Living with Jamie Oliver
No, my name isn’t Jools Oliver! I am not married to Jamie Olivier but I am married to a man who thinks he is Jamie Oliver.
When it comes to buying cook books, it's a hard bargain to persuade him to get one that was not written by Jamie Oliver. I think out of about 15 titles, 3 are not his.
It all started in Australia. Neither one of us were that good at cooking or should I say that our tiny kitchen, comprised of two hobs, one grill oven and limited work space, was not good for cooking in. Nevertheless, we were guests at my uncle’s house in Sydney and wanted to repay his hospitality by cooking a meal.
On a tight travelling budget but wanting to make a good impression we trolled through my aunts cookbooks. Then our life changed.
We fell upon Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. Inside, we found tasty dishes (main course, side and dessert) using fresh and accessible ingredients. In more or less 30 minutes you can make a main course, a side and dessert. Jamie’s idea is to show people that whether on a budget or tight for time (or both) you can still eat well and have fun in the kitchen. Five years on, our weekly staples are Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca, Curry Rogan Josh and Spinach and Feta Filo Pie. They are tasty, quick and super healthy.
From that moment on, the love story flourished and his name even made it’s way into our wedding vows in 2013!
Not bored, but just wanting new recipes, we changed the 15 Minute Meals up for Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes. Although a little longer to make, these recipes reflect dishes inspired by his visits to France, Sweden, Morocco, Spain and Italy. The Beef Tagine is so much fun to make and full of flavor. Our favorite has to be the Gorgeous Beet Gravlax. He grates beets and leaves it on the salmon to give it a beautiful red line along it, making it a great dish to impress with.
The next two additions were Jamie at Home and Happy Days with the Naked Chef. Taking the seasons as chapters, Jamie bases his recipes around the seasonal vegetables and creates dishes appropriate to the climate. For example, the best thing for a spring brunch idea is his Crispy asparagus soldiers with soft-boiled eggs or how about a Plum Bakewell tart with a cup of tea for those fall afternoons.
Happy Days is a collection of recipes inspired by his travelling around the world and his observations on the way families cook at home. We haven’t used it much but as parents of a one year old we definitely will be taking a few tips out his Kids Club chapter. He gives advice on shopping for food, capturing their imagination and making meal times a family affair. I think my first attempt will be the Dried Fruitgums made from dried fruit. Apparently the kids love them!
With Food Escapes covering the gastronomical countries mentioned above, Jamie would not be Jamie if he did not indulge in those countries less appreciated for their cuisine: Jamie’s America and Jamie’s Great Britain.
In Jamie’s America we can find the proverbial junk food such as Burgers and Sliders and A Killer Mac ‘n’ Cheese alongside more elaborate recipes such as Venison and Juniper Stew and Red Pepper Summer Soup. Jamie takes recipes that have their roots in different states and embellishes them while reminding us of their origins and trying to stay faithful to the original.
Jamie’s Great Britain is written in a similar way. The only difference is that he takes recipes that have gone out of fashion such as Wee Scotch Eggs or Eccles Cakes and reinvents them to make them more appealing. Trifle has made a come back and I think we have Jamie to thank for that. His recipe for Joyful Trifle will have parents and children alike wanting for more.
My personal favorite is Jamie’s Comfort Foods. The complete opposite to his fast recipes for the weekly dinners, Comfort Food is all about taking time to cook and basking in the glory of watching loved ones enjoy it. Jamie takes on the all time favorites such as Shepherd’s Pie, Beans on Toast and Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Pudding. He makes his own beans in tomato sauce and they ARE as good as those in can!
These are just a few and mainly pertain to the UK but he delves into the comfort foods of Italy, South America and other parts of the world. Wherever you are from, you are sure to find a dish that will make you nostalgic for something or just downright happy.
Our latest purchase, but certainly not the last, was Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver. With gluten intolerances, needs for lactose free foods and more and more families buying organic produce, Jamie wanted to create recipes catering to all these dietary requirements. There is a clear focus on nutrition and he even says himself in the introduction that he would personally cook these recipes Monday to Friday and then “hit up” Comfort Food at the weekend.
To name a few, the Portable Jam Jar Salads look and taste amazing, the Chicken and Squash Cacciatore is a delectable feast of 3 of our 5-a-day and the date, cocoa and pumpkin seed energy balls are a win with my son!
So to conclude my story of life with Jamie Oliver, it is a very happy one. I may moan that I cannot enjoy another chefs creation but he alone, has opened our eyes and mouths up to different ways of cooking and taught us that every meal can be made with fresh ingredients, little money, lots of fun and mostly lots of love.