“Smoky Chorizo Salmon” from “5 Ingredients”

Miles: Who made this?

Kirstin: Me!

Miles: It’s amazing!

Kirstin: Because you weren’t too sure about the chorizo, were you?

Miles: Nooo.

Kirstin: You can never go wrong with chorizo. NEVER!

Tom: This reminds me of Jamie’s first book and that salmon with green beans recipe. We used to have it every week.

Kirstin: It does, doesn’t it? I might even make this one again too, but maybe not every week!

“Smoky Chorizo Salmon” from “5 Ingredients”

“Cherry Chocolate Mousse” from “5 Ingredients”

Kirstin: So I’ve never thought about how many ingredients are in a chocolate mousse, but I guess it’s less than 5 as Jamie adds some cherries to this to make it up to his required number. And I have to admit they work rather well, threaded through and on top of the very easy to make mousse. I’m not usually a maker of chocolate mousse but I could definitely see that changing with this recipe. I think Ella might agree as she loved cleaning the bowl after!

“Cherry Chocolate Mousse” from “5 Ingredients”

Cookbook of the Month, September 2017: 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

Kirstin: We promised we would never, ever, ever buy another Jamie book.

Maureen: And yet, here we are.

Kirstin: We are such hypocrites.

Maureen: I feel a little bit dirty.

Kirstin: Faithful readers: don’t hate us for it! We’re sorry! So what changed our minds?

Maureen: I think what swayed me were the recipes in The Times and they were things I actually wanted to cook.

Kirstin: And I saw the pictures by David Loftus on Instagram, so that piqued my interest.

Maureen: I’ve got such mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, the recipes sound like things we would like to eat. But on the other hand, his last several cookbooks have been such disasters, I worry that will be true again. Also, he’s not the first to come up with this idea. But because he’s Jamie Oliver, he’ll sell a bazillion copies.

Kirstin:: Really? Do tell.

Maureen: John Whaite published a book last year with the same idea.

Kirstin: That is a shocker! Cheeky Jamie!

Maureen: I know, right? But John Whaite is not the first one to come up with either, though. I bought a cookbook probably 15 years ago that was the same idea. It was a disaster, but still, the idea certainly has an obvious appeal.

Kirstin: I’ve got to say that the fluorescent green on Jamie’s book kind of put me off.

Maureen: The green is a very strong colour, to be sure. The optimist in me though this could be a return to form for Jamie, but then I thought that about the last however many books he’s written that we’ve not liked and I worry that it’ll just be another annual Jamie Oliver disappointment.

Kirstin: When I saw the calorie counters at the bottom, it reminded me of the last two awful cookbooks, crossed with the 30- and 15-minute disaster zones when he talks about how long it’s going to take, because they’re all pretty fast. It doesn’t make me hopeful.

Maureen: Until I saw the TV show, I didn’t appreciate that he really wants us to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible, but that doesn’t always work. I don’t like to cook against a timer. Life is stressful enough sometimes.

Kirstin: Agreed.

Maureen: Remember when we learned what the title was going to be? I said to you, “When did Jamie decide that he hates food?” [We laughed. Oh, how we laughed.]

Kirstin: I don’t count the number of ingredients when I cook. When did it become such a thing?

Maureen: Saying that, it looks like it’ll be a great one for getting dinner on the table quicikly during the week.

Kirstin: It’s a good one for September, to be sure. It’s also got lots of good fish recipes…

Maureen: And vegetable recipes, and even desserts, for the first time in the long time.

Kirstin: [Dubiously] With five ingredients?

Maureen: Yes. I know. But we’ll give it a go. Again, the eternal optimist in me is hoping for the best.

Kirstin: This may really be the last Jamie book.

Maureen: We said that the last time. It appears that for us, Jamie is hard to resist. But that’s probably true of a lot of people.

Cookbook of the Month, September 2017: 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

Our Verdict: On The Side

Maureen: What did you think?

Kirstin: I loved it.

Maureen: I loved it too, but it’s a book that works well in tandem with something else. But there were some brilliant recipes in it. What were some of favourites?

