Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower Macaroni

3 11 2010

We’ve been following the new series by Jamie Oliver called Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, currently been shown on Channel4 in the UK.  I highly recommend the series and I can’t wait for the delivery of his new book.

All that aside, the real question is – how easy is it to reproduce?
And are these “short cuts” comprimising the taste?

You can find the receipe on either Channel4.com/food or JamieOliver.com.

30 Minute Meals

  • 8 rashers of pancetta
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 500g dried macaroni
  • 250g mature Cheddar cheese
  • 4 thick slices of country bread
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 x 250g tub of crème fraîche
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve

To start: Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Put the coarse grater attachment into the food processor.

Lay the pancetta in a roasting tray (approx. 30 x 25cm, or large enough to bake the pasta in) and put on the top shelf of the oven. Get rid of any tatty outer leaves from the cauliflower, then trim off the tough base of the stalk and quarter the head. Put in a large saucepan, core down, with the pasta, on a high heat. Cover with boiling water, filling and reboiling the kettle if necessary. Season with a good pinch of salt, drizzle over a little olive oil, then stir and cook according to packet instructions, with the lid askew.

Grate the Cheddar in the food processor and tip into a bowl. Fit the standard blade attachment, then get your pancetta out of the oven and blitz in the processor with the bread, rosemary leaves and a good drizzle of olive oil until you have a coarse breadcrumb consistency.

Put a colander over a large bowl to catch the pasta water, then drain the pasta and cauliflower. Tip into the roasting tray you cooked your pancetta in, and put over a low heat. Add 400ml (or just under a pint) of the reserved pasta water from the bowl. Crush in the 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic and mix in the crème fraîche and grated Cheddar, gently breaking up the cauliflower with tongs or a potato masher. Have a taste and correct the seasoning. It should be nice and loose; if not, add another splash of the pasta water.

Spread out evenly and scatter over the breadcrumbs. Put on the top shelf of the oven for about 8 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

To serve: When the cauliflower macaroni is golden and bubbling, take it to the table and shave over some Parmesan.

Easy to reproduce: Yes, with everyday household equipment.
Taste: Absolutely delicious.  I added tyme and parsley to my breadcrumbs mixture, and I thought I’d added too much rosemary initially – BUT OMG what a stunning meal.  Highly recommended!!!


Oriental Bean Stir-fry

12 10 2010

30 minute dinner that went down very well with my daughter.

Oriental Bean Stir-fry

  • 3 chicken breasts sliced
  • 1 Oriental bean stir-fry (select your favourite from your supermarket)
  • 1\2 small tin Water Chestnuts
  • 1 Pkt Soy & Garlic stir-fry sauce
  • 1 Pkt Egg Noodles

Here’s how easy this school night dinner is:

  1. Add a little olive oil into your wok, mustard seeds and course black pepper. Add 1/2 the chicken and cook until light brown. Set aside once done.
  2. Add some dried chilli and cumin seeds to the oil, and cook the remaining chicken till light brown. Set aside.
  3. Depending on your Egg noodle instructions, at this point I put them into the microwave and followed the instructions.
  4. Add the packet of stir-fry to your wok with your diced Water Chestnuts (add as many as you fancy), and after about 2 minutes add your cooked chicken.
  5. Add your favourite oriental sauce, today I bought the Soy & Garlic, very nice! Cook for a further minute or two.
  6. Depending on the size of your wok, you can either add your noodles and mix, or add the noodle to your serving bowl.

Enjoy.  Dinner in less than 30 minutes.

30 minute dinner that went down very well with my daughter.

Ham hock and split pea soup

11 10 2010

As winter approaches here in Northern Wales, I look forward to experimenting and trying my hand with local ingredients.  On Sunday it was soup time….


Ham hock and split peas soup


Place the ham hock in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil, drain and set the ham to one side.


Boil the ham in a large saucepan


Heat some olive oil (4 glugs/tbsp) in the same saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the carrots (4 medium sized, trimmed, peeled and thinly sliced), 1 diced celery heart and onion (3 medium) and garlic. Fry for 20-25 min until soft and aromatic, stirring occasionally.


Gentley fry the carrots, celery and onion.


Rince the 500g split peas (500g sloaked from the previous night) and add them to the pan.  At this point if you have a slow cooker, you’d transfer the contents of the saucepan.  Add 2.5 litres water, the ham hock, bay leaf and 1 small dried chilli.

Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for about an hour. Cover and simmer for another hour. Remove the ham from the pan, peel off the rind (if it had one) and shred the flesh off the bone with a fork.  Add this to the pan and season to taste with salt (the stock might be quite salty already from the ham).  Serve in warm bowls splashed with oil and scattered with parsley.


The perfect meal for a wintery night.