Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver. Michael Joseph, 2005; Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver. Michael Joseph, 2011.
I bought Jamie’s Great Britain because I enjoyed the television series and I am interested in British food. It’s my heritage, and British classics cooked well are always good. I like the idea of adapting classic dinners with immigrant influences. In spite of this, I have rarely cooked from this book so now is its time to shine.
Soup Monday brought us creamed mushroom soup on p48. This is a nice idea for a cold winter night. Mushroom soup, with mushrooms on toast on the side. For two, cook about 300g mixed mushrooms in olive oil with sliced garlic until the mushrooms are caramelised and any liquid has evaporated. Season and set about 1/3 of the mushrooms aside to reheat later for the toast. Add chopped onion, celery, a bay leaf and cook until the vegetables have softened a little. Pour in a shot of brandy and cook down then add 50g rinsed basmati rice, a litre of chicken or vegetable stock, bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for 20 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, mix a couple of tsp sour cream with some lemon zest and juice and set aside. When the soup is cooked remove the bay leaf and blend the soup. Season and add a little lemon juice.
Keep the soup warm, toast 2 slices of sourdough, warm the reserved mushrooms with a squeeze of lemon juice and some grated cheese. Rub garlic halves over the toast and top with mushrooms. Serve the soup with swirls of sour cream, chopped parsley, a grating of nutmeg and the toasts on the side.
This was delicious but a lot of work for a Monday night. And you’ve bought a tub of sour cream and used two teaspoons, so now you have a nearly full tub of sour cream and no plan to use the rest. I’d save this for guests.
We usually eat vegetable dishes Monday to Friday and I struggled to find vegetable meals in this book, however the vegetable sides section is outstanding and most of these could be adapted to a midweek vegetable supper. Speedy butter beans, p 332, is the star of the vegetable section.
For two, simmer a tin of butter beans, with their liquid, in a pan to heat through. Add ½ dozen quartered cherry tomatoes, a knob of butter, a dash of white wine vinegar, tomato paste, a few drops of tabasco. Mash a few of the beans with a potato masher and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add some shredded greens and wilt down. I always have chard in the garden but you could use spinach or cabbage. Cabbage will need a bit longer. I cooked this in a shallow oven-proof casserole and I sprinkled over some breadcrumbs and grated cheese and browned in the oven for 8-10 minutes. I also added chilli flakes to the beans at the beginning because chilli flakes enhance every dish. This recipe is a keeper.
I also did shredded brussels sprouts, p314, which is basically his Christmas sprouts, with cider vinegar and honey instead of Worcestershire sauce, and fennel seeds and thyme instead of sage. Brown a little skinned, crumbled sausage in the pan before adding the sprouts, or perhaps diced pancetta.
The Guinness lamb shanks, p264 were really nice, however I eat lamb shanks rarely and I will probably stick with my middle eastern spices and polenta.
If you only cook one dish from this book make it apple pepperpot cake on p366. I cannot sing the praises of this cake loudly enough. I will be making this again, and again.
I was visiting a friend and spied Jamie’s Italy on her shelves so I borrowed it to see if I needed my own copy. Yes, I know the purpose of this blog is to reduce by cookbooks but sometimes you need more Italian recipes. And every recipe I made from this book was delicious.
I had been attracted by the pasta. I am still intrigued by the rotolo on p 96, and the fazzoletti on p110. Let me know if you’ve made either. I decided to go for a soup, a risotto and a secondi. I might re-borrow the book to try some of the pasta dishes.
I started with the ribollita on p72, using cavalo nero from the garden and it was perfect. Ribollita is the ideal winter soup and this version was considerably more straightforward than that in At Home. This is currently my ribollita preferita.
The fennel risotto with ricotta and chilli on p145 is also a keeper, but again don’t buy ricotta especially. You use so little and ricotta doesn’t keep well. I’d probably substitute a hard white goat’s cheese or even feta which I usually have on hand. I also didn’t bother to grind the fennel seeds. Don’t leave out the lemon zest though as this livens up the dish. I also use Italian chilli flakes rather than whole dried.
The final Jamie meal was the cacciatora on p222. I used chicken quarters. This recipe is straightforward and as he says really good for a crowd. I served this with a pile of greens, p 264 which is more an idea than a recipe. It was the picture of this dish that inspired me to borrow this book from my friend. This is the perfect way to cook seasonal leafy greens, especially if you grow them at home. I used chard, rocket and sorrel. I rarely blanch my greens first. I find they wilt just fine. Just add the coarsest leaves first and the herbs at then end.
I have enjoyed all the meals I have cooked from these books and they are worthy contenders for any bookshelves, however Italy will be going back to my friend this week and Great Britain is looking for a new home. I have enough Italian recipes already and I want these specific ones again they are available online. Great Britain is just a bit too meaty for my everyday cooking and if I want to make these meals for an occasion I will look on line or borrow from the library. Except that amazing apple pepperpot cake, the recipe for which I have already printed off and filed in my cake recipe folder. I would also note that I am limited by the season and there are are plenty of great looking recipes for spring and summer in both of these books.
Who will come under the magnifying glass next? Any suggestions?