(The photo is copied from Jamie Oliver’s web site and apears in his cookbook, Jamie’s dinners).
My friend T. brought me this cookbook for my birthday. I cooked Oliver’s recipes in the past and didn’t go crazy for them because of their simplicity – they don’t call him The Naked Chef for nothing (In case you don’t know, no, he doesn’t cook naked). Back then I was into a more elaborate style of cooking, with many steps, long list of ingredients, etc… The more complicated the recipe, the better.
But that has changed.
I changed my style of cooking after realizing two things: 1) I cook for hours and the food is gone in 20 minutes, and 2) I spend hours in the kitchen instead of spending time with my precious husband and kids. So I have done some serious rethinking. Then I started watching Jamie Oliver’s and Ina Garten’s shows on the Food Network channel and learned how I can prepare fabulous meals with less effort.
It was a very helpful lesson as a personal chef too. Cooking in other people’s home the way I did before, I would have had to move in with them. Not sure they would have liked that so much.
So this book is the right kind of book for me now. I tried these recipes below and they were so easy to make–a no brainer. It’s a great book for the home cook (ooh, a rhyme!) who doesn’t have much time (another rhyme!).
Here is the recipe to the chicken in the photo above, taken from Jamie Oliver’s web site. It’s a put everything in a dish and cook it ‘till it’s done kind of recipe.
This recipe takes literally minutes to put together and then requires slow, gentle cooking. In return for your patience, what happens in the pan from just a couple of ingredients is an absolute joy and never fails, so it’s a good one to serve if you have guests.
4 chicken legs, preferably free-range or organic, jointed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a big bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
2 big handfuls of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, and ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken up into cloves
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped• olive oil
1 x 14 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained
2 handfuls of new potatoes, scrubbed
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Season your chicken pieces all over and put them into a snug-fitting pan in one layer. Throw in all the basil leaves and stalks, then chuck in your tomatoes. Scatter the garlic cloves into the pan with the chopped chili and drizzle over some olive oil. Mix around a bit, pushing the tomatoes underneath. Place in the oven for 1½ hours, turning the tomatoes halfway through (I didn’t touch the pan until it was done – N.), until the chicken skin is crisp and the meat falls off the bone.
If you fancy, you can add some drained cannellini beans or some sliced new potatoes to the pan and cook them with the chicken. Or you can serve the chicken with some simple mashed potato. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving. You could even make it part of a pasta dish – remove the chicken meat from the bone and shred it, then toss into a bowl of linguini or spaghetti and serve at once.
Lamb with chickpeas, yogurt and pan-roasted veg
serves 4 – 6 (even 8-10, perfect for a holiday meal, or a big dinner party – N.)
1 leg of lamb, butterflied and opened up like a book
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely choppeda large bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
a large bunch of fresh mint, chopped
1 x 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 x 500ml tub of natural yogurt (I used goat yogurt – N.)
12 baby turnips, scrubbed
a bunch of baby carrots, scrubbed, tops left on
1 butternut squash, unpeeled, cut into 8 wedges
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
extra virgin olive oil
Score the lamb on both sides. Using either a pestle and mortar or a food processor, grind or whizz up the coriander seeds with the garlic, fresh coriander, mint and half the chickpeas until you have a paste. Season the paste or “marinade” with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the lemon juice and yogurt. Place half of this flavored yogurt in a large plastic bag and add the lamb. Put the other half of the flavored yogurt in the fridge. Tie the bag up to seal it and turn it around to allow the yogurt to coat all the lamb. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, but up to 24 hours in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place the turnips and carrots in a roasting tray with the squash, onions, garlic and remaining chickpeas, then sprinkle with the cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss together to coat. Remove the lamb from the marinade, then place the meat directly on the oven rack with the tray of vegetables on the shelf below. Cook for about 1 hour, tossing the vegetables halfway through. Serve the lamb well cooked with the vegetables and flavored yogurt on the side.
I am a fan.
Have an easy and fun time cooking!
To buy the book, click here.