Jamie Oliver – good food in 15 minutes?

Ah, I like Jamie Oliver. I have interviewed him, and I do think he is the Real Thing.

So Jamie has won the 2010 TED prize. Of course it is a bit annoying when high-earning celebrities win $100,000 prizes – I can think of equally worthy but cash-starved causes.

On the other hand, the TED prize is prestigious, international and sends a powerful message:  healthy food for children matters.

Jamie says: “Good food can be made in 15 minutes.”

I like the principle but my mind has gone blank.

Thinks: omelette / ciabatta…? (But I don’t like wheat or too many eggs).

I am currently enamoured of casseroles:

Cooked brown rice or pearl barley in a casserole with (tinned/homecooked) haricot beans, sliced raw onions and cut-up-small raw squash. Add fiery seasoning such as chilli, and/or mango chutney (or any other chutney lingering, neglected, at back of fridge) and cook in the oven with lid on, gas mark 5 for 40 minutes.

That’s dead-quick and no last-minute cooking-stress before eating.

But 15 minutes, it ain’t.

What good food would you cook in 15 minutes?

24 responses to “Jamie Oliver – good food in 15 minutes?

  1. I have just thought: my favourite quick foods are brown rice with raw garlic and olive oil and rock salt. But not 15 mins because cooking brown rice takes half-an-hour. My other staple is homemade hummous and yogurt. Quick to assemble but lengthy preparation.

    Pasta + chilli + garlic? (Jamie favourite)
    What else?


  2. There are the obvous simple pasta dishes. Or cheese on toast or eggs. But in my book good food includes vegetables and vegetables usually need scrubbing, peeling, chopping etc etc and that alone can take 15 minutes never mind the cooking. What do we mean by good food I wonder?


    • Yes, Choclette, I agree. Vegetables are vital.

      Quick veg for me might be grated organic carrot salad, with olive oil and seeds, and/or grated cheese.

      Other quick veg is steamed chopped spring greens. Loads of it with sausages.

      Hmmn – that’s the entent of tonight’s thinking…


  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention TED winner Jamie: good food in 15 minutes? « Real Food Lover -- Topsy.com

  4. When I have had enough of rich food I like to cook some well seasoned basmati rice with sweet white onions and frozen peas topped with big flake white fish, such as cod or haddock. It is cooked/steamed in a large stainless steel sauté pan – so very little washing up! The timing is the main thing to get right, in order to have perfect rice you have to be confident you will not overcook the fish, so you have to add it at a certain moment. for colour you could add a sprinkle of flat leaf parsley or experiment with adding cardamom to the rice to make it more fragrant.

    My other suggestion for 15 minutes is linguine with vongole, a very simple and very delicious italian pasta dish. I recently bought some clams and canned tomatoes especially for this but have been distracted by other cooking from my mother and grandmothers combined recipé book, a real pleasure to know that the really important women in my life were good influences on their son and grandson!


    • Richard, re the one-cook dish: Does fish cook in nearly-cooked steamy rice? Or are you cooking fish in a steamer over the simmering rice?

      It’s great to hear about your mother and grandmother. I too owe my food education to my mother and grandmother.

      Was that your mother’s mother? Does the combined recipe book have a title? Who brought the recipes together? It sounds intriguing.


      • hello realfoodlover and thanks for your question.
        My sister who is my inspiration – and a more experienced cook than I – inspired this dish. I phoned to ask about her fail-safe method for cooking rice. I hadn’t really mastered perfect rice and wanted to learn how.

        Following her guidance I now wash the rice in 3 changes of water or until it is no longer cloudy, this removes the sticky starch and produces grain separation when cooked. I then ‘spread it’ evenly straight from the sieve over a wide sauté pan and cover it with cold water. Only one little finger thickness above the settled rice level. I then bring the pan to the boil. When it has reached boiling point I put the tight fitting lid on and turn off the heat completely. Left untouched and unchecked for 7 mins it is usually ‘the’ perfect rice. The rice has been steam cooked in those 7 mins and no water should remain, leaving the cooked rice light and fragrant. This fragrant rice smells appetising and the grains are separate, which is because the starch was washed out earlier in the process.

        Once I got this basic part right, I began to experiment with flavours that would work well and not overpower the rice. I initially used onion (for sweetness) frozen peas (for sweetness and colour) and white fish (cod or unsmoked haddock). I started by sweating a finely chopped onion in salted butter, over a low heat. By placing the tight fitting lid on for several minutes this produces a transparent soft onion when the heat is kept low. Then I added the pre-washed rice and a finger thickness of water, before turning up the heat to bring to the boil.

