In late November, Niall got me an early Christmas present treat of Jamie Oliver’s newest cook book Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, the accompanying Channel 4 TV programme you no doubt enjoyed in the weeks leading to the holidays.

I’ve had the chance over the last month or so to try out quite a few of the recipes, and one time I even dared to attempt an entire menu in the 30 minute time-scale.  It was one of the most dramatic, stressful and hilarious episodes I have ever had in a kitchen.

I went for the Stuffed Cypriot Chicken menu, which includes side dishes of pan-fried asparagus and vine tomatoes, cabbage salad, jazzed up flatbreads, a St Clement’s drink and a vanilla Ice-cream float.

I set my alarm for 30 minutes and set to work like a hyperactive child, working like a bat out of hell to try get everything done in the 30 minute time frame.  The results were as follows:

  • An unbelievably messy kitchen
  • Nearly losing a finger trying to stuff chicken breasts at speed
  • A comically stressed cook (me) bellowing yelps and squeaks throughout the cooking process
  • A truly delicious meal prepared in 48 minutes (not including cleaning up time, mind)

It would perhaps be wise to re-brand Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals as Jamie’s 45 Minute Meals.  I fear that the 30 minute thing, receiving some rather negative press, will have put people off from trying the meals, which are in fact truly inspiring recipes that make me want to feed my friends all of the time, thus making me a better and nicer person.  For realz!

What I’ve done since that first foray into 30 Minute Kitchen Drama is either follow the recipes as they are with no time limit or pick a few things from the meals to cook on their own.  This is slightly tricky as the recipes are laid out as full meals, but it’s not too much hassle to follow individual dishes’ instructions.  Especially when you’re not under any unrealistic time restrictions.

I made the really delicious Super-Fast Beef Hash with jacket potatoes, goddess salad and butter beans for some friends over the weekend, which went down a treat.  It only took about an hour to prepare at a leisurely pace and the tips on serving in the book made for a lovely communal-style dinner.

I loved the butter bean dish so much that I made it again for our Sunday lunch, exchanging the bacon in the original recipe for chorizo which works super well with this dish.

What you need for Jamie O’s Butter Beans nomness for 2 as a main and 4 as a side

50g cooking chorizo, chopped into small chunks (the original recipe uses bacon but the chorizo rocks)

2 tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of butter beans

Splash of red wine vinegar

2 or 3 sprigs of fresh basil, leaves picked

Heat a pan over a medium to high heat and fry the chorizo.  It releases its own oil so there’s no need for olive oil here.

Chop your tomatoes roughly into cubes.

Once the chorizo has started to brown and is releasing the most amazing of smells, you can add the tomatoes to the pan, followed by the butter beans  including the liquid from the tin.

Let the mixture simmer on the same medium to high heat until all the liquid has dissolved and the tomatoes have broken down, stirring it from time to time so it doesn’t stick to your pan.

Chop up your basil and add to the butter beans once the liquid has dissolved.  Add a bit of olive oil, about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and season.

That’s it!  A lovely lunch time snack or mid-week dinner, whipped up in less than 15 minutes.  For lunch we had ours with the Goddess Salad which comes with the most delicious avocado dressing.  Oh, and we had some toast and Gentleman’s Relish, which could prove to be the Marmite of 2011 in this household.  Mmmm…salty.

There are a few of the 30 Minute Meal recipes in full on Jamie’s website for you to try out.

My advice would be to get yourself a copy of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, but don’t worry about sticking to the time limit.  It seems to me that the whole point of the book is to help people feel confident enough to cook whole meals for their friends and family.  The time limit makes it seem unattainable, but honestly, the recipes (at least the ones I’ve tried so far) are golden.


While cooking we were listening to Niall’s preview press copy of PJ Harvey’s new album, Let England Shake, which is (as expected) pretty amazing, evoking battles of days gone by through the use of horns, with Middle Eastern-style singing to invoke the wars of our own lifetimes.  Stunning, as usual.  What a genius she is.

Check out her song Last Living Rose via The Hype Machine.