26 Feb 2014

Jamie Love - and when 15 minutes is really 35...

Having run out of steam with 'Project Breakfast', I decided a couple of weeks ago that I needed a new food fad. I have no staying power with any sort of project - hence such sporadic blogging - so attempting to cook from the same book for a sustained period of time was always going to be a challenge!

Frankly, just cooking every evening would be a challenge; I'm more your 'heat and eat' kind of girl. Having enjoyed an amazing pasta feast with our lovely friends, Family Knight, shortly after Christmas, I was inspired by Chef Dan's recipe from Jamie Oliver's '30 Minute Meals'. A cynic by nature and a general domestic incompetent, I remained unconvinced that the meals really do take so little time to prepare and cook, so was delighted to discover Jamie's '15 Minute Meals'. For exactly two weeks, every evening meal we ate, came from this book.

The verdict?

  • Every meal I made genuinely tasted good! Obviously, we had favourites, but there wasn't a dud amongst them.
  • They seem to be healthy and balanced - which was one of Jamie's objectives. I have never felt like I have eaten such a varied and interesting diet before.
  • All recipes are for four people, and generous portions at that.
  • They look pretty! Especially if you mimic Jamie's philosophy of platters of food to encourage a 'dig-in and share' approach.
  • I really am a terrible cook but nothing was beyond my distinctly limited culinary capabilities.
  • I defy anyone (including Jamie himself) to actually make the meals in 15 minutes! Cheekily, he doesn't count getting your ingredients and equipment out in the time frame and the dishes rely on a significant number of ingredients. I found that if I prepped separately, whilst plonking the toddler in front of 'Peppa Pig', for some of the dishes, the cooking took around 15-20 minutes.
  • It was expensive - as I said in my previous comment, you need a lot of ingredients. However, I do think if you used the book regularly, you'd build your store cupboard up and the cost would go down. Also, I stupidly wasn't halving the ingredients when I was only cooking for two people.
  • You really need a food processor with a variety of blades. Don't bother with the book if you don't have one or aren't prepared to buy one.
  • Be prepared for mess! The kitchen generally looked like a bomb had hit it most evenings. Thank goodness for a dishwasher and a husband who dislikes chaos!
  • If you're not a natural cook and you rely on a number of prepared meals throughout the week alongside some actual cooking, cooking only from this book started to feel like a stamina test!

Overall, I will definitely cook from '15 Minute Meals' again. In fact, the dishes are impressive enough that they would make really impressive and satisfying dinner party food. I feel like my little experiment was an enjoyable success that has definitely given me more confidence in the kitchen.

Now that particular fad has finished, I am rather drawn to the lovely Alice Judge-Talbot's brand new website: More Than Paleo. In fact, the chicken for the delicious-looking Sticky Honey Chicken Salad with Sweet Potato and Cashew Nuts, is marinating in the fridge as I type!

Below are the meals I made from Jamie's book: two from each main section of the book. Jamie's are on the left, in case you were wondering! And this is not a sponsored post, in case you were wondering that too, although I may send Jamie the link...

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