I like Jamie Oliver. I recently watched his Ted talk and was really impressed with what he had to say. He is very passionate about improving children’s eating habits. I also already own two of his cookbooks: Cook with Jamie, which goes into a lof of detail about the basics of working with food, and one of his earlier books, The Return of the Naked Chef. He probably has about 20 cookbooks in total now!
So I was pretty keen when the guys at Yuppiechef asked me if I wanted to check out the new Jamie Oliver book, Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. The book arrived at my office in the usual Yuppiechef packaging which drew the attention of my coworkers. Next I selected a recipe and invited some friends around for dinner.
I have to say that you can’t fault the recipes in terms of taste. I selected the stuffed Cypriot chicken with pan fried asparagus & vine tomatoes and cabbage salad. Dessert was ice cream float. I was a bit worried about the cabbage salad, which is just raw cabbage, olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs, but everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. The whole meal was really tasty and the guests were all impressed.
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is also a great looking book, with really appealing photos of the food and Jamie himself in action. With fifty meals to choose from, the book will remain a favourite on your cookbook shelf for a long time.
This is not your usual cookbook. Each recipe is for a whole meal, mains with sides and a dessert. The recipe is structured so that you work on all the dishes at once, going between them so that you finish all the prep and cooking within 30 minutes. This is how you would have to cook to have all the elements of a meal to have them ready at the same time.
It definitely took me more than 30 minutes to prepare the meal, but I think on a second attempt it would be easier. It’s a good idea and will be perfect for some people. It does have some negatives though. It means that you can’t pick and choose elements from various meals and combine them. I found it difficult to select a recipe because I liked certain things from each meal but struggled to find one where I liked every element of it.
Because the recipe is so detailed, there is no space to explain why things are being done. In his other books he explains a lot more and it means you learn a lot more. The book also expects you to have certain equipment and if you don’t have the equipment you will find the recipe quite difficult, but it doesn’t list the equipment required at the start of the recipe, so like me you might find half way through that you don’t have what you need.
30 Minute Meals is good for creating diverse and interesting meals quickly, but certainly not cheaply. If you haven’t done much cooking before, you’re going to have to spend some money stocking up on spices and other basics. My chicken recipe for 4 people cost about R300 (excluding basics like spices, oil, etc), which is cheaper than eating out but certainly not inexpensive.
In summary, 30 Minute Meals is not your usual cookbook. It takes a new approach which will definitely appeal to some people, while others will struggle to synchronise it with their individual cooking style.
You can order Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals from Yuppiechef here.