        After simmering on a medium heat for five minutes and just before I turn off the heat and put on the lid I place the uncooked [but skinned] white fish directly on top of the rice. I cook the peas separately [without a lid so they retain their green colour] and add to the sauté pan after the seven minute steam/steam period. The fish is always perfect and the flakes separate easily. I season to taste with Malden sea salt and ground black pepper [which can be omitted] and find this simple fare restorative, perhaps you will too?


  5. Spaghetti napolitana. While the pasta’s on, stir together a tin of chopped tomatoes, five tablespoons of olive oil, two cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of sugar and whatever herb you fancy. Keep stirring over a high heat till it emulsifies and takes on a rich, roasted flavour (about the time it takes to cook the pasta).


  6. Louisa, I like: “stirring over a high heat till it emulsifies and takes on a rich roasted flavour”. I never wait long or hot enough for sauce to reduce so it tends to be watery. This will encourage me.


  7. Re 15 min-dishes, pasta is popular. Wheat-phobics such as myself can substitute wheat for kamut or spelt pasta (to name a few kinds).

    I am a right-pain because I am also allergic to tomatoes. But I believe blended cooked beetroot makes a good tomato substitute.


  8. Sorry, I missed an important bit in the second para: insert the following and all is well…

    “…Only one little finger thickness above the settled rice level. I then bring the pan to the boil. When it has reached boiling point I turn down the heat and simmer on a medium heat for five minutes. Then I put the tight fitting lid on and turn off the heat completely.”

    In answer to your question the ‘black book’ was my grandmother’s [my mother’s mother] who died when I was 7, my mother then took it on and when she died I took up the mantle producing my own A4 volume of firm favourites. One day I hope to pass these on to my own daughter or son.


    • Hi Richard, thank you so much for your patient explanation of how to cook white rice. I must admit I have never mastered it, and I can see why: a) I am a complete brown-rice addict
      b) I have always found the rinsing a bit of a faff. But this sloppy lack of rinsing is probably precisely why I have not become a white rice master.

      However, I am now resolved – 2010 resolutions and all that – to take cooking white rice more seriously. Rinsing three times and all.

      I love the sound of the ‘black book’ that is passed down the generations. These family recipes are so precious – living memories.

      This is quite inspiring. My mum has a treasure trove of Jewish dishes on scraps of paper…and… I am currently writing her family memoirs – so I must make sure I intercept them with her recipes. Brilliant! Thanks so much for the idea.

      In fact desktop publishing family recipes is a really good idea (she cogitates).


  9. Hi Elisabeth,
    I came across a website during my desktop research into ethnography, which features short home-made films of grannies passing on their ‘kitchen lore’ particularly in the baking department…
    My new year’s resolution is to bake bake bake as baking, up to this point, has not been my thing but following a baking flan session with step grandmother on her willing Aga I was inspired to learn about the perfect pastry… Luckily, my sister is a leading authority in this area…!


  10. I might even dig out a URL later, if I have time after making soup for a christmas feast tonight… watch this space 🙂


  11. I like the idea of that website of grandmas passing on kitchen lore (I could do one of those too!). But no hurry as nothing will happen before Xmas.

    Mnnnn, Xmas soup. Do keep us posted. I am now preparing to pack London-bound car with Sheepdrove organic goose and the tiramisu etc.

    I made a fatal error last night and did something with the egg whites that should have happened to the egg yolks…

    Which brings me to my top tip on baking which is…follow the instructions and do precise weighing. I tend to go off-piste when cooking but not with baking. No.


  12. Hi Elisabeth

    Thanks for visiting my blog – BUT, did you see the post about Bread & Schumacher?


  13. Salads.
    Fry/grill a bit of meat or fish or halloumi or portabello mushroom…
    EGGS. Eggs are the best fast food in the world.


  14. On rice cooking, I have always found Delia Smith’s “perfect rice” method a reliably good and easy way to cook basmati. Fry a few onions in olive oil and then add the the raw and unwashed rice (lets say two cups for two diners). Coat the rice well in the oil and let cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time. The aroma from this part of the process is really mouth-watering. If you’v used two cups full of rice, you will need double the amount of Boiling water to add. With a lid on, this ratio will result in perfectly cooked and very flavoursome rice. A shake of tamari, a pile of steamed broccoli and a dollop of houmous and youre away! Now, with my appetitie whet it must be time for breakfast!


  15. Hi Nadia, lovely to hear from you.

    Folks, (she says in an aside) Nadia is the inspired founder of Growing Organic Food in Urban Neighbourhood, folks.

    Back to Nadia! Ah, so you do not wash the rice and it still cooks up nice? Getting white rice separated and fluffy is a mystery to me – and since brown rice is so much more nutritious and less faff, I tend to stick (‘scuse pun) to it. But I do need to get over my white rice-phobia, and will have a go…


  16. This is a great stand-by: tin of organic baked beans heated with grated horseradish/raw or fried garlic/chilli and/or served with tin of (sustainably produced) tuna.


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