It’s hard to believe that Jamie Oliver first burst onto our screens over 20 years ago. Young and exuberant, he was unlike anyone before him, and he made cooking cool and accessible. His championing of rustic, flavourful dishes, of relaxed cooking and dining, continues to influence our food habits today. At Booko HQ we love Jamie at Christmas time – his recipes help us entertain without stress, his books make welcomed gifts, and his YouTube channel (now also starring Buddy and River, his two youngest children) makes for fun, relaxing holiday viewing. Here are six of our favourite Jamie Oliver books to get you through Christmas and beyond:
Jamie’s Christmas Cookbook has been a Team Booko favourite for some years now. This is a complete how-to guide for festive entertaining, with planning tips, shopping lists, decorating ideas, and recipes for edible gifts; as well as lots of great recipes. The recipes are a nice balance between traditional and modern; Jamie excels in simplifying/re-interpreting classic dishes without sacrificing that traditional taste. There’s also an extensive collection of vegetarian/meat-free dishes, canapes, drinks, and ideas for leftovers, to cater for all guests and occasions.
Jamie’s latest book is all about adding tasty variety to our dinners by changing up our staple foods. He takes 18 of the most common meal ingredients – think chicken breasts, beef mince, eggs, mushrooms, potatoes etc – and shows us seven different ways to cook each (one recipe for each day of the week!). Drawing many different cuisines, there are versions of popular takeaways, one-dish traybakes, as well as freezer-friendly ideas. The dishes are quick enough to cook for weeknight dinners, but also impressive enough for entertaining. 7 Ways is a great source of inspiration on how to make family meals interesting without them becoming too fussy/ expensive/ unfamiliar.
Plant-based or meat-free eating is a huge trend right now – so many people are discovering that, not only is eating more plants healthy, it is also affordable and environmentally responsible. Jamie Oliver and his family have been eating more vegetarian meals for over 5 years, and in Veg, he shares his favourite veg-based recipes, as well as tips on how to make to most of any vegetables. There’s a good mix of dishes that are naturally meat-free (such as salads and curries ) and meat-less versions of popular favourites (including burgers, bakes and roasts). Each of these dishes spotlight how colourful and flavourful vegetables can be. Whether you want to try to do Meatless Mondays, are already committed to a plant-based diet, or simply want to increase your vegie intake, let Jamie Oliver be your trusty starting point.
My copy of Jamie Cooks Italy was gifted by my Italian mother-in-law – quite an endorsement, coming from a good cook who is a stickler for authenticity. This is Jamie’s second book dedicated to Italian food (the first is Jamie’s Italy). It is a tribute to the nonnas all over Italy – those frugal, hardworking women who take great care even with the simplest ingredients, and who express their love for their families through their cooking. Jamie spent two years travelling around Italy, cooking and learning these recipes from many nonnas. Not only is this a collection of heritage recipes at risk of dying out, it is a beautifully-documented social history showcasing these resilient women.
Ever wished you could cook like Jamie Oliver? Then you’d love Cook with Jamie, which is both a manual for fundamental kitchen skills, and a core collection of dishes that are accessible, yet will impress your family and friends. Jamie’s tutorials cover everything from what kitchen tools to own, what to stock in your pantry, to recognising cuts of meat and how to shop – advice that can save you money as well as make you a better cook. The recipes range from fairy cakes to whole baked cauliflower and Christmas turkey, and are dishes that you will want to cook again and again. Jamie is passionate about encouraging people to cook fresh food as part of a healthier lifestyle – this manual will show you how.
Everyday Super Food came about when Jamie Oliver turned 40, and felt the need to reassess his life habits. The result was a greater emphasis on nutrition, leading to improved health, better sleep and more energy. This approach has flowed into his work as well, where Jamie regularly works with nutritionists, and he also includes detailed dietary information with many recipes. Jamie has a very accessible approach to Super Food, which does not rely on boutique “superfood” ingredients, but rather 14 commonly-found “hero ingredients” that are healthy and nutrient-packed – think eggs, sweet potatoes, seaweed, and fresh fruit. The resultant recipes, including versions of popular dishes such as pasta carbonara and french toast, are family-friendly, full of bold flavours, and nutrient-rich yet without empty carbs or unnecessary sugar.