You Say You Want a Revolution

Well, you know we all want to change the world. This is the hope of Jamie Oliver, his food “champions” and all of us who want to see a change to healthy, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and yes, easy to make meals.

Now, you all know I love Jamie, but after last week I definitely have a deeper appreciation of how much he and his team are striving to bring healthy food awareness to the world. My friend Jenny and I had a chance to take a cooking lesson during Jamie Oliver’s Big Rig tour in Los Angeles. While I knew that “the man” would not be there showing us proper knife skills, I was very excited to finally attend one of his Food Revolution events. On a Friday afternoon, we headed down the 110 to the 105 to an area we don’t tend to frequent – Compton. Pulling into the parking lot of the King-Drew Medical Center, the Big Rig was hard to miss. It is a huge trailer that is kitted out inside with four cooking stations, two wash stations and a large demo station. The instructors, or Champions as they are called, were all so friendly and enthusiastic that you couldn’t help getting caught up in the excitement.

Our meal was a basic risotto and a side of multi-colored cauliflower with a homemade vinaigrette. After a brief demonstration, we divided up in to small groups to get some hands-on cooking experience. My group consisted of Jenny, a mother, her seven year old son and an elderly gentleman. It seemed that almost everyone there, except Jenny and me, had attended several classes already and were signed up for the next week’s classes as well. It was really inspiring to talk to the mother who was taking these lessons because she and her husband had made a commitment to eat healthier for the sake of their son. We all got a chance to chop, stir, pour the broth and of course, clean up.

The lesson was fairly basic but having had a few risotto disasters in the past (mainly stodgy ones), I was happy to have a good refresher on just how simple and easy it can be. As well, someone in our group couldn’t have dairy so it was easy to pull a bit aside for him before the knob of butter and the generous helping of parmesan was added at the end. So there you go, vegan for Clive and cheese-filled for me!

A big thanks to all those who are volunteering their time to reach out to the community and help educate and improve health.

Viva la Revolución

Get involved in Jamie’s Food Revolution Day!

Or donate to his cause at 

Big Love!


Click here for Jamie’s Risotto Bianco recipe


The Dream of the Red Tomatoes (and yellow and pink and green and purple and striped…)

Every time my husband comes up from the garden with the last of the cauliflower or a huge bunch of leeks or green onions, I find myself longing for the day when the tomato plants will be full of luscious ripe fruit.  Funny since by the end of the season last year I was actually sick of fresh garden tomatoes.  I think I moaned aloud when Clive brought the last few batches of tomatoes from the garden.  And by batches, I mean about a 100 tomatoes each time.

The Bounty

The Bounty Close Up


Sad and disgraceful that I would ever find displeasure in our garden’s bounty, but after eating tomatoes fresh, making soups, salads, sauces, salsa and jams, canning them, roasting them, giving them away and putting them on top of most everything we ate last summer, I couldn’t help it.

Canning Collage

Canning Tomatoes

Roasting Tomatoes Collage

Oven Roasting Tomatoes

But now I find myself longing for that burst of flavor that only a homegrown tomato has.  One of the simplest and tastiest recipe I came across for using a large amount of tomatoes was Jamie Oliver’s Fresh Tomato Soup recipe.

Jamie's Tomato Soup Collage 4

Fresh Tomato Soup

Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver


1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 lbs large ripe tomatoes – leave a few of their little green leaves on

A handful of fresh basil

Sea salt and fresh pepper

White wine vinegar

5 -6 tbsp. cream

Extra virgin olive oil


Throw the carrots, garlic, tomatoes and most of the basil (set aside a few smaller leaves for a garnish) into a blender and blend until smooth.  I found it easier to do this in several batches.  Pour into a large saucepan and season well with salt and pepper.  Simmer gently on medium low heat for about 20 minutes until it thickens up., stirring occasionally. Add a small drizzle of white wine vinegar and then bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the cream and remove from the heat.  Serve as is or use an immersion hand blender to make it smooth. I skipped the last two steps because I felt it tasted fresher without the cream and I preferred the rustic texture.  Serve with a few small basil leaves on top as a garnish

Jamie serves it with his cheesy cheddar toast soldiers and I served it with my sister and my famous “After Church Sunday Cheese Bread”.  Any good cheesy toast recipe you have will do.

The Fay Sisters’ After Church Sunday Cheese Bread


2 slices whole wheat bread

Kraft Parmesan Cheese (any good parmesan will work but for nostalgia sake, I always use the good ol’ Kraft from the big green container)


Garlic Powder


Generously spread butter on one side of the bread.  Sprinkle a healthy layer of parmesan cheese and spread it out evenly with a knife.  Sprinkle a light dash of garlic powder over the cheese.  Broil for a few minutes, until cheese is bubbling and starting to crust up and get brown. Enjoy dunked in the soup or on its own.

