I have noticed a number of reviews for this book slating this recipe book for the layout of the recipes. I do not understand why it is called common sense when it is so uncommon. Yes, this is not a traditional layout of a recipe book and yes, he doesn't give some quantities and cooking times, BUT that's the POINT! Jamie wants you to cook; he wants you to make it your own. He wants you cooking, not just blindly follow a recipe. I cannot believe how lazy we have become. If everything isn't easy and instant we whinge and complain. Make it your own. This is your meal not Jamie's. This is a recipe book, not the word of law. You can change ingredients/dishes/puddings and it isn't rocket science to extract a recipe from another meal. Write it down on a separate piece of paper and fit it in where you can. If it takes you longer than 30 minutes, so what? You'll soon learn the recipe and next time it will take 30 minutes or less. All takes is a little patience, forward reading and organisation. If you get your kit out and ready and have your ingredients to hand there is not reason why you can't have a lovely home cooked meal in 30-45min. This is the time it takes to wait for a pizza to be delivered and 5 times less time than we spend watching TV in one day!!
Preaching over, I can review this book proper. I have to admit I, like everyone, was a huge Jamie fan in his naked chef days. I felt he had lost momentum and have not really bought any of his cookbooks for 5 years or so. It was his TV show which inspired me to buy this book. The recipes were simple, tasty and easy. The recipes mainly rely on the quality ingredients rather than any fancy cooking technique. It is all about multi-tasking and enjoying yourself. I have made more dishes from this recipe book than any other I own (I own over 150!). There are 4 things I especially like about this book. The first is the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in every meal plan. Nutritionally, the meals are excellent. The second is the number of vegetarian meals. I'm a confirmed carnivore, but I'm trying to eat less meat so having a good veggie repertoire is always appreciated. Thirdly, I like the fact the Jamie is very seasonal in the meals. You won't see him put a bramley apple dessert with an asparagus dish. Finally, he uses a lot of the same ingredients in the recipes which means that half used ingredients can go into another meal another night with some careful planning, so no waste! I found that the recipes are very forgiving; if I ran out of onions, I used spring onions instead and it didn't matter and nothing was wasted.
What don't I like about this book? The amount of washing up! Not a complaint really, as this is what cooking is all about. If you have a dishwasher, you're laughing. Be prepared to use a lot of garlic, chilli and vanilla paste! Yes, some of the ingredients are expensive, but there is no reason you can't substitute. Will it be the same? No, of course not. But the point is nowadays there are products for every budget.
If you want a recipe book that is exact in quantities and cooking time that you can follow blindly, this book is not for you. If you are happy cooking from scratch, with just a little guidance and are happy doing a little planning and multi-tasking, this book is for you.