Jamie's Italy was the 7th book Jamie Oliver released all the way back in 2005, It is a truly beautiful book to look at. vibrant, colourful and absolutely bursting with the warmth and hospitality of rural Italian life. The photography in this book is astounding, the food almost jumps off the page. It is basically a love letter to italian way of life.
The book is well written, with recipes that are easy to follow and ingredients that are relatively easy to source. If you are expecting a pizza and pasta recipe book then you will be disappointed, it obviously has its fair share of those but these are just a part of a greater whole.
Instead the book is split into 13 chapters including street food, salads, main courses, side dishes and first courses. The recipes themselves vary in difficulty from dish to dish but as Italian food is all about, great simple dishes that are not over prepared so that the ingredients do all the talking, so most dishes aren't too prep heavy.
There are few classic recipes that are notably absent from this book like pannacotta and arancini. Not all of the recipes are complete meals, so a word the wise, picking one secondi (main) along with either a inslate (salad) or contorni (side dish) is probably a good idea.
Italians are not huge dessert lovers, so the desserts section of this book could be better and what is there is quality. The little passages that start with "my thoughts on..." are little bits of advice from Jamie on things like porchetta, pizza and minestrone are brilliant insights, they are full of obvious first-hand experience and worth a read before starting the recipe.
The book does a good job of chronicling Jamie's trip around Italy in his quest to provide a "the best and simplest Italian cookbook for everybody anywhere to enjoy". on the whole he delivers, the situational pictures throughout the book, people and places Jamie visited on his trip are beautiful and make me extremely nostalgic, they really do remind me of my own travels around Italy.
It is hard to imagine that there will be someone who doesn't know who Jamie Oliver is, but few will know how it all started for the naked chef.
Jamie’s parents owned a pub/restaurant in Essex. In his early teens after much begging and pleading he was eventually allowed to work in the kitchen. At age 16 he enrolled at Westminster Catering College before going to cut his teeth and continue his training in France.
He found his first job in London under the Antonio Carluccio at the Neal Street Restaurant as head pastry chef, he soon left Neal Street and went to be the sous-chef at the River Café.
It was at the River cafe where his talent for being on camera was spotted during the filming of a documentary on the restaurant. He was quickly picked up by the production company to host The Naked Chef, his first and certainly not the last television series.
As well as his TV career taking off with the Naked Chef spinning off into other shows, Jamie started his mammoth publishing empire and authored a number of best-selling cookbooks. In 2002 he established the Fifteen Foundation, a London-based program that gave underprivileged youths the opportunity to experience careers in the culinary industry at Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. The project featured in a channel 4 series Jamie’s Kitchen, and was a huge success and encouraged him to expand the model to the rest of the country and eventually overseas.
At the time of writing Jamie has authored 29 individual cookery books. The well-oiled publishing machine has churned out at least one book every year since 'The Naked Chef' in 1999 and shows no sign of slowing down. having sold 14.5 million books Jamie Oliver has a recipe book catalogue that could rival the library of congress one day.
I am a fan of most of Jamie's books with 'Jamie's Kitchen' 'Jamie's Italy' and '30 minutes meals' being particular favourites of mine.
Here are a few of my favourite recipes from 'Jamie's Italy'
The italians are not huge dessert lovers, so the desserts section of this book could be better and what is there is quality. The little passages that start with "my thoughts on..." are little bits of advise from Jamie on things like porchetta, pizza and minestrone are brilliant insights, they are full of obivous first hand experience and worth a read before starting the recipe.
The recipe in the book is basically just a rub for the inside of the pork loin, but these few basic herbs and spices will elevate your Sunday roast to truly spectacular levels. The roasties might look like they are a overcooked but they are just roasted in with the pork and they were amazing crispy, sweet and basted in the pork juices.
Polpette di Tunno (Tuna Meatballs)
These meatballs do need to be made with fresh tuna, tinned tuna will just simply not hold trust me I tried, and pine nuts are expensive, which means that this is not the cheapest nor the easiest dish to make from this book, but my god are they worth the time and money. They have great meaty texture and the sauce offers a perfect contrast to the flavours of the tuna balls
A super easy and quick chicken and mushroom pasta bake, topped with a parmesan just before baking to give you that incredible crust on the top. It uses porchini mushrooms and chicken thighs for the strong flavours but you could quite easily substitute for button mushrooms for convienience if you want. the sauce is wonderfully creamy and full of garlic.
This dessert is the Italian equivalent to our english fruit cake, it is a dense polenta cake that is packed with dried fruit. but its the grated apple and orange zest that really comes come to the fore and make this quite heavy cake taste light as air
Linguine alla carbonara di salsiccia (Sausage Carbonara)
I am a huge fan of carbonara in general so any diviation from a traditional carbonara recipe I am always wary but the addition of lemon zest and sausage is a left turn but it really lifts it and makes it a lot less stodgy and heavy.
The best recipe in this book in my opinion, no hard to source ingredients and only takes minutes to prepare, it was a huge suprise.
Semifreddo con Cioccolato e Riso (Rice and Chocolate and Ice-cream)
Semifreddos are brilliant work around for anyone who wants to make their own ice-cream but doesn't have all the expensieve equipment necessary to do so. This recipe also has risotto rice which gives a lot of texture, the recipe says to keep a little bite in the rice, but once frozen it give the ice cream a really unpleasant texture. I intentionally overcooked my rice and it was 1000% better.
Torta di Nada (Blueberry Cake)
This for me is the best dessert in the book, it does ask for muscat or fragola grapes which are beautiful but unfortuately the season is short and they are really expensive, so it is a bit unrealistic. it does say that you can use blueberries instead which i have done.
The recipe is great easy to prepare and cook, it has a great texture and the blueberries add a nice tang, it goes great with custard
Me and my family have been eating carbonara for as long as I can remember, with a nice big slice of garlic bread, I tried this recipe with an open mind but not without a healthy dose of caution and scepticism. I was not dissappointed it is a wonderful dish well worth a try.
This is the best recipe in the book as far as I am concerned.
4 Organic Italian sausages
Salt and pepper
450g Linguini or any other long pasta
4 Large egg yolks
100ml Double cream
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Chopped parsley
It is evident to anyone that has ever seen any of Jamie's tv shows or picked up one of recipe books before and after 'Jamie's Italy' that italy and its cuisine has been an inspiration his whole personal and professional life
Jamie's Italy provides more than 120 brand-new recipes for everything from risotto to roasts and spaghetti to stews, structured as traditional trattoria menus, Jamie takes you all over Italy to cook with and learn from the true masters of Italian cuisine: the locals. it is a cookbook by the people for the people. From Sicily to Tuscany, it’s about the local fishermen, family bakers sharing their recipes and the tips that have gone into their cooking for generations. But it’s not only mouth-watering food that Jamie brings back home: it’s also the spirit that makes cooking and eating absolutely central to family life, whichever part of Italy you’re in.
Jamie's Italy is availbale at most place that sell cookbook it is available through amazon for around £16.99 which is a decent price, but can be bought through amazon sellers for an absolute steal of around £4.