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Jamie's America - Jamie Oliver

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12 Reviews

Genre: Food / Drink / Author: Jamie Oliver / Hardcover / 360 Pages / Book is published 2009-09-01 by Michael Joseph

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      23.07.2012 09:42
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      A beautiful book, unfortunately more style than substance

      I've been after a "proper" American cookbook for a while, one filled with recipes for the food you eat when you're over there, diner recipes, burger recipes, breakfast recipes...basically a book filled with lots and lots of calories! I've been searching on and off on Amazon.com for a while and have marked a few possibilities but hadn't considered looking towards an English chef for an American cookbook - until, that is, I stumbled across Jamie's America in the food section at my local library. Intrigued to see what it would be like I took it out and have since renewed it twice because I'm just not ready to part with it yet!

      It is a now typical "cheffy" hardbacked cookbook. Smaller than a piece of A4 paper - just - and very thick with over 350 pages. It's quite weighty (and if I'm honest a very small part of why I haven't taken it back to the library yet it because I don't want to have to carry such a heavy book all that way - I'm on a walk or cycle everywhere less than 5 miles away at the moment!) and cannot be mistaken for anything other than a Jamie Oliver cookbook (and a Jamie Oliver American cookbook at that) as the front cover is dominated by an American flag and a picture of Jamie himself, looking typicall relaxed and casual.

      For anyone that's been living on another planet for the last 15 years, Jamie Oliver is a television chef who started his cooking career in his parents Essex pub. With a reputation as a cheeky chappy, down to earth, easy to follow chef he has built his name (and fortune!) based around his now numerous television series, all with accompanying book. I generally like his style but he's never been on my list of "must watch" chefs and so I've missed many of his series. I assume that there was a series to accompany this book too, but never saw it myself.

      Anyway, back to the book. It is laid out slightly differently to most cookbooks you see as it is divided geographically into areas of the United States rather than by course, ingredient or food type. A full list of the different sections is:
      - Welcome (introduction - a brief note about America, American food and the areas that he visited)
      - New York (eg, waldorf salad, pizza, cheesecake, cupcakes, macaroni and cheese)
      - Louisiana (eg, red beans and pork, cajun rice, jambalaya, gumbo, sweet potato pie)
      - Arizona (eg, chilli cheese cornbread, navajo flatbreads, tortilla soup, green chilli, peach cobbler)
      - Los Angeles (eg, mexican salad, , steak, chocolate mole tart, rocky road,
      - Georgia (eg, turkey stew, crab ball, peach ice cream, colalrd greens, turnip and pork, fried chicken, BBQ)
      - Wildwest (eg, baked beans, mountain meatballs, cornish cowboy pasties, chilli, apple pancakes)
      - Thanks
      - Index

      For me this is really not a helpful way of laying out a cookbook unless you were planning a themed dinner based around a particular area (eg, a wildwest night, or a deep south dinner). Initially I thought it would be quite a good way of dividing a cookbook but as I read further into it I realised it wasn't at all to my liking. It makes it very difficult to find a particular recipe, unless you know the name of it and can look in the index, and even when you're in the right section it is still difficult to find a recipe as they're not laid out in any logical order. Breakfasts, dinners, lunches and side dishes are all mixed together randomly and so it doesn't, for me, make for a relaxing trawl through a cookbook to find the recipes you might like to try. Each section has a brief introduction to the food of that area but it would have been incredibly helpful were it to also have a contents page for each section too.

      The sections are sometimes subdivided as well so in the New York section there is also a part on Jewish recipes, china town recipes and Egyptian recipes, which is a nice touch but again, they are all jumbled up with no thought given to separating them into easy to find categories.

      The recipes themselves are exactly what you'd expect from Jamie - tempting, mouthwatering and accompanied by beautiful, flattering photography. However, despite many of them appealing to both myself and my husband I haven't actually been tempted to try many of them. Unfortunately, for me, the recipes are written much like Jamie's actual speaking style so the methods, rather than being conside and to the point, tend to ramble as though they're actually being spoken and so are much more difficult to follow. The vast majority of the ones I'd be tempted by also have quite long lists of ingredients and, whilst this wouldn't normally be a problem for me as I really enjoy cooking and consider myself to be quite competent in the kitchen, when combined with the long-winded methods it makes the task of cooking the recipes quite a daunting one.

      Things I do like about the recipes, however, are that each one comes with a little introduction or brief description , tells you how many people it serves and also, when appropriate, provides an accompanying wine suggestion. With such long ingredient lists and off-putting methods though, a time guide as to how long it will take to prepare and cook would have been an extremely useful addition.

