Our Verdict – “Everyday Super Food” by Jamie Oliver

Maureen: I feel a bit meh about it. I was hoping it would be better than it was. It wasn’t terrible, but I can’t see myself using this book very much again.

Kirstin: I didn’t feel the food was very good. it was missing something.

Maureen: I agree. More than once, we  tasted something and said this needs something else, but we couldn’t figure out what it could be.

Kirstin: It didn’t make me happy.

Maureen: I think the problem with Jamie is that he feels compelled to release one book a  year. Maybe if he took his time, like Nigella for example, and left a few years between books they would be better. I feel like it’s been years since I used a book of Jamie’s and I put it on to my high rotation shelf. That’s disappointing.

Kirstin: One thing that cheesed me off about the book is that most of the recipes were for two people. Who cooks for two?

Maureen: I noticed that too! It was so annoying. Jamie has a family, he knows that many people have a crowd to feed. He could at least scale up each recipe to four, rather than having us do the math.

Kirstin: The other thing that annoyed me was all the brown rice and pasta he used. I couldn’t find brown couscous anyway. Brown couscous! Where can you find that? How ridiculous.

Maureen: I do admire his desire to get us to eat better, but this book did not inspire me.

Kirstin: It’s too worthy. If it had been anything like Anna Jones’s books, it would have been fine. Or Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, which was healthy and tasty and I still use all the time.

Maureen: All in all, a disappointment.

Kirstin: Yes. There’s something missing in this cookbook. The missing ingredient is joy.

“Everyday Super Food”
Overall Grade (A- F): C (Kirstin) C (Maureen)
Best recipes: Kirstin: None. Maureen: None spring to mind, unfortunately.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  Taken by Jamie! The photography was good. A.
Any disasters? Kirstin: Happiness Pasta. The Tree Trunk Pasta. Maureen: No disasters exactly, but nothing I’m excited about trying again, either.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: It’s in a holding pattern at the moment. I might give it another go. Maureen: I’m pretty sure I’m going to donate this to the library. I suspect someone else would get more use of it than I would. On the other hand, maybe I should give it another chance. We’ll see.

Our Verdict – “Everyday Super Food” by Jamie Oliver

“Chicken & Garlic Bread Kebabs, Blood Orange, Spinach & Feta” from “Everyday Super Food”

IMG_2246Maureen: As you can see, the plates of the adults do not match the plates of the children.

Tim: Why is that? (laughing, because he already knows the answer)

Maureen: I knew that the younger half of this family would not abide a plate of spinach salad, even if there was feta tossed over it, so I made them couscous and purple-sprouting spinach instead.

Andrew (15): Couscous! I love couscous!

Nicholas (12): Thank you for not making me eat the spinach salad.

Maureen: Your feelings about spinach are clear. Also, I wasn’t sure I was up for the drama involved, so I just bypassed it altogether. What do you think?

Tim: I like it.

Maureen: Me too. I like all of it. Though I know the salad– using the term loosely since it’s really just spinach leaves, oranges and some dressing– would not be a hit with the boys.

Tim: I’m not sure that the oranges add anything.

Maureen: I don’t get why they’re there either. Maybe it’d be better if I had been able to find the blood oranges he wanted me to use, but I doubt it.

Nicholas: I like the chicken.

Tim: Where is the kick coming from in the chicken?

Maureen: You add cayenne to the marinade. I like it.

Andrew: I’m not crazy about it.

Maureen: Why not?

Andrew: I don’t know. I just don’t fancy it. I like the couscous, though.

Maureen: That’s not part of this recipe.

Tim: I think you should make this again, or at least the chicken part of it. It was a winner.

Maureen: I agree.

“Chicken & Garlic Bread Kebabs, Blood Orange, Spinach & Feta” from “Everyday Super Food”

“Golden Salmon Steaks, Sweet peas and Smashed Veg” from ” Everyday Super Food”

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Kirstin: I couldn’t get the salmon cut in a medallion style because no one seems to do that any more. It seems to be out of fashion, so it’s fillets for us today.

Tom: How did you cook it?

Kirstin: With a bit of fennel.

Tom: In the picture, the salmon seems very brown. Oh I like the mash! It’s lovely!

Ella: Today is Bilbo Baggins’s birthday.

