Tag: cooking (page 1 of 5)

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #37: Broccoli Orecchiette

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #37: Broccoli Orecchiette
This was our 37th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. I’m still catching up on the backlog! For this one, we made “Broccoli Orecchiette, Courgette & Bocconcini Salad, Prosciutto & Melon Salad.” We picked it because we knew we were getting rockmelon (cantaloupe) in our weekly veggie box, and we had some zucchini to use up as well. I was on chef’s duty for this one, and I managed it in an easy 26:14!

Broccoli Pasta

Substitutions: The only change – and it’s an obvious one – is that we used fusilli instead of orecchiette, simply because that’s what we could find! Everything else was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: This was great! A tasty and easy pasta dish along with two flavoursome salads. I think the anchovies and chilli were the key to the pasta and kept it from being boring. I was actually dreading the prosciutto and melon, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of cantaloupe. Ours was perfectly ripe though, and it went SO WELL with the prosciutto. I loved it. The courgette salad was good, if a bit messy! We both rated this one 9.5 out of 10. It’s a nice summery Italian feast that you could whip up for a group pretty easily.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was filled up and heated. We had a big pot for the cooking the pasta and a frying pan for the pasta sauce. The food processor was ready with both the grater and the blade, and we also needed a mortar & pestle.

First up are the ingredients for the pasta: parmesan cheese, broccoli, “sprouting broccoli” (broccolini), anchovies, capers, dried chilli, garlic, thyme, and dried fusilli.

Pasta ingredients

For the courgette salad, we had mint, red chilli, lemon, courgettes (zucchini), and a tub of bocconcini.

Courgette Salad ingredients

For the other salad, we had: basil, lemon, prosciutto, cantaloupe, and balsamic vinegar.

Prosciutto and melon ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! Big pot for pasta, fry pan for pasta sauce.

Pots and pans

Food processor with grater and blade, and mortar & pestle.

Food processor

And I’m off! I started by trimming the rind off the parmesan cheese.

Trimming the cheese

Then I fed that into the food processor to grate it up.

Grating cheese

I set the cheese aside for later and switched in the blade attachment in the food processor.

Cheese

Next I trimmed off all the florets from the broccoli.

Florets

I also trimmed the ends from the broccolini and cut the spears in half.

Trimming broccolini

I added the chopped up broccoli stalk to the food processor along with some anchovies and their oil.

Anchovies

I also added capers, dried chilli, and three cloves of garlic.

More stuff

Then I whizzed it all up into a paste.

Sauce paste

I put the broccoli paste into the hot frying pan with some olive oil.

Cooking the paste

Next I picked in some thyme leaves…

Thyme leaves

…and added some water, along with the parmesan rind.

Adding water and rind

Time to get the pasta going! I filled the big pot from the kettle and added the fusilli.

Pasta

While those were cooking, it was time to prep the salads. I picked some mint leaves and de-seeded a red chilli.

Mint and chilli

I grated on some lemon zest…

Lemon zest

…then chopped it all together.

Chopping

I put this on a serving plate with some extra virgin olive oil and then squeezed over some lemon juice.

Dressing

I next used a speed peeler to turn the zucchini into thin ribbons.

Peeling zucchini

Time to add the broccoli and broccolini to the cooking pasta!

Adding broccoli to pasta

I piled the zucchini ribbons on to the dressing and took it to the table with the bocconcini.

Finished zucchini salad

Next I picked a handful of basil leaves and bashed them up with some salt in the mortar & pestle.

Bashing basil

I also added some extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to loosen it up a bit. It was the most brilliant green.

Making a sauce

The pasta and broccoli was cooked, so I drained it in the sink (reserving part of the cooking liquid).

Draining pasta

The sauce was finished, so I removed the parmesan rind.

Sauce

Then I added the pasta to the sauce along with some cooking liquid and tossed a couple handfuls of grated parmesan on top.

Combining everything

To prep the cantaloupe, I cut it in half and removed the seeds.

Cantaloupe

Then I used a spoon to remove large chunks of melon flesh to the serving plate.

Chunks of melon

I then draped over the slices of prosciutto.

Prosciutto

To finish the salad, I drizzled over some balsamic, extra virgin olive oil, and cantaloupe juice. (The basil sauce was added just before serving.)

Melon salad

Here’s the finished broccoli pasta with extra parmesan on top.

Finished pasta

Here’s the finished zucchini salad, all tossed together and with the bocconcini added.

Zucchini salad

And here’s the finished melon salad, complete with basil sauce.

Prosciutto and melon salad

Lastly, the complete meal!

Finished meal

Tasting notes: The Snook also liked the anchovy in the broccoli pasta. He is anti-broccolini though, just because he thinks it’s expensive and doesn’t taste any different from normal broccoli. But he enjoyed the dish nevertheless. We both enjoyed the zucchini salad, but you may want to add some salt as the mozzarella balls can be a little bland. And the prosciutto and melon! It was a revelation. We were fighting over the last pieces. I think the key factors there were having a ripe cantaloupe and some excellent (slightly funky, in a good way) prosciutto. Having only three dishes means this meal is a fast one to cook, and I easily finished in under thirty minutes. We both rated it 9.5 out of 10. Highly recommended!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #36: British Picnic

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #36: British Picnic
This was our 36th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, and I’ve now got a backlog of THREE meals, so get ready for a flood of posts! The weather has finally gotten appropriately “summery” here in Sydney, so we chose to make the “British Picnic” for this one: Sausage Rolls, Mackerel Pate, Lovely Asparagus, Crunch Salad, and Pimm’s Eton Mess. That’s a lot of different dishes! We watched the TV episode to prepare. The Snook was on chef’s duty, and he managed it in a respectable 38:54.

British Picnic

Substitutions: We couldn’t find real Lancashire cheese, so we used cheddar instead. We also couldn’t find prewashed watercress (and couldn’t be arsed picking it off ourselves), so we used rocket for that. We had a plain orange instead of a blood orange in the dessert, as well as little meringues instead of big ones. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: How lovely! We might have been sitting in the stands at Wimbledon, I tell you. The sausage rolls were excellent, and for once Jamie’s use of fennel seeds was appropriate. The cheese went a bit ick on the asparagus, but it was still tasty. I had been worried about the mackerel pate, but it was very nice! Strongly fishy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The pickled onions and pear worked surprisingly well together in the salad. And you can’t really go wrong with Eton mess, can you? We washed it all down with a big glass of Pimm’s Cup. Summertime bliss in only 38:54…

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The grill pan was put on high heat and the oven turned on to 205C. The food processor was fitted with the standard chopping blade.

First up are the ingredients for the sausage rolls: flour, puff pastry, egg, chipolatas, fennel seeds, Parmesan cheese, and sesame seeds.

Sausage roll ingredients

For the asparagus, we had asparagus, lemon, and cheddar cheese. For the pate, we had creamed horseradish, smoked mackerel, cream cheese, parsley, and lemons. (We don’t like radishes so we didn’t bother with those.)

Asparagus and pate ingredients

We also had a loaf of sourdough to have with the pate. For the crunch salad, we had rocket, pickled onions, pear, and lemon.

Bread and salad ingredients

Lastly, for the dessert we needed: strawberries, sugar, orange, vanilla paste, Pimm’s, yoghurt, meringue nests, and mint.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The grill pan is for the asparagus, and the baking sheet is for the sausages.

