The Naked Chef says his latest book is his most scrumptious and gratifying yet in the comfort department. Our writer puts it to the test.
JAMIE'S COMFORT FOOD
100 Ultimate Recipes - Treat The Ones You Love
Author: Jamie Oliver
Publisher: Penguin Books
Price: RM165 (S$64) from Kinokuniya
For a certain generation, the "celebrity chef" was a new thing. Having a cookbook with a TV show tie-in was a novel idea - it allowed the chef to feel more like a friend, someone who's super at cooking that you almost felt you had invited over to share their best recipes with you.
Jamie Oliver feels like that friend, partly because my brother has met and had dinner with him.
Well, when I say met - he had tickets to a live show Oliver was doing to promote one of his books, and he was an audience member selected to go on stage and order a pizza on the phone, while Oliver knocked one out from scratch in the time it took the delivery guy to get there.
So I was eager to crack into his latest book, having enjoyed (and still use) his earlier offerings. The book is beautifully bound with a woven cover, and sumptuous pictures of the dishes are packed into the pages, often given a sort of centrefold spread that brings "food porn" to new levels.
The attractive layout of the recipes makes them easy to read, and directions appear to be logically laid out (more on this later). And there are pictures - lots and lots of pictures. There's even Golden Globe-winning British actor Idris Elba grinning at me from one page, apparently enjoying a dish of groundnut stew inspired by his Ghanaian roots.
There's a lot of gloss and showmanship packed into every page. We even have the calorie breakdown of the dishes in the back, and extra tips are highlighted on each recipe page.
All this leads us to the crux - this isn't your everyday weekday cookbook. While it's called Jamie's Comfort Food, which made me think "quick and easy dishes", this isn't what it's about.
The tagline is "100 Ultimate Recipes - Treat The Ones You Love", and Oliver is clearly celebrating the comfort of good food with good friends, and the dishes can take from 15 minutes to days to prepare. This can double up as the cookbook you go to to plan your party or weekend celebrations.
The book is overflowing with recipes and stories that "celebrates nostalgic memories, traditions and childhood favourites". We're given directions for making dishes like the "perfect" bacon sarnie, porridge, toasted cheese sandwich, pot noodle, chips, and how long a pot of tea should brew.