First impressions – Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

I couldn’t stop myself buying Jamie Oliver’s latest book – 15 Minute Meals – today at WH Smith, where it is half price at £13 (and £12 on Amazon!).  I haven’t cooked anything yet but have salivated over the recipes and it DOES look good, although I think many of the meals will take closer to 30 minutes.  Still, that’s not bad.  There is a section for chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, pasta, soups and sarnies and veggie recipes, and they are all nutritionally balanced.  There is a lot of variety, plenty of new ideas and each recipe includes a main dish and at least one side dish (no desserts though).  Those I plan to try (not being a meat eater) include: Crackin’ crab briks with couscous salad and salsa; Green tea salmon with coconut rice and miso greens; Koh Samui Salad with chilli tofu and thai noodles; Squash soup with sagey chestnut dumplings; Camembert parcels with autumn salad and cranberry dip; and Mexican salad with charred avocado and popcorn beans.  I will blog those that are worthy!  Watch this space…


Chilli cheese cornbread (30 mins prep and up to 1 hour cooking)

This cornbread is delicious both hot or cold, served with a salad and perhaps some salsa or ketchup on the side. It has a lovely golden cheesy topping and the sweetness of the onions and sweetcorn. I used polenta, which gives it a slightly springy, light texture. Kids can enjoy a slice of it and you could omit the chillis if need be. You could also add different vegetables such as pepper or courgette. I like to eat a big wedge of it the day after served cold.

The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s America cookbook, which, although not my favourite Jamie cookbook as the recipes feel a bit heavy, has a real array of different types of cooking e.g. soul food/Mexican. It contains a fantastic ‘mad dog’ salad with roast avocado and nachos which I LOVE, and was mentioned in my first ever blog. Here is the link in case you missed it and want to discover what roast avocado tastes like!

Another winner is the velvet cupcakes recipe, which I will blog sometime soon.

Here is the recipe for the chilli cheese cornbread:


60g butter

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 corn on the cob

4 large eggs

325g polenta or coarse cornmeal

250ml full-fat milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons plain flour

salt and pepper

140g freshly grated mature cheddar cheese

3 fresh green chillis, 2 of them deseeded and finely chopped, the other finely sliced

olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees / gas mark 6. Put your butter into a frying pan on a medium heat and add your sliced onions. Fry gently for about 10 to 15 mins, until they are golden. Meanwhile, hold the corn upright on a board and carefully run a small knife from the top of the corn to the bottom, cutting all the kernels off. Add these to the pan with the onions and cook for a further 5 mins, then remove from the heat.

In a bowl, mix your eggs, polenta or cornmeal, milk, baking powder, flour, a good pinch of salt and pepper and most of your grated cheese. Beat until well mixed, then stir in your cooled onion and corn mixture and your 2 finely chopped chillis. Grease a 22cm cake tin with some olive oil, line the base with greaseproof paper, and pour in your mixture.

Sprinkle the chilli slices on top, then pop the cornbread in to the oven to bake for approx 45 mins to 1 hour (depending on how quickly it cooks), until golden brown on top and a knife comes out pretty much clean. About 15 mins before it is ready, pull it out, sprinkle over the remaining cheddar and return it to the oven. Once ready, let it cool for 15 mins, then turn it out on to a wire rack or plate, cheesy side up. Can be eaten hot or cold.

Damp lemon and almond cake (20 mins prep/1 hour cooking)


Well the baby has not arrived yet so I am taking a break from trying every cliche under the sun to encourage labour and made this cake for our street party tomorrow! At the risk of sounding like Nigella Lawson (whose recipe this is), how could you resist a very moist lemon and almond cake? My friend Agnes recently tried it too and agrees that it has a satisfying texture with a smack of lemon, which goes beautifully with the comforting flavour of the ground almonds. It is my favourite recipe so far from Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess as it is foolproof and everyone who tries it is impressed.

How To Be A Domestic Goddess contains a great selection of cakes, biscuits, puddings, Christmas ideas, kids treats, breads and one amazing sounding Egyptian dessert called Om Ali (look out for this on a future blog if it turns out well!) It is a good time to buy the book as it is on offer a lot – I got it for £7 from WH Smith.

Here is a link to Nigella’s website (I prefer to look at her recipes in a book/online than watch her felate vegetables on tv…):

And here is the cake recipe:


225g soft unsalted butter (I cheat and melt mine in the microwave)

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

50g plain flour

225g ground almonds (I buy packs of 200g and add a little extra flour, which seems to work)

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

Butter a loaf tin or 21cm springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4. Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white (or be lazy like me and stir together for about one minute). Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the flour after each addition. When all the eggs and flour have been incorporated, gently stir in the ground almonds, then the almond essence, lemon zest and juice.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour. The time it takes can vary quite a bit. Cover with foil after about 30 minutes, once the top is lightly browned, to prevent it from burning. The cake is ready when the top is firm, and a skewer, inserted, comes out cleanish – you want dampness, but not gooey batter. Take the cake out and let it stand for 5 minutes or so in the tin. Then turn it out on a wire rack and leave to cool.

This cake lasts well, and even possibly improves, over the next two days, if wrapped well in foil.