      So far I have tried the macaroni and cheese, red velvet cupcakes, down 'n' dirty cajun rice, chilli cheese cornbread and the peach cobbler. To give Jamie his due, all of them were delicious and went down well with both myself and hubby. The ingredients used were all relatively easy to find and if he ever does use something that is more traditionally American he gives an English alternative to save you trawling the internet and spending vast amounts of money for a special type of bacon or fish. But, unfortunately, the methods were as hard to follow as I had anticipated. Well, not exactly hard to follow but they are very convoluted and you often feel like you're hvaing to read an essay to find out what you should be doing next.

      For me this is a very difficult book to rate. As a cookbook it really is beautifully done and no expense has been spared (hence the hefty price tag of £26, definitely one to look out for on offer if it's one that appeals to you!) both regarding the overall quality and feel of it and the photography used. Not only are there delicious looking pictures of the dishes, but there are also some stunning landscape images and candid images of people he met on his travels there. For ease of use and frequency of use, however, it is much less appealing. Despite now having had it out from the library for around 8 weeks it is definitely not a book I would now go on to buy myself and I don't think I'd get it out of the library again either.

      The recipes that I've tried have all been nice, but not nice enough to warrant the price tag or to make up for the long methods and ingredients list. So whilst it is definitely a cookbook with style, unfortunately, for me, the substance is considerably lacking. There are some lovely looking recipes in Jamie's America but it wouldn't fill the gap on my kitchen shelf for an American cookbook and it is not an easy book to navigate around either. For these reasons, I thik it will have to be an average 3* from me. Sorry Jamie, whilst your style might be good to watch on tv it's much more difficult to follow in written form.

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        02.05.2011 22:52
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        A great cook book for the cook with the will to put a bit of effort in

        I know Jamie Oliver does annoy some folk, but personally I think that although he can be a bit of a plonker sometimes, his heart's in the right place and he comes out with some really good, usable cook books. I feel a bit like I've grown up with him, as his first Naked Chef books came out when I was really just getting started in the kitchen - nice and simple and confidence-building!

        These days, while he tends to stick with pretty do-able recipes, there's plenty that's a bit more challenging and time-consuming. But I quite enjoy all that! So I would say that this book might be a bit on the involved side for some cooks, but if you like spending a bit of time in cooking up a treat, and have a reasonable amount of confidence in the kitchen then this is a great recipe book for you. Quite a few of the recipes require a bit of time and attention but they're definitely worth it.

        Jamie's America is organised into geographically, with different chapters for several selected states of the USA. I sometimes moan about novelty chapter divisions and usually prefer standard headings (you know, Starters, Fish, Meat, Poultry, Vegetables, Desserts etc) because it's just easier to find what you want. However, in this book it makes perfect sense as the different regions have a really individual feel to their cuisine.

        This also lets you dip into a huge variation in cuisine, from the spicy dan dan noodles and pizzas of New York, to the gumbos of Louisiana (to mention just a few of my bookmarked recipes from the book). I've really enjoyed all the recipes I've tried so far, with a few becoming firm favourites. As well as those mentioned above, honourable mentions also to the BBQ sauce and mountain meatballs! And those recipes (including whole regions) that I haven't tried make for a lovely interesting read too. It's nice visually too, with some lovely pics of the food and the people too.

        In a book like this there are always going to be some cuisines which appeal less, and for me there are a few too many deep fried recipes - I'm just never going to go there for health and using-huge-quantities-of-oil reasons! But they still make an interesting read, and Jamie's enthusiasm always comes through.

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        21.01.2011 18:17

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        Really aimed at those who take cooking seriously, not beginners.

        I must admit, I was disappointed by Jamie's America. The television series was great, and this book seemed to be full of interesting recipes. However, whilst the recipes sound good on paper actually preparing them is often a major undertaking. Even something as simple as macaroni cheese has 20-odd ingredients and took well over an hour to prepare. For that sort of investment I'd expect it to be stunning, but it was actually no better than a 20 minute, 5 ingredient version. This is just one example, I've had similar problems with the other recipes that I've tried. Generally, I have not felt that they are good enough to justify the time and effort spent sourcing ingredients and cooking.

        The good points: some unusual recipes, all typically American, definitely makes a change from most cookery books.

        The bad points: the recipes tend to require a lot of ingredients, particularly spices, which can be hard to find and expensive. You need to prepare ahead, as the average cook will not have everything in the cupboard. Also, allow plenty of time for cooking, as a lot of the recipes are very time consuming, particularly if you a novice at cooking.

        In summary, this book is good for giving ideas for rather unusual American recipes that you don't normally come across. However, I would only recommend using it for special occasions or at weekends, it is not very good for day-to-day living.

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        29.09.2010 23:21
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        A easy to follow American cook book from the most English of chefs

        Despite his current trials and tribulations in the US, Jamie Oliver seems to have a genuine love for the place and its food culture. That shines through in this cookbook released in 2009 of last year. It is 360 pages full of recipes with colourful pictures and step by step instructions.

