Sunday, February 24, 2013

Verdict is out on Jamie's 15-Minute Meals

Anyone trying to pretend to be British must be a fan of Jamie Oliver, the chef on Downton Abbey. (He's not but that would be great casting.) This is especially true if your respective Brit-boyfriend is one who thinks he's a chef. Jamie just makes cooking look so effortless and his product always looks beautiful. He always seems to have just the perfect huge ceramic platter or the old butcher's block hanging around to throw some meat onto, surround it in a circle with salad and drizzle with oil and pomegranate seeds. His presentation is some serious stuff. The magazine slave in me would die to see his prop closet.

Anyway, I now have not one, but two of Jamie's cookbooks: 30-Minute Meals, and if that's still too long for ya, I got 15-Minute Meals. The verdict is not out on whether the recipes are delicious -- they are. The verdict is out on the these seriously ambitious timing claims. His 15 minute recipes specify exactly how much water must be boiling and how many tools need to be out before you start. All of that prep takes 10 minutes itself, but the clock is not ticking yet. I mean, let's face it... If you're not Jamie, you're not throwing any of this together in 15 minutes.

I've now tried exactly two recipes from 15-Minute Meals: Fettucini with Smoked Trout, Asparagus and Peas, and Golden Scallops with Sun Blush Mash. One of them took me 15 minutes, give or take a few. Because I cheated. The other took more. What's even more ludicrous is that in both of these cases I only made about half the food featured on the page. 
One night we had frozen fresh spinach tagliatelle from Arthur Ave. to use, and asparagus hanging around. Thus, this asparagus and pea sauce made sense. I dont really do smoked trout, so I decided to substitute shrimp instead. Then my brain thought that shrimp may be too delicate a flavor since the trout would have added a bit more smokiness, so maybe I should go with spicy sausage. Then I thought, hell, why not go with both. 

To make this sauce, you pretty much just chop up scallions and asparagus bottoms and cook in oil with peas and mint. Add milk and blend it all with immersion stick until you have what looks like baby food or really loose mushy peas. It looks a little minging but it tastes really, really nice. Add the asparagus tops in and simmer for a little longer. I cooked my sliced sausage and shrimp in a pan on the side and just added on top of the tossed pasta and sauce. 

I think a few things went wrong here. The spinach pasta brought too much flavor to this dish, because the sauce was so light. I wouldn't put that together again. Also, I think it would have been better to crumble up the sausage meat before cooking and then toss it with the sauce and pasta, kind of like how the trout would have been incorporated. My dish wasn't the biggest success but I really liked the sauce. Also, it took longer than 15 minutes. Maybe because I'm not practiced enough to multitask very well on the stove. Basically, you should just stick with Jamie's recipe and do not deviate at all ever because he is God. 
The scallops recipe landed closer to the 15 minute mark. We already had leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge, so instead of slicing, boiling and mashing potatoes, I just had to blend cheddar cheese and sundried tomatoes, whiz into the mash with an immersion blender and reheat in the microwave. For the scallops, we heated oil and scored one side of each scallop into a pretty grid. They went into the pan with the oil. In a few minutes, we added chopped bacon and sage. This was done in about 10 minutes. Served over the mash, it was really effing good. Just so good.

Not only do I love Jamie Oliver for his funny looks, skill and philanthropic character, but also for his strong searchability on these here internets. I get SO much traffic from other Jamie posts I've done in the past. Thanks, James. OOH, idea: Those in power should do a collaboration with Come Dine With Me (my favorite British show, thankfully available stateside on YouTube) and Jamie Oliver. Get these mental contestants to test out Jamie's 15 minute meals. On a timer. Like Come Dine With Me on speed. Who can I email about this?

Never seen Come Dine With Me? Watch this one first, then this one. I'm obsessed. Thanks.

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