Category: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals (page 2 of 4)

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #27: Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #27: Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
This is our 27th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. This one was going to be our dinner the night before the City2Surf, so we were thinking “carb-loading.” And what’s better for carb-loading than pasta? With that in mind, we chose “Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca, Crunchy Salad, Garlic Bread, and Silky Chocolate Ganache.” We made sure to watch the episode so we knew what we were in for. I was on cooking duty for this one, and I actually pulled it off in 29:49!

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Substitutions: We used fettucine instead of spaghetti (simply because we already had a box of it in the pantry). We used a pinch of dried chilli instead of a fresh red chilli. For the dessert, we had an Australian mandarin rather than a true clementine. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: Nice! This is the perfect pre-race meal, if you ask me. My fettucine went a bit gluggy, but that’s more to do with me overcooking it and not separating the strands enough. The sauce was a different sort of puttanesca than I’m used to: the Snook normally doesn’t put tuna nor so much tomato in his version. He wondered at its authenticity but agreed with me that it was a very tasty tuna pasta regardless. The crunchy salad was better than I expected, but be warned – the recipe makes a LOT. We had heaps left over. The ganache was simple but effective, and having it with cookies and orange wedges was a nice combination. Overall we both rated it a 9.5 out of 10. It was quick to make and very tasty, but it just lacked the “wow” factor to make it a perfect 10. It’s a great weeknight meal though… or even a pre-race feast!

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 180C, the kettle was filled, and the food processor was fitted with the slicer disc. We had a baking sheet for the bread, a big pot for the pasta, and a frying pan for the sauce.

First up are the ingredients for the garlic bread: ciabatta, garlic, parsley, and olive oil.

Ingredients for garlic bread

Next up are the components for the crunchy salad: fennel, radishes, lemon, and olive oil.

Ingredients for salad

Here are all the ingredients for the pasta: fettucine, tuna, garlic, capers, anchovies, chilli flakes, parsley, black olives, passata, and cinnamon.

Pasta ingredients

Lastly, the ingredients for the dessert: 70% dark chocolate, butter, cream, clementines, and biscuits/cookies.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The baking sheet is for the garlic bread. The big pot is for the pasta, and the bowl on top is for the chocolate ganache. The frying pan is for the sauce.

Pots and pans

We also needed the food processor for this one, with the slicing disc attachment. The bowl is for the salad, and the greaseproof paper is for the garlic bread. (Note: this bowl ended up being way too small for the salad, so I had to get a bigger one!)

Food processor

And I’m off! I started by slicing up the top of the ciabatta (not all the way through the bottom).

slicing ciabatta

Then I wetted a big piece of greaseproof paper, scrunched it up, and spread it out on the benchtop.

Wet paper

To flavour the bread, I chopped up some parsley and crushed a few cloves of garlic.

Garlic and parsley

I rubbed the garlic and parsley all over the bread and down inside the cuts I’d made. Then I drizzled over olive oil.

Adding to the bread

Lastly I sprinkled on some salt and pepper.

Seasoning the bread

I wrapped up the loaf in the damp paper and put it into the hot oven to toast.

Wrapped bread

Time to start the pasta! I filled the big pot with water from the kettle.

Boiling water

I put a large bowl over the boiling water and then added the chocolate bar (broken up) and some butter to melt.

Melting chocolate and butter

I also added cream and then grated in the zest of a clementine.

Adding cream and orange zest

I briefly removed the bowl to add the fettucine and some salt to the boiling water. Then the bowl went back on top.

Adding the pasta

Next I moved on to the sauce. I poured the oil from the cans of tuna into the frying pan.

Tuna oil

Then I crushed in some garlic…


…and then added chilli, capers, and anchovies. Yum.

Capers and anchovies

I finely sliced up the stems of the parsley for the sauce…

Slicing parsley stems

…and roughly chopped the leaves as well.

Chopping parsley leaves

After adding the parsley stems to my pasta sauce, I gave my melting chocolate a stir.

Stirring the chocolate

Next I added the tuna to the sauce.

Adding tuna

I also tore up the black olives and added them as well.

Tearing up olives

Finally I added the passata and the cinnamon to complete the sauce.


The ganache was finished so I spooned it into some small cups to serve.

Ganache is finished

I put them in the fridge to cool a bit.


Finally time to make the salad. I quartered the fennel and removed the cores.


Then I fed them into the food processor. WHIZZ!

Slicing fennel

I ended up with a LOT of fennel.

Sliced fennel

Then I sliced the radishes (including the tops) and added them as well.

Adding radishes

To dress the salad, I added extra virgin olive oil…

Adding EVOO

…along with lemon juice…

Squeezing lemon

…and salt and pepper.


Then I had to toss everything together, trying not to get salad EVERYWHERE. (Easier said than done.) The salad is done!

Tossing the salad

The pasta was well-cooked by this point, so I drained it in the sink. (Jamie simply scooped it out into the sauce, but I didn’t think it would all fit in my frying pan.)

Draining pasta

Then I put the pasta back in the pot and poured in the sauce.

Adding the sauce

I used tongs to toss it all together.

Tossing pasta

The final step was to add the chopped parsley and stir it through.

Adding parsley

The finished pot of fettucine alla puttanesca!

Finished pasta

Nearly forgot the garlic bread! I pulled that out of the oven and unwrapped it. It smelled fantastic.

Garlic bread

Here’s the completed meal of fettucine alla puttanesca, crunchy salad, and garlic bread.

Finished meal

And here’s the dessert of silky chocolate ganache with cookies and mandarin wedges.

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: Everything was really tasty. I’m used to garlic bread that’s soggy with butter, but this was nicely crunchy from the olive oil. The pasta may have not been an authentic puttanesca, but it was still a damn good tuna pasta anyway. I just wish my fettucine hadn’t stuck together so much. I didn’t expect much of the salad but it was a really nice textural contract to the pasta. The raw fennel was less aniseed-y than I feared, and the pepperiness of the radishes complemented it nicely. The Snook felt that melting the chocolate over the pasta water was a nice idea, but it wasn’t practical for getting a really good rolling boil going below. (He felt that may have contributed to our sticking problem.) But overall there was nothing in the meal we didn’t like, and we had plenty of it leftover to eat after the race the next day. We both rated it 9.5 out of 10. Would make again!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #26: Spinach & Feta Filo Pie

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #26: Spinach & Feta Filo Pie
With this meal, we venture into the second half of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals! It was the Snook’s turn to cook this week, and we chose “Spinach & Feta Filo Pie, Cucumber Salad, Tomato Salad, and Coated Ice Cream.” We picked the recipe because we had silverbeet and tomatoes to use up from the veggie box, and we happened to have all of the ice cream coating ingredients too. Unfortunately the time was a complete BLOWOUT, and he finished it in 43:57. (And even that wasn’t quite long enough, as you’ll see!) But those flavours… YUM.

Spinach & Feta Filo Pie

Substitutions: We used silverbeet (just the leaves) to substitute for 75% of the spinach. We used some Tasty cheese instead of Cheddar. We forgot the fresh red chilli for the cucumber salad and had to use dried chilli flakes. Everything else was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: This was a total winner in terms of flavour. The pie was excellent! The Snook had been worried about the cayenne sprinkled between the layers of filo, but it provided just the right amount of heat to counter the rich cheesy interior. The tomato salad was beautiful, and I can totally see myself spooning that onto some bread for bruschetta this summer. The cucumber salad was just okay, but I found the leftovers improved the next day. But the dessert? It was a revelation! The first of Jamie’s “simple” desserts that was actually greater than the sum of its parts. I rated the meal as 9.5 out of 10, while the Snook gave it a 9. The only real drawback was the TIME. There is just no way to prepare this meal in under 30 minutes. The pie is meant to cook for 18-20 minutes, which means you need to get it in the oven in 10 minutes flat. There’s just no way. It took the Snook more than 20 minutes to get his in! And when he went to serve it, he decided the egg filling wasn’t set yet and put it back in for another 10 minutes (that I didn’t even count in his official time). So this one gets major points for flavour, but you’re not gonna make it in 30 minutes.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 200C and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade attachment. We had a large frying pan as the sole cooking vessel!