        His delivery style in his TV show makes complicated recipes look easy and that shines through in this book. The insert describes what is essentially a mission for him. To get past the desire for junk food and super sized meals and provide meals which are healthy, yet traditionally American. If you are like me, the merest mention of healthy eating brings out a rolling of eyes and tutting. I had visions of tofu burgers and the like. I was very wrong.

        The book is divided into six sections, each covering a geographic region; New York, Louisiana, Arizona, Los Angeles, Georgia and the Wild West. Recipes include all my favourites such as burgers, New York cheesecake, apple pancakes, Jambalaya and Chilli. Experience of using the book has introduced me to new favourites such as the amazingly named Cornish Cowboy Pasties. The key with this book is just how easy it makes all the dishes. It is dangerous. Anybody can pick up this book, follow the instructions and after everyone has enjoyed the dish you have prepared, you will start getting delusions of grandeur. Well I did anyway.

        It had an rrp of £26 but amazon.co.uk has it on offer for £12.91. Admittedly experienced cooks will probably find it too basic. And I would agree but that is its strength. They are healthy, simple and easily prepared which for most of us with little time, little experience or little inclination to eat healthy, it is a godsend. It is full of colour as are the meals although vegetarians and those who prefer the food plain maybe disappointed. Everyone else will love it.

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          21.07.2010 15:01
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          A fantastic book, there's something for any food lover here.

          I've long been a fan of Jamie Oliver, and find that whilst he sometimes comes across a little preachy in his newer programs, I'm still a great fan of the food he cooks.

          I'm very interested in the various cuisines of America, and one flick through this book convinced me that there were many different recipes worth trying within.

          The book is attractive, with a smart front cover and well designed pages, with interesting typefaces and appealing colours. The photography inside is also very beautiful, and really helps to add to the appeal of the wonderful recipes on offer.

          Now, on to the recipes - and what a selection! The book covers a wide range of recipes, which are often traditional recipes from other cultures given an American twist, thus is the nature of American cooking. This includes Chinese and Italian New York based dishes, paying homage to immigrants who have settled in the city, as well as the ever popular Mexican inspired dishes found around the USA.

          Authentically American dishes are also included in abundance, such as barbecue ribs, cowboy baked beans and, of course, the classic 'All-American' beefburger.

          There is also a wide range of desserts on offer here, such as the wonderful NYC Cheesecake, to the traditional Mexican chocolate mole tart.

          Tying all the recipes together is Oliver's effective writing style - all his obvious passion for food and cooking comes across as much in his writing as it does on his TV programmes, meaning that this book is as enjoyable to read as it is informative. America is a country of plenty, one of variation and choice, and this is clearly matched within their often wrongly maligned cuisine. Whatever your tastes, there will certainly be a recipe to please you here.

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          26.02.2010 13:21
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          An excellent cook book !

          Jamie's America


          I love to watch Jamie Oliver on the TV, he is one of my favourite chefs, with his jovial banter and cheeky smile he is a joy to watch. So when my hubby and I were shopping in our local town centre just before Xmas and we saw Jamie's America book I snapped up a couple of them. They were on offer in an outside market stall and at only £5.00 each I bought one for my brother too ......... he is the budding chef in our family.


          The book accompanies the TV series on channel 4 which was shown very recently where Jamie travels across America and writes about the different cultures of 6 different destinations. The book reflects this journey and in it we see the traditional cooking methods and we are given the best of their home grown foods in their respective regions. Each destination in the book has its own chapter where we can sample some fantastic recipes and cooking methods and these are accompanied by the most beautiful photographs of the respective areas. Beautiful landscapes of mountain and rocky areas, of the peoples of the states proudly showing their cultural dishes, and many of Jamie partaking of various activities and generally enjoying the company and lifestyles of the people he meets with.


          A paragraph from the book has Jamie stating :- "Every recipe in this book is something I love and have enjoyed on my travels. As in every book I have written, there's food here to be eaten with gusto!. Loads of recipes are light and fresh and can play and exciting part in your daily routine."
          ............. "Many of these recipes are my own expressions of America's classic or well-known dishes, which I've freshened up and adjusted to be l'less excessive' in the sugar and fat department, without losing the whole point of the dish in the first place".



          New York ~
          The sections of the book start with New York and a photo of Jamie posing next to a yellow taxi cab, a trade mark of New York life. In this section we find the likes of burgers, omelettes and salads and a delicious looking NYC cheesecake. In this section we also visit certain parts of the city such as Chinatown, where we sample such delights as Fiery Dan Dan Noodles or Sher Ping Pancakes and then we go onto the Jewish area in which we are given such recipes as the Jewish Penicillin etc, etc. We are then shown the local dishes of the Italian area where we are shown such delicious looking meals as Veal Parmigiana or a NYC Vodka Arrabbiata. Then we come across lots of photos of Jamie amongst an illegal Peruvian family who had set up a cafe offering Peruvian home cooked food, followed by a lovely photo of Jamie smoking an Egyptian Hookah pipe in the Egyptian borough of New York.