Pots and pans

We also needed the food processor for this one.

Food processor

And he’s off! The Snook started by preparing the puff pastry. He cut a single sheet in half.

Puff pastry

He then laid sausages down on each piece along the edge.

Placing sausages

Next he bashed up some fennel seeds in the mortar and pestle…

Bashing fennel

…before sprinkling it over the sausages.

Sprinkling fennel

He also grated some Parmesan over the sausage. Then he painted the opposite edges with egg wash.

Egg wash

Then he carefully rolled up each sausage roll…

Rolling it up

…and crimped the edge with a fork to seal it.

Crimping

He brushed them with more egg wash and sprinkled on sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds

Finally, he cut each roll into several pieces…

Cutting the rolls

…before popping them in the oven on a floured baking sheet.

Into the oven!

He also put some of our sourdough into the oven to warm.

Bread

Now for the asparagus. He prepped them by snapping off the woody ends.

Prepping asparagus

Then they went into the hot grill pan to cook.

Grilling asparagus

Mmm, smoked mackerel! We were surprised we were able to find it, actually. (We got it at Harris Farm Markets at Broadway.)

Smoked mackerel

The mackerel went into the food processor along with creamed horseradish and creamed cheese.

Into the food processor

Then he added a bunch of parsley along with salt and pepper.

Parsley and seasoning

Finally, he grated in some lemon zest and added some juice as well.

Lemons

Whizz!

Whizzing it up

And here’s what the finished pate looked like.

Finished pate

The asparagus were charring nicely, so he flipped them over.

Asparagus

Now for the crunch salad. He started by slicing up the pickled onions.

Slicing pickled onions

Then he sprinkled them on the bed of rocket.

Adding to rocket

Next he sliced up the pear…

Slicing pear

…and then cut each slice into matchsticks. These went onto the salad along with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Matchsticks and seasoning

To finish the asparagus, he drizzled over some extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

Finishing asparagus

He put the hot asparagus on a plate and shaved over some Cheddar cheese to melt.

Adding cheese

Time for dessert! He started by squashing the strawberries with a fork.

Squashing

You might want to wear an apron for the squashing. The Snook, alas, did not.

Strawberry juice

He added sugar, Pimm’s, and orange zest to the strawberries…

Orange zest

…and then started adding broken-up meringues.

Broken meringue

He also added yoghurt and vanilla paste and swirled everything together.

Swirled mess

He finished the Eton mess with some sprigs of mint.

Eton mess

Here’s the finished British Picnic (outdoors!): sausage rolls (with English mustard), crunch salad, bread and mackerel pate, and lovely asparagus. Oh, and Pimm’s cup.

Finished picnic

And the finished Eton mess, which we just slurped out of the same bowl together.

Finished Eton mess

Dubious Kris trying the mackerel pate. It was pretty good!

Trying mackerel pate

Happy Snook chowing down on sausage rolls.

Snook

Tasting notes: The Snook thought the sausage rolls and asparagus were very good. He thought he probably overdid the parsley in the mackerel pate, but we both still enjoyed it. (The recipe makes a LOT, so be prepared for leftovers!) The crunch salad worked well, and the rocket seemed a fine substitute for the watercress. Everybody loves Eton mess. We both rated this one very high: a 9.5 out of 10! Highly recommended for your next outing to Wimbledon, or the next time you feel like being posh in the backyard.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #35: Steak Indian-Style

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #35: Steak Indian-Style
This was our 35th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We haven’t given up yet! We are still going! We’re just a few weeks behind. This is one we had a couple weeks ago, and frankly it wasn’t that memorable. It was “Steak Indian-Style with Spinach & Paneer Salad, Naan Breads, and Mango Dessert.” We chose it primarily because mangoes came into season! Unfortunately I don’t have the time saved on my phone, but I seem to remember it coming in around the 34 minute mark. The Snook was on chef’s duty for this one.

Steak Indian-Style

Substitutions: We couldn’t find Patak’s Jalfrezi paste, so we went with Balti instead. We left the cress out of the salad. We also had an unplanned substitution for the naan breads, but you’ll see about that soon enough. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: Okay, Indian style steak?? THAT’S NOT A THING. Most Indians don’t even eat beef, much less marinate it in curry paste. It doesn’t taste bad; it’s just a weird idea. That aside, this meal was mostly okay. However, it’s one of the ones where I don’t really know how to eat it. There are just lots of small components, along with dips and such, and it’s just kind of confusing. Like, am I meant to be making a little open-faced sandwich? Or is it more of a salad? We liked all of the individual components well enough. We both rated it an 8 out of 10. I’m not really sure who you’d make this for, though. I sure won’t be serving it to my Indian friends!

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The grill pan was put on high heat and the oven turned on to 180C.

First up are the ingredients for the steak: Patak’s curry paste, lemon, rump steaks, and coriander.

Steak ingredients

For the curry sauce, we used some more of the paste along with a tin of coconut milk. For the yoghurt dip, we used yoghurt, mint, and lemon.

Yoghurt dip and curry sauce

Here are the naan breads along with the ingredients for the salad: baby spinach, coriander, alfalfa sprouts, carrot, paneer, sesame seeds, and lemon.

Naan breads and salad ingredients

For the dessert, we needed mangoes, icing sugar, mint, and lime.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! We had a grill pan for the steaks, a saucepan for the curry sauce, and a frying pan for the paneer.

Pots and pans

And he’s off! The Snook began by making a marinade for the steaks out of curry paste and lemon juice.

Squeezing lemon

He added olive oil, salt, and pepper and mixed it up.

Marinade

Then he rubbed the marinade all over the steaks and set them aside for a while.

Coating the steak

Now for the yoghurt dip. He spooned yoghurt into a bowl and then added mint, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

Yoghurt dip

He started the salad by tipping the spinach into a bowl and tearing over most of the coriander leaves.

Salad leaves

He topped it with alfalfa sprouts, and then sliced over thin ribbons of carrot.

Slicing the carrot

For the naan– WAIT! THE NAAN WERE ALL MOULDY. GROSSSSSSS. So, no naan for us. We made do with some slices of sourdough. (We just bought those naan too! I got Coles to give me a refund.)

Mouldy naan

Time to cook the steaks! They went into the grill pan.

Grilling steaks

For the curry sauce, the Snook mixed some of the curry paste together in a saucepan with coconut milk and left it to heat up.

Curry sauce

Next he sliced up the paneer…

Paneer

…quickly jumped to turn over the steaks…

Steaks

…and then placed the paneer into the frying pan with olive oil to fry. Multi-tasking!

Paneer frying

Curry sauce is just about done.

Curry sauce

Once the paneer was golden on the bottom, he flipped it over to cook the other side.

Golden paneer

The steak was finished so he put it into a board to rest.

Resting steak

To finish the paneer, he sprinkled on salt and sesame seeds.

Cooked paneer

Lastly, the dessert. He started by cutting off the mango cheeks…

Slicing the mango

…and making the customary “hedgehog.”

Mango hedgehog

Then he sprinkled the cheeks with icing sugar.

Icing sugar

A bit of mint and a squeeze of lime finished them off!

Finished dessert

He finished the salad by placing the cooked pieces of paneer around the edge of the bowl and tipping the excess sesame seeds over the top.

Salad

Here’s the finished salad!

Spinach and paneer salad

Lastly, he sliced up the pieces of steak…

Slicing steak

…before dressing them with coriander and the juices from the board.