First up are the ingredients for the pie: pinenuts, eggs, feta cheese, Cheddar cheese, oregano, lemon, butter, silverbeet/spinach, filo pastry, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

Pie ingredients

Next the bits for the cucumber salad: cucumber, black olives, balsamic vinegar, spring onions, lemon, chilli, and mint.

Cucumber salad ingredients

Next the tomato salad ingredients: basil, garlic, white wine vinegar, and tomatoes.

Tomato salad ingredients

Lastly, the ingredients for the dessert: coffee beans, hazelnuts, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream.

Dessert ingredients

Our sole frying pan, ready to go! We’ve also got some dishes ready for the salads.

Frying pan and salad bowls

The food processor has the standard blade attachment ready and waiting.

Food processor

And he’s off! The first step is to get the pinenuts toasting in the frying pan.

Toasting pinenuts

While that happens, he gets to work on the filling. Five eggs get cracked into the bowl…

Cracking eggs

…along with quite a lot of lovely feta cheese.

Adding feta

He also grated in some Tasty cheese for extra gooeyness.

Grating cheese

He finishes the filling with dried oregano, lemon zest, and olive oil.

Zesting a lemon

The pinenuts were toasted by then, so he added them as well.

Adding the pinenuts

He put the frying pan back on the heat and got the spinach/silverbeet wilting with some butter.

Wilting the spinach

Time to prep the filo! He spread out a layer of greaseproof paper on the bench and smeared it with olive oil.

Prepping the paper

Then he laid down a large single layer of filo sheets, sprinkling it with more oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. This was repeated twice more for a total of three layers.

First layer is down!

The spinach continued to wilt.

Spinach nearly done...

Once it was finished, he added it to the filling and mixed it all up.

Adding the spinach

Now to assemble the pie! He put his triple layer of filo into the frying pan (still in the paper!) and pushed it down along the edges.

Placing the filo

Next he added the filling to the pan to fill the crust.

Filling the pie

To finish the pie, he folded the edges of the filo up and over, letting them fall artfully into wrinkles and crinkles. He also trimmed the paper close to the edge of the pan. The pie cooked on the stove for a few minutes before going straight into the oven.

Finished pie

Now on to the cucumber salad. He scored it all over with a fork…

Scoring the cucumber

…before chopping it up into pieces.

Chopping the cucumber

To make the dressing, he tore up ten black olives.

Tearing up olives

He then finely sliced some spring onions.

Slicing spring onions

He mixed the onions and olives in a bowl along with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and chilli.

Mixing the dressing

He then finely sliced some mint and added it along with the cucumbers. Here’s the cucumber salad, ready to be tossed and eaten!

Cucumber salad

Now for the dessert. Rather than grind our coffee beans in a blender, we just used our actual coffee grinder.

Grinding coffee

He then put hazelnuts and chocolate into the food processor…

Hazelnuts and chocolate

…before whizzing them up.


He combined the chocolate/nut mixture with the coffee in a bowl.

Combining the coffee, chocolate, and nuts

It made a sort of lovely “soil” to sprinkle over our ice cream. He set it aside for now.

Chocolate soil

The last thing to make is the tomato salad. He began by adding basil leaves, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and white wine vinegar to the (clean!) food processor.

Making the basil dressing

More whizzing!


It was slightly thinner than a pesto, and vibrant green.

Basil dressing

He poured the dressing into a serving bowl…

Pouring the dressing

…before adding the tomatoes (which he’d artfully chopped into random cheffy chunks).


A pinch of salt and some basil leaves to garnish finished the dish!

Tomato salad

Here is the pie as it finally came out of the oven… before going back in for another 10 minutes.


Here is the tossed cucumber salad, ready to eat. (There was a lot of dressing in there, maybe too much.)

Cucumber salad

The yummy tossed tomato salad is ready.

Tomato salad

And here’s the pie out of the oven – finally!

Finished pie

Finished meal of spinach and feta filo pie, cucumber salad, and tomato salad.

Finished meal

For the dessert, we simply scooped out vanilla ice cream and sprinkled the crumbly soil on top.


Tasting notes: Everything was really good. The cayenne in the filo was a bit strong if you were just eating the crust alone, but together with the filling it was nicely balanced. The filling was set perfectly (though we did bake it more like 30 minutes instead of the 18-20 Jamie suggested). The tomato salad was gorgeous, with the raw garlic providing a nice bit of heat. It was like eating really good bruschetta without the bread! I liked the cucumber salad better than the Snook; he found it a little boring. We both agreed that the ice cream was surprisingly effective. (Be warned – the recipe makes a LOT. We halved and still had enough for dessert three nights running.) I rated the overall meal a 9.5 and the Snook gave it a 9. This would be a really nice one to share with guests on a summer day! Just don’t expect to finish the cooking in less than 45 minutes…

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #25: Spring Lamb

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #25: Spring Lamb
This is our 25th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. Wow! We’re officially HALFWAY through the book! For this week’s recipe, we chose “Spring Lamb, Vegetable Platter, Mint Sauce, Chianti Gravy, and Chocolate Fondue.” We chose it because we had the episode recorded, and because it’s one of “lower” carb recipes left in the book. (Normally we cook our Jamie meal on Saturday – which is our Diet Cheat Day – but this weekend was the Snook’s birthday, so that took precedence.) I was on chef duty for this one, and the Snook clocked me at 38:42. I was really annoyed with that time, given that I was flat out the whole time and this meal had a LOT of components. There’s no way you could do it in 30 minutes! Time concerns aside, it was a very tasty meal and quite possibly the best lamb I’ve ever cooked.

Spring Lamb

Substitutions: The recipe says to remove the fat from your rack of lamb, but we left it on. (Jamie leaves it on the show, and the photos in the book clearly show it on too. Besides, it’s tastier that way!) We couldn’t find “lamb neck fillet,” so instead we bought a whole lamb neck and the Snook actually filleted it himself. We couldn’t get cherry tomatoes on the vine, so loose had to do. I used full sized potatoes and carrots (chopped up) rather than the baby ones specified, and I used broccoli instead of runner beans. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: The lamb cutlets were cooked beautifully. Seriously, cutting that thing apart and seeing the blushing pink was like Masterchef, baby! And they were so, so good. The lamb neck… not so much. It was cooked fine, but it was just chewy and tough. (Is a “lamb neck fillet” something else in the U.K.??) The gravy was very good, if a bit chunky. (I used a bit too much bacon.) I think this mint sauce may have actually converted me to liking it! I’m just not convinced of the need for both sauce AND gravy. (The Snook tells me “it’s traditional.”) The veg was a nice accompaniment. The fondue looked to be a disaster at first but then came good after a bit more work. It’s another one of his “afterthought” desserts though, and I’m not sure I’d bother with it next time. We both rated the overall meal a 9.5/10… if you don’t count the neck fillet. It’s a filling and warm late-winter/early-spring family dinner!

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the oven turned on to 220C. We had a big pot for the veg, a frying pan for the meat and gravy, and a roasting tray for the meat as well.

First up are the ingredients for the lamb: 8-bone rack of lamb, lamb neck fillets, rosemary, garlic, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and cherry tomatoes.

Lamb ingredients

Next the ingredients for the gravy: bacon, rosemary, flour, and red wine.

Gravy ingredients

For the mint sauce, I needed fresh mint, red wine vinegar, and sugar.

Mint sauce ingredients

For the vegetables, I had: potatoes, carrots, chicken stock cube, beans, broccoli, Savoy cabbage, frozen peas, butter, and a lemon.


Lastly, for the dessert: 70% chocolate bar, vanilla, milk, and fruit to dip (apple and pear).

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! Big pot is for the veg. The frying pan is used first for the lamb, then for the gravy. The lamb goes into the roasting tray into the oven. I also needed a mortar & pestle and a gravy boat!

Pots and pans

And I’m off! The first job was to cut the lamb rack in half and season it with salt and pepper.

Prepping the lamb rack

The rack went into the hot frying pan (fat side down) in some olive oil to sear.

