When chef Jamie Oliver had a series on the BBC I would tune in to see this slightly disheveled guy running around talking nonstop while chopping and throwing things in blenders and pans ... but his creations always looked awesome and tasty, and best of all, they looked like something I could put together myself. I am not a big fan of having to travel fifty miles to an obscure, hidden spice shop to unearth the uber rare essential ingredient for a recipe. Spending a fortune on ridiculously fancy kitchen gadgets isn't really my thing either. Which is why The Naked Chef really appealed to me. Just to clear things up right off, it is the FOOD that is naked, not the chef. Jamie Oliver's style is simple, wholesome, and no frills. It is this approach to cooking that he brought to Happy Days with the Naked Chef, one of his many cookbooks for the masses. The ingredients and techniques are mostly basic but he combines them in interesting ways ... experimentation but still within the capabilities of an everyday cook. You don't have to be a gourmet chef to reproduce his recipes. I have to say that looking through the amazing photos in this book and browsing the recipes, I did have a moment of umm ... yeah, looks great but I will never be able to make something like this. Happily, I was wrong. Although the dishes can look complicated, the ingredients are readily available and the directions are clearly laid out. What I also love about this book is how he relates anecdotes from his life ... the guy he gets his prosciutto from who inspired the fun bread variation ... his little girl's favorite breakfast ... these touches give these recipes that feeling of something warmer and less technical than just another gourmet chocolate souffle executed to perfection in a test kitchen. I don't need fancy food. Just give me something that tastes good and doesn't require a PhD in culinary arts to make. If you feel the same, check this book out and make yourself something fun and tasty. Right now.
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From Publishers Weekly Big-energy, high-profile Food Network celebrity Oliver (The Naked Chef) says this book addresses what the average person wants to cook at home; and perhaps never has a personality cookbook ranged so far across high and not-so-high cuisine. Oliver proposes the best way to eat store-bought fish sticks (broil them and serve on a white roll with ketchup) and devises easy dishes he calls Quick Fixes, such as Chicken Breast Baked in a Bag with Cannellini Beans, Leeks, Cream and Marjora. He suggests how to get kids involved (make Chocolate Cookies with Soft Chocolate Centers) and then proceeds to mouth-watering adult fare: Pot-Roasted Pork in White Wine with Garlic, Fennel and Rosemary]; Lovely Pan-Baked Plaice with Spinach, Olives and Tomatoes; and Medallions of Beef with Morels and Marsala and CrŠme Fraiche Sauce. Oliver's impulse to wow an audience is reflected in such recipes as Whole Roasted Salmon Wrapped in Herbs and Newspaper, to be cooked on a camp fire or over a barbecue, and Flour and Water Crust Chicken, in which a whole bird is enclosed, baked and brought to the table in a pastry covering. Chocolate and Whole Orange Pudding is actually baked with a pre-boiled orange in the center. A small quibble, but home cooks should pay attention when assembling ingredients because they are not always presented in simple lists. The 11 components in Japanese Rolled Pork with Plums, Cilantro, Soy Sauce and Spring Onions, for example, are given in only six ...