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I received this cook book as a Christmas present after making the mistake of saying 'ooh that's looks nice' when half-watching the program in the background whilst visiting my mums house. I like cooking, and I like to experiment with new things, but I could not hide my disappointment when I unwrapped it. I love my mum to bits, but there are much more exciting gifts to give your 30 year old son for the same sort of money! I hope she doesn't read this...
In terms of the recipes there were far too many 'virgin olive oil' references for my liking (which in my experience makes everything taste awful) and what is with the salads and pastas? Pages and pages of them, from walnuts to shrimps - but at the end of the day there is only so much you can do with a couple of lettuce leaves and/or a soggy tomato (oh and an inevitable splash of virgin olive oil - I swear he has shares in the stuff...). I understand that these are easily prepared in under 30 minutes, but there is a reason for this. It's rabbit food and 90% of the time you're better off eating the actual book itself in terms of taste.
The book itself splits a 'meal' into three pages - one with a nice picture of a beautifully presented finished article (which looked like my rabbit's food bowl), another with what your work in progress should look like (a mess in my case) and a final page containing the ingredients and method. In other words - two out of three of the pages are padding.
The other really annoying thing about this book is the whole premise of having it prepared and served in 30 minutes - yes, it could be done IF you have the chopping speed of a trained chef, have an MFI show kitchen's vast stock of equipment and an army of Sherpas to tidy/wash up all the pots and pans you use. Unfortunately, I had none of these things and anything I attempted took at least 45 minutes and tasted like cardboard.
Having said that, I can see the point of this if you are scared of calories (and taste) and want to eat 'healthily'. I can see it being very popular with people who are running late for their gym session/yoga class and/or families with podgy kids. Sadly I am not one of these people!
I was bought this book as a Christmas present and it is not something I think I would have bought myself normally.
The book has a great concept, whole meals I.e side dishes, main and dessert made from start to finish in 30 minutes however the execution is quite frustrating.
The meals in the book are great and the majority are mouth watering but they are only really suitable for when you are catering for dinner parties as I don't feel that many people would make dishes like this for day to day meals. It is difficult to extract just one part of each meal, for instance, the main dish, to prepare in isolation from dessert and sides because the book is written as a step by step guide to the whole meal. Having said that, the book does have the advantage of giving the reader a number of good 'cheats' in order to bring it in under 30 mins!
My personal favourite in the book is the bakewell tarts! They are delicious and so quick and easy as you use pre-bought pastry cases. I have cooked them on a number of occasions and always had compliments. They are especially good with ice cream!
I will persevere with the book as there are many more recipes that I would like to try out at future dinner parties but will be reserving it just for this purpose rather than trying to mix and match bits for my day to day cooking.
This is Jamie Oliver's book to accompany his Channel 4 series on creating 3 course meals in 30 minutes. Like the TV series, the book contains one meal (starter, main course and dessert) per chapter.
The layout for each chapter is the ingredients list followed by instructions detailed over the 30 minutes rather than by dish. I don't like way each menu is integrated into the instructions. I don't always want to use the whole menu that he does, so end up jumping around a bit and finding timing can be difficult to work out. It's still a nice collection of recipes and once you get into the idea of jumping around, it can be followed.
Now can it be done it 30 minutes? That I'm not sure about, Jamie himself says you need to change how you cook to achieve it. I reckon each element takes me half an hour. More practice and I may well get there. You certainly need everything laid out in front of you and should give the instructions a once over before you start.
So here's what I've made so far. We are a family of two so needed to adjust the ingredients accordingly:
Portuguese Tarts: Really tasty. I've always had some filling left over which cooks nicely in a mini soufflé dish. Still struggling not to have soggy pastry at the bottom which I think is about getting the timing right on how long to cook the pastry cases.
Cauliflower macaroni: We both enjoyed this. Very easy to make and very tasty. I don't normally like macaroni cheese but using crème fraiche instead worked for me.
Broccoli Orecchiette: Not sure about this one. It was easy to do but the sauce was a disgusting green/grey/brown colour and very strong. The first few mouthfuls were tasty enough but a whole portion was a challenge to get through. That said daughter and niece both ate a good helping and they would not normally touch anchovy.
