Nine years ago when I was newly married and keen to impress the hubby in the kitchen, I purchased Jamie Oliver's first book The Naked Chef. Before Jamie, there were only a few dishes in my repertoire. I could probably cook two types of pasta dishes (carbonara and bolognese), boil rice, grill a steak or pieces of chicken just with garlic, salt and pepper and of course fry an egg, scrambled or sunny-side up.That was probably the extent of my kitchen knowledge and to be honest none of them were great. Jamie made me venture out of my comfort zone. Through him, I made my first risotto, my first curry dish, my first soup, my first fish dish,....the list is endless. Jamie also taught me about the wide world of herbs. Before him, I probably couldn't tell the difference between majoram, thyme, dill or sage. But Jamie uses them quite generously in most of his recipes and I love the way he says to grab a handful of herbs. I like that...a handful,...it does add an element of fun to whipping up the dishes rather than having to measure a teaspoon of this or that herb. I later added two more books by Jamie to my collection but then I moved on to more complicated cookbooks and baking books (Jamie isn't the best when it comes to desserts). But somehow I never forget that Jamie was the one who sparked my interest in food and the kitchen.
A few months ago, I pulled out some of my old Jamie Oliver books from my kitchen shelf and tried new dishes and made old favourites. Jamie's Botham burger for example, is the absolute best. I've made it countless times and being pregnant I've been craving it almost every week. So when I saw Jamie's new book at the bookshop, Jamie Does....Spain, Italy, Sweden, Morocco, Greece and France, how could I resist? I love the cuisines of these countries and if Jamie's making his own twists on their dishes, then you can bet that he's going to make it very accessible. Jamie Does... is Jamie's own personal celebration of amazing food from six fabulous countries. Each chapter is dedicated to one country. Jamie says: 'The food I’ve embraced on each trip is a mixture of what you could call the clichéd star dishes - the many tagines of Morocco, the flamboyant paellas of Spain, the comforting risottos from Italy and the zingy fresh flavours of a classic Greek salad - and the recipes that I’ve been inspired to make after walking through the markets and soaking up the vibes of each place. What you'll find in this book is fun, optimistic, escapist food you can actually cook and enjoy in your own home.'
I've been browsing and reading this book now for two days and the pictures of food are mouth-watering. There's also fantastic reportage photographs of Jamie's adventures in each country. What I especially appreciate is that many of these complicated dishes now look completely doable. I've now filled my book with post-it notes. There's so many recipes to try here and I just can't wait. Today I made a killer Greek salad. I love Greek salads and I've tried several recipes and I have to say this is the best! Maybe it's the addition of dill that does the trick because all the other recipes I've come across don't have it. So just so you can try it too, here's the link to the recipe: