Top positive review
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Happy days over the stove
on 8 November 2001
The latest Jamie Oliver collection is as much a culinary pleasure as ever. The book production is stylish and feels more mature than the first volume (can't comment on the second) : out with the annoying illegible pastel blue titles that were difficult to read, and in with more tasty, unpretentious recipes using ingredients that are supposedly all available at a particular British supermarket if ever you are stumped for a place to find them. But more importantly, these recipes encourage the lads (and probably lasses too) to get down the shops, out of the oven-ready section, into the fresh produce sections, and then into the kitchen.
Although some of these recipes may be considered as fairly standard fare (toad in the hole, spag bol, chilli, and the fish finger buttie) and may not appeal to those who think of themselves as elite foodies, he has a great knack of demystifying ingredients and procedures as he goes along. The use of good flavours, loads of herbs and a minimum of cream - don't your arteries feel better? - continue to illustrate those tasty Italian and Euro-Thai styles which he and Nigel Slater have both cultivated so well. The cult of Jamie's personality may come through in the photos but who cares! The texts are light and fun to read. His enthusiasm simply oozes from the recipes. The kids' section is lively and serves a very useful purpose in the promotion of good food and good cooking. Having tried many of his recipes in the past - and speaking as a man who loves to slave over his stove - part of the fun is adapting them the second (and third, etc.) time around with a pinch of this and a slug of that.
The use of a recipe per page makes for a clear read and avoids editorial disasters such as the early 80s edition of a very famous tv cook's 3-part book where her truly divine squidgy chocolate log recipe tells you to "whisk until the mixture thickens" - then turn the page - "slightly - but be careful not to get it too thick"...!
So Jamie, what next? How's about a book of vegetarian recipes? If it can live up to the previous collections, I'm looking forward to it already!