Pregnant Jools Pasta: Very easy to make. When tasting mid cooking the vinegar seemed really strong but it cooked down nicely into the sauce. This has become a firm favourite and works just as well as a veggie dish, missing out the sausages.
Overall this book has a good selection of recipes. If following a full menu then it works well but for individual dishes it's a struggle to get the timings right.
I bought this book because it was Jamie Oliver, not because it was 30 minute meals...and this is my slight niggle with this book.
It's a nice idea...basically Jamie has come up with who menu plans in this book which in theory should take approximately 30 minutes. The premise being that whilst things are cooking you get on preparing other items and so on. I'm a fairly competent and experienced cook and I'd say that yes, these recipes are possible in that amount of time. If however you are not a confident cook then the 30 minutes idea does go out the window a bit.
I do however like the menu idea, he gives main meal idea, side, dessert...drinks in some cases and it does somewhat take the thinking out of cooking an entire meal. I've used the Curry Menu on many occassions (Butternut squash, chickpea and spinach rogan josh, rice, carrot salad, poppadoms, flatbread and beer) and if you are cooking for a dinner party this book is a great idea.
I do have another slight niggle with this book if i'm honest and that is that most of the menus serve 4 - 6 people (some 8). I only have to cook for me and my boyfriend and i'm quite used to scaling down recipes meant for 4, or there are never problems with a couple of leftovers...but it would be crazy to cook a meal meant for 6 and have so much left over!
I therefore think this is only a good book if you either have a large-ish family or regularly entertain and have friends over. I do like the book, but for me its one of the weakest Jamie books I own for that reason.
Jamie Oliver is many things to many people, to some he is the annoying lad around town who played his guitar, rode his moped and seemingly had parties every night where he knocked up wonderful food dishes for 'friends' who often appeared to just seem pleased to be getting a free dinner.
To others he is the guy who has perhaps more than anyone made cooking accessible in the UK, developing cookbooks on numerous themes as well as challenging the healthiness of school cookery and the UK's system of feeding kids.
To me, he is a mixture of the two, I really rate his endeavours with charities like his restaurant '13' and in challenging the status quo of 'anything and chips' for school lunches, but I do find some of his cookery programmes and books too niche and designed for people who have acres of land to grow their own food and seperate kitchen/sheds to make every dish in the house dirty, in many ways this is why I particularly liked this book, rather than showing us how he cooks at home with his resources, he offers ideas on how to prepare meals in 30 minutes for ordinary folks like you and me.
The Book - Cost and availability:
The book is available in all good bookshops and supermarkets, prices vary wildly, I got a copy for £8 on ebay, however, I always find Amazon to be a good, fair barometer of book prices and they currently charge £13 for the book.
The Book - Appearance:
A hardback book with a simple cream cover with silver lettering, we have a picture of a grinning Oliver, hands by his sides in a tracksuit top, whilst this won't sell the contents of the book I think the brand is served best in this case by such simplicity.
There is a 5 page pre-amble about how Jamie wants us to reclaim our kitchens and cook proper meals rather than relying on take aways and ready meals, all will be familiar to anyone who watched the accompanying Channel 4 series, he then talks about equipment required, most is fairly easy to find, although I did find some of the items seemed particularly aimed at using products from his cooking range. What then follows is the recipes, so we don't have half an hour of reading as to why we should do this, simply some simple tips on equipment, items to use for serving and why cooking at home is good.
The layout of a recipe:
Each recipe is a series of dishes made to incorporate a family meal, cooked as a whole in less than half an hour, the first page gives a run down of the dishes and how many people they serve, the second page shows a photo of the dishes, the following page, has a box at the top with each dish and the ingredients required to make it, followed by a step by step recipe guide below, on the corresponding page is a picture of each dish in a collage of the mouth watering meal in question.
What kind of recipes are there:
They really do vary, I won't describe every half hour combination, but here are a few for your attention:
Curry Rogan Josh with Fluffy rice, Carrot Salad, Poppadoms, Flatbread and Beer
Mustard Chicken with quick Dauphinoise, Greens and Black Forest affogato
Bloody Mary Mussels with herby salad, gorgeous rhubarb and Millefeuille
Roast Beef, baby yorkies, little carrots, crispy potatoes and super quick gravy.