Searing the rack

Next I started on the veg. Instead of using new potatoes, I just cut up the existing big potatoes we got out of our weekly veggie box.

Chopping potatoes

I also cut up some big carrots into smaller pieces.

Chopping carrots

I put the veg into a pot of boiling water along with salt, the mint stalks, and the stock cube. I put the lid on to let it boil and cook.

Cooking the veg

Next I seasoned the neck fillet with salt, pepper, and olive oil and added them to the frying pan to sear. I also turned over the lamb rack.

Searing the fillet

Next I had to make the dressing that goes on the lamb. I picked all the stalks off a few sprigs of rosemary…

Picking rosemary

…and then bashed it up with salt, pepper, and garlic. Then I swirled in some olive oil, dijon mustard, and white vinegar.

Making the dressing

I placed the seared lamb into the roasting tray and spooned the green goop over it.

Into the roasting tray

Then I added the cherry tomatoes and shook the tray until everything was nicely coated. This went into the oven for 14 minutes.

Dressed lamb and tomatoes

Time to make the gravy! I started by slicing up my bacon. (Note: I used too much. Jamie says 4 rashers, but he probably didn’t use whole giant rashers like I did.)

Slicing bacon

I drained off most of the fat in the frying pan, then tossed in my bacon to cook. I had some nice crust forming in there!

Cooking the bacon

Now for the mint sauce. I had to strip off the leaves…

Stripping mint

…before pounding them up to a paste. Then I added red wine vinegar, sugar, a pinch of salt, olive oil, and a couple spoonfuls of the cooking water from the veg. It was really tasty!

Mint sauce

The bacon was well cooked at this point, so I added some rosemary leaves and then a big spoonful of flour.

Making gravy

I poured in a glass of red wine to deglaze the pan, taking care to scrape up all the yummy bits off the bottom. I also used a few ladles of the veggie water to loosen it up.

Making gravy

Now for the other veg. I prepped everything else (cabbage, broccoli, beans, frozen peas) and added them to the big pot, which was still bubbling away.

Prepping veg

Next I started the dessert. I broke up the chocolate bar into a bowl. (We only did a half-recipe, so I only used half the bar of chocolate.) That got microwaved with a bit of vanilla, some milk, and a pinch of salt.

Breaking up the chocolate

The oven timer went off, so I pulled out the lamb to let it rest. It looked great!

Cooked lamb

Back to the dessert. I sliced up the apple and pear we were going to dip in the fondue.

Slicing fruit

Fruit! (We squeezed on some lemon to keep them from browning too much.)


The veg is done! I drained it in a colander and put it back into the same pot.

Cooked veg

I finished the veg with olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Finished veg

It was time to slice the lamb. I nervously separated the cutlets… PERFECTION!

Slicing the lamb

I also sliced up the neck fillets. I could tell at this point that they weren’t nearly as tender as the rack.

Slicing lamb neck

I added the roast tomatoes to the platter along with some of the pan juices.

Lamb platter

Here’s the completed platter of spring lamb!

Finished lamb

Here’s the complete spread of lamb, veg, gravy, and mint sauce.

Complete spread

And the finished dinner plate with everything on it.

Finished meal

Lastly, the dessert! The chocolate actually went really thick and grainy while we were eating, which worried me. Snookums guessed that maybe it had seized. So when we were ready for dessert, I added a bit more milk and heated it for a little longer in the microwave. Then I stirred madly… and it came good! It went silky and glossy and lovely. Very nice – and kinda romantic!

Chocolate fondue

Tasting notes: Seriously, those lamb cutlets were *fantastic*. Perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, with just the right amount of kick from the dressing. The neck fillets… not so much. But whatever; that’s just Jamie padding out the meal to make it less expensive. (I’d rather have just the rack as a special treat.) The veg was surprisingly tasty considering that it was basically just boiled! It was nice to have a variety of different shapes and textures in there. I found having both mint sauce AND gravy to be overkill, but it’s traditional apparently. They’re both excellent. (My gravy was chunky from all the bacon, which is not necessarily a problem for us bacon-lovers.) I expected to be underwhelmed by the dessert, especially when the first attempt came out grainy and thick. But it turned into a lovely smooth ganache, one that would be perfect to share with someone special! Overall my only complaint with the meal was the time it took to complete. As the Snook put it, “It does seem like a lot to do in 30 minutes…” The only way I can see it happening is if all your veg was prepped to the point where you just dumped it in the pot. In terms of flavour though, this one was a winner. It rated 9.5 out of 10 from both of us! Just leave off the neck fillet next time; trust me on that one.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #24: Sea Bass & Crispy Pancetta

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #24: Sea Bass & Crispy Pancetta
This is our 24th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We didn’t think our oven would be repaired in time for this one, so I flipped through all the remaining recipes in the book looking for the ones that didn’t need an oven. There aren’t many! We chose “Sea Bass & Crispy Pancetta, Sweet Potato Mash, Asian Greens, 1-Minute Berry Ice Cream, and Sparkling Lemon Ginger Drink.” (As it turns out, the repair guy fixed the oven a few hours before dinner, but we were already committed to this recipe.) We’d previously watched this episode, and we re-watched a bit of it online to refresh our memories. The Snook was on chef duty for this one, and he managed it in a very fast 30:56!

Sea Bass & Crispy Pancetta

Substitutions: Well, it ain’t sea bass. European sea bass just isn’t available here. We turned to the fish markets for advice on a suitable substitute. They recommend Murray cod, which upon further googling appears to be critically endangered. NOPE! We instead went with some beautiful John Dory fillets. Instead of asparagus, we used some pak choy we got in last week’s veggie box. Other than that, everything else was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: In many ways, this is the prototypical “30 Minute Meal” recipe. We actually had to check to make sure we hadn’t made it already! It feels very, very familiar. It’s got all Jamie’s favourite ingredients (lemon, fennel seeds, chilli, sesame oil, etc); the technique of microwaving the veg for the mash; piling up everything on a tray; the random extra bits he has you make to use up time, like the drink; and the thrown-together dessert at the end. However, even though this one didn’t feel very exciting, it was certainly a pretty good meal. I found the mash a little sweet at first (some extra salt helped with that), but the Asian greens were perfect. The fish was okay, maybe a little boring. (Our skin didn’t get crispy enough and stuck to the pan a bit.) The lemon drink was very good, but seriously, who bothers with things like that? And the dessert was nice, if a bit expected. Overall I gave this one an 8; the Snook gave it an 8.5. Nothing really wrong with it, but nothing really amazing either. And he managed it in 30:56! Can’t argue with that.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the food processor equipped with the standard attachment. We had a frying pan for the fish and a big pot for the greens.

First up are the ingredients for the mash: sweet potatoes, limes, coriander, mango chutney, and soy sauce.

Sweet potato mash ingredients

For the greens, we had: red chilli, garlic, soy sauce, lime, sesame oil, pak choi, and broccoli.

Asian greens ingredients

For the fish, we had: pancetta, John Dory fillets, fennel seeds, and a lemon. For the lemon drink, we had: ice cubes, fizzy lemonade, mint, fresh ginger, and sparkling water.

Lemon drink

And lastly, the dessert ingredients: frozen berries, honey, yoghurt, and mint.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The big pot is for the greens; the frying pan is for the fish. The mortar & pestle is also ready to go.

Pots and pans

And he’s off! The Snook’s first job was the wash, trim, and halve the sweet potatoes.

Halving sweet potatoes

He put these into a bowl along with half a lime. He covered it in cling film and put in the microwave to cook.

Sweet potatoes ready to cook

Next he prepared the dressing for the greens. The first step was to finely chop the red chilli.

Chopping the chilli

Half of the chilli went into the serving bowl for the greens.

Into the serving bowl

He then added garlic, soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, and sesame oil to make the dressing.

Making the dressing

Next he prepared the broccoli by quartering each head.

Quartering broccoli

For the pak choy, he simply cut it into more manageable lengths. All the veg got a wash.

Chopping the pak choy

Time to start the fish! He put the pancetta into the hot frying pan. (For some reason we cannot find strips of pancetta like Jamie uses; all we seem to get here is round.)

