OK, so here’s the thing. Nobody is too busy to cook. Not when we have so many quick and easy recipes at our fingertips thanks to the wonder that is YouTube. But just how quick and easy are they? I put five of them to the test.
Dinner in 15 minutes, made from scratch? Not in my kitchen. Jamie Oliver’s chicken laksa took a little longer (23 minutes 41 seconds to be precise) but still ticks all the boxes for a quick, tasty, nutritious dinner. I imagine if I was a top notch chef with a fancy food processor and speedy knife skills, I’d manage to knock those eight minutes and 41 seconds off, no problem.
Verdict: I didn’t manage it in 15 minutes but I don’t care. Absolutely delicious.
4-ingredient comfort food
What says comfort food more than mac and cheese? Jenny of Jenny Can Cook fame promises a delicious dish using only four ingredients. I’m immediately sceptical as the ingredients do nothing to get my taste buds flowing. Skimmed milk, low-fat cheese, flour and pasta. I’m making this for my children, really, and neither are at any risk of suffering from obesity, so I throw caution to the wind and substitute full-fat milk and cheese. Unfortunately it still tasted super bland, even with all the seasoning.
Verdict: Yes, it’s possible to make a dish with only four ingredients. Yes, it’s super easy — I didn’t even burn the sauce. No, it didn’t taste good. And it looked just as bad. However it was worth it for the video — Jenny is a scream (“Shut your pie hole, I’m trying to keep your arteries from getting clogged up!”).
Breakfast that’s not granola
I love an omelette so Gordon Ramsay’s bacon and goats cheese frittata a.k.a “triple omelette” has to be three times as good, right? This turned out really well and is perfect for those mornings when the kids and I actually have time to sit down and eat breakfast together. Although to be honest I could eat the whole thing myself.
Verdict: Really easy, really tasty and it’s a dish that offers loads of scope to experiment with different ingredients.
Easy peasy pie
Another Jamie Oliver recipe (he really is the best for quick and easy recipes), this “fish pie with a difference” appealed to me as a fresher, more colourful version of the somewhat stodgy fish pies I’ve had in the past. Also Jamie claims it’s “for a basic cook” and I definitely meet that criteria. My fish of choice was pollock, smoked haddock, salmon and prawns and it really is unbelievably simple; you don’t even need any knife skills.
Verdict: “Just chuck it all in,” Jamie said. So that’s what I did. And it tasted great.
No bake dessert
My baking history is varied to say the least. I’ve had more than one biscuit/cake/tart related disaster so I was looking for something sweet that could more or less guarantee a happy ending. There are loads of no bake cheesecake recipes out there but this one is genuinely quick and easy to follow. It’s not an instant dish insofar as you have to leave it to set for a minimum of four hours but the prep couldn’t be easier. And who doesn’t love mixing stuff in a big bowl?
Verdict: My finished product looked a little rough around the ages but it passed the taste test with flying colours and the process was far less stressful than leaving cakes in the oven where, in my experience, strange things happen to them.
More quick and easy recipes
Images: Claire Gillespie