There are numerous other recipes and they are laid out in a semblance of order with pasta's together, then curries, then meat dishes, fish dishes etc.
How do they work:
Well, having watched the tv series, I had my doubts that many of these dishes were do-able in 30 minutes and I think I was right. Oliver sells this as easy to make when you get home food in just 30 minutes, but that premise is based on the fact that every item of food is chopped and prepared, ovens have been suitably heated, all cooking equipment is out and available and you simply need to put the dish together, this really isn't realistic but isn't a deal breaker as it still shows time saving ways to cook easy, enjoyable dishes that don't cost the earth and are healthy and tasty.
I have found that rather than following the exact combinations of his dishes, I prefer to mix and match, so for example I may cook the Mustard chicken from one menu and add the crispy potatoes and gorgeous rhubarb from others. In that sense I find it a really good cookbook, enjoyable, easy to use, well put together and quick.
My greatest success has been sea bass with pancetta, sweet potato mash and Asian greens followed by a sparkling lemon and ginger drink, my biggest cock-up has been a tapas feast where the finished menu looked more like a close up of one of those hideous tables of dodgy insects and kangaroo testicles seen on 'I'm a celebrity get me out of here'.
This is a book which you can cut and paste different items from to enjoy and is something that I definitely come back to regularly, a lot of these things looked easier on the tv show but are well explained and possible to a slightly better cook than me.
Overall, the sentiment is good, the menu's are interesting, you are unlikely to make most of these in 30 minutes but I would say 45 minutes is fine.
I am a big Jamie Oliver fan and regularly use his books for recipe inspiration. In. Reality I don't think many of his recipes take much more than an hour or so including cooking but I can see the attraction for cooking beginners to create a whole meal in 30 minutes. Even if you forgive the "Oliver" patter, Jamie still struggles to get his meals created in the time and I really can't see myself getting any of these set meals done within 30 minutes.
On one side the layout of the recipes is useful as it is written chronologically ensuring the right thing is in the oven while you get on with other aspects. If you are unsure about cooking and are using this book as a first port of call then this format is great for you.
Personally I find this frustrating! if I just want to take one of the recipes as a standalone dish then I need to try and separate the directions and timings. Trying to make them limoncello kind of trifle, I had to sort through the recipes to find the bits relevant to the trifle. I know technically you should create the whole menu but in practice I just wouldn't do this so I see this as a very annoying part of the book.
In terms of recipes, there are some great ones, my favourites being tray baked chicken, meatball sandwich and the peaches with icecream. Once I could sort the recipes out, I really liked them. I have written the ones I like down in a separate book so probably won't actually use this ok again !
I got this book for christmas last year when it was "the" book to have, needless to say it went onto my shelf and just looked good until I decided to cook for the new boyfriend last week!.
Its a 287 page hard back book packed full of colour pictures to get your belly rumbling. It says that it is £26.00. The book is set out differently to how normal receipe books are in that its grouped by meals rather than the traditional starter section, mains, deserts. The reason I like this is because I not a confident cook and he put flavours together I would normally not even think would go.
I decided to try the Piri Piri Chicken and Flavoured Potatoes, there were two more dishes a tart and a salad that go with them but we don't have big appeitites so I decided to leave them out.
Each receipe is laid out with the ingredients at the top of the page, divided by the dishes that they go into. My only negiative comment would be that he should have included a list of equiptment to as I didn't read the receipe before I made it and half way through suddenly I needed a liquidser (which I don't have but my food processer worked just as well).
I liked the way the instructions were laid out so you were multi-tasking as it enabled me to serve everything together piping hot (something I always struggle with i'm always zapping something!)
The boyfriend loved it and cleared his plate, I have to say I was really impressed it was more of a sauce than the well-known restruant chain receipe that I was expecting but it will definately be two dishes I will do again.
I think it will take a few attempts for me to produce this dinner in 30 minutes but it was easy to follow, a lot of the ingredients were already in my cupboard and the flavours just really went together.
