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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!
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on 21 November 2001
I have an obsession with cookery books, anyone in my family will tell you.... I buy them willy nilly and then only use one or two recipes out of the hundreds listed.
I thought there was no hope for me, that I was destined to end up with rows upon rows of cookery books with useless recipes until "The Naked Chef" came to my rescue!
Now I have books where there are hundreds of recipes for me to use, not only am I blinded by the colourful photos that have me drooling (Sorry Jamie, the food - not you!) but the recipes are fool proof and seem to work all of the time, life is easy, time is on my hands and I do get a chance to drink with my mates.
All I can say is buy the book, it is fun, easy to read and simple - a bit like me! Seriously, a super gift for anyone, I have just bought it for my Sisters birthday, I suggest that anyone looking for a fun and useful present does the same.
In the meantime Jamie, if you ever want to cook round mine you are more than welcome!
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on 9 September 2001
I can't help liking Jamie Oliver - he comes over as a nice lad. His enthusiasm and lust for nice and easy grub is admirable, and his ideas, cooking styles and recipes are great. But...have we seen it all before in his two previous Naked Chef books?
When you flick through 'Happy Days' the design and photography of the book is just the same - fine - it keeps the continuity of the Naked Chef theme going, but when you find recipes for Toad-in-the-hole, Chilli con Carne and Fish Finger Buttie one wonders whether Jamie fans may feel a little cheated. Is he scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas? And have we seen just too many pictures of him and the lovely Jules leading such a laid back lifestyle?
Again, there are lots of salads, bread, and pasta section with a slightly different twist to reflect his travels to Japan and America. Fair enough.
But whilst reading through other recipes I felt I had read them somewhere before - maybe in one of Nigella Lawson's books (the American pancake recipe in 'Goddess' ? and the passion for Rhubarb?)Maybe I own too many cook books!
On a positive note, there are some ground breaking gems - Chicken in Milk (weird but fantastic), Hamilton Squash (for veggies) are worthy of note.
There are some nice and simple but look and taste great quickies too - the yoghurt with blueberry jam and elderflower cordial is an absolute winner.
What is new is a section for kids - which is fun (but again this has been done by Nigella in both 'How to Eat' and 'Goddess')- although the recipes are different.
Overall, 'Happy Days' will be no doubt another success for Mr Oliver. I understand also that it will be his last in the Naked Chef series - a reflection perhaps on the recipes becoming a little watered down and spread thinly. Its probably time for him to embark on new ventures.
'Happy days'is worth buying but don't expect to be swept off your feet. Let's face it, we're not just buying the book for the recipes - we're buying it to get a snapshot of Jamie's lifestyle. And so, this series of books has become a crossover of supercool cooking meets 'Hello!'. Enjoy!
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on 7 September 2001
Jamie Oliver has done it again producing yet another book which will have you running to the kitchen to get cooking.
The trademark cheeky geezer style remains the same and the book is as much of a feast for the eyes as the earlier two. Full page colour photos of most of the dishes will have you salivating in anticipation; the food in this book demands to be cooked right now.
The recipes follow the familiar Oliver style; good fresh seasonal produce, gutsy flavours, loadsa herbs, minimal fuss and measurements by the handful.
Jamie's creed remains live to eat, don't eat to live but his style takes account of the fact that us lesser mortals are not full time chefs who can think about and prepare food full time with unlimited access to the best suppliers. His unbounded enthusiasm for his subject is utterly infectious and the chapter on cooking with children will hopefully inspire a generation of kids, and their parents, to look beyond chicken nuggets and beef burgers.
His straightforward approach to food means that the recipes are completely undaunting. This is a book which will provide many meals to be cooked as therapy at the end of a long hard day.
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on 6 November 2001
Even if you are getting tired of Jamie, and lets be honest the Naked Chef has had a lot of exposure recently, you still couldn't fail to be enervated by this book.
Once again Jamie seems to have managed to give the avid cookery book reader, cook, and collector of cookery books a bit of himself - something fresh, enthusiastic, certainly worth having, even if only for the occasional dip.
His recipes are sometimes simple, probably obvious to those in the know, but always effective and encouraging to the inexperienced (ie all those not working in Michelin star'd restaurants). It's strange but he makes you believe in his philosophy that it's hard to go wrong with simple techniques and good ingredients.
So confidence in cooking is bred from trying and practice and because you half believe it will work you have a go and try. Only half the battle, not a science but even when you fail you don't feel you let yourself down.
