Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals… Don’t Count On It


My love for Jamie Oliver took an unusual U-turn when I optimistically purchased his 30-minute meals. I thought my new life had arrived in the post; a life where dinner could be ready by 8pm instead of 9.30pm…

Sadly having cooked (and been invited round for) a number of the so called 30 minute inventions, I can now confirm that unless you have practised each recipe at least 5 times and spent 20 minutes preparing the kitchen and reading the recipe 3 times before you start, you don’t stand a chance.

On the brighter side however, there are some fantastic recipes and if you can spare the time, they are worth the wait. The spinach and feta Filo parcel and the broccoli orecchiette are gob-stoppers for me!

Quick tips
Jamie has quite blatantly gone for an overload of ‘blender plugging’ in this book, partly due to his friend from the blender/liquidiser industry having died and partly due to his new Tefal food processing range. If like me you are still saving up for all the kit you need, improvise:

  • Get a cheapy Braun handheld blitzer until you can afford the real thing
  • Grate anything really tough like raw carrot and broccoli stalk before you blitz to make life easier
  • No garlic crusher? Grate it (unless you chop like a ninja, in which case, use the skills)
  • Use a fork to mash your spuds – boil them for an extra couple of minutes to make them softer, or just tell people they’re rustic!
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Start A Herb Garden At Home


I have always been a huge fan of the flavour of herbs, but have only in the last couple of years or so started to understand how they need to be used and how to get the best from them…

Obviously fresh basil works with just about any pasta dish but pile it into your Thai green curry and it takes on a whole new force.

Likewise, if you find yourself dropping sticks of rosemary in with every set of Sunday roasties, try crushing up a bit of lemon thyme with mint and garlic for a more summary taste, and a great kitchen aroma!

Having bought and killed upwards of 10 basil plants in my cooking career, usually during my Sunday shop I’ll pick up a small selection of Morrison’s usual 2 for 1 £1 herb packets.

Last month though, when considering having another stab at the indoor herb garden, I had some passing advice from my Aunty, who mysteriously had a thriving basil plant on her window ledge: “Water it a little bit every day”…  So this is where I had been going wrong. Thinking I would drown such a delicate plant has led to a ‘drought = death’ situation on many a window ledge.

Not this time! No. I have committed to keep my basil plant alive. 3 weeks in it is doing splendidly. When I have plucked the leaves, new ones are growing back and the feeling of growing and cooking with one of my favourite flavours, on tap, is great!

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