I already own all of his books, do it was pretty much a given that when this one cames out it would be soon to join the collection. I watched the tv show, so when it was nice to be able to see all of the recipies for the meals I saw on the show. I havent had the chance to make all of the meals yet, but so far the ones I have made have taken me about 30 minutes to do. Whats really great about this is that you dont have to make the whole meal. If you see one item you like then it gives you ingredients and instructions seperately. This means you can make one thing on its own, or contruct your own meal. I do have to say that if I hadn't watched the tv show, I would have struggled to do what the instructions asked me to (as they werent very clear in places). This is only a few of them though, and with a bit of common sense, this isn't too much of an issue.
This is my fourth Jamie Oliver cook book. I also have Jamie at Home, Jamie's Kitchen and The Return of the Naked Chef, all of which are also great cook books I must add.
So, I had seen the show on television and decided to get the book to add to all my other cook books that I seem to collect without realising. The book is based around meals that you can cook in thirty minutes but it has caused a few complaints from folk who have bought the book because they say it is too much to do in half an hour but with some preperation it can be done.
The book has a selection of meals starting from starters - mains - deserts and drinks. I would say that you do need to have a little bit of cooking experience to manage to finish all of his meals in thirty minutes but it can be done.
It certainly isn't my favourite book of his but it is still worth buying because of the fantastic recipes in it even if it does/can take a little longer than thirty minutes.
The headline may be a bit over the top, but I'll get to that in a moment...
I received "Jamie's 30 Minute Meals" for Christmas in 2010, and it was a genuinely thoughtful gift. I really like cooking and usually do most of the cooking in our house, but myself and my girlfriend work awkward long hours, and usually need something quick and tasty when we get home. As its so easy in this situation to go for junk food, I was delighted at the thought of some quick and tasty recipes to give us some more interesting evening meals.
The book looks great, is nicely put together, and has some very appetising images of the dishes. Having said that, it would be difficult to find a cookbook now that didn't have appealing visuals, and what matters is the recipes themselves...
The "30" minutes claim:
There has been a lot of complaint about the actual length of time it takes to prepare these meals. Of all the recipes I've tried from the book, most have taken about 45 minutes, and none has taken longer than an hour. To be honest, I expected this, and took the '30 minute' claim with a pinch of salt and a dash of Tabasco. This is because I don't have a food processor, or a garlic crusher, or several other time-saving implements that Jamie has. Mainly though, it's because I can't chop as quickly as Jamie Oliver without hacking all of my fingers off.
If Lewis Hamilton wrote a book called "Driving a VW Campervan round the Nurburgring in under 10 minutes", I wouldn't expect to do quite as well as him on my first attempt, especially if I was reading the book as I drove... So the time issue doesn't bother me too much!
This is my main gripe with the book, and the inspiration behind the title of my review. The main thing I lack, which Jamie Oliver has access to, is a well-stocked larder, a fridge bursting with exotic meats, a herb-garden, and a wallet fat enough to choke a free-range donkey on. Whilst several of the recipes are accessible if you're on a lower budget, the use of duck, steak, salmon fillets, langoustines, all manner of fresh herbs and other such things put quite a lot of the recipes in a higher price bracket. It would be nice if good,quick food didn't have to be so expensive to prepare!
The structure of the recipes is something I feel will divide readers, but I quite like it. Rather than describe a single dish which can be prepared in 30 minutes, there are sets of dishes with accompaniments and even desserts which work well together. This could be a main meal with a side dish, a meat dish with several accompaniments, or a tapas-style selection. Quite often I have chosen individual dishes from separate parts of the book and used them together, or used my own spin on the recipes depending on what I have in the house.
I have to say, that although I have identified lots of issues, every meal I have prepared from this book has been delicious. I may have slightly adjusted a recipe, or substituted an ingredient for something else I have in the fridge sometimes, but they have all turned out well.
My personal favourites have been the Chinese Noodle Broth with Salmon, and the Spinach and Feta Filo Pastry Pie.
Overall - some strong recipes, but not as accessible as it could be...
All you need to do with this book is to flick through the pages and you will immediately see food that you will take a fancy to.
And then you think to yourself, oh well he's a top chef he knows how to resent it, he has the money for special effects to be put on food that may not look brilliant in real life, he has equipment that we don't necessarily have... blahblahblahblah.
