Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 50.
- Review Date: 2007-12-31
- Reviewer: Staff
The seemingly inexhaustible Oliver (The Naked Chef, Happy Days with the Naked Chef, etc.) returns with what may be his best book yet. Aiming to educate readers on cooking basics, Oliver offers more than 175 recipes, which emphasize flavor and freshness over labor-intensive preparation. With a conversational style that favors general guidelines over strict instructions—recipes often call for a “knob of butter,” a “handful of shelled peas” or “a big handful of freshly grated Parmesan”—Oliver's friendly and enthusiastic approach handily deflates new-cook anxiety. Loaded with photos that cover common skills like cleaning and preparing fresh lobster, discerning degrees of doneness in meat and crafting homemade pasta, Oliver's patient explanations leave little room for confusion. His dishes, many of which are updated versions of classics, are impressive and accessible. A simple baked potato is made savory by stuffing it with bacon, anchovies and sage, and a basic risotto becomes extraordinary with the addition of apples, walnuts and Gorgonzola. Empathizing with those strapped for time, he offers four takes on that trusty fallback, chicken breasts, all of which can be prepared in a single baking dish. Loaded with everyday dishes ranging from fried calamari and onion gratin to shortbread cookies, this volume doesn't set any new culinary standards, but it will certainly make an impact on determined newcomers still intimidated by the prospect of preparing a three-course dinner. Profits will be donated to Oliver's Fifteen Foundation, which teaches underprivileged kids worldwide how to cook. (Oct.)
Be a better cook
In the last year or so, fast food or food fast, getting a good dinner on the table in as close to a nanosecond as possible, was the culinary war cry for lots of well-known, cookbook-writing chefs. Right now, it seems, everyone is concerned about our understanding of cooking fundamentals and giving us the confidence to actually go into the kitchen and face the stove. The latest to offer such basic instruction is the wonderfully irreverent Jamie Oliver, who states his goal in the very title of his seventh book, Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook. He's perplexed that we've moved away from the importance of home-cooked food to relying on prepackaged, pre-prepped items that may not be healthy or even tasty. So, here are Jamie's modern-day basics for shopping and cooking with great ingredients. He's upfront about his strong opinions on what to buy and what to do with what you buyexplaining his take on "slow, fast, how and why." Each of the six chapterssalad, pasta, meat, fish, vegetables and desserthave "some nice and simple recipes [more than 175] to show you the importance of getting the basic cooking bit right" and to show you that nothing, not even a green salad, need be boring, or difficult. A great addition to the Oliverian oeuvre.