Frying pancetta

Now it’s time to prep the lemon ginger drink. He filled the jug with ice cubes and then poured over the fizzy lemonade.

Pouring the lemonade

Next he grated in the raw ginger.

Grating in the ginger

Time to flip the pancetta!

Flipping the pancetta

To finish off the drink, he added some mint and topped it off with sparkling water.

Finished drink

Next it was time to start cooking the fish. The fillets went into the hot pan with the skin side down, and he held them flat for a few seconds with the spatula.

Starting the fish

He then quickly pounded up some fennel seeds in the pestle & mortar…

Grinding fennel seeds

…before sprinkling it over the fillets. He also grated over lemon zest and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Seasoning the fillets

Now for the mash. He started by chopping up most of a head of coriander.

Chopping coriander

He put the coriander on the serving board, then added mango chutney, soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, and the reserved bit of red chilli.

Prepping the mash

Time to cook the greens! They went into the big pot with boiling water from the kettle.

Cooking the greens

The fish seemed to be cooking nicely.

Fish cooking

The sweet potatoes had finished in the microwave, so he removed the lime half and then started to mash it.

Mashing the sweet potatoes

He combined the mashed sweet potatoes with the coriander and chilli mixture on the serving platter.

Finished mash

The fish was nearly cooked, so it was time to flip it. Unfortunately our skin didn’t crisp up quite the way it was meant to (maybe the pan wasn’t hot enough, or there wasn’t enough oil?) and it stuck a bit.

Flipped fish

He drained the greens in a colander…

Draining the greens

…before adding them to the prepared dressing.

Combining the greens

The greens are tossed in the dressing to finish.

Finished greens

The fish fillets and pancetta were then added to the platter of mash.

Finished fish and mash

And here is the completed main meal of John Dory fillet, crispy pancetta, sweet potato mash, Asian greens, and lemon ginger drink!

Finished meal

After the meal, I restarted the clock so the Snook could finish the dessert. He started by spooning some yoghurt into the food processor.


Next he added the frozen berries…

Frozen berries

…before finishing it off with honey and mint sugar.

Adding honey


Whizzing the dessert

And here is the completed dessert of “1-minute berry ice cream.” (We served it over some mini meringues we had in the cupboard.)

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: If you wanted to sum up the whole vibe of the 30 Minute Meals in one recipe, this is the one. It’s got the most common flavour profile and the most common techniques. It’s nothing earth shattering, but it’s a pretty good feed. For me the Asian greens were the highlight, and I can see myself using that dressing frequently in the future. The Snook says he’d be interested to try it with a different fish; maybe we could get the crispy skin if we tried again. The lemon drink was actually a neat trick with the grated ginger, and I think it’s something we might make again in the summer. This is just good “Tuesday night dinner” type food, not really something special enough for a dinner party. Still, we rated it 8-8.5/10 in flavour, and it was definitely one of the faster recipes in the book (despite its many components)!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #23: Smoked Salmon

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #23: Smoked Salmon
This is our 23rd cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. For this one we chose “Smoked Salmon, Potato Salad, Beets & Cottage Cheese, Rye Bread & Homemade Butter.” We picked it because the Snook happened to buy us a beautiful rye from Brasserie Bread at the Rocks Markets on Friday, and because we had this episode recorded. I was on cooking duty for this one, and I lucked out because this one had the least actual cooking of any meal in the book so far! It’s mostly assembly, which meant that I finished in the blisteringly fast time of 26:05. (It’s so quick that Jamie even does an extra dish on the show utilising raw beets, which I didn’t bother with since it’s not in the book.) Fastest meal ever!

Smoked Salmon, Potato Salad, Beets & Cottage Cheese, Rye Bread & Homemade Butter

Substitutions: Jamie used a bag of prewashed watercress, but we could only find it in a giant bunch. So we spent a few minutes ahead of time picking off the leaves and washing them. Jamie also used “cooked vac-packed” beetroots, which neither of us have ever seen in Australia. So I pre-cooked the beets by peeling them and then microwaving them for ten minutes. Oh, and we couldn’t find Greek basil, so we used regular. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: Yummy! This is such an unusual recipe in the book; the flavour profile is much more “northern European” and out of Jamie’s usual wheelhouse (English/Italian/Asian). It made for a really nice change. There was so little cooking that there’s not much to critique. The potatoes were excellent, though I’m not sure the dish warrants the name “salad.” Making my own butter was fun, and once again it made me appreciate our awesome food processor. The beets were great, and the trick of microwaving them first worked brilliantly. The only “flaw” in this meal is that we both felt it worked much better as a lunch than a dinner. With that in mind, we both rated it a 9/10. The flavours are great and the presentation is impressive, but it’s not the type of thing you crave after a long day at work – unless maybe you’re Nordic?

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the food processor equipped with the “beater” attachment. I had a single saucepan for cooking the potatoes.

First up are the ingredients for the potato salad: red-skinned potatoes, lemon, thyme, and dill.

Potato Salad ingredients

Next up are the components for the salmon: pre-washed watercress, smoked salmon, lemon, creamed horseradish, and a punnet of cress.

Salmon components

All you need for the butter is cream! You can also see the whipping attachment on our food processor.

Butter components

Here are the bits for the beets: pre-cooked beetroots, balsamic vinegar, basil, cottage cheese, thyme, and lemon.

Beet ingredients

And lastly, our beautiful rye bread.

Rye bread

The sole saucepan is ready to go on the stove!


And I’m off! The first job was to wash the potatoes and cut them up into chunks for the salad.

Chopping potatoes

I put the potatoes into the saucepan along with a few strips of lemon zest.

Zesting lemon

I also added a few sprigs of thyme, then covered everything with boiling water. I put on a lid and left the potatoes to cook for 10 minutes.

Boiling the potatoes

Next I prepared the salmon platter. The first step was to mound up the watercress.

Piling watercress

I then laid the salmon slices over the cress “in rustic waves” as directed.

Laying the salmon slices

In one corner of the platter, I smeared a few spoonfuls of creamed horseradish.


The whole platter was seasoned with salt and pepper…

Seasoning the platter

…as well as some lemon juice, lemon wedges, and extra virgin olive oil.

Adding lemon and olive oil

Here’s the finished salmon platter! (I also snipped over some cress before serving.)

Finished salmon platter

Now for the butter. I poured the cream into the food processor, put on the lid, and left it to over-whip.

Starting the butter

Next I cut up the pre-cooked beets into random chunks into a serving bowl.

Cutting beets

At one point, I stopped the food processor to scrape down the sides with a spatula. It was clearly over-whipped cream at this point. Halfway to butter!

Halfway to butter

I next chopped up some basil…

Chopping basil

…and added it to the beets, along with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Dressing the beets

Back to the butter. The Snook and I had never made it this way, so we weren’t really sure what was going to happen. After getting so thick, the cream then seemed to go really thin and liquidy. We were worried we’d done something wrong and maybe melted it or something? But we left it going, and a few minutes later were rewarded when suddenly the sound changed as the butter all began to clump together and separate from the whey!


I dumped the butter into a strainer to separate it from the whey. I used my hands to scrunch it to drain off as much liquid as I could.

Draining the butter

I put my homemade butter on some greaseproof paper and sprinkled it with salt. Then I scrunched it up in a bundle as Jamie had done.


I made butter!

Rye bread and butter

The potatoes were cooked, so I dumped them into a colander to drain and steam. I also picked out the thyme stalks and the lemon zest.

Cooked potatoes

Back to the beets. I dumped the cottage cheese into a bowl and added extra virgin olive oil.

Cottage cheese

I also grated in some lemon zest…

Lemon zest

…before finishing with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves.

Seasoning the cheese

To finish the beets, I dolloped the cheese around the bowl and garnished with more basil, oil, and pepper.

Finishing the beets

To make the potato salad, I chopped a big handful of dill…

Chopping dill

…before adding it to the cooked potatoes along with some of my homemade butter. I also squeezed in lemon juice and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Finishing the salad

Here’s the finished potato salad!

Potato salad

And here’s the complete meal of Smoked Salmon, Potato Salad, Beets & Cottage Cheese, and Rye Bread & Homemade Butter.

