Jamie's 30 Minute Meals

posted in: Food & Drink, Review | 2

In December I treated myself to an early Christmas present in the form of Jamie Oliver’s latest book, 30 Minute Meals.

Jamie's 30 Minute Meals

I perceive making “proper” food as taking hours, and am therefore put off sometimes.  I’m not a great cook but like to eat things I’ve made myself rather than processed freezer food (although sometimes a plate of orange food does the trick).  But I often don’t have much time in the evenings to cook from scratch and so tend to rely on old favourites or even jars of sauces – please tell me I’m not unusual there?!

I’d seen some of Jamie’s television programme and liked the look of some of the recipes, and quite fancied the idea of making “proper” food quickly.  Anything to help me be more healthy.

But it’s not been until this week that I’ve given the book a chance.  Recipe books are quite scary really, they seem to expect a lot of knowledge and use a lot of ingredients I don’t really want to buy because I’ll use a little bit once and never again – makes it expensive.  I also never seem to have the right pans or other utensils.  Cooking stuff I’ve always done appeals more than going out and buying a load of stuff.

Having looked through the book though I was inspired.  I picked three recipes to try this week, intending to give Jamie and his book a fair go.  The recipes didn’t seem overly complicated, used ingredients I either had or would happily buy, and were things that I really fancied eating (always helpful!).  I decided on the chicken pie on page 90, the fishcakes on page 146 and the beef hash on page 210.  The idea of the book is that you do a whole meal in 30 minutes, normally including a main dish with accompaniments and a pudding.  I chose not to do all the elements each time (we don’t normally eat pudding in the week anyway) – I chose the recipe because of the main dish and then decided accordingly.  There are only two of us so I also halved the recipes so we didn’t end up with too much food.

CHICKEN PIE, French Style Peas, Sweet Carrot Smash

I chose to cook the chicken pie with the two accompanying vegetable dishes Jamie Oliver suggests – smashed carrots and French-style peas.  I did this on Tuesday evening so we didn’t get home from work until nearly 7pm so the quicker this meal could cook the better!

I started as told in the book by getting all the ingredients and equipment out and boiling the kettle.  Wow – what a lot of ingredients!  There was nothing there I had to buy “especially” for this recipe – I use this selection of indegredients anyway, and nothing was expensive.

Chicken Pie Ingredients

And off I went… following the instructions carefully and in the order in the book (of course!).  First I prepared the chicken and cooked that, then the carrots went on the boil, then I assembled the pie and put it in the oven, and finally I did the peas.  I was pleasantly surprised how easy it all was.  The instructions made complete sense even to me, and I even had time while the pie was in the oven to load the dishwasher and wipe the surfaces.

Chicken Pie

I have to say I was very proud of what I served my husband and I for dinner – a plate full pie and loads of veg, and all of it really tasty.  And all in 30 minutes – genius!  One to definitely do again another day.

SWEDISH-STYLE FISHCAKES, Roasted Baby New Potatoes

This recipe is for fishcakes using salmon, haddock and tuna.  Because there are just the two of us and the fish was in my freezer in set quantities, I decided to just use salmon and tuna instead of halving each of the fish ingredients.  It still made four good sized fishcakes, which eventually fed the pair of us just perfectly.

As for the accompaniments I decided I would make the suggested new potato dish but served mushy peas (with mint sauce) instead of the salsa and salad because it’s winter.

I was expecting this recipe to be more difficult than the pie.  I have a perception that while pie is a food you can be quite heavy handed with, fish requires a lighter touch.  I cook fish fillets a lot and enjoy it, but my one previous attempt at homemade fishcakes was a falling-apart disaster.

Once again the recipe instructions made sense and were easy to follow, even though I was very tired and not really concentrating well on Wednesday when I made this meal.  Everything seemed easy to prepare and I found the half an hour was achieveable.  The fishcakes went together easily – they did seem a bit wet but coating them in the breadcrumbs soon sorted that out.

Fishcakes Cooking

Cooking the fishcakes was very easy – seven minutes on each side (again giving me time to put things away and clean the surfaces).  I didn’t take into account the fact I had less fish to cook so the outside of my fishcakes were a bit dark but that didn’t seem to affect the taste at all.

The new potatoes, cooked in the microwave with a lemon and then in the oven with herbs, were really good.  Something to use with other meals definitely – roast potatoes in less than half an hour.


While my plate of food on Wednesday didn’t look as pretty as what I managed on Tuesday with the pie, the meal was really gorgeous and again it’s something I will do another time.

SUPER-FAST BEEF HASH, Jacket Potatoes, Lovely Butter Beans & Bacon

Sunday lunch is normally not a roast with veg in our house.  Sunday is chores day and is quite busy so dinner needs to be either quick to prepare and leave in the oven or quick to cook.  For today I chose Jamie’s beef hash with jacket potato and butter beans.

Beef Hash

I probably found this one the most difficult to make, not because each dish was complicated, but because there was so much juggling to be done.  As soon as I’d done one thing to one dish I needed to turn my attention to another, and fast or things wouldn’t work on time – and I didn’t want to ruin the dinner!  But when we sat down to eat this meal we both really enjoyed it – it was a success.

The key, I think, was the flavours in each dish.  The butter beans (with bacon and tomato) were still quite bland until the addition of the wine vinegar which really brought the dish to life.  And the beef was cooked in copious amounts of Worcestershire sauce as well as garlic and herbs, making it taste fantastic.

Beef Hash

Oh and those jacket potatoes were brilliant – I’ve cheated before and microwaved potatoes and stuck them in the oven for the last 10 minutes, but turning them in olive oil and flavours and then putting them under a hot grill really worked, I shall be using that technique again.  Using soured cream instead of butter also got a big tick from us – much healthier and added a little tang to the plate. Yum!


I am very happy with this book by Jamie Oliver – in fact I think it’s a genius book and I can’t wait to try out some more recipes next week.  There is lots of inspiration and its very easy to pick out just the main dish or even just one of the accompaniments from the meal ideas included.  And the food is quick too – the three meals I did were served in the 30 minutes the book title suggests, and that in itself felt like an achievement!

The recipes aren’t necessarily cheap or healthy (although there are cheap ones and healthy ones) but there is a really good mix of vegetarian, meat, fish and poultry dishes.  There is something very satisfying about cooking something yourself from scratch without taking the easy option AND not spending your whole evening doing it.

I would absolutely recomment Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals to anyone and everyone, a great cook book that should be in every kitchen.

2 Responses

  1. gingerchick633

    Wow! well done Zoe, those meals look fab.
    I’ve got his book and have only made the steak sarnie so far, it was extremely tasty though.
    You’ve inspired me to try another couple of recipes this week. I’m off Tues/Wed/Thursd so will try something then. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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