I had pre-ordered Jamie's 15 Minute Meals as I felt it would be a very useful addition to my cookbook library. I am a working Mum who wishes she could do everything so rushing around is the constant state here.
I realised this book was a bit controversial when I was following a Twitter conversation between @EvidenceMatters and @wotchers (Mary-Anne Boermans from the last series of The Great British Bakeoff). She says, "Bit uneasy about the premise of Jamie's 15-minute Meals - if you hate spending time in the kitchen that much, why are you buying a cookbook?" and then continues, "If you loathe cooking, you won't have the skills to make anything in 15 minutes & there's other/better ways to provide for loved ones than rushing against a stopwatch. My family is worthy of better than just 15 minutes of my time". I believe she is going to do a blogpost to give her tips for how to do the family cooking in a more timely way. I agree with some of what she says but I think that last sentence somehow raised my hackles. It just seemed rather judgemental.
Having seen the book and having now made my first recipe from it, I still feel it is a good idea. Most of the time I won't use it but there are good recipes in it and sometimes I will make them in a more leisurely way and sometimes I will try to do them quickly. They are all full of great ingredients and are nutritious homecooking. I don't see the problem. And I certainly don't feel that if I make a meal for my family in a rush that it shows I don't value them enough! Anyway, as far as I can work out, she hasn't even seen the book.
So, tonight I decided to make one of the meals and to time it and to try to do it quickly just out of interest. I chose to make Mustard Lamb, Irish Mash and Watercress Apple Salad. The first thing to note is that you have to have your equipment and ingredients all ready before you start. This includes peeling the potatoes, having the kettle boiled and your pans hot. This initial stage took me 11 minutes. This is not included in the 15 minutes and Jamie states this quite clearly in the introduction.
|Ready to start the stopwatch.|
The actual cooking part which should have taken 15 minutes, took me 23 minutes. Not bad at all for a lovely meal. A lot of that time was spent going back to the book to read what I had to do next. I have no doubt at all that if I do this recipe one or two more times, I will cut the time taken to do it significantly. However, I am actually more likely to repeat the recipe but to do it in a leisurely way. For a start, doing it so quickly means that if you don't have a kitchen porter, the place looks like a bombsite when you are finished. I think I would rather take the time to put things away and clean up a little as I go along.
I did feel it was a lovely recipe, though, and really does show how to make a lovely family meal in not much time at all. It doesn't matter if it can't be done in the 15 minutes. It is still done fairly quickly, is healthy, satisfying and tasty.
I am very aware that Jamie Oliver has a HUGE marketing budget so I don't particularly feel that I want to be promoting his book for him for free but I do like the book and I would definitely say to go borrow it from the library and get some ideas for those evenings when you are in a hurry.
Steve is going to try a different meal from it tomorrow. Not sure if he is going to be timing himself or not but I will report back.