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Who is Jamie Oliver?
Well where do you start? Chef, Business man, Charity Founder, MBE, Preacher?
With the many things Jamie Oliver has done over the years, one of things he's best known for is being from Essex! He describes himself as 'not the brightest banana in the bunch,' but even still he worked first for Antonio Carluccio and then on to the River Café as sous chef where he got noticed during a BBC documentary on the famous restaurant and within a year had his own TV show, number one best selling book and had cooked for the Prime Minister.
Since that whirlwind year in 1997 there has been no stopping him. He's now had 16 TV shows, started his own charity, opened numerous restaurants all over the country and now abroad, has endless products in the shops, written 14 best sellers, changed the way the nation's schools eat, got himself an MBE, became the face of Sainsbury's which earns him a reported £2 million a year so unsurprisingly features on the Sunday Times rich list. In addition to all that he has also found the time to get married and have four children. He did fail at one thing - trying the change America's eating habits. So he's not perfect. Oh and his middle name is Trevor.
Jamie's Kitchen / Fifteen
Jamie's first books and TV series, The Naked Chef were all about food, cooking, ingredients, recipes. Jamie's Kitchen, published in 2002, was the first Oliver book to break away from The Naked Chef title and the first time Oliver started mixing food and politics.
Jamie says in the introduction to the book, that the idea from Jamie's Kitchen came back when he was working at River Café. It was a conversation with a colleague who had been working with problem children. She said that giving them some responsibility was the key and cooking classes were really helping them. Five years on from that conversation, Jamie Oliver, using his own house as collateral, started Fifteen. A restaurant (or now a chain of restaurants) and charity that would take on 15 unemployed young people with no real career path per year and turn them into chefs.
The TV series that goes with the book follows his first batch of protégées as he kneads them, rolls them and shapes them into accomplished chefs. It may have alienated some fans who wanted to watch a cookery show, but the book shouldn't disappoint as it's packed with tasty recipes and the idea that if 15 people who've not cooked before can master them, so can we.
A lot of cookery books that come from these concept programmes sometimes have too much about the story of the show and very little recipes. Jamie gives us a three page run down of the story of Fifteen and how it came about, a few tips on shopping for ingredients and your kitchen kit and then it's back to back food. This book contains over 100 recipes, broken up with beautiful photos, not only of the dishes so you know what you're aiming for, but also of Jamie at fish markets, shopping, collages of influences and so on. He doesn't fill his books with hundreds of words that, let's face it, you won't read but chucks in photos to tell the story behind the food. In addition to all these recipes he also manages to fit in master classes on knife skills, pastry and making pasta.
This book is different from a lot of recipe books that I own in that the recipes aren't split up by ingredient. season or country but by the cooking technique used. The chapters in the book are as follows - Cracking Salads, Cooking without Heat, Poaching and Boiling, Steaming and Cooking in the Bag, Stewing and Braising, Frying, Roasting, Pot - Roasting and Pan Roasting, Grilling and Chargrilling, Baking and Sweet Things. Of course if you want a recipes for certain ingredient just look it up in the index but I quite like this way of presenting the recipes. A lot of people are good at one type of cooking and not so good at others, also it's got a real teaching feel about it and you can tell why those Fifteen young people listened and learned form Oliver so well.
It's no secret that there is a real Italian influence to Jamie's cooking so expect lots of pasta, tomatoes and seafood, which all good by me! I will confess I've not tried out every recipe in the book, but I've owned this book for a good few years and have tried a fair few. For those who love pasta, do try once in a while to make your own. Jamie's master class in here is very easy to follow and inspired me to buy a pasta machine. There's many easy to follow recipes suggesting the best ways to serve your pasta, and I find after you've done one or two you come up with many more of your own.
Last night I made the delicious 'skate baked in the bag with artichokes, purple potatoes, capers and crème fraiche' I've also made this one with sweet potato and it's really good. That's what I mainly use Jamie's books for - ideas as much as following recipes step by step. I may have an ingredient I don't know what to with or just fancy making something a bit different and I consult Jamie for ideas!
The recipes are laid out simply and are easy to follow. All his titles for dishes are simply describing the dish, nothing pretentious or cheffy. (Apart from one 'Surprise Pudding' - but what's a cookery book without a surprise pudding??) There is a short description about the dish, this may be where he got the idea, what to serve it with, alternatives or tips but it's always worth reading this bit first. The ingredient quantities are usually to serve four so bare that it mind. I've learned my lesson and write out the correct quantities for how many I'm serving first. Even if it's easy maths like simply halving each quantity, I can quite easily get to into the cooking and I've have remembered to half the first few ingredients, and forgotten by half way in and that's how disasters happen! You could do a Delia of course and measure all the bits out in little bowls first - though think of the washing up!