          Louisiana ~ "Forget partridge and rabbit; out here 'local game' means something completely different!
          Next we visit Louisiana (this is my favourite part of the book) it shows us fantastic dishes that are generally hot and spicy. Famous for its Cajun chicken and kidney bean hot dishes, it gives us such recipes as : Down n dirty cajun rice, or southern sausage stew and the famous New Orleans 'Gumbo', which is basically a stew or soup, and we are shown how to make a 'Spicy meat Gumbo'. Another local delicacy in this section too is Alligator and we are treated at the beginning to photos of Jamie on a 'Gator hunt' where he is walking around with his 'catch' across his shoulders. He shows us here how to make Cajun Alligator with sweet potato and salsa or 'Popcorn 'gator and aioli' and there are some lovley deserts in thsi section too like bread pudding and chocolate beer sauce.



          Arizona ~ Grand Canyon State.
          Here we are still with the hot n spicy theme, with recipes such as the Mexican breakfast' consisting of eggs, tomatoes and chillies, or a rustic tortilla soup. The main food here is centred around the sheep and lambs but all the dishes again have that hot chilli flavouring. In this section too we visit the Navajo people who historically lived off the land, eating well and living well into their 90's, however we learn that due to modernisation, they now suffer heart disease and type 2 diabetes and their life expectancy has shortened somewhat.



          Los Angeles ~ The city of Angels
          Jamie in this section talks of the wonderful sunny Californian lifestyle of the rich and famous and the food he centres on here are mainly fish dishes. We learn how to cook 'seven seas soup' or the delicious 'Tuna on roasted salsa'. This is another of my favourite sections, I am a big fish fan and his 'fiery shrimp cocktail' in this section is just wonderful. There are lots of salads and salsa's in this section too, great accompaniments for the fish dishes. While Jamie is in LA he visits a project called 'Homeboy Industries' which is a social and visionary masterpiece aimed at getting the local kids away from the 'gang culture', teaching them a trade and giving them some stability. There are two main parts to this venture, a restaurant and a bakery, but attached to these are a tattoo removing place and a counselling office, along with all sorts of brilliant business ventures. Here we are given recipes that are connected to this particular scheme, such as '1 steak 2 sauces' or 'Tuna tartare'. These youngsters apparently bake the most fantastic cakes and this scheme gives them a purpose in life, ......... an excellent idea!



          Georgia ~ Soul Food
          Next in the book we head to Georgia where Jamie takes a stop off at Atlanta and visits the local Baptist Church where after the service the congregation spill out into a huge canteen style kitchen and where every member of the congregation bring a sample of their own home cooking to be shared out. Such dishes as Fried chicken and salad, ham hock on green grits or southern style pork and slaw. This is very much a beef and chicken area, and BBQ's are extremely popular in this region.



          Wild West ~ The all-American cowboy.
          Best baked beans is a very popular and very typical recipe in these parts along with such dishes as mountain meatballs or worcester steak and mushrooms. The book shows some fantastic photos in this area of bucking bronco's, needless to say Jamie didn't partake of this particular sport he left it entirely to the rodeo's and concentrated on the food. In this section we find some fantastic dishes like traybaked chicken which is one of my favourites and chilli con Jamie, obviously Jamie's version of the classic dish. There are some beautiful scenic photos on this section also which make it very tempting to go and visit and sample the delights for yourself.



          Anyway that gives you a brief outline of the sections of the book and what you can expect to find in it.


          Would I recommend this book? I certainly would I have had the book for only a couple of months now and have only tried out about a handful of the recipes in it, but I can honestly say that everything I did came out really well. The recipes are very easy to follow, they are usually not too time consuming, and they taste delicious! The finished dishes look exactly as they do on the photos and all in all it is a very entertaining and easy to follow book, and as yet I can find no fault with it.


          On the inside sleeve of the book it tells us that it retails at £26.00 however I know that most book stores are selling this for around £10 or £11.00 or if you are very lucky like myself you may be able to find it for a fiver in a market, as I did.



          Thank you for reading and happy cooking !

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            27.01.2010 12:13

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            Lots of different recipes, worth buying if you like Jamie.

            I love Jamie Oliver and really enjoyed watching this series on the tv, so when the book came out I purchased it straight away and I have to say I'm not disappointed.

            The mix of different recipes is fantastic, I happen to love Mexican food, which there is a lot of in this book, so that was great for me. I am also vegetarian, but it seems there are a fair few veggie recipes, and I tend to either substitute or just leave out the meat in the non veggie recipes anyway.

            If you liked the TV show I would definitely recommend the book.

            The best thing about it, is the variety of meals, some are snacks and some are main meals.

            The only downfall of the book is that in a few recipes there are certain ingredients that I have never heard of so I had a bit of trouble finding them in the Supermarket, but he does list a lot of substitutes that are more widely available.

