Jamie Oliver is upping the ante in the ‘meal-in-minutes’ category with his latest cookbook, which promises to deliver recipes in 15 minutes or less.
'Jamie's 15-Minute Meals'. Photo: AFP
Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, released last week, rides on the coattails of its predecessor Jamie's 30-Minute Meals, which turned out to be Britain’s most popular cookbook of all time. During its 2010 release, the title became the fastest-selling non-fiction work in British publishing history.
For years, half-hour recipes have been the standard when it comes to quick, weeknight suppers. Perhaps the best example is food TV queen Rachael Ray, whose popularity on the 30-Minute Meals TV show parlayed into her own daytime talk show and spawned a branding empire in the US on par with the likes of Nigella Lawson in the UK.
Other famous food titles have also come out with their own version of half hour meals, including Cook’s Illustrated, Better Homes & Gardens, and 30-Minute Meals for Dummies.
Oliver’s latest book, however, is much more ambitious, promising home cooks that they can produce seared Asian beef, chicken with braised greens and potato gratin, and lamb meatballs, chopped salad and harissa yogurt in just 15 minutes – a challenge a slew of food writers, bloggers and chefs in the UK have already taken up and reported on with varying results.
While a professional chef writing for The Guardian was able to pull off Oliver’s seared Asian beef platter in under five minutes, other testers at both The Guardian and The London Evening Standard gave the book failing grades for not living up to its promise, clocking in at 22 to 30 minutes in real-time cooking.
Meanwhile, perhaps the most extreme example of shortcut cookery comes from the creator of the 4-Hour Workweek franchise Tim Ferriss, who claims to be able to teach the average person how to cook like a pro, compress six months of culinary school in 48 hours and speak fluent Spanish in eight weeks in The 4-Hour Chef.