Just refer back to the title of this review: helps around kitchen as well as just simple cooking.
He explains it step by step; what you need to do, when it needs to be done in accordance to the rest of the recipe and how to do it.
It has helped me to be organised whilst cooking, and trust me I needed it! When cooking a simple lasagne, my kitchen used to look like 3 bombs had hit it, and just using his simple tips from other recipes, it has helped it to be a lot tidier, cleaner and more organised (granted tidying still needs to be done after, but you can't completely change a person can you?! )
Now I have finished talking about how it helps in the kitchen, back to the "simple cooking" part. His recipes don't use extremely expensive ingredients, and he doesn't go perform miracles by making fresh pasta, pastries, anything else that some home cookers think they maybe should do. No, he buys readymade pastry cases for his deserts, he buys lasagne sheets from the supermarkets.
A lot of the time, the recipes are literally slap-dash recipes; whack such-and-such in a pan/oven for a few mins, whilst that's cooking do this, and/or whilst this is marinating do that.
It makes the thought and making of a 3-course meal exciting, non-stop but stress free.
However, (yes, there is ALWAYS a however with this sort of thing), don't be disappointed if you can't finish it all within 30 minutes, he actually says that in part of the book himself. A few things may be new to you so it may take longer because of that. Or you may just not be used to doing 3 courses at once, in this case just start off with one or two of the courses and do another one later on in the day/night or even another day so you can get the hang of the trickier recipes before joining them all together.
A MASSIVE help would be to search for his programs, and see if he has actually "performed" that particular recipe on his channel 4 show. This helped to boost my confidence that I could actually do it, as you actually see him prepare everything fresh and it flows perfectly. Also think; those shows were supposed to last half an hour, but with the 5 minute breaks in the middle (well here in the uk anyway, I'm not sure about anywhere else) and the chatting at the end, it is really a 25 minute recipe.
It also helped to see how he did something in particular, and then if you're thinking you've been doing it wrong, it could show you the correct way, or even an alternative way of doing it.
I brought this book in the january sales, it was a huge seller at christmas time and I know loads of people who got it! I also enjoyed watching the 30 minute meals TV programme and it inspired me to try it out! It was amazing how he can create a meal in 30mins
The book is written well with nice pictures and provides meals for everyone. The meals are usually 3 courses or a main meal, side and dessert, but you can just pick out the dessert if you wish to (and thats what i have done a number of times). One of the favourite things to make is the brownies.
The book is almost 300pages long and hardcover and there are 50 meal ideas, however the book is not set out that well, there are no chapters such as starters, meats, fish, mains etc... he has already chosen the 3 courses. But of course what you can do is say pick a starter from page 11, then a main from page 20 and a dessert from page 120! you can combine different things together but this might confuse you and would take longer.
I paid around £11 for this book off Amazon just after christmas, and it is currently available for £12.99.
I think this book is better than other cookbooks such as Delia Smith- nothing i have ever made using a delia recipe has gone well so i dont bother now.
One criticism I have of this book is that firstly at the beginning of the book it says the utensils you should have- all in all costing almost £400! I don't have all the utensils and worry i can't make all the dishes successfully. Another problem is that the dishes(for me) have taken longer than 30mins. I can't chop an onion as fast as jamie, you need to read the recipe carefully as it says have a pan of boiling water ready or everything chopped in advance!
I received this book as a birthday gift after I had seen a re-run of the "30 minute meals" series on TV. As someone who loves cooking and baking, I was drawn to this series because although I'm not usually a particularly huge fan of Jamie Oliver, I liked the idea of being able to create lots of wonderful homemade food without lots of effort and in 30 minutes. The series was very addictive and I liked the fact he does down-to-earth food that everyone will try, and he doesn't criticise time-saving gadgets such as the food processor or mini-choppers. In fact, he recommends using these in your cooking because everyone's so busy these days life's too short to be chopping vegetables for hours on end!
As you can imagine, I was very pleased to receive this book for my birthday, and already had a few meals from the series I was keen to try. The book is presented really well with lots of gorgeous photos of the food and of Jamie cooking in his kitchen. The only thing I'm not keen on is the cover to be honest, as it's not very artistic and just shows Jamie grinning rather than anything food related. I'd not read any of Jamie's previous books and this one seemed like a good one to start with.