For my own part I have never read one of his books without wanting to cook something and I know his natural enthusiasm for food and cooking just comes across seemingly in his writing, to all ages. This book is no exception.
My 20 year old student son eats even better because of Jamie, and Borough Market is now his favourite haunt on a Saturday morning. Happy days indeed.
Like the good school teacher - we end up believing in ourselves and only realise years later it's because the teacher didn't knock the confidence us to start with.
If only one recipe in this book is as good as his rissoto recipe in the first and the sea bass baked with herbs in the second, well it really is money well spent. Well worth buying. A feel good, eat good book for all ages.
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on 14 November 2001
The naked chef does it again! More fab recipes. I was a child in the '60s and grew up with TV cooks of the Fanny Craddock ilk, very upper class types, making everything look cloaked in mystery and terribly difficult! Jamie Oliver is like a breath of fresh air! He makes good cooking accessible to everyone. NO building towers of food, al la Rhodes, NO complicated recipes to follow. Jamie is the only TV chef I have ever seen cook in REAL kitchens. His recipes are easy and a joy to follow, no complicated terms that you don't understand! His writing style is a joy, he writes as he speaks and it is SIMPLICITY itself to produce good quality nosh with very little FUSS. No wonder young people love his books. This new book includes a section for kids, get them in the kitchen get them cooking with Jamie! If you haven't tried his books before, go on treat yourself, chuck out the ready meals.... get your laughin' gear round his tucker, I promise you darlin' his food is truly Pukka!
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on 21 October 2002
Bought this book for my boyfriend (can't cook, won't cook type) last christmas as a bit of joke - never looked back - he's totally hooked. The Chilli Con Carne is delicious, Rosemary potatoes fab. Last week made the cod with advocado, prawns etc but swaped the cod for trout (MMmmm!)The book has a number of good receipes but watch out for the 'Favourite Curry Sauce' - its very good but stinks the whole house out for weeks. Made the curry at some friends once and we've been banded - have made it since but on a camping stove outside!
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on 12 March 2002
After looking for this book on Amazon in the US - and waiting and waiting AND waiting - I finally decided to order it here. I realize now I made a HUGE mistake waiting - it is simply wonderful - very amusing - very practical and lets all of us Jamie Oliver fans see another part of the irresistable Naked Chef. I think it is a great gift for the chef for has everything and even for those just learning to cook. I have heard some complain that it (the recipes) aren't exact enough - but cooks all around know that cooking is simply trial and error but the inspiration is what is conveyed to those eating your culinary creations and Jamie Oliver does exactly that in this book! Besides his entire premise is that cooking doesn't have to be "cheffy" - a barrier that I really believe too many abide too. So get out there and get cracking - soo-o many recipes and so little time!
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on 10 September 2001
The Jamie backlash may have begun in earnest, but the naked chef is still one of the best. Yes, he may be putting himself about a bit too much on numerous tv ads, live tours and ill advised musical careers but it cannot be denied, the boy can COOK.
As with his two previous books, this one is full of simple yet delicious recipes and it is difficult to know which ones to try first. The food photography is magnificent and really gets the tastebuds tingling but the best thing about this book is that it exudes Jamie Oliver's passion for cooking and eating.
A new addition to the formula of his previous books is that of a section for kids, illustrated with pictures of some nippers getting all floury. This includes some yummy recipes and great ideas such as 'Smush ins'!
There are different sections for salads, vegetables, fish, meat and meals that can be rustled up quickly and easily. The recipes are easy to follow and, once you've built up your store cupboard, the ingredients are not particularly hard to come by. Who could resist having a go at recipes with names like: 'The easiest, sexiest salad in the world' or 'Superb roast beef, best spud and huge yorkies'.
If you enjoy relaxed cooking, eating, drinking and having a good time with your mates, this is the ideal book to ensure you can always whip up a fab pasta dish or do something near miraculous with a lump of fish and a piece of greaseproof paper. Buy this book and stop eating beans on toast!
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on 5 January 2002
Without any knowledge to cooking whatsoever I was brought this book by a friend. One fairly expensive trip to the supermarket to stock up on key ingredients is all that is needed. The first meal that I cooked was a true delight - better than anything I'd ever tasted. The recipes are a mix of meat, fish, pasta and salad dishes. The great thing is that after cooking them once you remember them for life. I will now purchase his others. Well done Jamie on bringing cooking to the masses.
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