or rabbit. I'm not going to commit to "cooking through" the books, although I think that is a very cool goal to set for one's self. But I am going to attempt as many recipes as I can stomach. I love the veggies in Jamie At Home, and the way the book is broken down by the season, which makes it possible as a year round project. I am excited that I have been able to find just about every ingredient necessary to make all the curry pastes that he outlines in Jamie's Food Revolution. And I can't wait to taste them. I love the simplicity Jamie attempts to bring to his dishes, to make them something that an average cook is not scared to attempt.
So far, I've made a few dishes, but my photography skills are quite lacking, and I haven't really thought to stop and take pictures. I will try and do better in the future. I've made his Chicken Chow Mein recipe (with substitutions) quite a few times already, and I can't believe I got this far in life without ever having cooked with fresh ginger and cilantro, because quite frankly, they blow my mind...they are so good! I've also made a few pasta dishes like Cheat's Papparadelle and Zucchini Carbonara....the only difference being substantially lowering the amount of olive oil and butter...and maybe substituting light cream or even milk on occasion. I don't plan on gaining weight on this project. Oh, and I skipped the 'parma ham' too. What the heck is parma ham anyways? Tonight I'm planning on roasting some fennel the way he describes, in a foil packet with lemon and chile and herbs, and doing up some roasted veg like carrots and potatoes and onions to go along with a chicken. Then I can use the carcass for stock! (Apologies to my late Nanna who used to get so mad when I threw the carcass away. I now understand.)
Grocery shopping has gone from a mundane chore to something to look forward to each Saturday morning. I am frequenting farmer's markets, buying all my produce as fresh and local as possible, before venturing into the grocery stores, where I still look for the good deals but I now also look for where the item was produced or grown, and buy Canadian over anything else. Last weekend I bought my very first fresh piece of fish, ever. I love fish, always have, but it never occured to me to buy anything but frozen. No more. Now I need to start experimenting with different types! Oh, the possibilities. I grew my own chiles and tomatoes this year (although they have yet to turn red), and I have a little potted herb collection that I plan to bring inside once the weather turns cold. Next year I hope to expand a LOT.
So, I'll try to remember to take pictures the next time I cook. And I will post the successes (and failures) here. Heck, even if no one else reads, it will be a record for my own reference. It's all good. :)