Food content is shared in such a variety of ways now, from Pinterest, BuzzFeed and YouTube to word of mouth and everything in between, all of it giving you great tricks, hacks and nuggets of info that are easy to digest, as well as enticing visual references. My intention with this book was to bottle all of that and make sense of it in one place, sharing solid, exciting recipes that by their very nature are based on clever tips, tricks and techniques.
I’ve kept this to just five ingredients that I consider to be everyday staples. Cooking is simply impossible without these items at your fingertips, and I believe every household should have them in stock. Even though my own pantry is packed full of all sorts of things, it’s these five that you’ll see popping up regularly throughout the book and that you need in order to cook any of the recipes. They aren’t included in each individual ingredients list as I’m presuming that you’ll stock up before you start cooking. The five heroes are olive oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil for dressing and finishing dishes, red wine vinegar as a good all-rounder when it comes to acidity and balancing marinades, sauces and dressings, and, of course, sea salt and black pepper for seasoning. Get these and you’re away!
Quick Asian fishcakes
Total: 22 minutes
1 stick of lemongrass
6cm piece of ginger
½ a bunch of fresh coriander (15g)
500g salmon fillets, skin off, pin-boned, from sustainable sources
4 teaspoons chilli jam
Whack the lemongrass against your work surface and remove the tough outer layer. Peel the ginger, then very finely chop with the inside of the lemongrass and most of the coriander, stalks and all, reserving a few nice leaves in a bowl of cold water. Chop the salmon into 1cm chunks over the mix on your board, then push half the salmon to one side. Chop the rest until super-fine, almost like a purée, then mix the chunkier bits back through it and season with sea salt and black pepper. Divide into four, then shape and squash into 2cm-thick patties.
Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the patties for 2 minutes on each side, or until nicely golden. Spoon the chilli jam over the fishcakes, add a splash of water to the pan, turn the heat off, and jiggle to coat. Serve sprinkled with the drained coriander.
Garlic mushroom pasta
Total: 16 minutes
150g dried trofie or fusilli
2 cloves of garlic
250g mixed mushrooms
25g Parmesan cheese
2 heaped tablespoons half-fat crème fraîche
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic. Place it in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat with ½ a tablespoon of olive oil, followed 1 minute later by the mushrooms, tearing up any larger ones. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and cook for 8 minutes, or until golden, tossing regularly.
Toss the drained pasta into the mushroom pan with a splash of reserved cooking water. Finely grate in most of the Parmesan, stir in the crème fraîche, taste, season to perfection, and dish up, finishing with a final grating of Parmesan.
Cherry chocolate mousse
Total: 30 minutes
200g dark chocolate (70%)
1 x 400g tin of black pitted cherries in syrup
200ml double cream
4 large free-range eggs
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, then remove to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, simmer the cherries and their syrup in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat until thick, then remove.
Whip the cream to very soft peaks. Separate the eggs, add the yolks to the cream with the sugar, and whisk to combine. Add a pinch of sea salt to the whites and, with a clean whisk, beat until super-stiff. Fold the cooled chocolate into the cream, then very gently fold that through the egg whites with a spatula.
Divvy up the mousse between six glasses or bowls, interspersing the cherries and syrup throughout, and finishing with a few nice cherries on top.
Excerpted with permission from 5 Ingredients – Quick & Easy Food, Jamie Oliver, Penguin Random House.