Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ready Set Cook!

I am very slow in the kitchen.  Most dinners take me 1- 2 hours to make.  Understandably this makes me grumpy after a long day at work.  So being a huge fan of Jamie Oliver I decided to try his book Meals in Minutes.   Each meal which includes a main and side dishes, as well as a dessert is supposed to take just 30 minutes! With 50 creative menu choices and easy to follow directions this book is a winner. Like all of his cookbooks this one is filled with beautiful photos to help inspire and motivate the home cook. His instructions are quite precise. As he states, they "are carefully choreographed so no single minute is wasted."  I've always wanted to cook with the incredible ease that Jamie has, so I was sold.  I chose- Stuffed Focaccia, Prosciutto with Celery Root Remoulade, Dressed Mozzarella and Banana Ice Cream (which I substituted from another meal).
I put out all my ingredients before I set the timer and started cooking.  I didn't try to rush and it took me only 40 minutes.  I probably would have been faster if I had reread the instructions right before I started, but even so I was happy with the time savings.
So gather together all the tools, serving dishes, and ingredients before you begin.  Reread the directions. Oh, and check the bottom of your focaccia for dimples before you cut it in half. Otherwise you will have annoying holes in your lovely sandwich like I did. 
I've provided two of the recipes here, but if you want to make the whole meal the "Jamie way" get yourself a copy of the book- Meals in Minutes by Jamie Oliver
Stuffed Focaccia
This is an especially versatile & tasty sandwich filling- leave out the cheese and its vegan, add prosciutto for meat eaters or consider adding other veggies like marinated artichokes, paper thin onion slices, sauteed eggplant or roasted cauliflower.

1 x 16 ounce focaccia loaf (Semifreddi's makes a lovely rosemary focaccia)
1 x 16 ounce jar roasted red peppers 
1 teaspoon capers, drained
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
Large handful of good quality marinated olives
Large handful of cherry tomatoes
1 fresh red chile
3-5 cornichons (small pickles)
Small bunch of fresh mint
1/2 lemon
Parmesan cheese, for grating
(I also added small handful of chopped marinated artichokes)

Put the focaccia in the oven to warm (300 degrees) for 10-15 minutes.  Make your filling: put the roasted red peppers, the capers, the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives (pitted), the cherry tomatoes, and the cornichons on a chopping board.  Add the leaves from the mint. Add the thinly sliced chile.  Then chop and slice all the filling ingredients together on the board and sweep into a bowl.  Add a lug of extra virgin olive oil, squeeze the juice from the lemon and then mix everything together.  Taste to check the flavors.  Take the focaccia out of the oven.  Carefully halve it across the middle with a sharp serrated bread knife.  Spread the filling over the bottom half, drizzle over any juices left behind in the bowl, and finely grate over a good layer of parmesan.  Put the top on the sandwich.  Cut into serving portions.

Banana Ice Cream (Banana Frozen Yogurt)
A super easy and super healthy dessert!

6 bananas (approx. 2 pounds), peeled, sliced and put into the freezer for at least 6 hours in advance.
1 cup low fat plain yogurt (highly recommend Fage brand)
1 tablespoon honey
2-3 handfuls of unsweetened shredded coconut (I toasted mine)
(I also added the zest from half of a lime)

In a food processor whiz the frozen bananas with yogurt and honey until thick and creamy.  Put the shredded coconut into a bowl, then scoop out  a spoonful of the banana mixture  and roll it in the coconut until covered.  Divide into serving cups and put into the freezer until you're ready for dessert.  (Best eaten after 30 minutes to an hour in the freezer, otherwise the mixture will get too hard.)