Jamie is known for his slap dash relaxed approached to cooking. I remember watching The Naked Chef with my Nan and watching her horror as he measured out butter by just scooping it out the tub with his hands! I like that about him though, and when he came out it was a refreshing change to the stuffiness of the cookery programmes around at the time. He made cooking cool. That said, while his relaxed chuck it all in style works with some dishes, when I am trying something new I like to get measurements right and as I get more accomplished at a dish I can do it more by eye. This was the case with Jamie's 'Slow Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes with Baby Leeks and Basil.' In the introduction to the dish he describes it as a 'slap dash' dish, which probably was a warning that it may not go right! It uses lots of balsamic vinegar which is supposed to go sweet as you roast the dish. Mine stayed acidic even though I roasted it a long time and the next time I knew to use less vinegar. A tip when this happens with a recipe is to put a post it note on the page with a little reminder so the same mistakes aren't made next time.
I know a lot of people don't like Jamie, but I do. I agree with a lot of the things he stands for and I love his food. Even if you don't like Jamie the man though, I'd urge you to discover Jamie the chef, as his recipes are simple tasty and inspiring. I first got into Jamie when I was just coming out of school and I think it's down to him and reading his books I didn't go down the route of being a student who only ate beans on toast and really wanting to teach myself how to feed myself and friends and family properly.
Jamie's Kitchen is user friendly and not just a cookbook but a well thumbed reference book which is a real favourite on my bookshelf. A great investment at £12.99 at the time of publishing, it has been reprinted a few times but I think they've kept the price about the same and you can always try Amazon and Ebay for used copies.
Some of the measurements are a little off, and if I dish doesn't workout first time I urge you to think why, make a note and and try again. Experimentation and practice is what cooking is all about. I may have had the odd miss with this book, but the majority have been hits first time. If you only do one thing from the book, make your own fresh pasta. You'll never look at your Spag bol in the same way again.
When Jamie first launched Fifteen, his restaurant staffed by disadvantaged kids who wanted to turn their life around and develop a career, he accompanied it with a warts-and-all documentary that charted his progress (or sometimes lack of it!) and attempted to show just how hard it really is to be successful in catering. This is the book that Jamie released to go along with the T.V series and features a slew of recipes that he used to train his rebellious youngsters into becoming creative geniuses!
As a chef by trade, I tend to find Jamie a little bit annoying and sometimes not as big and clever as he thinks he is but this was a good show, the first of his Documentary-style programmes intended to convey a message as well as showing off his talents, and the book does as good job of accompanying it.
The recipes are very colourfully illustrated and the book looks very nicey-nicey and would not look out of place on your coffee table. The recipes inside are of restaurant quality but made easier to follow for those not classically trained. I like it a lot because it shows what you can do with just a litle enthusiasm and a touch of skill and I personally think this is a very good book for those amateurs wanting to impress at a dinner party; even I have used it on occassion when I wanted to create the oooh factor at a social gathering and I do cooking every blooming day as a living!
It is not perfect and there are a few ingredients that you will not normally stock in your domestic kitchen and might have to go out and find but overall this is a good little book with some very big ideas! And you get to read about some of the people you saw on the T.V show too!
Jamie's kitchen has proven to be a staple for dinner in our household: With simple recipes that are easy to follow Oliver provides a range of different ideas covering your everyday basic needs.
I find many cook books have fantastic images and recipes that sound extremely appetizing however when it gets to a Monday evening and you are looking for something simple, easy and delicious to make, of course there are always 3 or 4 ingredients that are missing. With Jamie's kitchen he has still provided phenomenal images of his meals (Often we have trouble deciding which one we want to try) but have never found sourcing a problem as he provides recipes that can be made with all of your basic household items.
His recipes are clearly written and the directions are simple and easy to follow with clear explanations of each process. Personally I have found it to be a great tool in the kitchen that I refer back to time and again, and have even purchased the rest of his collection.
I would recommend this book for a wide variety of people and have brought it as a gift for several friends - Proving to be useful for busy families, nervous students and sometimes when you just fancy a change for dinner.
This is a book which rewards you for swallowing your pride and going back to basics. Each chapter includes basic information which you will realise you had done without up till now, but with which your cooking will be either easier, better or more enjoyable.
