Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver
|Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A beautifully presented book with some excellent reworkings of traditional recipes and good new ones, but beware that you might already have some of the recipes - possibly even under a different title. It's one to see before buying if you're in doubt.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 408||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Michael Joseph|
|External links: Author's website|
The Royal Wedding in 2011 and 2012's Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games mean that anything which can be adorned with a Union Jack will be. Barbour do waxed Union Jack dog coats, so it should come as no surprise that Jamie Oliver is here with a large plate of good old roast beef in front of said flag. It's a splendidly chunky book and beautifully presented. Flick the book open at any page an you're likely to find a double-page spread of pictures (shooting on the country estate, making traditional cakes, foraging for food... you get the picture) or a recipe accompanied by a full-page photograph of the end product.
The picture on the front cover did make me wonder if we were revisiting the bad old days of stodgy, heavy British food, but I was reassured when I looked at the recipes. Some traditional recipes are reworked and given a modern twist - such as delicious smoked haddock, poached egg and spinach on toast which gives a nod to Eggs Benedict. The picture suggests that you can eat this almost as an open sandwich. Please don't try this at home - you'll end up with egg in your lap - but do try it as it really is very tasty. It's down as a breakfast recipe - but it makes a very good lunch around here!
Talking of lunches there's a Heavenly Salmon Salad, lifted above the ordinary by a fresh and tasty cucumber dressing, or an Epic Chicken Salad, complete with a warning that you might like to skip the bit about the crisped chicken if you want a healthier salad. It feeds six and you'll need a whole chicken rather than leftovers but you can reduce the quantities if you're feeding fewer people.
Some traditional dishes are lightly reworked - such as the ploughman's lunch or toad in the hole - but there's a real taste of the way we eat now in 12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese, with it's acknowledgement that the roots of our food are quite often beyond our shores and that foraging for food (or - go on - buying it from your local butcher) is becoming more common. Unfortunately the fruit and vegetables in this section are restricted to one recipe for seared peppered steak with wild mushrooms and watercress. There are no warnings that not all wild mushrooms should be eaten (there's more information in Fungi by Michael Jordan) and it would have been good to see him make more use of wild brambles or crab apples. This is an area which is close to the heart of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Puddings are briefly covered and if you've got eight to ten people to feed then the elderflower summer pudding looks tasty and unusual. for the most part the pudding recipes are for a large number of people - which is great pity as I was tempted by the Ecclefechan Tart with whisky and a dollop of ginger cream which feeds twelve.
It's over four hundred pages of, well, as the front of the book says over 130 reasons to love our food. That's relatively few recipes padded out into a big book. Now that might not bother you if what you're wanting is a celebration of British food rather than a lot of recipes - perhaps something to take home as a memento of a visit - then the book stacks up well on that count. It scores less well if you're wanting to look in any depth at British food (try English Food by Jane Grigson for a book which has stood the test of time for many years and looks likely to continue to do so or New British Classics by Gary Rhodes if you regularly feed quite a large number of people).
If you've bought earlier books by Jamie then you should be aware that some of the recipes are repeated from earlier books - the one-pan breakfast as early as page 16 seems very familiar - and Kate and Wills's Wedding Pie seems to have been out before the big day. I'm not entirely certain that I see Kate - er, sorry, Princess Katherine - tucking into beef, beer and pastry. This really is one of those books which you should look at before you buy if you think that you're likely to have the recipes already. But do you know what really disappointed me? Looking through the index I found an entry for Yorkshire Picnic with a page number for what seemed likely to be a recipe and a double-page spread of pictures. There's nothing there but pictures and a couple of sentences of text. We're not that skinny in these parts, you know!
You can read more book reviews or buy Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver at Amazon.com.
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