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Jamie's Kitchen    by Jamie Oliver order for
Jamie's Kitchen
by Jamie Oliver
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The inside cover calls this new cookbook from dynamic chef Jamie Oliver 'the ultimate guide for people who love great food and want to cook. It's packed with clear, no-nonsense advice and inspiration, as well as over 100 brand new recipes ...'. We are told that Oliver feels it was time to give something back to the career that has given him so much, and has started a cooking school in London to give kids a chance to learn a trade. This cookbook contains recipes from that school, which will eventually open a restaurant run by these same kids. Apparently, profits will be used to send the young chefs to work around the world, in order to perfect their own styles.

Jamie says 'I'd like you to have a go on your own and think of me as a mate who's on hand to give you a bit of extra guidance. I want to give your cooking a kickstart, so be creative, give it your best shot, and, as always, have a laugh.' His instructions are clear and easy to understand. He would urge you to try the dish that appeals to you and then play with it to see how you could make it your own. Oliver starts his recipe section with 'Cracking Salads'. The Purple Potato Salad looks strange, but I'd love to try it. I'm a sucker for salads – the more ingredients the better. Fava Bean and Crispy Pancetta Salad with a Pea, Pecorino and Mint Dressing sounds chukka. As does Stir-Fried Warm Salad of Shrimp and Baby Zucchini. Cooking Without Heat uses the acidic properties of citrus fruit or vinegar to partly cook meat or fish. This procedure, called ceviche, intrigues me. How about Citrus Seared Tuna with Crispy Noodles, Herbs and Chilli? Or Quick Marinated Red Snapper with Crispy Ginger, Shallots and a Citrus Dressing. Marvelous! The Pomegranate and Gin Cocktail sounds crazy enough to try for an after dinner glug.

Poaching and Boiling follows with terrific recipes and sound advice. The chef likens his Roasted Sweet Garlic, Bread and Almond Soup to 'putting a bunch of old friends together and having a good party'. Roasted garlic has a flavor all its own and this sounds divine. Oliver then moves on to Pasta with a Handy Pasta Recipe, instructions and how-to pictures included. I'm drooling reading the ingredients for Pesto Sauce. The skinny on Slicing Herbs and Leaves, cooking Risotto, making Easy Chicken Stock reads like lessons from a master chef. There's a lesson on Steaming and Cooking in the Bag along with appropriate recipes. Chinese Chicken Parcels look gorgeous. (The photos of food in this book are spectacular.) There's a necessary lesson on Chopping and Slicing. Jamie says that 'The most important thing about using a knife is not to take off all your fingers' (good advice) and demonstrates proper and safe methods.

Stewing and Braising next. Special Chicken Stew would be perfect for my lunch. Where's Jamie when you need him? I'd travel to Morocco for Moroccan Lamb Stew, but I don't have to. The recipe is right here, calling me. Need to know how to bone a chicken? It's right before your eyes. Dark, Sticky Stew looks like a good winter's dish and 'is dead cheap to make.' Next – Frying, both Shallow and Deep. Jamie put the recipe for chips (French Fries to us Americans) in the book because 'if they’re cooked properly they’re one of the tastiest things in the world.' Roasting, Pot-Roasting and Pan-Roasting are next. These recipes are too luscious for me to highlight just a few. The same goes for Broiling and Grilling. Take my word for it that these recipes will take your breath away and produce a standing ovation when served to family and/or friends.

The same goes for the Baking and Sweet Things pages. These desserts are to kill for. Even a carrot cake baked with beets instead of carrots! I'd almost give up my first-born for Baked Chocolate Pudding! A blow-by-blow pictorial of how to make the perfect sweet pastry will prove invaluable – when you make each of the tarts in this section. And you will. The problem will be which one to make first. At the end of Jamie's Kitchen is a recipe for The Perfect Basic Bread, to use when you bake Tomato Focaccia or Rosemary and Raisin Bread or maybe calzones or garlic bread. I guess by now you've realized I like this book. It would make a great gift for the beginning cook as well as for someone who loves cooking and likes to try new and varied ideas.

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