Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jamie's Food Movement

I bought Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook Jamie's Food Movement last weekend, and I am already in love. The cookbook is an attempt to help curb obesity and other food-related illness and problems in America by teaching people to cook "simple, delicious, affordable meals." This book does just that. And the best part? It's very gluten and dairy free friendly!

The book has many curry, fish, steak, stir fries, and pasta dishes, and everything I've made so far has come out delicious. Some dishes such as the desserts can be hard to convert, but most things are served with rice, the pasta can be substituted for quinoa pasta (my personal favorite) or rice pasta. The dishes have a small amount of ingredients, but he makes sure to add enough flavor so that they're enjoyable. This book is very user-friendly and is directed towards those who have either never cooked or are beginners.

My first attempt was at his dish Cherry Tomato Sauce with Cheat's Fresh Pasta (p.55). This recipe calls for lasagna sheets sliced into smaller pieces, but Whole Foods was out of my favorite kind, so I made it with Quinoa Linguine instead. I also added meat and bacon to it, and if you want to try that, add about 3/4 lb. of ground beef and a few slices of chopped bacon. Fresh basil is worth it if you can get it (I couldn't, they were all out, of course) and don't feel bad for not being able to put Parmesan on it. It's still delicious.

The next dish I made was Chicken Tikka Masala (p.82), and it came out amazing. The recipe doesn't specify, but I used heavy coconut milk, and my whole kitchen smelled like coconut and curry. While this dish is not traditional to what you may have in restaurants, it's still delicious and not too difficult to make. It calls for tikka masala curry paste, and you can either get this from a jar (he likes Patak's) but I didn't want to risk plumbing problems, so I followed his recipe of Tikka Masala Paste (p.99). He calls for 2 tablespoons almond flour, but I was out, and millet flour worked fine with it. For garnishing, the almonds add some nice texture and crunch, so they're worth the effort. Cashews would work just as well, however. He also teaches you how to make Light and Fluffy Rice (p.95), and his pointers are very helpful.

Last night I made Spanish-Style Grilled Steak (p.235), and this was a big crowd pleaser. Grill King Daddy grilled the meat on a grill instead of a grill pan, and we didn't cut up the steaks as it's pictured in the book. But this is a very good dish for meat. I added some cumin and turmeric as well, and if you choose to add other spices like coriander, it won't hurt. The lemon juice on it is good as a garnish, but lime juice would work well too. Make sure that you have enough of the bell peppers and red peppers (I used Fresnos), because they're good to eat with the meat.

For side dishes I made Baked Carrots In a Bag (p.214) and Dressed Asparagus (p.215). After serving the carrots we realized that no one there really liked carrots to begin with. They have an interesting flavor, and are different from anything else you've tried. But there is a combination of sweet and savory spices, and in this case orange zest and bacon sadly don't go too well together. The asparagus, however, came out good. We were out of parsley and used cilantro instead, but they had a good flavor.

If you're not sure, I suggest to go to a bookstore and take a look at it. Flip through and get an idea of what the recipes are like and see if it's your kind of thing. If you're a vegetarian, there are many fish dishes that are simple but include flavor, so I think it's worth looking into. But I believe that Jamie Oliver has a great idea, since the way to eat healthiest and cheapest is at home with good, home cooked meals. But if you're dairy and gluten free like me, we're already in on the secret.

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