I’ve had Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals book in my collection for a while and I’ll admit for one week of menu planning, I did menu plan from it (and boy was that an expensive grocery shop the week I did that) but I have yet to cook from it (the food bought during the expensive grocery shop was used on far simpler dishes instead). Because that’s the thing (and I should stop using parentheses), imagine this, you’re in the kitchen, end of a busy day i.e. you’re tired, you only have a very short amount of time to cook, what exactly are you going to cook? The simple chicken and chips or something that involves an ingredient list as long as your arm, multiple things to prepare and even more washing up afterwards, yep I went for the chicken and chips.
I’m just not sure where this book is aimed at, is it a week day meal book? In which case it’s an expensive week day meal book because of the long lists of ingredients. Or is it a casual entertaining book? Which to be honest, the sort of food in there is more suited to but surely if you’ve got mates round for dinner you’ve got a little longer than 15 minutes? And actually, you know what, that’s another thing that annoys me about this book, ok, the recipes may take 15 minutes to cook (if you have a well planned kitchen and at least moderate cooking skills), but how long will it take to make sure you’ve got all the ingredients ready and how long will it take to clear up afterwards? Some of those recipes I know I’d absolutely wreck the kitchen trying to cook them.
I dunno, I think I’m more of the Nigel Slater school of cooking, I particularly like his current series, where it’s about cooking with what you’ve got, not about going out and trying to find special pickled lemons (try finding them anywhere outside of a city). However, I have been watching the 15 minute meal series and I am loving seeing Jamie exclusively behind a stove again, more like the old days with his Naked Chef series (and I do so like the kitchen he’s cooking in, I love those white tiles, we’re having those when we refurbish our kitchen). I do like how he’s thought about make the meals nutritionally balanced and gives a calorie count. I do like how he serves the food, I think that is one thing I’d definitely like to bring to my cooking, my kitchen is tiny and sometimes I don’t even have space to plate up four portions of food, so putting everything on one platter would be a lot easier and save time (now just have to find space to store the platters). And of course the actual dishes do look gorgeous, specially that sticky chicken he made on TV the other night and that garlic bread as well, I loved the way he scored it. I dunno, I know I’m going to watch the whole series, I think the TV show is definitely less ‘intimidating’ than the book and I think watching it I’m going to at least absorb some tips (like how he coats and flattens the meat, I like how he keeps on going on about ‘bark’, makes my mouth water just thinking about it) and those tips will make my cooking faster. I think I am really both the right and wrong demographic for this book, a working (really odd hours) mum of two, yep I need food that can be cooked in 15 minutes but at the same time I need to stick to a budget and I’m short on space and I’ll admit I have the personality type where if someone tells me I can do something in 15 minutes, it immediately feels like an order, something that I have to and that then instantly brings a whole layer of stress into the experience and no, I don’t want that in my cooking. Maybe if he’d called the book ‘Recipes you can cook in quite a short period of time, but don’t worry no one is timing you’, I’d like this book a bit more 😉