            I would recommend the spicy Mexican Egg dish, where the chili poaches the eggs, it's really delicious.

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            14.01.2010 21:59
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            A commentary on a society as much as a cookery guide.

            I'm a real Jamie Oliver afincionado, and the release of this book (cleverly tied in with the series, BTW) had me worryingly (in the eyes of my girlfriend) excited about it.

            However, I've got to be honest, I was very disappointed. There is a lot of this book dedicated to the trip that Jamie Oliver took around America and a lot less in the way of recipes he created/collected whilst on his travels.
            Whilst I am genuinely interested in his travails in the USA, why not leave this to the TV series and concentrate on what he does best in books, which are his cracking recipes?

            The recipes themselves are well described and easy enough to follow. What is a problem is the sheer amount of ingredients needed and, in many cases, the obscurity of them. I know this his showcase of American cooking but with a lot of Jamie's fans being those enticed by the likes of 'Ministry Of Food' - i.e. those who are looking for a bit of everyday cooking help - it would have been nice to see some simpler, more straightforward recipes to appeal to that group.

            That said, there is a lot of variety in the book and it's nice to see a balance of American classics against the fusion and immigrant styles he encountered in his travels.

            Though this should not be seen as a starting point for those who are just starting off on their cooking exploits, it is a useful addition for fans of Mr Oliver.

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            16.12.2009 00:02
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            Not for the novice cook, or those lacking in time!

            Jamie's America is a cookbook to accompany the channel 4 TV series of the same name where Jamie travels to six destinations in the USA to learn their traditional cooking techniques, about the ingredients they use and the history of the area.

            The book is divided into sections based on the locations he visited; New York City, Louisiana, Arizona, Los Angeles, Georgia and the Wild West, and the recipes correspond to the cuisine in each area. Jamie gives an introduction to each section, and there are over 120 recipes in the book! The NYC section is the best with the most accessible recipes, however, it sort of goes down hill from there.

            The recipe names are not very descriptive and many call for ingredients that are less easy to find in the UK (Alligator anybody?). You need to fully read the recipe beforehand to figure out what it is, and some of them take a lot of time to make. The ingredients lists are long, however as with all his books Jamie does give a lot of detail in how to make each recipe.

            This book's RRP is £26 however it's been on offer a lot recently, usually for around £10-£12, which is quite good value for the amount of recipes that are included and the quality of the book. The books is well laid out and great to look at, there's obviously been a lot of effort put into making it. It's just a shame that the recipes are expensive to make, and not some of the speedy, easy to make yet great tasting meals one would like to see in a time when the time for cooking great food is lacking.

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            18.11.2009 00:24
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            Have a look at the review

            It was with happiness that I bought my Jamie's America at Waterstones for £10.00 on the very day the premier of Jamie Olivers brand new series was due to be aired! So I sat (sad I know) with my beautiful new book and a note book (its just me and my note taking during cookery programs) .......Oh how disappointed I was with the first program. There was absolutly not cooking at all! It was basically Jamie Oliver with ex cons and gangster Mexicans calling them Bruv......hmmmmm. After Jamie at Home and pottering in 'his' Essex kitchen garden, it felt like a bit of a slap to me.

            I am not however reviewing the accompanying Channel 4 TV show, but the book.

            I have many Jamie Oliver books, that I use regularly at home for dinner parties and family meals alike. He is passionate about food, and has a real energy, this shines through in his food.

            The book is split into American regions.

            New York
            Louisiana
            Arizona
            Los Angeles
            Georgia
            Wild West

            This is by far the least used of all of my Jamie Oliver Books. This is largly because recipes are full of odd and somewhat unappealing ingredients. Aligator tails for instance, Also the titles of the recipes can be a really odd, so flicking through the book is a nightmare. I like to sit with a book on my lap in the evening and be inspired to create a menu for the family, or for a dinner party...what on earth is Muffuletta? Mad Dog salad? Egyptian stuffed flatbread? La Brea salad??? You get my point.

            So I am reviewing a handfull of recipes from a book that I simply don't like much or get.

            I have made the Chilli cheese cornbread.

            It is very very simple to make and tastes amazing, packed full of green chilli, fresh corn, polenta. Its fantastic. Goes well with stews, and we also had it toasted days after with scrambles eggs. It kept beautifully for a week. My husband even made sandwiches with it. A great recipe.

            My other winning dish was the New York Cheesecake, it is outstanding. A bit fiddlely, only because it has a layer of meringue topping....genius! Give it an amazing new dimention. It really tastly, the basis is ordinary cheesecake, but it is laced with limes, and coconut. Its wonderful...look it up online and make it (not worth buying the book)

            That is all I have made....they all worked beutifully, so the book gets a better rating than it would have done. I have a couple of recipes I have my eye on, Stuffed tomato tortillas, fiery shrimp cocktail, peach cobbler and Mexican Breakfast (hot chilli eggs)

            My overall view is that Jamie Oliver has made a road trip/rough guide/cook book love child and it hasn't really worked. Some good recipes hidden deep deep south.......but overall not really usable and what we have grown to love from Mr O.

