It’s apt that I’m posting a “15 minute meal” just after we’ve had our 15 minutes of fame, appearing an article in the Irish Times Health Supplement about cooking with kids. If you’ve managed to avoid my publicity of the article til now, you might like to check it out here. I really enjoyed participating in the article, through the phone interview and the photoshoot in our kitchen. I will probably look back and think that I was crazy having a photoshoot in the house with a six week old baby, but it will definitely go into the Fox Family annals as a memorable event.
So, to the food. I was skeptical about Jamie Oliver’s “30 Minute Meals” when the book came out but really the “15 Minute Meals” one took the biscuit. I got the book as a Christmas present but the way things have been around here since Christmas I didn’t look at it much til now. Sheila from Gimmetherecipe has mentioned it in some recent blogposts so I located my copy and had a browse. The recipe I tried is one where we would have a lot of the ingredients in the fridge and we used to have dill growing in the garden (it died from neglect) so it’s just a question of putting them together in this order. I do find that Jamie tends to use dozens of ingredients in every recipe, which often puts me off.
The fifteen minutes end of things comes with a disclaimer- in the book you’re told this, and that you need to have things done in advance like pans or ovens heated, the liquidiser out, ingredients out etc. Fair enough. What it doesn’t tell you about is that in order to do all these different bits quickly you will generate a lot of washing up. And my contempt for washing up is well documented.
Also, I am dropping all the extra words from the recipe title, I’ll let you be the judge of whether it’s “gorgeous”.
(Gorgeous) Greek Chicken and(Herby) Couscous.
Ingredients (per Jamie – here)
For the couscous
1 mug (300g) of couscous
2 mixed-colour peppers (I used a red and a yellow)
1 fresh red chilli (I only used a half of one to cater for the boys)
4 spring onions (I only used 2, I’m not a huge fan)
½ a bunch of fresh dill (I used half a supermarket pack, about 10g)
200 g frozen peas
1 small handful of black olives (pitted)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
40 g feta cheese
For the chicken
2 x 200 g skinless chicken breasts
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground allspice (argh, none in press so I googled and made my own per this recipe)
Grease proof paper
For the tzatziki- (I’d use Nigel Slater’s recipe for tzatziki next time, there’s no garlic in Jamie’s but it was tasty)
½ a cucumber
250 g fat-free natural yoghurt (full fat would be even nicer, but Jamie suggested fat free)
½ a lemon
½ a bunch of fresh mint
Method (Naturally I couldn’t quite follow Jamie’s routine, I’m all about doing it my own way. To stick to the 15 minutes, you should.)
Put 1 mug of couscous and 2 mugs of boiling water into a bowl with a pinch of salt and cover (you probably don’t have a bowl with a lid so use a dinner plate).
Next Jamie tells us to toss the chicken with salt, pepper, the oregano, allspice and finely grated lemon zest on a big sheet of greaseproof paper and then to fold over the paper and bash and flatten the chicken to 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin . I enjoyed this bit.
Then you put the whole bashed chicken breasts into your frying pan which is at a medium/high heat. Put into the frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook it, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, until it’s golden and cooked through, it doesn’t take long as it’s so thin. The smells of this cooking are amazing.
Then over to Jamie’s cucumber dip/tzatziki:
Coarsely grate the cucumber, then sprinkle it with a pinch of salt, then squeeze it in kitchen roll to get rid of the excess salty water (Jamie says to use your hands).• Put the cucumber into a bowl with the yoghurt, juice of ½ a lemon and a pinch of pepper, then finely chop the mint leaves and add them in, mixing it all together.
Remove the stalk and seeds from the peppers and chilli, then pulse in the processor with the trimmed spring onions and the dill until finely chopped. (You could easily do this with a good knife and save having to wash the food processor).
Scatter the peppers mixture over a large tray or platter. Then add the peas (if you used frozen like I did you’ll need to let them sit in a bowl of boiling water for a couple of minutes to take the frost out of them). Next, add the olives, then squeeze the juice of the lemon over it and add the extra virgin olive oil. Next, fluff the couscous with a fork and add it, and toss everything together and mix well, seasoning to your own taste.
Your chicken should be cooked by now so slice it and then lay it around the couscous. Crumble over the feta (I cubed mine) and serve with the tzatziki.
This recipe really was delicious, and I’ll definitely make it again, it could be served cold as a tasty salad. I’ll also use the methods in this recipe to vary it, so I am delighted with it.
HOWEVER: the 15 minute recipe (which took closer to 30 but is still quick, and I don’t expect that Jamie had a nearly 3 year old kitchen assistant) created a MOUNTAIN of washing up. I didn’t photograph the washing up this time but here’s a rough list.
Bowl and lid (plate) for couscous
Chopping board and knife for chicken
Bowl to make tzatziki
Bowl to serve tzatziki
Tongs to turn chicken
Chopping board for herbs
Food processor bowl and bits to go with it
Bowl to blanch the peas
Bowl for the cucumber
Loads of knives
Loads of spoons
My advice: Make it, eat it, have someone else wash up!