Finished meal

Tasting notes: Like I said, this meal has a flavour profile that was pretty different and unusual. No garlic, no chilli, no fennel seeds, no coriander! It was certainly tasty though. I’ve only had smoked salmon a few times in my life, but it’s basically “fish ham,” and who doesn’t love nice ham? It paired nicely with the bread, butter, and horseradish. The cress was pretty boring considering how much work it was to pick off; perhaps English cress tastes different from ours? I think you could sub in some other salad leaves without any effect. The potatoes were great with the dill, though I still wouldn’t call it a salad. (I guess Boiled Dill Potatoes doesn’t sound very sexy though.) The beets were well worth staining my fingers purple. They’re just so pretty! And making butter is a fun party trick. I don’t think I’d bother if I didn’t have a fancy machine to whip it though. At least I can add that one to my repertoire of Pioneer Woman Skills. (I do know to make it without a whizbang food processor; we did it in Girl Scouts once.) Overall, this is a very quick and easy meal to throw together, and the unusual flavour combinations make it feel more sophisticated than the usual fare. It would make an excellent lunch to share with guests. Rated 9/10 by both of us!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #22: Thai Red Prawn Curry

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #22: Thai Red Prawn Curry
This is our 22nd cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. For this one we chose “Thai Red Prawn Curry, Jasmine Rice, Cucumber Salad, Papaya Platter.” We picked it because we felt like doing a seafood recipe; we had the episode recorded; and we thought we had a good chance of the required produce being in season. The Snook was on duty for this one, and he managed it in 35:17. It was pretty darn good!

Thai Red Prawn Curry

Substitutions: Our small prawns were frozen, but Jamie said on the show they were okay to use. We used coconut cream instead of coconut milk (since we already had some in the pantry). We didn’t bother with the prawn crackers. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe!

Quick verdict: Well, the first thing you notice is… It wasn’t red! We think the Snook may have gone a bit overboard with the coriander when making the curry paste. It’s not really a problem though, because I’m addicted to coriander. This was one of those meals that ticks all my favorite flavour boxes: garlic, chilli, coriander, sesame oil, lime. It was very fresh and very yummy! The Snook thought the curry wasn’t very “curry,” but he still liked it. The cucumber salad was a revelation, and we ate the whole bowl between us. Unfortunately we weren’t able to use our oven for the crispy prawns (on account of it EXPLODING earlier in the day) but cooking them on the cooktop worked well enough. The fruit platter was simple but tasty. The Snook rated it 8.5, while I gave it a 9 out of 10. The preparation was slightly unusual, in that each dish was pretty much completed before moving on to the next (instead of interweaving the steps, as he does on the other recipes). Still, I think you could shave a few more minutes off this one with practice. Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the food processor equipped with the standard blade. We had a frying pan for the crispy prawns, a pot for the curry, and a saucepan for the rice.

First up are the ingredients for the cucumber salad: ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime, cucumber, coriander, and red chilli.

Cucumber Salad ingredients

Next are the bits for the rice: just basmati rice and jasmine tea bags.

Jasmine Rice ingredients

Next are all the bits for the curry: lemongrass, red chilli, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, red peppers in oil, tomato paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, big raw tiger prawns, sugar snap peas, small frozen prawns, coconut cream, and lime.

Curry ingredients

Lastly, the ingredients for the dessert: papaya, Greek yoghurt, lime, bananas, mint, and biscuits.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! Big pot is for curry; frying pan is for crispy prawns; saucepan is for rice.

Pots and pans

Here we go! The Snook started by peeling and grating fresh ginger onto the serving dish for the cucumber salad.

Grating ginger

He then added soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and the juice of a lime.

Making the salad dressing

Then he used the peeler to slice off ribbons of cucumber into the bowl. (We don’t really have a proper speed-peeler, so that would probably save you a couple minutes of hassle.)

Slicing the cucumber

Next he finely sliced the stalks of a bunch of coriander…

Slicing coriander stalks

…before adding them to the cucumber salad. A bit of finely chopped chilli finished it off.

Finished salad

Now on to the rice! He added one mug of rice to the saucepan with a pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil, two jasmine teabags, and two mugs of water. This was left to boil and then steam.

Prepping the rice

Next up is the curry paste. He started by bashing up some lemongrass.

Bashing lemongrass

The lemongrass got added to the food processor along with red chilli, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves.

Starting the curry paste

He also added coriander (maybe a bit too much), jarred red peppers, tomato paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.

Finish the paste


Whizzing the paste

This is the paste mid-blitz; he actually got it a bit finer than that in the end.

Curry paste

The large tiger prawns were tossed into a hot frying pan to begin cooking…

Big prawns

…to which a scoop of the curry paste was added. These were supposed to go under the grill, but the Snook left them to cook on the stove (since our oven is out of commission).

Adding curry paste

The Snook began the curry by combining sugar snap peas and small frozen prawns in the big pot.

Peas and prawns

He then added the remainder of the curry paste and let it stir fry for a bit.

Adding the rest of the curry paste

To make the sauce, he added the coconut cream.

Adding coconut cream

While the curry cooked, he started prepping the fruit platter. The papaya was cut in half and the seeds scooped out.

Scooping the papaya

He grated a bit of lime zest over some Greek yogurt.

Zesting a lime

He added banana slices to the papaya, then squeezed lime juice over the platter.

Adding bananas

The finished dessert platter with fruit, yoghurt, and almond biscuits.

Finished dessert

Here’s the finished rice! He removed the jasmine tea bags and fluffed it with a fork.

Finished rice

The crispy prawns probably didn’t get quite as crispy as they would’ve in the oven, but they still looked good!

Crispy prawns

For the final step, he added coriander leaves to the curry.

Finished curry

And here’s the finished meal of jasmine rice, Thai “red” prawn curry, crispy prawns, and cucumber salad!

Finished meal

Tasting notes: We both really liked the cucumber salad, though it felt like more of a “pickle” than a salad, really. The Snook felt the curry was a bit non-traditional, but it was still tasty. The method of cooking the rice worked very well. I really liked the fruit dessert, but it was sure expensive! (Like $6 for the papaya and $3.50 for two bananas. OUCH.) We both preferred this one to the green curry, which had noodles rather than rice. If you’re a fan of Thai food, this is an easy meal to put together and would really impress a guest! I really enjoyed it.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #21: Pork Fillet & Catherine Wheel Sausage

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #21: Pork Fillet & Catherine Wheel Sausage
This is our 21st cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. For this one we chose “Seared Pork Fillet & Catherine Wheel Sausage, Meaty Mushroom Sauce, Celeriac Smash, and Garlicky Beans.” We chose this one mainly because it seemed fairly low-carb. (I’m back on the diet.) Unfortunately this episode hasn’t aired yet, so all we had to refer to was the recipe in the book (and a couple YouTube videos). I was on chef duty, and it actually ended up being a fairly complicated meal with lots of components. My clock time was 36:37, but the sausage spent a few minutes longer than that in the oven. Oh, and I got to cut up KIDNEYS for the first time in my life. It was like high school biology class all over again!

Pork Fillet & Catherine Wheel Sausage

Substitutions: Pork kidney seems to be unheard of here, so we went with lamb kidney instead. We used just plain button mushrooms instead of “white or chestnut” mushrooms. I used some cheap cooking sherry in place of the Marsala. I didn’t have long wooden skewers for the sausage so I used several toothpicks instead. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe!

Quick verdict: This was one of the best recipes in the book in terms of the harmony of all the flavours. All the various components complemented each other so well! It was also perfect for a winter night. I was dubious about the mushroom and kidney sauce, but it was the highlight of the whole meal. Seriously, SO GOOD. (Well worth the effort and grossness of prepping the kidneys.) I ran into some problems with time management and there are things I’d do differently next time. Still, we both rated it a 9 out of 10 for tastiness! Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the oven turned to 220C. We had an oven-safe frying pan for the sausage, another frying pan for the sauce, a saucepan for the beans, and a roasting tray for the fillet.

First up are the ingredients for the pork components: pork fillet, pork chipolatas, fresh rosemary, red apples, and sugar.