            Buy it cheap cheap cheap, but certainly not for its £26.00 price tag.

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              11.10.2009 11:54
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              Well written, interesting recipe book with some great ideas

              "Jamie's America" is the cookbook companion to his latest Channel 4 series, "Jamie's American Roadtrip". if you have have watched this series then you will know that basically it follows Jamie as he travels around the States sampling the best homegrown regional cooking he can find - sharing food in people's homes and in small-time (and sometimes illegal!) restaurants which form part of the local community. There isn't a massive amount of footage of Jamie's recipes or him actually cooking in the series, however looking at this book he obviously garnered a lot of knowledge whilst travelling.

              It certainly doesn't feel like just a TV series companion that has been slapdashly put together in order to make a quick buck. The book contains circa 120 recipes. It is currently in hardback form but has a loose lef cover which I have found it is best to remove for the most part to keep in pristine condition for as long as possible (ie until you start cooking from it!). The paper is of good quality and the spine is able to withstand some manipulation in order to flatten it out to cook from. Each recipe is generally featured over two pages, one of whihc is a large photograph of the associated dish. The are some pages with 2 recipes on, however thse are generally basic recipes such as snacks and accompanying sauces.

              There is a brief introduction and then the book is split into the following categories - New York, Louisiana, Arizona, Los Angeles, Georgia, WildWest.

              Each chapter features a brief introduction from jamie which summarises his food experiences of that particular area. Each recipe also has a brief spiel introducing its use, its origins and any other information it might be useful to know before cooking it. He explains he has had to take a few liberties with the traditional recipes to compensate for the fact that we may not be able to access some of the ingredients over here.

              The recipes are punctuated with some excellent photographs including collages of the people, food and sights that he has come across on his travels.

              The first section "New York" features a delicious recipe for 'burgers and sliders' as well as pizza, cheesecake and cupcakes. We then launch into Chinatown which features noodle dishes and others of the type that you may find at food stalls in the area. It then moves on to some Jewish cookery before launching into Jamie's passion - Italian cooking albeit with an Italian-American twist - in particular I would recommend "NYC Vodka Arabbiata", basically pasta in a spicy tomato sauce with vodka - simple but with fresh clean flavours and an extra 'zing' from the alcohol.

              There is in his own words "a killer mac n' cheese" recipe whcih requires a few more ingredients and work than your conventional macaroni cheese recipe, but believe me is well worth it. The recipe is for a large quantity of people (8-10) but works well if you cook it for one day and finish it off on another. He then mmoves into Peruvian and Egyptian cookery. These recipes include ingredients that are largely difficult to find such as sumac and zahtar, but Oliver does detail some website which means that you can easily source them.

              The Louisiana section is unsurprisingly largely based around Cajun cookery - filling, satisfying dishes with plenty of flavouring. I particularly recommend the "Southern Sausage Stew". The traditional dish of gumbo is featured with a meat or "surf and turf" variety. The meat one is on my list to try. Also unsurprisingly seafood features highly in this section. There are also some recipes featuring alligator, but do not worry about this too much because he encourages other white meat and fish as an accessible alternative! Dessert wise, the recipes in this section are pastry heavy but feature that Southern staple "sweet potato pie" - another which is on my to-do list!

              'Arizona' features recipes largely influenced by meetings with Native Americans. The food here is spicy with a nod to Mexican cooking. There is a rustic tortilla soup recipe which is utterly yummy but will probably be of greatest benefit to most people on a cold winter's evening" There are some substantial lamb dishes here also.

              There is a "hot! choccy" recipe here and the hot! stands for the inclusion of chilli. It is certainly a wake-up call but again probably best to leave for the depths fo winter. There is a really simple "chipotle chilli popcorn" reicpes which has gone down really well with my friends on an evening in front of a DVD.

              The 'Los Angeles' delves further int the Mexican influence featuring breakfast tortillas, wraps, salsa and spicy salads as well as wholesome main meals - I would mark the chicken on chickpeas as one I would particularly recommend. There is a condiments page which has some recipes which I believe I will probably have as 'keepers' - 'chilli vinegar' and 'hot chili sauce', just as long as you have some jars and bottles that you can sterilise (you can get kilner jars etc at reasonable prices from homebrew centres and places like The Range).

              The Georgia section takes inspiration from the 'soul food tradition' - wholesome and dense recipes. This then moves onto barbeque foods - however this refers more to the style rather than the method and includes some staples such as a barbeque sauce idea. There is also the recipe that is probably the one that would stand out as being the most bizarre on first glance - "beer butt chicken." it is essentially a part filled can of lager placed upright inside a whole chicken. The skin is heavily flavoured also adn the chicken comes out deliciously moist.

