Archive for April, 2009

Books: Jamie at Home

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver

Having been a fan of Jamie Oliver since his Naked Chef days, I have enjoyed watching his new Food Network show, Jamie at Home and I was excited to receive this cookbook for Christmas.  Because of space and weight issues, I am not able to take more than a couple of cookbooks with me when I travel.  I wasn’t sorry that I took this one.

A few years ago, Jamie Oliver moved back to the village of Essex, where he spent his childhood.  He became an enthusiastic gardner and wrote this cookbook.  The book is divided into four seasons  with vegetables, fruit and eggs (he has hens, of course) in the starring role of each recipe.  With the introduction of each featured ingredient, he has given detailed information on their varieties and how they are grown.  Though the book is well written and the pictures are lovely, a cookbook is ultimately about being able to successfully replicate the recipes.  I was very impressed with the success I have had.  The recipes sometimes feature an unusual combination of ingredients.  You might think of using penne for carbonara, but would you think of adding zucchini and fresh thyme?  It was delicious.  In another pasta dish, pappardelle with leeks, I needed to do some tweaking as I am apparently one of the few people on earth who does not appreciate the taste of porcini mushrooms.  I successfully diverted from the recipe by tossing sauteed cremini mushrooms with toasted breadcrubs and parmesan cheese.

The thing I most appreciate about the recipes he has created is the complexity of flavors he achieves using only a few ingredients and fresh herbs.  For the most part, the recipes use ingreadients that can be easily obtained by the home cook.  He does feature wild game in several recipes and many cooks may not have access to game or the acquired taste.   Naturally, he is a proponent of cooking with organic produce as well as meat and delves into ethical farming practices.  My only criticism of this cookbook is that the hardback version does not lay open.  I’m sure it works well in a cookbook holder but I had to use a 28 ounce can of tomatoes to keep it from flipping closed.