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I really enjoyed this book, I never saw the TV series, but the idea of one of the best chef's in the country creating a book to help anyone cook using normal ingredients rather than some of the more expensive ones really appealed to me, so I bought the book, at the time I got it for £8 in Tesco's.
It actually retails for £25 but you can generally buy it for £12.50 in most high street retailers.
The idea of the book is that Jamie was disillusioned with people buying ready meals or take aways and wants to empower the nation to be able to cook filling healthy meals for the whole family, to tackle obesity and the unhealthy lifestyles we face. He wants everybody to pass on a recipe to a friend or family member and therefore develop a network where everyone in the country can cook at least one or two meals really well.
Published very recently the book is inspired by the original Ministry of Food which ran during the war, providing families with help and advice on how to cook with rations. The idea is to give people the tools to cut out junk food and cook a nutritional meal on a budget.
Hows the book set out
As introductions go this is very good, Jamie introduces himself and explains why he has created the book, there is a section where you pledge to pass ideas onto others, then there are two pages explaining all the essential kitchen utensils you'll need to create every recipe in the book, this is followed by a list of essential ingredients that you will need in your kitchen cupboards, all of these are covered by illustrated photos making the book even more accessible and less wordy.
Twenty Minute Meals
This section does what it says on the tin, listing a number of twenty minute meals you can create for yourself or others, the meals suggested include:
Butterflied Steak Sarnie - Using Fillet Steak, Ciabatta, Rosemary, Field Mushrooms and a griddle pan
Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous - This takes 18 minutes and looks absolutely delicious in the photo provided
Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yoghurt - Using household ingredients to create a lovely Indian snack
Prawns and Avocado with an Old School Marie Rose Sauce - 70's dinner party favourite reinvented for the noughties
Chicken and Leek Stroganoff - This has few ingredients and takes 19 minutes, it looks simple and easy to make
Asian Chicken Noodle Broth - This takes 17 minutes has a number of ingredients but looks amazing
Chicken Fajitas - Simple, tasty, i've tried this one and it is really easy, the flavours are great and it was really quick
Included in these descriptions are pages where people who've tried them describe how they feel about the recipes, each one also has a number of pictures showing it at various stages of creation.
Other sections covered in the book are:
Quick Pasta - Includes Classic Spaghetti, Cheats Tomato Sauce, Macaroni Cauliflower Cheese Bake, Baked Camambert Pasta - The dishes use supermarket pasta and normal ingredients, there are a number of other recipes and all are easy to make with distinctive flavours.
Tasty Stir Fries - Includes Chicken Chow Mein, Sweet and Sour Pork, Hardly any Prep Prawn Stir Fry, Super quick Salmon Stir fry and Sizzling Beef with Spring Onions and Black Bean Sauce - These dishes are fast, there are more ingredients but they offer taste explosions at decent prices with great flavours, there is variation here, but all the dishes are simple to make.
Easy Curries - Chicken Korma, Vegetable Jalfrezi, Leftover Curry Biriani, Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken Tikka Massala, Vindaloo, Aloo Gobhi, Thai Green Curry, Vegetable Bhaji's, light and fluffy rice and home made curry pastes - This is a really good section with great variation a page on making different kinds of rice and another on developing your own curry pastes, Jamie is aware how the nation eats and by providing a wide variety of curries is really helping people make their favourite meals at home with healthier ingredients.
Lovin' Salads - To balance the curry and pasta, he provides a list of salads, including a few pages, on building a salad, so one page shows how to make a green salad, another develops it with potatoes, the next page adds more flourishes, such as tomatoes, cucumber or carrots, this uncomplicates the process greatly. There is also a page on salad dressings and how to make your own healthy variations which is wicked. There are great pictures illustrating everything, there is a page explaining how to mix and match salad with a page of pictures of potential ingredients which is great for people like me who chuck everything in a bowl and hope for the best!
Simple Soups - To eradicate ready made soups which aren't as nice a good home made soup, this under-rated meal has been included here. Recipes include Spring Vegetable and Bean Soup, Leek and Potato Soup, Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup, Pea and Mint Soup, Tomato Soup, Cauliflower Cheese Soup, Lentil and Spinach Soup and Parsnip and Ginger Soup, all look really easy and its a great range of tastes and flavours to cover most peoples tastes, my favourite is the Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup which is a meal in a bowl, it has really powerful flavours that combine perfectly.
Homely Mince - This is possibly my favourite section as I like meat and mince is something I don't use enough, Jamie begins explaining how to make a home made burger, I have to admit i've not mastered this quite yet, but mine are getting better and they taste pretty good. Meatballs and Pasta, I have made this and it is worth the effort as they are delicious. Minced Beef Wellington, mince in pastry, looks amazing, Pot Roast Meatloaf, this looks wonderful and I understand the recipe now so am going to try this during the week, it looks really filling and tasty and not complicated at all. Bolognese Sauce is amazing and works every time I make it, its easy to make and really tasty, without have 100 ingredients and taking hours, Jamie explains how to pre-prepare for freezing too which is great for me coming home late from work. Lasagne, Jamies own version is very rustic, with big flavours although they are all fairly cheap ingredients. Chilli Con Carne and Mince and Onion Pie complete this eclectic line up and are simple to make while being absolutely stunning when you feel the glow of making something you didn't think you could.
