When I think about self catering, it's often not a very exciting or rosy picture I paint. So when I went on holiday with my family to the Lake District recently and the forecast was set to be, well terribly British (high winds, torrential rain - the usual!), I thought I would try to recreate the magic of cooking delicious food in a self catering environment. Enter Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals.
Yes - I know I'm half a decade late to be reviewing this cook book but now that the joyful jokes around timings have died down time to review a book I've been wanting to get my hands on a copy for ages and I helpfully found a copy in my local library.
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is one of my all time favourite meals but something I've never tried to cook from scratch before. So Jamie's offer of rustling up this alongside crispy garlic ciabatta and silken ganache chocolate pots seemed incredibly appealing. In the past I've found Jamie's recipes similar to Nigella's from a price point - eye watering - but was pleasantly surprised that the ingredients were all easy to come by and in portion sizes I could actually buy. One fun trip to Booths (known in our family as Northern Waitrose) later and a couple of frantic searches round the holiday cottage for where the pans were kept and we were off.
The recipe was super clear and easy to follow and I love the fact that you're making a full meal in one go so you melt the chocolate over your cooking spaghetti pot. It's a well thought through recipe that's clearly been practiced to iron out the flaws. This kind of multi-course cooking is usually reserved for the meticulously organised, cold dishes or Delia Smith style wonder-wives but I loved the fun of creating an entire meal from one recipe. Down sides: the washing up! Clearly Jools Oliver (Jamie's wife) is nifty with some rubber gloves because the pots and pans required are a bit painful. And no, it took more than 30 minutes but I was cooking for enjoyment not for speed!
The spaghetti alla puttanesca was very fresh - great for the summer - and garlic ciabatta instead of baguette made a nice change. But the real triumph are the cheats chocolate pots - terribly rich, gorgeously velvety and served with biscuits of your choice and wedges of orange. A real holiday treat pudding - especially when wrapped up in front of a roaring fire in the howling winds of the Lakes. All in all this is an incredible recipe and a fantastic concept - definitely something I'm adding to my future repetoire.