Do you ever buy those ‘fast food’ cook books? I’m sure you know the ones I mean – those lovely recipe books that claim you can cook all the meals in a matter of a few minutes?. I bought one last week. It’s a lovely book – beautiful pictures of delicious nicely-presented meals, all apparently prepared in 10 mins, with the cook standing in the background looking cool, relaxed and well-groomed. And I confess that I was hooked! How could I fail to produce lovely delicious-nutritious meals in minutes with a book like this? (do I hear you laughing already?)
The reality was – of course – somewhat different.
It started with the disbelieving look my 12 year old gave me when I told him what I was trying to do. “I’ll time you then Mum”, he said as he went off up to his room leaving me surrounded by all my ingredients, pots and chopping boards waiting to get going.
And of course he was right! Most of these quick meal books seem to expect you to start with everything already chopped and just waiting to be added to whatever you are cooking (and what use is that when you get home from work to an empty house with no-one but me to do the chopping?!). And having started with ingredients ready and oven warmed they then seem to expect you to chop-fry-mix-boil-etc so furiously that you can only finish in the given time by working flat-out – not quite what I want to do after an 10 hour working day! However, all went well till the last little bit when in my rush to try and finish I managed to pour the chick peas down the sink instead of just draining them – ah well.
And of course, at this point in comes my son: “How are you doing then, Mum, it’s 29 minutes…”
…it is of course possible to cook a meal in minutes – even if you’re not budding Masterchef 2011. The meals that I like best are the ones that take an easy 20 minutes or so to prepare (starting from opening the fridge door) – so either are really simple and easy to cook, or if they take longer to cook the preparation is short – perhaps something you can throw into a baking dish, put in the oven and come back to half an hour later.
One of my favourite quick recipe is this fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce which can be made really quickly – particularly if you use fresh pasta. I hope you like it…