Pork ingredients

Next for the “smash” we have: celeriac, fresh thyme, and lemon.

Smash ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the sauce: smoked streaky bacon, fresh rosemary, (lamb) kidneys, mushrooms, sherry, cream, and English mustard.

Sauce ingredients

And lastly, all that was needed for the beans: green beans, garlic, and lemon.

Green bean ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! (The Pyrex bowl is for cooking the celeriac in the microwave.)

Pots and pans

Here we go! I started by butterflying the pork fillet, presumably to make it thinner so it’d cook faster.

Butterflying the fillet

Next I drizzled it with olive oil, salt, and pepper before dropping it into the hot frying pan to sear.

Seasoning the fillet

Once the fillet was browning, I got to work on the celeriac. I had to peel the whole thing and then cut it into big chunks. (I have a feeling this is where I lost a few minutes of time. These suckers are awkward to deal with!)

Peeling the celeriac

I placed the celeriac chunks in the Pyrex bowl with salt, pepper, lemon juice, a bit of boiled water, and the squeezed lemon half. This was covered with a double layer of cling film and put in the microwave for 12 minutes.


Next I began the sauce by slicing up the bacon. (I should note that I was also flipping the pork fillet every minute while doing this other stuff.)

Slicing bacon

The bacon went into a hot frying pan to cook. (You can see the browned pork fillet in the background.)

Cooking bacon

Next I sliced up the mushrooms. (I should’ve used the food processor for this, even though the recipe didn’t require it. It would’ve saved some time.)

Slicing mushrooms

These were added to the bacon along with some olive oil and rosemary.

Adding the mushrooms

And now it was time for the three lamb kidneys. I almost made the Snook do them instead, but I persevered. They weren’t that bad, but there was a chunk of white sinew in the center of each one. (I probably lost a few minutes while trying to work around that.)

Slicing kidney

The kidney was added to the bacon and mushrooms, along with a good grind of black pepper.

Adding the kidney

Finally for the fun part! I started assembling the “Catherine wheel” sausage. My chipolatas had a lot more links than Jamie’s did, so it took me a while to get them all untwisted and joined up.

Untwisting the sausage

As I coiled the sausage, I inserted toothpicks to hold the whole thing together.

Assembling the Catherine wheel

Dr. Amy took great interest in the sausage assembly.

Finishing the Catherine wheel

At this point the pork fillet went into the oven on the roasting tray, and the Catherine wheel went into the vacated fry pan to cook.

Frying the sausage

I’m sorry to say that my toothpicks didn’t work that well. The whole wheel started to puff up in the middle, and the toothpicks weren’t enough to prevent it. In the future, I’ll use the skewers. I picked some rosemary leaves over the sausage as it cooked.

Cooking the sausage

Back to the sauce! I added the cooking sherry and let it cook off. (I didn’t set it on fire because I’m a wimp.) I also added cream and English mustard.

Finishing the sauce

Next I trimmed my green beans…

Trimming the green beans

…before dropping them into the saucepan of boiling water.

Cooking the beans

At some point in all that, I also put a halved apple in with the sausage. Now I sprinkled the cut halves with sugar…

Sprinkling sugar

…before popping the whole pan into the oven.

Sausage into the oven

Finally time to mash the celeriac! I drained it and chucked the lemon half. It was woody as all hell, so I actually put it back in the microwave for a few more minutes.

Mashing the celeriac

The beans were cooked, so I drained them.

Draining the beans

To finish the beans, I added lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Finishing the beans

I went back to the celeriac for some more mashing, and I pretty quickly gave up on the idea of it ever being smooth. I finished it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Finished celeriac

A splash more water, and my meaty mushroom sauce was complete!

Finished sauce

Here are the finished beans as well.

Finished beans

Lastly, I sliced up the (rested) pork fillet.

Slicing the pork fillet

And here’s the finished pork fillet. Probably a little overcooked, but still good!

Sliced pork

As the very final step, I pulled the finished sausage and apple out of the oven.

Finished sausage

Here is the completed meal of “Seared Pork Fillet & Catherine Wheel Sausage, Meaty Mushroom Sauce, Celeriac Smash, and Garlicky Beans.”

Finished meal

Tasting notes: We were blown away by how good the sauce was. I know most of you are probably thinking “kidney = BARF,” but you just have no idea. Very savoury and moreish! I was annoyed that the celeriac didn’t go more “mashy,” even after I gave it the extra cooking time. It was still perfectly tasty and edible though, even if it was rather chunky on the plate. The garlicky beans were yummy. Both the pork fillet and sausage were excellent – but why do two? I think if I cooked it again, I’d just do one or the other. The Snook agreed that as written, getting the whole thing cooked in 30 minutes would be very difficult. Still, this is an excellent winter meal that fills you up and makes you happy. Highly recommended, and rated as 9/10 by both of us!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #20: Chicken Pie

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #20: Chicken Pie
This is our 20th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. Woohoo! We’re 40% of the way through! For this one we chose “Chicken Pie, French-Style Peas, Sweet Carrot Smash, Berries, Shortbread & Chantilly Cream.” You may recall that I actually tried this recipe already back in January, before we started this project. We wanted to document it properly though, so the Snook stepped up to cook this one. We also rewatched the episode to refresh our minds. This was also the first time we’ve ever had an audience: our friend Sharon from Flavour Crusader was here! I think the extra spectator may have unnerved the Snook a bit, as his time was uncharacteristically slow: 39:56. Still, that’s 5+ minutes faster than I managed it back in January…

Chicken Pie

Substitutions: We used plain cream instead of creme fraiche for the pie filling. We had one large lettuce instead of two small ones for the peas. And the Snook assembled the dessert into a trifle (with some lemon curd) rather than leaving it as constituent parts, as you can see above. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: The perfect winter meal! Very tasty and filling. The chicken in the pie was a bit chewy, but I suppose that’s to be expected when using breast. (Jamie never seems to use thighs?) We overcooked the peas a bit, but they were still good. The Snook’s improvised trifle for dessert was beautiful, the perfect cap to the meal. Overall we both rated this one 8.5 out of 10, but I think there’s still a little room for improvement next time we make it. Read on for a photo essay of the preparation!Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The food processor was prepped with the slicing disc. The kettle was boiled and the oven turned to 200C. We had a big roasting tray for the pie (which was a mistake), a small saucepan for the carrots, and a bigger saucepan for the peas.

First up are the ingredients for the pie: chicken breasts, butter, spring onions, button mushrooms, flour, English mustard, cream, chicken stock, thyme, nutmeg, puff pastry, and an egg. Oh, and Sharon hiding in the background!

Pie ingredients

Next are the ingredients for the side dishes: carrots and thyme for the smashed carrots; and lettuce, butter, flour, chicken stock, mint, frozen peas, and lemon for the French-style peas.

Side dish ingredients

Lastly, the bits for the dessert: strawberries, elderflower cordial, lemon, mint, shortbread biscuits, cream, vanilla, and icing sugar.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! Roasting tray for the pie (again, more on that mistake in a minute), big saucepan for peas, little saucepan for carrots.

Pots and pans

Food processor with slicing disc.

Food processor

Here we go! The first step was to cut up the chicken breasts. Dr. Amy Jones decided this was the perfect time to beg for a bit of chicken fat. (Could you resist that little pink nose? No way.)

Cutting the chicken

Next the Snook got the chicken cooking in some olive oil and butter in the roasting tray.

Cooking the chicken

Next is the veg. He first cleaned and trimmed the green onions…

Trimming green onions

…before feeding them into the food processor along with the mushrooms. (You’ll recall that this was a major nightmare for me on our first attempt at this dish, as we had our old crappy food processor then. This time it worked PERFECTLY. Three cheers for decent appliances!)

Slicing the veg

He then dumped the veg in with the chicken to cook.

Adding the veg

Next he added flour, mustard, cream, and chicken stock to make the sauce.

Adding stock

Lastly, he seasoned the pie filling with salt and pepper before grating over a bit of nutmeg.

Grating nutmeg

The next job was the carrots. He cleaned and trimmed them…

Trimming carrots

…before chucking them in the food processor. WHIZZ!