There is a definite Italian flavour to the book and the chapter on gnocchi was a revelation for me. It is never too complicated and if it does sometimes border on condescending the love with which he talks about the food helps to negate this. Indeed the enthusiasm here is enough to massage your taste buds and encourage you into spontaneously inviting all your friends round for a Jamie-like get together (moped and bannister not required).
The recipes themselves are easy to follow, the dishes are simple to construct and he leaves you woth enough freedom to begin to enjoy the journey into exploring food for yourself. This is a mirror of the journey described for the Fifteen foundation students who learn how to taste and appreciate what goes with what. This it seems is the purpose of the book and I for one learned loads from it.
Too much of Jamie? I think the guy is rapidly moving towards saintdom. If he gets any more connected with the establishment he may even have to drop the mockney accent for plummier tones (pun intended).
This book was scanned and sent to me via email - I know, I know copyright and all that!
Brilliant is how I would describe it - impressed many people at dinner parties and the cooking is so easy! The pictures really help so you know how the finished product should look! Had some hits and misses - the misses were completely spectacular - particularly something that turned out looking something like Marmalade!
The original did have several pictures in of Mr Oliver - a few too many if you ask me but I soon got that sorted out and binned the pages I didn't need in the recycling!
WHAT IS IT?
Jamie's Kitchen is the cookery book written to accompany the Channel 4 TV Series of the same name. The series was broadcast last year and followed the trials and tribulations of Jamie Oliver training 15 unemployed young people to become chefs and open and run a restaurant. The book features recipes shown on the series along with many others.
WHAT IS IT LIKE?
The book is a large glossy cook book. It does take up a lot of room on your worksurface whilst you are using it. The RRP is £25 but when it was published most shops were selling it for around £12 which is what I paid for it from WH Smith.
The book has lots of glossy photographs with every recipe having an accompanying photograph, an essential I think for a cookbook so you know the meal looks as it is supposed to. However every couple of pages there are photos of Jamie himself, a little too much in my opinion unless you are a big fan of the Naked Chef himself.
WHAT IS IN IT?
The book is divided into 9 Main Chapters and looks at different cooking techniques including poaching, boiling, steaming, roasting, grilling and baking.
Each recipe is preceded by an introduction by Jamie giving advice regarding the dish and often suggesting ideas for changing the ingredients.
Throughout the book there are photographs showing step by step instructions on different cooking techniques such as blanching tomatoes, boning chicken and filleting fish. These ae easy to follow and good to refer back to.
There are also step by step instructions on making pasta from the basic ingredients to make the dough, how to roll it out, shape it and make the sauces. I have tried this and the whole process takes forever but the finished result tastes so much better than bought pasta. I certainly wouldn't recommend doing it every day but for special occasions its good.
WHAT I LIKE
My favourite recipes in the book are Taglierini with a simple sweet tomato sauce and shrimps. In other words a pasta dish with a creamy tomato sauce and prawns. Its really simple to make and tastes superb as the sauce has a kick from the Brandy. My other favourite is Roast Squash and Pancetta Risotto. I had never tried squash before I bought this book but its really yummy. The risotto takes some time to cook and you have to stand over it basically stirring almost constantly but the finished result is well worth it.
The book has something for everyone, whether you want to impress your friends with a dinner party creation or you just want some simple warm food on a cold day, there is a recipe for you. And if like me your favourite course is dessert, then there is Baked Chocolate Puding, Hazelnut Torte and Banoffee Pie which should satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
In summary Jamie's Kitchen is well worth a read and with so many recipes is a cookery book you'll use again and again.
Jamies kitchen was on channel 4 it was about him training 15 unemployed people to become chefs so that he and them could open and work in his new restruant which was called 15. I myself watched the program i found it very enjoyable so i could not wait for the book.I purchased the book at Asda it was £15 it should have been £25 so i really got a bargain.The book is very bulky and heavy so make sure you have loads of room,the book is written in simple intructions which is great it has lots of recipies in it from starters to meals to desserts as well as tips on things like cutting herbs how to cut meat correctly so you are learning new skills as you read as well cooking.I found it great that on some recipies not only did it have a basic recipe it also had variations of the recipe like different flavourings.I myself have cooked a few meals from the book which have turned out good, i have also found the meals nice to eat even tho i am not a fan of healthy eating all the time. I would say if you like Jamie Oliver and you like cooking then buy this book.
Jamie Oliver is setting up a new restaurant, which is also a training school for young chefs, and you're invited to find out how he gets along.