Kirstin: The peppers! They looked pretty too!

Maureen: I thought the indexes were genius. It was so clever to organise it with suggestions as to what the main dish should be. It really made the book work.

Kirstin: The indexes were worth the weight of the book in gold.

Maureen: That’s what I meant about it working with another book, because you’d think of what main you wanted to make, and then you’d turn to the index and see what he’d suggest to go with it. The recipes themselves were different enough, too, that it made the book worthwhile.

Kirstin: I liked it. I think I’ll use it more in the winter, when we make roasts and big meals with lots of sides in the winter. It’s a good entertaining book, too, which we do more of in the winter.

Maureen: It’s more a weekend book, that’s for sure, when you have the luxury of time to plan out an entire elaborate meal with a few sides.

Kirstin In 20 years I can see this being a dog-eared copy and I know it’s going to be on the shelf.

Maureen: Definitely the high rotation shelf for me. I like that it’s a slightly different book. It makes sense to do a whole book just on sides. They do tend to be forgotten.

“On the Side”
Overall Grade (A- F): A (Kirstin) A (Maureen)
Best recipes: Kirstin: Roast Romano Peppers Maureen: Boulangere Potatoes
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A
Any disasters? Kirstin: No, apart from naming Hasselback Potatoes Hasselblad Potatoes. Maureen: No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf, high rotation. Maureen: Same Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Yes. It would be a good Christmas gift, because it’s original.

Our Verdict: On The Side

“Boulangère Potatoes” from “On the Side”

One of our traditional Christmas Eve dishes is potato dauphinoise. What’s not to love? Cream and potatoes, lovingly roasted until they are as soft as a pillow on your fork. (If you’re curious, I use this recipe from Nigel Slater. Works like a dream every time.) The only downside is it’s a very rich dish. So rich, in fact, that it’s one of our Christmas treats. Goodness knows I could eat it all the time, but I know that wouldn’t be prudent. So we save it as a special treat.

But along comes Ed Smith and these boulangère potatoes. Just like potato dauphinoise, but without the richness of the cream. The rest of the method is nearly identical, save for using chicken stock instead of cream.

What a result. Absolutely delicious. One caveat though: this is very much a “make only when you have a few hours” [read: the weekend] dish. Once you get through slicing 1.5 kilograms of potatoes really thinly– we use either the food processor the mandoline, depending on who’s doing the slicing– you then have to bake it for more than hour. So it takes some time and love. But it’s totally worth it.

Ed’s top tip is to return to the oven throughout baking and pushing down the potatoes with a fish slice (or a spatula would work too), which leads to the layers being deliciously compact and all the more soft.

Highly recommended. And not just for Christmas Eve.

If you’d like to try this yourself, cooked.com has the recipe here. 

“Boulangère Potatoes” from “On the Side”

“Dijon-Dressed Green Beans” from “On the Side”

There’s not much you can say about green beans. On this particular night, I made them because we were trying out three new sausages from Dring’s Butchers, and I thought we really ought to have something green alongside the meat and the mash.

The opinion on this was divided along age lines: the adults liked them, the teenagers did not. They both said they prefer our usual green bean combination with butter and lemon. I don’t know why that is, but there we have it. I would make these again, but maybe only for adults.

“Dijon-Dressed Green Beans” from “On the Side”

“Honey, Thyme and Lime Butter Corn” from “On the Side”

I made a version of this for the first Thanksgiving I cooked myself. Thyme and corn make a really nice combination, and if memory serves people liked it. (In the end, this corn dish got supplanted by the shoepeg corn peanut soup that I now make instead, but that’s a story for another time).

As I tasted this while cooking it, I thought, “This will be good.” I thought that, up until the point that I added some honey. That’s where things went wrong. As you are adding more sweetness to SWEET corn (the clue is in the name), it’s a bit redundant and unnecessary. It actually was just too sweet for all of us.

Otherwise, I would make this again only if I stopped following the directions just before adding the honey.

(For what it’s worth, we had this with beefburgers, using Ruby Tandoh’s method, which is still ACES.)

“Honey, Thyme and Lime Butter Corn” from “On the Side”