I had been planning this post for months as I worked my way through Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals cookbook. I was cooking the dinners regularly and carefully photographing them (well, let’s be honest it was a quick snap while holding Miss One back and listening to the barrage from Miss Three listing all the things she wasn’t eating that day) in anticipation of publishing my thoughts sometime down the track…. then my hard drive crashed and I lost the lot. My motivation for the whole thing crashed with it. I’ve barely opened the cookbook since and I am sadly short of photographic embellishments. But given I’m running out of other ideas for my Tuesday post (only two to go, I’m skipping the Christmas Day one) I’m going to give this a go anyway.
Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t done all fifty, far from it, but I have made my way through fourteen of them and am yet to find one that wasn’t delicious. However, there is A LOT of chilli or in some other way spicy dishes which aren’t always family friendly for my quite young girls. I’m not adverse to serving up some level of spiciness to them, but neither are keen on that hot, slightly burning feeling you get with chilli. So I’ve avoided some of the meals altogether and others I have adapted for their tolerance levels, adding chilli to mine and Mr Good’s. There are lots I still mean to try and will perhaps post again sometime next year after I’ve made my way through a few more. In the meantime here are my top five 30 minute meals…. (note: I haven’t done desserts or drinks in most cases)
1. Chicken Skewers with satay sauce and fiery noodle salad
I love satay, I always have. It was a favourite at home while I was growing up and it also reminds me of sitting around the pool in Borneo while Mr Good and I were on our honeymoon. I tried this meal with some trepidation, thinking it really couldn’t match my Mum’s recipe or that which I’ve had overseas…. but it did, it so did. I don’t know whether was the lime or the good quality (not Kraft) peanut butter I used or just the whole combination, but the sauce was amazing and made literally within two minutes in the food processor. The chicken skewers are pulled off the stick, placed in a lettuce leaf topped with sauce and nuts and then eaten like san choy bow. The fiery noodle salad with cashews, coriander and chilli (added on serving of course) and dressed with sesame oil, fish sauce, lime juice, honey and soy sauce was the perfect accompaniment. The dessert (which I didn’t do) was fruit and mint sugar with Greek yogurt. It looks very simple, fresh and cooling after the spicy mains.
2. Summer Veg Lasagne, Tuscan Tomato Salad and Quick Mango Frozen Yogurt (in baby cornets)
I’ve made the lasagne a number of times, using up my broad beans with some peas and asparagus. This, obviously, is a very fast lasagne using cottage cheese instead of making a bachamel (which neither Mr Good or I like anyway) and store bought pasta sheets (which of course you could make yourself if you preferred) The salad of tomato and day old ciabatta bread is bold and gutsy with fennel seeds, oregano, capers, anchovies, roasted red peppers, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar and parmesan cheese. There’s no way you would team this salad with a tradition lasagne, but it works really well with the fresh seasonal greens in this summer version. This is also one of the few times I’ve made the dessert and it was an absolute hit with the girls, though you can’t make it with fresh mango within the half hour time allowance. Jamie’s recipe calls for frozen mango, but as we have such wonderful fresh mangoes, I used these, whizzed them up with a little honey, lime juice and natural yogurt and popped it in the freezer in the morning. Serve it in a cone with a little dark chocolate grated on top and it makes a refreshing, healthy but delicious dessert, with enough for several nights if you’re only serving four in little cones.
3. Asian-style Salmon, Noodle Broth and Beansprout Salad.
This one involved baking the salmon on top of a slurry of ginger, garlic, red onion, chilli, soy sauce and lime juice with a little Chinese five-spice sprinkled on top. The broth was made separately with sugar snap peas, noodles and then some of the same flavours as in the salmon marinade. To serve the broth and noodles are added to a bowl and the salmon placed on top. The beansprout salad was very similar in flavours and make up to the noodle salad above (but with beansprouts instead of noodles) with some fresh mango added to it. The dessert was lychees and blueberries in a vanilla syrup which I’m sure would have been a lovely end to the meal (if you’re so inclined).
4. Steak Sarnie with Crispy New Potatoes, Cheesy Mushrooms and Beetroot Salad
This really was my kind of steak sandwich, not too much meat! I’m sure others would shake their head at that comment. The ultimate way to enjoy this sarnie (as Jamie calls it) is with fresh ciabatta rolls from the farmer’s market, the bread really made the meal if you ask me. Along with the super thin, rare(ish) steak, you add roasted red peppers (jarred or done yourself), some parsley, rocket and a horseradish sauce (I had to substitute a herbed mayo in the absence of horseradish). The spuds are done simply, quickly boiled and then fried with rosemary and garlic until crispy. The mushrooms are stuffed with garlic, chilli, parsley, lemon and cheese then grilled. And finally the salad had grated beetroot (cooked, or if you’re not that organised, raw… apparently in England you can get vac-packed cooked beetroots, I’ve never seen them here. Mine came out of the garden), balsamic vinegar, lemon, parsley and fetta, a classic combination.
5. Mustard Chicken, Quick Dauphinoise and Greens
I love this one simply for the combination of chicken and mustard, one of my most loved flavour combinations. Add some leeks, bit of white wine and just a little (not too much) cream and it had to be good. The Dauphinoise (or potato bake) is actually done on the stove top first and then just fifteen minutes in the oven. As I’m usually not in such a mad rush when I do these meals, I made the whole thing in the oven, so it cooked a bit slower and for quite a bit longer. The greens of chard and spinach a cooked briefly in boiling water and then dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
A special mention should go to a friend who has invited me over to share a couple of the other meals including the Moroccan Lamb Chops, Flatbreads, Herby Couscous, Stuffed Peppers and Pamegranite Drink as pictured below. This would have made the list, but given that I didn’t cook it I thought that might be cheating.
Now, looking at the book there are so many meals I still want to try, so with the school year winding down, perhaps I will get back into these over the summer. I’m also keen to have a look at his new 15 minute meals book (not that I ever actually do these in half an hour).
Liz has a great best of spring veg post for you to check out if you want another list to ponder.