Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking The Books - Jamie's America

A while back, I was talking to Kat at the Mad Hatter Spring Picnic and she mentioned how she was organising a blogger meetup called "Cooking The Books". The basic premise is that a book is chosen and everyone cooks up a recipe from it. That way, you can get a feel for that authors cooking style and hence can decide whether to buy their books in future or cook other recipes from it if you already own it. What a great idea. I was intrigued and hence said I would love to attend. We did the first Cooking The Books and Jamie Oliver's America book was chosen. On the day Michele & Hamish, Emma and April & Laik also attended.

Let me start off by showing you the savoury fruits (is savoury fruit an oxymoron) of our labour. Look how absolutely stunning it looked. Trust me when I tell you it was equally delicious. I ate the leftovers from this meetup for the next two days, happily. You'll know what each item is as I go through the post. Look at us all standing around praying at the almighty food. What a spread to behold.

We coooked and reheated the food at the kitchen in which Kat works, The Cooking Space, which can be hired out. It's such a brilliant space, with commercial ovens, heaps of utensils and equipment, and even pantry items if we needed. Kat got the ball rolling with a plethora of dishes. She made Roast Lamb with sweet potato, Cajun Crocodile, Tomato Salsa and Watermelon and Goats Cheese Salad. The lamb was melt in your mouth goodness and I had that for dinner the next night as well. The crocodile was quite nice, with the cajun flavours not too prominent. I was surprised at how firm the texture was. The salsa worked really well with the crocodile. Even more surprising than the crocodile was the watermelon salad. Who knew goats cheese goes with watermelon, with the melon's sweetness balancing out the goats cheese pungent tastes and giving it a softer taste.

Michele rocked the house (or should that be kitchen) with two sensational dishes. The Meatballs would have to be my favourite dish of the day. The meat was beautiful and firm and the sauce had such great flavour. Michele said there was coffee in the mixture, but I would never have picked that. The Mac and Cheese was also full of cheesy goodness. These two items were lunch for the next two days, yummo.

April again showed her baking skills by producing a really hearty Corn Bread/Cake. I'd never tasted corn bread before and it was really good. It wasn't dry as I was expecting and the chunks of corn were really good. It mopped up the sauce from the meatballs perfectly. April's second dish of Red Velvet Cupcakes was super indulgent. Her frosting was out of this world, and I rationed the two cupcakes I got over a whole week. A whole week people, that's how disciplined I was! I only ate a small portion each day. Emma wowed us all when she revealed her Lemon Meringue Cheesecake out of this origami fold-it-yourself cake box. This cheesecake was classicly perfect, rich in lemon flavour with sweetness from the meringue and crunch from the base. I rationed my slice of this cheesecake to last three whole days. Lastly, my own efforts looked utterly pathetic. I didn't even bake it. All I did was melt the chocolate, cut up the nuts and fruit and made this Rocky Road. The chilli wasn't prominent at all, but the rocky road still tasted good. I promise to make better things at the next Coooking The Books and not be a freeloader haha.

And what do any self respecting food blogger do after eating all that food, you go in search of more food. We were near Costco and I wanted so badly to buy the Philippine Brand Dried Mangoes, so off we went to get some. I bought three large packets of the dried mangoes, smoked salmon, dried blueberries and Glick's bread. Everyone else also bought essentials too like Ham Rolls, 1.5 kg blocks of butter, Alaskan king crab legs and poppycock aka popcorn crack. You can see how useful Costco is for buying essential food items.

It was an absolutely sensational day and I can't wait for the next one. Huge thanks to Kat for organising the event, and the kitchen, and inviting me. Thanks too to Michele, Hamish, April, Laik and Emma for attending and making such wonderful food that I enjoyed and the great company.


  1. The phrase savory fruits confused me a moment there. I think it's an oxymoron. :)

  2. ahhhh! And I'm making meatballs again this weekend!! What a great feast it was.

    Unflattering photo of me is more good motivation to get into my summer body :P

    See you sunday!

  3. Michelle, savoury fruits is an oxymoron, unless you're Heston and then it's a reality.

    Michele, auuuhhhh, more yummy meatballs. It was indeed the best feast.

    How do I get into my summer body too. Do I just unzip my current body and step into that of Brad Pitt? Tell me how..... :-)

    See you Sunday for some eating galore.

  4. The Cooking Space looks fantastic...just joined their email list. Looks like some great food! I am curious about how we obtain a summer body AND be food bloggers!!

  5. Ooh that's such a great idea! Choosing a book, testing their recipes to see if they're a sham. At least now I know Jamie's recipes can be trusted. : )

  6. Deb, kitchen space is definitely a great area to cook food. If you find out the secret to having a summer body and be a food blogger, let the rest of us know.

    Bryan, welcome to the blog. It is a really good idea and you and you can really get a feel for the authors recipes. I used to think Jamie's recipes weren't so good but I was pleasantly surprised.

  7. Mmmm.. remembering all the awesome dishes now. Have made the meatballs for dinner since and they were super-fab.
    Can't wait till this weekend! This week's salad plan has dismally failed *eats pizza*

  8. What fantastic pictures! I especially like the look of the mini cheesecakes! Absolutely awesome!

  9. Spencer, thanks, the food was totally delicious. Can't wait for the next one.

  10. It all looks super tasty... I love Jamie's recipes, not one has let me down !

  11. Foodie and the chef, it was all super delicious. I was surprised as I didn't think much of Jamie's recipes previously, but now I'm a convert.