There are many, many recipes to try in this book. Each one is part of a full meal, so the idea is that you recreate the full meal rather than just picking out the odd recipe. Each meal is accompanied by beautiful pictures of the cooking at various stages, which is useful so you know roughly what the end result is supposed to look like. The entire book is 287 pages, so there is a lot to try, and I noticed the price on the inside cover says £26. This seems quite pricey for any cookery book in my opinion, but I guess when you consider the number of recipes and the fact it is so beautifully presented then this can be forgiven. I'm sure the person who gave me this book for my birthday probably shopped around online and managed to get it a lot cheaper than this.
I have already tried several recipes from this book, but I must admit I have never actually done one of Jamie's 30-minute meals from start to finish. The reason for this is that I don't have a family, so it is just me and my fiancé usually. If I followed a full recipe we would end up with far more food than we need, and in all honesty I don't think I would be able to work as quickly as Jamie, so it would exhaust me every evening to cook that much food from scratch. Also, he does use a lot of pots and pans so whatever time you save on cooking is probably just used on washing up instead!
I have tried a couple of the spicy chicken recipes (killer jerk chicken and piri piri chicken), and I loved these as I've always struggled to find a nice recipe for the spice mix. Jamie knows his food and some of the salad dressings and salsas are worth using in general day-to-day cooking. I also tried the quick dauphinoise for a dinner party I was hosting, and I was running short on time to do it the usual way.
I would say the biggest criticism of this book is that it's not very flexible in allowing you to pick and choose which dishes you make. The recipe instructions presume you are making the entire meal with all the accompaniments, so rather than telling you how long the main dish should be cooked for, it is split into sections so it tells you what to do with each dish and in which order. This can make it difficult if you only want to do part of the meal.
All in all though this is a very useful book to own, because it will inspire you to cook from scratch more often, and you can pick and mix the meals and side dishes to suit your own taste. It is useful for everyday meals, and also if you're hosting something special you should find some crowd-pleasers which are impressive without taking over your entire day in the kitchen. I'm definitely a new Oliver fan as a result of this book.
Now I'm quite a Jamie fan, my general attitude being: can be a bit of a plonker, but his heart's in the right place, he does something about it and he generally does pretty good cook books. So when hubbie came home with this book for me I was delighted.
However, I'm realising that a couple of months on I've barely cooked anything from it. Now it could be a bit out of sight out of mind but I think there's more to it than that. This is a high concept cookbook and the concept doesn't really work for me!
The idea is that in today's busy world we don't have much time to cook, so Mr Oliver has designed a book that presents 50 (I think!) meals rather than separate recipes, and each meal - so he claims - can be prepared in 30 minutes start to finish. Most of this sounds fair enough but there are several problems.
I haven't tried to do a whole meal in 30 minutes from this book, but I've heard plenty of people casting aspersions on how realistic the timings are. I imagine you'd need to be already familiar with the recipes and work at chef-speed to get them done, and who wants to do that if they've only got half an hour to make tea after getting home from work. Opening the book at random, the meal on display is: smoky haddock corn chowder, spiced tiger prawns, rainbow salad, raspberry and elderflower slushie. Now I enjoy cooking but to me this sounds like a lot of different things to be making, and a bit complicated for a Tuesday night dinner!
Creating more washing up:
First things on Jamie's list of kit you'll need are: Food processor (with all the attachments), liquidizer, microwave and electric whisk. From my point of view it's all very well speeding up prep time by using these gadgets, but you're also creating a lot more washing up after dinner just because you didn't have time to slice a carrot before dinner - some false time economies are in here I think!
It's difficult to separate the recipes:
When I have cooked from this book, I've not wanted to make the whole meal suggested, but rather part of it. The book does not make this easy, as the steps in the method for each meal are chronological and so interweave the steps required for each recipe that forms part of the meal. I was going to say that maybe it would have taken too much space to describe the recipes individually as well as in the 30 minute meal format, but actually many pages have been taken up with full page spreads of... a close up of a pan boiling, or a hand squeezing an orange, so that can hardly be the case! (I'm all for a good picture of the finished result but don't really need a double page spread of Jamie switching on a food processor in a lovely kitchen!)
