Select one of the keywords
Happy Days with the Naked Chef    by Jamie Oliver order for
Happy Days with the Naked Chef
by Jamie Oliver
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Jamie Oliver is back! With yet another great cookbook. Given that such a young man has achieved what he has, I would like to be around when he fully matures. Oliver is a down-to-earth cook with down-to-earth dishes that any of us could make, but with unusual ingredients in old favorites. He likes to add raw corn to American style pancakes, top them with bacon and maple syrup. He says, 'they're pukka!'

A section in Happy Days called 'The Kid's Club' talks of involving kids in shopping and cooking - not to just make gingerbread men with grandmom, but everyday salads and family meals. It makes very good points, and the dried fruit gums appeal to the kid in me. Moving on, Marinated Mozzarella in Cr8me Fraiche with Lemon and Marjoram looks wonderful - especially dressed with sliced red chilis sprinkled over the top. The salads are new, original and dazzling, e.g. Scrummy Warm Arugula Salad. Several salads with raw artichoke don't quite make it for me. But I haven't tried them yet; they surely look good. Continue with Dressings; Cr8me Fraiche and Grilled Lemon Dressing is the first I'll try.

The pasta section of any cookbook is always my favorite. And the Happy Chef's is no exception. What inspired ingredients Oliver uses to create new and appealing pasta dishes! Spaghetti with Sweet Cherry Tomatoes, Marjoram and Extra Virgin Olive Oil looks great; as does Honeymoon Spaghetti (Oliver and his new bride were served this in a hotel in Positano, Italy), which is combined with Crab, Lobster, Mussels, Squid and Shrimp. Yum. I enjoy irreverent cooking terms which use the words bash and mush, pukka, brilliant, bloody good, and, my favorite, 'whopping it straight in your choppers'.

While extolling the benefits of eating fish twice a week, the chef gives brilliant recipes. The one for a whole baked salmon sounds pukka. Pan-Seared Scallops with Asparagus and Baby Leeks also appeals. I'm not too sure about Wicked Baked Sardines, but the look is good. Although I don't eat most meats, I have to admit the meat chapter is very appealing. Slow-Roasted Duck with Sage, Ginger, and Rhubarb Homemade Sauce? Wonderful. Marinated Pork Fillet Roasted on Rhubarb sounds improbable but looks beautiful. The author says Chicken in Milk is slightly odd but a fantastic combination. Superb Roast Beef, Best Spuds and Huge Yorkies looks like the ultimate roast for a special night.

There is a 'stonking little veg' section. Minty Mushy Peas, Smashed Celeriac and World's Best Baked Onions are 'smashing, pukka, the absolute dog's kahunas'! I'd go for the Baked New Potatoes with Sea Salt and Rosemary in a minute, or for the Roasted Veg. Chef Oliver claims anyone can bake bread and proves it by having kids make it for the photographic instructions; 'Get stuck in'. With a basic bread recipe, he offers nine simple recipes for 'fandabidozi' breads. There are Layered Focaccia with Cheese and Arugula or Gennaro Grands Cappella Rossa Calzone, to name just two. Sweet Cherry Focaccia Breakfast Stylie also appeals.

In the dessert section, he does something with pineapple that sounds crazy but is probably divine. Yogurt with Blueberry Jam and Elderflower Cordial seems worth a try. I'd almost kill for his fruit cobbler, and Cheeky Chocolate Mousse should be essayed for the name alone. Chocolate and Whole Orange Pudding must have come down straight from heaven. As does the rest of this cookbook, the Bevvie section abounds with good ideas. From the Best Hot Chocolate to Easy Peasy Ginger Beer, to Christmas in a Glass and Mango Lassi, Chef Oliver creates interesting and easy recipes. He tops off the Bevvie section with ingredients for a Sidecar that he especially recommends.

Oliver's ideas for living healthfully finish another wonderful cookbook. Don't skip this last part. There are some very good tips there ... especially the one entitled 'Eat slowly and enjoy your food.'

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews