In the past week, three new and exciting things have found their way into my kitchen: a book, a machine, and an ingredient.
The first of these is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I am a Jamie fan. Although I’ve never watched any of his television shows (I think I caught ten minutes of one), I have eaten at his Italian restaurant three times, and loved the experience – Not just the food, but the ambience, the great balance between old-school cookery and high-tech gadgetry, and one of the best Pimm’s & lemonade I’ve ever tasted. (Of course, I do object to the title The Naked Chef. There is no nudity – it’s a crock-tease.)
I also like his philosophy, and how he puts his money where his mouth is. He believes that low income is not an excuse for bad food; nor is no time, no skill, no experience, and so on. He goes to schools in the UK and teaches the children about nutrition, and teaches the cooking staff how to make better, more nutritious food on the same budget.
One of the best meals I had at the restaurant was his Penne Arrabiata, which I’ve mentioned before. I liked it so much that I went and found it online, and from there, discovered some of his other recipes, many of which are from his book Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food, which supplements his television show of the same name.
The title comes from the fact that there is, or at least was, an actual Ministry within the UK government devoted to food – Jamie dedicates this book to one of its “ladies” with much sincerity. Here in North America, the book has been retitled Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, presumably because (a) Americans don’t have ministries, they have departments (Canadians do have ministries, but they’re not going to make a whole separate Canadian edition, naturally) and (b) Americans like revolutions.
I like this book – the premise is that each section deals with a particular dish, such as stew, and goes through step-by-step instructions for creating a spectacular basic dish, then covers variations, such as stew with dumplings. Lots of great photos into the mix, and several “real people” with “real jobs” testifying about how using Jamie’s recipes has made them great chefs.
For our kitchen, this book is not ideal, as many of his base dishes feature meat; however, I’ve made the Vegetable Jalfrezi (including the Jalfrezi paste from scratch) and have plans for some of the other recipes. I’ll keep you posted.