Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals? Mushroom soup with croȗtes

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 Click here for the recipe

Stuffed Tomatoes (and mushrooms) with baked witlof and ham

The last week has been a very busy one, with lunch and dinner out for my birthday, a cooking class (Yule log), two cake decorating classes (which I will post about when I get back from my holiday) and all day Sunday baking for work morning tea (cupcake recipes to come soon). And now I am in the middle of packing for a few nights away. As a result, there hasn’t been a lot of extra time for actual home cooking or writing about it.

However, I did manage to try two new recipes this week. Jerome asked for Tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes), but with rice in the filling. Normally when trying a new recipe for something specific (rather than a recipe that I see and want to cook), I do some research and look at a number of recipes before I cook, using what I like from each or taking the general “rules” and making up my own. Not having much time, I used the first recipe that I found which was in Manu Feildel’s Manu’s French Kitchen. I was lucky enough to have the book signed by Manu last year. Also in the book was a recipe for baked witlof,  so I decided to try both for dinner. I couldn’t get hold of any minced pork at my local shop, so I used the filling of some pork sausages instead. And instead of breadcrumbs and egg I used a cup of rice (as this was what Jerome asked for). I also replaced half of the tomatoes with mushroom cups for a bit of variety. The filling ended up a bit heavier/denser than I would have liked but they still tasted nice – I’m not sure if that is because of the sausage, lack of breadcrumbs/eggs or just me packing it in too tight.

My witlof was very bitter and I really needed to keep tasting the sauce as I went to adjust the seasoning and sugar. Don’t put extra in though until after you have reduced the cooking liquid, or it will end up too sweet. The end result was quite nice and Jerome liked it. It didn’t look very pretty in its baking dish though and I’m afraid I don’t have a photo, however I will try it again and update the post with a photo when I have one… After my upcoming trip that is.

Click here for the recipe