Jamie Oliver’s recipe of the month

 “Hi guys,

I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to Australia and I had the most amazing time. I finally got to see the fantastic Ministry of Food Centre in Ipswich and had the pleasure of meeting Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh, who’s been really supportive of Ministry of Food and the Good Foundation. I also got to see the brilliant new Ministry truck in Logan – so huge thanks to all the Ministry staff out there for making me feel so welcome.

Next was Sydney, where we had a big party at Jamie’s Italian with incredible food, brilliant service and 170 really lovely, interesting guests – the wonderful restaurant team did me proud. I also did a “secret” recording for Australian Masterchef. I won’t give anything away, but look out for the programme in June – it was a fantastic day.

Last stop was Melbourne, where I visited some of my retail partners and attended a news conference to announce a new Ministry of Food initiative in the state of Victoria, where we’ll launch a new centre and another truck later this year. It was a huge pleasure to meet the Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, and the Health Minister, David Davis – these guys are imaginative, focused politicians and I wish we had more people like them here in the UK. I had an incredible time in all of these lovely cities, so thank you to everyone who made the trip such a success – you know who you are.

Back in the UK, with Easter just around the corner, we’re focusing on baking on the site this month, so if you fancy indulging yourself or rustling up a gorgeous treat for your loved ones, make sure you check out our selection of lovely recipes.

Big love,   Jamie O xx”

Recipe of the Month:

Chicken and mushroom pasta bake

INGREDIENTS:

• 20g/a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms

• olive oil

• 4 chicken thighs, boned, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

• 350g/2 handfuls of mixed fresh mushrooms, cleaned and torn

• 200ml white wine

• 455g dried spaghetti

• 500ml double cream

• 200g Parmesan cheese, grated

• a sprig of fresh basil, leaves picked

 METHOD: 

I remember meeting a lovely old couple outside my parents’ puband

when they heard I was going to Italy they told me to make sure I cooked turkey tetrazzini-

I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about and then, by chance,

I saw a recipe for chicken tetrazzini in an old Italian cookbook

and it’s great – really tacky but gorgeous! Here’s my version…

 Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

Put your porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour over just enough

boiling water to cover them (approx. 150ml/5½fl oz).

Put to one side to soak for a few minutes.

Heat a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients,

and pour in a splash of olive oil.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them gently in the oil.

Strain the porcini, reserving the soaking water, and add them to the pan

with the garlic and fresh mushrooms.

Add the wine, with the strained porcini soaking water, and turn the heat down.

Simmer gently until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the wine has reduced a little.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water

according to the packet instructions and drain well.

Add the cream to the pan of chicken, then bring to the boil and turn the heat off.

Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the drained spaghetti to the creamy chicken sauce and toss well.

Add three-quarters of the Parmesan and all of the basil and stir well.

ransfer to an ovenproof baking dish or non-stick pan,

sprinkle with half the remaining cheese and bake in the oven until golden brown, bubbling and crisp.

Divide between your plates, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese before serving.

 

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Chickpeas with spinach

Don’t waste your money for your dinner…

With only a few, you can prepare a delicious,healthy,tasteful dish for you and your loved ones.

It’s an easy, healthy and cheap recipe. Plus, it’s perfect for kids as it combines pulses with vegetables, rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and fibres.

Directly from Greece… with love. Enjoy!

 

 INGREDIENTS:

For four persons

500 gr chickpeas

600 gr fresh spinach

3 spring onions, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

½ cup of tomato paste

1 cup of dill

1 lemon, the juice (if you don’t like lemon, use half)

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Salt, freshly ground pepper

HOW TO:

The previous night, soak the chickpeas into a large bowl full of water and leave them overnight.

The following day, take them out of the bowl and pour them into a casserole.

Cover them with water and boil for 1 hour or until they soften enough.

When ready, drain them and leave aside.

In a deep frying pan or another pot heat the olive oil (app.3 tbsps)

and sauté all the onions together.

Make sure the heat is not too high, we don’t want to burn them.

When they change their color, add the tomato and let it drain for a couple of minutes.

Pour in the tomato paste. Add the fresh dill, the spinach and the chickpeas.

Here, a few Greek recipes claim that the chickpeas should go into the pot only the last 5 minutes.

Well, I don’t agree. I always put them along with the dill and spinach

and I leave them there until the spinach is soften and ready.

This way, the chickpeas “borrow” aroma from all the vegetables.

Five minutes before turning off the heat, add the lemon juice.

That’s it… Enjoy !

EXTRA TIP: You can combine this tasteful dish with spaghetti, too.

Boil the pasta according to the package instructions (we want them al dente).

When your chickpeas are ready to be served,

turn off the heat and pour the spaghetti in the same pot.

