Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cookbook Review - Jamie's 15 Minute Meals

It seems like Jamie Oliver is always after a challenge. Not content with bringing us the fantastic (but perhaps a little unrealistic) 30 Minute Meals book, he has now brought out Jamie's 15 Minute Meals. With the emphasis on eating well but not spending a long time in the kitchen, Jamie has set about trying to show us how we can cook a well balanced meal in less time that it would take to get a take away delivered.

Working with a team of nutritionists this book is full of recipes that are lighter and healthier with the nutritional information included for each recipe so if you are counting calories you don't have to worry. The chapters are divided up into Categories such as Chicken, Pork, Fish, Vegetarian and Pasta so it's easy to just go to your chapter of choice depending on what you want to cook.

Now I have to say my initial thoughts about this book was that making a delicious, nutritious meal in 15 minutes seemed far too good to be true but I was more than happy to try it out, especially after watching the episodes on TV. As usual I bookmarked over 20 recipes but in the end I tested 5.

The Tested Recipes:

Thai Chicken Laksa, Mildly Spiced Noodle Squash Broth
Mushroom Soup with Stilton, Apple & Walnut Croutes
Golden Chicken, Braised Greens & Potato Gratin
Modern Greek Salad, Spinach, Chickpea & Feta Parcels
Chicken Pasta with Herby 6-Veg Ragu

Ok so it was time to put the first recipe to the test so I started by making the Thai Chicken Laksa with Mildly Spiced Noodle Squash Broth. Having learnt my lesson from 30 Minute Meals I knew I had to be prepared so I boiled the kettle, got the griddle pan on full whack and got my ingredients out....well most of them. I have to say it was definitely quite a bit less stressful that 30 Minute Meals but unfortunately I didn't manage to make this one in just 15 minutes (was I surprised – no not really!). That being said I think the final time was about 25 minutes and you could definitely whittle that down with a few tries. The chicken was delicious and definitely benefited from being chicken thighs otherwise I would have dried them out while I was focused on the Noodle Squash Broth. Thankfully they were deliciously moist and full of flavour. The noodles were really good as well – lots of great flavours and I loved the addition of the grated squash but they soaked up all of the broth despite me adding extra water to them. Next time I think I would cut down the quantity of noodles as we had so much (more than 4 servings) and no broth. Other than though it was a typical Jamie Oliver meal full of great flavours and ways to tweak it to make it your own.

Up next and I couldn't resist the Mushroom Soup with Stilton, Apple & Walnut Croutes as a treat to myself for lunch. I'd recently watched this episode on TV so I knew it looked good and fairly straightforward but then I've come to realise that Jamie makes every recipe look completely straightforward and effortless and for me they don't quite turn out that way! The stopwatch for this one stopped at 23 minutes which isn't bad I guess but certainly not 15 minutes and to be honest the soup could have done with a bit longer as the rice wasn't quite cooked enough which made it a slightly chunkier texture than I wanted. Taste wise though it was good, it needed thinned down a little for my liking as it was super thick but the flavours were there, although I did find the flavour of the rice to be a little overpowering so I would use less next time. The Croutes however were a-m-a-z-i-n-g and I will definitely make those again with or without the soup! Only problem with them is how you are supposed to get them in your mouth as they aren't the easiest thing to eat but since I was eating alone I had no problems!

Next up and it was another chicken recipe. The idea of having Potato Gratin in roughly 15 minutes (lets be realistic – I knew it would never take me 15 minutes but still!) was too good not to try so I made the Golden Chicken, Braised Greens & Potato Gratin. To be honest I didn't even bother timing this one but what I can say is that it was fabulous. The Gratin was so easy to do, had a lot of flavour and a lot less calories than a normal Gratin but still all of the taste. The chicken and vegetables were also fantastic and the whole meal was straightforward to make and although it didn't take me 15 minutes it was still on the table fairly quickly.