Steak

The final condiments: curry sauce and yoghurt dip.

Dips

And here’s the completed meal: Steak Indian-Style, Spinach & Paneer Salad, “Naan” Breads, and Mango Dessert.

Finished meal

Tasting notes: Meh. Everything was fine. It probably would’ve been nicer with naan rather than sourdough, but that was out of our control. The salad was nice and crunchy, and everybody likes fried paneer. The steak was good, though I don’t think such a quick marinade imparts much to the final product. The two dipping sauces were mostly wasted, since we didn’t really know what to do with them. And the dessert was really just a mango! So a simple one, and also a weird one. This one feels a little like filler. We both rated it an 8 out of 10, but I can’t really see us bothering to make it again.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #34: Meatball Sandwich

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #34: Meatball Sandwich
This was our 34th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We’ll be going on hiatus for a few weeks due to our annual Halloween party as well as a small trip I’m taking to Victoria. Also, this time of year is just insanely busy… which is why I’m only just now getting around to posting this meal, which we actually made last weekend. Whoops. Anyway, for this one we chose “Meatball Sandwich, Pickled Cabbage, Chopped Salad, and Banana Ice Cream.” We chose it because we took a punt the week before and bought bananas, reckoning they’d ripen up in time to use. They did! I was on chef’s duty for this one and – though I thought I was speeding along – I clocked in at a disappointing 40:46. It was tasty though.

Meatball Sandwich meal

Substitutions: I actually made a double-batch of the meatballs (simply because I accidentally thawed too much hamburger). Other than that, we followed the recipe pretty much exactly!

Quick verdict: Nothing too challenging or objectionable here! Just a nice simple meal, and probably one that would appeal to kids as well. The sandwich was hearty, but I thought the meatballs were a little bland. The red cabbage really perked up the sandwich though, especially with the chilli and mint. (The recipe makes more than double the slaw actually need. We were eating it all week.) The chopped salad was very good, with the avocado and feta giving it an almost creamy texture. The “ice cream” was a bit of a gimmick, and I’m not sure the coconut added much. We both rated it an 8 out of 10. A pretty good meal, but nothing that really stood out as amazing. You could feed this one to just about anybody though!

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 160C. The food processor was fitted with the slicing disc. We had sliced and pre-frozen the bananas as directed. We had two frying pans for the meatballs (since I cooked so many), and a roasting pan for finishing them in the oven.

First up are the ingredients for the meatball sandwich: basil, minced beef, wholegrain mustard, lemon, egg, pancetta, ciabatta, and Jarlsberg cheese.

Sandwich ingredients

For the red cabbage: red cabbage, red onion, mint, red chilli, and lemon.

Red cabbage ingredients

For the chopped salad: cucumber, tomatoes, avocadoes, basil, salad leaves, English mustard, red wine vinegar, and feta cheese.

Chopped salad

For the ice cream: pre-sliced and frozen bananas, yoghurt, honey, desiccated coconut, and crunchy biscotti.

Ice cream ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! All of the pans are for the meatballs.

Pots and pans

The food processor, fitted with the slicing disc. (You also use the blade later on the ice cream.)

Food processor

And I’m off! I began by roughly chopping the basil for the meatballs.

Chopping basil

I added the basil to the minced beef and added lemon zest.

Zesting lemon

Then I separated an egg yolk…

Egg yolk

…before adding it to the mix.

The mix

To finish the meat mixture, I added salt, pepper, wholegrain mustard, and olive oil.

Seasoning the meat

Once I scrunched all the meat up with my hands to thoroughly mix it, I divided the bowl into even segments so my meatballs would be roughly the same size. They all went into the hot frying pans to cook!

Meatballs

Now for the slaw. I started by breaking down the red cabbage.

Chopping red cabbage

I ran the cabbage through the food processor to slice it, then dumped it in a bowl.

Sliced cabbage

I finely chopped up a chilli…

Chopping chilli

…before adding it to the bowl along with sliced red onion and mint.

Adding onion and mint

My meatballs were brown at this point, so I combined them all into the roasting pan. Then I draped the pancetta slices over the top and put the whole thing into the oven to keep cooking. I also chucked the ciabatta on the bottom shelf to warm.

Meatballs into the oven

I finished the slaw by dressing it with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.

Dressing the slaw

After a thorough scrunch, it was done!

Red cabbage slaw

Next I moved on to the chopped salad. Jamie assembles all of this on a wooden board, but I couldn’t be bothered. I chopped each component up and chucked it in a bowl. First, the cucumber.

Chopping cucumber

Next tomatoes.

Tomatoes

I then added the avocado flesh and some chopped basil.

Avocado and basil

To make the dressing, I combined English mustard and salt…

Mustard and salt

…with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Oil and vinegar

I added the salad leaves to the bowl, then poured the whisked dressing over the top.

Dressing the salad

To finish it, I gave it a toss and then crumbled feta on top.

Crumbling feta

Now for the ice cream! I cleaned the food processor and chucked in the frozen bananas, yoghurt, and honey.

Making ice cream

Then I whizzed it all up!

Whizzed ice cream

I put the coconut into a bowl and tried to roll each spoonful of ice cream in it to cover. It didn’t work that well; my ice cream wasn’t very stiff. (I think the bananas may have thawed too much.) Eventually I just spooned the ice cream into the serving bowls and sprinkled coconut on top.

Rolling ice cream in coconut

Time to assemble the sandwich! I took out the warm ciabatta and carefully cut it in half.

Slicing the ciabatta

I drizzled each slice with extra virgin olive oil and then laid slices of Jarlsberg cheese on top.

Cheese

Then I added a good handful of slaw to each one.

Topping with slaw

Here’s how the meatballs and pancetta looked as they came out of the oven.

Meatballs and pancetta

I added the meat to the sandwiches…

Meat

…and here they are finished!

Finished sandwiches

Here’s the completed meal of meatball sandwich with chopped salad (and beer).

Completed meal

And here’s the finished dessert (after it had firmed up a bit more in the freezer) with some biscotti on the side.

Banana ice cream

Tasting notes: I think to an American, a “meatball sandwich” is an entirely different beast. I was expecting something in a sauce, frankly. The Snook explains that this is more what he thinks an Australian or British person might expect. It was a good sandwich though, and I think the red cabbage slaw is the key. It really adds some nice texture, colour, and zinginess to what is otherwise pretty much just a burger. The chopped salad was a nice accompaniment, giving the meal a summertime picnic feel. As for the ice cream, I wish he’d give up these attempts to fake it with whizzed up fruit! I get that fruit and yoghurt is “healthier,” but it never seems to come out firm enough within the time allotted. The Snook thinks it might have been more exciting if I’d had time to refreeze the little balls before rolling them in the coconut, and I tend to agree. Still, overall we liked all the components of this meal just fine. It might be a good one to try with kids, as it’s mostly familiar but introduces some interesting elements. Overall an 8 out of 10 for us.

Stay tuned in a few weeks for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #33: Stuffed Cypriot Chicken

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #33: Stuffed Cypriot Chicken
This was our 33rd cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. (ARE WE DONE YET? Sheesh.) For this one we chose “Stuffed Cypriot Chicken, Pan-Fried Asparagus & Vine Tomatoes, Cabbage Salad, St. Clement’s Drink, and Vanilla Ice Cream Float.” We chose it because we had the episode recorded, and it didn’t use anything we couldn’t get this time of year. HOWEVER – we realised quickly that the book version is very different from the one on the show! It has an extra dish (the “Ice Cream Float”) and some of the instructions were different. Very sneaky, that Mr. Oliver! The Snook was on chef’s duty and managed it in a respectable 35:43.

