Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours by Jamie Oliver - Review

Jamie Oliver (UK celebrity TV chef and restaurateur) is a man on a mission to improve the way people eat by spreading the art of cooking to the masses.

To further progress his campaign, he created and presented a four part television series, Ministry of Food, based in Rotterham, South Yorkshire in 2008, where he taught a number of the town’s residents how to cook fresh and tasty food to ingrain more healthy dietary habits in their daily lifestyles.

The show and subsequent cookbook of the same title (which I am reviewing - note the title is different in the USA for marketing reasons) was inspired by the Ministry of Food, an institution established during World War II to assist people in eating well despite the relative scarcity of food – in the opening segment of the book Jamie pays tribute to Marguerite Patten, one of the Ministry of Food workers who was instrumental in popularising cooking during that period with her BBC radio broadcast, Kitchen Front.

The book open’s with an introduction that covers the history of the Ministry of Foodand outlines Jamie’s Pass It On campaign – the basic premise being that he teaches you some recipes and you pass them on to at least two other people to help culinary skills exponentially grow nation and worldwide.

He also outlines the essential kitchen utensils and pantry ingredient stores that to serve you best in your cooking endeavours.

The book contains over 150 recipes with sections devoted to twenty-minute meals, quick pastas, tasty stir-fries, easy curries (including 5 easy homemade curry pastes and 4 flavoured rice recipes), lovin’ salads (including 4 jam jar dressings), simple soups, homely mince, comforting stews, family roasts (including 4 roast dinner sauce recipes), delish veg, quick-cooking meat and fish (including 4 flavoured oil recipes), classic fish, kick-start breakfasts and sweet things.

There are full coloured close-up pictures of the finish product of all recipes and also pictures during different stages of the preparation and cooking process of the more complex recipes to help assist readers. The large majority of recipes contain ingredients that are readily available at most supermarkets and the instructions are simple and easy to follow.

On top of that there are also helpful sections for those that enjoy improvisational cooking, such as ‘Jamie’s philosophy of a great salad, pick-and-mix style’ and ‘pimp up your soup’ sections.

Overall, this is a very good cookbook for those of all culinary levels, not just beginners and novices – even as a well skilled young cook myself, I learnt some valuable new recipes and ideas that have and will help me expand my repertoire.

To assist Jamie’s Pass It On Campaign I feel obliged to pass on 3 recipes (1 for breakfast, 1 for lunch or dinner and 1 for dessert) that I enjoyed and are very simple to make, from the book to you:

Hangover Omlette (p314)

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2-3 eggs
  • ½ red chilli
  • 1 good quality sausage (preferably free range or organic)
  • ½ tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Beat well with a fork
  • Finely slice ½ red chilli
  • Squeeze the meat out of 1 good-quality sausage (preferably free range or organic) and crumble it into a hot frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Fry until golden for a few minutes and once browned turn the heat down to medium and add ½ tsp of crushed fennel seeds, the chilli and eggs moving the pan around to spread them out evenly
  • When the omelette begins to cook and firm up but still has a little raw egg on top sprinkle over the cheddar
  • Using a spatula ease around the edges of the omelette, then fold it over in half
  • When it starts to turn golden brown underneath remove the pan from the heat and slide the omelette onto a plate

Salmon Fishcakes (p280)

Makes 8 fish cakes

Ingredients

  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 600g potatoes
  • 500g salmon fillets, skin on, scaled and bones removed
  • Olive oil
  • A small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic
  • 2 lemons

To prepare your fishcakes

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
  • Peel your potatoes and chop them into even-sized chunks
  • Rub the salmon fillets all over with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Add the potatoes to the pan and bring back to the boil
  • Put the fish into a colander covered with foil and place it over the pan of potatoes
  • Turn the heat down and cook for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes and fish are both cooked
  • Remove the fish from the colander and put on one side
  • Drain the potatoes in the colander then return them to the pan and let them steam dry
  • Pick the parsley leaves and finely chop them discarding the stalks
  • Mash the potatoes spreading the mash round the sides of the pan to help it cool down quickly
  • Remove any skin from the fish
  • When the potato is completely cool, put it into a bowl and flake the fish into it with 1 tbsp of flour
  • Add the egg and chopped parsley with a really good pinch of salt and pepper
  • Finely grate over the lemon zest then mash and mix it up all well

To make your fishcakes

  • Dust your work surface with flour
  • Divide your fishcake mixture into 8
  • Lightly shape and pat into circles about 2cm thick dusting them with flour as you go
  • Get yourself a plate or tray dust it with flour and place your fishcake onto top
  • If you’re going to freeze them at this point wrap them in clingfilm and put them into the freezer
  • Otherwise simply pop them into the fridge for an hour before cooking – this will allow them to firm up slightly

To cook and serve your fishcakes

  • Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and add a couple of lugs of olive oil
  • When the oil is nice and hot add your fishcake and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden – you may need to cook them in 2 batches
  • Serve straight away with lemon halves for squeezing over and some peas, broccoli , greens or salad
  • These fishcakes go really well with the tomato, olive, basic and chilli sauce on page 269

Strawberries and ginger nuts with vanilla ice cream (p326)

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 Ginger nut biscuits
  • 2-3 strawberries
  • 1 scoop of vanilla ice-cream
  • Dark chocolate

Instructions

  • Crush a couple of ginger nut biscuits in a serving bowl
  • Slice 2-3 strawberries and put these on top of the biscuits followed by a scoop of vanilla ice-cream
  • Finely grate over some good quality dark chocolate to finish

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