I'm a huge fan of Jamie's 30-Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast
, so I had this new one on pre-order and have posted an early review in the hope that it might help those making up their mind whether to buy. I've cooked from 30 Minutes Meals often and it hugely expanded my standard mid week repertoire of dishes. I usually didn't bother with the pudding and this new book is great for an everyday cookbook as it concentrates on the main dishes plus accompanying vegetables - hence the 15 minute claim. Despite Jamie making it clear that you can only get close to that time if you're prepped with all the ingredients out, kettle on and food processor at the ready, much of the criticism of the last book centred on the impossibility of completing the meal in half an hour...I found I might not manage it on the first attempt but once you're used to the recipe I found it achievable. I'm sure we'll hear that criticism again with this bold 15 minute time claim - but I don't mind if my time-to-table overruns by a reasonable percentage - here is beautiful, fast food that I can get to the table quickly and that will delight my tastebuds as well as my eyes. One of the other criticisms of the last book was that individual timings of a dish were missing, which can be annoying, and that criticism still stands here - overall it has improved as key timings, such as cooking rice for 8 minutes or roughly five minutes under the grill for the spring frittata are given - though many of the other instructions are along the lines of do a,b,c then do x, y and z.
The layout is and simple and suits me - one side has the recipe and method and the other the accompanying photo. I'm very pleased that we get a calorie count on the recipe page and at the back there is a nutritional breakdown showing KCAL, fat, saturated fat and sugar grams. I think this is a great improvement. The book is sectioned by:
Intro, Serve & Cook, Pantry
Chicken - including chicken dim sum, rosemary chicken and Thai chicken laksa
Beef - including British burgers, seared Asian steak and cajun steak
Pork - including ultimate pork tacos, pork marsala and jerk pork
Lamb - including lamb kofte, mustard lamb with Irish mash and lamb meatballs
Fish - including Asian fish, killer kedgeree and baked whole trout
Pasta - including sausage gnocchi, mushroom farfalle and prawn linguine
Soups & Sarnies
Veggie - including veggie chilli, daal curry and mexican salad
Breakfast - including smoothies and granola and toasted sandwiches
As I looked through the book I felt inspired to try out a recipe based on what I already had in the fridge and store cupboard. I tried the blackened chicken with San Fran quinoa salad which was simple, easily managed within the time frame and with good flavours. I will update this review as I try out more of the recipes. So far the only difficulty I see is in choosing which to do next, so many caught my eye - I am very tempted by the beef stroganoff with fluffy rice, red onion and parsley pickle and also by the golden scallops with sun-blush mash and greens. I am also aiming to eat more vegetarian food and the falafel wraps, grilled veg and salsa and the keralan veggie curry will definitely be served up soon.
Jamie is great at turning out recipes that are good looking, tasty and fast. This book has paid real attention to the nutritional breakdown and I like having the full main course with vegetables and starchy carbohydrates set out as a package. This has the looks of being as well-used as 30 Minute Meals. I have given the book five stars which may be jumping the gun as I've only cooked one recipe so far but I'm very impressed with the look of the dishes, the nutritional info, the doability of the recipes and the need to get cooking that the book inspires.
**UPDATE 27/10/12**: I have now cooked quite a few recipes from the book and I am very impressed with Jamie's flavours and combinations. I would say I'm averaging 25 minutes or so in time to table which I'm pretty pleased with. My knife skills aren't in the JO class and I don't always use the Food Processor.
I am very pleased that the nutrition has been counted for us in these recipes but my warning is that the amount of meat in some of them will not feed hungry teenagers say, so look out for that when shopping and make any adjustments.
* Grilled steak with ratatouille and saffron rice: this gets five stars, delicious and very special. This made one of the nicest ratatouilles that I've ever had...the harissa paste and anchovies pack flavour in.. and cooking the courgettes and aubergine on the griddle added to the flavour. The steak was gorgeous cooked on the griddle also and dressed on a board, JO style. My friends were impressed by the 25 minute timing for a speedy and tasty supper
* Asian sea bass, sticky rice and dressed greens: five stars too. This is a speedier version of his steam sea bass in a bag. The marinade imparts gorgeous asian flavours and the fish cooked beautifully with this simpler method. I managed about 30 minutes on time to table
* Pasta pesto with garlic and rosemary chicken:five stars again. My sister said this was the best pasta dish she's ever had and it's been cooked every week since. We used more chicken and this takes me about 40 minutes to get to the table but it's worth it. The pesto sauce is lovely...I make double so people can use it for pasta lunches later in the week
* Sprong frittata tomato toast and pea salad - four stars. Lovely fresh flavours and can be done in the 15-20 minutes
* Veggie chill crunchy tortilla and avocado salad -four stars I added another tin of beans to this tasty recipe which is not dissimilar from one of my staples anyhow. The avocado and corn tortillas are simple additions, so 20 minutes is very doable
* Chorizo carbonara and catalan market salad - four stars. Very simple with good flavours and very doable in 15-20 minutes
* Koh samui salad chilli tofu and thai noodles - four stars, 20 minutes. Some have complained about the food looking like a Jackson Pollock. This tastes better than it looks but if you have time marinade the tofu first for more flavour