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken

Substitutions: We only did a half-recipe of the chicken, and we left out the rosemary sprigs. We also only did 2 flatbreads. We didn’t bother with mint for the drink, and we used espresso rather than instant coffee for the dessert. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: Pretty good! Nothing to complain about here. The chicken did take a bit longer to cook than we expected, but it’s visually impressive when you slice it apart. The flavours were all nicely complementary. The cabbage salad was better than I expected, with the onion giving it a welcome bit of bite. The flatbreads fluffed up without catching fire, which was a bonus. (We always seem to have trouble with his “damp greaseproof paper” instructions.) Tomatoes and asparagus are always good, and the drink was fine (if a bit unnecessary). The dessert was basically an affogato, so we both liked that. We both rated it an 8.5 out of 10. It was a nice, tasty meal, but it didn’t really have any stand out elements. It sure looks pretty though!

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The book said to put the oven on at 220C, but on the show he only put it to 150C. So we went with the 150C instead. The food processor was fitted with the slicing disc. We had one frying pan for the veg, and another for the chicken.

First up are the ingredients for the chicken: parsley, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, feta, lemon, and skin-on bone-in chicken breasts.

Chicken ingredients

For the veg, we had: garlic, cherry tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, asparagus, and black olives. For the flatbreads, we had: dried oregano, garlic, and flatbreads.

Veg and flatbread ingredients

For the cabbage salad, we needed cabbage, onion, parsley, basil, red chilli, and lemon.

Cabbage ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the St. Clement’s Drink: ice cubes, lemon, oranges, and sparkling water. For the dessert, we had: vanilla ice cream, espresso, sugar, and biscotti.

Drink and dessert ingredients

Our two frying pans, ready to go!

Frying pans

And he’s off! The first step was to make the stuffing for the chicken. He piled up parsley, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes. Then he seasoned it with pepper and crushed over some garlic.

Making the stuffing

Then he did his best to chop it all together.

Chopping

Next he added some feta and lemon zest…

Zesting lemon

…before chopping it all up together again.

More chopping

He got the veg going by drizzling some olive oil into one of the hot frying pans. Then he threw in cherry tomatoes, squashed garlic, thyme, and a bay leaf.

Starting the tomatoes

Now for some knifework. He carefully cut a pocket into each side of the chicken breasts.

Making chicken pockets

Then he filled the pockets with the stuffing mixture and folded the chicken back together.

Stuffing the chicken

Here are the prepped breasts ready to be cooked!

Prepped breasts

He poured a few lugs of olive oil in the other hot frying pan and then put the chicken in, skin side down.

Cooking the chicken

He then made a “cartouche” out of wet greaseproof paper to cover them. (On the show Jamie was all fancy about making it circular, but in the book he doesn’t bother. Snook went for the circle.)

Cartouche

Next he prepped the flatbreads. He sprinkled salt and pepper on the chopping board (still messy from the stuffing), as well as some dried oregano and olive oil. Then he minced up a couple cloves of garlic as well.

Flatbread seasoning

He then wiped and rolled the flatbreads around on the messy board to coat them.

Coating flatbreads

He stacked them and wrapped them up in more wet greaseproof paper, then put it in the oven. (Where, thanks to the lower temperature, it did not catch fire.)

Wrapped up flatbreads

Back to the veg. He trimmed the asparagus by breaking off all the woody ends.

Trimming asparagus

Then he added it to the pan along with some black olives.

Cooking veg

Now for the cabbage salad. He shredded the cabbage in the food processor…

Shredding cabbage

…along with onion, parsley, basil, and chilli.

More shredding

Here’s everything all shredded up.

Shredded veg

Then he did a quick check on the chicken, which was crisping up nicely.

Checking the chicken

To dress the cabbage salad, he squeezed over some lemon juice and then added extra virgin olive oil and salt. Then he scrunched it all up with his hands.

Dressing the salad

Here’s the completed cabbage salad!

Finished salad

Time to turn over the chicken! It was golden and beautiful underneath. He put a heavy pan lid on top to weigh it down at this point.

Turning the chicken

For the St. Clement’s drink, he juiced the oranges and lemon…

Juicing

…before adding it to the pitcher of ice (along with the orange halves).

Into the pitcher

Then he topped it off with sparkling water.

Sparkling water

Here’s the finished St. Clement’s drink!

St. Clement's drink

The chicken ended up taking a bit longer than we thought. (When we first cut it open, it was still a little raw.) This is how it looked when it was finally cooked through. Pretty!

Cooked chicken

He poured the pan juices over the chicken slices to finish it.

Pan juices

Here’s the finished meal of Stuffed Cypriot Chicken, Pan-Fried Asparagus and Vine Tomatoes, Cabbage Salad, and St. Clement’s Drink.

Finished meal

The actual dessert was assembled after we finished eating. He just put ice cream into each cup and then topped it with espresso and a biccie. Yum!

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: Since chicken breasts are pretty boring, this is a good way to jazz them up in terms of both flavour and visuals. We were both worried that the breasts would fall apart and leave stuffing everywhere, but they actually held together pretty well. The cabbage salad was simple but effective, and it made a nice textural contrast. You can’t really go wrong with sauteed asparagus and tomatoes, so no complaints there. The flatbreads were a great way of sopping up the juices on the plate. The St. Clement’s drink was mostly a novelty, but it was tasty enough. And everybody likes an affogato, right? So 8.5 out of 10 overall. A not-too-challenging meal that should please just about everybody. Definitely recommended.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #32: Tomato Soup

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #32: Tomato Soup
This was our 32nd cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. (HA! I just noticed that on the Amazon.com page, it’s actually called “Meals in Minutes” in the USA. I guess they’ve given up on the whole 30 minute aspect over there!) For this one, we chose “Tomato Soup with Chunky Croutons, Crunchy Veg and Guacamole, and Sticky Prune Sponge Puddings.” We actually picked this one simply so we could justify buying a fresh ciabatta loaf and using the excess to make French toast. Lucky for us, it turned out to be one of the best meals in the book! I was on chef’s duty, and I finished this one in a blistering 28:27. (I should clarify for my fellow Americans that “pudding” in this case doesn’t refer to a custard like we tend to think. This is an English “pudding,” which is more like a sweet, steamed cake.)

Tomato Soup

Substitutions: We did half-recipes of the entire meal to avoid leftovers. We used “mini-Roma” tomatoes rather than cherry tomatoes on the vine. We had fresh green beans instead of fennel and left out the breadsticks. Instead of pitted prunes, we had dried ones that we rehydrated in syrup. We used yoghurt instead of creme fraiche. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: I fully expected this one to boring. I mean, tomato soup? Veggie sticks and dip? Microwave puddings?? And instead it totally blew me away. The soup was way better than anything from a can, and it was very simple to make. The Snook liked that he could taste the flavour of the red chilli without having the heat. The guacamole was so good I went back to the greengrocer to get another avocado to make more today. And the prune puddings were terrific! We both rated it a 9 out of 10. This would be an excellent dinner to make for your vegetarian friends.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 220C and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade. I had a roasting tray for the tomatoes, another for the bread, and saucepan for the soup. I also got out our immersion blender for liquidizing the soup.

