If there's one book that you should buy someone who needs a bit of encouragement to get themselves into the kitchen and to give them the confidence that they really can cook, then you should treat them (& ultimately yourself) to Jamie's Ministry of Food.
It's not a recent book and was originally published in 2008 but is still a bestseller today.
To give you the background why I bought this book. I met my husband when I was 16 and he was 19. We married 4 years later and, I'm proud to say, are still together today, 30 years and 2 children later! (Am I really that old?! Surely not!!!!) Anyway, for almost the first 25 years of our relationship it was me in the kitchen probably 6 days out of 7. My husband would cook the odd meal but always to a limited repertoire and was daunted to try anything new without my guidance. I changed jobs and worked away from my home town which meant that for the first time, he was home before me each evening and the menu was starting to get 'a little challenging' for the family. Let's just say the kids were bored with spaghetti bolognese and frozen fish portions! It would be too late for me to get home and start preparing dinner from scratch as I'd always done, so something had to change.
Then, one day on a visit to a bookshop, browsing my favourite section (cookery), picking one of my favourite chef's books up and realising it would be perfect for my husband, it just happened to fall into my shopping basket and my husband's quest to become an accomplished cook began! I personally love Jamie Oliver's style of cooking - simple ingredients, easily accessible to source, often British and in season. No faff and no fuss.
The book covers everything from essential Kitchen Equipment; not the gadgets and gizmos of the top chefs, but the tongs, bowls, pans and spatulas that every kitchen deserves to have. There's the basic larder, fridge and freezer ingredients that will see you to preparing anything from a boiled egg to the simplest cheese on toast through to a casserole, pie or a decadent dessert worthy of any good dinner party. It's packed with hints and tips that will guide you from the initial preparation, via cooking and on to serving and enjoying your meal.
There are several favourites from this book that my husband loves to cook and he does so now with a flourish and such confidence that I never thought I'd enjoy seeing, namely:
* Chicken and Leek Stroganoff
* Classic Tomato Spaghetti (which is enjoyed with Jamie's recommended addition of a tin of tuna flakes)
* Broccoli and Pesto Taglietelle
* Mini Shell Pasta with a Creamy (unsmoked) Bacon and Pea Sauce
* Parsnip and Ginger Soup
* A Cracking Burger (yep even home made burgers!)
* Baked Carrots in a Bag
* Salmon Fish Cakes
For a novice cook to be able to work from a book and create the flavours that you imagine when you see the photographs and read the ingredients and instructions can only mean that this book is incredibly well written, easy to follow and an essential to any book case; novice and experienced alike.
A job well done Mr Oliver, Sir! Bring on the next book because I have all of your current ones! The only downside is that I am now forced to share all of these as well as my ever increasing cook book collection with my husband!
What's your favourite Jamie Oliver book? Drop me a comment and let me know what's your favourite recipe(s) from them.