My love/infatuation/obsession with Jamie Oliver runs deep.
There was that time when my sister, Rose, and I happened to come across Jamie at a book signing in Dublin, Ireland. We didn’t actually buy a book or get one signed. Instead we just lurked around the store, watching from a distance, giggling like school girls. Creepy, I know.
Then of course, there was the time he sent me a message on Twitter.
So it’s only natural that, for this Cookbook Chronicle, I decided to take a look at one of my favourites: Jamie’s Italian.
After watching “Jamie’s Great Italian Escape” television series, I fell in love with his travels across the Italian countryside and picked up this book. Travel shows about Italy are a dime a dozen but every once in awhile one comes along that makes me feel nostalgic and helps me to reconnect with a country and a culture that I’m very passionate about. Watching Jamie in Italy made me feel like I knew the people he was cooking with and could totally relate to his stories and encounters.
The great thing about his recipes are their simplicity. I’ve made many dishes from a number of his books and they always turn out true to form. They never really require outrageous ingredients and they are easily adaptable to suit your own tastes.
One of my favourites from Jamie’s Italian is the Baked Mushrooms Stuffed with Ricotta. The book uses standard sized mushrooms but I love using portobellos. So easy to put together and makes a great side dish or appetizer.
Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Ricotta
Adapted from Jamie’s Italy
- 4-5 portobello mushrooms
- Olive oil
- 1 cup ricotta
- Fresh oregano, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp of ground, dried chilies
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 425F. Remove the stems from the portobellos and give them a light cleaning. Rub each mushroom with olive oil and place onto a baking sheet with the underside of the mushroom facing up.
In a bowl, combine the ricotta, oregano, garlic and lemon juice and mix together. Make sure the ricotta isn’t too “wet”. To get a drier ricotta, place it inside a strainer lined with cheesecloth and let it sit over a bowl for about 30 minutes to remove any excess water. You can totally adjust the level of garlic and lemon here too. I love garlic and the tartness of the lemon juice so I tend to add a bit more. If you don’t have fresh oregano, dried works just as well.
Take 1-2 teaspoons of the ricotta mix and place inside each mushroom cap. Don’t overload it. Too much and it will spread over the mushroom and onto the baking sheet while baking. It also skews the ricotta-mushroom balance. You want just enough ricotta to compliment the portobello, not overwhelm it. Sprinkle each portobello with roughly a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese. Place baking sheet into the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the Parmesan starts to brown.