Cauliflower Macaroni

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The third week of the Jamie Oliver Challenge was really expected by my husband. I think it was partly because of the deliciousness of the food of the first two recipes, but mainly because the recipe was a fancy Mac & Cheese.  He has eaten Mac & Cheese before, but always made with the kraft box. Hubby has come to realize that everything is better when you make it from scratch rather than use a box, ie. cakes, hotcakes and now this!

Sadly, this week we couldn’t go to the Farmer’s Market because of my emergency visit to the dentist. So, it all started with our regular trip to the grocery store. We bought everything needed for the recipes. This week included Cauliflower Macaroni, Belgian Endive Salad with insane dressing and Stewed fruit.  As in the previous two weeks, I didn’t find all the ingredients, so here is what I had to change…

endives –  romain lettuce

fresh basil (I did have some, but it died) – dried basil

pancetta – bacon (which I find really similar)

country bread (I don’t know if this is the correct translation) – whole wheat bread

red wine vinegar – balsamic vinegar

dijon mustard – regular mustard

vanilla ice cream – cookies and cream. This last one was because I was too lazy to make a special trip to the POPS store, and bought the only POPS flavor I found decent at Walmart. Don’t do it!! Go to the ice cream store, there are two reasons for this: 1. vanilla will make the perfect match for the fruit, 2. Ice cream is always far fresher at the place where they make it!!

This week was kind of troubling. I really don’t like to point fingers, but it was all HUBBY’s fault! I feel kind of free now.  One must follow the instructions to the dot, other wise you don’t finish in half an hour.  It clearly states that you have to turn the oven first, otherwise it taked forever to heat up, and this messes with all the preparations. Hubby was not very careful following instructions (he rarely is actually) and boiled the water for the pasta first. Then I said, the oven was supposed to be ready by know and it’s not even on yet!! So, we turned it on, but he had already started cooking the pasta. Thus, the pasta was ready way before we could even put in the bacon! This alone turned the 30-minute meal into the hour meal…

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After this mishap… everything else turned out really smooth. When the food was done, our mouths were watering with the smell and look! Of course it all not only smelled and looked good, but tasted really nice as well.  The cauliflower macaroni had a lovely taste. The cheesy sauce was smooth and with a delicate taste. The crunchy covering gave it a great taste between the saltiness of the bacon and the always nice rosemary. The salad was incredible. I had never tasted crunchy capers. I loved them so that I’m thinking of including them on my regular salads. The fact of frying them until crisp enhances the flavor in such a way, that even Hubby who hated them wanted to eat them all! The dressing was really insane, partly because I made for two people and added the amount of garlic for 6, so it was a bit strong, so be careful!! It was still delicious though, in small quantities.

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Finally the dessert.  As you know this is the first week we actually made the dessert. Unfortunately, we were so exited that we didn’t photograph it! But I can tell you that the plums cooked with orange, cinnamon and vanilla are the best stewed fruit I’ve ever had. The taste was sweet, delicious, soft… a sublime adventure. Plus I love the hot-cold feeling on desserts, and this was just too good to be true. I do believe that it would have been at least 10 times better with the vanilla ice cream though… For this and more, I have to push you all to make at least one Jamie Oliver meal! Till next week…

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Broccoli Orecchiette

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After receiving my Jamie Oliver cook book, I looked at the recipes. I wanted to cook something, but couldn’t really decide on what. My husband kept pointing at the pages he thought he would like, but then again choosing among combinations where each plate’s photo looks so good is extremely difficult. Thus, we decided to cook one recipe for dinner each weekend. In this way, we wouldn’t have to choose what we wanted for dinner, plus there will be no discussion about me wanting to eat meat instead of the chicken he wanted.

And so, it begins. Cooking one Jamie 30-minute meal every week, in the order the recipes are presented on the book. This week: Broccoli Orecchiette, zucchini and bocconcini salad, prosciutto and melon salad.

The day started with a the discussion that led to deciding on the challenge. After deciding on the order, we looked carefully at the book. We were going to make a list for the groceries, but were starving. We had gotten up really late and our breakfast had been too light in pursuit of lunch. The trip to the unhealthy meal I described yesterday was our next step. We took the book with us. I studied the recipe carefully, then figured which ingredients I was not going to find, and what would I do to minimize the problem.

After lunch, we went to the shopping mall near our house, and then to the Automercado, the local grocery store we liked. I rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper what we needed, and divided all the ingredients by two, given that we were going to eat dinner just the two of us. We also decided to pass on the prosciutto and melon salad because otherwise it would be too much food. I bought everything on the list that I could find. So this is what I couldn’t find and what I used instead:

purple broccoli sprouts –> used more regular broccoli

red chili –> used chili flakes

fresh thyme –> used dried thyme

fresh mint –> used basil

baby zucchini of different colors –> regular zucchini

Plus… I used fusilli instead of the orecchiette, not because I didn’t find the right kind of pasta, but because my husband love fusilli.

Ok, so after the unhealthy and yet delicious meal on Saturday, we were so full to have dinner, so we postponed the adventure for Sunday. We had a light breakfast and a light lunch, totally prepared to have a good dinner…

We started by taking all the necessary equipment described at the beginning of the recipe. I then proceeded to read everything. Hubby decided he wanted to participate so we were together making every dish. It was a bit messy, but quite fun! We were bumping to each other, which made us laught, and both of us were paying attention to details so nothing would be left out. When we were done, I felt really happy with the results. The pasta looked very similar to the photo in the book, and the zucchini salad had a lovely smell.

We then moved to the best part of the night… eating! The pasta was creamy, but with just the right amount of sauce. I find this to be very good given that I love Italian food, made by Italians.  The difference between actual Italian food and one that is not is that the fake pasta is usually swimming on sauce whereas the real one is not. Thus, I found this creamy enough for taste, but also the exact amount so you don’t get sick of the flavor. Delicious!

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The salad was really good. I had never made a dressing with lemons zest. The taste is really enhanced by it! Try it, even if you are not cooking a Jamie recipe. It is absolutely recommended! The zest was not the only thing that made the dressing good though. I think the right combination of ingredients was something special, even with my exchange of basil for mint. The only thing I didn’t like was the bocconcini mozzarella. There was something about the taste, that was just not good for me. My husband didn’t like it either. I guess it my be a problem with the brand, unfortunately that is the only one sold at the store. I will try a regular kind of mozzarella whenever needed.

I do owe you the prosciutto salad, but I guess that made with the right ingredients, it should be as good as the one I did make.

In conclusion, everything was extremely delicious, and I am looking forward to next week’s Pregnant Jools! I promise next time I will make all three dishes…

© mylunchanddinner 2012