EATING great food with the people you love is one of life’s simple pleasures – and one chef Jamie Oliver is celebrating in his new book Together.
The 46-year-old reckons the pandemic has shown we must value the joy of shared meal times more than ever.
He says: “What we’ve been through, collectively, is very unusual, and I think a lot of us have realised that perhaps we took some of life’s simple pleasures for granted.
“Being together is precious. To be in a loved one’s presence, to see their face light up, share memories and laugh out loud together, that’s what life is truly all about.
“Celebrate the power that food has to bring people together, remember the immense joy it can bring and, more than anything, bank those memories with your loved one.
“This is about saying ‘I love you’ through food.”
Jamie exclusively shares some of his favourite recipes for you to enjoy with your loved ones.
Serves: 12 (with leftover meat)
BONING, stuffing and rolling the lamb means the flavourful filling infiltrates the meat as it cooks and vice versa.
By stuffing the shoulder, you’re able to stretch the meat even further, and by removing the bones, the lamb is easier to carve – it’s a one-slice wonder.
- 5 higher-welfare merguez sausages (250g)
- 1 bunch of sage (20g)
- 2 small bulbs of fennel
- 2 red onions
- 250ml white wine
- 250g sourdough bread
- 3kg lamb shoulder, bone in (see tip, below)
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp blackberry or blackcurrant jam
- Olive oil
Tip: Ask your butcher to debone the lamb, then slice into it so you can open it out like a book. Get them to break up the bones, too – epic gravy, incoming!
Get ahead: For the stuffing, put a high-sided roasting tray (25cm x 30cm) on a medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins straight into the pan, breaking it up with the back of a spoon.
Let the sausage start to crisp up, stirring occasionally, then tear in the sage leaves.
Trim the fennel, peel the onions, then roughly chop both, add to the tray, and cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes, or until soft and caramelised, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the wine, let it completely cook away, then season to perfection, tasting and tweaking.
Chop the bread into 2cm chunks and stir in, then turn the heat off and leave to cool completely.
Lay out the lamb on a clean work surface.
Scrunch and spread the cold stuffing all over the meat, then roll it up, sealing the filling inside (if any falls out, just poke it back in at the ends once tied up).
Cut yourself eight 60cm lengths of string, slide them underneath the lamb at regular intervals, then tie them up at the top.
Wipe out the tray, chuck in the lamb bones, break apart and add the unpeeled garlic bulb, then sit the lamb on top.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
On the day: Preheat the oven to full whack (240C).
Get the lamb tray out of the fridge, rub the meat with a little olive oil, place in the oven, and turn the temperature down to 150C.
Roast for 4 hours, or until tender, basting every hour with the tray juices and adding a splash of water each time.
Remove from the oven and transfer the lamb to a serving platter.
Cover with tin foil and a clean tea towel, and leave to rest for 1 hour.
Use a spoon to skim the fat off the tray of bones (save it in a jar for tasty cooking another day).
Put the tray over a medium heat on the hob and stir in the flour, jam and a swig of red wine vinegar, scraping up all the sticky bits from the base of the tray.
Cook for a couple of minutes, then pour in 1.2 litres of water.
Let it simmer on a low heat to the consistency of your liking, stirring occasionally.
Pass the gravy through a sieve into a pan and season to perfection, tasting and tweaking. Simmer on the lowest heat until needed.
To serve: Uncover the lamb, spooning any resting juices into the gravy.
Cut away the string, then spoon over the green sauce (see separate recipe).
Take it to the table, ready to carve in front of your guests.
- Nutritional values: Energy 458kcal, fat 28.5g, sat fat 12.5g, protein 30g, carbs 17.4g, sugars 1.3g, salt 0.7g, fibre 1g
On the day: On a large board use a large sharp knife to finely chop 1 heaped tablespoon of shelled unsalted pistachios then squash, destone and add 1 heaped tablespoon each of baby capers in brine and baby cornichons.
Add 4 anchovy fillets in oil and 2 teaspoons of English mustard then pick over the leaves from 1 bunch each of mint and flat-leaf parsley (60g total).
Chop everything until fine, mixing as you go.
Scrape into a serving bowl, add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and just enough boiling kettle water to loosen, mix well, then season to perfection with black pepper.
- Nutritional values: Energy 64kcal, fat 6.5g, sat fat 0.9g, protein 0.8g, carbs 0.5g, sugars 0.3g, salt 0.3g, fibre 0.2g
Tender sticky aubergines
- 2 large aubergines (400g each)
- 2 star anise
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp chilli jam
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp low-salt soy sauce
- Olive oil
On the day: Put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat.
Halve the aubergines lengthways, score into the flesh in a criss-cross pattern at 2cm intervals, then sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Place skin side down in the pan with ½ a tablespoon of olive oil and 2 mugs of water (600ml).