Mix all the ingredients well and serve and of course…

Don’t forget to sprinkle with your favorite cheese.

Pasta Salad “Mamma Maria”

Although much of these ingredients come from Greece, this salad, like most of the salads with pasta, comes from the US. It’s an easy, healthy and quick recipe.

Italians prefer their pasta hot but Americans voted for the cold pasta salads from the first day it made its debut in the beginning of  19th century. This salad is perfect for children because it is full of color, something that kids love, it is very easy and quick to be prepared and last but not least, you can prepare this or a similar salad by putting together any ingredient you find in your refrigerator after a party or a rainy day.

INGREDIENTS:

500 gr of pasta penne or swirls or any other short kind

½ cup of sun-dried tomatoes, dive them into warm water for 5 min.

200 gr of Greek “Chaloumi” cheese grilled and chopped

4 sweet red peppers from the jar,into small pieces and 1 cup of fresh parsley,chopped

 

 

 

FOR THE DRESSING:

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp of mustard

2 tbsp of Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp of water

½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt and pepper

* The ingredients I chose are the ones I like but you can prepare this recipe with less or more ingredients according to your taste, wallet, time and…findings in your refrigerator.

HOW TO:

Before you start your salad, you must grill the “Chaloumi” cheese for 5-10 minutes. Turn off and leave aside.

Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packet (we want them al dente). Drain well and leave aside.

To prepare the dressing you must put the garlic, the mustard, the vinegar, the water and the olive oil in the multi blender and blend them until they become a thick paste.

Put the pasta into a large salad bowl and pour over the dressing. On top, pour the red peppers, the “Chaloumi” cheese, the parsley, salt and pepper and blend well. Cover the salad and put it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Serve and watch everyone smile.

Penne pasta with salmon

You don’t eat fish? Eat pasta!

Penne pasta with salmon – Perfect for kids !

INGREDIENTS:

“Penne” pasta 1 packet

300 gr smoked salmon

200 gr Greek spread cheese “Katiki Domokos

5 spring onions, chopped

½ bouquet of fresh dill, washed and hand-cut

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt & Pepper

* Dear parents, when preparing this recipe for your kids,

   if the aroma overwhelms you and you wish to…keep it to yourself,

   you can add two extra “grown ups” ingredients:

1 tbsp of salmon eggs

1 Vodka shot

 HOW TO:

Follow the packet instructions to boil the pasta (we want it al dente).

Drain but don’t discard the water. We’ll use some of it later.

In a non-stick frying pan, pour 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onions for 3-4 min.

(for the grown ups recipe: here you can extinguish with the Vodka.)

Add the fresh dill.

Pour in the “Katiki” cheese and blend well.

Add the pasta into the pan with 2-3 tbsp of the water in which you boiled the pasta.

Turn the heat off and add the smoked salmon. Turn with the spoon once or twice and serve into the dish. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and some fresh dill.

(for the grown ups recipe: add a tbsp of salmon eggs for decoration on top of the penne).

                         

   EXTRA TIP 1:

   Storage some of the water in which you boiled the pasta in your refrigerator.

   If you have leftovers, pour some of  the water into the pan to reheat your pasta.

   This way, your dish will be creamy once again.

                                    EXTRA TIP 2:

                                    Do you want to gain more vitamins from this dish? Instead of the classic, white pasta,

                                    you can use the green, spinach-made spaghetti.

                                       

                        

Pasta “Striggolore” with Avgotaraho

Striggolore is a Greek, traditional kind of baked, hand-made pasta. It is made of meal, durum flour, water without any artificial preservative or salt. This variety comes from a small industry of hand-made pasta in Thessaloniki. I found it in a Delicatessen store in Athens and I decided to try it out. Of course, you can use any kind of pasta you like. Enjoy !

 

INGREDIENTS (4 persons)

1 pkg of “striggolore” pasta (500 g)

25 thin Avgotaraho slices (cut almost transparent)

8 tbsp of extra virgin Greek olive oil (EVOO)

1 cup of finely chopped leek

½ lemon, juice

Salt, freshly ground pepper

Fresh parsley for decoration (optional)

HOW TO:

Boil the pasta into salted water just for a few minutes (fresh pasta needs less boiling).

In a frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat and sauté the leek

for 8-10 min, until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Mix the avgotaraho with the lemon juice and 4 tbsp of the olive oil and let aside.

Strain the pasta, add the leek and stir.

Add the avgotaraho and mix. Sprinkle the pepper (and be generous).

Serve immediately on warm plates

(place the plates in the oven when the water for the pasta starts to boil).

It is an easy and quick recipe. I really hope you like it.

Carbonara-With or without cream?

For as long as I can remember, I read about debates about whether the cream has a place in a Carbonara.