For the 4th recipe I went for a vegetarian option and made the Modern Greek Salad with Spinach, Chickpea & Feta Parcels. I knew I was pushing my luck a little with the parcels as my husband doesn't really like chickpeas but I hoped the Greek Salad would make up for it. As it turned out the Salad was fantastic – very fresh and full of wonderful flavours that we all enjoyed. The parcels didn't go over quite so well but they were still enjoyed to an extent, especially when you had them with the yogurt and salad. On their own the texture was a little off for our liking so next time I would maybe not blend them quite as much and possibly add a little extra feta. It was still a nice meal to try and visually the whole meal looked fantastic, it just needs a little work for our tastes.

The last recipe I tested was the Chicken Pasta with Herby 6-Veg Ragu. Since my son loves pasta I thought this would be a great, quick mid-week meal for the family. Once again I decided not to bother timing it since I wasn't able to focus solely on cooking plus I had a little 'helper' and also because I knew it was never going to only take me 15 minutes (and it definitely didn't!). The end result was good but there was FAR too much sauce for the pasta. I should have used my head and removed some of the sauce from the pan as I knew looking at it there was going to be too much, but alas I didn't and we ended up with far too much sauce on the pasta. I think to be honest I pureed up the vegetables far too much and so it was more of a paste than chopped up vegetables which probably contributed to the excess sauce, but what I did love about this recipe was how you sprinkled the golden chicken and bacon mixture on top of the pasta rather than mixing it in. I'll definitely make this again as it was a hit, next time I'll just make sure I don't blitz the veges so much and if need be take away some of the sauce to keep for another day.

So there you have it. Five recipes tested, none of which took 15 minutes (the first time anyway but I know I could cut down the time once I've repeated them a couple of times) but all of which were tasty. Some appealed to our tastes more than others but I love how inventive and slightly different the recipes are.

When I first looked through this book there were so many recipes that I wanted to try (and if I listed them all this review would turn into a small book!) so on top of the 5 that we tried here are a few of the other ones that I bookmarked to try in the near future:

Mexican Chicken, Wicked Mole Sauce, Rice & Veg
Gorgeous Greek Chicken, Herby Vegetable Couscous & Tzatziki
Sizzling Beef Steak, Hoi Sin Prawn and Noodle Bowls
Beef Stroganoff, Fluffy Rice, Red Onion & Parsley Pickle
Cajun Steak, Smoky Baked Beans & Collard Greens
Glazed Pork Fillet, Cajun-Style Pepper Rice & BBQ Sauce
Lamb Lollipops, Curry Sauce, Rice & Peas
Crackin' Crab Briks, Couscous Salad & Salsa
Moroccan Mussels, Tapenade Toasties & Cucumber Salad
Crab Bolognese, Crunchy Fennel Salad
Sausage Gnocchi, Warm Kale & Bean Salad
Chicken Cacciatore Spaghetti & Smoky Tomato Sauce
Mexican Tomato Soup, Chilli Nachos, Veggie & Feta Sprinkles
The Best Fish Baps, Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce
Tasty Daal Curry, Warm Tomato Salad & Naan

This book is packed full of recipes with influences from all over the world which I love because ultimately what it is giving you is a ton of exciting, different recipes to liven up your meal times. On top of that he has also gone for a healthier slant on the recipes to lighten things up a little and with each recipe the nutritional information is included. You definitely need a food processor for this book (it's too bad one doesn't come with the book!) otherwise there is no hope of being even remotely close to 15 minute meals and you need to get used to cooking everything on a high heat (something I don't normally do) to get things cooked in time, but it is definitely less chaotic than Jamie's 30 Minute Meals and it is a book that I will continue to use, not necessarily for the time aspect of the recipes but for the fact that they seem to have something a little different to them which I love. This book absolutely gets the Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops stamp of approval!


  1. My Mum lent me this book and there were that many recipes I wanted to try I bought my own copy! Agree hitting 15mins is a bit optimistic but a tasty, healthy dinner in under 30 mins isn't to be sniffed at is it!

    Great review.

  2. What a great idea, the book should really come with a food processor.


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