Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Jamie Oliver goes stateside

Sitting with his legs crossed, dressed top to toe in blue denim, wearing a slightly too small shiny blue hat, Jamie Oliver could be here to tell me about his new fashion makeover show.

But no, he is back with his new food programme Jamie's American Road Trip, which runs until October 6 on Channel Four.

Different to his former cooking and campaigning shows, this time Jamie's on the road looking for the foods that tell America's story.

“I wanted to get under the skin of the cooking and the culture — rather than just focus on the fat b******s and junk image they're labelled with,” says Jamie, happy to talk about a TV project that took a year to finish.

Each area of the country told its own story, he says, from the immigrants of New York's Queens district, to the hurricane-struck residents of Louisiana and gangs in Los Angeles.

“New York turned into a show about immigration without us really planning it to. And when we did LA, out of nowhere it became about the East side and the gangs.”

After making friends in LA with two Mexican cooks, Jamie saw a dark side of Hollywood .

“Out of all of their mates, they were two that got out. The rest of the gang were either dead or in jail for life,” he explains.

By the time he got to filming out among the Navajos in Arizona, Jamie had become adept at describing a world he previously knew nothing about.

“The Navajos were amazing, very spiritual, I didn't think I'd like that stuff. I wanted (the programme) to show the sad story of the demise of the Indians.

“Their world is bleak, disparate, lost, forgotten, delinquent and f****d up — and yet amazing, dramatic and so brilliant.”

Here are two recipes to try.

APPLE-BERRY PIE

(Serves 10-12)

For the pastry:

500g plain flour, 100g icing sugar, a pinch of sea salt, 250g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes, 2 large eggs and a splash of milk

For the filling:

10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and halved, 3 sliced juice and zest of 2 oranges.

7 heaped tbsps Caster sugar, 400g blueberries, 1 heaped tbsp plain flour, 1 large egg and a handful of demerara sugar

You can make your pastry by hand, or simply pulse all the ingredients in a food processor. If making by hand, sieve the flour, icing sugar and salt from a height into a large mixing bowl.

Use your fingertips to gently work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer a handful of this mixture to a separate bowl, rub it between your fingers to get larger crumbs, then put aside.

Add the eggs and milk to the main mixture and gently work it together until you have a ball of pastry dough. Sprinkle a little flour over the pastry, then wrap it in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to rest for one hour.

Meanwhile, put the apples into a large pan with the zest and juice of 1 orange, a splash of water and five tablespoons of caster sugar. Cover the pan and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until the apples have softened but still hold their shape. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Scrunch a handful of berries in a bowl with the remaining caster sugar and the zest and juice of your remaining orange. Add the rest of the berries. Toss the cooled apples and their juices in a large bowl with the berries and the flour, then put aside.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Take your ball of pastry out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature. Get yourself a pie dish around 28cm in diameter. Cut off a third of your pastry and put that piece to one side. Roll the rest into a circle just over 0.5cm thick, dusting with flour as you go then gently unroll it over the pie dish. Tip in the fruit filling and brush all around the edge of the pastry with some of the beaten egg. Roll out the smaller ball of pastry about 0.5cm thick and use your rolling pin to lay it over the top of the pie. Brush it all over with more beaten egg, reserving a little. Sprinkle over the reserved crumble mixture and the demerara sugar.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, and serve.

GREEN CHILLI

(Serves 4)

Olive oil

800g pork mince

1 tsp dried sage

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

2 green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

6 small green chillies, roughly chopped

4 large ripe red tomatoes, chopped into small chunks

1 romaine lettuce

A small bunch of fresh mint

4 spring onions

1 packet of flour tortillas

Optional: 1 lime

To serve: Soured cream or |natural yoghurt

Put a large pan on a high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the pork mince, dried sage and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up a bit and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add your onions, garlic, peppers and chillies, stir everything together, then fry for 15 minutes on a high heat until any liquid from the pork has evaporated and everything is starting to turn golden.

When it looks good, stir in your chopped tomatoes and half a glass of water. Turn the heat down to medium and let it tick away for 10 minutes while you wash and roughly chop up the lettuce and mint leaves. Trim and slice your spring onions.

When you're ready to serve your chilli, warm your tortillas in the oven at 180C/350F/gas 4 for a few minutes or in a dry pan for 30 seconds.

Taste your dense chilli. If you want to give it a nice fresh edge, you can squeeze in the juice of a lime. Stir in half of the chopped mint.

Push a warm tortilla or flatbread into each of your little bowls and spoon some delicious green chilli on top of each one. Top with your chopped lettuce and a dollop of yoghurt.

Sprinkle over the rest of your mint and spring onions — and serve right away with some cold beers.

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