When I started on my journey to learn how to cook fifty days ago, I chose Jamie Oliver’s book because it just seemed like what life kept throwing at me. There were a number of odd coincidences over the course of a week that told me to pick it so I just went with it. I wasn’t a huge fan or anything, I didn’t even know very much about him and I declared my mission before I had really even opened the book. But, in the last 7 weeks the unexpected has happened. He has strangely become a big part of my life. As I’ve mentioned in other entries, he’s become part of our whole family. We talk about him like he’s a dear friend that just lives far away and we don’t get to see him. My daughter will say things like, “Jamie would be so proud, I picked white milk in the cafeteria today.” I carry his book around and have gone through it several times. Friends mentioned their “Jamie sightings” to me when he was on Oprah or call me to talk about his show, like I must have some sort of inside scoop. We’ve all watched his cooking videos on his website. Husband and Kid also leaf through the pages of “Food Revolution” to look at the recipes and pictures. I get requests for Jamie’s Chicken or Jamie’s Salmon Tikka, again, like a brother who’s passed on a recipe. I remember this happening to Julie Powell in the movie, Julie & Julia, and I think I’m going to read her book to see how she dealt with it. So, this week I’ve been terribly depressed and anxious in anticipation of the season finale of my buddy’s show tonight. It feels like a great friend is moving away and I won’t be able to see him anymore. This is a strange feeling. My day job dictates that I do not get “star struck” because of having to work with people in the public eye. There are very few people in the “Celeb” world that could do that to me. But if Jamie Oliver were to knock on my door today I think I’d cry. And I’m not quite sure how our house will get its “Jamie Fix” next week.
An Omelette(or omelet, both spellings are correct apparently, we’ll go with Jamie’s spelling for this entry) looks so challenging doesn’t it? People make such a big deal about making or rather destroying an omelette. I watched a Jamie Oliver video that gave some really good pointers about how to make one and it just seems like something a good cook should master. I’ve included the link below. We had eaten out a lot over the weekend and I was looking for something light and easy to make for dinner on Sunday night. I had never really made an omelette before. I may have put one together accidentally but I’ve never set out to construct the incredible edible omelette. Jamie includes four recipes for them in his book (pg. 314) and I had ingredients to make two of them, the Bacon Omelette and the Tomato & Basil omelette. I decided to make one of each and we’d share them. I tackled the bacon one first. The eggs did just what Jamie said they would do and it turned out very pretty, if I do say so myself. I started to make the second one and it didn’t fall into place as nicely and I ended up with a scrambled egg mixture thing. I really don’t know what I did wrong. Maybe the pan had gotten too hot between the first one and the second one? Jamie talks a lot about having a pan that is heated well on a low heat so maybe that’s what happen. Either way, both tasted great and the basil make the kitchen smell so yummy! So, give it a go this week and see how you do!
Recipes cooked: 17
Recipes left: 156
Days left: 321
“Egg”-cellent Stir Fry
This Friday, I made “Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce” (pg. 69). I picked it because I’m pretty sure it was the recipe Jamie cooked in the Food Revolution episode where he’s teaching 1,000 people to cook. I also thought I’d give a Stir Fry a try. I bought all of the ingredients at Whole Foods the night before and since the recipe only serves 2, I bought enough to double it. I wasn’t ready for another battle with the rice so I cooked some of my favorite instant rice in the microwave, Trader Joe’s frozen basmati. About a year ago TJ’s had trouble with its distributor for this product and I went into complete withdraw and as soon as it was back on the shelves I did some serious stocking up. Our freezer is full of the stuff!
This recipe is super quick and you really need to have all of your chopping done before you start cooking because it cooks really fast. What I really liked about this recipe is that you add egg to the rice at the end and it really tastes like something from a Chinese Restaurant. Everyone ate this! Even the toddler!
Thanks to all my followers for coming back and reading. I’d love to know if you’ve made any of the recipes, bought the book, signed the pledge, etc.
I’m still working on plans for my first cooking party so I’ll keep you posted about that as well.
Recipes cooked: 15
Recipes left: 158
Days left: 323
Recipe for Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce:
All of the confidence that I had built up in the last 30+ days of my Food Revolution was put in check in about 30 minutes. If you had asked me what I thought my most challenging recipes would be when I started this, in the top 5 would have been cooking rice. I do not have good luck cooking rice on top of the stove. It makes no sense. All I can figure is that I’m not patient and for that very reason gadget #98 is a rice cooker. But Sunday night I am NOT going to use the rice gadget, I AM going to make rice on top of the stove, in a pot, with water for my next recipe, Rice Salad (pg.125).
I always underestimate how long it takes to make rice and it fooled me again. The first direction in my recipe is to cook 1 1/4 cups of mixed long grain and wild rice according to the package directions. I look at the package and it says that it will need to cook for 30 minutes. Got me again! I need to feed everyone and I’m feeling rushed already. I let out a huge SIGH, send everyone outside and get started chopping. I chop up the roasted red bell peppers, fresh mint, basil and parsley and make the lemon dressing (pg. 107). Okay. So that was 10 minutes. I still have 20 minutes.
I decide to make mojitos while I wait. The blender explodes (I have the worst luck with blenders), I have a sticky mess to clean up which is fine since I still have 12 minutes.