First up are the ingredients for the soup: cherry tomatoes, large tomatoes, red chilli, garlic, ciabatta loaf, red onion, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil.

Soup ingredients

Next are the bits for the guacamole platter: cherry tomatoes, red chilli, fresh coriander, avocado, lime, carrot, cucumber, and green beans.

Ingredients for guac platter

Finally we have the dessert ingredients: pitted prunes, flour, brown sugar, unsalted butter, ground ginger, baking soda, egg, and milk. (The honey is to serve.)

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The two baking trays are for the tomatoes and the croutons. The cups are for the puddings. The saucepan is for the soup.

Pots and pans

The food processor had the standard blade attachment. We also used the immersion blender for the soup.

Machinery

And I’m off! The first step was to prep the tomatoes. I cleaned all the cherry tomatoes and dumped them on the baking tray. Then I sliced the large tomatoes into wedges.

Prepping tomatoes

I then drizzled them with olive oil.

Oiling tomatoes

I also chopped up some red chilli and added that to the tray, along with a few smashed garlic cloves.

Chopping chilli

Lastly, I seasoned everything with salt and pepper and put the tray into the oven to roast.

Seasoning tomatoes

To prepare the croutons, I simply ripped the bread into hunks and drizzled each with olive oil. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and then put them into the oven as well.

Prepping croutons

Now to start the other components of the soup. I began by chopping up some red onion.

Chopping onion

The onion went into the hot saucepan along with olive oil and salt.

Cooking the onions

While the onions cooked, I started prepping the puddings. I divided the prunes into each cup and added some of the syrup as well.

Prunes

Back to the soup. It was time to add the balsamic vinegar.

Adding vinegar

Back to the puddings. (Lots of multi-tasking in this one!) I measured out the flour, sugar, butter, ground ginger, and baking soda into the food processor.

Measuring pudding ingredients

Then I whizzed it up!

Whizzing it up

While it was whizzing, I added the egg and milk. (I only needed half an egg, so I beat one first in a cup.)

Beating egg

I ran back over to give my onions a stir. The balsamic vinegar was caramelizing nicely.

Caramelizing onions

Next I spooned the pudding batter into each cup. It wasn’t as stiff as I was expecting! These cups then got set aside until the end.

Adding pudding batter

Now for the guacamole. I started by chopping up a few cherry tomatoes.

Chopping tomatoes

I also added some finely chopped (and deseeded) red chilli.

Chopping chilli

I next chopped up and added a big handful of coriander leaves and stalks. (I like coriander.)

Adding coriander

Then I halved the avocado and scooped out the flesh.

Avocado

Then I just chopped everything together on the board, Jamie-style. This was kind of messy, I’ll admit, but it sure looks impressive. I finished the guac with some salt and lime juice.

Chopping it all together

For the veg, I peeled a carrot and chopped it into sticks. I also chopped up a cucumber and topped-and-tailed some green beans.

Cleaning veg

And here’s the finished guacamole platter!

Guacamole platter

My tomatoes were done roasting, so I added them to the saucepan and mixed everything together.

Roasted tomatoes

I also tore in some fresh basil…

Adding basil

…before liquidizing it to “a fairly rustic consistency” as directed. (Immersion blenders are awesome.)

Liquidizing

My croutons were well and truly toasted by now, so I added them to the serving bowls.

Croutons

Then I ladled soup into each bowl to cover the croutons.

Soup

I started to garnish the soup with yoghurt but realised quickly that the version we bought was sweetened! So I scooped it out and made do with just some bits of sliced basil.

Finished soup

Here’s the finished meal of tomato soup with chunky croutons and crunchy veg with guacamole.

Finished meal

To finish the desserts, I simply zapped them in the microwave for a few minutes. This is how they looked when they came out.

Cooked puddings

I used a spoon to flip each pudding over in the cup to reveal the fruit. Then I topped each one with yoghurt and honey. YUM!

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: The tomato soup was more complex than I expected, and it’s definitely a step up from your normal canned soup. The chunkier consistency also made it feel more filling. The croutons were another way of adding bulk without much work. The guacamole was simple but very tasty, and I plan on using that recipe again. (It even had me eating raw carrots, and I hate raw carrots.) The Snook had been worried that the ground ginger would overwhelm the pudding, but he was happy to find instead that it was quite well-balanced. It wasn’t that “sticky,” but that may be because we didn’t use the tinned prunes. This method of making microwave puddings surprised me with how well it worked. Definitely a fun trick to show off for your guests! We both loved this meal and rated it 9 out of 10. Definitely one to repeat, especially if you have a bumper crop of tomatoes to use up.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #31: Sticky Pan-Fried Scallops

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #31: Sticky Pan-Fried Scallops
This was our 31st cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. As the Snook put it: “Are we done yet??” Hey, we’re in the home stretch. For this meal, we picked: “Sticky Pan-Fried Scallops, Sweet Chilli Rice, Dressed Greens, and Quick Brownies.” We picked it because we were in the mood for seafood, we had some greens to use up, and we had the episode to watch. The Snook was on chef’s duty for this one, and he managed it in a respectable 34:19!

Sticky Pan-Fried Scallops

Substitutions: We used regular broccoli instead of “purple sprouting broccoli.” We only did half-recipes of both the rice and the brownie. For the latter, we subbed in walnuts and dried cranberries instead of pecans and dried cherries. We also had it with whipped cream instead of creme fraiche. Other than that, everything else was as written in the recipe!

Quick verdict: This one was great! We both really enjoyed this one. Sure, it’s a little light on protein just because how expensive scallops are as an ingredient. (From our fish monger, they worked out to about $1 per scallop!) But the flavours were all fantastic and really complementary. I was dubious about the rice, but it was probably my favorite component of the whole meal. The greens weren’t sexy or fussy, but they added some nice contrast in both colour and texture. And the brownie! Well, it’s not really a brownie. More like a dense chocolate cake. I loved it. (The timing, however, was way optimistic and we ended up cooking it for a lot longer.) Overall, we both rated it a stunning 9.5 out of 10! This meal is easy and quick to prepare but it would definitely impress your guests.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 180C, the kettle was boiled, and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade. We had a big pot with a steamer basket for the greens, a large saucepan for the rice, a frying pan for the scallops, and a cake pan for the brownies.

First up are the ingredients for the rice: basmati rice, spring onions, eggs, soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon, coriander, and sweet chilli sauce.

Rice ingredients

For the greens, we had: bok choy, broccoli, asparagus, and lime.

Greens

Here are the ingredients for the scallops: scallops, lemon, Chinese five-spice, sesame oil, red chilli, garlic, honey, butter, and coriander.

Scallop ingredients

Lastly, the bits for the brownie: 70% chocolate bar, butter, sugar, cocoa powder, self-raising flour, crystallised ginger, eggs, walnuts, dried cranberries, and orange.

Brownie ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go!

Pots and pans

And here’s our trusty food processor with the blade attachment fitted.

Food processor

Ready set GO! The Snook started by getting the rice on to cook. He put one mug of rice into the big saucepan along with two mugs of boiled water. He also added a pinch of salt, covered it, and left it to cook.

Cooking the rice

Next up is the brownie. He smashed up the chocolate and added it to the food processor along with the butter.

Chocolate and butter

He next added sugar, flour, a pinch of salt, and quite a lot of cocoa powder.

More brownie ingredients

He also added a small handful of crystallised ginger.

Ginger

Whizz! While it was whizzing, he cracked in the eggs.

Adding eggs

Here’s the finished batter, which was quite thick.

Finished batter

Rather than Jamie’s silly trick of (yet again) using wetted greaseproof paper (which always seems to catch fire in our oven), the Snook used some silicone baking paper to line the cake pan. He then spread the batter out evenly in it.

Spreading the batter

He scattered walnuts and dried cranberries on top and grated over some orange zest before putting it into the oven to bake.

Brownie ready to bake

Time to prep the scallops. He started by delicately scoring them in a criss-cross on one side.

Scoring the scallops

He then drizzled them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then he grated over some lemon zest.

Marinating the scallops

He finished them with a dusting of Chinese five-spice and a drizzle of sesame oil. These were then set aside to be cooked at the last minute!

Prepped scallops

Now it was time to go back to the rice, which was mostly finished cooking. He chopped up some green onions…

Chopping green onions

…before mixing them with beaten eggs, soy sauce, sesame oil, and olive oil.

Egg mixture

The egg mixture was then poured on top of the cooked rice. He squeezed over some lemon juice and added some black pepper. Then he put the lid back on to let it cook a bit more.

Adding the egg gloop

Now it was time to prep the greens. Here he’s slicing the bok choy into quarters.

Slicing bok choy

He also cut up some broccoli and asparagus.

Broccoli

It all went into the steamer to cook over some boiling water.

Steaming the greens

Time for the last bits of work on the rice. He finely chopped some coriander…

Chopping coriander

…before piling it on the rice. Then he drizzled sweet chilli sauce over it. That’s the rice finished!

Finished rice

It was finally time to cook the scallops. He placed them score-side down in a hot pan with olive oil.

Frying scallops

A few minutes later, he turned them over to reveal their beautiful golden undersides. He added fresh chilli and crushed garlic as well.

Golden scallops

To finish them, he squeezed over lemon juice and drizzled them with honey. He also added some butter to the pan as well.

Drizzling with honey

The greens were well-steamed, so he piled them up on a plate.

Greens

He dressed the greens with soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and lime juice.

Dressed greens

Here are the finished sticky scallops, garnished with coriander.

Finished scallops

And here is the completed meal of sticky pan-fried scallops, sweet chilli rice, and dressed greens!

Finished meal

The brownie actually took nearly twice as long to cook as he suggested. It was fantastic though. We had it with plain whipped cream, and I actually forgot to photograph it until after I’d had a few bites! It’s really great still warm from the oven.

Brownie with cream

Tasting notes: The Snook thought the garlic and chilli flavour of the scallops was maybe a little strong, in that it rather overwhelmed the delicate flavour of the scallop itself. I think it fits Jamie’s style though, where he always goes for POW instead of subtlety. (I also think it works better for folks who maybe aren’t as comfortable with seafood.) The rice was really creamy and moreish from the egg, and we polished off our half-recipe really quickly. The greens were fine if unimaginative. (He’s done something similar in many of the other recipes.) As for the brownie, the Snook thought that the ginger flavour came through quite a lot – and that was a good thing. He likes ginger. I didn’t think it made for a very traditional brownie, but it made for an excellent moist, dense chocolate cake! The walnut and cranberry combination we did worked quite well too. Overall we both really enjoyed this one and rated it 9.5 out of 10. Highly recommended.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #30: Steak Sarnie

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #30: Steak Sarnie
This was our 30th
cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s
30 Minute Meals
. For this week, we chose “Steak Sarnie, Crispy New
Potatoes, Cheesy Mushrooms, and Beetroot Salad.” We made this meal on
Saturday, the day before the Sydney Running Festival Half-Marathon. We
chose it because we had the episode recorded, and it seemed like a
good choice for a pre-race meal: a good amount of carbs, but not
overly heavy like pasta. We also prepared this for lunch instead of
dinner so we could just eat a light meal of leftovers in the evening.
I was on chef’s duty for this one and I was flyin’! I finished it in
29:44.

Steak Sarnie

Substitutions: We already had normal
potatoes on hand so I used those instead of buying “New” potatoes. You
can’t get pre-cooked beetroot here, so I simply boiled mine up ahead
of time. We’re not 100% certain if our mushrooms were Portobellos; basically we just got the biggest ones we could find. I was going to use the jarred red peppers as indicated, but when I opened mine they were moldy so I left them out. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick
verdict:
I had guessed this one would be a crowd-pleaser, but it
ended up being somewhat divisive! It was mostly the mushrooms. Neither
of us are big mushroom eaters, but I’ve been making an effort to learn
to like them. I actually really liked these. I thought the
strong flavours and the rich cheese really complimented the thick slab
of mushroom. The Snook didn’t like the texture of the mushroom itself
though. The sandwich and the potatoes were good, and the beetroot
salad was tasty and different. Overall I rated the meal an 8.5 out of
10, while the Snook rated it an 8. It’s a simple, quick, and (mostly)
unobjectionable meal that lots of folks should like.

Read on
for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients,
tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as
it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven grill was
turned on full whack, the kettle was boiled, and the food processor
was fitted with the grating attachment.

First up are the
ingredients for the potatoes: potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and
lemon.

Potatoes

Next are the components
for the cheesy mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms, garlic, chilli,
parsley, lemon, and Cheddar cheese.

Mushroom
ingredients

For the beetroot salad: pre-cooked
beetroot, balsamic vinegar, lemon, parsley, and feta
cheese.

Beetroot salad ingredients

Lastly, for the steak sarnie: rump steak, thyme, a
ciabatta loaf, jarred peppers, parsley, horseradish, and
rocket.

Steak sarnie ingredients

The
food processor was fitted with the grating attachment.

Food
processor

Pots and pans, ready to go! The baking
tray is for the mushrooms. The frying pan is for the potatoes, and the
grill pan is for the steak.

Pots and
pans

Allez cuisine! I started by prepping the
potatoes, cutting them into smaller chunks.

Prepping
potatoes

These went into the frying pan with a
kettle full of boiling water. I also added garlic cloves and
salt.

Cooking the potatoes

Next I
peeled the mushrooms. As Jamie says on the episode: This is very
therapeutic.

Peeling the mushrooms

For the
flavouring, I crushed some garlic and chopped up half a red
chilli.

Garlic and chilli

To this I also
added parsley and lemon zest.

Zesting
lemon

I finished it with olive oil, salt, and
pepper.

Seasoning

The flavour mix got
rubbed all over the mushrooms and piled up inside. Then I added a few
chunks of cheese to each one. The tray then went into the oven under
the grill.

Adding cheese

Time to grate the
beetroot!

Grating beetroot

I drizzled it
with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil…

Dressing
the salad

…and salt and pepper…

Seasoning

…and lemon juice.

Squeezing lemon

I also finely chopped some
parsley and added that.

Chopping parsley

To
finish the salad, I put it in a bowl and crumbled feta cheese on
top.

Adding feta

Here’s the finished
beetroot salad.

Finished salad

Now for the steak. I sprinkled it with salt and pepper and then picked over some fresh thyme leaves. I also drizzled it with olive oil.