And so, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of the original Italian recipes do not include cream. However, there is always “Carbonara Ricca” where cream is beaten with the egg-yolks.

Anyway, this is the recipe I always follow (with cream) and there is no spaghetti left in the plate. It’s an easy recipe.Enjoy!

For 4-6 persons

1 pckg of spaghetti No 7

150 gr smoked pancetta (or smoked bacon)

4 egg-yolks (in room temperature)

250 ml cream

80 gr. Pecorino or parmesan cheese (or any other salty cheese)

freshly chopped parsley

salt and ground pepper

Method

Cut the pancetta into small cubes and saute in a deep non-stick frying pan in medium heat until it dries. Don’t use neither oil nor butter. Just the pancetta’s fat will do the job.

Simultaneously, boil the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. We want it to be “al dente”.

Using a perforated spoon, move the spaghetti into the frying pan with the pancetta stirring very well. Don’t worry if you add some water along with the pasta. We need it, otherwise the egg will dry on the pasta.

In a bowl we mix the egg-yolks with the cream. We add 6 tbsp of the spaghetti water, too.

We turn the heat off and we pour the egg mix onto the spaghetti slowly stirring with fast moves at the same time. This way, the hot temperature of the spaghetti will help the egg-yolks to fry.

We serve the spaghetti with a big sprinkle of cheese and parsley.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Pastitsio – Perfect for the Sunday, family table

Pastitsio is my favorite, all time classic family dish. My grand-mother, who came with her parents in Greece as immigrant from Smyrna around  1921-1922 just before the great fire of Smyrna, used to cook Pastitsio as a Sunday lunch for the whole family, or in celebrations.

I admit it is not an easy dish but I can guarantee you that you will gain a lot of respect and enthusiasm from everyone who will taste your recipe.  So, be patient and enjoy every step. Good luck !

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or simple olive oil, don’t use other kind of oil)
1 kg ground beef (or ground lamb, or a mixture of both, I personally prefer beef)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup dry white wine (it is not necessary, I scarcely use it)
1 14 oz. can tomato puree (in summer, mix 3-4 fresh tomatoes with 3-4 tbsp. of tomato puree)
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. ground clove
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon (I prefer ½ cinnamon stick, of 5 cm)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (or Kefalotyri if available or other salty cheese)
salt & freshly ground black pepper according to your taste
3 tbsp. breadcrumbs
1 pkg. Macaroni for Pastitsio (500g)- available at Greek or ethnic groceries.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
*for a ground beef that reminds the original recipe from Smyrna, the more spices you use, the better.

For the bechamel sauce:

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart milk, warmed
3 eggs, beaten lightly
a pinch of ground nutmeg

Preparation:

I use a lasagna pan 12X18X3 inches deep.

Begin with the Meat Filling:

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add onions and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes more. Add the garlic cloves and just when you start to smell them, add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until pink colour disappears, about 5 minutes.

Add wine. Then add the tomato sauce, parsley, clove, cinnamon stick, salt, and pepper and allow sauce to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. While sauce is simmering put water on to boil for pasta.

Cook Macaroni for Pastitsio according to package directions and drain well. I usually drain them a few minutes before because I want the macaroni to be firm before it hits the oven. At this point, many recipes suggest to rinse the macaroni in colander under cold water to cool them slightly. Please, DON’T do that. You will lose all the macaroni flavour and the Pastitsio is all about mixed flavours.

Remove the ground beef from heat.

Take the lasagna pan and layer the bottom with the macaroni

along with a brave handful of grated cheese. Press them down to become flat.

Add the meat filling in an even layer to the pasta.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (180 C) while you prepare the bechamel sauce.

Bechamel Sauce:

Melt the butter in a saucepan over LOW heat.

Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour/butter mixture to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.

Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.

Simmer over low heat until it thickens but does not boil.

Remove from heat and stir in beaten egg yolks. Add pinch of nutmeg and a handful of grated cheese to give it extra taste.

If the sauce still needs to thicken, return to heat and cook over very low heat while continuing to stir.

Bechamel is thicker than gravy but not quite as thick as pudding. It should be somewhere in between. One way to tell if it is thick enough is to dip your wooden spoon in the sauce and draw your finger across the back of the spoon. If the sauce holds a visible line then it is thick enough.

Pour the bechamel over the pasta noodles making sure to pour sauce down in to the corners as well.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. At this point, you can sprinkle

with a handful of breadcrumbs. Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour it too, on the top.

This will give your Pastitsio a crispy, slightly brown top.

Bake in 350 degree (180 C) oven for approximately 1 hour or until the top is a nice golden colour.

Keep in mind that in order to serve, leave it to cool down for 45 minutes.

And of course, Pastitsio tastes better the next day…