Newest Review: ... them into chefs. The TV series that goes with the book follows his first batch of protégées as he kneads them, rolls them and shape... more
Rediscover Jamie the Chef
Jamie's Kitchen - Jamie Oliver
Member Name: magenta23
Jamie's Kitchen - Jamie Oliver
Advantages: Easy to follow, great photos, loads of recipes, full of ideas
Disadvantages: A few misses on measurements
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.
Summary: Still a good cook
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