Seasoning the steak

The potatoes were done, so I drained them…

Draining potatoes

…and then returned them to the pan with some olive oil to get crispy. I also put the steak into the hot grill pan.

Frying the potatoes

After a few minutes, I flipped the steak over. Looking good!

Cooking steak

I copied a trick from the episode. I fished out some of the garlic cloves from the potatoes and mashed them up on the board with a fork. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and put it back in with the potatoes.

Mashed garlic

This is where I’m meant to be making the “salsa” for the sandwich. I’ve chopped up all the parsley, but when I opened my peppers, I could see they were moldy. So we only had parsley and olive oil.

Chopped parsley

The steak was cooked, so I placed it on the board on top of the parsley mix to rest.

Resting the steak

Next I sliced open our ciabatta loaf…

Slicing the ciabatta

…drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil…

Drizzling with oil

…and spread it with horseradish.

Horseradish

I gave our rocket a quick wash…

Washing the rocket

…then added it as the base of the sandwich.

Adding the rocket

Then it was finally time to slice up the steak!

Slicing the steak

I piled the slices up on the bread to finish the sandwich.

Piling the slices of steak

I finished the crispy potatoes with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Lemon juice

The mushrooms were well done, so I pulled them out of the oven.

Mushrooms

Here’s a view of the completed steak sarnie.

Steak sarnie

And here’s the completed meal of steak sarnie, crispy new potatoes, cheesy mushrooms, and beetroot salad.

Finished meal

Tasting notes: I wonder if the peppers would have made a big difference to the sandwich. It was good, but it wasn’t mind-blowing or anything. (Or maybe it would have helped if I’d STABBED IT TO A BOARD WITH A KNIFE as Jamie suggested?) The potatoes were fine. The beetroot salad was good, but it’s a lot of work and mess without the vac-packed beets, so I’m not sure I’ll be in a rush to make it again. And the cheesy mushrooms were, as mentioned, quite divisive. I think it would come down to whether the person likes the texture of big grilled mushrooms. I thought they were good, but the Snook didn’t finish his (and he usually eats everything). Still, this one is relatively easy to finish within the 30 minutes and you can’t really go wrong with a steak sandwich and potatoes. Definitely an 8-8.5 out of 10.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #29: Catherine Wheel Sausage

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #29: Catherine Wheel Sausage
This is our 29th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. Sorry for missing the past two weeks! We were in Melbourne for one of them. We actually did cook a Jamie meal last weekend, but we had visitors and got too distracted to properly document the meal. (We decided we’d revisit that one again in the future.) The Snook was on cooking duty for this one, and he chose “Catherine Wheel Sausage, Horseradish Mash, Apple Salad, Sage & Leek Gravy, and Stuffed Apples.” This is actually the second meal to use a “Catherine Wheel sausage,” but I was the chef on the other one. We chose this one because it used a lot of ingredients we already had. Unfortunately the TV episode hasn’t aired yet, so we were working just from the book. The time, I’m afraid, was a blow-out: 42:27. Luckily it made up for it in taste!

Catherine Wheel Sausage

Substitutions: We used Dutch Cream potatoes instead of the ones specified. We couldn’t find any watercress in season, so we substituted rocket instead. We had roasted almonds instead of blanched for the dessert, and we didn’t bother with the flaming Cointreau(!). Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe!

Quick verdict: This was another winner in terms of the overall flavour “theme.” Each component complemented the rest really well. (You can’t go wrong with pork and apples, basically.) The sausage is impressive-looking, but it’s not a large portion of protein. That’s okay because you fill up on horseradish mash, which is very tasty and awesome. The “gravy” isn’t really; it’s more of a weird leek white sauce. It tasted good though. Snook was dubious about the apple salad at first (mostly the Ryvita bits on the bottom), but I thought it was unusual and nicely crunchy. And stuffed apples always = YUM. We both rated this one a 9 out of 10.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven grill was turned on full whack, the kettle was boiled, and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade attachment. We had a roasting pan for the sausage, a saucepan for the potatoes, a frying pan for the gravy, and a baking dish for the apples.

First up are the ingredients for the sausage: pork sausages, sage, and hot English mustard (to serve).

Sausage ingredients

Next are the ingredients for the gravy: leeks, fresh sage, chicken stock powder, flour, and cider.

Gravy ingredients

The bits for the horseradish mash: potatoes, butter, and creamed horseradish.

Mash ingredients

Here’s the ingredients for the apple salad: Ryvita, cream cheese, lemon, apple, and watercress (rocket).

Apple salad ingredients

Lastly, the bits for the dessert: apples, an egg, sugar, dried apricots, almonds, and cream (to serve).

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The foil-lined sheet is for the sausage; the frying pan is for the gravy; and the saucepan is for the potatoes. The small cake pan is for the baked apples.

Pots and pans

And he’s off! The first step was to make the Catherine Wheel sausage. He wetted and scrunched a piece of greaseproof paper as directed, then started untwisting the sausages and pushing the meat into continuous tubes.

Squishing the sausage

Then he spiralled the links around to make the Wheel.

Spiral sausage

He inserted metal skewers to hold the thing together. He also tucked fresh sage leaves down in the gaps and rubbed the thing in olive oil. It went into the oven!

Finishing the Wheel

…where the greaseproof paper promptly caught fire. Yeah, really. He pulled out the pan and removed the paper, then put it back in the oven. (It was a stupid idea anyway, Jamie.)

Burnt paper

The next step was to core the apples. Unfortunately we don’t have an apple corer, so the Snook had to do this with a knife. He did lose some time here.

Coring the apples

To make the filling for the apples, he measured out sugar, dried apricots, almonds, and an egg in the food processor.

Prepping the filling

Whizz!

Whizz!

Then the filling got stuffed down into each apple, with the excess put in the bottom of the dish. The whole thing went into the microwave for 10 minutes.

Stuffing the apples

Next he chopped up the potatoes for the mash.

Chopping potatoes

Those went into a pot of boiling water on the stove with some salt. It was also time to flip the sausage, which was looking golden and tasty!

Potatoes and sausage

Now for the gravy. He chopped up both leeks…

Chopping leeks

…before adding them to the hot frying pan with olive oil, boiled water, and salt. He put the lid on so it could steam.

Cooking the leeks

Next he had to prep the apple salad. First he had to break up the Ryvita biscuits into small pieces.

Breaking up Ryvita

He smeared each piece with cream cheese before adding black pepper and lemon zest.

Zesting lemon

Then he cut up an apple into matchsticks.

Apple matchsticks

The apple matchsticks were tossed with lemon juice to keep them from going brown.

Apple sticks

Back to the gravy. He added sage leaves, chicken stock powder, and flour. Then he added cider and more water. (“Looks like gloop,” he said, stirring furiously.)

Gravy gloop

To finish the salad, he topped the Ryvita with rocket and the dressed apple. Then he drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil.

Finished apple salad

The baked apples were finished cooking in the microwave, so he transferred them to the cake pan to finish caramelising in the oven.

Baked apples

All that was left was to finish the mash. He drained the potatoes…

Draining potatoes

…before mashing them with butter, creamed horseradish, salt, and pepper.

Mash

The gravy was… still gloop. But tasty gloop!

Finished gravy gloop

The finished meal of Catherine Wheel sausage, horseradish mash, sage & leek gravy, and apple salad.

Finished meal

And the finished dessert of baked apples. (The filling got a little scorched, but it was still good.)