Kirstin: What do you think of the food? I think the salmon is quite bland, but then again we are used to teriyaki salmon so we’re used to lots of flavours.

Ella: I like the salmon. Well I don’t hate the salmon. If I had a choice not to eat the salmon, I wouldn’t eat the salmon.

Tom: How is the fennel applied to the salmon?

Ella: Injected with a syringe?!?

Kirstin: Well I’m not overly impressed with this recipe. I won’t be making it again.

“Golden Salmon Steaks, Sweet peas and Smashed Veg” from ” Everyday Super Food”

“Happiness Pasta, Sweet Tomato, Aubergine and Ricotta” from “Everyday Superfood”

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Kirstin: So Ella and Miles, you’re not so convinced about this happiness pasta, I can tell.

Ella: I’m not very keen on the texture.

Miles: Me neither.

Tom: It just feels too worthy. And the ingredients do not come together as a whole.

Kirstin: I know what you mean. That said, I like the addition of the ricotta and you know how much I love aubergine!

Tom: It’s just not doing it for me, I’m afraid to say.

“Happiness Pasta, Sweet Tomato, Aubergine and Ricotta” from “Everyday Superfood”

“Seared Tuna, Sicilian Couscous and Greens” from “Everyday Superfood”

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Having a friend around for lunch and catching up with them is always a good excuse to make a new recipe. And I have to admit I chose this particular one because it looked so good in the book. Lucky for us both, it was as yummy as it looked, even though I couldn’t find wholewheat couscous or Swiss chard for love nor money in deepest, darkest South London. The couscous was particularly lovely, super easy and will most definitely be made again. I might use baby asparagus next time instead though, so as not to have to slice the bigger asparagus along the length which was rather more time-consuming than I had thought it would be. And nutmeg on the tuna was a really lovely touch. Yes, a winning recipe all round.

“Seared Tuna, Sicilian Couscous and Greens” from “Everyday Superfood”

“Seared Golden Chicken Mint Sauce and Spring Veg Fest” from “Everyday Super Food”

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Miles: This smelled really good from upstairs. What is it?

Kirstin: It’s chicken. With vegetables.

Ella: What’s this?

Kirstin: Really?!? It’s asparagus.

Ella: I’m going to taste it. *pause*. It’s ok.

Kirstin: It didn’t kill you?

Ella: I don’t really like it though. If I was dying and there was only asparagus I would eat it. I’m going to have another bit of it now in case I’m dying and it’s the only food around.

Kirstin: OK.

Ella: Also, if there were creatures with diamond shaped skeletons, how does that work?

Kirstin: Can I just tell you a thing about asparagus. Have a bit more and pretend you’re dying and it’s the only food around.

Ella: Is it going to make me fart forever?

Kirstin: You’re not even having the whole puree thing which goes on the top of this. It’s supposed to be with mint, but I couldn’t be bothered to go and forage in the dark for our mint, so I’ve made it with coriander. And Jamie, if you’re reading this, I can tell you that coriander works really well and I would definitely recommend it if you want to try something different with this recipe. And now let me tell you about the asparagus. It will make your pee smell!

Miles: Urine trouble.

Ella: I was going to say that!

Kirstin: Oh niiiice! Thank you for that, you two!

“Seared Golden Chicken Mint Sauce and Spring Veg Fest” from “Everyday Super Food”

“Lemon Sole & Olive Sauce, Sweet Courgettes & Jersey Royals” from “Everyday Super Food”

photo 3Let’s get straight to the point: This was a bit bland.

I know that’s hard to believe, if you’re looking at the picture which shows a plate teeming with olives, spinach, yellow courgettes, chillis and other vegetables. But it was. It was definitely lacking… something.

When we tried to figure out what we would add to make it better, we couldn’t decide on what we would suggest. More chilli? Some sort of herb? More seasoning?

We don’t know, but obviously Jamie doesn’t know either.

I’m always happy to cook “healthy food”, but I’ve found over the years that usually you need to ramp up the seasoning and herbs to make the dishes really sing. That didn’t happen this time.

Would we make it again? Probably not. I have so many more fish recipes that I like for Fish Friday a million times more. I was disappointed because I had high hopes for this one.

