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on 18 October 2008
I am really delighted with this book, since buying it two weeks ago .. I've made the tomato and parsnip & ginger soup, mackerel pate, the cod wrapped in bacon, perfect roast veges, fish pie, chicken and leek stroganoff, chicken korma and pasta dish. I'm a person who tends to stick to the same thing or convenience food to ensure my 5 year old gets her tea on time.

This book is written in a matter or fact way and doesn't patronise the reader. The ingredients are clearly laid out and because many of the receipes use similar seasonings and basics, you can stock up on these without spending too much money.

I also like the under 20 minute dishes, perfect if you do want to prepare something fresh for tea time. I have lots of cookery books but most remain unused largely due to the extraordinary list of ingredients or complexity of the receipes. This book looks well used in two weeks and is the only one I actually keep in the kitchen.
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I'm not new to cooking from scratch but after years of doing things the same way and running out of ideas, I asked for this book for Christmas and it has improved my cooking no end. I'd got into the habit of doing spag bol or a curry or a roast and um... then running out of ideas. Since I got this book on Christmas Day I have made dumplings for the first time ever, made two casseroles the Jamie way and changed the way I cook chili. I've also updated the way I make a curry and noticed vast improvements. Nothing is difficult- the last thing he wants to do is put you off. He also shows you four variations on a basic dish- e.g a casserole with a pie topping, mash topping, a potato bake topping and the aforementioned dumplings. At the back are easy cakes and puddings and throughout are some fresh takes on ideas you may never have tried, or maybe, like me, you just needed the cobwebs blowing away from dyed in the wool cooking habits.

Tomorrow we are having fish pie the Jamie way, since my way involves about four saucepans and three hours of hard labour! You will also find that using these recipes you will end up eating more of your five a day fruit and veg and not really noticing, except that your food tastes better. Nothing is dificult to find , nor is it expensive. What makes this different from other cookbooks I own is that its simple, has lots of pictures of what things should look like at various stages, and doesn't ask you to go to a specialist spice shop for anything that you'll only use for one recipe. Jamie doesn't patronise and his enthusiasm is infectious.

This is already my favourtie cook book and I've got stacks of them! Highly recommended for cooks in a rut like me, students leaving home, or anyone (like me) who wants their kids to be healthy and for them to have fond memories of home cooking.
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I never liked Jamie Oliver when he started appearing on TV as The Naked Chef. He always seemed a bit 'too trendy' and his 'pucka' style left me wanting to roast my telly, but...

This book does something which I've seen many other books try to do - but whereas the other books have never really pulled it off, this book manages to satisfy the full range of budding home cooks from absolute beginners to accomplished domestic Gods/Goddesses.

This cookery book contains lots of simple recipes which can be used as a base for many others. The ingredients tend to be the stuff you either already have in, or can purchase quite cheaply. Gone are the fancy minuscule dishes you often see in books, here you get wholesome dishes which look as though they'll fill you up - and the rest of the family.

It's very well laid out, and extremely well illustrated. Those who lack confidence in the kitchen will love the images. For most of us it's a no-brainer to knock up an omelette, but for some the thought evokes panic - but the pictures here show exactly what you should be seeing in the pan at every stage of the process.

I'm not proclaiming to be a kitchen wizard, but I enjoy cooking for myself and my family. Some of the recipes here don't show me anything I don't know already, but there is still plenty of material here to inspire many a meal.

In a nutshell: This is the book Delia wishes Jamie never wrote - well, it might be. Jamie rips the crown from Delia's head to teach those who can't cook how to create great meals. And for those who already do cook, he shows us some great ideas ...and best of all, it's PROPER food! This book is a real asset for every home to have.

