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Cookbook Review: Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

About a month ago Ward happened to be on the stationary bicycle at the gym watching Food Network Canada when Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals came on. Ward’s a big fan of Jamie Oliver, so he was quite delighted and ended up adjusting his schedule so he could continue catching the show while working out.

He’d make notes in his head, then jot things down as soon as he got back so he could make a dish for dinner that night that he’d watched Jamie making earlier in the day.

The meal that was the biggest hit? Blackened Chicken San Fran Quinoa Salad. It comes to the table all greens and reds, very veggie looking – and the first time Ward made this, Sean, my older son, sheepishly took seconds and then thirds. Sean doesn’t really like vegetables much (so much for all the homemade broccoli, sweet potato and other mashed veg I made for him when he was a baby!), hence the sheepishness. But he had to admit he really enjoyed the dish, despite what to him looked like an overabundance of greens and reds.

After quite a few delicious hits just from watching the show, we decided it was high time we got a copy of the book – only to discover it’s not sold here in North America. Fortunately, Book Depository came to our rescue. We bought Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals from the Book Depository and received it within a week.

Jamie's 15 Minute Meals

It’s a lovely cookbook, with the recipes organized in the following categories: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Fish, Pasta, Soups & Sarnies (I had to look up “sarnies”, so if you didn’t know either, it’s a British term for “sandwich”), Veggie and Breakfast. There’s also a great nutrition section at the back that tells you all the nutritional information for each dish.

Each recipe in Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals gives you a full meal: an entree and side dishes (except in cases where the main dish is an all-in-one kind of dish). The recipe is on the left hand side and a gorgeous (as in very yummy looking) photo is on the right hand side.

Just because the meals are supposed to be quick and easy to make, they’re not all the same old plain and boring fare, either. The recipes range from all over the world, and while you can pick something more basic, like Rosemary Chicken or Chicken Cacciatore, you can also go a little more exotic, like Moroccan Mussels, Tapenade Toasties & Cucumber Salad or Beef Kofta Curry, Fluffy Rice & Beans and Peas.

The recipes, unfortunately, aren’t accompanied by any descriptive or conversational paragraph telling us things about the meal. I know it’s not really necessary to the recipe itself, but I’m more of a cookbook reader than I am a cook (I guess it’s safe to say, I’m a cookbook reader, period, actually), and I found myself missing the little preambles to the entrees. How did this recipe come about? I’d wonder. From where did it originate?

We’ve tried a few more recipes from the book, but the Blackened Chicken San Fran Quinoa Salad remains our favourite dish so far. We kept forgetting to take pictures, but the next time Ward makes it, I’ll be sure to get some pictures so I can post the recipe.

There’s one thing I can’t answer, though – the key question, perhaps. Can you really make these meals in 15 minutes?

I, of course, can’t answer this question personally, as I don’t do the cooking around here. So I asked Ward, byt he couldn’t tell me either, because he hasn’t tried to make any of the meals in 15 minutes. He likes to take his time when he’s cooking.  First of all, he likes all the chopping up of things – he finds it quite meditative. In Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, Jamie includes lots of time-saving tips like using your food processor to chop up all the things that require chopping, and your blender to quickly mix things.

Ward is also a clean-as-he-cooks kind of guy, and he’s not certain he’d be able to make the meals in 15 minutes and still clean things as he’s cooking. But overall he’s quite happy with the efficiency of the meals, and has turned to Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals on nights when he feels a little more pressed for time.

As for me, well, everything Ward’s prepared from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals has been quite delicious, so I’m quite happy with the book!

I’m participating in Candace’s Weekend Cooking with this post.  If you enjoy reading food-related posts, make sure to check out the links there!