Slicing carrots

He put the carrots into the small saucepan with some olive oil, salt and pepper, thyme, and water. Then he covered it and left it to cook.


Here’s where you can see the problem with the roasting tray. It just didn’t heat evenly on our induction stove, and the mix was starting to “catch” in the middle. So the Snook made the snap decision to transfer the mix to a Pyrex casserole for baking. (On the episode, Jamie does it all in the one tray. The recipe actually recommends you use two separate pans though. We’d have saved time if we’d done it that way from the start!)

Transferring the pie mix

Now for the puff pastry crust. Rather than worry about rolling it out to the right size, the Snook just cut a bit off a second sheet and seamed them together to make a big enough lid.

Puff pastry

Next he carefully placed the pastry on top of the pie, folding and tucking the edges as needed.

Topping the pie

He also lightly scored the top of the pie as instructed.

Scoring the pie

After a quick egg wash, it went into the oven!

Into the oven

The carrots were still bubbling away.


Onto the peas. He started by slicing up our cos lettuce.

Slicing lettuce

In the large saucepan, he cooked butter and flower together to make a roux.


Then he added chicken stock and whisked to make a thickened sauce.

Whisking the sauce

He then dumped in a bag of frozen peas, the sliced lettuce, and a handful of mint leaves. He seasoned it with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and left it to cook.

Peas and lettuce

Time to prep the dessert! He cleaned and trimmed the strawberries…


…before tossing them with mint leaves and elderflower cordial.

Tearing over mint

Next he used the electric whisk to beat cream, icing sugar, and vanilla until it was thick.

Beating the cream


Chantilly cream

The carrots were finished, so he drained off the liquid and used a potato masher to smash them up.

Mashing carrots

And finally the pie came out of the oven, golden and beautiful!

Finished pie

The finished meal of chicken pie, French-style peas, and carrot smash.

Finished meal

And the finished dessert! He created a trifle by layering crumbled shortbreads, lemon curd, the strawberries, and the chantilly cream in a glass.

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: This is one of the best meals in the book in terms of the way the various elements work together. The pie on its own might be a little boring, but the vibrant carrots and savoury peas complement it perfectly. We overcooked the peas a bit, but there was still a bit of crunch to the lettuce and it tasted fine. The chicken breast was fairly chewy, but that was to be expected given the type of meat and the short cooking time. The dessert was the real highlight, and I think the Snook’s change to a trifle was a big improvement on the original. That little bit of lemon curd in the bottom just made it so special and lovely! We’ll definitely remember that trick in the future. I figure we can still cut another five minutes off this one if we manage to cook the pie filling in the right pan from the get-go. Overall an 8.5 out of 10, and an excellent dish to warm up a cold winter’s night…

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #19: Chicken Skewers

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #19: Chicken Skewers
This is our 19th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. For this one, we chose “Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad, Fruit & Mint Sugar.” We picked it because we already had some rice noodles to use up, and we had that particular episode recorded. This week it was my turn to cook, so the Snook was on camera and cookbook duty. There wasn’t a lot of active cooking in this one; it was mostly making sauces and assembly. I managed it in a respectable 34:48, and I think I could shave a little more off that next time!

Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad, Fruit & Mint Sugar

Substitutions: Our chicken breasts were a bit bigger than the ones Jamie suggests. We used metal skewers instead of wooden ones. We used rice noodles for the salad instead of egg noodles. For the dessert, we used canned pineapple instead of fresh along with strawberries and plain yogurt (rather than coconut yogurt).

Quick verdict: Very tasty! If you like lime, chilli, and coriander, this is the meal for you. Luckily those are some of my favourite things, so I loved this one. The satay sauce really was amazing, and I actually wished I’d held more back to eat on its own (rather than smother it on the chicken). The Snook thought the noodles needed something “more” (like sweetness or salt) but I thought they were fine. (He’s not a big fan of cold noodle salads though.) I was dubious about the lettuce and “garnishes” at first, but I think they gave some welcome crunch. The mint sugar was really good and definitely transformed some simple fruit into something special. Overall I rated it a 9 out of 10, while the Snook went with 8.5. Read on for a photo essay of the preparation!Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The food processor was prepped with the standard blade attachment. The kettle was boiled and the grill was turned on full whack. We had a baking tray for the chicken, a saucepan for the noodles, and a frying pan for the nuts. You’ll also need a number of serving bowls and platters, as well as a separate cutting board for the chicken.

First up are the ingredients for the satay sauce: coriander, chilli, garlic, crunch peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and limes.

Ingredients for satay sauce

Next up is the chicken breasts, along with honey and olive oil for drizzling.

Ingredients for chicken skewers

Ingredients for the noodle salad: rice noodles, cashews, red onion, chilli, coriander, soy sauce, lime, sesame oil, fish sauce, honey. We also have baby lettuce, coriander, chilli, soy sauce, and lime for the garnishes.

Noodles and garnish ingredients

Lastly, the ingredients for the dessert: pineapple, strawberries, mint, sugar, lime, and yogurt.

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The baking tray with the skewers is for the chicken. The saucepan is for the noodles, and the frying pan is for the cashews.

Pots and pans

Here we go! I started preparing the satay sauce. Here I’ve combined coriander, garlic, and peanut butter in the food processor.

Starting the satay sauce

I also added a red chilli and some ginger, which I peeled.

Peeling ginger

Next I grated in the zest of two limes…

Zesting limes

…before adding the juice of one of them.

Juicing lime

Time to whiz!

Whizzing the sauce

I had to add a few lugs of water to get it to the right consistency.

Whizzed satay sauce

I put half of the satay sauce on the baking tray for the chicken. (Actually, this probably more than half. I wish I’d held back more!)

Readying sauce for the chicken

The remainder of the sauce went into a bowl with some olive oil, to be eaten straight as part of the meal.

Finished sauce

Time to make the skewers! I lined up the four breasts as Jamie instructed and then ran them through with my metal skewers.


Then I used my knife to trim up the sides and then slice down between to make the kebabs.

Cutting the skewers

I stuck all the extra trimmed bits on the end of the skewers. Then I used my knife to “chop” all around the chicken to provide extra surface area. (He does this on the episode.)

Chopping the chicken

I placed the skewers on the tray of sauce and rubbed them all over to coat.

Coating the skewers

A little bit of salt and olive oil was added as the final step.

Drizzling with oil

The skewers went into the oven with a timer on 8 minutes!

Into the oven

Now for the garnishes. I removed the base from the lettuce and then clicked all the leaves off into my salad spinner. Then I washed and spun them dry.

Lettuce leaves

Time to start my noodles! I placed my rice noodles in the saucepan and then poured boiling water from the kettle over them.

Softening the noodles

Next my cashew nuts went into the frying pan to toast. I didn’t bother bashing them up, as Jamie left them whole on the episode. I also added a little olive oil, as he did. (This is a step where I lost a few minutes due to the pan being cold. Next time I’ll turn it on from the start so it’s hot.)

Toasting the cashews

Next I started work on the dressing for the noodles. I put half a red onion, a chilli, and a bunch of coriander stalks into the food processor.

Prepping the noodle dressing

The book tells you to whizz the aromatics, then add the liquids in the serving bowl. But in the episode, Jamie did it all in one step in the food processor. So that’s what I did. I added soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, sesame oil, and fish sauce to the mix.

Juicing a lime

Once whizzed, the resulting sauce was poured into the serving bowl to await the noodles.

Finished noodle dressing

Time to flip the chicken! This is how it looked when it came out. It was cooking nicely.

Half-done chicken

I flipped each skewer over and then drizzled them with honey before placing them back under the grill.

Drizzling with honey

The noodles were softened, so I drained them before rinsing them in cold water, draining again, and adding to the bowl.

Noodles added

My cashews still weren’t ready, so I began prepping the dessert by scattering pineapple and strawberries over my platter.

Prepping the fruit

Once the cashews finally started toasting, I added some honey and some sesame seeds. (He used the sesame seeds on the show but not in the book.)

Adding honey and sesame seeds

Back to dessert. I began pounding up some mint in the mortar and pestle.

