Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes Cookbook Review

jamie's meals in minutes by jamie oliver

I borrowed the book Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast from the local library.

I was looking forward to reading this book. I love Jamie Oliver. His books are so helpful for beginners and I love watching his tv shows and internet videos. I’ve learned so much from him.

But unfortunately this book bored me, which pains me to admit, because I’m such a fan. I did read it all the way through, but it was a quick read. I just flipped pages for a couple of hours, and when I was finished, I promptly put it on the shelf by my front door, waiting to be returned to the library.

So, what’s wrong, exactly? Let’s start with the recipes.

Recipes Too Complicated

The book includes 50 complete meals: each meal includes 3 or more recipes on one page. The concept sounds great in theory, until you actually start to read them.

Like prior Jamie Oliver books, his recipes are written in paragraph style, but with 3+ dishes on one page, it’s very difficult to read & cook and then try to find your place again on the page. You’re switching from one dish to another and back and there’s just too much going on at once.

I realize Jamie wants to get people back in the kitchen, cooking homemade meals. He strives to give the reader as much information as possible to succeed, but cookbook recipes aren’t meant to read like a novel with paragraph after paragraph of detailed text. I wish he wrote the book using simple steps with bullet points.

Not So Easy Ingredients

Besides the complicated format, a lot of the ingredients are not items that the average home cook has in their pantry or even has access to at their local grocery. If you’re gonna include something like halloumi, you need to also include some sort of food product definition so people know what the heck they’re cooking!

Unnecessary Mandatory Kitchen Gear

And it’s not just ingredients that bugged me, he actually has a section in the beginning introduction titled “You Need this Equipment” – naming 2 columns of absolute “must-have” kitchen gear that he priced out at $550 – a hefty chunk of change for someone that is just starting out in the kitchen.

Yes, I have most of the recommended tools, but it’s gear I accumulated over time, not in a few days. It’s disappointing because Jamie Oliver has always been a minimalist (naked) chef, informing us that we don’t need no stinkin’ ice cream scoop or electric kettle. But now he is pushing a page of mandatory tools, but only because they’ll help you stick to the book’s promise that you can cook these meals in 30 minutes or less. That’s a silly reason to buy a garlic press, 4 cutting boards, a 3-level steamer, or an expensive food processor with extra blades and discs.

And to boot, it looks like the speed of the recipes has been greatly exaggerated anyway. It’s been reported that some recipes take upwards of 90 minutes instead of 30, as promised in the book, while others complain that it’s too stressful to try to keep up the 30 minute time crunch. If cooking is hurried and frantic, then it’s not fun; I don’t think that is the message that Jamie is trying to get across to people, is it?

Free Range and Cage Free Are NOT What They Seem

I’m also dismayed that he’s still recommending animal products labeled with out-dated “cage free” and “free range” misnomers. People are so easily confused by all the misleading terminology. I wish for once someone of his fame and influence would get it right!

Videos Are Better

Now, on a more positive note, check out the corresponding “30 Minute Meals” videos online instead. You can find a bunch on YouTube.

cook with jamie - by jamie oliver

I think newbie home cooks would learn so much more with visual instruction, but if a book is needed, I highly recommend one his previous books:

I know a lot of time and effort went into the book and Jamie has made it his lifework to get people cooking at home; maybe this book will work for some people. It just doesn’t work for me.

I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks, which means I’d rather put my own spin on a recipe than follow it exactly. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.

Jamie At Home cookbook review

Jamie At Home cookbook review

I love the Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life cookbook! It’s not just a cookbook, it’s got great tips for growing your own a veggie garden and raising your own chickens! It’s also the companion cookbook to Jamie’s TV series of the same name (“Jamie At Home” on the Food Network and Cooking Channel)

It was so touching to read about his decision to take in flocks of abused chickens from egg factory farms and raise them with his free range chickens.

I also learned more about lamb and exactly what mutton is. Did you know that sheep over a year old are mutton and that the flavor is much more complex than younger lamb? Of course mutton must be cooked low and slow, but that’s how Jamie likes to cook!

He writes that mutton has gone out of style and that it would help farmers if more people requested it because mutton usually comes from breeding sheep. I don’t remember the last time I ate lamb and I don’t know that I like the flavor. But I keep wanting to try it especially when there’s chefs like Jamie Oliver inspiring me!

One complaint about the actual book is some pages are difficult to read due to pages with darker background colors.

And although his recipes are “dead simple” as he likes to say, with rustic homey ingredients, they aren’t always something I’d want to cook. But the recipes are always totally Jamie and you can hear his voice speaking through the words on the page. Very English! Very seasonal! BRILLIANT!

He works with a lot of ingredients that might be intimidating to some home cooks. Items like pork belly, rabbit, squash flowers scare me but it’s nice to know he’s on your side holding your hand inspiring you to try new techniques and ingredients.

