What’s Cookin’ – Jamie Oliver “Meals in Minutes”

I love cooking.  I cook, from scratch, at least 5 times a week (the other 2 days we usually eat out).  My friends and family say I’m a pretty good cook, they always eat what I make.  I don’t mind being in the kitchen for an hour at night.  I find it cathartic and I love knowing what is going into my family’s bodies.  You are what you eat, after all. 

I am a huge Jamie Oliver fan.  His use of fresh ingredients and simple preparations drew me in from his first cookbook The Naked Chef to his latest Meals in Minutes.  This latest book claims that you can make a 3+ dish meal in 30 minutes and I found that intriguing but Jamie hasn’t let me down yet so I decided to take the challenge.

In Meals in Minutes Jamie teaches you how cook from start to finish.  He starts the book by explaining simple techniques; how the layout of your kitchen is important and what proper tools you will need to make the recipes in his book.  He provides a list of knives, bowls, pans, appliances, etc. and says that you can get it all for around $300.  I found that most of the items on his list were pretty common kitchen staples.  I think you could probably made due without a few of items but I agree with Jamie, the most important thing is a good knife.  In addition to the lessons he provides in the book he also has a website where he provides additional information and instructional videos.  With as long as I have been cooking, I still found his online tutorial on knife skills helpful.

Having said all of that I will be honest with you, I have made over half the recipes in the book and if you are a novice cook it will definitely take you more than 30 minutes to prepare some of the meals.  Don’t let this discourage you, it is a great cookbook with delicious recipes.  The way Jamie walks you through exactly what to do and when to do it is like having a teacher right there with you.  If you are more experienced then you will be able to pick up a few tips to help you streamline your process and make any recipe go faster.  In addition, you don’t have to make every course in the meal so you can skip a few steps.

Some of my favorite recipes from Meals in Minutes are:

  • Curry Rogan Josh with rice and carrot salad.  Jamie rounds out the meal with flatbreads purchased from the store and a cold beer.
  • Chicken pie with french-style peas and carrot smash.  I skipped the dessert on this meal because I made it in winter when berries are not at their peak.  If I made this meal now I would definitely make dessert, berries with shortbread and cream.
  • Fish tagine with fennel & lemon salad and couscous.  I made this for my family last week and we ate every last bit!  Simple and delicious.
  • Beef hash, baked potoates, salad and butter beans with bacon.  This was a quick and easy meal.  It took a couple of pots so clean up wasn’t fast but the preparation and cooking was really quick.

There are 50 meals in this book so there is definitely something for everyone.  With this early spring upon us I am looking forward to trying the spring lamb with veggies, mint sauce and Chianti gravy.  Jamie finishes this meal up with a chocolate fondue.  My mouth is watering!

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