Add the star anise, sesame seeds, chilli jam, vinegar and soy, then cover and boil gently for 20 to 30 minutes, or until all the water has cooked away, the aubergine is soft through, and the chilli jam is getting sticky.
Turn the heat off.
To serve: Reheat the aubergines for 5 minutes on a medium-high heat, adding extra splashes of water to create a sticky sauce, if needed.
Transfer to a serving plate but don’t touch it straight away – the chilli jam means it’ll be very hot!
- Nutritional values: Energy 98kcal, fat 3.4g, sat fat 0.6g, protein 2.7g, carbs 16.7g, sugars 9.7g, salt 0.2g, fibre 7g.
THERE’S something so satisfying about a homemade quiche and this method guarantees delicious flavour.
I like to have a pastry case ready rolled and in the freezer, waiting to blind bake when needed.
The quantities I’ve given here are easy to double up if you want to make an extra case and stash it away for your next picnic.
- 250g plain flour, extra for dusting
- 125g cold unsalted butter
- 800g butternut squash or mixed mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- 6 large free-range eggs
- 100ml single cream
- 100g Cheddar cheese
- 50g crumbly goat’s cheese
- 2 sprigs of thyme
Get ahead: You can make this all on the day, if you prefer.
Equally, you can cook the whole thing the night before and enjoy cold.
Whatever works for you.
Put the flour, butter and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor and pulse for 15 seconds, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add 4 tbsp of water and pulse for a few more seconds until it comes together.
Scoop on to a flour-dusted work surface and push and pat into a round – don’t be tempted to knead it.
Wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly oil a non-stick loose-bottomed tart tin (25cm diameter, 4cm deep).
Roll out the pastry on a flour-dusted surface, turning it every so often, until it’s just under ½cm thick.
Gently roll it up around the rolling pin, then unroll it over the oiled tin and ease it into the sides, letting the excess pastry overhang.
Prick the base all over with a fork, place on a baking tray, then bake blind for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Cool, trim off the excess pastry, and store in an airtight container.
Prep your chosen veg (butternut squash or mixed mushrooms).
Peel, carefully halve and de-seed the squash, then dice into 2cm chunks, or clean and slice the mushrooms.
Put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat.
Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic, then place in the pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Add your chosen veg and cook for 30 minutes, or until soft and starting to caramelise, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water to prevent it sticking, if needed.
Season to perfection, then leave to cool.
Tip into a blender, crack in the eggs, add the cream and grate in the Cheddar, then blitz until smooth, cover and refrigerate overnight.
On the day: Preheat the oven to 180C.
Pour the filling into the pastry case, then crumble over the goat’s cheese.
Rub the thyme sprigs with a little oil, then pick the tips and leaves over the tart.
Bake for 40 minutes exactly, then remove and leave to cool, ready to wrap and go.
- Nutritional values: Energy 285kcal, fat 17.7g, sat fat 9.8g, protein 9.8g, carbs 23.5g, sugars 4.5g, salt 0.5g, fibre 2g.
Yoghurt panna cotta
I LOVE a good panna cotta. These are so utterly easy to make and great for a party.
The blend of cream and yoghurt means they’re fresh and elegant, and with the combination of delicate fruit and crunchy biscuits to dip each spoonful into, every mouthful is absolute bliss.
- 3 leaves of gelatine
- 400ml single cream
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 400g Greek-style yoghurt
- 400g strawberries
- 4 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 2 sprigs of mint
- Shortbread or ginger nut biscuits, to serve
Get ahead: Put the gelatine into a small bowl, cover with cold water.
Pour the cream into a pan with the sugar and vanilla paste.
Place on a medium-low heat until the mixture just starts to bubble, then turn the heat off.
Remove the gelatine leaves from the water and whisk into the pan until melted, followed by the yoghurt.
Once smooth and combined, divide between espresso cups, small glasses or moulds, place on a tray lined with kitchen paper (to prevent them sliding about), cool, cover and leave to set in the fridge overnight.
On the day: Hull and halve or quarter the strawberries, depending on their size.
Mix with the cordial in a nice bowl and leave to macerate for an hour or so.
To serve: Either serve the panna cotta in their cups, glasses or moulds, or turn them out on to little plates or saucers – the easiest way to do this is by carefully dipping each cup into a bowl of boiling kettle water for 20 seconds, or until you get a wiggle, then place a plate on top and confidently flip out.
Spoon over some strawberries and syrup, pick over a couple of cute baby mint leaves and tuck in.
Delicious with a crumbling of bashed-up biscuits on the side.
- Nutritional values: Energy 155kcal, fat 8.2g, sat fat 5.3g, protein 4.7g, carbs 16.4g, sugars 16.4g, salt 0.1g, fibre 1.3g