The kitchen is clean and I patiently wait for the buzzer to go off. I take it off the heat and set the timer for another 10 minutes to “sit.” More waiting. The rest of dinner is ready. The family is starved and I decide that 8 minutes should be fine to “sit.” I open the pot and it looks awful. Its watery. The rice is hard. YUCK! NOW what?!?!? I run to the pantry, cross my fingers for a 90 second bag of rice and find one in the back. I pop it in the microwave, skip the step where Jamie says to let the rice cool and throw it together with the herbs, dressing, a bit of salt and pepper and squeeze a lemon over it.
I am completely shocked when I taste it. Its really good! This proves to me that anyone can make Jamie’s recipes and that pretty much anything is salvageable with a well stocked pantry and a little luck. The kid likes it. The husband likes it and I’m completely in shock.
But once again, the rice beat me. Rice 1, Amy 0.
Recipes cooked: 14
Recipes left: 159
Days left: 328
This week, I’m feeling a little behind in my quest and I have to make something tonight. I have 29 minutes to go to the store and buy ingredients before I need to be home to relieve the babysitter. I’m sitting in the parking lot with my fresh mani/pedi looking through the cookbook (which rarely leaves my side these days). I know time tonight will be tight so I focus on Jamie’s “20-Minute Meals” section. Its always fun to see the thought process that goes into choosing a recipe for my adventure. A month into this, each recipe I’ve chosen so far has been inspired by something (the weather, a holiday) or someone (a loved one, friend or a family member’s request). Husband has been asking me to cook a curry dish and I stop when I see “Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt”(pg. 28). Today, my mani/pedi was a gift from one of my best friends (let’s call her Roomie) and she took me to my first Indian restaurant on a double date about ten years ago. I missed her today and wished she had been with me for my day of pampering. Also, she and I were roommates in college and also for our semester abroad in London, WHICH brings us back full circle to Jamie Oliver. So, decision made.
In the intro to the recipe Jamie writes,”I love this dish. If you’re a fan of chicken tikka masala, give this one a go. You might think it odd to use robust spice pastes on fish, but its very common in southern India. When buying your fish, ask the fishmonger to scale it for you. You’ll be amazed at how quickly these cook.” And I think, “Fishmonger? What a horrible job title! Sounds like a villain, the kind in the old movies that would kidnap a damsel.”
Okay, back on track. So, I read through the ingredients: naan (mmmm!), 1 fresh chile, 1/2 a cucumber, 1 lemon, natural yogurt, salt & pepper, cilantro, two 7-ounce salmon fillets, a heaping tablespoon of tandoori or mild curry paste and olive oil. Careful not to damage the nails, I write the ingredients on back of the envelope my gift card came in and head into the store.
I decide to look for the curry paste first because if they don’t have that, the whole thing is a bust. Now, growing up in a fairly rural area, I didn’t have access to many ethnic restaurants while growing up. When I left the small farm town and went to the big city for college, one of my first friends was Indian, by way of Canada (where she was born) her family had come to the United States about twenty years before and her parents lived close to where we went to school. She and I were fast friends and soon, since her family was close by, our gang was eating awesome Indian food at family celebrations and the yummy leftovers she’d bring us back to the dorm after a weekend at home. Along with Roomie, she was one of my first blog followers and she’s an amazing cook. She also doesn’t live close by and I think about her too as I browse the “International” Food section of the store. Found it! Its even the brand Jamie recommends in his book so I’m very excited.
I head to the seafood counter to find this “fishmonger.” I see some wild Atlantic Salmon and the fishmonger comes over to help. I get a little freaked out when I notice she kind of resembles the mean lunch lady on Jamie’s show. And then, she opens her mouth and I think it must be her twin! I tell her that I need TWO 7-ounce salmon fillets and she looks at me like I have just walked off a spaceship. “Don’t you mean a pound which is 16 ounces NOT 14?” she says harshly. I want to say, “JAMIE SAYS TWO SEVEN ounce salmon fillets and that’s what I want!” But I hold back because she’s a little scary and point to a piece and ask how much that one weighs. She puts it on the scale and I feel vindicated when the reading “14 oz.” pops up. I smile and say, “I’ll take that please.” She wraps it up and then tries to make nice and asks if I need a lemon. I take her fishmonger-y lemon and skedaddle as fast as I can. I’m think that this trip can’t be more complicated for such a simple list but then I can’t find a red chile or cilantro! How can they not have cilantro?!?! I have exactly 12 minutes to pay and get home so I decide to forgo the chile and decide to call my husband and ask him to get the cilantro on his way home.
Boy, when Jamie says quick, he means quick! I whip this up in no time. I should have timed myself to see if it was the 17 minutes that he suggests but it had to be pretty close. I mix the chopped (and seeded) cucumber, lemon, yogurt, salt & pepper for the cucumber yogurt. I have some trouble cutting through the skin of the salmon and just go ahead and cut most of it off as well as cut it into strips. I brush the paste on each piece and throw it in my large pan with olive oil. It smells so good! The salmon is done in no time and I am so proud as I “plate” my beautiful dinner following Jamie’s instructions.
Its so delicious and husband and daughter think so too. Hubby is so excited about this meal that he gets his iPhone and posts on Facebook about his yummy dinner before we even wash the dishes! And he gets an immediate response, three people ask for the recipe. I am now an official Food Revolutionary! As we start to clean up my darling daughter, never to miss a beat, says “I like your pink nails mom.” The compliment makes me light up as I think about how I got to this recipe today, again, full circle. I think how lucky I am to have such great friends and that even when they aren’t nearby, sometimes thinking of them, having them with you in spirit, is just as good.
Check out this great recipe:
Recipes cooked: 12
Recipes left: 161
Days left: 331