Jaime’s Ministry of Food – Not just for the reluctant cook!

I know I’m a bit late to the party with this but I’ve recently been cooking a couple dishes from Jamie Oliver’s  Ministry of Food cookbook.  The book was originally bought for my brother, but when we both lived at home, one dish in particular became a firm family favourite – the parmesan chicken breasts with crispy posh ham.  This simple and quick recipe produces very soft, moist and flavoursome chicken.   It’s extremely easy to make and only takes 5 or so minutes to cook.

A little while back, when I was at home for a few days, I had a flick through the book (amongst others) and jotted down a few of the recipes that caught my eye (I grabbed about 7 or 8 recipes, but there were plenty more in there that I also fancied).  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve cooked two of these: Baked Camembert Pasta and Grilled Trout topped with Mustard and Oats.

Overall I think the book is great, although it’s aimed at the novice, there is plenty there for the experienced cook who just wants to make some simpler dishes.  I enjoyed the TV series that the book accompanied and I love the attitude that “anyone can cook”.

It’s not as comprehensive as Delia’s how to cook series, but there are still plenty of basics to help the learner or unconfident cook.  Jaime’s style of showing a simple dish followed several variations or additions that can be used to create new versions is a neat trick to expand the repertoire or jus up old favourites.

Baked Camembert Pasta.

Given my love of cheese there was no way I could resist this recipe.  As Jaime points out, this isn’t the healthiest meal in the world and so is not for every night, but, as with fondue and other cheese rich dishes, it doesn’t hurt to indulge now and again.  Like most of the recipes from this book, there is not much preparation involved and not too many ingredients.

I started things off by removing the plastic packaging from my whole camembert and putting the cheese back in the box.  I then removed the skin from the top of the cheese and studded the soft cheesy goodness with slivers of garlic (two cloves in total!).  Next I sprinkled over some dried rosemary (about half a teaspoon) and poured on a good glug of olive oil.  The cheese went into the oven, uncovered at 180°C for 25 minutes.

The cheese before and in the oven

After the cheese had been in the oven for 15 minutes I put the pasta onto boil (enough for 4 people) and when it was cooked through, quickly chucked in 150g of spinach to blanch for a few seconds before draining the lot.  The pasta and spinach then went back into the pan and a good grating of parmesan and plenty of olive oil were added and stirred in.

Cooking the pasta and spinach and adding the parmasan and olive oil

Next I took the camembert out of the oven; it had puffed right up and was gorgeously golden on top.  I used a spoon to dollop runny cheese onto the pasta and then cut the skin into pieces (no wastage!) and added this as well before giving everything a final stir and serving up.

Inside the cheese and adding the skin to the pasta

I loved this dish!  In addition to being rather cheesy this dish turned out to be extremely garlicky as well, a lovely combination.  The spinach was a little lost, it felt a bit like a token gesture towards healthiness and didn’t really add anything to the dish, but the rest was divine.

All served up!

Grilled Trout topped with Oats and Mustard

Cooking the trout was even easier than the pasta dish above.  I laid two fillets of trout onto a baking tray skin down before adding salt and pepper.  I then smeared Dijon mustard over the flesh of the fillets.

Adding mustard to the trout

I then combined a couple of handful of oats with some olive oil and spread these on top of the fillets.  When I was making up the oat crumb, it looked like an awful lot, but when it came to actually putting them on the fillets I only just had enough to cover them both!

The trout ready to go in the oven

The fillets then went under the grill for about 10 minutes until the fish was cooked and the oats had started to brown.  Nice and simple!

Out of the oven

I served this with some broccoli and some jerusalam artichokes which I had roasted with thyme and lemon juice (á la Nigel Slater).  The dish was very rich and although the mustard helped to cut thought the oily fish, it was still quite heavy.  I enjoyed it nevertheless, the oats were an interesting alternative to breadcrumbs and worked very well.  This fish remained moist and was full of flavour. I think a salad might have been a better accompaniment, although that would be a bit more summery and a lot less filling.

Served up

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3 Responses to “Jaime’s Ministry of Food – Not just for the reluctant cook!”

  1. Caroline Taylor Says:

    These all look really good. I especially like the cheese and pasta. As you say, not for every night but when you do have it, might as well make it as good as possible!

  2. Corina Says:

    The baked camembert looks amazing. Not healthy but so so good.

  3. Maya Says:

    I love Jamie’s Ministry of Food- the curry pastes are so good, easy and quick to make.

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