              Then we move on to recipes inspired by the "Wild West" such as meatballs and steak. I particularly recommend the "Cornish cowboy pasties" inspired by the influx of Cornish miners to the Wyoming area in the 1920's and incorporating chicken and squash.

              In conclusion, I really like this book. A lot of thought has obviously gone into it. As with other Jamie Oliver books, the ingredients list can look pretty daunting but this is primarily because his dishes are so full of herb and spice flavourings. I will be the first to admit that most of these dishes need care and attention but Oliver is excellent at explaining the methods and what result you should expect at each step. For the most part I think that these are meals for when have a bit more time to spend preparing them, yet not overly complex. The recipes are largely well considered and different to the norm without feeling too intimidating.

              I highly recommend this book as a hearty introduction to different types of American cooking.

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                10.10.2009 01:37
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                Welcome to the next in what is now a long list of cooking books by Jamie Oliver. Being American I was attracted to the American recipes and spent the £11.99 Sainsbury's was asking for it. I've seen it a bit cheaper since typically.

                Jamie started off with a curiosity for America which of course being a chef including an interest in American food. One thing Jamie says in the welcome note of this book is that he wanted to know what things were really like for the average American and their family. I've been asked many times if my high school years were like that of American Pie. I remember an equal amount of alcohol and parties but life was ever so slightly duller then that of the characters in those films.

                Jamie had a camera crew following him on his journey through various states where he mixed with locals and took a dive into local cuisine. You may have noticed them on television but if you like me missed them then catch up online http://www.jamieoliver.com/jamies-america/

                I was really happy to see this book come out as I thought it was an opportunity for people to see more of the States then the fast food joints. I know someone who recently travelled to the States and stayed in a town I know rather well and on their return they babbled on about the lack of good food and the only stuff available was fast food! If they had walked their fat backsides 10 minutes out of the holiday resort they would have found a smorgasbord of choice! Obviously I kept this to myself but I was wanting to shout it!

                New York:

                First recipe of the book is for a burger. How very typically American Jamie! If I do say so myself I make a damn good burger and need no assistance (more like won't accept any). Waldorf salad is next. With many dishes it is sometimes the simplest ones that are the hardest to make right. The recipe is and dressing mixture is as I have ever known it so no Jamie twists to it but the wine suggestion is one of my favourites so I'll give him credit for that one! Daisy May's BBQ ribs look really good in the photo. I've not given them a go yet but definitely planning on it soon. As a southern lady with a cat named Daisy Mae I have to bring attention to the spelling but each to their own ... I prefer Mae. I'm getting picky now aren't I!?!

                Candied bacon green salad. Heaven has come down to earth in the form of a salad! It's a fruity green salad with crispy bacon and however odd it my sound I promise the flavours work. My son took one look at it and told me I was silly for putting lettuce and bacon into a fruit salad. Oh well more for me.

                Obviously you can't visit New York without trying a slice of New York style cheesecake. Well maybe you can but if you do that's just no life worth living really now is it! Jamie's popped in a recipe that says it will serve 10-14 people. The recipe is lovely but I'd say it'll serve 8-10. My diet has been left in the dust, AGAIN!

                Jamie's next stop was to Chinatown where obviously he found Chinese recipes. My favourite of the lot being one for Sher Ping Pancakes (Pan-cooked filled pancakes). Stuffed with minced pork, cabbage, spring onions, and some spices it makes for an interesting meal and something very different from the ordinary. I served these up with noodles and even the kid ate them.

                I always like to find new soup recipes as I love a good soup and like to serve up different things. I used to hate how predictable my mothers' cooking was. Such things like Friday night was always roast chicken with then same old roast potatoes, cabbage and carrots. I have nothing against a good roast but the woman hated every spice in the world and I love them all! Right, back to the point I was making about soup ... There is an Astoria Soup recipe in here on page 69 that is to die for! A mixture of peppers, tomatoes, Bulgar wheat and spices that tickles the taste buds in a delightful way. Serve up with some tortilla. Instead of the wine suggestion I went for a plain tomato juice with a dash of Tabasco sauce.

                Louisiana:

                Jamie continues his journey in the colourful city of New Orleans. I've spent many a mardi gras there and as I read the introduction in the book could easily picture what he was seeing.

                Southern Red Beans and Pork is a nice change to my normal chilli con carne. It needs to cook for quite a while to get that perfect taste and to allow the meat to tender properly. After an initial bit of cooking I put everything into the slow cooker and left it to do its thing. Add rice and ta-da dinner is served!

                Cajun rice is worth a try. I tend to leave out the chicken livers and pop some shrimps in there. Sometimes if I've got enough to work with in the fridge I'll add a bit of mackerel and/or haddock. You may say that sounds more like a jambalaya but turn over a couple pages to find Jamie's jambalaya recipe and you'll see it's not at all the same.

