The Hardest Working Chef in Showbiz

Here we have a look at Jamie Oliver’s eleventh book, Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes, in which the indefatigable Brit promises to put you in the kitchen. I mean put you at ease in the kitchen, and only for a half hour or so. Don’t worry, it will be cheap and easy and good.

The book is arranged for family sharing, fifty dinners of two to four courses serving four to six hungry mouths. The recipes are unfussy and delicious; Jamie undertakes to debunk the myths that home cooking is overly time consuming, overly expensive and overly complicated.

A Jamie Oliver cookbook without pictures of Jamie Oliver is like a Marky Mark movie where he keeps his shirt on.

So Meals in Minutes, in that respect, does not disappoint, chock full of full-colour  soft core food porn photos for each and every dinner. And Mister Oliver appears in most of those, a hail fellow, handsome and trustworthy. Here we see the earnest Jamie staring bluntly at you in the introduction in which he declares, “I’m going to show you how.”

All righty then, lay on Macduff. Show me the way.

It’s about “cooking in a whole new way. Like riding a bike, learning to drive, or making ‘beautiful love…” Don’t be alarmed, it’s a family show. He’s a family man, and these are family style meals.  The sauciest recipe is probably for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca.

Throw in some Quick Portuguese Tarts and I’m yours.

Here are a few days worth of sample menus, complete with disarming, if not cutesy nomenclature:

Cauliflower Salad, Belgian Endive Salad with Insane Dressing, Lovely Stewed Fruit

Wonky Summer Pasta, Herby Salad, Pear Drop Tartlets

Cheat’s Pizza, 3 Delish Salads, Squashed Cherries & Mascarpone Cream

Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad, Fruit & Mint Sugar

Oozy Mushroom Risotto, Spinach Salad, Quick Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

The recipes aren’t laid out in a traditional way. He gives the whole menu, with lists of ingredients, then instructions that take you through prep, execution and plating of every dish. If you follow the directions you will be cooking/cutting many things at once, but in the right order to get the whole meal on the table in a perfectly choreographed triumph.

This is a great book for people who are timid in their cooking or those who get disorganized and need help in planning ahead. Or you could just buy it to add to the shelf that’s groaning with the extensive Oliver library.


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