I'm now thinking that this is the reason I haven't used the book more, and it's a shame because there are some really nice sounding recipes in there. I know he's probably put a lot of thought into dishes that go well together, but it shouldn't be forced!
One thing I do like is the contents page which lists the meals on a double page spread so you can see everything that's in them, and there is clever colour coding of the ink so that, for example fish/seafood recipes are in orange ink, veggie is in green, meat is in blue. A nice clever touch, but it's a poor recommendation when the best thing you have to say about a cook book is its contents page! Could do much better with a bit more thought.
It's fair to say that I love food, one of my favourite things to do after a busy day is unwind in the kitchen by preparing and enjoying delicious home cooked meals with my family and friends. However, it's not always practical, particularly after a long day at work, to come home and spend hours cooking up a culinary masterpiece and then find the time to do all the clearing up afterwards as well as actually enjoy the meal. It's mainly for the reason of lack of time that I am always on the look out for recipes which will make my life easier and still allow me to enjoy the things I love and have lots of time left at the end of the day to unwind. I purchased Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals after catching a couple of episodes of the show on Channel 4 last year and thinking that everything looked so simple and easy.
This book is available from many different sources and the one that I purchased it from was instore while shopping in Sainsburys. I believe I paid £9 for this book when a special offer was running, however, this can be purchased from Amazon, at present (May 2011) for £13.99 which is still a reasonable price for a recipe book providing 50 wonderful recipes.
This book is not laid out in your usual recipe book style and is therefore not split in to different sections, instead, each recipe is set over three pages. One page shows you the finished meal, one shows you the meal as it's being made and one page has the layout of the actual ingredients required and the instructions for cooking the meal. This is rather different to the standard layout which will tell you the ingredients, the cooking instructions and usually be accompanied by a photograph of the finished work.
The idea behind this book is that you can cook a complete meal, from scratch, in 30 minutes and this usually includes at least a main, side dish and a dessert and sometimes a starter too. The style in which the cooking instructions is laid out is quite different to what I'm used to just because it talks you through making the whole meal at the same time, for example, it will tell you to cook your pasta and then it will be talking about making your sauce and then go back to finishing the pasta, draining etc. This is a rather unusual style for me and it feels quite rushed and a little haphazard in places, however, this is the style of how Jamie is cooking on the 30 minute meals television show and is naturally designed to make you maximise your time by having everything going on at the same time and therefore serve your dishes as fast as possible and with minimal use of time.
I must say that once I adjusted to the cooking guidelines in this book I became used to it quite fast. I even found myself appreciating the fact that I was not wasting lots of time on just one thing before moving on to preparing the next dish and with the right amount of calm I was able to produce meals in around 45-50 minutes. However, if I attempted to make my 30 minute meals in 30 minutes I just found that I ended up demolishing the kitchen and feeling extremely stressed by the time I was ready to enjoy my meal.
I do love the concept of the book and I like the book itself quite a lot, however, the book almost feels like it's just a picture book of all of Jamie's amazing recipes and a little more space could've been dedicated to breaking down the cooking a little bit further just to prevent some of the stress that I feel when trying to rush through these recipes.
Some of the recipes in this book are absolutely delicious and have been a firm hit in my household, also, when having friends over on days off my partner and I have enjoyed making the meals together and not having to rush as much. While the book is called 30 minute meals I'd firmly recommend setting aside an hour to prepare anything and that's without your cleaning time afterwards. If I have known I'm going to want to rush a little when I get home then I try and do as much of the preparation before I go to work just to lighten the load a little bit. I have found myself vastly increasing the amount of 'store cupboard' items that I keep including a vast array of herbs and spices but there is nothing wrong with a little bit of variety in life, it is the spice of it after all!
My particular favourite recipe is the sea bass & crispy pancetta. The recipe is absolutely delicious and when I have a calm head on me I've managed to make this in 30 minutes with no problems at all.
If you are in the market for a cookbook with a difference then why not try something new today? This cook book has given me countless hours of fun in the kitchen and providing you don't take the 30 minute part too serious you won't be disappointed.