                Need to make a big sandwich? Want something other than cheese and onion and chicken and stuffing? Make a Muffuletta! I've never known that this is what it was called! Learn something new every day. Olives, Peppers, dried herbs, tomatoes, smoked ham, salami, provolone and mozzarella all in between some focaccia bread. Actually I really fancy some now.

                Jamie was introduced to alligator on his trip which if you get the chance do try as it is not just like chicken!

                I made the sweet potato pie yesterday and although I messed up a bit it was lovely. I can't for the life of me make strips of pastry so I used cookie cutters and placed star shapes over the top (it looked cool!) and the sweet potatoes I bought turned out to be white sweet potatoes! I hadn't read the label properly but they taste the same so no huge problem really. It just meant that my pie wasn't bright orange. I cooked it for about 10 minutes longer then Jamie says to as it needed it. My mum tried some and said it was great and took some home! Score! That is the best result anything I have ever made has gotten from her. Serves 10-12 people my backside more like 6-8.

                Arizona:

                Mexican breakfast, chilli cheese cornbread, and Navajo flat breads. A collection of recipes with Native American influences. I can't say that watermelon salad appeals to me but the rustic tortilla soup was wonderful. Lamb seems quite popular in this bit of the book.
                Peach cobbler is a dish I haven't had for ages. My stepmom used to make it and I was happy to come across a recipe for it in the book. Not tried it yet but it looks good.

                If you're like me and enjoy popcorn to a point where it's a bit wrong then you have give chilli popcorn a go. Found this on page 179 and let me just say YUMMY!

                Los Angeles:

                Breakfast tortillas, La Brea salad, mackerel wraps, tuna on roasted salad make for a bunch of recipes heavily influenced by its Mexican neighbour.

                The simplest of all the recipes is the Mexican street salad. I made it the other evening and had it as a side with Venison burgers. Delicious!

                Georgia:

                Welcome to the dirty south. A lot of the foods from my home state are influenced by its history. Jamie found out on his mission the history behind soul food and that we use a bit more salt then he's used to. Poor guy made a dish for a lady he'd met and no matter what he made they would tell him to add a bit more salt. He caught on rather quickly though. As with many places in American Georgia likes to hunt game so you'll find a number of recipes that include things you'll need to head up to the butchers to get your hands on. I watched the television episode of Jamie going through Georgia. It was really interesting to watch him meet the different people he did. Unfortunately there are still areas that are quite racist and Jamie wasn't quite sure what to do with himself when he was confronted with some views he didn't agree with. The episode made me feel a bit homesick. Of course these were going to be the recipes I pay the most attention too!

                Comforting turkey stew is a creamy dish that is easy to make and even easier to gobble down. Crab balls and salsa were gorgeous. I had a bit of trouble finding good crab meat. I finally found some at Waitrose but it was quite expensive so not something I would make regularly. I guess I should have gone to a fishmonger but there isn't one locally. I got everything ready according to the instructions and my only problem was getting the balls to stay as balls! The first one worked perfectly and then all the rest had to be forced and I made a bit of a mess. Well worth making but make sure you've got the time and patience to spend on making them.

                Peach ice cream from the peach state! Yum yum. Sounds silly but I have never had peach ice cream so will have to give this one a try.

                Rich grits is on the menu next week for my household. I love grits and my son does too but I have never made them for my other half and Jamie's twist looks really cool. Basically it's grits (similar to a thick maize-based porridge, cornmeal or polenta) with bits of sausage, prawns and a few spices. I thought it was odd in the show when Jamie mixed grits with some collared greens but the soul food chef said it was rather nice so might have to give that one a try soon too.

                There's a collection of fried foods and seafood recipes in this section followed by an all-time favorite of mine ... BBQ! Not for the faint hearted as Jamie learns to cut up the pig and get it ready for cooking. He joined a family team for a BBQ competition and although their BBQ entries didn't win they did win a smaller of the competitions which Jamie and a new friend had made. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning when they announced their second place win! Go team Bubba Grills!

                Beer Butt Chicken is something I have never heard of before but we tried it a little while ago when we had some friends over and it was quite a fun thing to have cooking when friends are around. It's basically a chicken cooking with a half full beer shoved up its ... umm ... yea there! :)

                Wild West:

                Jamie believes that some of the best cooking comes from people being resourceful and has dedicated the last chapter to the Wild West and cowboy type cooking.

                Grilled trout, mountain meatballs, and other things like Wild West rice. All recipes that use the bits people would be able to get hold of when living off the land.

                The cook book is really nice and has some great recipes. It's interesting to also read Jamie's bits about his travels and the friends he made. The pictures are nice too and give you an insight into the area the recipes come from.

                Some of the recipes can be found online (see above link)

                Enjoy!

                © oioiyou 2009

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