Pounding mint

I added some sugar for abrasiveness, then added more to soak up the moisture that came out of the mint.

Mint sugar

Finally the nuts were done, so I added them to the noodle salad along with a handful of coriander leaves.

Adding the nuts

To complete the salad, I simply tossed everything together as best I could.

Tossing the salad

The finished salad, with a little extra coriander and chilli to “tell the story” on top.

Finished noodle salad

To finish the dessert, I scattered mint sugar over the fruit and added a dollop of yogurt and a lime wedge to the platter.

Finished dessert

Here is the completed garnish bowl of lettuce, coriander, chilli, and lime.

Finished garnishes

And lastly, the chicken! We let it go a little longer than 8 minutes on the second side to try to get some caramelisation happening. (I think maybe next time I’ll move the shelf closer to the grill, which might shave off another minute or two.)

Finished chicken

And here is the completed meal of chicken skewers with amazing satay sauce, noodle salad, and garnishes!

Finished meal

Tasting notes: We had been worried the chicken wouldn’t cook through, but it was fine. If anything, it was maybe a little overdone in the middle! Next time we’ll move it closer to the grill for less time. I liked the cold noodle salad, but the Snook found it lacked something to balance out the chilli and lime. He added some more soy sauce to his and seemed to like that. (He also liked the leftovers more the next day, so perhaps the flavours had sucked into the noodles more at that point.) I thought the honey cashews added some nice sweetness and crunch. The satay sauce itself was fantastic, and eating a chunk of chicken in a lettuce cup with some sauce was really, really good. The dessert was better than I expected, considering it was pretty much just some fruit! But the mint sugar really added something, and we polished off the whole plate pretty quickly. Overall this is a quick, fresh, and zingy meal for those of us addicted to lime and coriander! I rated it a 9 out of 10, while the Snook gave it an 8.5. Next time I’ll make double the satay sauce, I think…

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #18: Rib-Eye Stir-Fry

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #18: Rib-Eye Stir-Fry
This is our 18th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. For this one we chose “Rib-Eye Stir-Fry, Dan Dan Noodles, and Chilled Hibiscus Tea.” We picked it because we had some bok choi already to use up, and we conveniently had this episode saved on our DVR. We went with the same strategy we’ve used for the past few weeks, where one of us cooks while the other is in charge of reading the recipe and photographing. The Snook was on chef duty for this one, and he managed it in a blistering 30:19! The meal name is a misnomer, as there’s not really any stir-frying involved. It’s basically a noodle soup served with greens, sliced steak, and lots of other accompaniments.

Rib-Eye Stir-Fry, Dan Dan Noodles, and Chilled Hibiscus Tea

Substitutions: We used snow peas instead of sugar snap peas, and regular broccoli instead of sprouting broccoli. Our teabags were “rosehip and hibiscus” rather than just hibiscus. We also left out the mint in the tea, rather than buy a whole bunch just for a couple sprigs. Everything else was as-written!

Quick verdict: Tasty, but also a little messy! There are lots of components to this meal, and it’s one of the ones where you’re not really sure how to eat it. You just put everything out on the table and let people kinda heap things up in their bowls, I guess. Our greens ended up being overcooked, and the chilli oil in our noodles was overpowering. We probably could’ve used an extra tea bag or two in the tea. The steak was great though, and the flavours all worked really well together. The Snook felt that that overall the concept was a really good one, even if our execution didn’t quite live up to it. We both agreed that our version only merited a 7.5 out of 10, but the recipe itself is probably worth 8.5 out of 10. It’s a relatively quick one to prepare, and I think it would be nice for a casual group meal with friends. (Note: the messiness of slurping up noodles probably precludes this one from Date Night!) Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the grill pan was put onto high heat. We had the grill pan for the steaks, a large pot for the greens and noodles, and a large jug for the tea. (You’ll also need a couple cutting boards and several bowls to serve everything in.)

First up are the ingredients for the steak: 2 rib-eye steaks (sold here as “Scotch fillets”), Szechuan pepper, Chinese five-spice, ginger, red chilli, garlic, lime, and coriander.

Steak ingredients

Next the greens: snow peas, bok choi, broccoli, black bean sauce, and lemon.

Greens ingredients

Now all the bits for the Dan Dan noodles: chilli oil, soy sauce, garlic, beansprouts, coriander, spring onions, egg noodles, beef stock cube, lemon, honey, and lime juice.

Noodle ingredients

Lastly, the ingredients for the tea: rosehip and hibiscus tea bags, clementine (mandarin), lime, sugar, and ice.

Tea ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The grill pan is for the steak; the pot is for the greens and noodles; and the jug is for the tea.

Pots and pans

Here we go! The Snook started by seasoning the steaks with salt and pepper.

Seasoning the steaks

Then he got to work pounding Szechuan pepper in the mortar and pestle. (We use this stuff on mapo tofu fairly regularly; it’s really nice in Asian dishes.)

Pounding Szechuan pepper

He put some of the Szechuan pepper into our two serving bowls and then sprinkled the rest over the meat along with five-spice.

Sprinkling the pepper

Next he drizzled the steaks with olive oil and rubbed the spices in. He also continued prepping the bowls with chilli oil, soy sauce, and crushed garlic. (Note: We only used one tablespoon of chilli oil each, and it was still really hot. So be careful with it!)

Prepping the bowls

Time to get the tea going! He added two tea bags to the jug along with a spoonful of sugar and the skins of the mandarin and lime.

Peeling the fruit

The grill pan was nicely hot, so he put the steaks in for 2 minutes each side.

Steaks into the grill pan

Now he went back to the tea and filled the jug halfway with boiling water so it could steep.

Boiling water

Next he prepared the bowl of “garnishes”: beansprouts and coriander.


After two minutes, he flipped the steaks. They looked great!


Time to get the greens going! He prepped the snow peas and sliced up the bok choi and broccoli.

Prepping the greens

The greens went into the pot with more boiling water from the kettle.

Greens cooking

Yet more prepping of the serving bowls! Next he had to slice green onions to place in the bowls.

Slicing green onions

When the steaks finished cooking, he put them on a clean cutting board to rest. He then grated ginger and chilli onto the board.

Grating chilli and ginger

Then he drizzled over olive oil and lime juice before tossing the steaks in the dressing.

Dressed steaks

The next step is to finish the greens. He spread black bean sauce on the serving platter…

Spreading black bean sauce

…before fishing the veg out with tongs and piling it all on top.

Removing the greens

The greens were finished with olive oil and lemon juice. (We could tell at this point they were overcooked. Still, they smelled nice.)

Cooked greens

The tea had finished steeping and was a beautiful reddish-pink. The Snook removed the tea bags and added handfuls of ice to cool it down. He also squeezed in the juice of the mandarin and lime.

Squeezing juice

The egg noodles were added to the cooking water left over from the greens, along with a stock cube.

Cooking the noodles

Yet more prep work on the bowls! He finished them off with lemon juice and a bit of honey.

Final bowl prep

It was finally time to slice up the steaks. He cut them at an angle and then tossed them in the accumulated juices and dressing.

Slicing the steaks

Here’s the finished dish of steak, complete with coriander garnish.

Finished steak

And here’s the finished jug of iced tea. (We later topped it up with more ice.)

Finished tea

Finally, he dished up the noodles into each bowl to finish. Here’s the completed meal of Dan Dan noodles with rib-eye steaks, greens, and garnishes, along with a glass of chilled hibiscus tea.

Tasting notes: The steak was excellent. Really just perfect. The noodles were good until we dug down and hit all the chilli oil. Yowza! Yeah, we’d definitely use less next time. The greens were overcooked, but the black bean sauce made for a really nice dressing. The tea could’ve been stronger, but it was still sweet and refreshing (which we needed to cut through the chilli). So yeah, our execution of this one wasn’t perfect, but we only need to tweak a few things next time to get it right. It’s a warm, slurpy kind of meal, just the thing for a cold winter’s night. (We had enough steak and greens left over to make another batch of soup for lunch the next day too!) So a 7.5 for execution, but an 8.5 for the concept.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!