Tomato Art

Vintage Tomatoes

A Day of Jamie

I need to backtrack a bit to share an amazing day I had while I was in London for the holidays. As I have mentioned before, my husband is not the greatest “gifter.” In the past I have either bought my own Christmas present, which was completely fine since I got exactly what was on my list. Or we exchanged no gifts at all, which is fine as well, since I usually have to shop for about 20 people.

Well, I am now eating my words because he got me the most amazing Christmas present … a reservation at Jamie’s Italian on Threadneedle Street.  But that is not all, he pre-arranged for his brother and sister-in-law to babysit our son all day!  We spend every Christmas in the UK visiting Clive’s family on the outskirts of London and for some reason our son has now turned into a demon child every time we try to take him up into the city.  The worst was trying to pick out gifts at Fortnum and Mason’s this past year and having to carry him out kicking and screaming over my shoulder.

My angel – pre tantrum and post tantrum

The prospect of spending the day in London, just the two of us, like we used to when we lived here right after we first got married, was heaven.  Especially since the day would end with what I knew would be a delicious meal.

With Ollie on the way to a farm/petting zoo with Uncle Paul and Auntie Di, we decided to take full advantage of the day and go up to Notting Hill, which is a must visit when we are in town.  The fact that Jamie’s Recipease sits at the entrance into Notting Hill was just a wonderful coincidence.  Certainly I didn’t plan to drag my husband around for an entire day of Jamie Oliver!

Recipease is Jamie’s new food and kitchen shop where you can also take cooking lessons.  I was only planning on browsing, maybe pick up a few of his magazines that I can’t get back in the States, but we had to eat lunch somewhere so it might as well be here.  We sat upstairs at the high table along the window, drinking cappuccinos and watching the double decker buses and black cabs go by.


Clive ordered the mulligatawny soup. I had a blue cheese, thyme and caramelized onion flat bread to start and then the Vietnamese spring rolls. Everything was fresh, delicious and exceptional.  Even my non-foodie husband (“food is fuel”) was blown away by the complex flavors of the soup.  And I have to say, it was all so reasonably priced.

Spring Rolls & Flatbread

After lunch we wandered up Portobello Road and bought an antique toy tractor for Ollie at my favorite shop, Chloe Alberry, went to my favorite spice shop which unfortunately was closed and stopped for a pint at one of the local pubs.

Portobello Road

Then it was off to the city to Jamie’s Italian!  We had an early reservation and the restaurant was fairly empty but by the time we left it had filled up.  The service was great – nice, friendly and attentive.  But the food, oh the food, it really was out of this world.  I knew it would be good but there are about 30 Jamie’s Italian outposts around the UK so you never know (even though I have complete faith in Jamie).  There is nothing better than having your high expectations exceeded.  Blown out of the water, really.

Threadneedle Street

Jamie's Italian Menu

We started with the Crostini Selection, which was presented on a long thin wooden plank.  The first one we tried was the shaved raw zucchini with just a hint of mint and lemon.  Delicious.  The rest were equally amazing – beetroot puree, squash and ricotta, smoked salmon – but our favorite was a very simple roasted Mediterranean veggie.  I have no idea how he packed so much flavor onto each of those crostinis.

Crostini Selection

For our mains, we decided to split the Truffle Tagliolini and the Mushroom Cilindretti.  We were very glad we did this because eating a whole dish of the Truffle Tagliolini would have been too rich for us.  But the flavors, all that butter and shaved truffles was a really special treat.  Both of us agreed that the mushroom dish was our favorite.  It was wild mushroom stuffed “parcels” with a tomato & porcini sauce.  The parcels were long rectangular fresh pasta filled with a mushroom mixture, and the sauce was simple but divine.  For our sides, I ordered a rocket and parmesan salad (always a favorite for me) and Clive ordered the roast pumpkin, beets and squash.  Again the flavors were so intense.

Our dinner

We finished with a simple mango sorbet. On our way out, we stopped to talk with the manager and give him our compliments.  He was warm and enthusiastic.  It is so nice to dine at a place where you can see that the staff genuinely enjoy working there.

We then took a stroll through the city, across the Millennium Bridge and along the South Bank.  I love this walk which we did so many times before while living here.  The night wasn’t too cold, just crisp enough, and there were people strolling and buskers playing music.  We slowly made our way back to Waterloo to take the train back to Surbiton.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect day and two perfect meals.  Thanks honey!