Monday, October 15, 2012

TLC Book Review - Jamie Oliver's Great Britain

Jamie Oliver's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver
Penguin, 2012

Format? Beautiful hardbound chunkster with tons of photos...of food, historical foodie parts of Britain, Jamie, friends (mates) and family.

Source? The publisher via TLC Book Tours
FTC Disclaimer: Although I was given a complimentary copy of this spectacular cookbook, all the opinions below are my own and are presented without bias.

Title?  Pretty simple and straightforward, but Jamie Oliver's Great Britain is exactly what this book is...from its humble beginnings, traditional dishes and the whys and wherefores of such recipes, to the newer fare influenced by immigration, travel, and generations of exploration.

Why?  Even though I don't get to cook as much as I would like to, I consider myself a foodie.  I love tasting, learning, tasting, trying out new recipes, tasting...have I mentioned tasting?  I've seen Jamie Oliver's show a time or two and love how he just naturally throws things around.  I also love that accent :)

What Now? I'm keeping this one...sorry ya'll. I know I won't cook all these, because I'm a little scared of black pudding...really, I am.  I actually tried a bite on my trip to Ireland last year...nope, can't do it.  But, the history and Jamie's voice heard through the writing itself is enough reason alone to keep this one and flip back through it from time to time.  

***The good news is that the publisher is generously offering readers in the U.S. and Canada a chance to win one copy of Jamie Oliver's Great Britain!!! How "brilliant" is that??  Just leave a comment with your email and blog addresses and you're entered to win!! 

Golden Lines

My trip around Britain mirrored much of what I saw when I traveled through America.  Chefs, producers and artisans all around the country are retracing old recipes, rediscovering great local ingredients and focusing on simplicity and quality.

I'm so in love with this chapter.

In the past I've made almost exactly this soup recipe but have just added a few swigs of cream and a few handfuls of clams and corn at the end, rather than peas and dumplings.  That turns it into a kick-ass New England clam chowder.  Not the most British recipe in the world, but equally tasty.

Historically, salads were mainly eaten by the upper classes because they weren't filling enough to keep the workers going all day in the fields and factories.  But now of course, they're much more accessible, not to mention incredibly diverse.

It's a beautiful combo, and by the way, this salad jammed into a roll or sandwich makes a brilliant lunch.

It's not hard to see why British pubs are the envy of the drinking world.  They're quirky, cozy and so much a part of the British landscape it's impossible to imagine Britain without them.

Although it's not hard, this recipe does have a few stages - but bloomin' hell, it's worth it.

So many people, especially kids, whinge and whine when faced with a plate full of Brussels sprouts, but as far as I'm concerned these humble vegetables have had a bad rap, thanks to too many people cooking the hell out of them and making them sad and soggy.

One of the things I love most about our desserts is that they're not particularly hard to make, and not so accurate or precise that you feel you have to be on your best behavior when you tuck into them.

It's my pleasure to pass this recipe from my mumma to you lovely people.


Growing up in his parents' pub, Jamie Oliver learned a lot about food and drink very early on.  To say that traditional British food is where he comes from and who he is today would be an understatement.  Oliver takes us on a tour of some of the most well known (food-wise) places in Britain and to the roots of various dishes.

What I Liked

The history - not only does Oliver present Great Britain to us (other countries, other cultures) through her food, but he also speaks to British cooks as well (I think).  Every generation loses a little bit of history...I worry about that a lot.  For example, what is more simple than roast chicken?  Pretty much nothing, right?  But, how many young brides or even older ones (ahem) know how to cook one...or really even considered cooking one?  We all need to support our origins, our resources, our history...and that of others as well.  I think Oliver has done that very nicely with Jamie Oliver's Great Britain.

The photos - I MUST have photos...and Oliver doesn't disappoint.  There are color pictures throughout this coffee-table like cookbook...of dishes, foods, shops, farms, people, memorabilia, Oliver cooking and people eating.

No sassiness - the food, the tables, the linens, etc. are all simple.  Even the most down to earth, non showy cook can see himself/herself serving these dishes to his/her family.  There are no special dishes to buy or fancy magic potions or measuring tools...just food, about as natural as you can get and as corny as it sounds, served with love for his country as well as his culture.

The tidbits - did you know "fish and chips" did not become an English dish until the 1800s when Jewish immigrants introduced it?

Dipping soldiers - little "sticks" of bread, toasted or cheesied up for dipping in soups...squeeeee! 

The entire section on asparagus :) 

Recipes for: Fresh Tomato Soup, Apple and Watercress Salad, Big Beefy Tomato Salad, Crunchy Allotment Salad, Epic   Roast Chicken Salad, Aristocrat's Salad (made popular by Queen Catherine of Aragon), Rainbow Jam Tarts, Queen Victoria Sponge, Walnut & Banana Loaf, Worcestershire Beef Sarnie,  Seared Peppered Steak, Killer Green Beans, Baked Creamed Spinach, Chocolate Orange Steamed Pud, Quick Horseradish Sauce, Marvelous Mustards, Glorious Flavored Vinegars, Homemade Mayonnaise, Flavored Gin & Vodka.

Sustainability issues specifically when discussing seafood - "As long as your buying stuff that's responsibly sourced you're doing absolutely just fine."

