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Customer Review

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for beginners and anyone looking for simple, fresh ideas!, May 4, 2010
This review is from: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals (Hardcover)
I'm not a beginner cook. I am, however, a cook that seriously needed to get back to the kitchen AND back to basics. You do get out of practice if you don't cook for long stretches of time and, after a one year stint working evenings, I am definitely out of practice. So, I bought this. I told my BF that I will cook from this book for 7 evenings straight and I will follow the recipes to the letter. I am now through day two, and feel like I can write a review.... one which I will update for all seven days to give everyone a "taste" of this cookbook. I will give you the exact names of the recipes because some of them can be found for free on Jamie's website so that you can give them a whirl yourself. But even before I tried any recipes, I thought the book was worth the cost of admission because there are some fantastic tips in this.... he has quite an ingenious suggestion for storing your own lettuce mix that I am over the moon over... but I won't give it away. I am also excited to try the homemade curry pastes.

Keep in mind that for some recipes you will need Amazon or a very well stocked grocery store. For example, Jamie is a big fan (obviously) of English mustard , like Coleman's. I would suggest springing for it, because I have had it (lived in Europe for 8 years) and it really does taste much different than your standard French's. Also, he uses Marmite which I think is a sweet yeast extract. I haven't used that product yet. Anyhow... on to the recipes.

Day 1: Chicken and Leek Stroganoff, pg. 34

I cheated and used penne pasta instead of the rice which the recipe calls for. I forgot to buy it, what can I say? DON'T USE PASTA. The sauce is quite thin and does not work with pasta. It would have been quite delish, though, with some rice soaking it up. This is a heavy recipe because it calls for cream. Having made it, I found it a bit bland. I think it is a good idea to cook the rice in some strong chicken stock OR to add a teaspoon or so of Better than Bouillion Chicken paste to the cream while it is bubbling. Also, Jamie uses lemon juice presumably to mimic the tang of sour cream which is typically used in Stroganoff, but the end result is pretty obviously lemony. I loved it... but it definitely needs to be served with rice cooked in chicken stock. This would also be fantastic with Broccoli tossed in.

Basically.... this is a VERY basic recipe. Make it once as Jamie has it written. Then mess around with it. Frankly, that's what Jamie wants you to do anyway. Learn the recipe, then learn to play with it. And this really is a great foundational recipe.

Day 2: Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce, pg 69

YUM. I loved this. A lot. Jamie's simple mixture of lime, soy, and black bean sauce will be my go-to mix for stir frying. I did add some stuff... I know, I know... I said I wouldn't change anything but I have a lot of veg in my fridge and I LOVE vegetabley stir fries. I added 1 carrot, chopped and two ribs of celery, chopped. And mushrooms. Because they rock. The one negative thing about this recipe is that Jamie asks for a thumb-sized piece of ginger finely sliced and, for me, that was too strong. I would have preferred the ginger grated, and maybe 1/2 the amount. I also used red pepper flakes instead of the chile in this because all I could get were jalapenos.

This recipe was a winner and is destined to become a staple in my house. His cooking times may leave you with slightly pink beef, though, especially if you don't have a gas stove and/or a big enough pan. I like it that way, but if you don't then consider yourself warned to increase the cook time a bit.

Day 3: Potato Leek Soup

Love it. Simple to make and cooks quite quickly. Make sure you use a high quality chicken or vegetable stock here, because there are very few ingredients so the stock's flavor will really make or break this. The recipe called for 1 lb of potatoes which, for me, is 3 fist sized spuds. I weighed them so I knew I had the right quantity, but for me I will add another potato in the future... it will make for a heartier soup. Yummy with crusty bread and a refreshing green salad. This is a keeper.

Day 4: I cheated and we went out to eat.

Day 5: I am cheating again... but only because I am not making a new recipe... I am making the sizzling beef and bean sauce again because it was so ridiculously yummy!

Day 6: Broccoli and Pesto Tagliatelle pg. 46

This was pretty good. Tagliatelle is fettuccini. The pasta is simply dressed with pesto and parmesan. You don't have to make the pesto from scratch, the recipe just calls for pesto and doesn't include ingredients or steps for making it (not that it's difficult). I took my cue from Jamie and used a jarred pesto. He calls for lots of fresh basil, so you still get that bright flavor of the basil as if you had made the pesto fresh. I also added a squeeze of lemon to my plate which I thought brightened it up more (Jamie uses this trick throughout the book, but doesn't call for it here), but my boyfriend took it straight and liked it well enough.

Bottom line, I would make it again as is but the BF wasn't into the pesto.

Day 7: Lasagne pg. 169

Wow. This was different. But GOOD. Jamie calls for Creme Fraiche along with the standard tomato meat sauce, which is totally different for me. No mozzarella in this dish, just parm. The parm is layered on top of the creme fraiche, a tangy combo that might keep you from missing the mozzarella. I admit, though, that I will probably add mozza to the top when I make this again... I just love bubbly, crusty mozza.

I thought it was a nice twist on what I know as lasagne... drowned in red sauce and mozza. The creme fraiche layer will lend itself well to layering with some roasted veg in the future. Oh, do spring for the creme fraiche if you can find it... I think sour cream (Jamie's suggested substitution) would be too sharp. I figured it is worth the effort to get a special ingredient because lasagne is a special weekend dish for us, not something I'm just going to want to toss together any old time. It is worth noting, though, that Jamie calls for Creme Fraiche in a lot of recipes and sour cream is a fine substitution I think, most of the time.

Overall, I am quite pleased with this book so far. It really is worth it to have added yet another cookbook to my collection.

Thanks for the lettuce trick, Jamie, and all of your efforts to get us cooking!
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 25, 2010 3:33:13 AM PDT
Thank you for your in-depth review and comments on certain recipes. Regarding the creme fraiche, did you know you can easily make it at home? You just mix a little buttermilk with cream, lightly cover, and leave in a cupboard overnight. I tried it, and was very successful. I know creme fraiche can be very expensive to buy, so why not make your own? :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2010 7:46:47 AM PDT
Miss B says:
Thank you! I will definitely try that.... I always have buttermilk kicking around (makes chicken super tender when you marinate it in buttermilk.... and ground lamb needs a splash of buttermilk while cooking).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2011 7:42:32 PM PDT
angie says:
With the Bacon and Mushroom cream recipe, Jamie suggests using heavy cream instead of the creme fraiche. I made it and it turned out great. But, I don't know if that is always an acceptable substitute.

Posted on Aug 24, 2011 7:28:17 PM PDT
jmstargirl says:
Wow. What an awesome review. I wish everyone reviewed cookbooks this way. Thank you.
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