Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes

This was my christmas present to myself this year: a sparkling new copy of Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook, Meals in Minutes. The whole concept of the book is that you can create balanced, restaurant quality meals in under 30 minutes in your own kitchen. He uses a lot of shortcuts, like blenders, food processors, store-bought pastry and (gasp) the microwave. 
I've been flipping though the book for ideas the past few weeks, drooling over the beautiful pictures. I finally set out to make and entire menu last night for, of course, that commercialized holiday that you either love or love to hate. 

My boyfriend and I set a timer, and I have to say we came in just over 30 minutes. Verdict: delicious! Well, I wasn't expecting any less of that adorable naked chef. In honour of the fanciness and the unmentionable holiday, I have to admit we did set the table with a tablecloth and flowers. There might have been a candle. Here's the menu: Piri piri chicken (I tried a fish version for myself) - piri piri is a chili found in Africa, and this sauce is a puree of hot peppers, basil and onion. Lemony arugula salad - a simple, fresh side. Potatoes with cilantro and feta - holy! So good. The star of the meal. And finally, Portuguese tarts. 

The whole meal was fantastic, but I'll share my two favourite recipes with you. 

potatoes with cilantro and feta
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped in large chunks
2 smaller while potatoes, peeled and chopped in large chunks
1/2 lemon
4 oz. feta
1 dried chili pepper (I used a whole, dry cayenne from my garden)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
freshly ground pepper
Combine potatoes and lemon in a steamer basket, and steam for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Put potatoes on a cutting board, and squeeze lemons over the potatoes with tongs. Add cilantro, feta and pepper, and chop everything up roughly to combine. Make sure chop up the dried pepper well. Season with pepper. You probably won't need salt, because of the salty feta. Scrape into a pile, and serve 'rustic style' on the cutting board, or scrape into a bowl to serve. 

(This recipe is awesome - I was skeptical - the idea of cilantro and two types of potatoes, hmmm. But it was so good! The feta adds a rich, saltiness that offsets the sweet potatoes, and the chili gives it an extra kick. Hands down the most interesting potatoes I've had in a long time.)

quick Portuguese tarts
My boyfriend described these as the love child of a cinnabon and the classic portuguese tarts from St. Lawrence Market. And then he promptly went back for seconds.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup whipping cream (try to use a unprocessed variety, like Hewitts)
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 egg
1 tbsp sugar
zest of one orange
juice of one orange
1/4 cup sugar
Grease a six-muffin pan with the vegetable oil. Preheat the oven to 400. On a floured surface, spread out the sheet of puff pastry. Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the pastry. Roll it up, starting on the long side (like you're making cinnamon buns), then cut the log into 6 rounds. Press the rounds into the muffin pan, pressing the pastry into the shape of the tin to make a crust for each tart. Put in the oven, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the tart shells are golden. 

Meanwhile, beat together whip cream, vanilla paste, egg, sugar and orange zest. When the tart shells are golden brown, remove from oven, and pour the cream mixture into each shell. Put back in the oven for 8 minutes. While the tarts are cooking, make a caramel. Combine orange juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Stir constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the caramel darkens. When the tarts are done, pour a little bit of caramel over each. Let cool, and eat!

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