Tag Archive for 'Jamie Oliver'

Mamma Mia Minestrone

I love soups! And it is killing me that the weather is still not even turning the tiniest bit towards fall. I am trying to ignore it as best as I can and at least in my kitchen pretend that it’s time for soups, pumpkin bread pudding and other heftier fair. The pudding will need a bit more practice, although my husband commented (after having his second portion) that it’s made with too much sugar, cream and white bread, all of which we don’t really need. I wanted to strangle him, but he’s right, I have been complaining about my more and more unforgiving waistline since turning the big 40 last year. I guess I’ll be going back to whole grains, maple syrup and almond milk then, which are almost equally calorific as their white counterparts, but a lot better for the conscience.

The recipe of today, for the best Minestrone ever tasted, is nothing to worry about for all my figure conscious friends.  This soup is fantastic, very adaptable to the season you’re in (unless it’s over 30C/86F), full of good stuff and makes a great family dinner. It is a complete meal, so don’t think of this as an appetizer. No one is hungry after eating this soup, besides most will have at least two helpings anyway.

I got the recipe out of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy book. I changed it slightly over the years, mainly by adding more pasta and stock. I love it with zucchini and chard or kale, but it’s easily adaptable to any vegetables in season. Instead of the cannellini beans, you could use fresh broad (fava) beans, peas or borlotti beans. Great additions to the soffrito would be leek or fennel. A good quality stock is key, but that’s true for all soups. I used my homemade chicken stock, but if you want to keep it vegetarian, a vegetable stock is equally well suited.

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Leek and Mushroom Pies

 

Although we are back in a very summery Australia, I am keen to share this  savoury and wintry recipe of a Jamie Oliver inspired leek and mushroom pies with you. I cooked this recipe on our recent vacation in the lovely cold and snow covered Massachusetts and it was an enormous success with the family. So much so, that when one of my children spotted a picture of it on the computer this morning, he burst out with a “oh that was delicious”, a rather big endorsement.

I first came across this recipe while watching a Jamie Oliver special on Christmas left-overs. One of things he cooked was a ‘turkey and leek pie’. I raced through the living room trying to find a working pencil and jotted down an approximation at best of his recipe. He was talking about the struggle many people face when left with a large amount of turkey left over from Thanksgiving or Christmas. I am not sure what he was talking about, as we tend to fight over turkey left-overs and even when cooking a turkey as large as the oven, there is never enough to satisfy everyone’s large appetite for more of it. We usually have a second Christmas dinner on Boxing day, followed by turkey sandwiches and turkey soup in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve. Delicious! Anyway, so when it was time for me to make this pie with left-over turkey, I actually didn’t have any left. I decided to use a few slices of free-range bacon to give it a little meaty flavor, but really didn’t feel like adding more meat after a carnivorous visit of the extended family.

To make the leek and mushroom pie or pies, you don’t need much time or many ingredients. Buy some good quality all butter puff pastry (2 packages if you want to make individual pies) or make it yourself, which naturally would be far superior. Get a package of free-range bacon (turkey is fine), fresh thyme, a few handfuls of mixed mushrooms and 5 leeks. You’ll need one cup of stock (homemade is best, otherwise store bought free-range/ organic chicken stock, or vegetable stock), flour, half a glass of white wine and a little cream. For a party, individual pot pies would be lovely; the first time, I used a 8″ by 12″ (20 by 30 cm) pyrex dish, the second time 5 individual large ramekins.

As a proper Englishman, Jamie Oliver likes his pie with gravy. Therefore he used double the amount of stock and flour, then strained the cooking liquid from his turkey-leek mixture and turned it into gravy. I couldn’t imagine the need to pour gravy over my lovely crispy pastry, but then again, I am not English. If you feel like gravy for your pie, use double the amount of stock and flour (just like J.O.), drain the liquid from your vegetable mixture through a large sift and heat it in a small pan just before serving.  

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