Organisation in the kitchen

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Today I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of telling you what I think organization is, I’m going to demonstrate how I organise my time by going through a recipe with you, step by step.

Please let me know by way of a comment if this was useful.

The recipe:

Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie

Recipe breakdown:

The recipe has 3 different parts that come together to make one final dish that is cooked in the oven.
1. The potato and pea mash.
2. The fish.
3. The vegetables.

Planning your time:

I know from reading the recipe that the potatoes will take 15 minutes to cook, the milk takes 5 minutes to warm up and then 10-15minutes for the fish to cook in it and the vegetables will take 5 minutes as well.

Don’t make a mistake and think this is a 40 minute recipe. You need to add time for:

  • chopping of the vegetables and potatoes
  • the mashing of the potatoes
  • the blending of the peas
  • the mixing of the potato and peas
  • and the mixing of the whole thing!

And then there is the 30 minutes the final dish needs in the oven at the end, but thankfully that half an hour is yours to do with as you wish (although I highly recommend that you use this as time to stack the dishwasher and set the table).


The recipe step-by-step:

1. By looking at that list I know that the potatoes need longer to cook so I will peel and chop them first and get them on the stove first.

2. While the potatoes cook I’ll heat the milk gently and while that’s happening I’ll chop the onion and carrot cause they won’t take long.

Make sure you do what I didn’t: Find a pan large enough to fit your fish!


3. Next I put the fish in the milk and turn the oven on. It will take a few minutes for the oven to warm up so I can transfer my chopped veg to my baking dish (the one I will use for the final dish) and mix them with the oil. Put the vegetables in the oven (but don’t forget about them – set a timer if it helps).
4. Check your potatoes. They will be close to soft, but not enough. It doesn’t matter if you over cook the potatoes because you want them to be really soft. So leave them and do step 5.

5. Put the peas in a strainer and pour hot water over them for a few minutes. Leave them to drain in the sink as you grab your blender or food processor and get it switched on and ready. Blitz the peas only for a few seconds and don’t purée them. Set aside.

6. Check the vegetables to make sure they’re not burning and take them out of the oven if they are starting to get dark.

7. Get the lemon, a fine grater and the butter ready. Drain the potatoes and put back in the same pan to mash with the lemon, butter, salt, pepper and peas. Set aside.

8. The fish should be ready so move them to a plate (don’t drain them! You need the milk!) while you add the other ingredients and the milk to the vegetables.

9. Add the fish and the frozen prawns to the dish and mix through. Then take the pea and potato mash and carefully smear it across the surface of the fish and vegetable mix.

10. Finish the top with the back of a spoon as Jamie suggests in his recipe, then put it all in the oven.

And there you have it!

At this point you have half an hour to clean up the equipment you used, put the leftover ingredients away and prepare a side salad for your meal.

Some final thoughts:

I hope this post has highlighted that cooking requires some planning. And planning, its not just about buying the ingredients as part of your weekly shopping, or even getting them out of the fridge before you begin a recipe. Organisation in the kitchen is about planning ahead how long each item will take to do and making clever use of the time that you have.

We all know Jamie Oliver’s 15 and 30 Minute Meals don’t actually take the time he says, and its because we don’t have the organisation and the speed that Jamie has – but that doesn’t mean we can’t. Read the front of his books and he has a “15/30 Minute Mindset” where all the pots, pans, utensils and ingredients are out and prepared before he begins putting anything together.

Try this yourself and see what happens. I for one know that I can make a meal faster if I have everything out and ready to go. I can focus on planning when I do what, just as I have tried to illustrated in today’s post. I make sure that I know how and when each thing needs to done, and that means I have greater confidence in my meal. And that means better results.

But you know what, sometimes its nice to make a mess. You just don’t want to do it all the time.

Good luck with the fish pie too. Its really, really yummy.


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