What I Didn't Like

Black Pudding - and anything that touches it.  Oliver tries to persuade those of us who "dismiss black pudding" to give it a try...I did.  Still don't like it :( You can google it if you want to...I'm not going to talk about it anymore.

No clue what a "rasher of bacon" is :(  I'm sure it's nothing I NEED to know...I just can't stand it that I don't know it.

The breakfasts - this is a personal weirdness for me...I had trouble in Ireland as well...give me some eggs and bacon and I'm good...baked beans are for barbeques, people :p

Recipes for: Mighty Mulligatawny (not a curry fan), Happy Fish Pie (specially not one with a fish tail sticking out of it), Easy Essex Haggis, Steak & Kidney Pudding, recipes with lamb, Crackled Pork Belly, 12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese.  

Overall Recommendation

Many of us cookbook collectors are really hard to please...we've seen it all and a slapped together, list of ingredients and boring page after page of recipes just won't cut it anymore.  This ain't that, people.  Not even close.  Foodies, history lovers, nature lovers...or those of us who appreciate it all, will love this book, which is so much more than a cookbook.  The only folks I'm pretty sure won't really care for this cookbook are vegetarians.  

The Author

Jamie Oliver's website

Other Stops on the Tour

Saturday, October 6th:  Beth Fish Reads
Monday, October 8th:  Book Club Classics
Wednesday, October 10th:  Anger Burger
Friday, October 12th:  girlichef
Monday, October 15th:  Peppermint Ph.D.
Tuesday, October 16th:  Broken Teepee
Wednesday, October 17th:  Southern Girl Reads
Thursday, October 18th:  Very Culinary
Friday, October 19th:  My Bookshelf
Monday, October 22nd:  Zesty Cook
Thursday, October 25th:  Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
Friday, October 26th:  The Sisters Cafe
Monday, October 29th:  The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Tuesday, October 30th:  In the Hammock
Thursday, November 1st:  2 Kids and Tired
Monday, November 5th:  Foodie with Family
Thursday, November 8th:  Bookfoolery and Babble
Friday, November 9th:  Amused by Books
Monday, November 12th:  Farmgirl Fare


  1. Wonderful review! I am a HUGE fan of Jamie's show and his books--I'd love to have a copy of this one! Jamie makes entertaining seem almost effortless; the blokes come over and you whip up a simple yet tasty meal for everyone in a jiffy!

    Thank you for hosting this great giveaway, Peppermint.


    1. EXACTLY, Suko!! Jamie's personality is exactly what makes this cookbook so much fun! :)

  2. My husband is a huge Jamie Oliver fan so I've seen the show a few times too. I always thought a rasher of bacon was just a strip of bacon.

    I'd love to be entered in your great giveaway. kathy(at)

    1. Kathy, I checked with a British friend of ours last night about the "rasher" of bacon:

      Me: Sam, what's a "rasher of bacon"
      Same: "It's just a nub."
      Sam: "You know, a bit."
      Me: "You're not being very helpful"
      Sam's American girlfriend: "Do you mean like a strip"
      Sam: "Yeah, that's what I mean...a rasher is just a rasher"

  3. I visited Ireland this summer and *adored* fish pie, so I've been looking for a good recipe for it. However, the fish pie I liked seemed to involve pre-removed fish tails, so if I try Jamie's recipe, I might have to modify it a bit! LOL!

    lahlstedt (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. I can't do the fishtail thing...nor the recipes where the fish's head is left on :p

  4. As a rampant anglophile, I'm verrrrry interested in this one! Trying new foods is the best part about traveling, and I loved the food in England. Agree that black pudding is pretty unusual, but it's so fun to try new things! Thanks for the giveaway!

    writing.meg [at] //

    1. YES!! I am pretty adventurous when it comes to new foods, especially those from other cultures :) I'll try just about anything...we actually tried a bite of black pudding one morning at breakfast and I didn't care for it. I'm not sure if I would have been able to eat it even if I had liked it once I found out what was in it. :p

  5. Oh, I love Jaime Oliver, and would love to get a look at this one! I have so many cookbooks, but this seems like it would be an excellent addition. And no black pudding for me either, thanks!

    1. It's a great read as well as cookbook, Heather!! :)

  6. I have Jamie Oliver's America, which is a great cookbook!

    1. Just picked this one up last night off the sale table in BAM!! Only had time to flip through it but I can tell I'm going to like it :):)

  7. This sounds good.


  8. I'm certainly not a vegetarian so I'm sure I'd love this cookbook!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  9. I moved to Canada when I was 4, but I would love to learn how to cook these traditional British dishes!


    1. I've got a list to try...not sure when I'll get started but hopefully soon! :)

  10. For the record, a rasher of bacon is one slice. A knob of butter is about 2 Tablespoons. (He uses that term too.) I loved this cookbook. My husband is British and I've learned to cook a lot of his favorites over the years. When he looked through the cookbook he said that everything was "tarted up"! He's got a point, but most television chefs take normal recipes and make them all fancy. I take all their recipes and change them to suit me anyway.

    I'd never made Cornish Pasties before so I tried Jamie's recipe and they were a hit with my husband. I've made them twice already!
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  11. LOVED this book :)) It's a keeper for me too :)