He might be one of the most annoying people on TV at times - but the guy is genuinely passionate about what he does, and he's damn good at it.
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on 19 October 2008
Like most of the other reviewers here I think this is a great book for everyone. Although it is aimed at people who are reluctant cooks don't let it put you off if you are more experienced. There are plenty of recipes here for you, too. I enjoy cooking and was worried it would be too basic for me, but far from it! Since receiving it on Thursday I have made the smoked mackerel pate and the chicken wrapped in poshy crispy ham, which were quick, easy and delicious. What I particularly like is the way Jamie uses a base, say for stews, rice or porridge and then gives you four alternatives when you have mastered the basics, so there is A LOT of recipes in here. For beginners there are loads of photographs to show you how things should look at each stage of the recipe. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Brilliant!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 31 October 2008
This is the third Jamie Oliver cookbook I've bought and already it's becoming my favourite. I'm not the most confident of cooks and so I appreciate the clear instructions and having lots of illustrations. The recipes however are what I particularly like about this book, because they are all the sorts of things that you actually want to cook on a regular basis: pasta, stir fries, curries, meatloaf, lasagne, roasts... My kids really liked the Chicken Fajitas and I thought the Mince Wellington was a great family meal option too. (It was a little time consuming to make, but not at all difficult). The fish pie was fine, but I prefer the fish pie recipe in the "Return of the Naked Chef" cookbook. Admittedly it's a little more complicated, but it's seriously, awesomely good and this one pales in comparison.

At times it feels like Jamie's written recipes to make them seem easier rather than because it actually makes them easier - for example, in his meatloaf recipe he calls for crushed cream crackers, presumably because that sounds more accessible than rolled oats - but really, oats are pretty quick and simple.

One thing I don't like about this book is that a lot of the recipes (at least two sections of the book) are for two people only. Jamie explains in the stir fry section that it's best to cook in two batches if you want more than two servings, but again this is time consuming and not the easiest solution when you're feeding a family. Also, some of the photographs are more confusing than helpful: for example, in the illustrations of salad ingredients, the basil and the mint look almost identical, as do several of the lettuces.

Ultimately though it comes back to the recipes: a great selection written in way that's very easy to follow. Well done Jamie.
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on 7 November 2008
I AM a person who has just never cooked. Having recently split up from my husband who did all the cooking, my poor kids were suffering due to my lack of ability, time and interest in getting creative in the kitchen. I have bought a couple of other cookbooks, and they are gathering dust on my shelves.

This book has transformed me, and I am not exaggerating. I have cooked fresh meals every night for the last two weeks, and actually look forward to the next meal I am going to make. I have a demanding job, and not much time, but the recipes in this book are so easy to follow and many of them so easy and quick that even I have managed to produce tasty meals - much to the astonishment of my children. They think their mother has been abducted by aliens and replaced with one that cooks!!

I am now starting to tackle some of the slightly more complicated recipes (but none are very complicated) as i now feel confdent that I can do this. The photographs are a great help and just what I need to keep me on the right track.

For the first time in my life I am enjoying cooking for my family, and please believe me when I say, if I can follow these recipes with such good results, then anyone can. I plan to buy another copy for my daughter when she goes to Uni next year. If you are a "non-cook" and will only ever buy one cookbook - make it this one.
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on 14 November 2008
I must own about 100 recipie books easily, maybe more. They cause me trouble in storing them and strife everytime we move...but no more ...I'm about to ditch most of them! I've had The Ministry for 3 weeks and have used more recipes from this than I have out of the other books combined!

I love the one recipe per left hand page and pictures showing stages and finished item on right side of pages, no flicking pages here, or pictures of tempting dishes and endless frustration trying to match recipe to correct picture 30 pages apart! Every recipe is pictured, so you know what it's supposed to look like!
There's not even lists of difficult to source ingredients, and there are many ideas of how to tweak recipies to make them into something else. I've never used so many fresh herbs in cooking, and they really do lift the quality and flavour of the meals. It's inspired me to start a herb garden of my own!

My family have particularly loved the Roast chicken - moist melt in the mouth and totally flavour packed - as is the consistantly good gravy - Bisto have lost me forever. I actually had no idea how easy it is and how good gravy could taste. Parmesan chicken and posh ham chicken great - although 2nd time used smoked bacon instead - just as good really. Salmon fishcakes gorgeous. The sauce with the meatloaf is fantastic, and have used this as a veggie main meal with couscous on its own (without bacon!)

Trouble is I'm being pestered to remake so many things...particularly Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake...heavenly.

I'm quite a confident and good home cook anyway, but have been guilty of getting stuck in a rut with old favourite meals cooked hundreds of times. I usually only dabble in recipe books at Xmas time. However we are all loving the Ministry.

I highly recommend this easy to follow, attractive and no nonsense book as the only one you need in the kitchen - except for Xmas stuff!
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on 7 December 2008
I bought this book a few months back for myself, a reasonable cook. However my girlfriend who maybe cooks a once a year if i am lucky picked it up and since then she has been busy cooking loads of the recipies. Most have turned out very well, a few exceptionally so. I have also cooked a great deal of the recipes and they are certainly designed with mass appeal at mind and the recipies are very family orientated, as oppose to the more "dinner party" vibe on many cook books. The ingredients required won't do too much damage to your wallet or generally have you walking round the supermarket looking for something random no one has every heard of either.
The thing I love above all about this book is the photography, firstly every recipe has pictures, most of them with multiple "walk through" type picture guides. As well as this I love they way this book ISN'T an excerise in artistic food photography. The pictures are all genuine down to earth shots and on the whole actually resemble what your creations will look like. Most cook books have these wonderful glossy photographs that make the food look divine, but often impossible to re-create in your own humble kitchen.
If there was one thing that I have found bad about this book it would be this: Lemon. I have nothing against it, and i don't know if Jamie has shares in a lemon grove farm somewhere but it seems most the recipes have lemon in. Sometimes this works of course, but sometimes the citrus flavour can over power the food, the fish pie is an exmple of this. I have learn't to be caution with his directions regarding lemons.
In summary a very user friendly cook book, packed full of tastey healthy recipes that are easy to cook. If you are a beginner in the kitchen this is the best book to start with.
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on 9 November 2008
I've been cooking for about two years and I have self-taught myself through buying an extensive range of cookery books. Most of these books happen to have been written by celebrity chefs but one thing you tend to miss out on if you're learning to cook through books like that is that you can miss out on learning some of the basics and many of the recipes are not the sort of thing you'll want to be making every day.

Before this book, I still wasn't confident cooking a roast from scratch, (other than roast chicken) but THIS book has a whole section on roasts. I didn't feel confident throwing a stew together without a recipe - this book gives you the basic bone structure to a simple stew that you can adapt a multitude of ways. There is a whole section on curries, a section on pasta. This book has a whole host of simple recipes for food, many of which can be cooked any day of the week but the most important aspect of the book is that I feel it gives you some basic knowledge that can inspire you to take charge and adapt and develop recipes and have a greater understanding of what works together.

I have complete respect for Jamie's aim to inspire a nation to cook. Two years ago, I didn't lift a finger in the kitchen but once I got started I couldn't stop and never looked back.

I think this is a great book and well worth having in the kitchen. The only slight down side I feel is the desserts section - which I found a bit less inspiring and seemed less about learning certain basics and more about quick cheat-like desserts.
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This is something a bit new from Jamie Oliver. In the past he's aimed at readers who already eat well, but this new book is aimed at people who can't cook at all. He kicks off with the easiest of things: number one is a steak sandwich. Everything comes with an exact timing that's around 20 minutes ("18 minutes"). Variations on the sandwich theme follow, like chicken fajitas. Then he introduces salads, which he "evolves" by adding different ingredients, starting with a pile of grated carrot and ending with something that looks like a meal.

Then he progresses through pasta dishes, and by halfway through the book, he's tackling substantial cooked meals like lasagna and chilli con carne. And then roast lunch. When you first learn to cook, you never imagine you'll ever be able to cook roast chicken, but he gives his usual careful instructions, and off you go.
Finally there's pudding.. cheesecake mmm... though I'm not totally sure how that fits into healthy eating. The book doesn't have many exciting new recipes for the long-time JO fan - but on the other hand, even for the experienced cook it's interesting to find out how he gets his roast lamb perfect, or how he makes a quick snack bowl of thai chicken noodles.

A lot of mouth-watering stuff in this one. I'm sure the book'll sell millions but anyway, that should give you a rough idea of what you're getting if you order here. And actually, if you just ate out of this book for the rest of your life, you'd have a pretty tasty time.
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