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: The sausage worked well. The sauce was “interesting,” says the Snook, “but I wouldn’t call it a gravy.” The horseradish mash was very good. I thought the apple salad provided welcome crunch, but the Snook thought that smearing cream cheese on all the little pieces of Ryvita was a bit fiddly. He says that his #1 tip for cooking this meal would be to HAVE AN APPLE CORER, as otherwise you’re going to get frustrated as he did. Overall this was a great little meal with some nice flavour combinations. We both rated it a 9 out of 10 despite the extra time it took to prepare. Highly recommended!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #28: Fish Tray-Bake

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #28: Fish Tray-Bake
This is our 28th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals… and I’m not gonna lie, the fatigue is starting to set in. But we started this thing, and dammit, we’re gonna finish it. We chose this one because we had the episode recorded, asparagus is in season, and I started drooling when I saw a photo of the Banoffee Pie. Snook was on chef’s duty and he finished in a very respectable 33:39. There were some definitely highlights and lowlights to this one…

Fish Tray-Bake meal and Cheat's Banoffee Pie

Substitutions: We already had some big potatoes in the pantry, so we just cut those up instead of using new potatoes. We had “banana prawns” rather than tiger prawns. Fresh red chilli is still very difficult to come by, so we went with dried chilli flakes instead. The pie calls for “Camp coffee,” which we had to google. It’s a kind of thick essence of coffee and chicory. Our supermarket actually had the local equivalent, but we decided against it (on the grounds that we’d never use up the rest). Instead, the Snook just made a shot of espresso and stirred a lot of sugar into it. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: Meh. It was okay. The fish tray-bake was tasty, but I dislike eating whole cooked prawns. I know why he does it; it’s a time cheat. But I’d rather take the time to use cleaned prawns than have to tear their heads off, peel the shells, and de-poop them myself. (The ones we had were quite gritty, too.) The potatoes and the salad were fine, but there wasn’t really much to them. We were divided on the salsa verde. I loved it, but the Snook thought it had too much raw garlic. But the Banoffee Pie… was a complete disaster. The problem was the bananas. Bananas are incredibly expensive right now in Sydney, and the best ones we could get turned out to be crappy quality and totally not ripe. We ate only a few bites of the pie and then chucked the rest away. Big disappointment! Overall we rated this one an 8/10 as cooked, but with a better Banoffee Pie we’d go up to 8.5. There just wasn’t really any showstopping dish here, and nobody likes to eat prawn poop.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven grill was turned on full whack, the kettle was boiled, and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade attachment. We had a baking tray for the fish, a frying pan for the caramel, and a pot for the potatoes.

First up are the ingredients for the potatoes: potatoes, mint, and lemon.

Ingredients for the potatoes

Next are the bits for the fish tray-bake: salmon fillets, prawns, asparagus, lemon, chilli flakes, basil, anchovies, garlic, tomatoes, and pancetta.

Tray-bake ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the salsa verde: mint, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, capers, and cornichons. For the spinach salad we had: balsamic vinegar, lemon, mint, and baby spinach.

Spinach salad ingredients

Lastly, the ingredients for the Banoffee Pie: sugar, bananas, milk, pre-made sweet pastry case, cream, sweetened espresso (subbing for Camp coffee), and dark chocolate.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The pot is for the potatoes; the frying pan is for the caramel; and the foil-lined tray is for the fish.

Pots and pans

And he’s off! The first step was to get the potatoes into a pot of boiling water. He added the stalks from a bunch of mint and a pinch of salt. The pot was covered and allowed to cook.

Cooking potatoes

Now for the caramel for the pie. He spooned the sugar into the hot frying pan and let it start to melt.

Starting the caramel

While the sugar was melting, he used the blender to whizz up some bananas and milk. Unfortunately this was where we realised the poor quality of our bananas, as they weren’t ripe enough to blend to a smooth consistency.

Blending bananas

Here’s the sugar just as it started to caramelise.

Sugar caramelising

Once the sugar was all bubbling and golden, he poured in the banana mixture and cooked it for a few minutes.

Combining the two

He then poured the caramel into the bottom of the pastry case and put it in the freezer to chill.

Pouring the caramel

Now it was time to start the fish. He chucked the salmon fillets and prawns into the awaiting tray.

Salmon and prawns

Then he snapped off the woody ends of the asparagus and added the spears to the tray.

Adding asparagus

Next he added salt, pepper, lemon quarters, chilli flakes, basil leaves, anchovy oil and fillets, and crushed garlic.

More ingredients into the tray

He then chopped up a few tomatoes…

Chopping tomatoes

…before adding them as well.

Filled tray

Lastly, he arranged everything nicely in the tray, making sure the salmon was skin side up. Then he draped over a few slices of pancetta and put the whole thing in the oven.

Adding pancetta

With that finished, he moved onto the salsa verde. He put mint, parsley, garlic, anchovy fillets, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, capers, cornichons, and extra virgin oil into the food processor.

Salsa verde ingredients

Whizzz!

Whizzing the salsa verde

It made a beautiful green sauce.

Salsa verde

Here’s the finished salsa verde waiting at the table.

Finished salsa verde

By now the potatoes were cooked, so he drained them and discarded the mint stalks.

Draining potatoes

The potatoes were dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Dressing potatoes

He also smashed the potatoes lightly with a fork. Here are the finished potatoes!

Potatoes

Now for the spinach salad. He made the dressing with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice.

Salad dressing

Next he finely sliced the remaining mint leaves and added them to the dressing.

Slicing mint

He then roughly chopped the baby spinach…

Chopping spinach

…before placing it on top of the dressing.

Placing the spinach

Here’s the finished spinach salad, waiting to be tossed just before eating.

Spinach salad

All that was left to do was assemble the pie. He began by whipping the cream. (Jamie has you do this BY HAND with a whisk? No way. Everybody’s got some sort of electric whisk or beaters, right? That’s just craziness.)

Whipping cream

Once the cream was stiff, he added the sweetened espresso and folded it through.

Adding the coffee

It looked all swirly and marbled.

Marbled cream

He then sliced up the remaining banana…

Slicing banana

…before placing the slices on the chilled caramel base.

Placing bananas

Then he poured the coffee cream on top.

Cream topping

He carefully shaved curls from the bar of dark chocolate…

Shaving chocolate curls

…before sprinkling them on top to finish the pie. (It did look good, didn’t it?)

Finished pie

The final task was just to pull the fish tray-bake out of the oven. (The book said “about 10 minutes,” but it ended up being closer to 15 for us.)

Fish tray-bake

Here’s the completed meal of fish tray-bake with potatoes, spinach salad, and salsa verde.

Finished meal

And here’s the finished piece of Cheat’s Banoffee Pie.

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: I think I covered most of it already. For me the salsa verde was the highlight, and I think it would be worth making this to serve with any grilled meat or even as a salad dressing. (You may want to tone down the garlic a bit though if you find it too strong.) If I were going to do this meal again, I’d clean the prawns ahead of time and add them partway through the cooking. I’d also buy my bananas a week in advance to ensure that they were properly ripe and tasty. (Trust me; this just doesn’t work at all with non-ripe bananas.) We’re giving this one an 8-8.5/10 (making allowances for the Pie Fail). It LOOKS like one that would be perfect for a dinner party, but only if your guests don’t mind peeling and de-pooping their own prawns.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!