I, like many others it seems, received a copy of Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals for Christmas.
I had watched the television shows with recipes from the book so was quite excited to delve in and find out what it was about. I already have the previous 30 Minute Meals title that I enjoyed reading but never quite tackled. 15 Minute Meals cuts out all the frappery like desserts and extraneous side dishes. It focuses on the main meal and each recipe is accompanied by visually enticing photography of the food plated up on a giant board or platter, to be plonked in the middle of the table and served family style.
Just flicking through the pages, I would definitely like to eat almost everything in the book. To me this is the strength of 15 Minute Meals. Quite often there are only 2 or 3 recipes that I’d actually try in a recipe book, but in this one everything seems like it would be delicious and it seems to be achievable by the home cook.
Well the only way to truly find out would be to give it a red hot go. The first recipe I tried was Steak Medallions, Mushroom Sauce & Spring Greens. p 82. First you have to get all the ingredients out, fill the kettle, get all the pans out and crank up the heat so they’re ready to. With every thing out, my benchtop is crammed with stuff.
The recipes are written in such a way that you follow it to the letter. Everything is spelled out, nothing is assumed knowledge. I can see how this might be helpful, but for me personally, I found myself struggling to keep track of where I was up to. I wasted time reading and re-reading things as I found the method lengthy and wordy.
It’s also a bit mad once you get going. You’ve got to make sure that you have no interruptions whatsoever otherwise it’s easy to lose your flow and all the timings are out. The end result was a really nice meal. The mushroom sauce was a revelation!
The second dish I tried was the Chicken Tikka, Lentil, Spinach and Naan Salad, p 26. Everything out again. To be honest, with all the ingredients and pans out, it’s quite overwhelming. The kids want a cheese toastie in the middle of it all – hang on a minute kids. I’ve now used 3 pans, several spoon and tongs, my thermomix, two chopping boards, a knife, a peeler and a serving dish. The kitchen is a complete disaster. Oh but the salad was REALLY good. Insanely good. And yes I cooked it in around 15 minutes. However it took at least another 15 minutes if not longer to clean up.
I know by calling this book Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals it’s tapping into society’s need for quick food as we all work longer hours and are reaching for ready meals and takeaways. However I’d argue that none of the meals are as fast as they make out to be. Sure, if you time the actual cooking time without interruptions, it might add up to 15 minutes. But who does that? First we have to source all of the ingredients from the shops and our cupboards. Almost all the recipes use small quantities of a lot of different ingredients. The Chicken Tikka recipe for example, uses 30g of feta cheese. What am I meant to do with the rest? Then there’s the clean up. OH MY LORD. I struggle with washing up at the best of times but the amount of mess these recipes create (if you follow the method to the letter) is twice or three times more than I’d usually have to cope with. Please tell me what the point of cooking something in an arbitrary time frame is?
My other beef with the recipes is that some of them are rather carb heavy. For a lot of people this would not be an issue, but for me personally I’d rather up the protein a bit and skip the overabundance of rice, pasta and bread as fillers. Fair enough, it’s easy enough to do except it then stuffs up the whole timing aspect of following the method.
On a positive note, I’m pleased that all the recipes are ‘healthy’. They’ve been co-written by a nutritionist and there are a lot of healthy swap-outs and lighter versions of classic dishes.
Overall I love the book for the fantastic meals. If you can leave the whole 15 minute nonsense out of it you’ll find that the recipes are incredibly tasty, varied, healthy and above all achievable by the average person.
Do you own a copy of this book? Would you agree with my review? Which recipes have you tried and would highly recommend?