01 September 2011

jamie's 30 minute meals: the secret to success

Despite the fact that Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals was never on the telly here, the craze for the book seemed to be global last Christmas. Nearly everyone I know in Singapore has a copy (though I've yet to meet anyone who's tried it, and my neighbour's is still in cellophane).

I set myself a little New Year challenge to work my way through it, and like most New Year challenges, it waned pretty quickly. But I'm proud to say that I've done about a dozen of them, and I've really enjoyed the (slightly frenzied) process. They all took more like an hour, but that's OK, I'm not in any particular hurry, and if I do each one a few times I'll get much quicker. In fact I'll defend any of the criticisms levelled at this book on the Amazon rant feedback pages because (a) they taste so damn fine that (b) my child eats it all.

Now I said that I had never managed one of the meals within 30 minutes before... until last night. The secret to my success? Enlist the help of a child. Seriously! There was nothing about the dessert in this meal that my four year old could not handle. Once I had weighed out the ingredients, she mixed them, then she spooned them into pastry cases alternating jam and frangipane mixture, and I put them in the oven. I'd actually say we managed the preparation for this meal comfortably within 30 minutes. And it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

I hope you don't mind my not writing out the recipes here - if you know the book, you'll know that it would mean a lot of typing. But if you do have a copy, and if you've been nervous about giving it a go (or put off by the global marketing hype and ensuing backlash), I urge you to give this a try: Pregnant Jools's pasta with crunchy chicory & watercress salad and little frangipane tarts. You can see the website for the book here.

Seriously, give it a try. If a four year old can do it...
mixing the frangipane
filling the (shop-bought) pastry cases
actually, I couldn't get pastry, so this is some mysterious thing called graham cracker crumb (?)
just a bag of mixed salad rather than the chicory & watercress which I can't get
meanwhile I was making the easiest pasta sauce in the world
et voila, The Boss' first puddies that she made (almost) all by herself!


  1. Hey - I had to import Graham crackers from the US when I needed them for a recipe!
    Love frangipane. Can you ask The Boss if she will make some frangipane tarts for me please? Thank you.

  2. I've never met a graham cracker before, what's one like?

    These crumb bases seemed pretty much your average Digestive biscuit base (or BBB lol), so are Graham Crackers similar to Digestives? (and if so, were you well naffed off that you had them imported!!!)

  3. Just like a digestive but lighter and not really as fine. I used the leftover ones to make authentic s'mores which were lovely, but, yes, could be done on a digestive. http://pleasedonotfeedtheanimals.blogspot.com/2011/01/smores.html

  4. S'mores sound amazing. Next time I make marshmallows I'll have to send my American friend to the (members only!) special, exclusive American grocery shop to get me some graham crackers (apparently it's an Aladdin's cave of koolaid, maize-based snacks and proper playdoh).

    I think some gourmet s'mores might be fun. I know where I can get some of that Willie Harcourt-Cooze chocolate, some homemade marshmallows... stick the bbq on...

  5. Looks delicious!! You have quite the helper :)

  6. Well, I reckon you'll have to make your own biscuits for the base too!

  7. Swanski; I do, she's a poppet. I'm prone to being gushy about her, so I'll stop while I'm ahead!

    PDNFTA; I'm sure I have seen a digi biscuit recipe somewhere. I'll have to google...

  8. I had not actually heard of Jamie Oliver's book (or the backlash). I've been using Rachel Ray's 30 minute recipes and they're surprisingly good and actually do take 30 minutes or less. Can't wait till my little one is ready to help. So sweet!

    What is it about the Oliver recipes that take so long?

  9. My tummy is growling!!!! literally... i'm so hungry, and you just made it a thousand times worse!! :)

  10. Hi Katy, I've not heard of Rachel Ray before, I'll have to look her up the next time I'm in the bookshop. Thanks for the tip! I think the Jamie meals pack a lot in within the time frame. For most of the meals I can see how it would be possible within half an hour, but you have to be extremely well prepared, and that preparation takes me the first 30 minutes! (that's why I feel I would need to make the meals a few times over before hitting the time target - but I really don't feel pressed for time, so I don't mind it taking 45 or 50 minutes!)

    Mrs T: I thoroughly recommend the little frangipane tarts for a growling tummy!

  11. i am such a slow cook, i can never get anything done in 30 min!

    either way, i bet the boss will love the memories of cooking with you.

  12. I hope so Kris, I'm starting to feel like "cooking with mum" is mostly what being a parent is all about! Whatever else goes on day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, frequent floury licking the bowl sessions might just make sure that it all turns out ok in the end.

  13. Look what Bakerella just posted - http://www.bakerella.com/homemade-graham-crackers/

  14. uh-oh PDNFTA. To quote Yeats' words in vain, a terrible beauty is born...

  15. Mother of Vasilissa12 September 2011 at 11:01

    Mooncakes, eh? Suddenly the end of Julia Donaldson's 'The Magic Paintbrush' doesn't sound quite so appetizing ('She paints a mound of golden rice / And cakes like little moons, / And drums and flutes, till all the streets / Ring out with merry tunes'). It won't be the same again.

  16. I've been hunting out people who have tried cooking from the 30 Minute Meals book.
    I tried out the first recipe in the book (Broccoli Orecchiette) yesterday and it took 2 of us (as a TEAM!) an hour and a half to make. (and we didn't make either of the 2 side salads)
    I really can't understand it - I've just watched the video of Jamie Oliver making this (via 4OD), and he's made that and 2 salads, perfectly. I know he's a chef but it's just mind boggling how he can possibly do all that.

    Since you've done this one so well, I may give that a go, but I was disappointed with the meal I made - it was very bland!

    I'm intending to work methodically through the book and our first effort has knocked me back quite a bit, and I'm certainly not as enthusiastic. But I will try the pregnant Jools' pasta as well as the salad and desert next week. Thanks for posting about it!

  17. Hi Carrie - I just tried to find your profile to email you back, but it goes to some babygear shopping site...weird. Anyhoo, there's no doubt that most of the recipes we've done HAVE taken more than the 30 minutes, and that the only way of getting anywhere close to the timings is to have the right kit (blender and food processor essential). I havent' made the orechiette, but don't lose heart, some of the meals are really delicious. The tomato soup, chicken pie, jools pasta, and spring lamb meals really come to mind, because we've ended up making them over and over - getting quicker each time. But I didn't think much of the cauliflower macaroni or beef hash meals. I'd just stick to doing those the way I already know. Good luck with your project!


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