“Lemon Sole & Olive Sauce, Sweet Courgettes & Jersey Royals” from “Everyday Super Food”

“Wholewheat Spaghetti Sprouting Broccoli, Chilli and Lemon” from “Everyday Super Food”

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Tom: Is this Jamie?

Kirstin: Yes it is.

Ella: Looks like pasta.

Kirstin: It is pasta! Can you eat some please?

Ella: I was just thinking about something. Latin.

Kirstin: Well can you eat and think at the same time?

Miles: I like it!

Tom: I’m not really convinced about this. It feels like lots of separate ingredients in a bowl. They don’t make sense together.

Miles: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking too.

Kirstin: I could have mixed it up more in the bowl.

Tom: I don’t think it would have made any difference. You would still have had to pick out the broccoli to eat it. And is the cottage cheese supposed to have melted?

Kirstin: It’s interesting, isn’t it because we’ve had a friend in Italy show us how to cook broccoli pasta in Italy and it was so much better than this. I would prefer not to eat healthily if it’s going to taste like this. I like the full fat Italian version of this recipe soooo much more.

Tom: This is like having tree trunks in your spaghetti. The brown pasta is alright. But it’s all too worthy.

Kirstin: This is going to be an interesting month.

“Wholewheat Spaghetti Sprouting Broccoli, Chilli and Lemon” from “Everyday Super Food”

“Crumbed Pesto Fish, Roasted Cherry Vines, Spuds & Greens” from “Everyday Super Food”

IMG_7434Fish Friday! Fish with bread crumbs! (Always a winner.)

This dish is a variation on the “bread crumbs on fish” dish we’ve now had and enjoyed many times. I’ve reviewed three recipes here from three different cookbooks that were a variation on this theme,  including from Gwyneth Paltrow (a firm favourite), Gino D’Acampo and even Jamie Oliver himself, from “Save with Jamie” two years ago. 

In this version, you coat the white fish with pesto and then top it with breadcrumbs. The fish is also surrounded by roasted cherry tomatoes while you boil the new potatoes and steam the green vegetables. Jamie wanted me to steam the vegetables by putting my colander filled with them above the boiling potatoes, but I ruined one plastic colander two years ago when he asked me to do the same, and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. So I used another pot and steamed them on their own, the way I usually do.

When asked what they thought, both boys said it was “interesting.” I asked if this was “good interesting or bad interesting.” They replied it was just interesting. For Andrew (age 15), I can infer from his plate it was neutral, because even though he ate it, he didn’t do so enthusiastically and some vegetables were left behind. For Nicholas (age 12), I can infer from his plate that it was bad interesting, as he left behind almost everything.

I’m flummoxed as to why they didn’t like enthusiastically endorse this, as they like fish, they like pesto and they like fish with breadcrumbs on it. Why they didn’t like the combination was beyond me.

As for the adults, we thought this was a solid win. I used hake for my white fish, as I try to not use cod if there’s alternatives available. The homemade pesto was good, and not too much of a faff to make.

Would I make this again for Fish Friday? I’m sure I will. And maybe the next time I make it, the boys will think it’s “good interesting.”

“Crumbed Pesto Fish, Roasted Cherry Vines, Spuds & Greens” from “Everyday Super Food”

Cookbook of the Month, September 2015, Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver

Kirstin:  It’s almost autumn. Time to get those books out before Christmas! And here’s Jamie’s offering this year.

Maureen: And this year we’re going to get healthy with Jamie. Last year, comfort food. This year, super food.

Kirstin: Apparently, he lost two stone cooking this way.

Maureen: Yes, that’s what said in his Times profile, but it didn’t give any details as to how he did it other than he hired some nutritionists to give him personal lessons.

Kirstin: I’d like to see his take on healthy eating.

Maureen: Me too. I’m hoping he won’t be using any odd ingredients– coconut sugar springs to mind– to get the same result.

Kirstin:  It will be really interesting to compare it to Nigella’s when it comes out.

Maureen: I agree. Hopefully they’re both good.

Kirstin: I am genuinely quite excited about this book. I can’t wait to see what he does with healthy eating. Hopefully it will be the Jamie methods that we like to do, but healthier.

Maureen: Maybe it will end up being on the high rotation book shelf. It’s been a very long time since we had a high-rotation entry from Jamie. His best books are his first books. Maybe this one will be a return to form.

 

 

Cookbook of the Month, September 2015, Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver