Back in March I decided that it was really time to stop buying cookbooks and start using the ones I already had. And I am so glad that I did, as it has been a real success thus far. (The “using the books I already had” bit, not the moratorium on buying new books. I’m about to crack and buy “Simply Nigella”, as the library will probably want their copy back at some point.)
So, in March I aimed to cook a recipe a week from “Save with Jamie”, and it was actually very easy to cook almost twice that.
As the cover promises, the aim of the book is to help people shop smart, cook clever and waste less. The Shop Smart section is written with a lightness of touch, and neither pontificates nor alienates readers with different budgets or experience of being savvy. Two nuggets (of information, not chicken) that I took away were that mushrooms can be frozen and that fresh herbs keep longer if you trim the stalks and then wrap them in damp kitchen paper. Useful to know.
The real gold, though, is in the recipes themselves.
Each section apart from Veg starts with a “mothership” recipe for a roast, and is followed by 7 or so recipes using the leftovers and then others to be cooked from scratch. I did some of each – verdicts below:
- Hit ‘n’ run traybaked chicken (pictured below) – absolutely delicious, and so easy to make. Chickeny, bell peppery, balsamicy goodness. I’m not sure how well this would freeze, but it would taste amazing cold as a posh picnic dish. (Yes, to me anything that requires cutlery at a picnic is posh.)
- Pukka yellow curry – this was fine, but not jump off the plate exciting, although that could well be because the sauce never thickened as it was meant to, which was very likely my fault.
- Mince & onion pie with cream cheese pastry – this was a revelation. The first mouthful tasted like pleasant comfort food. Then the heat from the cayenne and the creaminess of the pastry started to come through and made for something pretty magical.
- Roast chicken and sweet pea risotto – tasty, and definitely inexpensive, although it took longer than the given 16 minutes for the rice to absorb the stock. (Which did not come as a surprise – risottos are renowned for being rather long-winded. A tasty alternative to risotto that doesn’t require constant stirring is this scrumptious chicken orzo recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.)
- Beef rendang – enjoyable rather than life changing, but certainly extra points for being completely different from the original roast.
- Punchy crunchy lamb noodle salad – making myself cook from the book meant that I had to be open to making things that I wouldn’t usually, and this lamb dish was a prime example of the benefits reaped from that approach. I was happily surprised at how well it was received, as this isn’t really a salad family. This recipe also contains a glorious example of the ebullient nature of Jamie Oliver’s writing – “lovely crisp slivers of leftover roast lamb, paired with lamb’s two best mates, Mr Mint and Mr Chilli”.
- Quick Chinese Wrap – these were really good, genuinely quick, and again not the sort of thing I’d normally make. A great alternative to chicken sandwiches for lunch.
And there are many, many other recipes just waiting to be tried. This book celebrates nourishing food, full of flavour and variety that can be cooked midweek. And it is a joy.