No, I don’t know if I’ll ever seek out a partridge bird or cook up venison stew but Jamie was instrumental in bringing me to a deeper understanding and respect for animals and how it’s okay to hunt animals as long as it is done with total respect and without waste. No, I’m never going to kill my own food but I’m not so against others doing it anymore.

I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.

(review originally authored on Dec 17, 2010)

Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash (or Sweet Potato) & Chorizo Soup Recipe

I borrowed a bunch of Jamie Oliver books at the library, and am currently reading the Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals and it’s a winner for sure.

The book is full of simple rustic recipes. I found so many ideas and inspirations!

I decided my first recipe from the book would be the Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup (pg 131). It was suggested by Jamie and others online that butternut squash is a good replacement for the sweet potato, so that is what I used instead.

The soup was very tasty, and paired with some fresh homemade whole wheat bread with butter or melted cheese, you got yourself a complete dinner!

It’s difficult to photograph this soup and make it look visual appealing, but I did my best. As you can see, I left it chunky. I was too lazy to get out the blender/food processor, so I hand mashed it with a potato masher.

butternut squash & chorizo soup from jamie oliver's jamie's food revolution cookbook

From Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbook:
Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup

Serves 6-8, you can easily adjust this recipe to make more or less servings. I used a small butternut squash and 2 small carrots with about 3 cups of broth, and it served 2 of us, with one leftover serving for lunch the next day.

carrots, onions, chorizo sausage, garlic, butternut squash and fresh parsley


  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1.75 lbs sweet potato or butternut squash
  • 7 oz of Chorizo Sausage
  • Small bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1.75 (7 cups) quarts of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp (heaping) curry powder
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • fresh red chilies for topping (I omitted)

Cooking Instructions: ( See below for my personal notes and alterations)

  1. Chop carrots, celery, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes (or butternut squash), fresh parsley and chorizo sausage and mix all ingredients into a large saucepan. Mix in 2 tbsp of olive oil and the curry powder.
  2. Put the broth in a 2nd saucepan and heat until boiling
  3. Cook vegetables (on high) with the lid askew, for approximately 10 minutes or until carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.
  4. Pour boiling broth into the 1st pot with vegetables and sausage and stir well
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until sweet potato (or butternut squash) is cooked through
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Using an immersion blender, pulse the soup until smooth and top with a little bit of finely chopped chile
  8. Enjoy!

My Extra Notes:

  • I keep a freezer bag of fresh parsley in the freezer. When I need some, I just break off a piece and chop it up. It works fabulously!
  • When I went shopping that afternoon, I couldn’t find many options for chorizo at the local Market Basket grocery, so I settled for Chipotle Chorizo chicken sausage from Al Fresco. I used to buy this brand of sausages before I became a more strict, clean eater, and they are not too bad. I will have to check at Whole Foods for better Chorizo options. I think the soup would also work using other precooked sausages or even uncured natural pepperoni or bacon.
    Al Fresco Chipotle Chorizo chicken Sausage
  • I don’t keep curry powder on hand, so I used a few shakes of Penzy’s Arizona Dreaming spice instead. It added mild heat.
  • I didn’t have any celery on hand either.
  • I heated the veggies on medium flame, not high as suggested in the recipe, and it took about 20 minutes for the carrots to soften. I mixed often.
    veggies and chorizo sausage ready to be cooked on stove
  • I didn’t boil the broth ahead of time (wasting another pot), I just poured it from the carton, over the ingredients.
  • Unfortunately I don’t have an immersion blender, and I was too lazy (and hungry) to dig out the food processor or blender, so I mashed the soup by hand with a potato masher. It was still chunky, but it all tastes the same, so whatevah! haha.
  • I might add a speck of fresh chopped chili peppers next time, as instructed in the recipe, but this time, I wasn’t sure how spicy hot the soup was, so I omitted the chilies.

Small Image I highly recommend Jamie Oliver’s book “Jamie’s Food Revolution” especially for newbie home cooks. It’s a back-to-basics rustic no fuss cookbook!

This Weeks Crush is Jamie Oliver

So this week I’m crushing on Jamie Oliver!

I just borrowed a bunch of his cookbooks from the library! I love his basic, free style of cooking, and he’s got a warm personality!

I don’t really remember hearing much about Jamie Oliver until I watched him on his TV series “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution“, but since our new FIOS TV offers a year of free use of a DVR, I’ve been recording all the espisodes of “Jamie At Home” from the Cooking Channel. He’s got such good simple ideas. I’m saving and savoring his episodes! And I’ve fallen madly in love with him.

here are the books I borrowed: (I’ll probably get more of the older ones once I’ve finished with these)

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