Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Oliver’

There’s not a lot that Jonathan won’t have a crack at.

Pete’s baby cousin, who has never abseiled before in his life, recently announced that he was going down the side of the 28-storey AMP building at Circular Quay. And with typical Jono panache, he did so in a lycra Spiderman costume.

He then told me in no uncertain terms that such bravery should not go unrewarded, so last week he invited himself and the lovely Laura over for dinner.  He’ll squeal in protest when he reads that and, truth be told, we’re always delighted to have the opportunity to share a meal with them (particularly Small Man, who likes to bend Uncle Jono’s ear about golf).

We served Mystery Meat Pie (although I knew what the meat was this time), and Pete’s dinner party speciality – duck ragu pasta.

The day before, I roasted four duck marylands for a couple of hours in the oven until brown and crispy. I fed one to Big Boy who was home for lunch, and stripped the meat from the other three, discarding the bones and skin.

The roasting process produced a large quantity of duck fat and juice, which I poured into a bowl and popped into the fridge.  Once cold, the fat lifted cleanly off the top (and was stored in the freezer), leaving behind a small quantity of jellied stock which was used in the pasta dish.

Duck Ragu Pasta
(adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Cook With Jamie)

  • shredded duck meat from three roasted marylands (thigh and drumstick portion)
  • olive oil
  • 6 slices of pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow capsicum, seeded and chopped
  • ½ red capsicum, seeded and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary,  leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins of San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • ½ bottle fruity young red wine (we used an Ashton Hills Pinot Noir)
  • leftover duck stock from roasting
  • 500g pasta (we used orecchiette, but Jamie recommends occhi di lupo)
  • 50g salted butter
  • flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons of chardonnay vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon of sherry vinegar
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt to taste

1. In a large saute pan, heat a little olive oil and fry the pancetta until brown, then add the onion, capsicums, celery, rosemary, cinnamon and garlic.   Fry until softened, about 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and red wine.  Lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

2. Add the shredded duck and duck stock, and simmer for another half an hour, adding water if required. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

3. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the vinegars, sugar and salt, all to taste.  The purpose of the vinegars and sugar is to give the dish a sweet/sour taste.  Jamie’s original recipe specifies orange juice and zest, combined with red wine vinegar.  Heat for a few minutes more to amalgamate the flavours, then add the butter and allow to melt into the sauce.

4. Boil the pasta until al dente, then drain well and add to the sauce.  Serve with a scattering of chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

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We finished the meal with Small Man’s Treacle Pudding and a large bowl of microwave custard.  Having eaten himself into a food-induced coma, Spiderman fell asleep on the floor shortly thereafter!

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Last weekend, I baked a batch of David Lebovitz’ chocolate biscotti.  Actually, I attempted two batches, but owing to a bad case of brain fog, I omitted the sugar the first time and then burnt the almonds.  Attempt #2 was more successful. As these are one of my favourite cookies, it was well worth the effort!

. . . . .

I also tried this new recipe by Dan Lepard for red Leicester cheese biscuits (cookies).  They were very easy to make and as my boys aren’t fans of caraway, I rolled them in poppy seeds. The entire batch was eaten that evening!

. . . . .

Finally, I made Jamie Oliver’s Ultimate Gingerbread – appealing because I was making shortbread cookies as a gift, and had a half batch of dough leftover.  The recipe appears in his book Cook with Jamie, and suggests using either homemade or shopbought shortbread as a starting point.  Here’s my take on the recipe…

  • 400g shortbread (I used cookies made with our shortbread freezer dough)
  • 170g raw or demerara sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 40g mixed peel (I used some Italian cedro)
  • 40g crystallised ginger
  • 70g plain (AP)  flour
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 40g treacle
  • 40g date molasses (original recipe specified golden syrup)
  • 70g unsalted butter

1. I began by baking a batch of unsugared shortbead cookies, although shop bought or other homemade shortbread should also work fine in this recipe.  Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) or 160C (320F) with fan.  Line a tray with parchment paper – I used my 23cm x 33cm (9″ x 13″) baking pan.

2. Blitz the cookies in a food processor with the sugar and two teaspoons of the ground ginger to form crumbs.  Remove 100g of the crumbs for later use.

3. Chop the peel and crystallised ginger, then add them to the food processor with the flour, baking powder and the remaining teaspoon of ground ginger.  Pulse the mixture until well combined.

4.  In a big stock pot (it needs to be large enough to hold all the mixture), melt together the butter, treacle and date molasses (or golden syrup) and then add all the ingredients from the food processor (excluding the reserved crumbs) and stir really well to combine.

5. Scrape the gingerbread mixture into the lined baking pan and spread it out  evenly with a spatula or clean hands. It will be very flat and dense.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top.  Press down firmly on the crumbs with a spatula to stick them to the hot gingerbread.  Cut the gingerbread into serving size slices, then leave to cool completely in the pan before serving.

This recipe isn’t for everyone, but for true ginger aficionados, it’s a great treat with a cup of hot tea or coffee!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe



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We were overjoyed to find a tray of figs at the back door – left by our wonderful neighbours who had harvested their tree that very morning!

When you’re given such gloriously fresh fruit, it has to be eaten straight away, while it’s at its peak.  So we had figs for lunch, sliced in half and grilled, then wrapped in St Agur blue cheese and San Daniele prosciutto..

…and made Jamie Oliver’s fig and mozzarella salad for dinner. Oliver refers to this as The Easiest Sexiest Salad in the World”, and I think he may be right. My friend El describes it as “a party in your mouth“…

Fig and Mozzarella Salad
(adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef)

Cut a criss-cross into the top of the figs, then pinch the base of each fig to open it up like a tulip.  Place them on a large plate, and drape slices of really good prosciutto around them, allowing about one slice per fig.  Rip up balls of fresh mozzarella and scatter them, along with torn up basil leaves.

In a jar, combine 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons  of lemon juice, 1 – 2 tablespoons of a good, runny honey, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Replace the lid and shake well to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings, and then drizzle over the salad and serve.

Happy Days indeed!


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I’ve looked at this Jamie Oliver recipe a hundred times (it’s from his Happy Days with the Naked Chef cookbook), but this was the first time I’d ever made it. Which is completely daft, because we always have every single ingredient in the pantry – it could have been invented with our kitchen in mind.

It’s sweet, simple and comforting – perfect for an easy Sunday evening dessert.

  • 4 large (59g) eggs
  • 570ml (21/3 cups) milk
  • 115g (4oz) breadcrumbs
  • 225g (8oz) sugar
  • 4 level tablespoons jam (I used Pete’s homemade raspberry jam)

Note: I made breadcrumbs from some leftover sourdough – I simply blitzed broken pieces in the food processor.  We fried the leftovers in a little olive oil and scattered them over pasta – very naughty, I know.

1. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F).  Separate three of the four eggs.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the three egg yolks and one whole egg.  Add the milk, breadcrumbs and 85g of sugar.  Give it a good stir to combine.

3. Spread the jam evenly over the base of a pie dish.  Pour the egg and milk mixture over the jam, and bake for one hour, or until the custard sets.

4. Whisk the remaining three egg whites until stiff, then slowly add the remaining 140g sugar, beating continuously.  I used a mix of caster sugar and vanilla sugar for this part.   Beat until the whites are thick and glossy.

5. Dollop the egg white mixture onto the top of the custard, then bake in the oven for a further 15 – 20 minutes until the meringue is set and lightly browned.  Be warned, it will rise up quite a lot in the oven, so make sure you leave enough room between the racks.  Serve with a little whipped cream – there isn’t any butter in the pudding, so you can have just a little cream without too much guilt!

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