When I was first asked to review Jamie Oliver’s new book by Yuppiechef, I was over the moon. I have always been a Jamie fan, since his days of being the ‘naked chef’. I was only about 14 when The Naked Chef started airing on the Carlton Food Network but I was absolutely enticed. His lisp, his charm and his Essex accent were all enough to make a teenage girl swoon. And I haven’t stopped swooning ever since.
When I received the package I was so excited and I urge all of you to buy something from Yuppiechef JUST to receive one of their packages. Beautifully made up with gorgeous paper and a hand-written note, it just shows you how amazing this company is.
The cover of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is inviting and warm. The foreword is encouraging and it convinces you that you can cook like Jamie if you have this book. Just reading it made me want to dive into this book, which is exactly what I did. For 2 whole days I couldn’t be apart from my new “Jamie” and I think my husband got a bit worried when I took “Jamie” to bed one night.
Too busy, too expensive and I don’t know how aren’t valid excuses when you have this book. And these are the excuses that people use when it comes to cooking. Jamie says everyone has time…it takes 30 minutes to get a take-away or watch something on TV, after-all!
And even though some of the recipes include ‘expensive’ ingredients like prawns or salmon, it will still be cheaper to make it yourself than to order/ buy it ready made. Plus, you know what went into it.
Jamie is going to teach you how to cook in a different way. You will only be in the kitchen for 30 minutes, but it will be a busy 30 minutes as all the meals have some multi-tasking involved. While this is boiling, you will be chopping and frying that. You get the idea.
Jamie also encourages you to take a few hours to sort out your kitchen. Ensure you have onlty the necessary and relevant equipment out in the open. None of your mom’s wedding gifts that you use once every 6 months. There is a detailed list in the book for you to check if you have the right stuff and this really does help. As Jamie says, if you don’t have a food processor it will just take you a bit longer to get to the finished product.
And now we get to the recipes. The book is compiled of “meal plans” as such and consists of a main dish, a few sides and sometimes a deliciously easy pud. From the simple Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca and Meatball sandwich to the incredibly Bloody Mary Mussels and the Thai Red Prawn Curry. Sides range from Sweet Carrot Smash, Quick Dauphinoise, Dan Dan Noodles and Jazzed Up Rice. And the desserts.. Oh Jamie, how did you know the way to my heart is through Silky Chocolate Ganache, Smashed Cherries & Mascarpone and probably the best looking Banoffee Pie I’ve ever seen.
The photographs are beautiful and gives you a sense of what these recipes are all about. Tables full of scrumptious food, all home-made, enjoyed by families, partners and friends. Looking at the photo’s, it’s hard to believe all of it can be made in 30 minutes.
I’ve always cooked with the principle that I don’t spend more than 30 minutes in the kitchen unless it’s really worth it, but Jamie has inspired me to revise my cooking style and I’m sure I’ll be spending even less time in the kitchen without compromising on the quality/flavour.
I decided to try the Thai Red Prawn Curry recipe, and I can tell you that if you made this for your guests, they will not believe that it took you 15 minutes to make (not including the cooking time for the rice). The flavours of Thailand are always intoxicating but when it takes you 15 minutes (even less actually) to throw together a fabulous meal, it makes it taste even better. (Just remember that Prawns have now reached Orange status on the SASSI list so be cautious when buying them.)
This book is an absolute delight and a must-have if you have little / no-time to cook at night and you need some inspiration for dinner ideas. Why not treat your family to Chicken Skewers with Peanut sauce or Chicken Pie with Sweet Carrot Smash? I’m sure you will all enjoy that more than the regular Spag Bol or Mac ‘n Cheese.
I have quite a few of Jamie’s books but with this one, Jamie has outdone himself. He makes proper, home-made and wholesome food look as easy to achieve as heating a ready-made meal. I hope that this book will inspire you as much as it has me!Alida Ryder