Welcome to the first Friday book review, and of course, I had to begin with my absolute favorite chef and role model Mr. Jamie Oliver. In my opinion, the work he does in educating the world on nutrition is fantastic and with soaring diabetes and obesity rates we need more people like him around.
It’s no surprise; I was over the moon to to be adding Jamie’s Christmas Cookbook to my 300+ collection. And, you will not be disappointed if you decide to purchase this festive treat too.
It’s so important to me to make extra special treats for my family around the festive season as I am pretty strict with their diet the rest of the year, and preparing the food is what makes my Christmas extra special. This is my honest review of the book; I hope you will love it as much as I do.
The first thing I notice about the book is the very plane cover, unusual both for Jamie Oliver and for a Christmas Cookbook. I guess at this stage in his career, Jamie’s name says it all, and there is no need to have a plump turkey with all the trimmings to suck you in, many people are moving away from the traditional bird after all.
Jamie has dedicated this book to his nan who passed in 2013 with a heartwarming message about the importance of family and loved ones at this special time of the year.
As expected with Penguin as the publisher, the quality is exceptional. Hard-wearing pages and a fetching hardback under the cover ensure years of use in the kitchen.
At first look the choices are overwhelming, and I didn’t know which one to try first. Then you realise the book is divided up into handy sections as follows:
- Smart starters – Including smoked salmon pate and roasted apple and squash soup, there are some of the old favorites with that special Jamie’s twist.
- Main Event – The porchetta is my favorite in this section, and my husband cannot wait for me to make the Turkey Wellington. There are equal measures of tradition and modern throughout the main event section including Jamie’s take on meatloaf, which is super tasty.
- Veggie & Vegan – Even though I am neither of these, this is the part of the book that stands out for me. I have tried the baked squash, and even the most hardcore of carnivores would not be disappointed if Christmas was based on these recipes. Well done Jamie for making something extra special without meat.
- Potatoes – Okay, I just have one question… How on earth am I supposed to choose which potato recipe to use on Christmas day? I’ve tried 3 of them already any the balsamic potatoes and baked mash are out of this world. My pommes anna, I found a bit tricky, let me put it this way – mine did not look like the one in the picture! And, I’m not the biggest horseradish fan. But, that is a personal preference and you could swap for something else.
- Vegetables – Plenty to choose from but the best has to be the modern version of the traditional roast parsnips. This is probably my favorite recipe in the whole book and I will definitely be using it on Christmas day.
- Others include four different Sprout recipes, roasted beets, and pumpkin puree which includes marshmallows to keep with American tradition.
- Gravy, sauces, and all the trimmings – the best parts of Christmas dinner right? Some more excellent ideas to make your Christmas extra special. Including recipes to make your own mint, cranberry, or horseradish sauce. The baked bread sauce is the standout favorite for my family to try this year. And, wait for it… a staggering 12 different pigs in blankets options which I cannot wait to serve up on the big day.
- Incredible Leftovers – Some fantastic ideas for leftovers, you will never eat a turkey sandwich on boxing day again. The Turkey pie is scrumptious and I have already made it with chicken and turkey, it was a huge hit with the kids.
- Spectacular festive puddings – retro trifle, chocolate pots, winter bombe, and bread and butter putting to name a few. The Tiramisu is beautiful and super easy to follow, and you can prepare a day or two before serving so a perfect option for Christmas day to free up your time.
- Afternoon tea & sweet treats – as expected with a Christmas cookbook there are more than enough sweet treats to see you through the busiest of Christmas seasons. My kids like to pick the ones they want from the book and let’s just say my list is long this year. The Billionaires shortbread is to die for, and it includes a secret ingredient which shocked me but totally works.
- Cute edible gifts – This section as a great addition to the recipe book. Full of great ideas, and something you can do with friends or kids. We are going to make the hot chocolate mix jar for gifts from the kids, and there are many more to chose from.
- Super fantastic salads – If I’m totally honest I’m not really sure how this section fits in with the rest of the book, there is some fantastic recipes if you like a lighter dish. But, i’m yet to be convinced that’s what anyone wants during the festive period. I do like the Fifteen Christmas salad, and, after visiting the restaurant a few weeks ago I do hope Jamie creates a book based on his fine dining establishment.
- Dips, bites, and a handheld nibbles – Some brilliant ideas for party nibbles through the year not just at Christmas. Jamie Olivers Christmas cookbook includes four sausage roll options which are from another world compared to the frozen or pre-cooked options we usually reach for. The recipe is really simple too, and you can change the filling to suit your taste.
- Perfect drinks – Last but not least; the boozy section. A selection of winter warmers including hot buttered rum, pink pepper negroni, and my first choice, festive bellini… I vow to try them all.
All of the recipes have easy and relatively short instructions and eye-catching photography to draw you in. Overall, apart from the salad section which I don’t really get, one of the best Christmas cookbooks and my new number one.
There is also a great section at the back of the book where Jamie shows us how to make our own Christmas crackers with the kids and a handy guide on meat roasting, he really has covered everything, apart from what to buy your mother in law – maybe next year.