Work has been very busy since I got back from my holidays, and as a result  I’ve been looking for quick meal ideas for dinner.

Jamie Oliver’s previous book and TV series, Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals (published as Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast
in America) received a lot of bad press after its release, with people complaining that it was impossible to cook the dishes within 30 minutes. I know the one meal I tried, with the help of two friends, took over an hour to cook. However, the recipe itself was a success flavour wise and I have cooked components of it again.

It has been reported that a lot more recipe testing went into the 15 minute meals recipes, including testing by home cooks. So I thought I’d give Jamie another chance. Plus the book was 40% off the day I was looking at it, and I can’t resist a cookbook on sale. With Perth receiving winter like weather conditions (at the start of summer) recently, the mushroom soup with stilton, apple and walnut croȗtes seemed like a good place to start. Although I replaced the stilton with goat cheese, as I don’t like blue cheese.

The catch with both the 30 and 15 minute meals “mindset” is that before you can start the timer, you have to have all your equipment and ingredients out and ready, kettle boiled and pans and oven ready and hot. But that’s okay; you can do other things while the pans warm up, like read the recipe again, check your emails…

After about 10 minutes everything was ready and I started the timer on my phone. The next 25 minutes of cooking were not very enjoyable. That’s right; it took me 25 minutes even though I thought I’d picked one of the easier recipes, read it quite a few times and know my way around the kitchen. The whole time I felt like I was sprinting in a race, and losing…and I don’t like to run. The experience was not enjoyable and I have to say that the end result was only partially a success. The soup was way too thick and I had to water it down a lot and add extra cream (photo taken before the soup was watered down). The croȗtes however were a success (and could certainly be done in 15 minutes) and I will be making them again.

All up though, I don’t think this style of cooking is for me. I would rather cook something that takes longer but can be cooked in a much more relaxed manner. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with a recipe that takes 30 minutes on the stove or in the oven, especially if you only have to spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning doing the prep and then stir it occasionally. I personally find that much more enjoyable and relaxing. I do however applaud Jamie for his ongoing efforts to get people cooking more nutritious food at home and I’m sure I will try another recipe from the book at some point in the future. Mushroom soup

Mushroom soup with croȗtes

Serves 4

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2 onions
  • Olive oil
  • 1 stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
  • ½ a bunch of fresh thyme (I used about 6 sprigs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 large Portobello or field mushrooms
  • 100g basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Croȗtes

  • 8 swiss brown or chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 ciabatta loaf
  • 1 clove of garlic – peeled and halved
  • 1 apple
  • ½ a bunch of parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 50g stilton or goat cheese
  • A small handful of walnuts (shelled)

Method

  1. Before you start cooking you need to have the following done:
  • Ingredients, cutting board and knife out
  • Kettle boiled
  • Oven grill on high
  • A large saucepan (with a lid), heated to a medium heat
  • A griddle pan, heated to a high heat
  • Stick blender
  • Baking tray out if needed for grilling the croȗtes
  1. Now its time to cook. Start by peeling the onions and finely slicing them. Place in the large pan with 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Crumble in the stock cube, season with salt and pepper, strip in the thyme leaves and mince in the 2 garlic cloves. Stir.
  2. Remove the stalks from the swiss brown mushrooms and keep. Place the swiss brown mushroom tops on the griddle pan, turning once when charred and removing when charred on both sides.
  3. Cut (or tear) the swiss brown stalks and large field mushrooms and add to the onion mix along with the rice. Stir and cook for 2 minutes then pour in a litre of boiling water, place the lid on the pan and boil.
  4. Cut 4 slices of the ciabatta on an angle and place in the griddle pan. When charred on both sides, remove and rub both sides with the halved garlic clove. Place the grilled mushrooms on the toasted ciabatta (2 per slice), crumble over the cheese and add the walnuts. Place under the grill until the cheese has melted.
  5. Grate or slice the apple into matchsticks and combine with roughly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Once the ciabatta is finished, place some on top of each slice.
  6. Use a stick blender to blend the soup to a smooth consistency. Be careful, it is very easy to get splattered with boiling mushroom soup (I did). Normally you should let the soup cool a bit before blending, but there isn’t time if you are trying to stick to the “allocated time limit”. I however would still recommend letting it sit for a few minutes off the heat before attempting to blend to avoid getting burnt by boiling soup.
  7. Add the cream and truffle oil (if using) and serve with the croȗtes.

Adapted from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals

Mushroom soup, stilton, apple & walnut croȗtes. 2012