Comforting Stews - I haven't made any of these yet, but this section is brilliant, it begins by explaining how to make a basic stew, what ingredients you need and then how to do it, it then offers variations which you can add to the stew for flavour, such as Beef and Ale, Chicken and White Wine, Pork and Cider or Lamb and Red Wine, once you've created the basic stew all four variations are simply a case of adding the extra ingredients for the stated time, Jamie then has a page in explaining how to add to the stew, with a page on making a pastry lid, a page on dumplings, how to turn the stew into a hot pot or cottage pie by adding sliced or mashed potatoes, there are pictures throughout and you feel hungry just looking at them.
Family Roasts - The idea of this is that roasts are a great family time, possibly the only meal of the week when the whole family sits down together, so if you can cook that your creating tradition and family time, so this is to be encouraged rather than eating ready or microwave meals. Jamie shows how to make perfect roast beef, which looks exceptional and I can't wait to cook once February Pay day comes, Roast Pork, Roast Chicken and Roast Lamb are also created and all look wonderful, i've made the roast chicken and its simple, works with most birds and is really tasty, there is a page on creating the accompaniment, Roast vegetables, which is really simple and once done once you won't need the recipe again. There are also pages on making gravy, stuffing, Yorkshire Puddings and sauces to accompany roasts, for me every part of a roast is covered here in easy language with great pictures and step by step guides. It makes roast dinners easy. Delish Veg - This is to make everybody eat more vegetables for taste as well as for their health, the recipes are easy and really healthy and quick to make, these include: Baked Carrots in a bag, Dressed Asparagus, Best New Potatoes, Buttered Spinach, Broccoli with asian dressing, minted peas,Best ever French Beans, Baked Creamy Leeks, Baked French Potatoes (Made this last night, god it was lovely) and Cauliflower Cheese, as well as Braised Bacon Cabbage and Mexican style corn, there are a wide variety of styles and flavours here, some can be eaten as a main meal some as snacks and some as accompaniments, but they are really great ideas and i've had four of the recipes and they add to the vegetable flavour bringing it out more rather than smothering it.
Quick Cooking meat and fish - To take away the fear of fresh fish and meat, the idea is only to use sustainable options too, Jamie also explains how you can eat meats from the RSPCA Freedom Food Standards meats and fish which are great alternatives to factory line supermarket products. Recipes include: Pan-Fried Glazed Pork Chops - These are stunning, I made them last Sunday and felt very, very proud, but it was really easy. Griddled Beef Fillet with Horseradish Sauce, Spanish Style Griddled Steak (Using Paprika, Grilled Chillies and Peppers), Pork Kebabs, Crunchy Garlic Chicken, Parmesan Chicken breasts with Crispy Posh Ham, Griddled Lamb Chops with Chunky Salsa, Moroccan Lamb with CousCous, Salmon baked in a foil Parcel with Green Beans and Pesto (So simple and yet so tasty), Asian Style Steamed Trout, Grilled Trout topped with Mustard and Oats, Simple Pan-Fried Trout, Baked Cod wrapped in Bacon with Rosemary, Pan Fried Curried Cod, Griddled Tuna and Asparagus and Italian Pan Seared tuna. There are then a few pages detailing how to make the sauces, salsa's and oils mixed with the dishes, these are splendid accompaniments and a real nice touch, none are too flashy but all have amazing flavour and texture and compliment the main dish brilliantly.
Classic Fish - Making scary old fish a bit more fun, Jamie creates Salmon Fishcakes, easy to make, lovely mix of ingredients, I thought mine were heavenly and felt like a real expert having made them, but its down to how simple and well described the recipe is. Other recipes which I haven't yet made, include: Smoked Mackerel Pate, Fish Pie, Kedgeree, Salmon En Croute, Paella (Can't wait to try this one) and Prawn and Sweetcorn Chowder.
Kick-Start Breakfasts - Trying to wake people up that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for kids, Jamie is trying to encourage people to get back into them, as you burn them off during the day, they provide energy and give us the strength to get through the day. He provides a good mix of breakfasts including: A Healthier Full Monty (Grilling bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms rather than frying), Porridge (He provides a basic recipe then gives four tasty looking variations you can add), One cup Pancakes, Tropical Yoghurt and Mango (All one breakfast, a bit too sweet sounding for me but the end product looks good in the photo!), home made Granola, Stewed fruits, a fresh fruit selection, Frozen Fruit Smoothies (Great for energy)Boiled eggs, Fried eggs, Scrambled eggs, Poached eggs and four variations on omelette. I think the idea is that eggs are good for you with iron and protein so its better you eat some even if scrambled than none at all.
Sweet Things - For all you dessert addicts out there, here are some lovely desserts, Vanilla Cheesecake with a Raspberry Topping, Ice Cream (Basically this is using your own Ice Cream but adding a twist such as rum and raisins or Dulche de Leche or Pineapple and Chilli (!) just to add variation and flavour)Fruit Scones, Quick Steamed Microwave Puddings, Banana Tarte Tartin, Cookies, Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake, Cheats Sponge Cake with Summer Berries and Cream, Baked Apples, Chocolate Fruit and Nut Tart and Sweet Shortcrust Pastry.
What do I think I think this is a brilliant book, every recipe has a corresponding photograph, most have a full page, for some basic recipes you are provided with 4 variations you can add to it, the idea behind the book is actually a really good one and I believe Jamie is truly passionate about the countries health. The book as you can see is incredibly varied, there are so many recipes I would enjoy that are neither poncey or contain so many ingredients it would be cheaper to eat out. The recipes I have tried have been easy to follow and have tasted great and there are so many more I want to go back to, the good thing about how easy they are is that after 2-3 tries you can make them from memory. I would recommend this book to anyone who isn't an expert who enjoys good food on a budget and isn't fully conversant with how best to combine flavours or textures.
This review has been posted on Dooyoo by me under the same username