I'm afraid that in the great phone calamity I lost the pictures of the meals that I made for this month, and, typically, I hadn't instagrammed them or sent them to my mum! So, you shall have to believe that I did make the dishes, and accept an attempt at some artfully arranged herbs, that I still have leftover from the recipes.
Excuses out of the way, I decided to venture back to Jamie Oliver, and after my experience of the 15 minute meals, give the 30 minute meal book a try. I suspected that the recipes would take longer than 30 minutes, if the previous experience was anything to go by, and having long wanted to use this book I thought it might be realistic to do so before the baby arrives!
While both of the recipes took longer, between 45-60 minutes, I was really impressed with them both. The recipes are not without their downsides, they require lots of ingredients, and the cost mounted up. They also require more time than I would usually spend, and many more dishes and utensils, to the extent that when I was making the second recipe, The Husband came and cleared up after me as I was cooking just to try and get a head start! The book is clear at the outset about the equipment needed, and my long-neglected food processor was hoisted out, which again felt like excessive effort for saving time slicing a few vegetables instead of using a knife.
All of this meant that I partially expected the recipes to be a let-down, I thought they would have to be really successful to feel that all of that had been worth it. I was, however, proved wrong, and was really impressed with the outcome of both. In fact, I went to the lengths of ordering some replacement parts for my food processor that have been lost at some point, which I think is clearly a sign that I was converted.
So, on to the actual recipes. The first was super-fast beef hash, with jacket potatoes, goddess salad, and butter beans and bacon. A few people have blogged the recipe previously. This was a serve it in lots of big dishes recipe, like most in the book, and it was a real success. Microwaving the baked potatoes then crisping them up on a hot baking tray in the oven worked really well, the hash was lovely (although the absence of the right attachment meant my veg were chopped much more finely - hence the new purchase for future attempts!), and The Husband has discovered a love of butter beans too, although I couldn't convince him to try the avocado dressing or salad.
The second recipe was the mustard chicken, quick dauphinoise, greens and black forest affogato. I will confess to leaving out the anchovies, and also knowing The Husband would not want cherries in the affogato, I replaced them with some frozen raspberries in mine that I already had in. This was a great dish, all of the parts were beautifully flavoured, and the dessert was simple but something a little different.
What I really liked about both recipes was that they felt like complete meals, with plenty of vegetables, making them well balanced. I also found that there was a good amount of food, with the dishes that served four feeding us both well with more than enough for a second meal for two for the freezer. I enjoyed the salad for lunches for a few days after too. The recipes do require lots of ingredients, but the different condiments and herbs do seem to bring the flavours together well, and using the shortcuts such as the food processor and the microwave does make it possible to have dishes that would normally take a lot longer. I still don't think they are realistic for everyday cooking, or for week nights, but I do think, with time, they wouldn't be far off the 30 minute mark, and the results are well worth the effort.
It might be a little while before I get around to picking this book up again, as I guess our weekends might be somewhat different in the coming months, but I do look forward to trying some of the other recipes, and have already bookmarked a few that really appeal. I have picked a book for August, and for now am hoping to make the recipes, but watch this space! In the meantime, do follow the link below to Penny's blog and see what everyone else has been up to this month.